[Here’s the ninth column in our series on the Prop. 87 oil tax. This is Vinod Khosla’s latest installment. Voting is next week.]
Part I talked about why gas prices won’t go up. Part II talked about how and why prices for gasoline will decline. I discussed unfair, maybe unethical if not illegal tactics in Part III. Part IV was about health costs, defense costs, foreign policy costs, and other society. Part V is about the benefits.
There are benefits to be had from freedom from the oilie stranglehold beyond the obvious ones such as clean energy, less pollution, freedom from being a hostage to foreign oil, stopping the feeding of terrorism, etc.
Prop 87 will create hundreds of thousands of jobs. It will create a new Cleantech Silicon Valley. A dollar invested in alternative energy is much cheaper in “oil production” than the dollar that won’t be invested in oil production. Chevron’s much touted Tahiti oil field will cost $4 or so for each gallon of capacity. The same investment would produce many times more ethanol capacity as a cleaner renewable fuel for the same capital investment. Saving oil through efficiency improvements is even cheaper. But it will all involve Silicon Valley like investment in clean technologies, new companies, entrepreneurs and technologists. They will create jobs that will spread California’s products throughout the world. Many new Google’s and Yahoo’s and Ebay’s will be created in this new industry. Many new products will be created • more efficient cars, batteries for plug-in hybrids, cleaner gasoline replacements, solar electricity.
A Saudi sheik is often quoted as having warned decades ago that the stone age did not end for the lack of stone. What is not reported is that he went on to say that “technology is our enemy.” Why? Because technology can create alternatives. And Prop 87 will help rush technologies and alternatives to market. Maybe, finally the consumer will have a choice • including a choice to not buy gasoline. And a choice to take money from mid-east sheiks and terrorists and create jobs and wealth in California. We will harness the power of ideas from our scientists and technologists and powered by the entrepreneurial energy of our entrepreneurs, we will create an economic growth engine that California has not seen before.
But there will be one important difference between past Silicon Valley revolutions and this one. When technology entrepreneurs made phone calls cheap, made the internet widely available and affordable, made information on your fingertip a reality through Google, cured diseases through biotechnology, it did not help rural America in a significant way. But in the energy sphere, the key raw materials to replace oil will come from the Central Valley not silicon factories. The benefits of jobs and wealth will be not only be bigger but broader. The revolution will create jobs in Central Valley. Already thirteen new ethanol plants are being planned (most of them much more environmentally friendly than mid-western corn ethanol plants). Imagine the jobs! And already some of these ethanol plants have started investigating new crops beyond corn. Sweet sorghum is cheaper and better than corn as it takes little fertilizer and a lot less water than corn to grow. And it can be grown on fallow land that can not be used for food crops. Imagine making unproductive land income producing? And the first plants to make ethanol from waste will be start construction next year. Where will they end up?
Do you think the oil interests are in a hurry to create alternatives to the fuels or help with efficiency improvements to reduce gasoline consumption? We need Prop 87 to do that.
Do you believe Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Senator Feinstein and Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa, (all unpaid)? Or do you believe the oil companies and their “bought endorsers”?”
As Tom Freidman says: “Passage of Prop 87 would be huge”. Vote Yes on 87!