August 24, 2006 11:51 AM PDT

Mudslinging over California's clean-fuel initiative

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Green tech powers forward

January 16, 2008
The opponents of a ballot proposal in California to tax oil companies and give the proceeds to alternative-energy entrepreneurs and universities say the clean-tech camp is slinging mud.

Californians Against Higher Taxes, a political-action group funded largely by oil companies and agribusiness, claims that the individuals behind Proposition 87 are skirting California's electoral laws.

Earlier this week, CAHT pointed out that individuals who clicked on links that appeared to be hosted by opponents of the proposal--such as Noonprop87.org and Noon87.com--were redirected to the Yes on 87 campaign's Web site.

CAHT asserted that this violated California's Political Cyberfraud Abatement Act, passed in 2001 to prevent cybersquatting and the diverting of voters from certain Web sites.

CAHT filed a lawsuit with a state court in Alameda County on Tuesday over the issue.

Since then, however, the Noonprop87.org and Noon87.com URLs have stopped directing voters to the Yes on 87 campaign's home page. Instead, a page comes up that says "Warning: The site you are about to enter is written and paid for by the oil companies." The page lists purported contributors to the No on 87 effort and the amount they contributed. Chevron is listed as contributing $12.8 million.

Clicking on a link at the bottom of that page then takes a reader to the main site for the No on 87 campaign.

Those in the Yes on 87 camp said they changed the Web site in an act of good will. The organization also said it would settle the suit if the No on 87 forces agreed to drop their "junk science" and more directly show that oil companies were funding the effort.

Proposition 87 seeks to raise $4 billion over a 10-year period through oil-drilling fees. Roughly 60 percent of the funds will go to entrepreneurs setting up clean businesses such as ethanol filling stations, Vinod Khosla, the venture capitalist behind the effort, said in a recent interview. Khosla, one of the co-founders of Sun Microsystems, has formed a firm that specializes in investing in alternative-energy start-ups.

Under the proposal, 30 percent of the funds raised through taxes would go to universities and schools for education and research. Ten percent would be used to run the program and to cover miscellaneous tasks.

A nine-person panel called the California Energy Alternatives Program Authority would oversee how the funds are used. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and the Sierra Club, among others, have endorsed the proposal.

The election takes place Nov. 7.

Subsidies have been an integral part of the alternative-energy industry. Typically, however, funds are not delivered directly to entrepreneurs to start businesses. Instead, the money comes in the form of rebates to consumers for putting in, for example, solar panels. Businesses benefit from these laws indirectly.

A few years ago, California passed a similar bill to promote stem cell research and biotechnology business in the state.

The California legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are currently hammering out details of a bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

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12 comments

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What, not enough venture capital?
You'd think there would be more private money available in
California to start alternative energy enerprises than actually
needed. Why is tax money needed on top of it? Too risky for the
venture capitalists, perhaps? But not for taxpayers, apparently.
Posted by billmosby (536 comments )
Reply Link Flag
right on, right?
I think you hit the nail on the head: alternative clean fuel business is not as profitable as traditional fossil fuel business. Hey, let's keep on being profitable and leave all that environmental crap for future generations. Or, we can be a little less profitable and try to save something important for our children.
Posted by thanhvn (51 comments )
Link Flag
Exactly
For all the talk, few seem willing to back it with dollars. Makes me think the 'H' word ... Hypocrites.

Where's all the environmentalists? Where's Al Gore? Has he dumped his Occidental Oil stocks yet and re-invested that money into alternative energy stocks? These researchers should be drowning in investment money.
Posted by (402 comments )
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Vote YES
If you are from California and don't want to pay 8 dollars per gallon in the years to come vote yes. Keep in mind that the money you pay at the pump gots to feed big oil and the middle east, neither of them have your or the US intrests at heart. This has to stop!!!
Posted by FutureGuy (742 comments )
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No!
we in CA are finally drilling for oil again, and it should be encouraged. we dont have the land or resources to run trials of low energy/high cost biofuels.
Posted by Hardrada (359 comments )
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Absolutely confused! Let me help....
<<If you are from California and don't want to pay 8 dollars per gallon in the years to come vote yes.>>

If you are from ANYWHERE and don't want to pay 8 dollars per gallon, then you would have no interest in alternative fuels... which will cost far more than oil for MANY years to come.

