On November 2, California voters sent the oil industry running with its tail between its legs in a decisive 60-40 vote against Prop 23, a ballot initiative that would have undermined the state’s environmental standards and renewable energy job markets. If it had passed, it would have also been a major setback to national and international efforts to fight global warming. The Energy Program at Global Exchange would like to thank and congratulate everyone who contributed to this tremendous victory.
Unfortunately, with our intense focus on Prop 23 up until the last two weeks before the election, the environmental community was out-maneuvered on Prop 26. Chevron invested nearly $4 million on this ballot measure, which will make it more difficult for our elected representatives to impose pollution fees on the company.
Chevron did not fare so well in state or local elections however. Despite what the East Bay Express described as the “unprecedented $1 million” the company invested in the Richmond elections to create a political buffer between its dirty refinery and the public, the newspaper concluded that Chevron, “a company that has dominated Richmond politics for years, likely will have very little influence inside City Hall in the years to come.”
Chevron has yet to learn that respect for environmental and human rights would be a smarter long-term investment than its short-term PR campaigns (pricetag: over $90 million/year), which inevitably backfire when the public realizes that its actions do not match its rhetoric. The Yes Men, Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network recently reminded the company management of the cost of taking short-cuts by pre-emptively spoofing their new ad campaign.
We’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of us but it’s good to reflect on our victories against Big Oil as we forge the path toward a cleaner and brighter energy future.