California’s Energy Alchemists

In California a new breed of alchemist is trying to turn oil
into clean, efficient energy by using a tax on oil production to
fund green energy initiatives. The concoction, Proposition 87, will
go before voters next month, and that has proponents and naysayers
investing scads of money to convince the public to go their
way.

As Shreema Mehta reports for
The New Standard, Proposition 87
would levy a 1.5 percent to 6 percent tax on California oil
drillers until $4 billion dollars were raised for investment in
fuel alternatives, from helping Californians buy hybrid vehicles
to research into energy-efficient technologies. The proposal
also bars oil producers from passing the buck to consumers
through raised prices, so voters don’t have to worry about
climbing costs at the pumps.

Many have come out in support of Proposition 87, from movie
stars like Julia Roberts, to DC celebrities Bill Clinton and Al
Gore, reports Matthew Yi in the
San Francisco Chronicle. The measure’s
biggest monetary supporter is Stephen Bing, whose inherited
fortune and reputation as a ‘Hollywood playboy’ have
overshadowed his film career. Bing has given generous
contributions to the Democratic Party, writes Yi, but his $40
million dollar contribution to the Yes on 87 campaign showed
record-breaking individual commitment toward any ballot
initiative.

Still, that barely gets Yes on 87 at the same playing table as
the high rollers it has challenged. According to Yi, Big Oil has
anted up $68 million in an effort to dissuade the public from
checking off on the initiative. In one project, oil companies
advertised a letter in Californian newspapers calling the
proposition’s plans ‘wishful promises,’ according to an editorial
run in
The Orange County Register. The letter,
signed by 100 economists, was put together by the anti-tax group
National Taxpayers Union. The economists
argue that, contrary to producing revenue, the tax ‘will cause
further reductions in state oil production, increased reliance
on imported oil and higher gasoline prices.’ Likewise, the
California Chamber of Commerce called the proposition ‘a recipe
for waste, not progress,’ reports The New Standard‘s
Mehta.

With all of the money-throwing and local buzz, it’s clear
there’s a lot at stake. The November 7th vote will proclaim a
victor soon enough. For now, the most interesting aspect of this
debate may be watching how Big Oil responds to this innovative
direct challenge.

Go there >>
Cali. Voters May Tax Oil Co’s to Fund Green
Fuels

Go there too >>
Clinton One of Many Stars Backing Oil
Measure

Go there too >>
More Fuel Against Prop. 87

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