TX Oil Companies Try to Kill CA Clean Energy Legislation

As if the oil companies from Texas – and their allies in the corridors of power – hadn’t done enough harm to our country already (for more, see the late, great Gulf of Mexico), now they are at it once again.  This time, it’s Valero and Tesoro, pouring money into a campaign this election season to undo California’s landmark, clean energy and climate law, AB 32.  On Tuesday, the oil companies’ proposition was certified for the November ballot. The fight, as they say, is on!

Why should you care?  Let us count the ways.

First  and foremost, whether you’re a Californian or not, this campaign should concern you because if the oil companies succeed here, they will try this everywhere – in other states and at the federal level. Mark our words, that’s exactly what they’re up to here.

Second, let’s be absolutely clear about what this proposition says.  As the Stop Dirty Energy website explains, “The Texas oil companies want you to believe it’s simply a “temporary” suspension. However, their deceptive proposition would repeal AB 32 until unemployment reached 5.5% for a full year – a market condition that has only occurred three times in the last 30 years.”  Which means that this proposition is nothing less than “an effective repeal of [California’s] clean energy and clean air laws.”  In sum, they want to kill this landmark law. Period. Don’t let their propaganda fool you into believing anything else.

Third, let’s also be clear who these people are and how utterly deceptive they’re willing to be.  According to the Stop Dirty Energy Facebook page, oil companies including Valero and Tesoro recently “released yet another study bought, sold, and paid for by polluters on the impacts of AB 32.”  The study, for the California Manufacturers and Technology Association (CMTA) by the California Lutheran University's right-wing economics chief,” is nothing more than “junk economics paid for by polluters that defies the reality that clean tech is the fastest-growing segment of the California economy.”  It gets even worse, with the author of a previous, fallacious study by CMTA attacking AB 32 affiliated with the global-warming-denying Heartland Institute, which receives heavy funding from our friends at Exxon Mobil.  This institute also enjoys holding conferences to downplay and deny climate science.  That’s who we’re dealing with here. That’s who we’re fighting.

Fourth, it’s important to emphasize what’s at stake here. Other than minor matters (ha) like the environment, public health and national security, this is about J-O-B-S.  Specifically, the only sector of job growth in California has been in the clean energy technology development sector.  For more, watch this video and hear how AB 32=Jobs (and, on the flip side, how killing AB 32 will kill those jobs).

Fifth, this proposition will not just hurt California jobs, it will also hurt Californians’ health and ability to breathe clean air.  As the Stop Dirty Energy website points out, this proposition “would create more air pollution in California and threaten public health.” Currently, “California’s air pollution crisis contributes to 19,000 premature deaths, 9,400 hospitalizations, and more than 300,000 respiratory illnesses for California families.”  Just imagine how much worse it will be if the Texas oil companies get their way and gut California’s clean air laws!

Finally, as NRDC wrote in a blog post entitled, “California Crossroads, “The oil companies have chosen California as their battleground to crush the progress the State’s made in moving away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy.”   NRDC reported from a media event (see photo above) at “Pier 7 on the city’s embarcadero, overlooking the bay that is the largest and most biologically productive estuary on the West Coast” (and also where “the tanker Cosco Buscan ran aground in 2007, spilling more than 53,000 gallons of heavy bunker oil, killing wildlife and providing a harbinger of the great environmental tragedy now unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico”).  As the NRDC blog post puts it, “We can’t let Texas oil destroy California’s future simply for the purpose of stuffing more cash into their already bulging coffers.”

That’s why we need everyone – not just Californians, but every American who cares about clean energy and our planet’s environment – to join our efforts at stopping this heinous, Texas oil company-funded Dirty Energy Proposition.   Please click here for more information and to join the campaign. Sign up for Stop Dirty Energy Twitter feed, Facebook page, and YouTube channel.  Also, check out the NRDC Action Fund Facebook page, as we will be heavily involved in this campaign.  

Why does a national organization like NRDC care about a “California issue?”  Other than the fact that California is an enormous – and enormously important –state, we care because, clearly, the Texas oil companies are attempting to set a national precedent in California against clean energy and climate action, and we can’t let them do that.  

We are convinced that stopping them here, exposing their lies, and deterring others from trying this in the future, is crucial to tackling our largest environmental challenges moving forward.  It’s also crucial, we might add, to fight against these well-funded, powerful, corporate polluters attempting to buy our politicians and our Democracy.  

Thank you for your help.

NRDC Action Fund

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Iowa recognizes all California marriages

I was so sorry to hear today’s news out of California. While I have no doubt that a future referendum will reverse Prop 8, that process will take years and resources that could have been spent organizing in other states.

Couples left in legal limbo should be aware that the state of Iowa recognizes the marriages of same-sex couples who tied the knot in California last year. Moving halfway across the country clearly won’t be an option for everyone, but Iowa has a low cost of living and a good quality of life (more affordable housing, relatively low rates of crime and unemployment, short commutes, and decent public schools in many communities).

