Exposed: secret Texas oil money behind California’s Suspend AB32

California’s Suspend AB32, deceptively entitled “California Jobs Initiative,” is one of the stupidest ideas cooked up in a state not named Utah or Texas.  AB32 is California’s landmark climate law, requiring the state to reduce its greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020.  A Republican member of the state assembly, Dan Logue, has proposed that the law be suspended until unemployment drops below 5.5% for four consecutive quarters — effectively gutting the law entirely, as unemployment has rarely been that low for that long.  

The initiative ran into financial trouble last month, but it’s been resurrected from the grave.  The money behind this particular zombie looks like it’s coming from two large Texas-based refiners, Tesoro and Valero.  If so, the initiative may be in violation of California Fair Political Practices Committee regulations.

When last we heard from Suspend AB32 in mid-February, it was dying from lack of the mother’s milk of politics, a shortage of funds, along with a renaming (thanks to once-and-future governor Jerry Brown) from “California Jobs Initiative” to the far more accurate “Suspends air pollution control laws requiring major polluters to report and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.”  However, as any fan of George A. Romero knows, some creatures are hard to kill.

Greenwire, via New York Times, has the story: Texas refiners mum about funding push to halt California’s climate law.  “Several well-placed sources in Sacramento” report that two refiners based in San Antonio, Texas — Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp. — are the sole funders behind the new push.  (Spokespeople for Valero, Tesoro, and Logue have refused comment but are not denying the assertion.)  Signature gathering has moved from Logue to Goddard Claussen, which bills itself as an “issue advocacy” firm with clients like “Californians to Stop Unfair Rate Increases,” in actuality “several of the nation’s leading insurance companies” and “Floridians For Lower Insurance Costs,” in actuality State Farm.  (All information taken from the firm’s website.)

Valero and Tesoro both operate refineries in California: Valero in Benicia and Wilmington, and Tesoro in Martinez and Los Angeles (formerly Shell).  Valero has an astroturf Voices for Energy campaign, warning falsely that cap and trade is a hidden tax that will cost 77 cents per gallon.  Tesoro repeats the lie on its Tesoro Action Center page.  In reality, AB32 has virtually no economic impact on small businesses and has been praised as a clean energy jobs powerhouse.

The California Fair Political Practices Committee now requires that any ballot measure

must list the economic or other special interests of their $50,000 donors in descending order in its committee name. This list must precede and not be interspersed with constituencies such as “concerned citizens,” or “taxpayers.”

Suspend AB32’s website has lists of proponents and endorsers, all California-based, but no mention of Valero or Tesoro.  Logue fancies himself a Columbo, but as I recall, detectives work to enforce the law, not circumvent it.

Is someone running afoul of the FPPC?  I don’t know, but I do know that this zombie clean energy jobs killer initiative needs to die, once and for all.  And, as a Californian, I’m not too happy with out-of-state institutions spending millions on ballot initiatives telling me who I can marry and what kind of air I can breathe.

(x-posted at DailyKos)