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TV campaign on California climate law revs up (UPDATED)

October 19, 2010 |  1:46 pm

Prop 23 TV No Texas

Backers of Proposition 23, a November ballot initiative to suspend California's global warming regulations, launched a television campaign in Los Angeles Tuesday with a spot warning of job losses and higher electricity costs unless the measure passes.

The Yes on 23 campaign, funded mainly by oil refiners, had been advertising in other parts of the state, but has been off the air for a week. “We are reloading,” said Assemblyman Dan Logue (R-Marysville), a sponsor of the initiative, confirming the TV buy.

But the Los Angeles purchase of $2 million worth of TV spots leaves the Yes campaign critically short of funds less than two weeks before the election. It has spent most of the money in its campaign chest, while opponents are airing spots across the state attacking the measure.

Bill Day, a spokesman for Texas-based Valero Energy Corp., which donated $4 million of the $9 million raised by the Yes campaign, said he was unaware of any new contributions planned. “We don’t have all that much money,” he said. “Four million was a big commitment.”

Any new donations to either side must be reported publicly to the California Secretary of State within 24 hours of receipt and are immediately posted on its website.

Meanwhile, a total of $26.7 million has poured in from wealthy conservationists, national environmental groups, and Silicon Valley technology executives to fight the initiative, which is the most closely watched environmental issue on the November ballot in the nation.

California’s 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act  aims to slash the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Scientists say that the gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere, are disrupting Earth’s climate. Prop 23 would suspend regulations under the law until the state’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5% for a full year—a level which has rarely been achieved for that duration. The jobless rate is now over 12%.

Proponents of the ballot measure say the climate rules, set to take effect in January, would drive businesses from the state. But Prop 23 opponents, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, say that suspending the global warming regulations would halt California’s transition to cleaner energy based on solar and wind power and low-carbon fuels.

In the past week, the No on 23 campaign has received $3 million from the National Wildlife Federation, $1 million dollars from Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, and $900,000 from the San-Francisco-based ClimateWorks Foundation.

In Sacramento Tuesday, a group of 68 major investors who manage $415 billion in assets urged a “no” vote on Prop 23. The group, which included California venture capital firms such as Silicon Valley’s Kleiner Perkins Caufied & Byers and Wall St. investors such as Deutsche Bank's DB Climate Change Advisors, said in a statement that the measure would “cause California to lose billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs to competitors like China, Japan, Germany or other U.S. states.”

Logue said the companies fighting the initiative are acting from self interest. “Wall Street venture capitalists and Silicon Valley are going to make a fortune from increased energy costs,” he said. “Green tech is being forced on California and they are going to invest in it.”

(NOTE: An earlier version of this post quoted Assemblyman Logue as saying that the Yes campaign had received a new infusion of funds. Logue had also said that the spots would air statewide beginning Wednesday. However, Yes on 23 spokeswoman Anita Mangels said later that, in fact, there has been no new infusion of funds so far, that the new $2 million TV campaign would be funded by previous contributions, and is so far limited to Los Angeles where, she said, it launched Tuesday.)

-- Margot Roosevelt

RELATED:

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

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

Prop 23 shows a dead heat among California voters

Photo: Image from the No on 23 campaign's TV spot running statewide. Opponents are hammering the initiative's backers, Texas-based refiners Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp., which each own two refineries in California and say the law would hurt their companies.

 

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