Prop 23 Money Trail

It’s not just big oil with big money in the game.

Prop 23 has backing from oil & gas interests in Texas, Kansas, Ohio, and Colorado, among other places.

True, most of the money backing Proposition 23 on California’s November ballot has come from two big oil refiners, both headquartered in San Antonio, Texas. But the opposition has some high rollers in the game, as well. High-profile venture capitalists and tech investors have lined up against the measure with open wallets. In fact, a tally released this week by the California Fair Political Practices Commission reveals that opponents of Prop 23 are outspending proponents by almost a two-to-one margin. According to the Commission, ten different committees have marshaled more than $13 million to defeat the measure, “mainly from individuals.”

Climate Watch producer Gretchen Weber mapped the major money trail for both sides. This map includes only those funders with contributions of $100,000 or more, as of October 6th. Both sides have received numerous smaller contributions:

View Top California Proposition 23 Donors: Yes and No in a larger map

Funding for the “Yes-on-23” campaign is dominated by two large oil refiners, Valero and Tesoro Corporations. Both companies maintain major refining operations in California. Since this map was published, Marathon Oil of Findlay, Ohio, posted a $500,000 donation in support of the measure.

As for the “No” campaign, most major money trails seem to lead back to Silicon Valley, highlighted with such names as Schmidt (Google), Packard (H-P) and Doerr (venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins). According to filings with the California Secreatry of State, investment banker Tom Steyer, co-chair of the “No” campaign, has ponied up $5 million, more than the largest single oil company contribution supporting Prop 23.

If passed, Prop 23 would suspend California’s greenhouse gas regulations until the state’s unemployment rate fell to 5.5% or less, for twelve months. That’s a drop of nearly seven percentage points from the current rate.

Hear Rachael Myrow’s radio feature on Prop 23 at The California Report.

Prop 23 Money Trail 10 October,2010Craig Miller

14 thoughts on “Prop 23 Money Trail”

  1. ” High-profile venture capitalists and tech investors have lined up against the measure …”
    Not actually—there’s a big difference between hedge fund managers and venture capitalists.

  2. Your report correctly highlights Tesoro and Valero leadership and funding for Prop 23, the goal of which is to defeat AB 32. But Prop 23 is a stalking horse for CA oil companies’ real agenda which is to undo AB 32 by any means possible.

    That’s why California gas and oil companies have dumped millions of dollars into their stealth campaign for Prop 26, a murky constitutional amendment to overturn AB 32 without mentioning it. As explained on page 57 of the Voter Guide, Prop 26 repeals “conflicting state laws”, unless they are re-approved by a 2/3rds majority in both houses.

    Prop 23 is a decoy for the oil companies’ stealth agenda to undo AB32. Prop 26 must be included in any discussion of Prop. 23. Passage of either one would make it virtually impossible for California to reduce greenhouse gases and to hold oil and gas corporations accountable for public health and environmental degradation they cause.

  3. Hi Craig,
    This is a very important topic but it needs to be addressed without Eco-Histeria and spin. Voting YES on Prop 23 does NOT change the Clean Air Act.

    AB 32 was enacted before the facts were known. It simply needs to strip out the Cap and Trade provision and reliance on GHG assumptions. If its amended, its potentially a piece of leadership legislation for other states. Sustainability, Clean Energy, and Stewardship are great goals but not at the expense of Common Sense.

    AB 32 was enacted before the facts were known and needs to be amended to eliminate the Cap and Trade provision 70% of America Opposes, eliminate the reliance on flawed GHG assumptions, eliminate the unnecessary Fees, corrected to tighten the scope so it doesn’t introduce Environmental Red Tape that will do more damage than good, and make non-governmental agencies like CARB accountable to taxpayers.  
    AB 32 needs to be amended or Voting YES on Prop 23 makes the most sense to me.

    1. NewPortMac,

      Your rhetoric doesn’t match reality. The European Union has been operating under cap and trade for greenhouse gases for years, and it works there. The state’s global warming law relies on the best science available, and its passage has led to billions invested in the clean energy economy, the biggest job growth sector in our state. The best way to keep this good-news story going is to keep our global warming law, vote NO on 23, and not fall prey to arguments like yours that oversimplify the impacts of 23 if passed.

      1. Cap and Trade fraud in the EU has repeatedly occurred and the entire basis of the idea ends up promoting pollution instead of correcting it. Its a flawed concept 70% of the country doesn’t support.

        I took the time to read AB 32, it needs to be amended or it will cause more trouble than its worth.

        The Latest Regarding AGW:
        Hal Lewis, University of California, Santa Barbara Resigns from The American Physical Society on October 6th.

        The reason:
        “It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist.”

        Harold Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, former Chairman; Former member Defense Science Board, chmn of Technology panel; Chairman DSB study on Nuclear Winter; Former member Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards; Former member, President’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee; Chairman APS study on Nuclear Reactor Safety Chairman Risk Assessment Review Group; Co-founder and former Chairman of JASON; Former member USAF Scientific Advisory Board; Served in US Navy in WW II; books: Technological Risk (about, surprise, technological risk) and Why Flip a Coin (about decision making).

  4. Is anyone looking up at the SKY (besides watching the ground/oil) — a new pollution practice is taking place – geoengineering with aerosol spray in white gridlines — not plane contrails, repeat, NOT plane contrails. See the new movie trailer about this crime in the sky… Coast to Coast Radio aired an interview last night on the subject…CHEM TRAILS! We better start investigating since the media is stonewalling.

