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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus
Politics and Issues
October 2010

Vote YES on Proposition 21

Save our State Parks and Beaches

Proposition 21, the State Parks and Wildlife Conservation Trust Fund Act of 2010, would provide a stable, reliable and adequate source of funding to protect state parks and conserve wildlife.

Proposition 21 would ensure a dedicated and reliable funding stream for state parks through an $18 annual State Park Access Pass surcharge and, in return, would provide vehicles subject to the surcharge free admission to state parks.

Sierra Club California joins a strong coalition including California State Parks Foundation, The Trust for Public Land, Save the Redwoods League, Defenders of Wildlife, Surfrider Foundation, California State Park Rangers Association, Audubon California, California State Lifeguard Association, the Ocean Conservancy, and others in supporting Prop 21.

For more information on Prop 21, visit

Vote YES on Prop 21.

Vote NO on Proposition 23

Our plant's health depends on you
An item on this November's ballot could be hazardous to our health. Proposition 23 would reverse California's landmark 2006 clean energy and climate change solutions legislation (AB 32).

With Washington's continued lack of action, California's AB 32 is the country's best model for addressing climate change and moving to a clean energy economy. Three of the nation's most polluting oil companies are pouring in millions of out-of-state dollars to kill AB32 and preserve their dirty energy profits at our expense.

97% of the money for Prop 23 is from oil companies

Prop 23 threatens California in four key ways. It would:
• Set back efforts to curb climate change in California and the nation for decades. We would fail to meet greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements in our state while the world is in danger of exceeding the tipping points for devastating impacts on climate, sea level, ocean acidification, and extinction of species.
• Kill California's emerging clean energy industry, which has brought billions in investment funding to California due to AB32. 500,000 clean energy jobs and 12,000 businesses are at risk, as well as California's leadership position in this important rising industry.
• Worsen air pollution, resulting in more preventable illnesses and deaths.
• Prolong our dependence on oil, a significant security and economic threat.

Don't believe the oil company lies
Valero, Tesoro, and Koch, the out-of-state oil companies primarily funding Prop 23, say this is a “temporary suspension,” but it is an outright attempt at repeal; the requirement of a full year of below 5.5% unemployment may take decades to achieve. They'd also like you to believe this is an honest debate between Californians, but California's elected representatives voted to enact AB 32, while 97% of the money for Prop 23 is coming from oil companies, and 89% is coming from out of state. Prop 23 is opposed by a large and diverse cross section of California businesses and organizations, including clean technology businesses, large companies like Google, eBay and PG&E, unions, civic groups, and all major environmental organizations.

It is imperative that we defeat Prop 23 and defeat it soundly.

There should be no mistaking California voters' support for moving towards securer, cleaner energy. We can't give oil companies reason to believe that spending another $10M would do the job; we can't let our elected officials waffle on enforcing AB 32; and, we need to strengthen the resolve of local governments—and Washington—to enact and enforce climate change legislation. That's why each of us must do what we can to defeat Prop 23 by a wide margin. Below are some easy but effective ways to reach that goal.

How to help defeat Prop 23
> Sign up for campaign updates at

> Make sure you vote (Election Day is Nov 2; check your registration status or request an absentee ballot).

Vote NO on Prop. 23.

Vote YES on Proposition 25

Sierra Club supports Proposition 25, which would allow state budgets to be passed by a simple majority of each house of the Legislature. The anti-democratic two-thirds requirement for passing budgets has created opportunities for anti-environmental mischief. One of the most egregious examples came in 2007, when 14 Senate Republicans held the budget hostage to their demand for non-fiscal legislation weakening the California Environmental Quality Act’s application to global warming.

In addition, the budget gridlock that is in part caused by the two-thirds requirement has damaged our air, water and resources. The empowerment of a minority of legislators has resulted in slashing funding for public transit, raiding recycling and clean-air funds, and starving important agencies like the Coastal Commission.

Prop 25 would move us closer to fiscal sanity and remove one avenue for anti-environmental legislative schemes.

Vote YES on Prop 25.

Vote NO on Proposition 26

The Polluter Protection Act, aka Prop 26

by Bill Magavern, Director, Sierra Club California

Some bad ideas refuse to die. Ten years ago, California’s voters killed off The Polluter Protection Act, Prop 37. Big Oil and Big Tobacco have spent the decade since then looking for an opportunity to bring this big ugly initiative back. They’ve decided that this is the year to raid your wallet.

The core question raised by Prop 26 is: who pays? Who pays to clean up air pollution, oil spills and toxic waste? Who pays for the health consequences of tobacco and alcohol addiction, of lead poisoning, and diesel exhaust? Exxon, Phillip Morris, and the other special interests behind Prop 26 want you, the taxpayers, to pay. They want to get off the hook for mitigating the damage they do.

Prop 26 would reclassify many fees as taxes, so that they would require a two-thirds majority of each house of the Legislature, or, at the local level, a two-thirds vote by the electorate. The oil, tobacco, and liquor industries want to make it virtually impossible to require polluters and other creators of nuisances to pay to clean up their own messes. Their measure would overturn the unanimous 1997 decision of the California Supreme Court, Sinclair Paint Company v. Board of Equalization, which upheld the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act of 1991. In that case, the paint company tried to avoid its responsibility for having put toxic lead in its products, and the Court upheld the Legislature’s ability pass mitigation fees by majority vote.

Fees assessed on polluters provide vital funding for essential programs that safeguard Californians’ health and environment. For example, fees support efforts to prevent oil spills, clean up hazardous waste, replace dirty diesel engines, recycle electronic wastes, and safeguard workers and communities from toxic pesticides. These charges save taxpayers money and put the costs of environmental protections on those who have created the problems.

If polluter-pays assessments are blocked in the future by an anti-democratic two-thirds vote requirement, those costs will instead fall on the General Fund, which already has a huge deficit. Make no mistake about it: the Polluter Protection Act is a budget-buster. According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, Prop 26’s effect on just one transportation measure would blow a $1 billion hole in the General Fund, making much less money available for schools, healthcare, and other pressing needs.

Sierra Club California joins the League of Women Voters, American Lung Association, California Nurses Association, local governments, Peace Officers Research Association of California, California Federation of Teachers, Consumer Federation of California, and many others in opposing Prop 26. For more information, please go to

Vote NO on Prop 26.