California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has vociferously opposed the ballot initiative Proposition 23, discussed the issue in a recent “Tweetcast” to his 1.8 million Twitter followers. The proposition would indefinitely suspend California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which has been a foundation for many state efforts aimed at advancing the use of solar electricity and electric vehicles.
Oil and gas companies have been the primary funders of Proposition 23, which also is opposed by former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz, who served under President Reagan. Mr. Shultz, who was Secretary of Labor and Secretary of the Treasury under President Nixon, also is a former president of Bechtel Corp., which is involved in the construction of the giant Ivanpah solar power plant in the Mojave Desert, now getting under way. Mr. Schwarzenegger has actively promoted the increased adoption of solar energy during his seven years as governor.
In the Twitter discussion, according to a transcript published on the governor's official website, he said, “Well, as I just said earlier, Prop 23 is funded by Texan oil companies. And it's basically they are, happen to be the biggest polluters in California, and they have created tremendous health problems in California because of that. I mean, we have literally 19,000 people in California dying because of smog-related and pollution-related problems, illnesses. “And so I think that we want to go reduce our greenhouse gases, we want to clean up California, we want to make it a place where people don't have to worry about dying early because of pollution or because of polluted water and so on and so forth.
And so this is why we are saying to the oil refineries and to the oil companies, ‘Look, we want to partner with you, we want to work with you. Let's slowly start making progress in these areas and reduce the pollution.’“Those oil companies, Valero and Tesoro, they decided to go and spend millions and millions of dollars and put an initiative on the ballot and to go and try to reverse our environmental progress and keep polluting California. And so I think that's unacceptable. “And I think that the people should know, if they succeed, we would roll back our environmental progress here and we will also kill a lot of the jobs, that are potential jobs, that are existing now and potential jobs in the future, when it comes to green technology.
And that would be very sad because, let's be honest, the green technology sector is the area that has the most job potential right now and has the biggest job growth. I mean, when you look at since 2005, it has created 10 times more jobs than any other sector, and so I think we want to protect that. We want people to invest in California; we want to have billions of dollars be poured into California. And you, know, we have 12,000 green-tech companies that have been created here in California and we want to continue being the leader in that area. We are the inspiration of the country.
“I think it's also very important that we make sure that Proposition 23 loses, because if it does then we can go and really continue on with our great environmental progress. And then go to Washington eventually, and just say, look guys, we are doing it in California. Let's have the rest of the country do it. Concentrate on renewable energy, concentrate on building cars that are not just fueled by fossil fuel but by alternative fuels, if it is synthetic diesel, if it is biodiesel, if it is electric cars, if it is hydrogen cars and so on and so forth. And we are going in that direction in California, but the rest of the country has to go in this direction.
“So I would say very important again that we win and that the proposition, that everyone votes no on Proposition 23.” On Sunday, Oct. 24, the California-based oil and energy company Chevron Corp., which also has a presence in the solar photovoltaic industry, published a prominent half-page advertisement in the Los Angeles Times that said, “It’s Time Oil Companies Get Behind the Development of Renewable Energy.”
The advertisement did not mention Proposition 23, but it said, “Something’s got to be done.” The ad mentioned that a venture-capital subsidiary of Chevron has invested in alternative energy companies, and that Chevron is testing solar technologies in Bakersfield. “We’re not just behind renewables,” the company’s ad said. “We’re tackling the challenge of making them affordable and reliable on a large scale.”