Union of Concerned Scientists Warns CA Voters about Misleading Slate Mailer and ‘Trojan Horse’ Attack Against State’s Clean Energy Law; Urges Voters to Vote NO on 26
With most voters’ attention diverted by the oil industry’s efforts to derail the state’s landmark clean energy and climate law with Proposition 23, another, less scrutinized oil-industry-funded ballot measure–Proposition 26–also poses a serious threat to the environment and clean energy.
Proposition 26 has received nearly $16 million from Chevron and other big oil companies, as well as alcohol and tobacco interests, to get themselves off the hook from paying for environmental and health damage they cause and shift that burden to taxpayers.
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is alerting California voters to beware of misleading ‘slate mailers’ arriving in their mailboxes just before the November 2 election. UCS strongly urges a ‘NO’ vote on Prop. 23 and Prop. 26.
“While Prop 23 is a frontal assault on our clean energy law, Prop 26 is more like a Trojan horse,” said Dan Kalb, UCS California policy manager. “As deceptive as the Prop 23 campaign has been, the campaign to pass Prop 26 is even more insidious. Not only do the oil and tobacco companies behind Prop 26 hide the fact that it would starve state and local public health, clean air, and clean energy programs, but now they are funding misleading slate mailers that misinform voters about what the pro-environment position really is on Prop 26. The pro-environment position on Prop 26 is a definite NO.”
Voters have already begun receiving a for-profit mailer with the headline “Californians Vote Green” recommending votes on Props 25 (no) and 26 (yes) that are the opposite of what the state’s leading public health and environmental organizations recommend. UCS and several other leading environmental and consumer groups strongly support Prop. 25 and oppose Prop. 26.
“This pay-to-play ‘green’ mailer sinks to new lows when it comes to false advertising,” said Kalb.
Proposition 26, which is vague and poorly written, threatens California’s efforts to bolster green jobs by cleaning up the state’s energy supply and cutting global warming pollution. According to UCS, if passed, Proposition 26 could:
~ Prevent the California Air Resources Board from collecting a fee from polluters to fund CARB and other agencies implementing policies to reach the state’s 2020 global warming emission-reduction target. Those policies include standards for renewable energy and low-carbon fuel.
~ Prevent CARB from levying fees on global warming pollution as part of an economy-wide cap on emissions.
~ Eliminate funding streams for public transportation, crippling implementation of SB 375, which is designed to help Californians drive less, pollute less, and spend less money on gas.
Proposition 26 threatens California’s clean energy and climate laws by oddly redefining taxes, Kalb explained. Under current law, the state and municipal governments have the authority to impose narrowly-defined fees on industries whose activities harm public health or the environment and then use that revenue to correct and prevent those harms, as long as the amount of the fee bears a reasonable relationship to the harm.
Fees require a simple majority to pass in the Legislature, while taxes require a two-thirds super-majority vote. Proposition 26 would redefine fees as taxes, establishing a nearly impossible hurdle that could dry up funding for CARB and local governments to implement vital energy and environmental clean-up programs.
“If Californians want to support a clean environment and vibrant economy in California, they should vote ‘NO’ on Props 23 and 26,” said Erin Rogers, manager of the Western States Climate and Energy Program at UCS. “If passed, these measures won’t just put the brakes on California’s clean energy laws, they will send a message to businesses, entrepreneurs and investors in the state’s booming clean tech sector that California is no longer open for business. That’s a rotten deal, especially considering that clean tech is one of the only bright spots our state’s economy.”