Hey Valero: Don't Mess With California
by jamesboyce, Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 08:20:05 PM EST
Often, despite perhaps intellectually knowing better, voters fall in a simple trap in politics and unintentionally take things at face value. Back in 2006, working with my friends Dave Johnson and Taylor Marsh on The Patriot Project, we uncovered numerous examples of major conservative groups who were attempting to influence the 2006 elections that literally were funded by a single, or very small group, of very wealthy right-wing donors.
For example, there was a group called "Economic Freedom Fund" that was paid for, entirely, with two multi-million dollar checks from Bob Perry, one of the original Swift Boat investors. In fact, the entire Swift Boat operation got the vast majority of its funding from a very small group of wealthy conservatives. (Note to T. Boone Pickens, if you were smarter, you would have supported John Kerry who may well have supported your Pickens Plan, just a thought.)
My opinion is, of course, that anyone has the right to spend and back any plan or candidate, it's called freedom of speech.
But it's also important to know who you are actually speaking to.
Starting right now, we see a perfect example of this in California, where Californians have chosen to not support or fund a ballot initiative to repeal AB 32, a clean energy bill that is leading to not only job growth in California, but a stronger future for the state.
It is a bill that was supported by Republicans and Democrats alike in California, and one that was signed by a Republican Governor and it is a program that is working.
Of course, it is not supported by major oil companies who are determined to protect their profits and their businesses in the long term, believing that the more they can delay the evolution to clean energy, the more money they will make.
So when no California companies, and no wealthy California Republicans would finance the signature-gathering process needed to get a measure on the ballot this fall to stop AB 32, Valero, along with another Texas energy company, Tesoro, stepped up with the money.
These sources said two refiners based in San Antonio -- Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp. -- are the sole funders so far behind a proposed ballot initiative that would bring a temporary halt to A.B. 32, which would cut greenhouse gases across California's economy to 1990 levels by 2020, starting in two years.
Reached in San Antonio, a spokesman for Valero did not deny the assertion.
One can only imagine the collective reactions of Texans if two California companies stepped into Texas politics and paid millions to get a measure on the ballot in Texas.
Valero has a long and illustrious history with the environment, in 2005, the EPA (and mind you, the EPA under George Bush) hit Valero with a tidy $711 million fine, solidifying Valero's well-deserved reputation for being one of nation's worst polluters.
By funding the signature-gathering (all around California, when you see signature gatherers for this, remember that they're getting paid to do a job), Valero is not only going against the wishes of Californians, they are putting the lives of our men and women in uniform in danger.
The Center for Naval Analysis brought together a blue-ribbon panel of generals and admirals who concluded that "climate change is a serious national security threat." And General Anthony Zinni said flatly that if we don't deal with climate change now, "we will pay the price later in military terms. And that will involve human lives."
If you are for some reason tempted to sign a ballot initiative paid for by one of the worst-polluting companies in the country that will increase their profits at the expense of your health and your state's best interests, and put our men and women's in increased harm's way, don't forget - you are also supporting an effort to "kill hundreds of thousands of jobs and chill billions of dollars of investment in clean energy and other green tech jobs in California".
Opposition groups have leveraged public fears and insecurities to claim that AB 32 would only destroy more jobs, when in actuality suspending AB 32 would be the real nail in the coffin for the California economy.
Big oil companies are trying to prove their distorted view based on the highly criticized Varshney/Tootelin Report (VTR). The VTR has been cited as nothing but "false and biased and greatly overblown", "based on poor logic and unsound economic analysis" and as "one of the worst examples of schlock science we've ever seen".
Not to mention Varshney and Tootelin were paid $54,000 to conduct their study by the California Small Business Roundtable (which happens to be part of the deceivingly named AB 32 Implementation Group that is actually working to suspend the law on behalf of 22 of the 100 worst polluters in CA who are members.)
- one of the worst polluters in America, a Texas oil company,
- is spending millions to repeal an initiative that has wide-spread support in California
- so they can make more money
- they are using a bogus report companies like them paid for
- and they are hoping you sign.