Issues: U.S. Law & Policy

NRDC on California Ballot Initiatives
Recommendation: Oppose measures that would threaten the state's renewable energy future and support plans to build high-speed rail

Two misguided propositions masquerading as renewable energy plans will appear on California's Nov. 4, 2008, ballot. Propositions 7 and 10 would set back the state's efforts to build a clean energy future. NRDC has championed clean energy for more than 30 years but opposes both of these measures, which would reverse course on California's drive to tap renewable resources.

There is a clear winner on the Nov. 4 ballot, however. Proposition 1A would catalyze the development of a high-speed rail system and make improvements to existing rail networks. Here's a breakdown of the three initiatives and NRDC's recommendations.

Prop 7: The Solar and Clean Energy Act of 2008

It's billed as a way to boost the use of clean energy in California, but Prop 7 would actually make renewable energy development more difficult in the state.

NRDC Recommends: VOTE NO

NRDC strongly supports the creation of a clean energy economy, which would reduce air pollution, lower the nation's dependence on oil and help fight global warming. But Prop 7 is the wrong answer. NRDC opposes Prop 7 because:

• It locks loopholes and regulatory barriers into law.

• It excludes renewable energy providers smaller than 30 megawatts from counting toward the state's targets.

• It allows energy providers to skirt requirements. For example, simply signing a contract to produce renewable energy can count as compliance.

• It slashes current penalties by 80 percent for utility companies that don't comply.

• It would limit public review of regulatory agencies and government decisions.

Related Links
•Full text of Prop 7
•Discussion on the NRDC blog
•Californians Against Another Costly Energy Scheme

Prop 10: Calif. Alternative Fuels Initiative

Prop 10 would use $5 billion in taxpayer-financed bonds primarily to convert vehicles to run on natural gas -- diverting funds from other global warming solutions.

NRDC Recommends: VOTE NO

Natural gas vehicles can provide a modest reduction in global warming pollution. But Prop 10 would provide a disproportionate amount of funding to just this one fuel and give short shrift to other options, such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, that are more efficient and pollute less.

According to Roland Hwang, NRDC's vehicles policy director, "The attempt by California's Prop10 to legislate into existence a market for natural gas vehicles would unnecessarily add pressure to drill and is a poor investment in times of scarce public dollars."

This initiative would also shift taxpayer dollars away from other budget priorities and use bonds that should be saved for long-term investments. The Los Angeles Times questioned T. Boone Pickens' motives for sponsoring this measure, citing the considerable profit that he and a company that he invests in stand to gain.

Related Links
•Full text of Prop 10
•Discussion on the NRDC blog
Los Angeles Times editorial
•No on 10: A $10 Billion Lemon

Prop 1A: High-Speed Rail Ballot Measure

Prop 1A would provide $9.95 billion in bond funds to spur the development of an 800-mile high-speed rail system and improve existing rail networks.

NRDC Recommends: VOTE YES

With California's population expected to reach 50 million by 2030, and 31 percent of the state's greenhouse gas emissions coming from cars and light trucks, replacing personal vehicle and plane trips with electrified train travel is an essential piece of reaching the state's greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The air corridor from Los Angeles to San Francisco is the most highly traveled in the world. The alternative to high-speed rail -- more highways and expanded airports -- is more expensive and would increase pollution.

A new rail system would also provide improved commuter rail and regional intercity rail, giving Californians throughout the state a world-class transportation option.

Related Links
•Full text of Prop 1A
•Discussion on the NRDC blog
•Organizations backing Prop 1A
Los Angeles Times editorial
San Francisco Chronicle article

last revised 10.15.08

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