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Prop23: Who Needs BP When You've Got the Koch Brothers to Overturn California's Climate & Energy Laws?

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San Francisco, September 2

Late Thursday night, those who support progress on climate & energy policy received bad news that we expected, but did not want to believe would actually happen.

The billionaire Koch brothers, one of clean energy's most effective national opponents and funders of the increasingly influential Tea Party, contributed their first $1 million in the fight to overturn California's climate and energy laws in this year's election. No doubt there is more to come. Reports on September 2nd also showed that Tesoro Oil Corp. contributed $1 million to bring the total that they, Valero Energy, and other out of state oil companies have given to win Proposition 23 to more than $8 million. That's more than most races for senate and governor in other states.

An impressive coalition of public health, environmental, and clean tech leaders has spent the last few months fighting against Proposition 23 in California, the statewide ballot initiative that will overturn a slew of climate and energy policies -- from the state's cap on carbon pollution to its 33% renewable energy standard to building efficiency and low carbon fuel standards. The Clean Economy Network published a report in July, "Going Backwards", that combines with other studies to lay out the real threat to investments we have made and companies we have started.

Unfortunately, we have now reached the point where everyone must get into this fight in a real way or the other side's tens of millions of dollars will convince Californians to vote for Prop23. This is not theory. Polling makes it absolutely clear that Californians are evenly divided on turning back progress for clean tech because of their anxieties about a continuing weak state economy.

And the Koch's, as a New Yorker article two weeks ago made clear, are avowed and aggressive opponents of anything that threatens their oil refining empire. Brothers Charles and David Koch own virtually all of Koch Industries, a conglomerate whose annual revenues exceed a hundred billion dollars. They operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries also owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. Forbes lists it as the second-largest private company in the country.

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst's Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace has issued a report labeling the company as a "kingpin of climate science denial." From 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups.

So now, with 31 days until early voting starts on Prop23 in California and only 60 days until the election, talking needs to turn into action. That means if you live in the state, tell your friends and vote early. It also means raising the money to deliver our story to California's voters.

After losing in the U.S. Senate this summer, climate & energy supporters can't afford to have the clock turned back in California.

Those who think one state does not matter -- and who hold out hope that wavering Senators will find courage in a post-election "lame duck" session on energy -- do not understand that a loss in California will create momentum and political risk that none of these politicians will resist.

So here's the proposition: Take a stand. Here. Now.

We can say that our competitive spirit and innovation apply to public policy and politics in a way that moves things forward. We can tell the oil and coal companies that enough is finally enough.

Because we have to. It's in the economy's interest. It's in our country's interest. And, yes, it's in our planet's interest.


No on 23!
Stop the Dirty Energy Proposition

The Success of California's AB32, the Bipartisan 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act