Tag Archives: Tesoro

HItting the phones in San Rafael

Although I had received an incredibly supportive welcome from campaign organizers at the San Francisco office, I was happy to move to the simpler tasks of the grassroots campaign, for which I felt much more qualified.

I have been working primarily out of an office in San Rafael, run by two members of Green Core who recently graduated college. I spend my time phone banking, meeting with volunteers and attending rallies in the surrounding area.

San Rafael, being sunny, beautiful, and inhabited by a fair few crunchy, eco-friendly people, is of course not a bad place to be working on an environmental campaign.

Having a fear of phones that makes me avoid calls even with my closest friends, I never thought of myself as a prime candidate for phone banking. Despite my hesitation, it has become one of my favorite activities. Most people don’t pick up, and many that do are clearly not in the mood to talk. The rare person though who seems truly enthusiastic makes up for all the disappointments, and I often find myself full of adrenaline after a successful phone banking session. There is also a camaraderie with the other phone bankers, as you chat together while phones ring.

Obviously phone banking is laborious and slow, but there is a feeling of accomplishment that I found lacking in other activities, a sense of reaching real, live voters (who can otherwise seem almost like mythical creatures, as you discuss them at length but never actually meet them).

I enjoy rallies tremendously, but from the outside of a campaign, I honestly thought they served more as moral boosters for the volunteers rather than influencing voters. My opinion was changed late one night, as I sat phone banking. After only the first few sentences of my “schpiel,” the man on the phone interrupted me, asking if this was the proposition he had seen all the people waving signs for the previous weekend. Having been at the rally he was referring to, I could tell him honestly that it was.

“That’s ok then,” he told me. “We’re voting no. We don’t support big oil. You can call someone else now.”

– Evi Steyer

Tom Steyer is co-Chair, with former Secretary of State George Shultz, of the campaign to oppose Proposition 23 in California, an initiative that would undercut California’s commitment to clean energy.

Evi Steyer is one of Tom and Kat’s four children. She graduated from San Francisco’s University High School in 2010 and is taking a year off to volunteer on the Prop 23 campaign and travel, before starting Yale in the fall of 2011.

They are writing a regular father-daughter, intra-generational blog to share concerns and fears, as well as ideas and hopes about the future of California’s environment.

Prop. 23 Is Debated – and the Millennial Generation Is Tuned In

This is the first installment of what we hope will become a regular father-daughter, intra-generational effort to share concerns and fears, as well as ideas and hopes about the future of California’s environment. – Tom

Tom Steyer:  

I was in Sacramento last week to debate Assembly Member and Prop. 23 author, Dan Logue. As part of my role as the No on Prop. 23 Co-Chair, I’m going to be publicly arguing the ‘no’ side of this measure as often as they’ll let me. I’ve been a passionate and practicing environmentalist for a long time now – and I put my money, and my time, where my mouth is.

And so I found myself in Sacramento.  

I had spent several days prepping and practicing, making sure I was on top of the information as well as Mr. Logue’s attitudes and beliefs. I’m pretty passionate about this stuff to start with – and after spending a few days really drilling down on just who’s behind Prop. 23 (billion-dollar Texas oil giants, Valero and Tesoro), what their motives are (make even more money) and what it would mean to our environment (don’t get me started), I was ready to do battle.

Turns out, Dan Logue’s a very nice gentleman from the Truckee area, a small businessman mostly concerned with the climate for small business. He clearly cared generally about the issue. But he repeatedly quoted a series of discredited analytical efforts including one from Sacramento State and another from Berkeley, the authors of which have expressly asked him to please stop misquoting their work. It seemed to me that those Texas oil companies are manipulating him as badly as the rest of us.

One of the interesting things about debating this issue in public was that I got an immediate sense of what resonates and what does not. It’s obvious that the fact this initiative is funded by Texas oil companies resonates with everyone. It’s obvious that polluters should not be able to write their own environmental laws, get them on the ballot, and get them passed. The other point that’s obvious is this is a confusing issue for most people. Even the numbers, AB 32 and Prop 23, are confusing. It was necessary to repeat frequently that the pro-environment vote is a NO on 23 vote.

