Setbacks for Saboteurs: Defections, Low Public Support Challenge Oil Companies’ Attempts to Derail Clean Energy and Climate

Efforts to attack AB 32, California’s landmark clean energy and global warming law, continued to hit boulder-sized bumps in the road this week.

After news circulated that two Texas-based oil companies had stepped forward to fund signature gathering for a ballot measure to suspend the law, one of the initial proponents noisily left the campaign. Ted Costa, chief executive of People’s Advocate explained to the Los Angeles Times that his departure was the result of “big money interests” (that) “have come in and shut out the people.” He savaged Goddard & Claussen, the PR firm hired to promote the measure, calling them “a bunch of greedy consultants feeding off the trough” with “a Watergate mentality.”

While this vicious infighting may help destabilize the anti-AB 32 campaign, new data indicate a much larger challenge: the voting public doesn’t want what they’re selling. Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates released a poll this week showing that voters oppose the ballot measure by a wide margin and that opposition grows as voters hear messages from supporters and opponents. After hearing the official title and summary for the measure as prepared by the Attorney General, including a fiscal impact summary, voters oppose the measure by a 46% to 37% margin. Hearing information from both sides of the campaign, opposition increased to 55% with twice as many indicating they would definitely vote “no” than those who would definitely vote “yes.” Knowing that oil companies would likely be funding the measure strongly motivated voters’ opposition. These results are highly consistent with those of a wide variety of public and private surveys that have shown broad support for California’s clean energy and global warming laws.

These positive developments should give us hope, but they can’t make us complacent. It’s time to turn up the pressure on the two out-of-state oil companies that are trying to buy their way onto the ballot and escape accountability for their pollution. Visit to get involved.