Ballot effort to suspend Calif. greenhouse gas law raises $5.2M, nearly all from oil industry

By Robin Hindery, AP
Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Oil industry aids effort to suspend CA climate law

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With major contributions from the oil industry, supporters of a ballot initiative to suspend California’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions law reported a fundraising tally Tuesday of more than $5.2 million in the past three months.

The numbers disclosed by the Yes on 23 campaign reflected the continued backing of three out-of-state oil companies — Valero Corp. and Tesoro Corp. of Texas, and Flint Hills Resources, a Wichita, Kan.-based company owned by Koch Industries.

The companies contributed a combined $5 million during the period ending Sept. 30.

In all, the campaign has raised $8.3 million during the first nine months of the year and has $3.1 million remaining cash on hand.

Opponents of the initiative said they expected the petroleum industry to keep pouring money into Proposition 23 before the Nov. 2 vote.

The initiative would indefinitely suspend AB32, California’s 2006 law mandating significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

“We fully expect them to drop nuclear bombs in the coming weeks,” Steven Maviglio, a spokesman for the No on 23 campaign, said of the oil companies. “It’s going to be David versus Goliath at the end.”

Anita Mangels, a spokeswoman for the Yes on 23 campaign, called Maviglio’s prediction nonsense and said opponents were trying to “villainize supporters instead of focusing on what the initiative will and will not do.”

She said it would result in a temporary suspension of AB32 that would save California jobs and protect small businesses.

The No on 23 campaign reported Tuesday raising $10.5 million in the past three months for a total of $12.6 million during the first nine months of the year. Significant backing came from environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council and Northern California investors Thomas Steyer, founder of investment firm Farallon Capital Management LLC.

Steyer gave another $2.5 million on Sept. 30, bringing his total contribution to $5 million. Venture capitalist John Doerr of the firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and his wife, Ann, gave a total of $2 million.

The campaign reported having $4.5 million in cash on hand.

The climate law is the centerpiece of outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s environmental legacy. He has described it as crucial to securing California’s leadership in clean energy and technology.

Last week, on the four-year anniversary of AB32, the Republican governor came out swinging against the oil companies promoting Proposition 23, saying they were motivated purely by greed.

Schwarzenegger will continue to work to defeat the initiative, said Laura Dixon, a spokeswoman for the governor’s ballot-measure campaign committee.

“We always anticipated the oil companies are going to be putting significant resources into winning this thing,” Dixon said. “The governor will continue the very hard fight he’s been waging against them.”

Two recent polls paint an unclear picture of Proposition 23 prospects among California voters. A Field Poll released Sept. 26 found 45 percent of likely voters opposed the measure, while 34 percent supported it.

A Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California poll released the previous week showed 40 percent of voters favoring the measure and 38 percent opposing it — a statistical tie. One in five people surveyed said they had not yet taken a position on the initiative.

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