The Independent Energy Producers Association is a leading non-profit California trade organization and the oldest of its kind in the state. Together, its members represent about one-third of California’s generating capacity, so when IEPA speaks, people listen. Yesterday IEPA Executive Director Jan Smutny-Jones spoke. He issued a statement declaring that “Proposition 23 will undo the remarkable progress green energy generators are making in California – and put thousands of clean energy workers out of work.” This is a pretty forceful declaration for a major business group, so let’s see what’s behind it.
IEPA and the Oil Industry
IEPA was formed in 1982 and its mission is pretty straightforward, which among other things is to “ensure that California remains a healthy market for development in the independent energy industry.” The focus on forward development makes sense, given its membership. Though IEPA includes members that operate certain gas-fired facilities and co-generation plants, its main thrust is away from fossil fuels and into clean tech including biomass, geothermal, small hydro, solar, and wind. The passage of AB32, California’s landmark climate legislation, has helped to give IEPA’s mission a huge boost. Much of that would be undone by the passage of Proposition 23. This ballot measure is backed by oil companies that are based out of state, which have devoted millions to ad campaigns and payments to researchers for developing studies that favor their position.
IEPA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Smutny-Jones’s statement puts IEPA squarely at odds with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been pouring millions into attack ads across the country that are primarily directed against candidates who support clean energy legislation. In California, the Chamber has funded ads attacking the incumbent Senator, who is opposed to Proposition 23, and it has officially endorsed her challenger, who supports Proposition 23.
IEPA and the National Slate of Candidates for U.S. Senate
California is not an isolated case. A couple of other examples are Pennsylvania, where Joe Sestak is under attack, and Virginia, where Tom Perriello faces a challenger who favors oil drilling off the Virginia coast. In fact, when you look at Senate races across the country, IEPA has staked out a position that is the polar opposite of the entire slate of candidates put forth for Senate by a major U.S. political party: virtually all of them oppose clean energy legislation, and many have expressed doubt and downright denial over the science of climate change. In contrast, IEPA simply posts Governor Schwarzenegger’s statement affirming the power of regulated markets to reduce greenhouse gasses and “make California No. 1 in the fight against global warming.”
Energy Giants Duke it Out
CleanTechnica has previously noted how environmental battles have evolved from a fight between citizens and corporations, to an all-out war between competing business interests with job opportunities for millions of Americans at stake. This election cycle is just a midterm but make no mistake, it’s going to make history. With this much at stake, don’t sit on the sidelines. Get out and vote!
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.