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Global warming issue spans two ballot items

As the campaign slows down for Prop. 23, which would suspend the environmental law, money pours in to promote Prop. 26, which could hobble it.

October 18, 2010|By Margot Roosevelt, Los Angeles Times

Fundraising for a ballot initiative to suspend California's global warming law has flagged, but oil companies and other business interests are pouring millions of dollars into a separate ballot measure that could dry up funds to implement the law.


FOR THE RECORD:
The headline on an earlier version of this article incorrectly said Proposition 23 would repeal California's global warming law. It would suspend the law.

Proposition 26 would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, rather than the current simple majority, to enact any regulatory fees such as those imposed on tobacco companies to fund health-related programs, on industries for toxic waste cleanup and on alcohol retailers for law enforcement.

Rules under the global warming law, which would require companies to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, take effect in January and could be vulnerable to legislative gridlock over fees.

"Prop. 26 would eviscerate the funding of all air- and water-pollution programs, even oil-spill cleanup," said Warner Chabot, chief executive of the California League of Conservation Voters.

"If 26 passes, it is a Christmas present to the oil industry, the tobacco industry and every other polluting industry. The cost of regulation will shift from the industry to taxpayers."

Oil, tobacco and alcohol companies are the primary funders of the "stop hidden taxes" campaign, which has so far raised $11.7 million to pass Proposition 26 and defeat Proposition 25, an initiative that would allow the state budget to be passed by a simple majority instead of a two-thirds majority.

Oil and gas companies account for the largest portion of contributions, $3.5million, including $2.5 million from Chevron Corp., the biggest California-based oil company.

The California Chamber of Commerce has contributed $3.3 million, and Philip Morris USA, the tobacco giant, gave $1 million.

Opponents, including the Democratic state central committee and a host of labor unions, have raised $2.7 million.

"Rather than control spending, politicians use a loophole to fund big salaries and expense accounts with hidden taxes on food, beverages, gas and many services," says a television spot in support of Proposition 26.

While money poured in for Proposition 26, the high-profile campaign for Proposition 23 — supported by oil refiners from Texas and Kansas — went off the air after several weeks of TV advertising. Assemblyman Dan Logue (R-Marysville), a supporter of the initiative, said, "We are reloading. We do not have the resources we hope to have, but we are still going strong."

However, officials of the No on 23 campaign said proponents had not reserved any more television time, a key to any successful campaign in California.

Funds from the No on 23 campaign would not be diverted to fight Proposition 26, said Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for the campaign, which has raised $20million from clean tech companies, national environmental groups and wealthy conservationists.

"The reports of Prop. 23's death are premature," he added. "We will continue to focus solely on the Texas oil companies' ballot measure until the votes are tallied."

margot.roosevelt@latimes.com

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