Prop. 23 fight spawns ongoing green-jobs group

What began as an effort to protect the state’s landmark climate-change law against a ballot-driven rollback has become a permanent, bipartisan coalition dedicated to creating jobs in renewable energy and fighting climate change, organizers said Friday.

Former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and Farallon Capital Management senior partner Tom Steyer of San Francisco announced they’ll continue co-chairing “Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs.” The group – the outgrowth of the campaign against last November’s Proposition 23 – will support state, regional, and local clean energy policies, support implementation of the state’s climate-change law (AB 32), and promote renewable energy jobs, projects, and businesses.

“We are trying to continue to push on the very points that we made in the ‘No on Prop. 23’ campaign – I think we felt then that we managed to put together a bipartisan coalition that was statewide … and which managed to make clean energy not just something that the overwhelming majority of Californians favored, but something that was important to them,” Steyer told reporters on a conference call this morning. “What George and I are trying to continue to do is to make sure that impulse in the state of California continues to be followed.”

“I hate to say we’re getting the band back together, but: We’re getting the band back together.”

Shultz pursuing clean energy makes fiscal and national-security sense.

“Right now oil prices are soaring again. It’s like a gigantic tax increase. Do we need a huge tax increase at this stage of our economic life? No,” Shultz said. “How many times do you have to get hit on the head with a 2-by-4 before you realize somebody’s hitting you?”

Shultz said implementing AB 32 without hurting the economy means “putting a price on carbon … in a way that’s gradual” while encouraging innovation in other energy sources and conservation.

He also said that although other already-existing groups have similar agendas, this coalition “brings something else to the party” – a proven track record. Only 38.4 percent of Californians voted for Prop. 23, an oil-industry-funded measure which would’ve suspended AB 32’s implementation until the state’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5. percent or lower for four consecutive quarters. The 5,974,564 votes against the measure was the largest vote total in any candidate race or ballot measure in the nation last November.

“We’re not philosophers, we’re doers,” Shultz said.

Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs will produce a daily newsletter and website highlighting clean tech projects, defend and promote clean energy policies and legislation that protect clean air and promote job growth, and conduct other activities to continue momentum in the fastest-growing segment of the state’s economy.

The group says its immediate goals will be:

  • implementing AB 32 so that California is the global leader in clean energy jobs and air quality while protecting consumers and taxpayers;
  • expanding renewable energy investments in California to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of generating 20,000 megawatts of renewable electricity, including 12,000 megawatts of locally generated electricity, by 2020;
  • increasing investments in energy efficiency, and
  • continuing California’s commitment to clean energy research and development, and providing incentives for its growing clean tech economy.
  • Coalition partners include the Silicon Valley Leadership Group; Ella Baker Center for Human Rights; Natural Resources Defense Council; the Environmental Defense Fund; Los Angeles Business Council; California League of Conservation Voters; California Business Alliance for a Green Economy; the American Lung Association in California; the BlueGreen Alliance; and Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2).

    The group’s news release quoted Brown as saying “clean energy creates jobs and investment, and that’s exactly what we need to help turn our economy around. Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs will be a strong voice to ensure that California leads the nation in sustainable energy technology.”

    And State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said the group “will play a critical role in helping promote policies that will create jobs, attract businesses and venture capital to our state, and expand the clean energy economy in California.”

    More than half a million Californians hold “green jobs,” according to the state Employment Development Department. And the National Venture Capital Association says California in 2010 attracted nearly $10 billion in venture capital for the clean tech industry, more than six times that of any other state.


    Arnold on DC pols: ‘What wimps. No guts’

    In an interview to air tonight on ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer,” Sawyer asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger about the clean energy policies that he says will be his legacy, and Schwarzenegger talked about how Washington has dealt with this issue.

