Koch Industries just gave the Yes on 23 campaign another million dollars via their front corporation, Flint Hills Resources. When added to Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp. contributions, a total of $8.2 million has been raised for a "Yes" proposition that really is a "No" proposition in disguise.
Consider this: 100% of the money to fund Proposition 23 comes from outside California. Oil companies inside California -- Chevron and Shell, notably -- have not funded this campaign. What is it about the underlying law -- California AB32 -- that makes corporations with stakes in Kansas and Texas want to spend as much as they can to defeat it? And how is it that libertarians with self-proclaimed strong belief in states' rights like David and Charles Koch are so committed to undoing a law that has no bearing on their state or their rights?
Business, of course. But it goes deeper than that. This really is a proxy war between the moneyed oil interests and an emerging powerhouse of green technology industry. This is why, by the way, the opposition to Proposition 23 is being funded by hedge fund guru Thomas Steyer with his personal funds. As a businessman and investor, he sees what green tech is bringing to California and is putting his personal (not corporate) funds on a future built on it.
GigaOm, back in June:
If California’s climate change bill AB32 — which was passed back in 2006 and creates a plan to reduce the state’s carbon emissions — is repealed, California’s greentech markets will be seriously jeopardized, said venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and Google’s Green Energy Czar Bill Weihl at an event at Google HQ on Tuesday morning. The main theme for the Google event was a discussion of Proposition 23, a ballot measure that, if passed on the upcoming November ballot, would essentially kill AB32, and is backed by Texas-based oil companies Valero and Tesoro.
Khosla stated his position clearly on the oil-backed ballot measure: “Prop 23 will kill the market and the single largest source of job creation in California in the last two years.” Innovation started happening in California, and the next ten Googles of greentech will be created there, because the market is there, he said. If California’s market is destroyed, countries like China and other states will have a competitive edge and those next ten Googles will be built in those markets, said Khosla.
But this is more than a simple battle between Big Oil interests and the Green Tech team. Koch Industries isn't just fighting for their income stream; they're fighting to weaken California's successes in order to lure voters into their point of view not only on AB32, but on everything else. Keeping California's economy weak guarantees a continuing toehold for their Americans for Prosperity/FreedomWorks front group -- the Tea Party Express.
Teabaggers rely upon a disgruntled electorate. AB32 has created 500,000 California jobs in a recession. If the economy and jobs come back, it marginalizes the Tea Party and their impact on the overall political landscape. There is no better way to increase their influence in California than to kill California's economy, and with it, our competitive edge in green technology and innovation. None. They know this, so they're rallying the troops.
We have the Tea Party Patriots of Monterey County making plans for voter guides and campaigns for Prop. 23. (That is a cached version because their "working group" is supposed to be private) Not to be left out, Palm Springs Tea Party Group (also cached) is also organizing.
The truth is, the toxic triplets (Koch/Tesoro/Valero) aren't only fighting for their business model, one long dead anyway. They're using their fight to undermine the political will of Californians, and they're using the Tea Party, those champions of individual and states' rights to do it.
When it comes to winning, principle is irrelevant. Individual rights only matter when they match up with what the toxic triplets want. States' rights matter only to the extent that weakening California lends strength to midwestern states and interests.
The Proposition 23 battle isn't simply a battle over environmental regulations. It is a battle for our voice. Californians approved AB32. It is the will of the people in this state and is creating new jobs in a less than friendly economy. AB32 is the difference between China being the innovator in green technology or the United States. Koch/Valero/Tesoro understand this, and they're willing to fight the second civil war on a battleground where casualties are measured in economic pain.
Here's a bonus: 7 things you need to know about Koch Industries