Com­pet­ing ads air­ing over Propo­si­tion 23

TV spots be­gin on mea­sure that would sus­pend rules to limit green­house gases.

Los Angeles Times - - Latextra - Mar­got Roo­sevelt mar­got.roo­sevelt @latimes.com

The bat­tle over Cal­i­for­nia’s global-warm­ing law took to the air this week with TV spots tout­ing or bash­ing Propo­si­tion 23, a bal­lot ini­tia­tive to sus­pend reg­u­la­tions aimed at curb­ing green­house gas emis­sions.

A30-sec­ond TV spot in fa­vor of Prop. 23 fea­tures a mid­dle-age woman in a white-columned home on a tree-lined street telling view­ers “I have enough bills. Now the politi­cians are putting a new en­ergy tax on us to pay for Cal­i­for­nia’s global-warm­ing law.” It is air­ing in Sacra­mento, the Cen­tral Val­ley and San Diego.

A 30-sec­ond spot at­tack­ing Prop. 23 con­trasts im­ages of wind­mills and so­lar pan­els with a land­scape of smokestacks and the slo­gan “Stop the job-killing Dirty En­ergy Propo­si­tion.” A 15sec­ond spot tar­gets Tex­as­based oil com­pa­nies that are fund­ing the ini­tia­tive. They are air­ing more broadly, in San Fran­cisco, Sacra­mento, Los An­ge­les and San Diego.

Coastal res­i­dents tend to fa­vor en­vi­ron­men­tal mea­sures more than Cal­i­for­ni­ans who live in­land. A Los An­ge­les Times/USC poll last week showed 40% of likely vot­ers fa­vor the ini­tia­tive and 38% op­pose it, es­sen­tially a dead heat.

The cam­paigns ap­pear to be tak­ing dif­fer­ent tacks to suc­ceed in Novem­ber. Sup­port­ers of Prop. 23 have not en­gaged in phone bank­ing or much other grass-roots ac­tiv­ity, said Anita Man­gels, spokes­woman for the Yes on Prop. 23 cam­paign. But “tea party” ac­tivists, joined by of­fi­cials from the Howard Jarvis Tax­pay­ers Assn., a Prop. 23 spon­sor, have held sev­eral small ral­lies in sup­port of the ini­tia­tive.

Op­po­nents, how­ever, have been busy on the ground, fo­cus­ing on jobs cre­ated by al­ter­na­tive en­ergy, and tar­get­ing green-lean­ing vot­ers.

On Wed­nes­day, ex­ec­u­tives of Los An­ge­les-area clean tech firms and la­bor union of­fi­cials gath­ered at a Bur­bank air­port han­gar pow­ered by so­lar pan­els to at­tack Propo­si­tion 23 as a green job killer.

Ron Mulick, pres­i­dent of So­lartron­ics Inc., an Agoura Hills so­lar panel in­staller, said his con­struc­tion com­pany had dropped from $1 mil­lion in an­nual gross rev­enue to less than $20,000 dur­ing the cur­rent re­ces­sion, “so I jumped into so­lar. Prop. 23 jeop­ar­dizes com­pa­nies like mine that try to put peo­ple back to work.”

Danny Curtin, di­rec­tor of the Cal­i­for­nia Con­fer­ence of Car­pen­ters, led a group of 30 work­ers in hard hats to the event. “Cal­i­for­nia is the leader of re­new­able en­ergy in Amer­ica,” he said. “Work­ers are be­ing re­trained to work on so­lar and wind projects, to build en­ergy ef­fi­cient build­ings. If Prop. 23 passes, this revo­lu­tion will come to a halt.”

Propo­si­tion 23 would sus­pend the 2006 Global Warm­ing So­lu­tions Act, which is aimed at cut­ting plan­ethe­at­ing gases from in­dus­tries and cars, un­til Cal­i­for­nia’s un­em­ploy­ment rate drops to 5.5% for a year. The state’s job­less rate is now over 12%, and a sus­tained level at 5.5% has rarely been achieved, so the ini­tia­tive could ef­fec­tively put the law on in­def­i­nite hold.

Back­ers of Prop. 23 say the global-warm­ing law, known as AB 32, will re­sult in job losses and higher elec­tric­ity rates be­cause al­ter­na­tive en­ergy costs more than fos­sil fu­els. The law would re­quire a third of the state’s elec­tric­ity to come from so­lar, wind and other clean sources and would force re­finer­ies to cut the car­bon in­ten­sity of gaso­line.

The grass­roots cam­paign op­pos­ing the mea­sure is tar­get­ing 700,000 vot­ers iden­ti­fied by the Cal­i­for­nia League of Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers as en­vi­ron­men­tally ori­ented but with an in­con­sis­tent his­tory of vot­ing.

“Cal­i­for­nia has very long bal­lots, and there’s al­ways a worry that a mea­sure can get lost in the shuf­fle,” said Sarah Rose, the league’s ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent. “This is one of the more so­phis­ti­cated cam­paigns we have run.”

On Mon­day night, 45,123 vot­ers joined a phone call with Sierra Club Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Michael Brune and Amer­i­can Lung Assn. pol­icy di­rec­tor Bon­nie HolmesGen, who urged them to mobilize against the ini­tia­tive. Lis­ten­ers were in­vited to ask ques­tions.

Brune charged that the ini­tia­tive’s oil-com­pany fun­ders, “are ac­tively en­dan­ger­ing Cal­i­for­nia’s health so they can make a buck.”

The ini­tia­tive is mainly funded by Valero En­ergy Corp. and Te­soro Corp., two San An­to­nio-based com­pa­nies that op­er­ate re­finer­ies and gas sta­tions in Cal­i­for­nia, and Koch In­dus­tries, a Kansas oil con­glom­er­ate that has fought fed­eral cli­mate leg­is­la­tion and helped or­ga­nize tea party ac­tivists.

Credo Ac­tion, a San Fran­cisco-based group funded by Work­ing As­sets, the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions net­work, has opened of­fices in Los An­ge­les and four other cities to run phone banks and picket Valero gas sta­tions. The Union of Concerned sci­en­tists has or­ga­nized more than 80 house par­ties across the state.

Prop. 23 op­po­nents are run­ning an ad show­ing pol­luted skies. The sup­port­ers’ spot fea­tures a woman rais­ing con­cern about costs re­lated to the cur­rent law.

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