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05/18/2006 12:00 AM     print story email story  

California Clean Energy Initiative Turns In Over 1M Signatures News

Voter outrage over high gas prices, unhealthy air quality and record-breaking oil company profits are fueling the California Clean Alternative Energy Initiative campaign. The campaign submitted 1.18 million voter signatures - nearly double the number of signatures needed - to county registrar offices statewide to qualify for the November ballot.

The Clean Energy Initiative will fund a $4 billion effort to reduce California's dependence on gasoline and diesel by 25% over the next 10 years by making alternative fuel vehicles and alternative fuels more widely affordable and accessible to consumers.

"The Clean Energy Initiative will rush cleaner, cheaper and more reliable fuels to the marketplace more quickly, which will help to break California's dependence on foreign oil," said Nate Lewis, PhD and Professor of chemistry at California Institute of Technology. "Voters are demanding an alternative to our oil dependence - and they are recognizing that this Initiative presents a real solution to breaking the stranglehold that Big Oil has over us," added Lewis. Local, state and national leaders have yet to offer a realistic or achievable solution to our state's dependence on oil and high gas prices - which now hover around $4 per gallon.

"California motorists are paying the highest gasoline prices in the nation and fifty cents more per gallon for gasoline than the US average, " said Jamie Court, president of The Foundation for Taxpayers and Consumer Rights. "At the same time, oil company's are reporting world record profits. The only way to break this cycle of profiteering and price gouging is for the state to create cheaper and cleaner alternatives to the refiners' stranglehold on the market. California is the 3rd largest oil-producing state, but the only state where big oil doesn't reimburse the public for its natural resources. It's time for Big Oil companies to pay their fair share."

While voters are fuming over high gas prices, California's air quality is among the worst in the nation and is responsible for hundreds of thousands of cases of asthma and lung disease every year costing the state billions of dollars annually. "Much of this pollution is due to fine particulate matter that spews out from cars and trucks that run on gas and diesel," said Tim Carmichael, president of Coalition for Clean Air. "Not only is our over-dependence on oil hurting our pocketbooks, but breathing polluted air in metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles or Riverside can reduce Californians' life expectancy by two to three years."

The Clean Energy Initiative is a realistic and achievable plan to reduce our consumption of gasoline and diesel by providing Californians with cleaner, cheaper and more reliable energy. The Initiative will help replace gas and diesel powered vehicles with cars and trucks that run on cleaner, cheaper fuels like ethanol, biodiesel and electricity, by rushing these technologies to the marketplace more quickly. It will also fund university research in renewable energy like wind and solar. California consumers will pay no costs for this program -- these investments will be funded by a modest assessment on the flow of oil pumped from wells in California. Oil companies already pay similar fees in every other major oil-producing state (including Alaska, Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico), except California. Experience in those states has shown that the assessment does not result in higher costs to consumers.

According to Dan Kammen, Distinguished Professor of Energy and Co-Director of the Berkeley Institute of the Environment, "The price of crude oil is set on the global market, so if California oil producers tried to pass the assessment on to consumers in the form of higher oil prices, refineries would simply buy from other sources." Kammen adds that, "California's Attorney General's analysis clearly states that the measure 'prohibits producers from passing tax on to consumers.' This principal is well-established in case law as well. In Exxon vs. The State of Alabama in 1983, the Supreme Court specifically upheld consumer protection provisions similar to the ones in this Initiative."

The Clean Energy Initiative is supported by a growing, broad-based coalition of concerned citizens, consumer advocates, public health leaders, environmentalists, entrepreneurs and Nobel Prize-winning scientists, and noted organizations such as the Coalition for Clean Air, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club California, The California Cars Initiative and Union of Concerned Scientists.

More information on the Clean Energy Initiative is available at the following website.


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