Tag Archives: California League of Conservation Voters

Which is the Worst Oil Company of them All?

There are so many ways to assess which oil company is truly the worst of the worst. It also depends on the day. You’ve got ExxonMobil who not only caused the infamous oil spill at Alaska’s Prince William Sound but is also one of the world’s biggest funders of the global warming denial campaign. You’ve got BP –who not only caused the greatest man-made environmental disaster in history, but negotiated a settlement that does not properly compensate the victims of the spill. Still, in California, it’s hard to compete with Chevron.

If you watched the Republican National Convention and/or the Democratic National Convention, you probably saw endless Chevron greenwashing commercials. If you listen to the radio on your way to work, their advertisements run on every major station. Their "We Agree" campaign focuses on making them seem like a socially responsible business trying to do right for America. Yes, they care about profits, but their business is really all about helping everyday people meet their energy needs. Oh, and don’t worry about their fracking operations –they would never try to extract natural gas unless it was completely safe and foolproof. Um… right. In Chevron We Trust.

But what makes Chevron truly heinous is all of the campaigning they try to do outside of the public view. Unbeknownst to the public, Chevron (along with their pro-corporate allies) spend millions of dollars every election cycle to attack pro-environmental, progressive candidates. For the last decade, CLCV and our allies in the California Alliance have successfully defended our candidates and defeated theirs in no small part by revealing to voters who exactly is funding the opposition campaign. Guess what? Voters don’t like it when Big Oil, Big Tobacco, Big Insurance, and Wall Street Banksters try to buy an election. But while we’re successful about 75% of the time, Chevron and its allies still win 25% of their campaigns and have refined their tactics to be more deceptive and tough to beat.

Overtime, these large corporations have created PACs with innocuous sounding names mislead voters into thinking they’re something other than large corporate front groups. This includes groups like JobsPAC, the California Now Independent Expenditure PAC (which is often confused with the respected California National Organization of Women [NOW] PAC), California Alliance for Progress & Education (which sounds much like us and our partners’ California Alliance), Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy, and the Alliance for California’s Tomorrow, which is primarily funded by health insurance companies.

For your convenience, I've linked all of their Secretary of State Campaign Disclosure pages, so you can see exactly who funds these groups. The first thing you may notice is that they're not funded by individuals and they tend to receive money from each other. Why? Because these groups allow a corporation like Chevron to contribute money to one PAC, and then have it transferred elsewhere from that PAC to another so that when voters receive mail from Alliance for California's Tomorrow and go to research who funded the PAC, all they see are contributors that have other innocuous sounding names completely unaware of what entities are behind it all.

The newest front group is called the California Senior Advocates League. You may be surprised to learn that it has nothing to do with seniors. The Ventura County Star’s Timm Herdt has been particularly focused on revealing just how deceptive a group this is:

If you think a group with a name like that is concerned about Medicare, think again. It's an outfit funded by the National Association of Realtors, Chevron, Philip Morris, Anthem Blue Cross, the California Chamber of Commerce and others. It focuses on state legislative races, and attempting to track its money is no easy task.

I sought to do so during the primary election campaign, and found myself doing a maneuver I called the "Chevron Four Step." It went like this: Chevron gives $375,000 to JobsPAC, which then gives $250,000 to the California Now Independent Expenditure Committee, which then gives $220,000 to the California Senior Advocates League, which then spends $400,000 on state Senate races.

As always, we have our work cut out for us to fight back and campaign for our candidates, but all of this stresses just how badly we need real campaign finance reform. Even Assemblymember Julia Brownley’s Disclose Act, which would have required improved campaign contribution disclosures met heavy opposition that lobbied hard to kill the bill in the legislature. Ten guesses who some of the bills biggest opponents were.

Candidates Take Note: New Poll Shows Independent Voters are Environmentalists

(Written by Jenesse Miller and cross-posted from Groundswell, the California League of Conservation Voters blog.)

Listen up, candidates for office in California: Independent voters care about the environment.

