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Proposition 87: Alternative fuels

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By Adrian Pascua

By Adrian Pascua

It’s safe to say that most of us are upset about gas prices. Adding insult to our financial injuries, big oil companies are living it up, retiring with $400 million.

Take the retirement checks of 10 oil company CEOs and you’ll have the amount that Proposition 87 creators believe will secure California’s future energy independence.

Proposition 87 states that oil companies can’t pass the tax onto us. Even if they could, they wouldn’t. If they raise their prices, we can easily buy more foreign oil, so they argue that Proposition 87 would increase our reliance on foreign oil. If it passes, they wouldn’t just stand by and allow us to buy foreign oil. Their greed would push them towards developing alternative fuels.

Opponents argue that the new California Energy Alternatives Program Authority bureaucracy will run wild with our money. Yet, the wording of Proposition 87 does not allow this. Authority members and entities controlled by members are not eligible for grants. It allows University staff to be members of the Authority but a competitive selection process will be used to select grant winners.

The Authority is not new bureaucracy; it is actually a restructuring of the California Alternative Energy and Transportation Financing Authority, which currently finances alternative energy and transportation technology projects.

Opponents of Proposition 87 argue that it takes money away from our schools. They are right-the tax would reduce the value of oil reserves in the ground, reducing property value and thus, property tax. But Proposition 87 also says that most school districts and community colleges will receive additional funds from the state to make up for any reduction in property tax revenues.

UC Berkeley and Governor Schwarzenegger’s economic advisers agree that Proposition 87 will create new businesses and good paying jobs. The Authority will also give part of the tax to community colleges to prepare the next generation of workers for the new technology.

California is the third largest oil producing state in the U.S. Still, the oil we produce is only 37 percent of our oil demand. We rely heavily on foreign oil and proponents hope that through Proposition 87, oil companies will be forced to find alternative energy methods.

In other oil drilling states, oil companies pay billions in drilling fees but in California they pay almost nothing. Oil companies opposing Proposition 87 made $78 billion in profits last year. Enough is enough.

As our trucks and SUVs get bigger, the amount of oil beneath us gets and our reliance on foreign oil increases. So far Washington hasn’t done much to prepare for this reality.

This is something we have to do. Oil companies have been profiting from our misfortune for too long. By taking a small percentage of their money we can fund research and technology for a better way of life.

Oil companies are the big spenders behind the No campaign. People urging you to vote yes include Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Madeleine Albright, Dianne Feinstein, and our own Mayor Ronald Loveridge. Join Nobel Prize winners, the American Lung Association and California professors at the polls and vote yes on Proposition 87.

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