I wrote this story for Grist, where it first appeared.
As a new poll showed that nearly half of likely California voters now oppose Proposition 23, the ballot measure that would suspend the state’s global warming law, heavy hitters from President Obama to Al Gore and Bill Gates came out against the initiative on Wednesday.
With the president on a West Coast campaign swing, a White House spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times that Obama “is opposed to Prop. 23,” calling the ballot measure backed by two Texas oil companies “a veiled attempt by corporate polluters to block progress towards a clean energy economy.”
“If passed, the initiative would stifle innovation, investment in R&D and cost jobs for the state of California,” the Obama spokesperson said.
Gore, meanwhile, issued a statement saying, “The fight for America’s clean energy future is taking place right now, and it’s come to California. This is a fight we simply cannot afford to lose.”
Gates, the Microsoft founder turned philanthropist, weighed in with a $700,000 contribution to the No on 23 campaign on Tuesday. The Nature Conservancy donated $500,000, bringing this week’s No on 23 fundraising total, so far, to more than $1.3 million. The Yes campaign, which is being underwritten by the petrochemical industry, has taken in $7,000.
As of Wednesday, the No forces had raised a total of more than $28 million, compared to the Yes campaign’s $9.1 million, according to California Secretary of State records.
Prop 23 would suspend California’s global warming law, known as AB 32, until the state unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters, which has happened only three times in the past four decades.
The No forces’ fundraising lead and statewide television commercials appear to be paying off in the polls. A September survey by the Public Policy of California found voters in the state evenly split over Prop 23. PPIC’s new survey finds that 48 percent of likely voters now oppose Prop 23, while 37 percent support the measure. Don’t pop that champagne yet, though. Fifteen percent of California voters are still undecided.