Despite backing from Texas oil refiners, Prop 23 loses by large margin

Supporters call Proposition 23 the California Jobs Initiative; opponents label it the Dirty Energy Proposition.
Supporters call Proposition 23 the California Jobs Initiative; opponents label it the Dirty Energy Proposition.
David McNew/Getty Images

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A ballot measure to suspend California’s climate change policies won financial backing from Texas oil refiners, but voters defeated it by the largest margin in Tuesday’s election.

At Global Green headquarters in Santa Monica, venture capitalists and environmentalists attributed the defeat of Proposition 23 to some big numbers. A coalition of interests made almost 3 million phone calls, sent out close to three-and-a-half million pieces of campaign mail and raised more than $30 million – three times the measure's oil-company backers ponied up. In the end, 60 percent of ballots said “no” on Prop 23.

GreenLA's Jonathan Parfrey said he's proud of California. "We're not being reactive, we're looking towards the future to try to make plans for a new green economy. And I think that's the right decision, it's the right economic decision, and it's the right environmental position as well."

California's greenhouse gas laws known as AB32 now move forward without suspension. The state's Air Resources Board has been furiously writing rules for carbon-cutting programs during campaign season.

AB 32's centerpiece, a market planned to start with capping emissions from industrial facilities and electricity providers, goes before air regulators next month. Opponents of such cap and trade markets say they're risky.

But the Climate Action Reserve's Gary Gero says moving forward signals consistency for California's priorities. "We saw last week the ARB put out its draft regulation for implementing a cap and trade program here in California. I was just on the phone with people in British Columbia – they're excited to join California in a western market initiative. And we're going to have a large environmental market to show how market mechanisms can be used to reduce greenhouse gasses."

California's still-developing carbon market could set an example for the United States and the world. Gero and other Prop 23 opponents say they hope their successful campaign can inform federal-level climate policy fights.