I found it an emotional experience, much like playing a soccer or basketball game. But even more so because it’s so obviously not a game. I left the debate feeling pretty drained – but also even more focused. Valero and Tesoro are going to spend whatever’s necessary to undermine California’s environmental laws. And I’m going to do my damndest to stop them.

Evi Steyer:

The trip from San Francisco to Sacramento, across the bay, over the golden-brown hills, and through the fields of the Valley, put me in a very California frame of mind.  After mistakenly making my way to a local neighborhood (wine) press club and bar of the same name, I finally found my way to the Sacramento Press Club, where the debate was being hosted.  The street was lined with Yes on Prop 23 advocates and a man dressed as a chicken, a reference to Assemblyman Logue’s feint at backing out of the debate. Late due to my scenic tour of Sacramento, I hustled up the stairs and found a seat at the back of the high-ceilinged room. Two men who resembled Logue himself and seemed to be closely affiliated with him, a couple wearing matching Tea Party t-shirts, and several people wearing Yes on 23 stickers and holding signs, were seated next to me.

As an 18-year old who grew up in a house where conversations about sustainable energy were as common as the morning carpool, I’m proud of California’s environmental laws and think Prop. 23 is deceptive and really, really dangerous.

The facts prove global warming is real, so it was hard for me to react to Mr. Logue’s assertion that the matter remains inconclusive without a certain amount of skepticism. What struck me, more than the arguments presented and the studies cited, was the overall tone of the discussion. Both Mr. Logue and my Dad clearly care about California and its citizens. But Dan Logue most definitely stakes his position on what he believes to be in the best interest of California. The only problem with Mr. Logue’s position though, no matter how passionate he is and how deeply held his beliefs – he’s wrong on the facts.

I was proud of my Dad, not for his debating tactics but for the positive and hopeful stance he presented. The words “innovation” and “creativity” arose frequently in his arguments for AB 32 and against Prop 23. Listening to the debate, I felt fully engaged and excited about the green revolution and the role California will play. I felt hopeful.

Tom Steyer is a successful asset manager, entrepreneur and environmentalist. He founded and is Co-Managing Partner of the San Francisco-based firm, Farallon Capital Management and is a partner at the private equity firm Hellman & Friedman. With his wife Kat Taylor, he created and funded OneCalifornia Bank, which provides loans and banking services to underserved small businesses, communities, and individuals in California. In 2008, Steyer and Taylor made a $40 million gift to Stanford University to create a new research center as part of the Precourt Institute for Energy, the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy.

Steyer is also co-Chair, with former Secretary of State George Shultz, of the campaign to oppose Proposition 23 in California, an initiative that would undercut California’s commitment to clean energy.

Evi Steyer is one of Tom and Kat’s four children. She graduated from San Francisco’s University High School in 2010 and is taking a year off to volunteer on the Prop 23 campaign and travel, before starting Yale in the fall of 2011.

Oxy, Tesoro and Valero: Drilling at the Ballot Box

In the aftermath of Katrina, nearly everyone pitched in to help (except George Bush, but that’s an old story).  Even Wal-Mart lent is vaunted logistics expertise to the devastated Gulf Coast.

This time around, in a man-made disaster more insiduous than Katrina, the oil industry that chomps at the drilling bit to pump crude from any crevice without regard to consequence, sits idly by, unwilling to lift so much as a pen to help out in the Gulf.  Worse still, Occidental Petroleum, Tesoro and Valero, along with a few secretive allies, have put up over $2 million to pass an initiative here in California that would effectively elminate AB 32, our land mark green economy and clean air legislation, simply to make more money from fouling our state. They see BP and raise a California.

That’s why Courage Campaign Thursday called on those companies to donate at least that much money to efforts to rehabilitate the Gulf, to help the tens of thousands whose lives have been upended or worse by the petro-sharks.

