No on Prop 23: Big Polluters Bankroll Initiative to Kill Clean Air Laws

Authors: VienTruong

For years, California has been a national leader in environmental policy. Now, the state is battling to maintain the progress it has made — and the rest of the country is sitting up and paying attention.Two of California's worst toxic polluters, Valero and Tesoro, have poured millions of dollars into November's Proposition 23 in hopes of killing the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32).


Clean-energy businesses are one of the highlights of our recovering economy. These companies are creating many jobs that provide pathways out of poverty for struggling families. Since 2005, green jobs have grown ten times faster than other jobs in California, and the number of California green businesses has increased by 45%. Even when overall state employment fell between 2007 and 2008, green jobs continued to grow by 5%.

Prop 23 would slow this economic expansion and job creation by killing one of California's most important incentives for investment and growth in green sectors: AB 32.

As a result of AB 32, California is set to invest billions of dollars in the green industries that have been boosting — and can continue to boost — the state's economy. The state's Air Resources Board projects that AB 32 will create approximately 50,000 more jobs that are accessible to lower-income workers than business as usual would. These jobs will be created through "greening" California communities, including efforts to:

  • improve the energy efficiency of residential, industrial, and commercial buildings;
  • improve water systems and water-use efficiency and conservation measures;
  • expand the use of green building practices to new and existing buildings; and
  • support the implementation of high-speed rail systems.

Proposition 23 will also threaten the state's 500,000 existing clean-energy jobs and further aggravate its unemployment problems.


Prop 23 would kill the country's most comprehensive attempt to address the growing climate crisis. This is bad for everyone, but it is especially bad for low-income communities and communities of color. With fewer resources, these communities are less equipped to deal with the challenges of extreme heat, floods, and air pollution.

The immediate impacts of pollution also fall most heavily on California's vulnerable communities. Five of the state's smoggiest cities also have the highest densities of people of color and low-income residents. Low-income families are more likely to live near major sources of air pollution and have inadequate access to health care. By lifting restrictions on companies like Valero and Tesoro, Prop 23 would drastically increase air pollution and public health risks.

Dirty energy means profits for big energy companies and risks for our communities. The oil corporations behind Prop 23 rank among the worst toxic air polluters in the United States. This is why many social justice and community-based organizations have joined Communities United Against the Dirty Energy Proposition, convened by the Ella Baker Center, to oppose Prop 23.


I went to the Gulf Coast immediately after the BP oil spew and witnessed the devastation to the land and water. It was heartbreaking to see how it upended the lives of families that rely on the fishing industry. While the spew has finally stopped, its impact will stretch far into the future for the entire region. America will continue to suffer such tragedies until we learn the obvious, profound lesson from what we've seen in the Gulf: what is profitable for the fossil fuel industry is perilous for the rest of us.

In November, California will show the country whether or not it has learned this lesson. The state is home to some of the nation's worst air pollution; our reliance on fossil fuels is to blame. More than 91% of Californians live in counties with poor air quality that receive failing grades from the American Lung Association. According to the ALA, California's air pollution crisis contributes to 19,000 premature deaths, 9,400 hospitalizations, and more than 300,000 respiratory illnesses for California families each year.

Prop 23 would let this crisis continue and worsen. We cannot allow that to happen. We cannot allow our dependency on oil to continue unabated. We must start moving towards a cleaner, greener economy now. We have no time to waste. This is why the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, the American Lung Association, and many other leaders have come out against Prop 23.

Green For All urges you to join us in voting NO on Prop 23. It is bad for the economy, bad for the environment, and bad for our health. We must do all that we can to defeat big Texas oil's attempt to make more money and stick our families with the bill.

Let's defeat Proposition 23 together. "NO" ON PROP 23!

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