It should come to no one’s surprise that two of the wealthiest men in America, Charles and David Koch, who just happen to own Koch Industries, a holding company with major investments in the Oil and Gas Industry are attempting to defeat, for their own grubby little purposes landmark climate change legislation in California. If they succeed it will be a major setback to (1) responsible action regarding the threat of climate change, (2) the development of green industries and jobs, (3) weaning ourselves from dependence on foreign sources of dirty fossil fuels and (4)environmental protection:
Four years ago, bipartisan majorities in the California Legislature approved a landmark clean energy bill that many hoped would serve as a template for a national effort to reduce dependence on foreign oil and mitigate the threat of climate change.
Now a well-financed coalition of right-wing ideologues, out-of-state oil and gas companies and climate-change skeptics is seeking to effectively kill that law with an initiative on the November state ballot. The money men include Charles and David Koch, the Kansas oil and gas billionaires who have played a prominent role in financing the Tea Party movement.
The 2006 law, known as AB 32, is aimed at reducing California’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80 percent at midcentury. To reach these targets, state agencies are drawing up regulations that would affect businesses and consumers across the board — requiring even cleaner cars, more energy-efficient buildings and appliances, and power plants that use alternative energy sources like wind instead of older fossil fuels.
The Koch brothers spent $2.51 million from their political action committee,since 2006 on political campaign contributions, more than any other oil and gas industry PAC.
They are also the primary funders of a number of conservative astroturf and tea party affiliated groups including $5 MILLION for Americans for Prosperity a well known organizer of tea party events, a major funder of climate change deniers like The Heartland Institute, and a supporter of “pro-tobacco industry positions on issues like cigarette taxes and clean indoor air laws” that has fought against “smokefree workplace laws and cigarette excise tax increases.”
Indeed, Americans for Prosperity is one of the groups behind the recent election fraud charges in Wisconsin seeking to illegally challenge primarily the right to vote for people of color and young people in this year’s midterm election through the method known as caging:
The group One Wisconsin Now said that it had obtained an audio recording of a tea party leader in June outlining plans to work with the state Republican Party and another group, Americans for Prosperity, and use postcards to verify voters’ addresses as well as provide volunteer poll workers to challenge voters on Election Day. […]
Scot Ross, executive director of the One Wisconsin, said that if carried out the plan could affect legitimate voters and violate election laws. He said that his liberal group was concerned that the conservative organizations were targeting college students and minority voters and that he was filing a complaint with state and federal officials asking them to look into the matter. […]
In the recording, Dake said the state Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus and Americans for Prosperity and its state head, Mark Block, were involved in talks about how to go after voter fraud.
Block, whose conservative group has helped organize tea party rallies, said initially Monday that he was “absolutely unequivocally” not involved in the planning of what Ross and One Wisconsin alleged. But Dake said he knew that Block had attended more than one meeting to talk about targeting voter fraud.
After that, Block acknowledged that he had had discussions with Dake and others about targeting voter fraud. He said Americans for Prosperity had obtained voter names and sent 500 letters to voters asking them to join the organization. Block said he believed the voter names were purchased from the City of Milwaukee and said the purpose of the letters was to see whether they could be delivered or not.
For more information about the illegality of “caging” to prevent people from voting go to this link. It was employed in 2004 in Ohio by Republicans, in violation of a Temporary Restraining Order by a Federal Judge, to force many minorities and young people to cast “provisional” ballots, many of which were never counted.
But I digress.
So what California law is it exactly that the Koch brothers and their allies are trying to kill off using the vast sums of money to fund a well organized referendum campaign? The law is known as AB 32 and it was signed into law by Republican Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger in 2006 after it was passed by the California Assembly. Here’s what the official State of California Environmental Protection Agency website regarding AB 32 has to say about it:
* ARB shall prepare and approve a scoping plan for achieving the maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from sources or categories of sources of greenhouse gases by 2020 (Health and Safety Code (HSC) §38561). The scoping plan, approved by the ARB Board December 12, 2008, provides the outline for actions to reduce greenhouse gases in California. The approved scoping plan indicates how these emission reductions will be achieved from significant greenhouse gas sources via regulations, market mechanisms and other actions.