The usually incisive Josh Richman of the Contra Costa Times  had this to say:

But… really? Isn’t demanding that Tesoro and Valero pay to mitigate a BP oil spill sort of like demanding that Honda recall and fix Toyota’s cars? Think what you will of out-of-state oil companies buying a California ballot initiative to protect their profits, but it’s odd to advocate expanding one company’s responsibility and liability to an entire industry just like that. Or, were we supposed to think that big oil – one of the world’s richest, most politically connected industries – would instantly abandon all of its political efforts and slink away due to BP’s ecological and economic trainwreck

It does not seem odd at all. Honda did not seek to weaken safety laws when Toyota began to fail. Imagine if Honda had put millions of dollars into a ballot measure that called for a moratorium on safety checks for five years. You can’t.  No other industry would be so brazen and outrageously rapacious.  That’s the analogy here.  

A well-run company (think Berkshire Hathaway) works toward sustainability which is in the best interests of its shareholders.  Putting tons of oil into the sea and investing in legislation that encourages similarly destructive practices is short-term thinking at its worst. This is the same thinking that allows employee-CEOs to become billionaires by cutting corners and taking profits without investing in the future.  It’s not only legitimate to call on these companies to help out when their industry fails so blatantly, it’s a kind of litmus test.  If they are not willing to help out when people, animals and the nation itself are drowning in dirty crude, we can imagine what will happen if they pass this legislation in California. Screw California and the country:  we want our bonuses.

The end of a green economy and a continual reliance on oil at any price from any place will not be their problem.  It’ll be ours.

I used to work at Occidental Petroleum.  I know that companies can do bad and good.   Oxy, Valero and Tesoro should at least take a page from Wal-Mart’s book–no corporate Boy Scout–and lend a hand in this time of need.  It won’t make them any money, but it’s what good citizens and sustainable businesses do.  

5 Earth Day Actions You Can Take In 10 Minutes Flat

It's Earth Day and in addition to all of the other lists advising you to turn off the lights, get green power, and pay attention to what you are buying (all of which are very important) there are five more concrete things you need to do today, that can have a huge impact on the health of the planet. Best of all, they will take you about 10 minutes.

Let's begin.

1. Call Senator Harry Reid at 202-224-3542.

Senator Reid gets it. He said that clean energy and climate legislation 'may be the most important policy we ever pass.' He is going to be facing a TON of pressure to compromise, and accept half-measures. He needs to know that you have his back on passing a comprehensive bill to bolster clean energy and address climate change.

2. Join the Campaign to Stop the Dirty Energy Proposition.

California passed a bill back in 2006 that would bring its greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020. It is easily the most aggressive climate law in the country, and it could pave the way for other states and other nations to follow suit – BUT Valero, Tesoro, and other big oil interests are trying to pull an Enron and dupe the people of California into passing a proposition that would stop the whole thing.

Whether you are in California or not, sign up and lend a hand.

3. Join the Campaign to Stop the Dirty Energy Proposition on Facebook.

Yep, join them on Facebook too. I can't emphasize how critical this will be for the country. If California, the 8th largest economy in the world can get a handle on its emissions (not to mention reap the HUGE benefits that will come with the 2 million jobs and billion in investments that are already starting to show up there), it will show the rest of the world, that it can be done, and that doing it will make us all better-off.

4. Join the boycott of big oil companies who meddle in state politics.

Write Valero, an email, and let them know you will be boycotting them until they keep their dirty money out of state politics.

5. Share this blog on your Facebook and Twitter.

Lets face it, this stuff only works if we are aggressive about increasing the numbers of people who take actions like these. If you want to get credit yourself, I hereby give you permission to post this blog under your name.

Let's get serious about doing all we can for our planet now. Thanks for reading and thanks for getting in action!

Hey CA – Don’t Get Fooled

The Dirty Energy Proposition (aka the California Jobs Initiative) blew by its self-imposed signature collection deadline last week. The campaign is working to gather the more than 400,000 signatures needed to get the proposal to kill California's landmark climate and clean energy law on the November ballot. Apparently their expectation that a good turnout at Tea Party rallies would result in tens of thousands of signatures to Suspend AB 32 was a bit optimistic. However, California's environment and economy aren't in the clear yet, as almost $1,000,000 in additional funding has been recently contributed to the proposal. So are throngs of Californians getting in action? Nope.

