Opinion: Vote No on Propositions 23, 26

Ryan Mann

By Ryan Mann
Junior, La Jolla High School

In 2006, the California state government passed AB 32, which committed California to a leadership role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change. AB 32 set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas levels to 1990 levels by 2020. Starting in 2012, greenhouse gas emissions will be reported and heavy polluters will be charged through the cap-and-trade system. Cap-and-trade would penalize polluting companies and would allocate the pollution fee to renewable energy and other environmentally focused programs. Yes, polluting companies will pass on some of this cost to consumers, but studies indicate the additional cost is minimal — $300 per household per year. A similar program was used in the 1990s to reduce the pollutants from power plants, and was considered a successful, fiscally conservative strategy for reducing harmful air pollution.

Propositions 23 and 26 are both cleverly designed to cripple AB 32. Prop. 23 “temporarily” freezes AB 32 until the unemployment rate is below 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters (1 year.) The wording of this proposition deceives the voter in two ways:

First of all, linking AB 32 to the unemployment rate plants the idea that mitigating global warming would cause even greater unemployment and economic problems. In fact, the opposite is true — right now 500,000 Californians have “green jobs” and the clean-tech jobs sector is growing five times faster than the rest of the job market. AB 32 — with its commitment to greenhouse gas emission reduction — would accelerate the pace of this job growth. However, voting Yes on Proposition 23 would slow this job growth and would show green entrepreneurs that California is not the place to set up their business.

The second fallacy is that 5.5 percent unemployment for four consecutive quarters is clearly not an achievable goal. The current unemployment rate is around 12 percent. Over the last 30 to 40 years, the unemployment rate has briefly dipped below 5.5% maybe 3 or 4 times – never for a full year. Tesoro and Valero, the oil companies behind Prop 23, have cleverly set up conditions that sound plausible, but are clearly never going to happen.

Prop. 26 is even more confusing, and the arguments for it are far more deceptive. Prop. 26 requires a two-thirds legislative majority in order to penalize companies that pollute or endanger health and public safety. Compared to a simple majority vote, Prop. 26 makes it much more difficult to penalize offending companies. In effect, it would shift the cost of the company’s pollution from the company itself to California taxpayers.

The proponents of Prop. 26, however, make it sound like Prop. 26 protects taxpayers from “hidden taxes.” This could not be further from the truth. Prop. 26 protects polluters from penalty fees, forcing taxpayers to cover the cost of their wrongdoing. A bill that claims to be closing a tax loophole is in fact letting oil, tobacco, and alcohol companies off the hook for their societal damage and costing taxpayers around $1 billion per year.

We must decisively stop Props 23 and 26 and send a clear signal: California supports innovative green start-ups, not corporate polluters. In order to attract green entrepreneurs and encourage further job growth in the clean-tech industry, California must first demonstrate a commitment to environmental protection and the mitigation of climate change.

I can’t vote yet — I’m only 16. But I wanted to make my voice heard by offering clear explanations of Props 23 and 26. If you support environmental protection and the creation of entrepreneurial green jobs, please vote NO on both Prop. 23 and Prop. 26 next Tuesday.

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Posted by Kathy Day on Oct 25, 2010. Filed under News, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

2 Comments for “Opinion: Vote No on Propositions 23, 26”

  1. Wayne

    "Over the last 30 to 40 years, the unemployment rate has briefly dipped below 5.5% maybe 3 or 4 times – never for a full year. "

    The only thing I can figure is that the truth about AB 32 would leave the no on 23 campaign without any ammo to fight 23.

    5.5% unemployment for 4 consecutive quarters has occurred 7 times since 2005, 14 times since 1999, and 22 times since 1987. http://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/?pageid=164

    Proposition 23 will simply allow green energy to be implemented in a sensible, market driven approach.

    Texas has managed to install triple the wind powered electrical generation as California, and has managed to do it without a job-killer like AB 32, actually growing its economy at the same rate that California's is shrinking.

    California is very hostile to business, and AB 32 will only make us more hostile to business. Just this year businesses have spent over 4 billion dollars to LEAVE California, taking hundreds of billions of dollars in jobs and revenue with them.

    Green energy will never amount to more than a fraction of the jobs in California, but AB 32 will put even more drag on California's economy, and lower the standard of living for the vast majority of us in California.

    Please vote Yes on Proposition 23. It really is about jobs and the economy.

  2. Earl Richards

    PROP 26 is just damaging as PROP 23. Prop 26 is a treacherous, Big Oil rip-off, which "passes the buck" from oil corporation, clean-up fees to the public's taxes, who will pay the oil recycling fees, the material hazards fees and other fees. If you do not understand the ambiguities and the intrigues behind Prop 26, then, vote no. Power to the people. BP, Shell and Exxon Mobil are silent partners behind Prop 26.

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