California's Proposition 23 - The Dirty Energy Proposition

Published Aug 13, 2010 Updated Nov 2, 2010

Table of Contents

How Texas oil companies tried to block clean energy progress in California.

Update: California's Proposition 23, which would have suspended California's landmark clean energy and climate solutions law, AB 32, was soundly defeated on November 2, 2010.

Proposition 23, if enacted by voters, would have frozen the provisions of AB 32, the "Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006" until California's unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent or below for four consecutive quarters; however, California's unemployment rate has been at 5.5 percent or below for four consecutive quarters just three times since 1980.

Texas oil companies tried to block clean energy progress in California

Texas oil companies spent millions on a deceptive ballot campaign to pass Proposition 23, the dirty energy proposition that would effectively repeal AB 32. Prop 23 put at risk hundreds of thousands of clean technology and clean energy jobs in the state.

With continued lack of climate action at the national level, California's program stands today as the best model in the country for how to transition to clean energy to fight global warming. That's why the oil companies turned their attention—and their cash—to California as their next target.

Why did Texas Oil Companies try to Kill California's Clean Energy and Climate Law?

Because of California's innovative, forward thinking clean energy standards, the state has been a hotbed of investment and job creation in the clean tech, renewable energy, and energy efficiency industries. The oil companies who bankrolled Prop 23 do not want to be required to reduce their emissions, and they do not want to compete with California's clean energy and clean technology industries.

Which Oil Companies funded Prop 23?

Valero and Tesoro are the two Texas oil companies that contributed the overwhelming majority of the funds for the dirty energy initiative (more than $4.5 million). Each oil firm owns refineries in California. According to the California Air Resources Board, Valero's Benicia refinery is California's eighth largest source global warming pollution. A refinery owned by Tesoro is the state's tenth largest emitter of global warming pollution.

How was the Dirty Energy Proposition Deceptive?

The oil companies claimed Prop. 23 would only "suspend" AB 32's air pollution and health regulations until California's economy gets better. In fact, the dirty energy proposition would have repealed the state’s clean energy regulations until unemployment reached 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters—a market condition that has only occurred three times in the last 30 years.  Not only is this purposely deceptive, but it attempts to create a false and unsubstantiated choice between a healthy environment and a healthy economy. 

Related resources