    “We need to go to Washington and say, ‘Look what happened. You, because oil companies have spent money against you, they have threatened you, you backed off the energy policy and the environmental policy in Washington. What wimps. No guts. I mean, here, you idolize and always celebrate the great warriors. Our soldiers, our men and women who go to Iraq and Afghanistan, and they’re risking their lives to defend this country and you’re not even willing to stand up against the oil companies. I said, that’s disgusting. You promised the people you’d represent them. You didn’t promise the people you’d represent the oil companies and the special interests.’ ”


    Money flood brings disclosure complaints

    We’ve eight days to go until Election Day, and so it’s time for the last big money push – and all the righteous indignation that comes with it.

    Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for state attorney general, is miffed that the Virginia-based Republican State Leadership Committee has sunk $1.3 million into an attack ad that started airing Sunday in Los Angeles:

    U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., issued a statement today reiterating her support for Harris and urging Californians to vote for her: “Together, we can prove that our elected offices can’t be bought by out-of-state shadow groups like the Republican State Leadership Association, which is funded by big oil and tobacco corporations.”

    Harris campaign attorney James Sutton told reporters on a conference call this morning that he’ll write to the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission today asking that the campaign-finance watchdog look into the ad. Although the ad carries the “not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee” disclaimer required of independent expenditure ads, it doesn’t identify the RSLA’s two biggest donors: Altria Group, the parent company of tobacco giant Philip Morris, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Sutton said the RSLA has claimed it’s just an “issue ad” that doesn’t require such disclosure, but the fact that it’s targeting Harris’ San Francisco record and airing only in Los Angeles belies any claim that it’s not related to her statewide candidacy.

    (UPDATE @ 11:05 A.M. WEDNESDAY 10/27: The FPPC has dismissed the complaint, finding it didn’t contain enough evidence to allege a violation of the Political Reform Act.)

    Sutton also said he has contacted television stations to ask that they pull the ad, and Harris campaign strategist Ace Smith said he’s asking Republican nominee Steve Cooley‘s campaign to denounce the ad and call for its withdrawal.

    More campaign finance clashes, after the jump…
    Continue Reading


    The pre-election campaign finance reports are in

    Today was the state’s deadline for the final campaign finance filings before the Nov. 2 election, a final look at how much has been spent and how much is left for the final weeks of campaigning.

    Not all of the reports are showing up on the Secretary of State’s website just yet, so I’m going to post what I’ve got so far and then try to update later from home. I’ve added a few observations in italics.

    So here’s the cash on hand as of Saturday, Oct. 16. Keep in mind the fact that that independent expenditure committees are spending big on a lot of these campaigns, so the candidates’ own cash on hand isn’t the end-all, be-all. Also, for the ballot initiatives, I picked the prime committees for and against each, but there are other, secondary committees for and against these measures, too.

    Jerry Brown (D): $11,636,117.34
    Meg Whitman (R): $12,404,804.11
    After having spent $163,134,879.63 so far on her campaign – of which about $141.5 million was from her own pocket – Whitman had only slightly more in the bank by Saturday than Brown. Wanna bet she’ll make one last investment in these final few days?

    Gavin Newsom (D): $1,153,662.44
    Abel Maldonado (R): $297,435.98
    That looks like a biiiiig money advantage in a very tight race.

    Kamala Harris (D): $844,706.42
    Steve Cooley (R): $1,501,604.42
    I think it’s starting to look pretty grim for Harris.

    Bill Lockyer (D)(i): $5,064,132.91
    Mimi Walters (R): $85,098.10
    Mimi vs. Goliath; don’t hold your breath for an underdog victory here.

    John Chiang (D)(i): $213,440.75
    Tony Strickland (R): $227,098.17

    Debra Bowen (D)(i): $218,129.53
    Damon Dunn (R): $309,171.43

    Dave Jones (D): $374,158.01
    Mike Villines (R): $118,956.47

    Larry Aceves: $56,120.70
    Tom Torlakson: $327,277.86


    Yes on 19: $225,690.17
    No on 19: $47,242.12
    After months of scant contributions, the campaign to legalize marijuana saw a few big-ticket donations in the past few weeks, but not enough for the kind of television advertising that’s probably needed to rescue the measure from its slump in the polls.

