YesOn87: SF Bay Area Events in Three-Week Countdown

clinton at 87 eventCalifornia has been on a roll since enacting AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. Momentum is growing for the state to continue taking the lead on "green-tech/clean-tech" innovation. But if we don’t work from now until November 7, we could face a major setback if the YesOn87 campaign falls short. This is one we can’t afford to lose!

At the end of this message, youll find info about two events that provide opportunities for supporters of 87 to start giving their all for the campaign until Election Day. (If youre from out-of-state, spread the word to every Californian you know!)

As many people predicted, oil companiess TV ads in opposition to the Clean Energy Initiative have sowed "FUD" (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) among Californias potential voters, who a few months favored Prop 87 by a 2:1 margin. With the "No on 87" budget now at $74 million, polls now show YesOn87 only slightly ahead. (Supporters may spend $47 million, reports the Sacramento Bee substantial but not enough to level the playing field.)

If you havent been following it, the initiative would tax oil extracted in California in the same way its taxed in every other oil-producing state, producing $4 billion over ten years. About 60% of that would go to alternative fuel vehicles and fueling stations, 25% to alt-energy research, all in Califoria; 10% would go to other commercialization efforts, and the rest to vocational training, education and administration. Even in year one, these funds could go a long way to helping to commercialize plug-in hybrids and other needed technologies!

Opponents say the Initiative will raise oil prices, though the language mirrors provisions in other states laws that prohibit oil companies from passing the tax along. And they try to get people worried that theres no way to prove that $4 billion will meet measurable targets for results. You can find answers to your questions at, and read an effective rallying cry on the subject by NYTimes columnist Thomas Friedman.

For me, the scariest indication of the opposition campaigns impact is that lifelong environmentalists have asked me, "How should I vote on 87?" To reach the initiatives natural constituency, the campaign responded last week, first with an ad by Al Gore (his first since the 2000 campaign) and then with one by Bill Clinton.

A week ago, we drove down to Los Angeles to be part of the event where Bill Clinton gave the speech that became the ad. You can watch Clintons very effective and moving 22-minutes at Google Video or YouTube. See link to Part 2 (both have good audio, poor video).

Well tell more about our cars role in that event in a subsequent post. And you can see photos at CalCars Photos.

This week the campaign moves north. Monday at noon, Al Gore will be giving a speech at Martin Luther King. Jr. Memorial Park, 2151 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, across from the Berkeley City Hall. As in LA with Clinton, CalCars may again play a role in the event. Sign up ASAP to get a ticket at the Yeson87 website. (In Los Angeles, 5,000 downloaded tickets for the Clinton event, but there was room for only 3-4,000.)

If you can’t make it to that event, check in tomorrow at Vote Solar
for details about a possible Tuesday late afternoon event near the Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco in support of 87.

In the next few weeks, fight complacency! Though so much money is being spent on ads, this battle wont be won or lost on the TV screen. Prop. 87 can win if everyone who ought to be supporting this actively begins talking about it and organizing support. Thanks for doing your part!

Felix is an entrepreneur with a life-long green streak. He enjoys communicating his enthusiasm about what is new, unique, and significant. He is the founder of, The California Cars Initiative, and has been promoting 100+ MPG plug-in hybrids full-time since 2001. He posts his own selection of significant developments for PHEVs at the CalCars News Archive. His first entry at Hybrid Cars, Car Owners Strap into the Drivers Seat, in August 2005, expressed his view that the industrial world is in the midst of a major change — hopefully, it is not too late!

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  • Felix Kramer

    Capping our recent meetings with Bill Clinton, senior Dept of Energy team and
    others, this week our car became a “green-tuned” limo for Al Gore for a round-trip between Oakland Airport and downtown Berkeley. (I was not in the car.) Gore came to give a public endorsement of Proposition 87. The audience was inspired and very enthusiastic.You can see almost 10 minutes of his speech at:

    And links to news stories at the Prop 87 website.

    On his way back to our car, as he greeted people, he stopped to talk with me and Calcars Tech Lead Ron Gremban. He was especially interested in how much
    more a PHEV would cost. (I told him that in production quantities, auto-makers could charge $3-5,000 more than today’s hybrids, and that conversions were over $10,000.) And he wanted to know what was available. I gave him a “dongle” and explained that it was the car’s infrastructure.

    Photos at:

    From the back seat of the car, he thanked me for the ride and gave a “thumbs
    up” while holding our packet of background material. Most of it is available

    As with Bill Clinton a week ago, we’ll follow up as well as we can! We hope Gore’s experience will lead to him highlighting PHEVs. In his Sept 18 speech at NYU Law School, addressing the questions he gets as people increasingly ask what they can do, he included PHEVs in his roundup of “particularly promising” global warming solutions.

    Focusing on electrification of transportation is a great way to slow the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. It’s the one we can do quickest, from increasingly renewable sources, with the lowest efficiency losses. Since it also happens to be distributed, redundant, secure, domestic and low-cost, we think it will makes sense as the primary fuel for transportation, with renewable liquid fuels providing range extension until batteries improve further. That’s why experts like NASA’s James Hansen, CalTech’s Nate Lewis, Earth Policy Institute’s Lester Brown, UC Berkeley’s Daniel Kammen, the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions’ Joe Romm and the National Commission on Energy Policy all see PHEVs as a leading short-and long-term solution. (See more endorsements.)

  • John Acheson

    The problem with taxes, is that many don’t realize that they are a zero sum gain, and always pick the side the doesn’t hit their OWN PERSONAL wallets…

    I voted for Prop 87 but was afraid that people who spend money on gasoline would vote against it (I bike, walk and take public transpo).

    The economists and tax analysts are right. All “new taxes” are not new, they simply trade an existing tax base for a new one = zero sum.

    In this case the trade was an excise tax on oil, CA county property taxes and state income taxes FOR lowering the tax credits on alternative projects like solar, new tax revenues from new but unknown to the public alternative energy for profit businesses.

    Since the voter cannot see the “new tax reveneues” it’s very hard to realize the zero-sum. With that said, the only way to win would be to market an 800 pound gorrila that’s paying those new taxes. For example, the largest solar plant in California’s tax returns shown as proof to the taxpayers.

    With a teacher showing how the solar plant’s taxes were used to buy books in the classroom or something…

    In a zero-sum game, you have to show and measure the other side of the tax equation for voters to understand the tradeoff…

    It was sad to see how easy Big Oil beat this down with an 800 pound TAX PAYING gorrilla when the other side didn’t mention a penny of taxes paid for firefighters and school teachers from CA solar companies already paying taxes for example…

  • Van

    Prop 87 lost big time. Given a choice people do not want to pay more taxes on fuel, and they did not buy that you could raise taxes but avoid paying for it.

    It is time to think outside the box. We need to make conservation economically rewarding and gas guzzing economically painful. As I see it, only when we establish a pricing structure for fuel, where the more you use, the more per gallon you pay, will we create enviromentally friendly sustainable mobility.