So which money trees did the new wads of green come from? In keeping with the campaign's MO, none other than top U.S. polluters and out-of-state interests. Of course looking at the newest contributor the Adam Smith Foundation, which donated a hefty $458,000, this isn't exactly obvious at first glance – but dig a little deeper and it becomes clear that the group fits in perfectly with its dirty oil counterparts.

Out-of-state? Check. The Adam Smith Foundation is a non-profit group based in Jefferson City, Mo., keeping in line with Texas based oil contributors Valero and Tesoro.

Suspicious motives? Check. While the group calls itself “an advocacy organization committed to promoting conservative principles and individual liberties in Missouri” and “created to defend judicial reform, government accountability, education reform, tax and spending reform and protecting private property”, the reality is that it acts “as a corporate non-profit front group…with ties to stalwart Republican operatives with a history political thuggery and malfeasance”. Hmm, kind of like how Valero claims “environmental stewardship is a core value” for the company, yet is ranked 12th on The Political Economy Research Institute's “100 worst air polluters” in the U.S. (Tesoro came in right behind at number 30).

Perhaps the suspension group's new plan of attack in using non-profits as a puppet to mask the original source of funds is an attempt to avoid any more boycotts like the one Californians have launched against Valero. But Californian's can't be played so easily, and this ploy does little to mask the real interests tugging at the puppet strings. Especially when the other major donors to the committee “include Occidental Petroleum ($300,000), Tesoro Companies ($200,000), World Oil Corp. ($100,000)” and Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association ($100,000).

The underlining question here is how exactly did the fight to kill a piece of California legislation become a top priority for so many? Oil companies and out-of-state special interests fear that clean energy would decrease our dependence on their dirty fossil fuels, thus cutting into their profits and challenging the need for their industry. They know that the reports of further investment, job growth and increasing prosperity that AB 32 promises, chips away at the stranglehold they have us in.

That's one thing this manipulating campaign has right – that AB 32 will jump start a green economy that will threaten dirty energy interests. AB 32 has led businesses to put a new emphasis on environmental concerns, and in turn driven a strong job growth in the green sector. This is highlighted in The California Workforce Association Conference recent study “California's Green Economy”, revealing the increased focus on green products and services and how manufacturing and construction industries are actually leading with the most green jobs. However, suspending AB 32 would halt this transition towards a cleaner and greener California.

As the final weeks of signature collecting get underway – spread the word about the Dirty Energy Proposition. After all, the last time out-of-state Energy interests claimed to have Californians' best interests at heart, we got rolling blackouts, courtesy of Enron. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice . . .

Fact: California Can Lead the Economic Recovery

AB 32, California's landmark climate legislation, will hold polluters accountable and require them to reduce the air pollution that continues to not only threaten our health but also contributes to global climate change. This law has been instrumental in launching our state as the superstar of the clean technology industry – igniting innovation and clean energy businesses that have created thousands of new jobs for Californians.

But an opposition force bought and paid for by Texas Big Oil, is attempting to stop all this by pushing a deceptive ballot proposition that will allow polluters to turn a blind eye to clean energy standards, destroy jobs from California's clean technology companies, and keep us addicted to fossil fuels.


The out of state, big oil opposition is spending millions in it's attempt to cover the facts behind it's layer of smog and deceit, but the reality is that suspending AB 32 is the real mistake threatening our health, our economy, and the future of our state. We need your help in revealing the truth so that California knows the danger that lies in the campaign to kill AB 32.

Who's behind it all?

Two Texas oil companies, Valero Energy Corporation and Tesoro, are the main funders of the ballot proposition.

These two companies are among the nation's biggest polluters, and their California oil refineries are among the top ten polluters in our state. The Valero Political Action Committee is a leading political contributor to dirty energy interests nationally.

While Valero and Tesoro claim their proposition will only 'suspend” AB 32 until California's economy gets better, the truth is that this suspension will kill new jobs and investment.

FACT: The proposition would create more air pollution in California, threaten public health and worsen the climate gap.

Air pollution is already a major threat to public health in California, contributing to 19,000 premature deaths, hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks and thousands of trips to the hospital for California families.

This initiative would let the Texas oil companies and other polluters off the hook – drastically increasing air pollution and public health risks.