* Identify the statewide level of greenhouse gas emissions in 1990 to serve as the emissions limit to be achieved by 2020 (HSC §38550). In December 2007, the Board approved the 2020 emission limit of 427 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2E) of greenhouse gases.
* Adopt a regulation requiring the mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions (HSC §38530). In December 2007, the Board adopted a regulation requiring the largest industrial sources to report and verify their greenhouse gas emissions. The reporting regulation serves as a solid foundation to determine greenhouse gas emissions and track future changes in emission levels.
* Identify and adopt regulations for discrete early actions that could be enforceable on or before January 1, 2010 (HSC §38560.5). The Board identified nine discrete early action measures including regulations affecting landfills, motor vehicle fuels, refrigerants in cars, tire pressure, port operations and other sources in 2007 that included ship electrification at ports and reduction of high GWP gases in consumer products. Regulatory development for the remaining measures is ongoing.
* Ensure early voluntary reductions receive appropriate credit in the implementation of AB 32 (HSC §38562(b)(3)). In February 2008, the Board approved a policy statement encouraging voluntary early actions and establishing a procedure for project proponents to submit quantification methods to be evaluated by ARB. ARB, along with California’s local air districts and the California Climate Action Registry, is working to implement this program.
* Convene an Environmental Justice Advisory Committee (EJAC) to advise the Board in developing the Scoping Plan and any other pertinent matter in implementing AB 32 (HSC §38591). The EJAC has met 12 times since early 2007, providing comments on the proposed early action measures and the development of the scoping plan, and submitted its comments and recommendations on the scoping plan in October 2008. ARB will continue to work with the EJAC as AB 32 is implemented.
* Appoint an Economic and Technology Advancement Advisory Committee (ETAAC) to provide recommendations for technologies, research and greenhouse gas emission reduction measures (HSC §38591). After a year-long public process, The ETAAC submitted a report of their recommendations to the Board in February 2008. The ETAAC also reviewed and provided comments on the scoping plan.
You can see why greedy companies that are heavily invested in fuels and technologies that result in the emission of vast amounts of greenhouse gases such as Carbon Dioxide would be up in arms. In the long term it might help save the planet by creating incentives to lower carbon emissions and develop “green” technologies and jobs, but in the short term it will cost the fossil fuel industries and the Koch brothers lots and lots of money. Oh, not enough to make them lose their status as billionaires, but enough to lower their net worth by some (to us) insignificant amount.
So, in the service of greed and greed alone, they are determined to kill this law, and destroy any other attempt to limit carbon emissions from the earth. In their attempt to keep their income as high as possible, they are telling lies and half truths about the science of climate change and about the economic effect of the law to California voters:
MYTH: “AB 32 will regulate small businesses and cost them $46,900 a year.”
FACT: This figure is based on a flawed and discredited study. In fact, AB 32 does not regulate small businesses.
FACT: The Varshney & Associates study that generated the $46,900 cost to small businesses has been thoroughly discredited by every reputable academic and consultant who has examined them, with descriptions ranging from “the worst examples of shlock science” to “daydreams of disaster.” (Thornberg and Haveman of Beacon Economics; Dr. F. Ackerman, Tufts University)
FACT: A study by reputable consultants, The Brattle Group, indicated that effects on small businesses will be negligible: the cost of a $20 meal at one restaurant would increase by three cents, for example. (http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/global_warming/AB-32-and-CA-small-business-report.pdf)
MYTH: “AB 32 will cost each household thousands of dollars a year.”
FACT: AB 32 is more likely to save households money. This is another example of flawed conclusions from a discredited study that has been roundly criticized by reputable economists.
