Turning (and Overturning) 23

By Caroline Crandall

When you are 23, like I am, your major life milestones include getting your license, being able to drink legally, and graduating from college.  

Now that we have come of age in so many other ways, it is time for my generation to own up to one of our more important (and maybe more unappreciated) milestones: voting.  

In November, we will face a major decision that will affect us and the rest of our nation for decades to come:  the vote on Prop 23.  

Prop 23 would suspend AB 32 (California’s landmark law limiting global warming pollution) until the state’s unemployment rate hits 5.5%.  California’s unemployment has only reached that level three times (and briefly) in the past 30 years.  Prop 23 will, in essence, suspend one of the more innovative laws California lawmakers have ever produced. 

Who is really behind Prop 23?

Valero and Tesoro, who have given 97% of the funding to the Yes on 23 campaign, are fighting hard to overturn AB 32.  But when we look closely, Valero and Tesoro are mainly refineries, not the big oil companies like Chevron and BP who manage all aspects of the oil supply chain.  San Jose Mercury News columnist Chris O’Brien did some investigating and found that Valero and Tesoro simply buy oil, refine it and sell it back. They are middlemen who profit from America’s dependency on oil. 

“In 2009, with the recession slowing gas consumption, Valero’s revenue dropped to $68.1 billion from $119.1 billion in 2008 (Exxon Mobil, the country’s largest oil company, took in $311 billion in 2009, by comparison). Tesoro’s revenue fell to $16.9 billion in 2009 from $23.8 billion.”

So what is this really about? California’s emissions laws or two companies that are interested in maintaining their billion-dollar bottom lines? Imagine if cassette tape manufacturers spent millions to pass laws that would shut CD makers out of business.  Or if Blockbuster spent millions to keep Netflix from invading their market share.

You don’t have to care about the environment to see that Prop 23 is simply a bad deal.   

If we let Prop 23 pass because it is in the business interest of two very large, struggling companies who can’t afford to keep up with the times, we really will send ourselves back to the Dark Ages. 

What can you do? 

Political events aren’t hip you say?  Well, the energy in the room was infectious.  The NO on 23 campaign is feisty, youthful and of the future.  Ian Kim from the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Aaron Ableman of the Clean Energy Tour rapped (seriously) about Prop 23.  And even more entertaining was to see a group of professionals ages 35 and up join in (and not just join in but get into it).    

Political decisions do not have to be driven by wealthy special interests, they can—and should be—driven by the engaged, attentive and motivated people who make up the majority.  You don’t have to protest at the Valero station and you don’t have to donate the last $10 in your bank account to the campaign (and you don’t have to rap… if you don’t want to).  All you have to do is spread the word.   

My one vote may not make a difference, but the 2,500,000 votes of Californians aged 20 to 25 can.  These businesses may pour millions of dollars into a campaign, but we can pour millions of people into the polls. 

Now, more than ever, is time to take advantage of that one milestone we rarely get to take advantage of.  

Vote NO on Prop 23.  And tell all your friends to do the same.

This entry was posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.