FACT: The proposition will kill clean energy and technology jobs, end innovation and billions of dollars of investment in California – bringing our chances to become the nation's clean energy and technology leader to a screeching halt.

The Texas oil companies want California to continue to be addicted to oil and are eager to kill any competition from clean energy business that would reduce this dependence on fossil fuels.

But the clean energy sector is one of the few bright spots in our recovering economy, and rolling back our clean energy standards will cause California to lose hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in investments.

Since 2005, California green jobs have grown 10 times faster than the statewide average for other sectors.

The number of California green businesses has increased by 45% and green jobs expanded by 36% from 1995 to 2008 while total jobs in California expanded only 13%.

California's clean technology sector received $2.1 billion in investment capital in 2009 – beating out the investment in Massachusetts, our biggest competitor, by a factor of five.


FACT: Projections of economic destruction resulting from AB 32 have been thoroughly invalidated and disproved by independent economists and the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO).

The opposition clings to studies that the LAO has evaluated and determined as containing “a number of serious shortcomings that render its estimates of the annual economic costs of state regulations essentially useless.”

Stanford University economist Jim Sweeney stated the following in his report on the Varshney/Tootelian study: “highly biased…based on poor logic and unsound economic analysis” and overstates the costs of AB 32 “by a factor of at least 10”.

Beacon Economics' Christopher Thornberg and Jon Haveman deemed the study “one of the worst examples of schlock science we've ever seen.”

FACT: The proposition will increase both our dependence on foreign oil and costs for California consumers.

Killing AB 32, and thus keeping us dependent on fossil fuels, will increase household electricity costs in California by 33%.

Suspending climate policies will also cause California's economy will shrink by $84 billion, over a half million jobs in 2020.

FACT: The proposition would mean that we would continue to destroy our environment.

If we don't do something to cut emissions, “average U.S. temperatures…are projected to rise another 7°F to 11°F by the end of this century”. To be clear, this seemingly minor increase in temperature is expected to cause the following:

“Annual heat-related health costs could reach an estimated $14 billion by 2100, while rising ground-level ozone levels would boost medical bills by another $10 billion”, states the Union of Concerned Scientists report.

A reduction of up to 90 percent of the Sierra snowpack – which would take away a crucial source of the state's water supply and annual losses to state agriculture, forestry and fisheries reaching $4.3 billion.

According to a report from the California Climate Change Center at the UC-Berkeley, “a 75 to 85 percent increase in the number of days conducive to ozone formation [smog] in Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley”.

An increase in annual large wildfires by as much as 53 percent by 2100.

You get the picture. You got the facts. Now please get in action, and nip this weed of a campaign in the bud.

Petition to Kill California’s Anti-Pollution Legislation Off to a Rocky, Slimy Start

So it’s been over a week since Texas oil refiners (and two of California’s worst polluters) Valero and Tesoro ponied up close to $2 million to launch a petition drive to get an initiative on the November ballot to kill AB 32, California’s nation-leading legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels and encourage job creation in the booming green/clean energy and tech industries. Naturally, Valero, Tesoro and assemblyman Dan Logue (R-Chino), one of the initiative’s primary sponsors, are doing their best to keep Texas Big Oil’s involvement in the petition a secret, refusing to confirm or deny that Valero/Tesoro are actually the sole funders of the signature drive and stand to profit from insuring that Californians continue to breath some of the dirtiest, most unhealthy air in the nation.

Unfortunately for them, the secret is out. Supporters of AB 32, the environment and clean energy started a website, NoOnValero.com, to let Californians know that the effort to kill AB 32 is about Big Oil profits, not saving or creating jobs. They also staged a rally in front of a Sacramento Valero station to tell Valero to mind its own business. Below is news coverage of the event, and you can also visit the No On Valero Youtube channel to hear what the protesters think of Valero’s involvement in trying to kill AB 32.

