Proposition 23, the initiative that would suspend California's greenhouse gas laws, is not about saving jobs. It is about greed, said California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Speaking at a Commonwealth Club event in Santa Clara, the governor lashed out at the companies--particularly Valero, Koch Industries and Tesoro--trying to effectively get rid of the state's carbon regulation law, known by its bill name AB 32. Technically, Prop 23 would suspend AB 23 until employment falls below 5.5 percent, something that has occured only sporadically in the last few decades.
"This is a corruption of the democratic process," he said. "Texas oil companies have descended upon California to overturn a California law. There is a struggle playing out right here in California that the world does not know much about."
The effort is similar to the conspiracy hatched among oil companies in the 1920s to get rid of light rail systems. Then, the companies bought up the easements for light rail systems in 45 cities and then systematically dismantled them.
"Today, Valero and Tesoro are in a conspiracy. Not in a criminal conspiracy, but a cynical one about self-serving greed," he said. "Does anyone think in their black oil company hearts that they want to create jobs?
"Valero and Tesoro want to stop the movement from old energy to new energy because its means lost market share," he added.
He then rattled off a number of impressive statistics. California is home to 12,000 green companies. Approximately 40 percent of the green patents are awarded to California inventors. A wind farm in Kern County has created 1,000 jobs. Solar thermal will create 2,000 jobs. Greentech jobs have grown ten times faster than jobs in other sectors. 500,000 green jobs have popped up in California since 2005, he added.
"Green jobs are the single largest source of job growth in California," he said.
The U.S. Navy has also imposed stringent goals for renewable energy, he noted, adding that the Navy isn't the usual pot-smoking, left-of-center Berkeley resident.
He also displayed a gift for colorful analogies, contending that Valero's argument that suspending AB 32 will create jobs is like "Eva Braun writing a kosher cookbook."
Despite all of the rhetoric about Valero, Schwarzenegger declined to criticize Meg Whitman, the Republican running for his job. Whitman recently said she opposed Proposition 23 but wants to suspend AB 23, passed four years ago, for a year in a vintage bit of hair splitting. The governor said he's mostly concentrating on defeating Proposition 23. Neither Whitman or opponent Jerry Brown will be governor when that vote takes place, he said. All Schwarzenegger said was that Whitman, who has spent $119 million of her own money on her campaign, should spend her millions on defeating Prop 23.
"California is America's last hope for energy change," he added. "We intend to win this battle."
--Permitting has to be improved in the state. Getting a runway put in at an airport can take ten years. "It is stupid," he said. The California Energy Commission has sped up the process for solar thermal process, but the backlog is still pretty large. The Tehachapi permit almost got defeated because it appeared that condor migratory routes might be moving. "You can't go by there if there could be a squirrel, or could be a condor," he said. "I am all for protecting the environment, but when it is too much, it is too much."
State Senator Fran Pavley (and author of AB 32) pointed out that the legislature is trying to consolidate review for parcels near urban areas.
--The U.S. needs to move faster on high speed rail. "It is crazy that we travel the same way today that we did 100 years ago," he said. "Italy, Spain, England, France, Germany. They all have high speed rail. Hello? Are we asleep?"