A groundbreaking new statewide poll of California voters who decline-to-state (DTS) an affiliation with any political party reveals the strong environmental and other progressive values of this poorly-understood but growing bloc of voters. The poll was commissioned by the California League of Conservation Voters Education Fund  (CLCV Education Fund), CLCV's sister organization and the non-partisan voter engagement arm of the environmental movement in California. The research was conducted by widely-respected polling firm Tulchin Research.

This in-depth survey is the first of its kind to explore in detail DTS (or independent) voters' opinions on many of today’s most controversial issues and that is being shared with the broader public.

With DTS voters increasing from 15 to 20 percent of California’s electorate just since 2006, the purpose of the public opinion survey was to better understand this influential swing and rapidly growing voter group and its attitudes toward environmental issues and other timely topics.

Capitol Weekly was one of the first to cover the results of this groundbreaking poll:

Two out of three of California’s decline-to-state voters consider themselves conservationists, believe climate change is a growing problem that needs to be addressed and say environmental regulations provide critical protections for air, land and water, according to a new survey.

The statewide survey commissioned by the California League of Conservation Voters Education Fund is “the first of its kind to explore in detail DTS voters’ opinions on many of today’s most controversial issues and that is being shared with the broader public,” the group said in releasing the results.

The survey found that DTS voters are solidly pro-environment and support a wide range of conservation policies:

  • Two-thirds (65 percent) consider themselves to be “conservationists”.
  • Notably, DTS voters agree climate change is occurring and is a major problem that needs to be addressed by a 2-to-1 margin (63 percent).
  • When DTS voters were asked about their opinions on environmental regulations made by our lawmakers, an overwhelming 69 percent believe environmental regulations provide an important benefit to our society and help to protect our air, land and water. In contrast, just 1-in 5 DTS voters (21 percent) believe environmental regulations do more harm than good.

Warner Chabot, CEO of CLCV Education Fund (and CEO of CLCV), stated in a press conference today that candidates for office in California ignore the results of this poll “at their peril,” noting that in the last decade decline-to-state voters have doubled in size, comprise the majority of swing voters, and are the fastest-growing voter bloc in California.

Considering the new dynamics of California elections, including redistricting and the new top-two primary where independent voters could swing the results one way or another, many political experts believe there are more state Assembly and  Senate districts up for grabs in the 2012 elections than in any year in the past two decades. According to the most recent report from the secretary of state, about 3.5 million California voters declined to state a political preference. “This nonpartisan group of voters now holds considerable electoral power,” said Warner.

Pollster and Tulchin Research President Ben Tulchin stated:

“I was impressed with just how consistent and intense DTS voters in California were in their pro-environment and progressive values. These survey results clearly indicate to any candidate running for office in California today that strongly supporting tough laws to protect our air, land and water is a very effective way to win over DTS voters.”

CLCV Education Fund Vice-President Dr. H. Eric Schockman added:

“The progressive and pro-environment values exhibited by this influential and growing segment of our state’s electorate will have profound implications for the future of environmental protections and public health in California in 2012 and beyond.”

Survey Methodology
From October 27 – November 2, 2011, Tulchin Research conducted a telephone survey among 600 likely Decline-to-State voters in California using live, professional interviewers. The margin of error for this survey is +/- 4.0 percentage points.

About the California League of Conservation Voters Education Fund
CLCVEF’s mission is to protect California's natural resources and to improve the health of our communities. Its strategy is three-fold: increase the impact of organizations in the conservation, public health and environmental justice communities; conduct public education campaigns that connect voters’ environmental values to the democratic process; and promote nonpartisan civic engagement efforts to increase the participation of conservation voters in underrepresented communities. Find out more at www.clcvedfund.org.

The entire publicly-available results of the poll can be viewed here.

Governor Brown vetoes another pro-transit bill

(Cross-posted from Groundswell, the California League of Conservation Voters blog.)