Not to be outdone, the Teabaggers, America’s favorite racists and climate change/evolution deniers, decided to stage their own pro-Valero rally the next week. That’s right, a rally to celebrate the fact that an out-of-state Big Oil company — a member of one of America’s most hated industries after banks and health insurers — is attempting to further corrupt our political system and compromise the health of Californians. Because apparently Teabaggers, who claim to value what they call “freedom”, think it’s better if unelected Texas CEOs of heavy-polluting corporations write California’s anti-pollution laws. Also, someone may want to tell the Teabaggers that Valero’s involvement in the petition is supposed to be, you know, a secret. And I’ll be curious to hear what Valero thinks of getting the support of a group known mostly for racism, unhinged anger, willful ignorance and irrational, apocalyptic conspiracy theories.  

Then again, Valero may need all the support it can get. In a shocking turn, one of the leaders pushing for the anti-AB 32 ballot initiative, conservative Dan Costa of People’s Advocate, is now opposing the ballot initiative due to Valero and Tesoro’s involvement and the seediness of keeping it a secret, possibly in violation of state campaign laws. From the Sacramento Bee:

Ted Costa, of People’s Advocate, said he continues to believe in the thrust of the initiative but that the signature-gathering campaign has been “stolen” by big-money interests that have not identified themselves publicly.

“You ruin the whole organization when you go through this kind of muck,” said Costa.

And Costa told the LA Times:

“I wanted to do a grassroots operation and involve a lot of people,” Costa said. “But they believe they can run this thing out of the country club and to hell with the little people of California. If they have half a million dollars, how come they haven’t reported it?” he asked.

Of course, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to Costa that Logue would be hopping in bed with Valero and Big Oil, even if it seems unseemly or illegal. After all, Logue knows who owns him. From California Watch:

Last year alone, the oil and energy industries donated $14,200 to Logue’s campaign coffers, including $2,000 from Valero. Other Logue donors in 2009 include Chevron, Occidental, and the California Independent Petroleum PAC.

So Big Oil buys Logue through campaign contributions to get him elected, then Logue sponsors a ballot initiative to kill legislation that Big Oil is opposed to, then two Big Oil companies provide the funding to gather signatures for the initiative. Could the dots be any easier to connect? The Circle of Oil continues…

And in another surprise, not only are the authors of the thoroughly debunked Varshney/Tootelian report claiming that implementing AB 32 would lead to massive economic pain refusing to defend their work from the withering criticism it has received, but apparently they don’t think AB 32 is so bad. From the State Hornet:

“We conducted an independent and unbiased study, and certainly support the spirit of AB 32,” [Dennis Tootelian] said in an e-mail. “Our study estimated the costs, and we have no other comment.”

You’d think he’d have something a bit stronger to say after Tootelian’s co-author on the report, Sanjay Varshnay, received criticism like this:

“For a guy [Varshney] who purports to be a professor, this is an embarrassment to himself and an embarrassment to [Sacramento State],” said Chris Thornberg, economist and founding principal of Beacon Economics.

Thornberg said the report committed fatal flaws in basic statistical analysis. The authors used regression analysis, a statistical technique used to test one variable while controlliing for many others. The report looked at state output, but did not control for the number of workers and amount of capital in California.

“The results are so screwy and crazy,” Thornberg said. “It’s so bad that if a freshman student handed this to me, I wouldn’t even give him an ‘F,’ I would call it incomplete and hand it back to them.”

With only a month to get almost 434,000 signatures, the anti-AB 32 petition drive is off to a pretty rocky start. But one thing that’s for sure is that you should never, ever count the republicans out. They never give up and will fight to the end using the dirtiest tactics, the biggest lies and the most outrageous scaremongering imaginable. Plus, the anti-AB 32 movement was handed a gift this week in the form of a new report by California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office claiming that AB 32 will result in short-term job losses, even though the Union of Concerned Scientists pointed out that the report admits that predicting job losses or gains from AB 32 is extremely difficult, provides no independent research to back its claim of overall job losses, and fails to mention the numerous studies that have found that AB 32 would be a net job creator with little or no impact on small businesses.

With California’s reputation for setting precedents that the rest of the country often follows, you can bet that powerful players are gearing up for a fight that will only grow in intensity as the days tick down until the petition signatures are due on April 16.  

