Vote No on Proposition 10

In this historic election year, we can do better. Economic meltdown, a chance to reform the administrative branch, Tampa Bay in the World Series—obviously this year is huge. It’s time for us to demand that our government take us into account for once when crafting policy. We have to stand up to support those initiatives that will make California a better place. We also have to stand up to oppose initiatives that won’t, such as Proposition 10.
Misleadingly named the California Alternative Fuels Initiative, Proposition 10 proposes $5 billion in government bonds to support alternative fuel vehicles and some research. In reality, it will funnel money to natural gas producers, send millions of dollars from California to other states and do nothing to address the need for real energy alternatives. But don’t believe me. Instead, believe the California League of Conservation Voters, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Sierra Club, the California League of Women Voters, the California Labor Federation, the Consumer Federation of California and thoughtful citizens across the state. Vote no, unless you’re highly invested in natural gas.
Alternative fuels, along with an updated energy infrastructure and policy are undoubtedly worthy goals. However, Proposition 10 only directs a small portion of its cost toward new energy technologies and infrastructure. Of the $5 billion in bonds, only 58 percent will go toward rebates on alternative-fuel vehicles. How could that be bad? Well, high-efficiency vehicles like hybrids are only eligible for a $2,000 rebate, and only 55,000 will be given out. “Alternative-fuel vehicles,” on the other hand – less fuel efficient and more expensive – are eligible for a $10,000 rebate. It is no coincidence that the “alternative-fuel” vehicles most targeted are those that run on natural gas – the same fuel that the proposition’s largest backer produces. There is also no incentive for people who buy the vehicles to stay in California, so if this bill passes, Californians will be subsidizing not only some of the richest men in the world, but also car and truck ownership for anyone who wants to buy a car in California and drive it elsewhere.
According to Ron Silverman, the Senior Director of the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club, the proposition ends up giving natural gas an unfair advantage over better alternative fuels. “It actually diverts support from renewable technologies that already exist,” Silverman said. The money in the proposition for actual research is unnecessary, and infrastructure projects (like solar or wind farms, electrified public transit and more efficient power lines) are entirely missing.
Californians should choose to spend $5 billion on alternative fuels and energy projects. We really should take the initiative, hold our government accountable and rise to the challenge of creating a better California. We really should spend $5 billion and more. We should demand that our government create a “New” New Deal in which it spends prodigiously to transform our crumbling infrastructure into something worthy of the 21st century, while at the same time creating thousands of jobs and the types of industry that can propel the state through the current crisis.
We should vote no because “it sets the bar too low,” according to Silverman. We should vote no on Proposition 10 for swindling Californians out of money in the name of environmentalism and funneling it into the hands of natural gas companies. We should vote no on Proposition 10 for showing no imagination, no inspiration and no promise for the citizens of this state.

Brock Cutler is a graduate student in the history department. He can be reached at bcutler@uci.edu.