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"Make History, Arnold!" say Thomas Friedman/NY Times

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  • Felix Kramer
    We re seriously backed up on news to send out, but this one shouldn t wait. Californians have less than three weeks to get the word out about how Prop 87 is
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 20, 2006
      We're seriously backed up on news to send out, but this one shouldn't
      wait. Californians have less than three weeks to get the word out
      about how Prop 87 is the next step to get to a non-petroleum
      economy. Here's one effective argument, by influential New York
      Times columnist Thomas Friedman:

      Make History, Arnold!
      October 20, 2006

      Governors don't often get a chance to make big-time history, but Gov.
      Arnold Schwarzenegger of California has that opportunity now - if
      he's ready to get off the fence. With one move, Governor
      Schwarzenegger could make California America's hub for developing
      "green" clean-power technologies - which are going to be the growth
      industry of the 21st century - and do something that President Bush
      has only paid lip service to: really help to end America's oil addiction.

      Do it, Arnold. C'mon, just do it.

      Here's the basic story: This Nov. 7, Californians will be asked to
      vote yes or no on Proposition 87, a ballot initiative that would
      impose a higher extraction fee on oil pumped in California. (Up to
      now, oil companies in California have paid a very low extraction fee
      compared with those in other states - a rip-off they want to keep.)
      The new funds raised by Prop 87, explained The San Francisco
      Chronicle, "would be used to finance research and development of
      alternative fuels in universities; education campaigns; and subsidies
      to consumers who buy vehicles that use alternative fuels and
      businesses that produce and distribute alternative fuels. ... Oil
      companies would be taxed between 1.5 percent and 6 percent on oil
      production depending on the price of oil per barrel. The tax would
      end by 2017 or when the tax generates $4 billion, whichever occurs first."

      Passage of Prop 87 would be huge. To begin with, it would be the
      perfect complement to the carbon reduction law that Arnold just
      signed. That law requires California to reduce its carbon dioxide
      emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Prop 87, for its part, sets a goal
      of a 25 percent reduction in oil consumption in California in 10
      years. Today, California consumes about 16 billion gallons of
      gasoline a year, so a 25 percent reduction, if realized, would put
      California well on its way to meeting its new carbon emissions goal.

      But Prop 87, by also raising a $4 billion energy fund, and devoting
      most of it to nurturing new fuels and more fuel-efficient vehicles
      and buildings, would enable California to consistently enhance those
      companies, communities and schools now pioneering alternative
      energies. As anyone who has followed the alternative energy movement
      knows, one of its greatest weaknesses has been that Washington has
      constantly started and stopped subsidies for things like solar and
      wind power - so technologies have been innovated here but then turned
      into marketable products overseas.

      By combining renewable-energy targets and a $4 billion fund to
      consistently support the start-up of companies to reach those targets
      in a free-market way, California would set a compelling example for
      other states - and maybe even for Washington.

      The reason that Mr. Bush's call a year ago to end our oil addiction
      has been a total flop has to do with a struggle in his administration
      between foolish market worshipers led by Dick Cheney - who insist
      markets will take care of everything - and wiser, nuanced policy
      makers who understand that government's job is to set broad goals and
      standards, and then let the market reach them.

      The best example of that is the 1999 Texas Renewable Portfolio
      Standard - a state law signed by whom? Gov. George W. Bush! The law
      required Texas electricity companies to buy a set amount of renewable
      power by 2009. This stimulated the Texas utilities marketplace to
      erect huge wind farms. Today, Texas is a real leader in wind energy
      and has sharply driven down the cost through innovation.

      President Bush, meet Governor Bush.

      Naturally, oil companies like Exxon Mobil - which just paid its
      outgoing chairman, Lee Raymond, $400,000,000 in his final year - are
      financing misleading ads to try to fool Californians into rejecting
      Prop 87. Polls show it's too close to call. And that brings us back
      to Arnold. He's on the fence. Even though he'll be re-elected in a
      landslide, he's not come out for Prop 87 - because he's against
      higher taxes, in principle. But he hasn't come out against it either.
      If he, and wife, Maria, openly support it, Prop 87 passes. It's that simple.

      Bill Clinton said it best: "California is being given an opportunity
      ... to do something remarkable to save the planet, improve our
      national security and create the next generation of good jobs for the
      American people. That's what Prop 87 represents."

      And Governor Schwarzenegger can determine whether or not that
      opportunity is seized. C'mon, Arnold, just do it. No one will
      remember you for sparing Exxon from a tax hike. And no one will
      forget you for spurring America to realize the dream of a clean,
      independent energy economy.

      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
      Felix Kramer fkramer@...
      Founder California Cars Initiative
      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
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