Prop 23 and Little Oil

Prop 23 is getting national attention, including a story in the NY Times:

Charles and David Koch, the billionaires who have played a prominent role in financing the Tea Party movement, donated $1 million to the campaign to suspend the Global Warming Solutions Act enacted four years ago, and signaled that they are prepared to invest more in the cause. With their contribution, proponents of the proposition have raised $8.2 million, with $7.9 million coming from energy firms, most of them out of state.

This latest embrace by the Koch brothers of a conservative cause jolted environmental leaders who are worried that a vote against the law in this state — with its long history of environmental activism — would amount to a powerful setback for emission control efforts in Washington and statehouses across the country.

“It would have big implications,” said George P. Shultz, a Republican and former secretary of state who is a chairman of a campaign to defeat the ballot initiative. “That is one reason why these outside companies are pouring money in to try to derail the same thing. At the same time, the reverse is true: they put this fat in the fire and if we win, that also sends a message.”

It’s increasing clear that Prop 23 can’t be blamed on Big Oil.  The culprits are more like Nasty Little Oil.  Trying to suspend AB 32 is a somewhat risky strategy.  If Prop 23 fails, especially if it fails in a big way, that will be a signal to state and national politicians about popular sentiment.  For example, if Prop 23 fails by a large margin, it may be harder for Whitman, should she be elected, to use existing statutory powers to postpone AB 32 regulations.  Of course, if Prop 23 wins, that would be a major setback for climate efforts — presumably, the Koch Bros aren’t very risk averse since they’re willing to take this gamble.

Sadly, the Times story doesn’t cite Berkeley’s White Paper on Prop 23.  What do they teach people in journalism school these days?  Where’s the research?

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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