<<Keep in mind that the money you pay at the pump gots to feed big oil and the middle east, neither of them have your or the US intrests at heart.>>

WRONG! Just flat wrong! Look... setting up an environment of alternative fuel supplies takes resources - more than any start-up will ever have. The people BEST POSITIONED to lead us into an alternative fuel future are the ENERGY COMPANIES. Instead of ATTACKING them, we should be letting them know we'd rather spend our 8 dollars (see point 1) on DIFFERENT fuels. NOBODY can facilitate a switch more quickly and effectively than established energy companies.

Now... about feeding the middle east. This just sounds like bigotry to me. The simple fact of the matter, is that we do NOT get the majority of our oil from the middle east... but few of the alternative energy advocates even care to LEARN where our oil comes from.

Take a look: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.inaniloquent.com/PermaLink.aspx?guid=4d3e98dc-26c1-4e13-93be-f1c0e9282fad" target="_newWindow">http://www.inaniloquent.com/PermaLink.aspx?guid=4d3e98dc-26c1-4e13-93be-f1c0e9282fad</a>

You want to hurt Canada and Mexico? or maybe you just don't care... either way, they will suffer far more than any middle eastern country when we reduce our imports.

Sorting through the rhetoric, as usual.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
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People do not realize that gas, in a free market, does not suddenly run out
Gas does not suddenly, in a free market run out. Prices today reflect expectations of the available supply and demand for goods and services today and tomorrow. If, for instance, the expectation is that oil supply will decrease or will be less than demand in ten years time, it will influence oil prices today. Prices today will go up. People will have the incentive to conserve (demand will decrease) and to develop new alternatives. Actually, we are probably conserving too much, because of OPEC and Governments taxations are keeping prices higher than they otherwise would be. That oil soon runs out is a political slogan that keeps coming up to keep politicians busy. This political slogan sounds true and will, therefore, in the political market sell. Only true markets can handle this sort of complex things. Compared to markets, Governments are too simple minded and primitive, because of the fact; they lack the essential tools that are needed to solve these kind of problems. They primitively, for example, regulate car manufacturers (and in the end consumers) to produce cars which improve gas mileage and impose upon people speed limits, without knowing if these actions are good or bad. Only markets can tell if conservations are good or bad, because market prices gives people the necessary signals of supply and demand, and people can therefore compare these prices to their own values if they are profitable or not to realize. The essential tools that are needed (which Governments are always lacking) are, as mentioned, market forces and the market price mechanism. Without these mechanisms nothing can be done. For example, a scientist will not reach the truth in trying to calculate physical available quantities and compare that to what he expects physical demand will be. It is silly, it is static and mechanistic. Every individual and every business around the whole world, with all different knowledges, all the time, and in all possible situations, and which are directly influenced of higher prices, will conserve and try out alternatives. Even people and businesses that are not directly influenced of higher oil prices, also, have incentives to find out alternatives. These things happen all the time with all goods, services, capital and raw materials, and it run smoothly without us even noticing it. If Governments were going to replace the markets, we would probably end up with no available goods and services at all! In a sense, this would solve the conservation problem (joke). To make an example of this lack of knowledge and the belief that you can ignore markets, look at the so called Club of Rome, a group that made fools of themselves in the 70s with their book
Limits to growth (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.answers.com/the+club+of+rome?gwp=11&#38;ver=2.0.0.453&#38;method=3" target="_newWindow">http://www.answers.com/the+club+of+rome?gwp=11&#38;ver=2.0.0.453&#38;method=3</a>). If they were right, we would probably barely, even, live today!

Björn Lundahl
Göteborg Sweden
Posted by Björn Lundahl (253 comments )
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