Every day for the past couple of weeks I've been checking Governor Brown's website to see if he's taken action on California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV) and Green California's priority legislation. I've also been following press stories closely to look for hints on whether he's going to sign or veto particular bills. And most days, not much happens. On Monday though, Brown posted an update on bill signings and vetoes. I had almost reached the end of the list, thinking he again hadn't acted on any of our priority bills, when I saw something very sad – our governor had vetoed AB 650 (Blumenfield), which would have established a task force to find solutions to California's transit funding crisis.

This is particularly upsetting to me – both as a transit rider and a environmental advocate – since this was not the first pro-transit bill Brown vetoed this year. This summer he vetoed SB 582 (Yee), which would have established a commuter benefit pilot program to encourage employees to ride public transit, carpool, or bike to work.

In his AB 650 veto message, he wrote this about the proposed task force:

This is a matter well within the jurisdication and competence of the Assembly and Senate Transportation Committees. Moreover, Caltrans and the California Transportation Commission are also equipped to probe into these matters.

Rather than creating a new entity, let's use the resources we have.

I understand Governor Brown's point here, but unfortunately, none of these bodies have succeeded in solving or getting close to finding a solution to California's transportation funding crisis. Over the past several years, the State has cut funding to public transit multiple times. Transit agencies throughout the state are hurting, and most have been forced to cut service and/or raise fairs.

I don't own a car so our transportation funding crisis has had a big impact on my life. This summer, my bus fare increased for the third time in recent years, and last year the bus line that used to take me to my favorite park was cut entirely.

But at least I can still travel to work quickly via transit. Others aren’t so lucky: service cuts have forced them to walk long distances or to take circuitous routes with multiple transfers to reach their destinations. Here in Oakland I've heard many stories of students who don't show up for class because they cannot afford the increased bus fares.

Public transit is key to meeting California's greenhouse gas reduction and air quality goals.  In fact, a single person can reduce her greenhouse gas emissions by 4,400 pounds annually and cut production of deadly air pollutants by 90% if she takes public transport instead of driving alone.

With so much at stake, it would have been great if our existing state agencies and committees would have addressed this growing funding problem sooner, before it reached crisis level. But they haven't, which is why Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield authored AB 650. As he explained in a guest blog post last month:

Assembly Bill (AB) 650 establishes a blue ribbon task force to craft a public transportation development plan for California based on an assessment of what transit we have, what amount of transit we need, and how we can finance transit construction.  The task force will be composed of 12 experts in finance, transit, the environment, and public health who must complete their plan by September 30, 2012.  This work would be undertaken, in part, through workshops conducted across the state.  And, it would be financed from existing transit moneys provided through California's gas tax, specifically those devoted to transit planning.

The blue ribbon task force is a tried and true way to help California find solutions to complex and enduring problems, like public transportation.  In recent years, task forces have helped California enact comprehensive fisheries protections off our coast and achieve breakthrough reforms that balance our state's water supply needs with environmental protection.

To meet California’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, we must invest in transit to make it convenient for current riders and to attract new riders. This task force would have been a huge step in that direction so I am disappointed that Governor Brown vetoed AB 650. I hope though that he will urge the legislative transportation committees as well as the California Transportation Commission to focus on this incredibly important issue.

AB 650 was not signed into law, but the bill moved the conversation on transportation funding forward. For this I am incredibly grateful to Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield, CLCV members who took action on this bill, Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club and the allied Green California organizations that moved this bill forward.

California League of Conservation Voters Endorses Debra Bowen for Congress

When people think “California League of Conservation Voters” they focus on the words “California” and “conservation.” And rightfully so. First and foremost, CLCV is the political arm of the environment. For nearly four decades, we have worked tirelessly to seek out and endorse environmental champions and then fund and support their campaigns to help them get into office. This has always been a primary part of our mission.

