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5 Things You Need to Know About Prop 23 -- Big Oil's Shady Ploy to Thwart a Climate Change Measure

Out-of-state oil giants and Tea Party financiers are hoping to knock California off its groundbreaking clean energy track.

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The Yes on Prop 23 camp has raised $10,653,560 so far, with only 30 percent of it coming from in-state and the majority from large oil companies. But despite the big money donors, those in favor of sane environmental policy have given three times as much. No on Prop 23 supporters have pitched in $30,653,224 -- 70 percent of it from in-state donations.

4. Why It's Bad for the Environment

Over 97 percent of the world's scientists are warning of the imminent dangers from our addiction to burning dirty fossil fuels. These global warming emissions we are supposed to be cutting have an effect not just on our changing climate, but on the health of our environment. More global warming emissions from burning coal, gas and oil also means more air and water pollution.

"If we allow Prop 23 to succeed, big oil refineries in the state could continue to spew greenhouse gases without strict regulation," wrote Jorge Madrid on Climate Progress. "Even worse, a victory for big oil in California could mean certain death for greenhouse gas regulation for the rest of the nation."

With little substantial action at the national and international level on halting climate change, a move by California to hold polluters accountable would set an important precedent. Not only that -- but the effects of a changing climate are already causing problems for California, which spends $800 million on wildfires each year. "Extreme heat dries up grassland and brush on California hillsides, making them a spark away from disaster. If average statewide temperatures rise to the medium warming range (5.5 to 8°F), the risk of large wildfires in California is expected to increase about 20 percent by mid-century and 50 percent by the end of the century," Madrid writes. "The initiative would suspend the crucial price signal and market for carbon pollution that makes clean energy more profitable than dirty energy, and it would also threaten 72 other planned and existing state policies that are linked to it along with billions of dollars in direct investment in clean tech by the state and local governments."

Not only will Prop 23 point us in the direction of more dirty energy but it will hurt our chances at creating, clean and renewable sources of energy -- especially from solar power, which the state has lots of.

5. Why It's Bad for Communities

In addition to being bad for jobs and for the environment, dirty energy is well, just plain dirty. And that means people have to breathe more unhealthy air. Air pollution in California results in thousands of premature deaths and asthma attacks each year. Hundreds also die annually from heat-related deaths, with the most vulnerable being the poor and the elderly. It's telling that both California's American Lung Association and AARP are opposed to Prop 23.

"Proposition 23 is nothing more than a power move by fossil fools to prevent California from leading the nation into an environmental awakening decades in the making," Scott Thill summed up. "To argue it has anything to do with jobs, common sense or reality itself is stretching credulity past the breaking point, and seriously endangering the state's citizens and economy."

Tara Lohan is a senior editor at AlterNet. You can follow her on Twitter @TaraLohan. She's also the editor of the new book Water Matters: Why We Need to Act Now to Save Our Most Critical Resource .