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Proposition 23 was defeated last night, putting an end to a much ballyhooed piece of cleantech-stopping legislation that was also causing some qualms in the venture capital community.
The proposal would have halted California’s AB 32 law, which requires the state to roll back greenhouse emissions to its 1990 levels by 2020. Prop 23 would have put a hold on AB 32 until the state’s unemployment rate dipped to 5.5 percent for 12 months. Its largest backer was Texas oil company Valero, and it gleaned support from another Texas oil interest, Tesero, as well as conglomerate Koch Industries.
Opponents outspent the oil companies three-to-one, raising about $30 million. They pulled together a motley crew of protesters, from cleantech business leaders to environmentalists to Hollywood stars. “Avatar” director James Cameron came out against the measure, as did actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Actor David Arquette even appeared in a TV ad denouncing Prop 23.
In fact, the entire Prop 23 and election melee showcased a clash between California and Texas — and was one that California won on more than one count today. Before voters went to the polls, the San Francisco Giants won the World Series, beating the Texas Rangers.That made for twin victories for Californians, who adopted “Don’t mess with California” as a slogan and railed against evil Texas oil.
(Um, so, awkward moment of truth here — I am, in fact, from Texas.)
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger jumped on that theme, ahead of voting, releasing a statement that read: “The San Francisco Giants defeated the Texas Rangers tonight, just like California voters are going to defeat the attempts of dirty Texas oil companies to undo our clean energy laws at the polls tomorrow.”
Then, after poll results showed victory, he said, “Today, literally less than 24 hours later, we are beating Texas again.”
Then he tweeted it: “World Series or an election, I’ll always take California over Texas.” (Okay okay okay! The Giants won. Stop rubbing our faces in it already!)
Had Prop 23 passed, the moratorium certainly would have impacted the cleantech industry. The unemployment rate in California isn’t forecasted to drop to the 5.5 percent level for several years, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Venture capital investment is already down sharply — dollars flowing into the industry in the U.S. have been halved this year. CMEA’s Jim Watson told the Wall Street Journal that a passage of Prop 23 would have prompted consideration for venture capitalists to move their money to China.
But Prop 23’s outcome was already on shaky ground in the month leading up to the election as impassioned activists organized a flurry of activity and fundraising against the measure. Two weeks before the election, support for Prop 23 was trailing by 11 percentage points.
[Photo via Flickr/alex_ford]