Is this a case of a badly written initiative or are the greens in a snit because an outsider has walked in and stolen their thunder with a measure that the environmental groups can't grab political credit for themselves?
According to a July 4 article in the San Francisco Chronicle: "A November ballot measure to boost the amount of renewable energy generated by California utilities has attracted a wildly diverse group of opponents - from the Natural Resources Defense Council to the Democratic Party and Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
"'It's kind of like I'm uniting every warring group in the state', said Jim Gonzalez, the former San Francisco supervisor who's behind Proposition 7, the Solar and Clean Energy Act of 2008."The measure requires all California utilities to generate at least half their power from alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal by 2025, well above the 33 percent level Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to see by 2020. Utilities currently must reach a 20 percent goal by 2010.
"'This does no harm to the environment and only toughens up the rules we have now,' Gonzalez said."
The Chronicle pointed out that environmental groups such as the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), had been working on energy legislation for a long time, but had not been consulted by the Prop 7 sponsors.
"There was very late consultation," said NRDC's Ralph Cavanaugh in the Chron article "We asked them last November to step back and take a look at the measure, but by then they already had a finished product."
"The initiative sets up such a detailed plan for dealing with renewable energy and siting and building the new, greener power plants that it opens the way for many unintended consequences, Cavanaugh said. "If you're going to legislate at the ballot box, keep it simple, don't write 70 pages," he added. "Our objection isn't to their good intentions, but to their bad initiative.
"But is that the real issue? Cavanaugh gives no details on why the initiative is "bad" nor why 70 pages is necessarily a reason to oppose the measure.
A search of the NRDC web site turns up no mention of Proposition 7.
Could the real reason be resentment over outsiders injecting themselves into an issue the NRDC and its allies "owned?"
Might it be embarrassment that citizens -- tired of the Greens and the do-nothing legislators in Sacramento -- took matters into their own hands?
Would this have happened if Prop 7's sponsors genuflected to those who have amassed vast political power in California?
Does Prop 7 pose a threat to back-room horse-trading that the NRDC and its allies feel they -- and they only -- are entitled to?
Proposition 7 can be read in its entirety at the California Secretary of State's web site.
In addition, the non-partisan analysis of the measure by the California Legislative Analyst's Office does not back up the NRDC claims.
Until the NRDC can detail the specific reasons for its vague reasons, the electorate can only assume it's an ego thing and a political "dog in the manger" issue.
The NRDC's vagueness and lack of transparency on this issue hints of the discredited back-room politics that the electorate find reprehensible.
That hurts the environment and the people of California. And continues a broken political process where scoring political points takes precedence over proper governance.