Election Day 2010 – Go Vote!


So… it’s finally Election Day 2010. There are a couple propositions on the California ballot – Prop 23 and Prop 26 – that have implications for energy and transportation policy. Statewide ballot measures just need a majority to pass.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Proposition 23

Who is funding Prop 23?

According to MapLight.org:

Total Contributions in Support of Prop 23: $10,654,560

Total Contributions in Opposition to Prop 23: $31,245,543

Top Contributors in Support of Prop 23:

Valero Services, Inc. $5,075,315
Tesoro Companies $2,040,637
Flint Hills Resources $1,000,000
Marathon Petroleum Company LLC $500,000
Adam Smith Foundation $498,000
Occidental Petroleum Corp. $300,000
Tower Energy Group $200,000
CVR Energy Inc. $150,000
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assoc. $102,568
National Petrochemical & Refiners Assoc. $100,000
World Oil Corp. $100,000

Image credit: MapLight.org

Top Contributors in Opposition to Prop 23:

Thomas Steyer & Kathryn Taylor $5,099,000
National Wildlife Federation $3,000,000
L. John & Ann Doerr $2,100,000
The League of Conservation Voters $1,250,000
Vinod Khosla $1,037,267
Gordon Moore $1,000,000
James Cameron $1,000,000
Robert J. Fisher $1,000,000
ClimateWorks Foundation $900,000
Sierra Club $855,890
The Nature Conservancy $800,000
Bill Gates $700,000
Claire Perry $500,000
Green Tech Action Fund $500,000
John P. Morgridge $500,000
Julian H. Robertson Jr. $500,000
Pacific Gas & Electric $500,000
Wendy Schmidt $500,000

Image credit: MapLight.org

What is Prop 23?

From the Official Voter Information Guide:


  • Suspends State law that requires greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020, until California’s unemployment drops to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters.
  • Suspends comprehensive greenhouse-gas-reduction program that includes increased renewable energy and cleaner fuel requirements, and mandatory emissions reporting and fee requirements for major emissions sources such as power plants and oil refineries.

Summary of Legislative Analyst’s Estimate of Net State and Local Government Fiscal Impact:

  • The suspension of AB 32 could result in a modest net increase in overall economic activity in the state. In this event, there would be an unknown but potentially significant net increase in state and local government revenues.
  • Potential loss of a new source of state revenues from the auctioning of emission allowances by state government to certain businesses that would pay for these allowances, by suspending the future implementation of cap-and-trade regulations.
  • Lower energy costs for state and local governments than otherwise.

Why does Prop 23 matter?

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council:

Proposition 23 would stop progress on curbing global warming emissions and transitioning to clean energy by “suspending” California’s landmark law, AB 32, until unemployment is below 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters.  This unemployment threshold has only been reached 3 times in the past forty years.  Prop 23 would pull the rug out from the one sector of our economy that is actually growing – clean technology and clean energy – and create loads of uncertainty for businesses that have already made investments and are looking to expand.

According to the supporters of Prop 23:

We all want to do our part for global warming, but implementing our current plan is not the way to go. Families and businesses simply cannot afford to pay fifty percent or more in higher electricity and utility costs, and even more at the gas pump. A Yes vote on Proposition 23 temporarily postpones a new, costly program until our economy stabilizes and people are back to work, making it easier for families to make ends meet.New rules, regulations, and fines are about to take effect under California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), which will increase energy costs by billions of dollars and destroy more than a million jobs. Proposition 23 would suspend those new rules until the economy improves and unemployment drops.

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Proposition 26

Who is funding Prop 26?

According to MapLight.org:

Total Contributions in Support of Prop 26: $18,306,433

Total Contributions in Opposition to Prop 26: $6,547,122

Top Contributors in Support of Prop 26:

California Chamber of Commerce $3,937,323
Chevron Corporation $3,750,000
American Beverage Association $2,450,000
Philip Morris USA Inc. * $2,250,000
Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. * $925,000
ConocoPhillips $525,000
Cypress Management Company, Inc. * $500,000
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association $432,948
Wine Institute * $381,093
Aera Energy LLC $350,000
MillerCoors $350,000

* Includes contributions from the Small Business Action Committee

Image credit: MapLight.org

Top Contributors in Opposition to Prop 26:

Democratic State Central Committee of California $1,326,674
Thomas F. Steyer $1,000,000
League of Conservation Voters (Prop. 23 Committee) $900,000
California Teachers Association $505,050
California State Council of Service Employees $500,000
John Doerr $400,000
Ella Baker Center $350,000
SCOPE S.I. $250,000
A.L.L.E.R.T. $200,000
California Public Securities Association $150,000
State Building and Construction Trades Council of California $150,000

Image credit: MapLight.org

What is Prop 26?

From the Official Voter Information Guide:


  • Requires that certain state fees be approved by two-thirds vote of Legislature and certain local fees be approved by two-thirds of voters.
  • Increases legislative vote requirement to two-thirds for certain tax measures, including those that do not result in a net increase in revenue, currently subject to majority vote.

Summary of Legislative Analyst’s Estimate of Net State and Local Government Fiscal Impact:

  • Decreased state and local government revenues and spending due to the higher approval requirements for new revenues. The amount of the decrease would depend on future decisions by governing bodies and voters, but over time could total up to billions of dollars annually.
  • Additional state fiscal effects from repealing recent fee and tax laws: (1) increased transportation program spending and increased General Fund costs of $1 billion annually, and (2) unknown potential decrease in state revenues.

Why does Prop 26 matter?

