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Prop. 87 not the right road toward alternative energy

The temptation for Silicon Valley voters would be to ignore the intricacies of the proposition and simply decide a ``yes'' vote would send a message to oil companies and to the world that California intends to lead the way in developing alternative energy sources. That would be a mistake. We strongly support the concept of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs helping California research and develop technological breakthroughs that will eliminate our foolhardy reliance on Middle East oil. But two fundamental flaws in Proposition 87 force us to recommend a ``no'' vote.

WE SHOULD ALL PAY PRICE; ALSO, OVERSIGHT A CONCERN

Of the 13 measures on the California ballot, Proposition 87 presents the biggest intellectual challenge to voters Nov. 7.

The issue is immensely complex: an ambitious, 31-page proposition that would create a new state agency tasked with collecting $4 billion in taxes from California oil producers and using the money to encourage the research and development of alternative energy sources.

Just sitting down to interpret the fine print will give many a headache.

The temptation for Silicon Valley voters would be to ignore the intricacies of the proposition and simply decide a ``yes'' vote would send a message to oil companies and to the world that California intends to lead the way in developing alternative energy sources.

That would be a mistake. We strongly support the concept of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs helping California research and develop technological breakthroughs that will eliminate our foolhardy reliance on Middle East oil. But two fundamental flaws in Proposition 87 force us to recommend a ``no'' vote.

The first is a philosophical objection. If developing alternative... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

WE SHOULD ALL PAY PRICE; ALSO, OVERSIGHT A CONCERN

Of the 13 measures on the California ballot, Proposition 87 presents the biggest intellectual challenge to voters Nov. 7.

The issue is immensely complex: an ambitious, 31-page proposition that would create a new state agency tasked with collecting $4 billion in taxes from California oil producers and using the money to encourage the research and development of alternative energy sources.

Just sitting down to interpret the fine print will give many a headache.

The temptation for Silicon Valley voters would be to ignore the intricacies of the proposition and simply decide a ``yes'' vote would send a message to oil companies and to the world that California intends to lead the way in developing alternative energy sources.

That would be a mistake. We strongly support the concept of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs helping California research and develop technological breakthroughs that will eliminate our foolhardy reliance on Middle East oil. But two fundamental flaws in Proposition 87 force us to recommend a ``no'' vote.

The first is a philosophical objection. If developing alternative energy sources will benefit all Californians, then all taxpayers should help shoulder the burden. Yet Proposition 87 taxes one industry, the state's oil producers, to benefit another industry, alternative fuel producers. And, the writers of the proposition included language aimed at preventing oil companies from passing along the tax to California drivers when they gas up their cars. Beyond being naive and difficult -- if not impossible -- to enforce, it directly goes against the laudable principle that all Californians should help sacrifice in some way to help ensure a better future for ourselves and for our children.

The second compelling reason to vote ``no'' stems from legitimate concerns about oversight of the agency that will be charged with distributing the $4 billion in taxes. The proposition calls for abundant transparency throughout the process of deciding who will receive the money. But it does not provide Californians adequate recourse if the agency repeatedly makes poor spending decisions.

We do not share a third objection voiced by many opponents claiming that Silicon Valley entrepreneurs' support for Proposition 87 is primarily based on their desire to line their pockets with tax dollars. For starters, the No. 1 financial backer -- by far -- of Proposition 87 is Hollywood mogul Stephen Bing, who has thrown in $40 million of his own money to try to balance the $68 million being spent by oil companies to defeat the proposition. Beyond that, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have nothing to be ashamed about for trying to use their influence to benefit what they see as a public good and a boost to the tech industry as a whole.

Proposition 87 is well-intended. But we would like to see voters reject this flawed effort and have a broad-based group of supporters come back soon with an effort that would better achieve the worthy goal of funding alternative fuel technologies.


 


Source: http://www.mercurynews.com/...

OCT 30 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/5509-prop-87-not-the-right-road-toward-alternative-energy
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