Thursday, June 26, 2008

With California Ballot Props, Nothing Is Ever As It Seems

Capitol Weekly peels back the layers on two initatives headed for the ballot this November.

While neither is numbered yet, one would authorize the issuance of $5 billion in bonds to "develop and encourage the use of clean alternative fuels and renewable energy, with half the money going to new or repowered clean vehicles."

The other "would require all utilities--whether municipal or private--to get at least half of their electricity from clean- and solar-power sources by 2025."

As written and presented, both appear to be fairly straightforward, environmentally friendly measures. But ballot intiatives almost invariably are legislative feints by special interests and these two props don't deviate from that standard.

Capitol Weekly reports that the first intitiative is being bankrolled by Clean Energy Fuels, a company associated with GOP stalwart and gazillionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens. Clean Energy Fuels is the largest purveyor of clean-vehicle natural gas in the nation, and the $1.5 million it has pumped into the measure so far is but a drop in the bucket of what it likely would reap were the measure to pass.

The second measure is being opposed by all of the major California utilities because they believe it overreaches and sets an unachievable timetable. Capitol Weekly reveals that the driving force behind the initiative is the power house law furm, Manatt Phelps. Manatt's reputation as supremely successful hired gun for special interests, raises red flags, but this measure may be more transparent than the clean-vehicle-bond intiative. Most of the funding for this campaign has come from Santa Barbara environmental activsit Peter Sperling who has a history of supporting environmental causes.