A day after the San Francisco Giants beat the Texas Rangers in the World Series, California voters showed up at polling places around the state and sent this message loud and clear: We’re not going to let some Texas Big Oil corporations come in and try to take away our green jobs and clean energy economy!
Yesterday, Californians turned out to defeat California Ballot Proposition 23. And their rejection of this ugly petroleum-backed measure, which aimed to repeal California’s climate and clean energy law, was huge—the proposition was defeated 61.2% to 38.8%. The power of the people in this state, and the potential of a thriving clean-energy economy that will provide long-lasting jobs for the people of California, defeated the deep pockets and big money of dirty out-of-state polluters, who spent $10 million to try to unravel the state’s air pollution laws.
Meanwhile, Californians cast a second vote for their state’s clean energy economy and green jobs by electing a candidate for governor, Jerry Brown, who has long been pushing for such innovation in his state. His opponent, former Ebay exec Meg Whitman, campaigned against the state’s climate change initiatives and far outspent him, spending $141 million of her own money during the campaign. Brown beat Whitman 54%-41%.
"There’s an old Beatles song and it says ‘Money can’t buy me love.’ And in California it can’t buy you an election either," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa last night at the California Democratic Party’s election night party.
The moral of the story is this: Californians know they can lead the nation in building a clean energy economy, they know these jobs are plenty and promising, and they’re hungry for clean, green economic policies. Voters in California are overwhelmingly refusing to continue investing in dirty energy. Why? Because more than 500,000 Californians now work in clean tech jobs in the state, and since 2005, California green jobs have grown 10 times faster than other sectors of the state’s economy. The folks of this state know what’s good for California, and they’re determined to hang on to it.
America’s best hope is that it can follow this state’s lead. Other states have realized the economic potential of clean, lasting jobs and businesses, but unfortunately, many politicians were elected last night whose campaigns were bankrolled by Big Polluters. The economy, not action on climate change, was America’s top concern in the votes that were cast nationwide yesterday, but if we want real progress here in the U.S., we must see that we can have both.
In the coming months and 112th session of Congress, we are going to need to work together to find ways to grow the economy without letting polluters run roughshod over our clean air, clean water, and precious wild places as they did during the Bush administration.
We are going to need to be vigilant in our defense of this nation’s clean energy policies, as well as our defense of the EPA, which in this administration is finally doing what Congress has long required of it: protecting our health and well-being by ensuring that our air is safe to breathe, our water is clean, and the same corporate and polluter interests who continually try to buy elections and who funded many of the candidates who won last night are also subject to the rule of this nation’s great laws.