CLIMATE CHANGE ROUNDUP: Wealthy Californians Back ‘No’ on Proposition 23

By Published On: July 30, 2010

With little more than three months until the November election, suddenly the “No” on Proposition 23 campaign pulled ahead of the “Yes” on 23 committee money-wise. The combined forces seeking to block the initiative--which would overturn the state’s global warming law, AB 32--have raised $5.6 million so far, with another $2.5 million pledged. Meanwhile, the Yes on 23 Campaign has raised $3.1 million. Most of that was donated by the Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro. The totals are from reports on file with the California Secretary of State. No on Proposition 23 money comes primarily from wealthy individuals who are dedicated to seeing the state’s economy move in a green direction. Last week, the No on Proposition 23 campaign picked up major money with the appointment of hedge fund baron Tom Steyer. With his pledge of $5 million, he joins former secretary of state George Schultz as the campaign’s co-chair. Steyer delivered the first $2.5 million tranche July 21, according to a July 26 filing with the California Secretary of State. Steyer, who founded the $20 billion Farallon Capital hedge fund in 1986, is a well-known California Democrat with a long-standing interest in clean energy and social justice issues. Last year, for instance, he and his wife Kat Taylor gave $40 million to Stanford to establish the Precourt Institute for Energy. The couple also funded a number of programs aimed at eliminating discrimination, creating affordable housing, and stimulating community development. Steyer’s decision to co-chair the campaign with well known Republican Schultz, who served in the Reagan administration, came as the campaign issued a report saying Proposition 23 would jeopardize a half million clean tech jobs at 12,000 companies in California, plus derail billions of dollars of planned investments. His contribution adds to money the Natural Resources Defense Council is earmarking for the No on Proposition 23 campaign through its own committee, which is working in concert with the main committee fighting the measure. Robert Fisher, managing director of Pisces investment fund and former chief executive officer of the Gap, contributed $500,000 earlier in spring to the NRDC committee. Wendy Schmidt, president of the Schmidt Foundation and its 11th Hour Project on global warming, contributed $500,000 last month to the NRDC committee, joining other wealthy Californians who are stepping up to save AB 32. * * * * * President Barack Obama is likely to veto any legislation that would limit the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act pursuant to a Supreme Court ruling in 2007, according to a top aide. Press reports bubbling forth from Washington quote White House energy and climate change czar Carol Browner threatening a veto. Coal and oil state senators are pushing legislation to strip EPA of its power to impose greenhouse gas reductions without express Congressional authorization. In a related development July 29, EPA denied 10 petitions challenging its 2009 determination that climate change is real, is occurring due to emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities, and threatens human health and the environment.

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