The midterm elections are in two weeks, and California voters will be tasked yet again with voting on a controversial proposition. This year voters in the state will have to decide whether to support or oppose California Prop 23, which would put a stop to the green jobs growth being generated through the state’s AB 32. Last week, community organizers Dolores Huerta, Van Jones and Pam Tau Lee participated in a conference call to discuss the drastic effects that Prop 23 could have on the state’s growing green economy and the health of its citizens.
Huerta is the president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation and cofounded the United Farm Workers Union in 1962 with Cesar Chavez. Huerta’s organization is actively reaching out to the Latino community to defeat Proposition 23. For Huerta, this is more than just a jobs issue; the continuation of AB 32 is a quality of life issue.
“The unemployment rate in the San Joaquin Valley is 30 percent right now as we speak — 30 percent. And so we know that this is just a camouflage. It's very deceptive in terms of trying to say to people that this is going to be about jobs, right? I mean, it's not about jobs, it's about continuing the pollution that has been going on right now. In Kern County, by the way, Kern County actually produces about 40 percent of the petroleum that we use in California and yet there is no control in terms of our air pollution.”
Van Jones, co-founder of both the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Green For All, was up next. Jones considers Prop. 23 to be a “deceptive, tricky ballot measure” that is more about Texas oil money than jobs in California.
“Texas oil money, sneaking across the border to knock out Silicon Valley as a competitor for the energy future. The only thing that is working right now in California, politically and economically, is this commitment to a clean energy future.”
Jones continues his focus on Texas by saying, “California attracted one out of every four dollars in the world last year invested in clean tech. One out of every $4; 25 percent of the global outlay for clean tech investment came to California. That terrifies the oil guys in Texas because they know that if that continues the next big energy breakthroughs, that will eat into their profit margin will be coming out of California.”
Pam Tau Lee, founder of the Asian-Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), was the final speaker on the call. Lee is also upset with the Texas influence in California state politics.
“… now our effort in this along with others is being thwarted by the big oil interests and how dare they use their profit to initiate and fund Proposition 23 at the expense of the health of California; many are children and are seniors, especially.”
All three of these community activists have endorsed the Communities United Against the Dirty Energy Proposition, an organization comprised of social justice and community-based organizations. The sole purpose of this new group is to fight the passage of California’s Proposition 23.
To read the rest of the remarks as well as the question and answer session that followed, download the transcript of the conference call.