FACT: Increased energy efficiency will help California households. In fact, in 2005 because of more energy efficient appliances and improved insulation and other measures, the average monthly residential electricity bill in California was almost half that of Texas and two-thirds the average bill in Florida. Cleaner, more efficient vehicles translate to $30 dollars a month in savings on fuel. (http://www.next10.org/pdf/GII/Next10_FullFindings_EN.pdf)
MYTH: “AB 32 is making California less competitive, driving businesses out of state.”
FACT: California’s climate policies are making California a leader in green jobs and investment, drawing investment and new companies into the state.
FACT: California entrepreneurs opened more green businesses (10,209) and created more new jobs (125,390) from 1998 to 2007 than any other state. (The Clean Energy Economy, Pew Charitable Trusts)
Updated February 4, 2010
FACT: While the rest of the economy struggled with job losses of one percent, the clean tech sector surged ahead in 2007-2008 with growth of five percent. The green economy could soon become the nation’s fastest-growing job segment, accounting for roughly 10 percent of new jobs over the next 20 years – up to 4.2 million new green jobs – 500,000 in California. (Many Shades of Green: Diversity and Distribution of California’s Green Jobs, Next 10; Metro Economics: Current and Potential Green Jobs in the U.S. Economy, U.S. Conference of Mayors)
This is a typical right wing and Big Oil attempt to mislead and confuse people about a law that not only benefits future generations but is helping create new jobs and support new industries and technologies now. The law benefits everyone. Well everyone but those, like the Kochs who are invested in old energy technologies that are ravaging are planet (many of the effects of which we have seen in this, the Year of Extreme Weather Events”). Here;s what the NY Times Editorial writer has to say about the Koch brothers’ efforts to eradicate AB 32:
The Kochs and their allies are disastrously wrong about the science, which shows that man-made emissions are largely responsible for global warming, and wrong about the economics. AB 32’s many friends — led by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California — have therefore mounted a spirited counterattack in defense of the law.
Another respected Republican, George Shultz — a cabinet member in both the Nixon and Reagan administrations — has signed on as a co-chairman of this effort. Mr. Shultz credits AB 32 for an unprecedented “outburst” of technological creativity and investment.
Who wins if this law is repudiated? The Koch brothers, maybe, but the biggest winners will be the Chinese, who are already moving briskly ahead in the clean technology race. And the losers? The people of California, surely. But the biggest loser will be the planet.
If a Nixon and Reagan Cabinet member, George Schultz supports AB 32 what does that tell you about the people who are leading the effort to eliminate the law? It tells me they are liars, con artists and fear-mongers whose only goal is to enrich themselves at our expense. They also couldn’t care less about the future in which our children and grandchildren will live and the problems with which they will have to contend if we don’t start eliminating carbon emissions as quickly as possible.
Lots of others, however, recognize the value of AB 32 to our economy today and our future tomorrow:
Ventura County Star: “California sees the future.” Steve Westly, the former California controller whose venture capital firm the Westly Group invests exclusively in clean-energy firms says, “To the extent that any jobs are lost as manufacturers comply with AB32’s emissions-reductions standards…they will be replaced by electric car manufacturers, solar energy firms, waste-to-energy companies and other elements of the growing green-energy sector of the economy…Westly is a Californian, but also a no-nonsense businessman. He travels to China four times a year to scout potential investments.” “We’re having to do more and more business in China, because the government gets it,” he said. “If we trip up or stop or hesitate for a minute, they will pass us. This isn’t a nice-to-have thing; this is a battle to see who will control the future.” (Timm Herdt, “In California, a return to the Stone Age?” Ventura County Star, 2/16/2010)
Fresno Bee: “Let’s not squash clean-energy job creation.” “The question now is whether we want to capitalize on a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build an economic future that provides us with high-wage jobs and energy security — or stagger backward with the status quo…In China and India, they aren’t having this debate. These nations are racing toward a clean-energy economy with massive billion dollar investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and technology. They know that their fast-growing economies depend on innovation and efficiency.” (Opinion, Kent Stoddard, Vice-President for Public Affairs, Waste Management’s Western Region, 2/12/2010)