Of course, couples from California or anywhere else can still come to Iowa to get married.

Since the Iowa Supreme Court’s Varnum v Brien ruling went into effect on April 27, hundreds of same-sex couples have been married here. More than half of Iowa’s 99 counties have issued at least one marriage license to a same-sex couple. Despite an extensive petition drive to pressure county recorders, no county recorder has refused to issue a marriage license to a couple seeking one.

In my opinion, a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court ruling will not get anywhere. I explain why after the jump.

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Update on U.S. House and Senate races

Yesterday runoff elections were held in Louisiana’s second and fourth Congressional districts.

In the biggest Congressional upset of the year, Democratic incumbent “Dollar Bill” Jefferson lost to Republican Joseph Cao in LA-02. You may remember Jefferson as the guy who kept $90,000 in cash in his freezer and used the National Guard to visit his home in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I’m normally a yellow-dog Democrat, but Jefferson is one Democrat I’m happy to see go.

No need to worry about winning back this seat in 2010, as David from Swing State Project explains:

So LA-02 is D+28 (old PVI). There is no district that is as red as this one is blue – UT-03 tops out at R+26. This reminds me of IL-05 in 1994 (1990s PVI: D+11) – corrupt Dan Rostenkowski got beaten by the unknown Michael Flanagan, who got soundly thumped by Rod Blagojevich two years later.

Remember, there are only nine other Republicans in Congress representing House districts with any kind of Democratic lean, and the most Democratic of those districts is D+6.5. Assuming Louisiana Democrats come up with a credible candidate in 2010, LA-02 should be an easy pickup.

The result in LA-04 yesterday was more disappointing. Democrat Paul Carmouche appears to be just 350 votes (less than 0.5 percent) behind Republican John Fleming. Carmouche is not conceding yet, but I doubt there are enough outstanding provisional and absentee ballots to put him over the top here. On the other hand, keeping it this close represents a kind of moral victory for Democrats, since John McCain carried LA-04 by 19 points on November 4. A Democrat “should” not even be competitive in a district like this.

Within the past week Democratic candidates conceded in California’s fourth and forty-fourth districts, which were both unexpectedly close despite having strong Republican partisan voting index numbers.

Provisional ballots are still being counted in Ohio’s fifteenth district. It looks like Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy has a decent chance at beating Republican incumbent Steve Stivers, because the 26,000 provisional ballots are in her stronghold (see this post by brownsox for more details). Am I the only one who finds it suspicious that so many voters had to fill out provisional ballots? That’s almost 10 percent of all the voters in the district on November 4.

UPDATE: Kilroy has won OH-15 by about 2,000 votes. Her margin of victory is large enough not to trigger an automatic recount. Assuming the recount in LA-04 does not change last night’s result, the next Congress will have 257 Democrats and 178 Republicans. I’ll take it!

Moving to the Senate races, the Minnesota contest is sure to end up in the courts and perhaps resolved by the U.S. Senate. The state canvassing board has delayed its meeting to review thousands of challenged ballots until December 16, because one precinct that favored Al Franken appears to have lost about 130 ballots that were counted on election night. If the ballots are not found, he could lose several dozen votes, which could make the difference in this ridiculously close race. It’s still unclear whether absentee ballots that were rejected because of clerical errors will be counted in Minnesota.

Click here to find a bunch of recent (and more detailed) accounts of what’s going on in Minnesota. Whoever ends up getting seated in the Senate is going to be viewed as illegitimate by many on the other side. I still can’t believe more than 400,000 Minnesotans voted for independent candidate Dean Barkley.

The presidential election results created a few Senate vacancies. The governor of Delaware appointed Ted Kaufman, a former chief of staff to Joe Biden, to take Biden’s place. The consensus seems to be that Biden set this up to leave the path clear for his son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, to run in 2010 when there is a special election to determine who will serve out Joe Biden’s term (which ends in 2014). The younger Biden cannot serve in the Senate now because he has been deployed in Iraq.

In New York, Caroline Kennedy (the daughter of President John F. Kennedy) has become the surprise favorite to be appointed to take Hillary Clinton’s place. It strikes me as an odd choice in a state with many capable Democrats in the U.S. House. Nothing against Kennedy, who seems very smart and principled, but I think Governor David Paterson should pick someone with more relevant political experience for this job. More speculation on the New York Senate seat is here. As in Delaware, there will be a special election in 2010 to determine who will serve out Clinton’s term (which ends in 2012).

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich still has not announced his choice to replace Barack Obama in the Senate. Many people still expect Tammy Duckworth to have the inside track, especially since Obama is going with retired General Eric Shinseki for Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs. On the other hand, Fox News says Illinois Senate President Emil Jones will be picked to serve out Obama’s term (which ends in 2010). Jones is considered a “safe” choice because he is both black and an “elder statesman” placeholder. If he is the pick, expect a very competitive Democratic Senate primary in Illinois in 2010.

