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Politics and Issues

Vote No on Proposition 7

Sounds good but would decrease environmental protection
October 2008

By Jim Metropulos, Senior Advocate, Sierra Club California

Normally, Sierra Club volunteers and staff would eagerly line up behind a measure proposing that half of California's electricity come from renewable sources by 2025. But Proposition 7, an initiative on the November ballot, doesn't do enough to save our state and our planet from fossil fuel dependence. In fact, by cementing loopholes that would hold back the growth of the renewable energy industry, it actually could worsen our current energy situation.

Proposition 7:

• Contains serious flaws that could get in the way of achieving its goal of 50% renewable fuels by 2025.

• Actually works against Sierra Club-backed energy policies that would allow communities to choose the source of their energy.

• Decreases environmental review of proposed power plants.

The lack of a sound, steady source of funding represents one major flaw that's sure to get in the way of a 50% renewables goal. Instead of setting up such a funding stream, Prop. 7 would force renewable power generators to depend upon an uncertain system of penalty monies. It also locks in energy rate raises to just 3% annually, even though there are no limits for nonrenewable power sources.

Existing loopholes in enforcement and archaic policies that tie the price of renewable energy to the price of natural gas-generated energy would be locked in place. In fact, Prop. 7 even lowers some penalties.

Prop. 7 also would obstruct Sierra Club's efforts to establish community choice for energy policy, since it removes local control over energy policy. Community choice promises to increase the energy-buying power of local communities, giving them more authority.

Consider how a community co-op store is able to stock more grocery choices because it has more buying power than a smaller store operated by one family. Similarly, a community that bands together could have more choice over what type of energy it chooses to buy.

Prop. 7 would decrease environmental protections, in the guise of "streamlining" the permitting process for renewable power. Local chapters wouldn't be able to introduce new evidence of environmental harm when appealing a proposed permit.

Sierra Club isn't standing alone against this potentially harmful law. The Union of Concerned Scientists, California League of Conservation Voters, and Natural Resources Defense Council, among other groups, have taken a stand against Prop. 7. California's Democratic and Republican parties and major utilities also oppose Prop. 7.

Defeat Prop. 7 and clear the way for real progress on renewable power.