San Jose Mercury News: “Repealing climate bill would hurt Silicon Valley economy.” “The green economy that AB32 helped spawn is taking hold. California already boasts five of the nation’s top 10 cities for cleantech investment. In 2008, this investment reached record levels, almost doubling over the previous year, to $3.3 billion. All across our region, innovators and investors are pouring resources into solar power, biofuels, electric and plug-in hybrid cars, fuel cells, energy-efficient computing and lighting, and sustainable building practices and materials.” (Opinion, Kenneth Wilcox, president and CEO of SVB Financial Group and a board member of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, “Repealing climate bill would hurt Silicon Valley economy,” San Jose Mercury News, 2/9/2010)
Huffington Post: “…we need policies that create market certainty. AB 32 provides that certainty.” “After the law was passed in 2006, clean energy venture capital investment began pouring into our state at an unprecedented rate. In 2007 nearly $1.8 billion were invested in California clean tech companies – almost a 50 percent increase over the year before. While 2009 was a year of depressed investment – California still led the nation with $2.1 billion in clean tech venture capital investments…To delay or suspend AB 32 will eliminate thousands of jobs in California. Venture capital investment will leave the state and emerging businesses will close their doors.” (Opinion: Steve Westly, Former CA State Controller and Managing Partner of The Westly Group, “Clean Energy is Key to California’s Future,” Huffington Post, 2/5/10)
New York Times: “Planned Calif. Power Plant Would Include GHG Limits.” “Calpine Corp…to proceed with the planned construction of a 600-megawatt natural gas-fired Russell City Energy Center…in Hayward, just east of the San Francisco Bay. The Russell City plant will produce 50 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than even the most advanced coal-fired plants, Calpine said, and will emit 25 percent fewer heat-trapping gases than the California Public Utilities Commission’s standard.” “This action furthers efforts at a statewide level to balance our economic needs while meeting our environmental challenges,” said Linda Adams, secretary of the California EPA. (Robin Bravender and Colin Sullivan of Greenwire, “Planned Calif. Power Plant Would Include GHG Limits,” New York Times, 2/4/2010)
Capitol Weekly: “By adopting policies that will cap dangerous global warming pollution, we have sent a signal to the market that California wants to become the home of these new jobs and businesses and a leader of the 21st century economy.” “Simply put, AB 32 has already stimulated innovation, efficiency and economic benefits. Consider this: A 2009 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts listed California as the nation’s leading state in clean energy businesses (10,209), clean energy jobs (125,390) and clean energy venture capital funding ($6.5 billion for 2006-2008). (Opinion, Fran Pavley, an author of California’s landmark legislation to cut carbon emissions, is a state senator representing the 23rd District, “Fran Pavley: There they go again with “Chicken Little” attacks on AB32,” Capitol Weekly, 2/4/10)
Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI): “Moving to clean, homegrown energy and reducing our carbon emissions are huge steps toward ensuring the safety of our country and military troops and securing our energy future.” “Each day, $1 billion flows out of our economy to purchase oil from other countries, which then exposes our businesses and families to volatile fuel prices. A smarter practice is investing that money here, in renewable, homegrown energy…In a 2007 Center for Naval Analysis Study, 11 retired generals (some initially skeptical of climate change) concluded that climate change is a “threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world”…As Gen. Anthony Zinni said, “We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, or we will pay the price later in military terms. And that will involve human lives.” (Opinion, Robin Eckstein of Appleton is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq, Journal Sentinel, 2/2/10)
The Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.): “Climate Change…has the potential to be a “threat multiplier” because droughts, flooding and other conditions linked to climate change could destabilize or topple weak governments…” said Retired Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn. “…Dependence on foreign oil, McGinn said, is also a national security threat and one that can be addressed through the same potential solutions; for addressing climate change; energy- efficiency and alternative energy sources…McGinn said he considers himself an advocate of free-market principles but also believes that “you need government help to push the economy in new directions. We just need to act like Americans, and not a bunch of kids in the playground yelling names at each other an accomplishing nothing.” (David Slade, “Retired admiral repeats warning; Warming, oil thirst called security threats,” The Post and Courier, 1/30/10)
