Skip to content

No On Prop. 23 l The New York Times | The Brothers Koch and AB 32 l So Cal Solar Saudi Arabia

September 24, 2010

From Our Blogosphering Buddies…


Four years ago, bipartisan majorities in the California Legislature approved a landmark clean energy bill that many hoped would serve as a template for a national effort to reduce dependence on foreign oil and mitigate the threat of climate change.

Now a well-financed coalition of right-wing ideologues, out-of-state oil and gas companies and climate-change skeptics is seeking to effectively kill that law with an initiative on the November state ballot. The money men include Charles and David Koch, the Kansas oil and gas billionaires who have played a prominent role in financing the Tea Party movement.

The 2006 law, known as AB 32, is aimed at reducing California’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80 percent at midcentury. To reach these targets, state agencies are drawing up regulations that would affect businesses and consumers across the board – requiring even cleaner cars, more energy-efficient buildings and appliances, and power plants that use alternative energy sources like wind instead of older fossil fuels.

The prospect that these rules could reduce gasoline consumption strikes terror into some energy companies. A large chunk of the $8.2 million raised in support of the ballot proposition has come from just two Texas-based oil and gas companies, Valero and Tesoro, which have extensive operations in California. The Koch brothers have contributed about $1 million, partly because they worry about damage to the bottom line at Koch Industries, and also because they believe that climate change is a left-wing hoax.

They have argued that the law will lead to higher energy costs and job losses, arguments that resonate with many voters in a state with a 12.4 percent unemployment rate. But this overlooks the enormous increase in investments in clean energy technologies – and the jobs associated with them – since the law was passed.

Overturning AB 32 would be another setback in the effort to fight climate change. The United States Senate has already scuttled President Obama’s goal of putting a price on carbon. The Environmental Protection Agency, while important, can only do so much. This leaves state and regional efforts as crucially important drivers – and if California pulls back, other states like New York that are trying to reduce emissions may do so as well.

The Kochs and their allies are disastrously wrong about the science, which shows that man-made emissions are largely responsible for global warming, and wrong about the economics. AB 32’s many friends – led by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California – have therefore mounted a spirited counterattack in defense of the law.

Another respected Republican, George Shultz – a cabinet member in both the Nixon and Reagan administrations – has signed on as a co-chairman of this effort. Mr. Shultz credits AB 32 for an unprecedented “outburst” of technological creativity and investment.

Who wins if this law is repudiated? The Koch brothers, maybe, but the biggest winners will be the Chinese, who are already moving briskly ahead in the clean technology race. And the losers? The people of California, surely. But the biggest loser will be the planet.

Published: September 20, 2010


California: The “Solar Saudi Arabia”

September 23, 2010


By Craig Miller


Prepare for a solar building boom in the deserts of Southern California. …


State regulators have now given the green light to four major solar power projects in as many weeks. The most recent was on Wednesday, when the California Energy Commission gave the nod to a 370-megawatt solar-thermal array known as the Ivanpah project … Developed by Oakland-based BrightSource Energy and built by Bechtel Corp., it will consume more than 3,500 acres near the California-Nevada border, in the northern Mojave Desert.


In recent weeks the CEC has also approved applications for three other projects in Kern, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. The four projects combined will be rated to deliver almost 1,900 megawatts of power, or the equivalent of two typical commercial nuclear reactors … Projects representing about 1,000 more MW of solar-thermal energy come up for final decision before the end of the month.


BrightSource CEO John Woolard told me that after more than three years in the review process, the wait was worth it.


“Ultimately I think the process works,” Woolard told me in a brief interview after the CEC’s approval of Ivanpah. “Hopefully it’ll work faster or more expeditiously for people behind us. But I can tell you that it’s the most through and complete process I’ve ever gone through.”


 “Southern California–the desert, the Mojave, represents the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy,” said Byron [Energy Commissioner, Jeff]. “There’s geothermal, wind and solar there, so–this is a start. It’s a substantial start.”

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: