Greentech Vote Victory in California: Prop 23 Defeated, Brown in as Governor

By Katie Fehrenbacher at Earth2Tech

Woot woot! California voters on election day handed victories to a crucial greentech-related measure, and also voted in a handful of candidates with strong backgrounds of support for the greentech industry. As expected, voters rejected Proposition 23, which would have basically suspended AB 32 — California’s climate change law — and also voted in Jerry Brown for Governor, a candidate with a much more greentech-friendly record than his opponent former eBay CEO Meg Whitman.

Silicon Valley’s greentech entrepreneurs and investors had been seriously worried that Prop 23 would pass. Backed by Texas oil companies, Prop 23 was hiding behind rhetoric about job losses due to the ongoing implementation of AB 32. However, according to the greentech industry and various economists and researchers, AB 32 has been creating jobs and revenue in the state over the past several years.

Over the past few weeks and months, the “No on Prop 23″ campaign, which included high-profile names like Al Gore, President Obama, and Bill Gates, ended up rallying (we published a variety of No on Prop 23 opinion pieces) and eventually outspent the proponents of the ballot measure. According to Maplight.org, supporters of Prop 23 spent $10.7 million, while opponents of Prop 23 spent $31.3 million.

Full article: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUS159480653020101103

Our Take:
We challenge California to truly make the defeat of Prop 23 a green tech victory by taking off their blinders about farm-based energy. It’s time for California to end its grudging allowance of ethanol and see ethanol for what it is–the most readily available green fuel on the market. Further, as the ethanol industry develops, California must acknowledge (and US EPA also, for that matter) that today’s ethanol is not grampa’s moonshine. California’s green tech people should consider that, just as Texas companies poured money into support for Prop 23, Texas was the first state to request waivers from federal ethanol requirements.

We don’t encourage an us-and-them mentality–that’s not the way to get things done. But California could wake up to the reality that the farm-based ethanol industry could be a strong ally in its fight to break away from petroleum.

The land-use change question is drifting away like so much swamp-gas–any fair comparison of ethanol to petroleum shows which energy production takes the heavier toll on the environment.

Grain-based ethanol is an advanced biofuel in everything but name. The production from most of today’s ethanol plants fits the definition of advanced biofuel under EISA 2007 (reduction of greenhouse gases, etc). With the right kind of support, ethanol can continue to innovate technologies that decrease carbon footprint.

We challenge California to embrace farm-based energy, even as it applauds the launch of biobutanol and other next generation fuels that are being pioneered by Silicon Valley visionaries like Vinod Khosla. Rather than picking one winner, California could mold its implementation of its Low Carbon Fuel Standard to encourage all fuels to minimize their carbon footprints. It’s a laudable goal, and one the ethanol industry has had in sight for some time.

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