    Yes on 23: $2,697,351.15
    No on 23: $7,755,976.80
    I think the oil companies see the writing on the wall, and the enviros have more than enough money to pound this measure – already sagging in the polls -into oblivion.


    We knew the hair would come into it eventually.

    I talked with Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado yesterday and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom today for a story we’ll publish next week about their contest for the lieutenant governor’s office. Here’s an amusing snippet:

    Newsom blasts Maldonado for taking campaign money from oil and energy companies while opposing AB 32, California’s greenhouse gas emissions law, and other air and water protection efforts. Maldonado replied that he opposed AB 32 because the Legislature should enact regulations instead of leaving it to the California Air Resources Board, which doesn’t answer to voters; however, he opposes Proposition 23, the ballot measure to roll back AB 32, lest it discourage clean-energy sector investment. He added that he has always opposed off-shore oil drilling, and that Newsom is hypocritical given his personal ties to the Getty family of oil heirs and his own family’s investments in concerns such as Transocean, which operated the now-notorious BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig. “He’s oil soaked … His whole life is oil.”

    “Maybe he’s referring to my hair,” Newsom quipped, adding the oil interests Maldonado cites were independent investments made on his wife’s behalf, having nothing to do with him.


    Van Jones, Dolores Huerta speak against Prop. 23

    Proposition 23, the ballot measure that would roll back California’s greenhouse gas emissions law, would kill jobs and prevent environmental improvements in communities of color, three noted human-rights activists said today.

    “I am very disturbed by Prop. 23, it is a deceptive proposition,” Van Jones – the Oakland social- and environmental-justice activist and author who went to Washington last year as President Barack Obama’s “green jobs czar,” only to be let go in the face of conservative criticism – told reporters on a conference call. “Every time we go to the ballot in California, there is one ballot measure that is a deceptive, tricky ballot measure that does the opposite of what you think it’ll do on first reading. This is that ballot measure.”

    California attracted one out of every four dollars invested worldwide in clean energy technology last year, said Jones, now a visiting professor at Princeton University. “That terrifies the oil guys in Texas because they know if that continues the next energy breakthroughs that will eat into their profit margins will be coming out of California.”

    Texas oil companies have put up much of the money to support Prop. 23.

    “The idea that Texas oil guys are this concerned about whether people in watts or Berkeley have jobs is, on its face, ludicrous,” Jones said. “The job killer is not the underlying legislation moving us toward a clean energy future … The job killer is Prop. 23 itself.”

    Dolores Huerta, a cofounder of the United Farm Workers union and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation for Community Organizing, said she sees the ballot measure as “devastating in our communities.” Air quality in the southern San Joaquin Valley is already awful, she said, and “we know that if this passes, it will only make things worse.”

    “We don’t want to make a step backwards,” Huerta said, adding that her and other groups strive to see the measure defeated. “We are doing everything that we can, we are phone banking, we are going to be going door to door in the Latino communities.”

    Pam Tau Lee, founder and board member of the San Francisco-based Chinese Progressive Association and a founder and former chair of the Oakland-based Asian Pacific Environmental Network, said Asian-American voters tend to see themselves as environmentalists and can be rallied against Prop. 23. “Every no vote on prop 23 shows that the voters care about the future and welfare of all Californians.”

    But Anita Mangels, spokeswoman for the campaign supporting Prop. 23, countered later this morning that a recent preliminary study by state air quality authorities found implementing AB 32 to reduce carbon emissions wouldn’t have much effect upon other air pollutants threatening California’s communities. And, she said, the state has long said that carbon emissions alone don’t have a direct impact on public health.

    Today’s teleconference was organized by Communities United Against the Dirty Energy Proposition, a coalition of about 130 community-based organizations and businesses rallying voters of color and low-income voters against the measure. Communities United is being coordinated through the Oakland-based Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, of which Jones is a co-founder, and the Berkeley-based Greenlining Institute.