  5. A couple of comments:

    a) NewPortMac writes: “Dear Craig, This is a very important topic but it needs to be addressed without Eco-Histeria [sic] and spin.” This assertion caused me to re-read Craig’s text – it can be said objectively that there is zero “eco-hysteria or spin” in his comments. Period. So, NPMac gets an “F”, and so we get to move past the remainder of his ramblings.

    b) Tom points to this quote from the text: ‘High-profile venture capitalists and tech investors have lined up against the measure …,’ then comments: “Not actually—there’s a big difference between hedge fund managers and venture capitalists.” Very true, Tom, there is a big difference between the two models, and their vehicles. The fact that you make this point, in the absence of the original post even mentioning hedge funds, leads me to believe that you are aware that some hedge fund managers are giving to the “No” campaign. Thus, one can now conclude that both VCs and hedge funds are on the “No” side of the campaign and… that’s no surprise.

    d) Julie articulates the top note for the screenplay of a big budget Hollywood action-adventure blockbuster movie.

  6. With Respect Dave,
    Your spin doesn’t work here and Yes the story was a spin on “Prop 23 Money Trail” which has very little to do with the Real AB 32 Issues.


    The washington Times:
    Editorial space Michael Mann in today’s Washington Post.“
    “Indeed, the Washington Post, like most of the MSM has ignored the Hal Lewis resignation story completely. Despite holding such prestigious positions including having been Chairman and former member Defense Science Board (DSB) as well as Chairman of both the Technology panel and DSB’s study on Nuclear Winter, Lewis appears to have fallen out of favor with the bulk of the US press because of his ‘renegade’ climate views. ”
    There are a few discredited “scientists” such as Prof Harold Lewis, who deny climate change is caused by humans. There are billions of dollars at stake by industry and politics who hope to make people believe climate change is a natural cyclical process, not related to human activities. This is due to the same reasons tobacco denied there was any relationship between cancer and tobacco. These few are suspect of having been befriended by such organizations, and are now their mouth piece, that unwary unsophisticated public like to hear from them, for the truth is scary.

    WE HAVE GOTTEN WISE TO THEM, and now we ignore them because: THE ENTIRE FUTURE OF MANKIND IS AT STAKE. So now, we do not listen to such quackery any longer, thus refuse to publish it anywhere, lest one lose one’s credibility.

    Here is a very small list of organizations who absolutely admit Global warming is caused by humans, not due to a cyclical natural process the planet has often experienced form time to time SINCE ITS INCEPTION ( 14 BILLION YEARS AGO)
    1) Journal NATURE
    2) Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change I.P.C.C.rgovernmental Panel Climate Change I.P.C.C.
    3) Smithsonian Magazine and Smithsonian Institute
    5) Journal SCIENCE
    6) National Institute of Health
    7) National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (N.O.A.A)
    8) Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
    9) Helsinki University of Technology
    10) Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact
    12) UNESCO
    13) Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change I.P.C.C.
    14) NASA Goddard Science & Space Institute
    15) Museo Antropologico de Mexico
    16) Johns Hopkins University
    17) University of Michigan
    18) Harvard University
    19) Sindicatum Climate Change Fdtn. (S.C.C.F.)
    20) 98% Nobel Laureates
    21) Scientific American Magazine
    22) International Energy Agency (I.E.A)
    23) Union of World Scientists
    24) Encyclopedia BRITANNICA
    25) Institut Français de l’Environnement
    26) World Meteorological Organization ( W.M.O.
    27) Discovery Magazine

  8. Enclosed is a comment in the Cleveland Foundation’s Clean tech’s blog, I just read, that seems accurate.

    Following the money

    I get a kick when climate skeptics decry the work of climate scientists by claiming that the scientists are only in it for the money. Get real.

    The real money is in opposing climate legislation. Check out this recent posting by Daniel Weiss, Rebecca Lefton, and Susan Lyon of the Center for American Progress titled “Dirty Money.” According to their research, more than $500 million was spent within the last two years by large energy corporations (mainly oil companies and electric utilities) on lobbying, much of it to oppose climate legislation. That is more than 10 times the amount reportedly spent on lobbying by alternative energy companies. On top of the $500 million spent by companies directly, trade associations generally opposed to clean energy policies are said to have spent almost an additional $300 million on lobbying.

    In today’s pay-to-play world, why is it surprising to anyone that U.S. energy policy is so favorable toward maintaining the status quo of fossil fuel dominance over alternative energy and energy efficiency interests?

    As posted to

    1. Hey NewportMac,
      Regardless of your position on the cause or even the existence of global warming isn’t it a rational goal of man to improve efficiency and reduce waste. Why not strive towards a renewable, clean energy source? Why not set the standard higher?

      By the way, President Klaus does a great job comparing environmentalists to communists (ironic tone).

  9. Please, watch this non pollitical eye opening shocking video that shows what we have done to earth, and what our future will bring at the rate we are going.

    I ask:
    If you love candy, and I find out you have diabetes. I will tell you to drop the cany, prick your finger 3x a day, and shoot with needles insulin 3 times a day
    So, is this coercive, is this communist, or is this life saving
    You do not have to listen to the doctor, you are free to go your merry way, and die early due to your refusal to hear he sound advise. Suicide is not illega, but you are free to choose.
    Same here with the environment.

Comments are closed.


Craig Miller

Craig is a former KQED Science editor, specializing in weather, climate, water & energy issues, with a little seismology thrown in just to shake things up. Prior to that, he launched and led the station's award-winning multimedia project, Climate Watch. Craig is also an accomplished writer/producer of television documentaries, with a focus on natural resource issues.

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