EXPOSED: Texas Big Oil Funding Petition to Kill California’s Anti-Pollution Legislation

Stealthily and without fanfare, a petition has been launched to get a measure on the November ballot suspending AB 32, California’s landmark legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions and spur green job growth. So who is funding the signature drive? None other than San Antonio-based oil refiners Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp. — the #7 and #8 biggest polluters in California. From the LA Times:

Two Texas-based refinery giants have pledged as much as $2 million to fund signature gathering for a ballot initiative to suspend California’s landmark global warming law [AB 32], according to Sacramento sources.

The companies, Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp., own refineries in California that would be forced under the law to slash emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

But neither Valero or Tesoro is owning up to it.

A Tesoro spokesman did not respond to inquiries. But the company’s website invites visitors to lobby Congress to ensure “fair” climate legislation and fight any effort by the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

Bill Day, a Valero spokesman, declined to confirm or deny the company’s involvement, saying that “any contributions would come out in normal disclosures” under California’s campaign laws.

And neither is Dan Logue (R-Marysville), one of the initiative’s main sponsors. From NYTimes:

Dan Logue, the Republican assemblyman behind the suspension, also refused to discuss where funds had originated.

So forget about the astroturf groups claiming the movement to kill AB 32 is a bunch of small local businesses worried about their survival in a tough economy. The mask is off the anti-AB 32 movement, and behind it is exactly what we thought we would find: big oil, big pollution, big corporations and the corporatist Republicans who love them. That’s why Logue, Valero and Tesoro refuse to admit where the money for the ballot initiative is coming from, even if it means possibly violating California Fair Political Practices Committee regulations. The fact that Texas Big Oil is funding an initiative to keep California’s air dirty and kill its burgeoning green economy is a PR nightmare.

So let’s have no more illusions about what the move to kill AB 32 is all about.

Killing AB 32 is not about job creation or lowering unemployment. Valero and Tesoro don’t care about creating jobs or lowering unemployment in a state over 1,000 miles away from them since that won’t increase their profits. If they did care about job creation, they would be supporting AB 32 since California’s clean/green economy is creating jobs at a rate 2.5 times faster than the rest of the economy while attracting billions in venture capital investment, including an announcement this week that Kyocera will be opening a plant in San Diego to manufacture solar modules. Besides, the Varshney/Tootelian report that AB 32 opponents often cite to prove that AB 32 will kill jobs and hurt the economy has been exposed by numerous economists, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the California Budget Project as being fatally, almost cartoonishly flawed, with one pair of economists calling it “one of the worst examples of schlock science we’ve ever seen.” Even Sanjay Varshney, one of the report’s co-authors, admitted that the report is “not exhaustive” and now seems to be backing away from its conclusions.

The move to kill AB 32 is about even more astronomical profits for Big Oil, regardless of whom or what it harms. Valero and Tesoro don’t care that hundreds of Californians die every year from respiratory illnesses aggravated by pollution, or that the adverse health effects of pollution disproportionately fall on minorities. They don’t care that the top four most polluted cities in the country are in California or that Californians breath some of the dirtiest air in America, with 95% of Californians living in areas with unhealthy air.

In fact, Valero and Tesoro want California’s air to become even more dirty and dangerous because they profit from pollution. Instead of being ethical and responsible and cleaning up their own mess, they can make even more by “socializing” and externalizing the cost of pollution — making Californians pay for it in the form of taxpayer-funded environmental cleanups, increased medical bills and lost work days stemming from pollution-related illness, and premature death. Tesoro claims it wants “fair” climate legislation when the most “fair” thing they could do is to clean up their own pollution instead of making others deal with it. And while they adamantly oppose any legislation that puts a price on carbon, the truth is that Valero and Tesoro know that carbon already has a price — the extra profits they make by not cleaning up the carbon pollution they generate.

Call Valero at (210) 345-2000 and/or email Tesoro and tell them what you think of what they’re doing. They’ll try to redirect you to a PR firm, but be insistent. And if anything, tell them that you and all of your friends will never, ever buy their gas again.

We’ve already had out-of-state interests stick their nose in to tell Californians who we can marry. Let’s make sure out-of-state Big Oil doesn’t dictate what kind of air we’re forced breath.

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)