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Zschau Opposes Toxics Initiative, Charges It Would Cost Jobs in State

September 13, 1986|JOHN BALZAR | Times Political Writer

Republican Senate candidate Ed Zschau, caught between powerful and conflicting political forces, sided with California business and agricultural interests Friday, proclaiming his opposition to the toxics initiative, Proposition 65.

Zschau said the measure, supported strongly by environmentalists and many Democrats, would "make a wasteland of California's Central Valley."

For weeks, Zschau, a congressman from Los Altos, has studied and weighed the measure whose clean-water goals he had lauded but whose specific provisions he questioned. His decision was announced Friday by his office in advance of a speech to the California Grape and Treefruit League.

Environmentalists, business and agricultural leaders all have eagerly awaited Zschau's decision. The GOP candidate has offered himself to voters as a political moderate and has courted support in all three camps. And all three have called the ballot measure crucial to their interests.

Cranston a Supporter

Zschau's opponent, Democratic Sen. Alan Cranston, has been a leader in the campaign on behalf of Proposition 65 and has made control of toxic wastes a cornerstone in his campaign for a fourth Senate term.

Among other things, the proposition would establish new limits on the discharge of chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects. Farmers and other businessmen heavily dependent on the use of modern chemicals have called the measure political and misguided. Some growers and electronics manufacturers contend that it could put them out of business.

In the end, Zschau indicated that his decision came down to a matter of jobs. He charged that Cranston was "deliberately trying to hoodwink California voters into thinking they will drink cleaner water, when instead (the initiative) will close down scores of farms in California and put people out of work."

Calls It a 'Sham'

"It is not good environmental law. It's a sham," Zschau said.

The announcement released by the Zschau campaign was mostly devoted to bitter broadsides against Cranston. Among other things, Zschau said support for Proposition 65 shows "Cranston's willingness to ruin California's agriculture. . . ."

"Cranston apparently cares more about his own job than the jobs of Californians," Zschau said.

In response, Cranston said: "Mr. Zschau doesn't understand the importance of protecting our environment. When it comes to making a choice between his friends in business and the health and safety of the people of California, the people lose."

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