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Lynne Plambeck: Yet another deceptive slate mailer

Environmentally Speaking

Posted: May 19, 2010 9:48 p.m.
Updated: May 20, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
In the last few days, many people in the Santa Clarita Valley received a “Californians vote green” slate mailer, urging them to vote in support of many measures that will hurt consumers, insurance customers and energy rate payers.

Environmental groups, the folks usually referred to as “green,” have taken no position on many of these propositions and candidates, or recommended an opposite vote.

This mailer reminded me a little of the supposedly “democratic” slate mailer sent to Democrats a few years ago that advised them to vote for all the Republican candidates. Pretty deceptive, no matter which side you are on.

While it is my hope all voters have read the propositions and can see through the expensive advertising hype, I don’t think that is always true. So I thought I would try to straighten out the “green” position record on at least two of the propositions.

SCOPE, along with every major environmental group I know of in the state, has been a longtime supporter of the bipartisan “Clean Money” proposal, now called Proposition 15, or “fair elections.”  

Several years ago when it was last on the ballot, we sponsored a float in the July 4 parade called “Clean Money for a Clean Environment.” We continue to believe that getting special-interest political contributions out of the election process will help elect candidates who care about the general public, taxpayers and the long-term sustainability of the environment and our quality of life.

So, this year our board voted once again to support Proposition 15/fair elections, and to be a local co-sponsor. Though the current proposal would enact only a pilot program with just the Secretary of State position as a test run, we believe this is a start toward getting special interests out of our political process.

You can get more information on Proposition 15 at www.yesfairelections.org.

As for Proposition 16, the environmental community strongly urges a “no” vote on this deceptively advertised proposal. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), a Northern California private energy supplier similar to Southern California Edison, has spent some $30 million dollars of its ratepayers’ dollars to try to shut out small energy producers.

Decentralized energy producers such as homeowners associations’ “rooftop” solar generation, small wind farms that supply a local community or other such innovative energy solutions, could be entirely shut out of the market under Proposition 16. Proposition 16 would give PG&E an energy monopoly so it can continue to profit from power and transmission lines.

If this proposition passes, groups of citizens that suggest to their local legislators that they would like to make their excess solar and wind power available for sale to their community would find their proposal blocked.

Instead, when the local legislature moved to act on this request, setting up a public utility run by a local board which is answerable to the local voters, PG&E would be able to move in with a multi-million dollar campaign designed to convince the local voters that this would be a very bad thing.

Thanks to one particular section of Proposition 16, a mere 33 percent minority of voters would trump a 66 percent majority, effectively ensuring that PG&E’s power monopoly is retained.

This proposal will matter to everyone in California whether they are served by PG&E or not. First, it will discourage innovative and decentralized energy solutions in PG&E’s service area that reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Second, if the proposition passes, you can bet that every other large energy supplier in the state will want to try enacting such a lucrative measure for themselves. You can learn more and read news and editorial reviews about this proposition at www.noprop16.org.

We know voters are smart enough to see through such deceptions as the “Californians vote green” voter guide if they just take a few minutes to read the actual proposals or do a little online research.

But “time” is the key word. It takes time to be an informed voter. We urge everyone to take a little time to do the research before going to the polls. We feel sure that most of our readers will agree voting “yes” on Proposition 15 for fair elections and “no” on Proposition 16 to stop the Pacific Gas and Electric power monopoly grab is the right way to go for a clean and healthy future.

Lynne Plambeck is president of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment (SCOPE) and a Santa Clarita resident. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. “Environmentally Speaking” appears Thursdays in The Signal and rotates among local environmentalists.

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