Tuesday’s California primary results contain both good news and bad news for the state’s prospects of leading the nation on clean energy.
First, the good news. California voters said no to Prop 16, what opponents called a power grab by California utility PG&E to require communities to have a super-majority in order to choose non-profit utilities, or any utility choice other than PG&E.
The private utility giant funded the proposition to the tune of US$46.1 million and, despite the opposition being under funded, PG&E still lost. In the people versus corporate interests, score one for California.
California’s Republicans, however, can not be said to have done as well by clean energy. Exhibit A, Meg Whitman, Republican Gubernatorial candidate.
Ms. Whitman, of eBay fame, trounced Steve Poizner for the GOP nomination, in part by running as a right wing corporatist and in larger part by throwing a whole lot of money at winning. A record $80 million dollars.
Whitman’s ads show her in front of a pretty back drop of windmills and solar panels, but the reality is that she has promised that her first act in office will be to suspend implementation of AB 32, California’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions reduction and clean energy bill.
Considering all the studies showing how AB 32 creates jobs and how much money has been invested in the state because of its leadership on clean energy, it seems a foolish position for the self-proclaimed pro-business candidate. But it is the position the tea partiers and Texas oil companies want her to take. The same interests that are funding a November ballot proposition to suspend AB 32.
It’s interesting to note that Ebay is supporting AB 32, even if their former boss is not. Whitman will go up against once, and hoping to be future, governor of California, Jerry Brown. Brown is a supporter of AB 32.
Exhibit B, Carly Fiorina. Fiorina, who was once famously dismissed from Hewlett Packard, reinvented herself in 2008 as a surrogate for the McCain-Palin campaign. She has gone through another reinvention, now as candidate for the U.S. Senate.
Fiorina will run against three-term senator Barbara Boxer, the first female Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Sure of her anointment as the GOP candidate, Fiorina started running ads prior to the primary taking on Boxer for calling climate change a threat to national security.
Fiorina, once a supporter of addressing climate change, now accuses Boxer of worrying about the weather instead of terrorists. Fiorina, too, seems to be running toward the tea party right. Fiorina, like Whitman, has lots of money and the two gal pals are already talking about how excited they are to be together at the top of the GOP ticket.
So what does this all mean for the future of California and clean energy? The defeat of Prop 16 is a good start, but the rest is TBD.
Image Credit: Vote No on Prop 16
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