by CalWatchdog Staff | September 16, 2010 8:24 am
SEPT. 16, 2010
By KATY GRIMES
It was the rich oil guys against the rich hedge fund manager today at the Proposition 23 debate sponsored by the Sacramento Press Club. At least that’s the way the two sides characterize the campaign spokesmen.
A guy in a chicken suit protested with numerous other sign-carrying demonstrators outside of the 9th Street building where the Sacramento Press Club debate was held Wednesday. Several of the protestors joined the audience once the debate started.
Assemblyman Dan Logue, described as the driving force behind the YES on Prop 23 campaign, and Thomas Steyer, wealthy hedge fund manager, and co-chair of the NO on Prop 23, squared off – very politely.
Proposition 23 would suspend AB32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, also known as cap and trade legislation.
Proponents say implementation of AB32 is growing the green technology industry in California, but critics say that it is heavily subsidized and cannot self-sustain.
Steyer, reported to have given $2.5 million of a $5 million pledge to the NO on Prop 23 campaign said, “Oil companies are trying to write their own legislation.” Steyer said the big oil “polluters” are trying to get out of cleaning up their industry. “It is not appropriate for industry to write its own legislation. Legislators are supposed to do this, and companies are supposed to obey those rules,” Steyer said.
“Hundreds of thousands of jobs are being created by the green industry,” said Steyer, “and California gets 60 percent of the green jobs in the country.”
Steyer said that he wants to protect California’s opportunity to continue to lead the green tech and green jobs push through defeat of Prop 23. “California will lead that revolution,” Steyer said.
“Both of us are in business,” said Logue. “He is big business, and I am small business.”
Logue explained that Prop 23 is supported by small business, regardless of the campaign contributors. “California is 51st in the nation to do business in, according to CEO magazine,” Logue said, and attributed this to “regulations, taxes and energy costs, which are just too high.”
“We just can’t compete in California, said Logue. “Texas and Nevada will be getting more of California’s businesses if AB32 continues.” Logue said that California energy costs are already 35 percent higher that the rest of the nation, and he produced a list of energy businesses that “can’t wait to get out of California, because they cannot afford to stay here.”
Logue insisted that Prop 23 will not do anything more than suspend AB32 until unemployment in the state drops again, to below 5.5 percent as it was in 2006. “We can’t increase the green economy until our real economy improves,” said Logue.
A representative from the San Francisco Chronicle asked Logue about the “statistical evidence that global warming is real.” Logue called that the “trillion dollar question,” and offered “a list of 31,000 scientists who say that global warming is not man made.”
“Last year 3 million people died from starvation and malaria. I don’t know of anyone who died from global warming,” Logue said, stating a need to refocus on priorities in the state.
“Whether or not there is global warming, is not a real question,” Steyer said.
“Lowering the unemployment in California is good for everyone’s health,” said Logue. “Put people back to work, and they can afford health care.” Press Club president and debate moderator Rich Ehisen, asked Logue, “Did you just say that lowering unemployment is good for people’s health?” Logue answered, “Yes, you can afford health care if you are working. People decide not to go to the doctor when they are not working.”
An audience member asked Logue to explain why the YES on Prop 23 campaign received money from the Koch brothers in New York. The wealthy oil company brothers Charles and David Koch, contributed $1 million to the YES on Prop 23 campaign recently, and have been actively involved in challenging climate change in the country. Logue said that all contributors have an interest in California regulations and in the cost of doing business in the state.
But Steyer was critical of the big oil company contributions. “Energy costs will go down if we become more efficient,” said Steyer. “I am not against the oil and gas industry, but every industry should be regulated,” Steyer said, to a few angry “boo’s” from the back of the room.
Logue said that oil companies have thousands of employees in California as well, and have a great financial interest in the state.
“As long as the green economy is subsidized, OPEC will keep prices below $75 a barrel. The real economy will continue to collapse as it is in Europe,” said Logue. “America has enough oil reserves for 500 years – we won’t have to use OPEC,” said Logue, if we stop over-regulating it.
“Tom has made money in the oil industry, and they create jobs,” said Logue, “… Seven to 10 times cheaper than the green industry.”
As an aside, Logue added, “Since 2008, Texas created 70 percent of the jobs in the U.S.”
A representative from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer’s Association asked Steyer, “Who truly profits with AB32’s implementation?” She also asked him about his “$100 million of gas and oil holdings,” and if profiting off of AB 32 was a conflict of interest.
Ducking the question, Steyer answered, “We make investments through a number of private industries, but I do believe that Proposition 23 is a disaster for the state.”
A Sierra Club representative asked Logue about a $500,000 contribution from the Adam Smith Foundation. Logue said, “I don’t know anything about the Adam Smith organization. I know they complied with the laws of California.”
“Ask the NO campaign to give a list of contributors – and of those, who will profit off of AB32?” said Logue.
As the debate wrapped up, Logue said, “87 businesses left California in the last 16 months, and 25 percent of those were green jobs. Why is it China has 50 percent of all of the green industry manufacturing in the world?” asked Logue. “20 percent of the pollution in the Los Angeles basin comes from China – making solar panels!” he added.
Steyer said, “I disagree that China is the economic model we want to emulate – or Texas – or Nevada. The last thing we want to do is be someone we are not.”
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