Mayor Gavin Newsom, Sierra Club Chairman Carl Pope, and leaders from environmental organizations today challenged Texas oil companies for bankrolling a November ballot proposition that will repeal the state’s clean energy and clean air standards.
The measure, which qualified for the ballot late yesterday, would repeal California's clean energy and clean air standards. The Texas-based oil companies—Valero and Tesoro—have spent more than $3 million to qualify the initiative, $1.5 million of that since oil started gushing in the Gulf of Mexico. They are expected to spend more than $100 million to pass the measure.
“This deceptive dirty energy proposition will be an economic and environmental policy disaster for California, just as the BP oil spill is to the states along the Gulf of Mexico,” said Mayor Gavin Newsom. “This measure will cost our state thousands of jobs in the Bay Area, derail California’s leadership in developing solar, wind and other clean energy, and result in tons of polluted air in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout our state. It simply must be defeated.”
California’s clean energy standards passed the legislature with bipartisan support and was signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006. Although proposition proponents say the measure would “suspend” the law until the state's unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent, that has happened only three times in the past 30 years. This means the law would, in effect, be killed, as would California's growing clean energy economy.
“California is America’s clean energy leader, with more than 500,000 jobs, 12,000 businesses and more than $3 billion in venture capital invested because of the state’s landmark clean energy and clean air standards,” said Sierra Club Chairman Carl Pope. “Californians cannot allow two Texas oil companies and their deep pockets to spend millions to kill off this jobcreating growth so we remain addicted to fossil fuels.”
The New York Times reported in June that Valero is one of the largest contributors to efforts to block federal regulations on offshore drilling. Valero and Tesoro were recently ranked numbers 12 and 32 on a national list of “Toxic 100 Air Polluters,” according to a report released by University of Massachusetts Amherst Political Economy Research Institute (PERI).
“I have witnessed first hand the impact of the oil disaster in the Gulf. The fishermen and local residents are suffering physically, mentally and economically,” said Gina Solomon, M.D., M.P.H, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “There is no cure once an oil spill happens. The only prescription is prevention by transitioning quickly to cleaner energy—that’s exactly why we have to defeat the oil companies dirty energy proposition.”
“The Gulf oil disaster is a reminder of how at risk we are for a catastrophic spill here in San Francisco Bay. We need to end our addiction to oil for the sake of our environment and our economy,” said Deb Self, Executive Director, San Francisco Baykeeper. “Just like BP, these Texas oil companies are trying to shirk responsibility for the damages they cause. We won’t let that happen in California, where environmental laws passed and supported by the people must stand."
While California has banned off-shore oil drilling, huge oil tankers pass under the Golden Gate and Bay bridges every day to deliver oil to Californians. Three years ago, the Cosco Busan tanker hit the Bay Bridge and spilled more than 50,000 gallons of oil that fouled our beaches and killed wildlife.
"Come November, voters will have a chance to make their voices heard. Do they want a dirty, polluted environment or do they want to protect it and grow our economy?" said Wade Crowfoot, West Coast political director, Environmental Defense Fund. "The majority of Californians support clean energy and this election will give them a chance to confirm that."
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