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Sierra Daily

Oct 22, 2010

The Greenest Battle Ever

Call it the battle of Old and Mean versus New and Green. This week, Microsoft founder Bill Gates coughed up a $700,000 contribution to California’s No on 23 campaign, joining those trying to thwart an initiative on the state’s upcoming November ballot that would suspend California’s landmark 2006 global warming law, AB 32. That law put California on a path to reducing greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020 and promotes clean-energy innovation.

The top nerd’s contribution gets added to those of other high-technology heavy-hitters, according to Politico: “Tom Steyer, a billionaire from his work as managing partner of Farallon Capital Management, has donated $5 million. Venture capitalist John Doerr and his wife, Ann, have given $2 million. Other big spenders include Vinod Khosla, former chairman and CEO of Sun Microsystems, who is now working in venture capital ($1.037 million); former Intel CEO Gordon Moore ($1 million); and Wendy Schmidt, wife of Google CEO Eric Schmidt ($500,000).

It turns out California’s green is economic as well as environmental. California companies collect 60 percent of the country’s clean-technolgy venture capital, according to the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a trade association, and California has registered more clean technology patents than any other state. The No on 23 forces have amassed $28 million

On the other side of the debate, Texas oil giants Tesoro and Valero have been the largest contributors to a $9.1 million pool to suspend AB 32 until the state unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters –- something that has happened only three times in the past 40 years. Prop 23 would require the refiners to install new emission-control tools. The two are joined by oil conglomerate Koch Industries, which donated $1 million to defeat AB 32.

--Reed McManus


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