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Update on Congressional races still to be decided

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Mark Begich took the lead as the early votes were counted, and seven-times-indicted Ted Stevens has conceded the Alaska Senate race. That makes seven Democratic pickups, with Georgia and Minnesota yet to be determined. The Democrats hold 56 Senate seats, and two independents (Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders) also caucus with Democrats.

The polls in Georgia have shown Republican Saxby Chambliss ahead of Jim Martin by three or four points. It’s all going to come down to turnout–I doubt much voter persuasion will occur between now and December 2. Barack Obama moved his field staff from Ohio down to Georgia, and many other groups, like Democracy for America, are helping Martin too. The state’s largest newspaper has endorsed Martin.

Chambliss has to be favored in this red state, but if the Democrats have a superior GOTV effort, Martin could pull off an upset.

The Minnesota recount has begun. Al Franken went into it 215 votes behind Norm Coleman (out of more than 2.5 million cast, or 0.008 percent). As of Wednesday evening, he had narrowed the gap to 181 votes. The state has a good “voter intent” law, meaning that if a person can determine the voter’s intent, the vote will count even if an optical scanner did not record it.

I can’t say I feel overly confident, but this study suggests Franken may have a good chance of taking the lead during the recount.

One wrinkle is that Franken successfully sued to get information about voters whose absentee ballots were rejected in one county. His campaign wants that information for all of the counties so that wrongfully excluded absentee ballots can be counted. However, it’s not clear whether those votes will ever be counted, even if the ballots were rejected because of clerical error.

As for the House races, we narrowly lost in CA-44, a district we did not target that was not considered competitive.

CA-04 has still not been called, but Democrat Charlie Brown trails carpet-bagger Tom McClintock by about 600 votes, and it seems unlikely he will be able to make up that margin.

It looks like we will pick up VA-05, which was viewed as quite a longshot before the election.

Louisiana will hold two runoff elections in December. Corrupt Democrat “Dollar Bill” Jefferson will most likely hold the second district. The fourth district is competitive, and Dick Cheney recently headed to Shreveport to campaign for the Republican.

UPDATE: I forgot Ohio’s 15th district, which is going to count provisional ballots. It seems like Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy has a decent chance of beating Republican Steve Stivers.

Democrats will end up with something between 255 and 259 House seats out of 438. Not bad at all.

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Time to get serious about expanding the field

cross-posted around the blogosphere

Americans appear ready to sweep a lot of Democrats into office on November 4. Not only does Barack Obama maintain a solid lead in the popular vote and electoral vote estimates, several Senate races that appeared safe Republican holds a few months ago are now considered tossups.

Polling is harder to come by in House races, but here too there is scattered evidence of a coming Democratic tsunami. Having already lost three special Congressional elections in red districts this year, House Republicans are now scrambling to defend many entrenched incumbents.

In this diary, I hope to convince you of three things:

1. Some Republicans who never saw it coming are going to be out of a job in two weeks.

On a related note,

2. Even the smartest experts cannot always predict which seats offer the best pickup opportunities.

For that reason,

3. Activists should put resources behind many under-funded challengers now, instead of going all in for a handful of Democratic candidates.

Much more is after the jump.

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Iowa Democrats, be ready to react to the news out of California

No, I’m not talking about the “high-priced Los Angeles call girls” surveyed by Playboy Radio, who ranked Chet Culver the fourth most “doable” governor.

I am talking about yesterday’s ruling by the California Supreme Court granting full marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Iowa Republicans know they have their work cut out for them this year and are not in a strong position to retake the Iowa House or Senate.

Conservatives in California are trying to get a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage on the ballot for November. If the initiative does get on the ballot, this will be a recurring national news story for the next six months.

I would not be surprised to see Republican candidates all over the country seize on this issue to try to direct the voters’ attention away from the many failures of the Bush administration, including the war in Iraq.

Even though the California Supreme Court is dominated by Republican appointees, the GOP will cite the gay marriage issue as a reason not to elect Democrats. There will be many news reports about gay couples traveling from around the country to California to be married. I expect that Democratic candidates will be put on the spot about whether Iowa should recognize those marriages, or whether Iowa judges should follow the logic of the California ruling.

If you are running for office in Iowa, be ready to address this issue.

On the plus side, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he respects the court ruling and opposes the ballot initiative. In effect, he has taken himself out as a future Republican presidential candidate (even if Congress were to amend the constitution to allow foreign-born citizens to serve as president).

Meanwhile, the advocacy group One Iowa, which is working to secure marriage rights for same-sex couples in our state, has a petition you can sign if you support their goals and oppose any constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

I’ve put the full text of the petition, along with the rest of the e-mail I got yesterday from One Iowa, after the jump.

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