Backers Say Prop. 87 Enforces Greenhouse Gas Law

By Published On: October 13, 2006

Proposition 87 – the ballot measure that would tax oil extraction in the state in order to fund alternative fuels – would be part and parcel of the state’s new anti-greenhouse gas legislation, according to supporters. The commitment to reducing greenhouse gases from this state can be helped largely by passage of Prop. 87, said Karen Skelton, former White House political director to former vice-president Al Gore. Supporters say the measure would provide funding to spur innovation by replacing fossil energy with other sources. However, Iraj Ershaghi, director of the petroleum engineering program at the University of Southern California, claims that the measure will reduce the amount of oil extracted in the state. “It will take away incentives” for small producers, he said. The measure would accumulate $4 billion from extraction taxes to fund alternative fuel research and commercialization. Yet, even with that underwriting, Ershaghi said that new fuels created under the law would not make enough of a dent in 10 years to “make that much of a difference” in reducing dependence on oil. Opponents such as Ershaghi also maintain that the initiative would increase the price of gasoline because oil companies will pass the extraction tax on to consumers. Although the ballot measure bans passing on the oil extraction fee, proponents admitted that they may end up in court. “If oil companies pass it on, there will be legal consequences,” Skelton warned. If the massive funding for the political campaigns – now at $44.9 million for the opposition and $45.7 million for support – is any indication, a court battle promises to be arduous. Former president Bill Clinton joined Gore in supporting the measure this week. – J.A. Savage

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