Among the propositions on the November ballot, the one that deals with the environment and renewable resources is Proposition 10, the alternative fuel vehicles and renewable energy initiative.
Prop 10 is a bond measure that would provide $5 billion to fund research into alternative fuel technology. The funds would also go toward helping consumers purchase high fuel economy or alternative fuel vehicles, including natural gas vehicles.
The proposition would give grants to individual cities for renewable energy projects. It would also provide funds to universities for the purpose of training students in energy efficiency technologies.
Prop 10 would cost the state of California approximately $10 billion over 30 years. The cost, including interest and principal, would amount to payments of about $335 million per year.
Opponents of the proposition include Environment California and The National Tax Limitation Committee.
“We don’t see natural gas as a clean alternative fuel,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, spokesperson for Environment California.
Organizations such as Environment California fear that using natural gas is insufficient to help the environment in any substantial way, Chiaro said.
“California needs to be headed in the direction of shifting away from fossil fuels and towards truly clean renewable energy,” she said. “Despite the headline, [Prop 10] is not as green as it looks.”
Natural gas is a fossil fuel that may be cleaner than others, but it is still not entirely clean or environment safe, she added. Natural gas comes from the same place in the earth as oil does, so when burned, it has the similar effect as oil on the air and environment.
“When you burn natural gas it produces a lot of carbon dioxide … it is also a significant source of smog-forming pollution,” Chiaro said.
The natural gas industry has managed to package themselves as a clean alternative, when in reality they are another fossil fuel, she added.
However, supporters of Prop 10 insist that it would help California move toward a cleaner environment as well as reducing the state’s dependence on foreign oil.
“Prop 10 is a $5 billion bond measure and it is designed to help Californians reduce their dependence on foreign oil,” said Amy Thoma, spokesperson for the Yes on 10 campaign. “By moving towards fuels that are alternative, like propane and natural gas that are all produced in America … it’s money that would be invested back into our own economy.“
Supporters of the proposition also believe that this would reduce harmful gas emissions that are often put into the environment by cars with low fuel economy, Thoma added.
“[Prop 10] would also help us move towards using alternative fuels for transportation,” she said.
Despite the state’s financial crisis, supporters of the proposition believe that it is an efficient way to spend the state’s funds.
“We appreciate that the state is in a position where our budget is not stable, but we believe that you can’t afford not to [pass Prop 10],” Thoma said.
Still, opponents of Prop 10 fear that it only benefits the special interests of the propositions financers.
“We are experiencing in California an increasing abuse of the initiative process, the initiative process was designed as a safety valve for the citizens of the state,” said Lewis Uhler, president and founder of the National Tax Limitation Committee.
This proposition will financially benefit the authors of it directly, but will do little for the residents of California, Uhler added.
“[The financers of Prop 10 say they] do it in the name of cleaner air, but the bottom line is this [benefits] the self-interests of the financers of this measure,” Uhler said.
For more information on Prop 10 visit voterguide.sos.ca.gov.
CAITLIN COBB can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.