Perhaps no ballot proposition divided California’s business community more than Proposition 23, the effort to kill California’s 2006 carbon emissions law.
The initiative failed by a 61-39 margin. Had it passed, it would have suspended AB 32 until California’s unemployment rate stayed below 5.5 percent for a year, which has happened only a handful of times in the past 30 years.
The proposition exposed a deep fissure between California businesses. Proponents said AB 32 will slow economic recovery and put the Golden State at a disadvantage by making it take the lead on climate change when that impetus should come from Washington, D.C. Venoco, the oil firm in Carpinteria, fell into that camp, giving $10,000 to support the proposition.
But opponents argue that getting out in front of an inevitable trend — a carbon cap-and-trade scheme is already in place in Europe — will give California a lead in creating the technology to power a greener, cleaner United States. In the end, Silicon Valley spent scores of millions to help defeat the measure. For example, venture capital investor Vinod Khosla, the former CEO of Sun Microsystems and a backer of tri-county cleantech startups such as Transonic Combustion and Kaai, put in more than $1 million of his own money to fight the ballot measure.