A rumor briefly swirled
yesterday that Gov. Schwarzenegger would veto a deceptive "biofuel
development" bill pushed with the full force of Assembly Speaker Fabian
Nuñez. That sounded too good to be true, and it was. Schwarzenegger
signed the bill, AB118, in the final hours before his deadline for
doing so -- the same way the bill was passed -- in the last overnight
hours of the legislative session with no debate.
Once again the oil business gets its way in California politics, and
the powers that be simply disregard the petroleum stench hanging over
their actions. Schwarzenegger has taken $665,00 from Chevron
Corporation since he was elected, including $100,000 in May as number
of bills of interest to the oil industry were being introduced. (The
Democratic Party notably accepted $50,000 from Chevron this spring for
a fund specifically controlled by Nuñez. Chevron also gave $100,000
this year to the term limits ballot initiative backed by Nuñez that
would give him extra years as Assembly Speaker.)
Bad enough that that the "biofuels" bill takes from taxpayers for
research that the oil companies should be financing just to ensure
their own futures. Worse that the money could go from working class
pockets to oil companies (read: Chevron) raking in tens of billions of
dollars in profit, year after year. And there's no guarantee that it
will actually be spent on biofuels.
The bill's idea sounds green and good for kick-starting a young
industry in California, just like last year's Proposition 87, narrowly
defeated by voters after Chevron spent about $40 million to kill it
(because it was funded by a modest fee on oil). But the Nuñez bill,
instead of dinging oil companies for a few million bucks out of their
tens of billions in profits, raises motorists' yearly car tax and car
buyers' smog abatement fees.
Credit goes to courageous legislative staff experts, who refused to
back down on their conclusion that the "development money" could go to
Chevron (read their report here),
and Sen. Alan Lowenthal, who saw the same thing and protested. The bill
was passed in the last hours of the legislative session, with no chance
to debate dubious amendments forced through the state Senate by Nuñez.
Even Senate leader Don Perata admitted he was only doing what the
Speaker demanded (Perata needed a favor from Nuñez on an equally smelly
bill pushed by one of Perata's biggest campaign donors, in the ferry
Schwarzenegger also signed another bill backed by Nuñez that will delay
and possibly kill a fix to the "hot fuel" ripoff of motorists at the
pump, by studying the issue to death and letting industry
representatives help decide if it needs fixing.
The association that represents independent truckers, who each lose
hundreds of dollars a year on hot fuel, begged Schwarzenegger to veto
that one (as did OilWatchdog), but the truckers' group is based in
Missouri -- not within Schwarzenegger's world view.