Just Who Are These Prop 23 Financiers?

Prop 23 FundingSure, you might be rocking your Boycott Valero bumper sticker, but have you thought about who this particular oil company is?  Or Tesoro, the other big Texas oil company funding AB 32 greenhouse gas pollution regulations? Well, as the Ella Baker Center found out as they did some digging, they are a pair of companies that has consistently and repeatedly trashed the environment.  Some examples:

On July 26, Tesoro settled with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to settle 44 air quality violations  that included excessive releases of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and ammonia. The company agreed to pay the district $366,375. In 2008, it paid $1.5 million to settle air quality violations in Martinez.

Valero was cited earlier this year. On June 17, Valero released hydrocarbon, hydrogen sulfide gas and coke material into the atmosphere from its coker unit in Benicia. Four refinery employees were reportedly injured, and staff reported numerous air quality violations associated with the incident. (CalWatch)

Of, course there is a lot more, and you can find the details in the report (also available over the flip).  Both of these companies are trying to exploit the initiative system to shut down critical long-term planning for our environment for their own short term gain.  

But the market will correct for that, right? Well, not so much. This is a classic market failure.  Companies are in no way forced to pay for their emissions, so neither their products nor their inputs are properly priced.  And they push for less regulation because their management is hung up on short-term share price, rather than the long-term stability of the company. After all, it’s “rational” for the current leadership to do so because they won’t be there when the house of cards all falls down.

Take while the taking’s good, and leave the mess for the next sucker.  But, with Prop 16, California voters told the corporate world that while our initiative system can be bent, it isn’t completely broken yet.  No matter how much you spend, you can’t win with money alone.

UPDATE: I’ve added a graph of the funding for Prop 23. As you can see, the bulk of the money has come from out of state oil companies trying to exploit our initiative system for their own short-sighted gain. Click the image for a higher resolution version.