But every now and again we find a candidate who is not only an environmental champion but also demonstrates leadership in another critical piece of our mission: aiding voters. For the special election in Congressional District 36, we’re lucky to have found such a candidate, and it’s none other than Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

Secretary Bowen has a long track record of expertise and leadership on the environment. During her fourteen years serving in both houses of the Legislature, Bowen authored bills to protect our coast and restrict offshore oil drilling. She also co-authored four landmark environmental laws including the first bills in California to ever address global warming, environmental justice, and create a renewable portfolio standard. She also aided Senator Alan Lowenthal with his critical legislation to clean-up pollution in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

At a time when Congress is not only lacking environmental leadership but when the majority has become downright hostile towards any attempt to protect open spaces, improve public health, and protect clean air and water, Bowen will be a needed breath of fresh air in Washington.

In fact, if protecting the environment alone was the only reason to send Secretary Bowen to Washington, it would be enough. But electing her to Congress would also add an incredibly important leader in the field of fair elections and open government. While her environmental work has been notable, Secretary Bowen’s single most important piece of legislation was arguably AB 1462, the landmark law that made all of California’s bill information available on the Internet. A voter can easily find out how his or her legislator voted on any piece of legislation because of this bill, so if you’re following any piece of legislation online as it works its way through the California Legislature at the Senate and Assembly websites, you have Debra Bowen to thank for it.

Secretary Bowen also has a record of holding corporations accountable. Bowen was chair of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee during the height of the infamous Enron scandal. She was one of the lawmakers leading the charge against Kenneth Lay and Enron and investigating their manipulation of the energy market. Only too recently, Massey Energy and BP ignored safety violations that caused unparalleled environmental disasters and cost lives. We need a legislator who is smart, full of integrity, and has a track record of standing up against corrupt and powerful polluters and hold them accountable. We have such a leader in Debra Bowen.

This is why CLCV is thrilled to endorse Debra Bowen for Congress, and why we will do everything we can to make sure Debra Bowen goes to Washington. Join us by committing to support Debra Bowen for Congress here.

Perez and Steinberg Announce Clean Energy Jobs Initiative

(Cross-posted from Groundswell, the California League of Conservation Voters blog.)

This morning Assembly Speaker John Pérez and Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg announced the Clean Energy Jobs Initiative, a package of four bills that focus on green jobs and clean energy growth.

Why the focus on green jobs? You might remember that a couple weeks ago I reported on a report by nonpartisan think-tank Next 10 that shows green jobs in California growing more than three times faster than overall state employment. During this time of economic recession and high unemployment in California, it makes sense for our legislative leaders to focus on the job sector that's growing relatively rapidly.

From the press release, the four bills in the package are:

  • 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard (Sen. Joe Simitian): This measure requires both public and private energy providers to procure 33 percent of California’s electricity from renewable resources (wind, solar, geothermal, etc.) by 2020.
  • Streamlined Siting for Renewable Energy Projects (Assembly Member V. Manuel Pérez): This measure reduces red tape, expediting the siting and construction of renewable energy projects throughout California.
  • Career Technical Education (Senator Darrell Steinberg): This measure aligns high school curriculum with high-demand jobs in emerging markets. Grant funding would be provided to high schools for delivering the skills and knowledge students need for successful employment in clean energy field. Such curriculum restructuring will also encourage students to stay in school because they’ll know they’re gaining real-world skills from their studies.
  • Economic Incentives to Increase Energy Efficiency (Assembly Member Nancy Skinner): This bill would use a portion of state ratepayer funds to provide loan guarantees for residents and small business owners investing in energy efficiency and renewable technologies on homes and commercial property. Reducing loan risk also reduces loan interest rates, increasing demand for energy improvements which in turn increases production and the jobs that come with it.   


CLCV is excited to see the leaders of both houses focusing on the environment. We have not yet fully reviewed the proposed legislation so we're reserving comments on most of the package details.

The one bill we wholeheartedly support is Senator Simitian's 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) bill. We've been working on this issue for years because a 33% RPS would have huge environmental and economic impacts, including:

  • displacing nearly 13 million metric tons of global warming emissions in 2020—equivalent to removing almost 3 million cars from the road, or enough to avoid 10 to 15 new large fossil fuel power plants;
  • stimulating clean technology investment and innovation, and creating “green collar jobs;”
  • diversifying the state’s energy supply and protecting consumers from natural gas price volatility;
  • helping to meet our pollution cap under the Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32;
  • promoting long-term planning for infrastructure needed to support high levels of renewable energy development; and
  • improving air quality in vulnerable communities.

