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Prop. 23: Avatar's James Cameron kicks in $1 million

October 15, 2010 |  2:59 pm

Avatar
James Cameron, the director of Avatar, the environmental fable masquerading as a 3-D blockbuster, popped a million dollars Friday into the campaign to defeat Proposition 23, a California ballot initiative to suspend the state's global warming law.

Cameron, who has previously embraced such environmental causes as saving the Amazon and battling Canadian tar sands development, is the first entertainment industry figure to make a major donation in the initiative fight. However, another player with deep Hollywood ties, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, held a fundraiser at his home in Brentwood last month to raise money to fight the measure, which he sees as a threat to his legacy of promoting clean energy.

"Mr. Cameron is not only a filmmaker with a conscience," said No on Prop. 23 spokesman Steve Maviglio, "he is willing to put his money where his mouth is when it comes to a fight for California jobs and our clean energy future."

California’s 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, known as AB 32, is the most aggressive law in the country aimed at controlling pollution from fossil fuel burning that scientists say is disrupting Earth’s climate. It would slash greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 through regulations that would force utilities to get a third of their electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind plants, improve the fuel efficiency of automobiles and cap emissions from industrial plants.

Prop. 23 is mainly funded by oil refiners whose costs would rise under the global warming law. It would suspend the law until unemployment in California drops to 5.5% for a year — a level that historically has rarely been achieved. Current joblessness is over 12%.

Cameron's donation comes as contributions from clean-tech executives, environmental groups and wealthy conservationists opposing Prop. 23 have surged to more than $20 million in the last month, outpacing the $9 million raised so far by the initiative's backers.

Maviglio said opponents of the measure fear that oil companies and other industries affected by the global warming law could pour money into the fight at the last minute. “We are girding for what the oil companies traditionally have done on California ballot measures, when they've dumped millions of dollars into the campaign in the final stretch," he said.

Bill Day, a spokesman for Valero Energy Corp., a Texas-based oil refiner who is the largest contributor to the initiative, said the company "has not made any decisions at this point about additional financial support to the Prop. 23 campaign.”

--Margot Roosevelt

RELATED:

Avatar director urges slow-down for Canadian Tar Sands

Proposition 23 poll shows a dead heat among California voters

Meg Whitman wants to "fix" California's global warming law

Prop. 23 campaigns go head-to-head in TV spots

Photo: Characters in Avatar, an environmentally themed film directed by James Cameron. Credit: 20th Century Fox

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