No Props for Props (23 & 26)

I will be the first to admit that I don’t really understand the California election process. Governors are recalled and propositions seem to proliferate at every election cycle.  What I do understand is that these propositions can have dramatic consequences—after all, elections do matter.  Most folks who are reading our blog have likely heard of Prop 23, which would effectively stop the implementation of California’s landmark climate change law, AB32.  Environmental groups, clean energy entrepreneurs and big names such as Bill Gates and James Cameron have poured large amounts of attention and $25 million into the “No on 23” campaign, even as refiners Valero and Tesoro—and the now infamous Koch Brothers—fund the Yes campaign.  Luckily the opponents have been getting the upper hand recently, with polls saying just over 50% of likely voters plan to vote against the prop—including both gubernatorial candidates.

While you shouldn’t count your votes until they’ve hatched (or resurrected if you’re in Chicago…), it seems that the latest news has been good.  But in recent days, an increasing amount of focus has been placed on a “stealth” ballot measure: Proposition 26.  Unlike Prop 23, which took on a very high profile law, Proposition 26  is seemingly more mundane—as it just deals with “fees.”  Specifically, Prop 26 would require a two-thirds vote in the California Legislature to impose local fees, including environmental fees.  A 2/3 vote is a feat which many say is about as unlikely to occur as unemployment remaining at 5.5% for a year, the threshold required for AB32 to continue under Prop 23.  While there is some difference of opinion as to whether Prop 26 could stop the implementation of necessary new fees associated with AB32, there is a lot of concern that it could have the effect of causing gridlock as legal challenges are waged—which may be just what the proposition’s authors intended.  And unlike Proposition 23, the supporters of Prop 26 have raised over four times as much as opponents.

Those of us who care about clean energy and climate change will be watching the results of both Prop 23 and Prop 26 closely on election day—and if you live in California, this is not an election you want to miss.

Tim Juliani is Director of Corporate Engagement