Thanks to Speaker John Pérez and President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg for continuing to lead on building a greener California. We look forward to working with them on this package and to passing RPS legislation in 2011!

Politics of Water Splits Environmental Organizations

Cross posted from California Greening.

If you want to know more about what we should really be doing regarding water in California, you need to read Mato Ska  here, here, here<>/a>, or here. I want to talk about the politics. That is beginning to splinter over more than North / South, Valley / Coast or even the widening gap between Democrats and Republicans.

More below the line.  

Let me call your attention to two things that happened today. One is the fact that the California League of Conservation Voters sent a floor alert to the members of the California Assembly giving strong support to the Steinberg proposal.  In this, they join three other environmental organizations that have already taken this position: Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense and the Nature Conservancy.  Each of the latter has strong ties to corporate funding and seem to be taking the corporate position.  There is strong evidence that staff for Natural Resources Defense Council have been meeting behind closed doors with the water districts who have the most to gain were the the Steinberg legislation legislation enacted.

Dan Bacher, Ed. Fishsniffer magazine, has harsh words for the CLCV.

NRDC, Environmental Defense, the Nature Conservancy and now the California League of Conservation Voters are giving “green” cover to policies that will lead to the death of the Delta and the extinction of Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations. We must expose these corporate greenwashers for the frauds that they are!

On the other side of this issue are the Sierra Club, Planning and Conservation League, Environmental Justice,Clean Water Action, Green LA, Heal the Bay, Restore the Delta and others. Together, they have fashioned the basis of a new plan, one that is both equitable and sustainable, but it is not what the legislature is delivering.

Today, Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, weighed in on the controversy at Huffington Post.

Indeed, it’s fair to say that Sacramento is in deep denial of a fundamental reality. California’s landscapes, forests, farmlands, and cities must now be managed primarily to meet the biggest challenge of the 21st century: an adequate, secure, clean, and safe  water supply for urgent human and environmental needs. Water is precious. We need to stop wasting it.

The legislature met today in special session, supposedly to pass legislation that would provide new governance for the Delta and to authorize putting a new bond issue on the 2010 ballot.  The governance creates new bureaucracies rather than rationalizing the existing ones and then gives the new boards and councils no enforcement authority and no funding.  The bonds themselves are a give away to major water users, moving $billions of cost from the actual beneficiaries of new water conveyance… once called a peripheral canal… to the taxpayers.  I am sure that the residents of Eureka or Monterey have no interest in paying for a handout to corporate agriculture.

Handout: that is what you call selling water at around $75 / acre ft. for agriculture when the going rate is over $200 / acre ft and the cost of desalination water can be as high as $1000 / acre foot.   And on top to that, the bond would have the taxpayers fund any and all environmental mitigation that a new canal would require.  Gimme a break.

They say that water flows to toward money.  There can not be any better example of this than what is happening in Sacramento this week.

Behind all of the smoke and mirrors, the legislature is doing nothing to rationalize California’s mixed up system of water right where Government has issued permits for some 5 to 8 times the amount of water that we get in a normal year.  It is time for someone to pull aside the curtain and reveal the Wizard in his shambles.

CA 80th AD: Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund Endorses Pettis as Best Supporting LGBT Values

Readers and bloggers have criticized the campaign in the 80th Assembly District as negative, nasty, and non-issues oriented.  This is the beginning of a series of blog posts on the reasons to support Greg Pettis, Cathedral City Councilman and former Mayor Pro-Tem of Cathedral City, in his race to become the Democratic nominee in the 80th AD.  Pettis has the support of every Democratic Club in the 80th AD that has thus far endorsed, including the Desert Hot Springs Democratic Club, the Desert Stonewall Democratic Club, the Inland Stonewall Democratic Club, Palm Springs Democratic Club, the Pass Democratic Club, the San Diego Democratic Club, and the San Diego Democratic Women’s Club.