Orange County Register: “The truth is that there is money to be made and jobs to be created in the field of clean and efficient energy practices and measures.” “When it comes to job growth, there is substantial, irrefutable evidence that growing more efficient and greener will create jobs, not kill them in California. In addition, operating equipment more efficiently equates to saving money…The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization Next 10 recently published the most comprehensive accounting to date of green businesses, jobs and green job growth throughout the state. The report found that California green businesses have increased 45 percent in number and 36 percent in employment from 1995-2008 while total jobs in California expanded 13 percent. Additionally, as the economy slowed between 2007-08, total employment in California fell 1 percent, but green jobs showed growth of 5 percent.” (Letter to the Editor, Cynthia Verdugo-Peralta, Energy efficiency specialist and former board member, South Coast Air Quality Management District, Orange County Register, 1/29/10)
Sacramento Bee: “Sacramento led all California regions in percentage growth of green jobs from 1995 to 2008, with an 87 percent jump from 7,019 to 13,102,” according to a recently released study by Palo Alto-based nonprofit Next 10. The Sacramento region is now seeded with at least 70 clean-energy companies, many of them small startups. They are engaged in a variety of endeavors related to cutting energy use, harvesting energy from the sun or developing new sources of energy, such as plants or hydrogen fuel cells.” (Jim Downing, “Road to Recovery: Sacramento area aims to be green tech center,” Sacramento Bee, 1/18/10)
Appeal Democrat (Marysville): “…there are advantages to building a clean energy economy…we could stop spending billions of dollars annually to buy oil from other countries and invest that money in clean energy production – and create more jobs- here.” (Letter to the Editor, Jacob Griscom, Western regional manager, BetterWorld Telecom, Nevada City, “Clean Energy Helps Create New Jobs,” Appeal Democrat, 12/19/09)
San Diego Union Tribune: “…green tech seems to be doing what telecom did earlier in the decade — providing new opportunities for companies that have been forced by changing circumstances to change their business models.” “Maxwell Technologies…sales rose 22 percent over the past year, from $21.4 million in the third quarter of 2008 to $26.1 million in the third quarter of 2009, mostly driven by sales in Europe and China, which are moving into green technologies at a faster pace than the United States. “As U.S. policies catch up, new domestic markets will open for California’s green companies,” he said. “The state’s experience shows that smartly crafted incentives and regulations can spur a flourishing market for products and services.” (Dean Calbreath, California’s economy might see green light,” San Diego Union Tribune, 12/13/09)
Green Chamber of Commerce: “AB32 is the catalyst for billions of dollars of investment in California and the creation of thousands of jobs.” Mike Mielke with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which represents more than 200 of the Silicon Valley’s most respected employers said, “California has more to gain from the green economy than any other state and risks a loss of more than $80 billion in Gross State Product and more than a half million jobs by 2020 if we fail to implement this law as scheduled.” (Green Chamber of Commerce, “Business Leaders Back LAO on Report Vital to State’s Economy,” Press Release, 1/25/10)
California Business Alliance for a Green Economy: “Contrary to claims made by the AB 32 Implementation Group, to delay or suspend AB 32 now would be the real job killer.” “California’s aggressive clean energy policies have proven to be economic drivers for more than three decades. Efficiency standards passed in the seventies have saved California consumers over $56 billion, which they invested in goods and services and that generated 1.5 million jobs with over $45 billion in payroll. The mere passage of AB 32 has generated green job growth that has been increasing even as the rest of the economy has contracted, even though the law’s measures are just this month starting to be implemented.” (California Business Alliance for a Green Economy, “Business Alliance Responds to AB 32 Implementation Group Poll,” Press Release, 1/21/10)
Don’t let the greed of the Koch brothers and Big Oil prevail in this fight. A strong majority of Californians supported AB 32 in a poll taken in July, but that could change as the Koch’s roll out their massive negative media campaign.
If you can, donate to NO on 23 – Stop the Dirty Energy Proposition today.