Leave It to Oil Companies to Misappropriate Funds

Tomorrow is the deadline for submitting signatures to get a measure that would stop the implementation of California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32 – 2006) onto the November ballot.  In February, this initiative was successfully renamed to provide clarity on what exactly the initiative would do if passed.  So from the deceptive “California Jobs Initiative”, it was changed to the more accurate “Suspends Air Pollution Control Laws Requiring Major Polluters to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions That Cause Global Warming Until Unemployment Drops Below Specified Level for Full Year.”  With the title renamed, the signature gathering effort had to restart.  In order for the effort to move forward, the proponents needed a financial rescue.  After all, two months for to collect around 400,000 signatures is quite a challenge.

Here enters Texas oil money.

A couple of million dollars from Texas-based oil companies like Valero and Tesoro meant that petition signature gathers could be paid 50% more than the going rate for each signature on this initiative that they collected.  That’s quite an incentive to push hard and prioritize this anti-global warming reduction effort!

Now here’s what I’ve been pondering:

These Texas oil companies only have four refineries in California.  Why not put that $2 million that’s funding this initiative effort instead towards clean technology upgrades so that they comply with AB 32’s requirements for CO2 emission reduction? They could then do some greenwashing by bragging about being the “greener” fuel option and have the benefit of healthier employees with fewer sick days.

Hmm…money towards initiative effort to keep polluting industries doing business as usual and let the global warming problem fester, or same money towards technology upgrades to clean the air and keep employees healthy?

That’s a tough one.

After much pondering, here’s what I could come up with.  These out-of-state oil companies see the writing on the wall.  They know that California sets the trends for the rest of the nation on environmental protections.  If we can successfully implement AB 32 – the nation’s first global warming law focused on reducing CO2 emissions from industrial sources – then the rest of the nation will follow suit.  It’s happened before.  Case in point: we passed the law regulating CO2 emissions from cars; at least a dozen other states have duplicated it.

These Texas old boys are scared of the rest of the world knowing that governments can successful require their industry to curtail CO2 emissions.  If California succeeds, everyone will want to follow.  We are the litmus test.   We can’t afford to let AB 32 be stalled or fail.

Posted on April 15, 2010


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