In addition, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, the California League of Conservation Voters, California National Organization for Women, Equality California, HONOR PAC, Progressive Majority, amongst others, have endorsed Pettis based on his governmental experience, his achievements in the areas of healthcare, the economy, and the environment, and his plans for success in the 80th AD once elected.

According to the The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund website, The Victory Fund believes

“that true equality for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons will come when talented, committed and qualified openly LGBT individuals step up to lead their communities, to add their voices to the American political debate, and to show that what they want for their own families is the same as their straight colleagues; freedom to live their lives honestly, without fear and with hope.”

More below the flip…

More on The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund:

“The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund is the nation’s largest LGBT political action committee and the only national organization dedicated to increasing the number of openly LGBT elected officials at all levels of government. Since 1991, the Victory Fund and its national donor network have helped hundreds of openly LGBT candidates win election to local, state and federal offices.

“The Victory Fund provides strategic, technical and financial support to openly LGBT candidates and their campaigns. The Victory Fund staff of political professionals helps to recruit and vet qualified candidates, train them, and assist them in raising the crucial funds required to run for office.

“In addition to providing funding from our political action committee, the Victory Fund cultivates a national network of donors whose commitment to its mission results in vital support for our endorsed candidates.”

Clearly, the Victory Fund believes that Pettis is a talented, committed, and qualified openly LGBT individual who has stepped up to lead Cathedral City and his community, who is best suited to add his voice to the American political debate, and to demonstrate that he wants freedom for the LGBT community to live their lives honestly, without fear and with hope.

Other Democratic candidates for the 80th AD, even were they members of the LGBT community, would not qualify for the endorsement of The Victory Fund, as Rick Gonzales, a housing developer for Wells Fargo, and Richard Gutierrez, a dentist, both openly state during candidates forums that they will oppose Marriage Equality on the floor of the California State Assembly.  Victor Manuel Perez equivocates, stating that he supports equal rights for all individuals, however, he refuses to publically state that he would vote in favor of marriage equality in the California State Assembly.

The Pettis campaign issued a Press Release on October 4, 2007, announcing the Victory Fund endorsement.  Here is the text of the PR:


Democratic candidate for the 80th Assembly District, Greg Pettis, pulled in a national endorsement today with the announcement that The Victory Fund is supporting his campaign.

The Victory Fund is the only national organization that is dedicated to increasing the number of openly LGBT elected officials at all levels of government. In 2006, 67 Victory Fund endorsed candidates were elected to office.

“As someone who has stood up for the rights of all people and against discrimination in all forms, I couldn’t be happier to have this endorsement,” said Pettis.

Pettis, who is serving his 13th year on the City Council of Cathedral City, has rung up a string of impressive endorsements recently including the San Diego Democratic Club, the California Building Trades and the San Bernardino/Riverside County Labor Council.

“We’re building a strong base of support throughout California because my track record over the last 13 years is a good indicator that I’ll be able to help break the logjam in Sacramento on crucial issues like health care, economic development and protecting our environment,” Pettis said.

“With the support of groups like The Victory Fund, I’ll be able to take my message for a healthy California to all corners of this district.”

The Victory Fund joins a long list of endorsements for Pettis including AFSCME, the California Building Trades Council, Riverside/San Bernardino Counties Central Labor Council, San Diego/Imperial Counties Central Labor Council, Palm Springs City Councilmember Ginny Foat, Palm Springs City Councilmember Rick Hutcheson, Desert Hot Springs City Councilmember Karl Baker, Cathedral City Councilmember Paul Marchand, El Centro City Councilmember Sedalia Sanders, and former Coachella Mayor Juan DeLara.

Pettis is considered the Democratic frontrunner in the race to replace Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia (R), who will be stepping down due to term limits, thank God.  Pettis has raised more money and has more donors than all the other Democratic candidates combined based on the last filings with California’s Secretary of State.