Oil refiners are hard at work to combat and suspend a crucial California environmental law that requires companies to reduce their carbon footprint. This opposition has gotten supporters of clean technology to fight back to make sure this law stays intact and that oil refineries are held accountable to follow the regulations to reduce their amount of pollution.
Proposition 23, an initiative on the November ballot, would suspend the 2006 law that requires greenhouse gas emissions in the state to be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020. This law was the first of its kind in the United States to cut down on greenhouse emissions and force strict regulations on oil refineries to comply.
If this law is suspended, it will make it that much more difficult for any other state in the future to push through legislation to combat pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and move forward with cleaner technologies to replace the heavy use of oil.
Oil refiners Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp., both based in San Antonio, have given about $4 million and $1.5 million so far in support of Prop. 23. Earlier this month, an oil refining subsidiary of Koch Industries Inc. contributed $1 million, according to the filings.
Refiners are among the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in California, and would incur high costs to comply with the law, known as AB 32. It is obvious that these companies want to avoid paying any more costs, so they are trying to throw as much money at the situation as they can to attempt to convince legislators that them saving some money is more important to the nation rather than reducing the amount of pollution the release into the atmosphere.
At the same time, environmental groups and individuals, including clean-technology investors, have made a stand to oppose Proposition 23. Both the former Secretary of State, George Shultz, and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger are also highly vocal opponents of Prop. 23, and have expressed their support of cleaner technologies for the future.
The ballot measure, if passed, would suspend AB 32 until the state unemployment rate drops to 5.5% or lower for one year. California’s unemployment rate was 12.3% in July, and economic forecasts have the rate remaining above 8% for the next five years, according to the nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst’s Office.
Deciding what measures to take that will determine the well-being of our planet based solely on unemployment numbers is not something that the majority of people agree with. In a July Field Poll, 36% of likely voters in California said they would vote in favor of the measure, while 48% said they would oppose Prop. 23.
While opponents of Proposition 23 may not be able to outspend oil refining companies for support, the general consensus of California residents remains that they are ready to move away from oil as the only source of energy and power, and recognize the future of clean technologies to greatly reduce the negative impact that human consumption has placed upon the Earth.