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council:

Proposition 26 is another disastrous measure for California’s environment, public health and local communities.  It would eliminate the ability of a majority of the legislature to enact fees on industries that pollute our air and water and endanger our health.  Currently, a simple majority vote can enact a fee (used to remedy a specific harm), but a tax (used for general purposes) requires a two-thirds vote.  Prop 26 would make it much harder to ensure that polluters are held accountable for the harm caused by their activity.  But Prop 26 goes farther – it also dictates what local governments should do by requiring cities and counties to run costly elections and reach a 2/3 majority to enact a fee.  Prop 26 would make it nearly impossible for local communities to deal with issues like traffic and public safety for large events and would shift the burden to taxpayers for cleaning up hazardous waste and other pollution.  A broad coalition of environmental and health groups, local governments, civic organizations and public safety professionals have come together to defeat this initiative.

According to the supporters of Prop 26:

State and local politicians routinely circumvent the state Constitution’s requirements by disguising taxes as fees because fees are easier to pass than tax increases.  At the state level, the Legislature calls many taxes “fees” so they can pass or increase the tax with a bare majority vote – not the two-thirds vote required for taxes.  At the local level, politicians call taxes “fees” so they can avoid voters and our Constitutional right to vote on most tax increases… Prop. 26 will give voters more control to stop the politicians from using gimmicks to impose hidden taxes on California families just by calling them fees.  No longer will the politicians be able to hide new or higher taxes under the name of a “fee” to try to get more taxpayer money with a bare majority vote of the Legislature – or without any public vote at all at the local level.

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Cool Planet – Art Rosenfeld


In Berkeley, we are fortunate to have such events as Science at the Theater, where Lawrence Berkeley National Lab researchers give talks on their work at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. The lectures are free and get a pretty sizeable audience.

On Monday, October 11, I was in the audience as researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (and the beloved Art Rosenfeld) gave a presentation titled “Cool Roofs, Cool Cities.” The post below consists of Part 4 of my record of the presentation – Art Rosenfeld gives an overview of how cool roofs and cool cities can leader to a cool planet. All portions are included in chronological order.

An ellipsis (…) indicates that I was not able to capture the words or thoughts skipped. The presentation is transcribed as accurately as possible – punctuation choices are mine. I also added any images.

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I’m going to bring us into modern times and the question of global warming … Two thousand years ago, people tried to figure out how to keep houses cool, then a couple hundred years ago, we tried to figure out how to keep the cities cool, and now we’re trying to figure out how to keep the planet cool.

Taking a trip around the world … [looking at photos].

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Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

In Bermuda, they use sloped white roofs to collect water.

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Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

In Santorini, Greece, even the sides of the buildings are white.

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Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

In Hyderabad, people like to sleep on the roof to be cool at night.

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Here’s a Wal-Mart store in Northern California with white roof – they’ve done 4500 of their stores, and have 1500 to go.

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Here’s an overview of UC Davis … Since 2005, the CEC Title 24 has required that if a roof is flat, cool roofs are required …

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Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Here’s the University of Tucson in the middle …  residential areas nearby also have white roofs … …

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Here’s Washington, DC (federal) … The House and Senate office buildings do not have white roofs.

The most fun was this – this is the Pentagon. I went to a hilarious meeting – I got invited to give a talk at the Pentagon. There were innumerable generals and such around …

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Now what about the Earth? … Part of what keeps the earth cool is ice and snow, which is decreasing in size … It would be nice to add some more white … …

Atmospheric climatologists have been aware of this issue for years, and back in the 1980s, Jim Hansen published a paper wondering whether cooling cities would make a difference – and he got an answer of about a 1/10th of a degree … But we weren’t so worried in those days … But we asked, maybe there’s a better way to sell this? … Look, carbon dioxide reflects heat, that’s called a positive radiation forcing onto the ground. And white roofs reflect heat … Carbon dioxide has a price … So we’ve got to do it per unit … 1000 square feet, winds up being about 10 tons of carbon. Suppose we multiply this by about 3 billion, since there are about 3 billion units of roof in cities, then avoid the heating effect of 25 billion tons of carbon dioxide…over the life of the roof. So let’s say 1 billion tons a year for 25 years … This winds up being 300 million cars off the road for 20 years … There are only about 600 million cars right now …

So what to do now? First, get other states to follow California… Arizona and Florida and Georgia have followed suit with cool roofs … The problem is a lot of the rest of the country, the hot part … the United States relies  on model building codes, and states are not required to adopt them. They can make them stronger and adopt them, but they are not required to adopt them. Texas doesn’t have any, the cities there have taken the lead …  DOE is going white, the Marine Corps is going white …

We’re going to launch a private club called 100 Cool Cities, with some DOE help, where were’ going to approach the 100 largest cities, which gets us  to a population of 200 million, where we’ll talk to them about cool roofs and try to get it into the building code … This will involve the Sierra Club, the Clinton Global Initiative, USGBC, ICLEI, the Energy Foundation, the Alliance for Climate Protection, ACEEE, and others …

Steve Chu will offer assistance to the first few countries to sign up to address this issue … …

So things are moving along nicely, and thank you very much.

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Part 1 is posted here. Part 2 is posted here. Part 3 is posted here.

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Assorted Links

The Navy and Marine Corps plan to have bases be zero net energy in a decade.

The Sierra Club lists the greenest campuses.

St. Paul, Minnesota, experiments with bicycle-based compost collection.

Auburn University students design housing with non-recyclable cardboard.

The zero waste effort is starting to reach the fashion industry.

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