, November 5, 2008 (ENS) - California voters approved Proposition 1A, the Safe, Reliable High Speed Passenger Train Bond Act Tuesday by a margin of four percentage points. The act approves nearly $10 billion in bond money to build a modern bullet train linking northern and southern California that is expected to reduce air pollution by taking cars off the road.
"Californians showed their support once again for modern, clean energy technologies with their approval of Prop 1A, the high-speed rail bond," said Bernadette Del Chiaro, clean energy advocate for Environment California, one of several environmental organizations that endorsed the measure.
"Better public transportation is critical to solving global warming and creating real energy independence in California," she said.
Artist's conception of the California bullet train (Image courtesy NC3D)
Quentin Kopp, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said Tuesday night, "Thanks to tonight's vote, a state-of-the-art, new transportation choice will link every major city in the state and move people and products like never before. The citizens of California have put the 21st century golden spike in the ground with a clear affirmation of high-speed trains."
While voters approved Prop 1A, they struck down Props 7 and 10, both opposed by environmental and consumer groups around the state and across the country.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, California League of Conservation Voters, Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Sierra Club led the fight against Props 7 and 10.
Proposition 7, the Renewable Energy Generation Initiative, sought to increase renewable electricity mandates but was opposed by nearly every environmental organization because of drafting flaws that locked in loopholes for utility compliance, among other cited problems. It gained only 35 percent of the vote.
Proposition 7 would have erected complex regulatory barriers, excluded smaller renewable energy providers and made it harder to bring more renewable energy to California, according to the groups.
Jim Metropulos, Sierra Club California's senior advocate, said, "Once again, California voters have shown that they are able to see through the smokescreen of clever ads and deceptive ballot language to do what's best for our state. Now the real work begins: convincing the California Legislature to adopt meaningful, enforceable renewable power standards and convincing state regulators to do a better job at encouraging clean vehicles in our state."
Proposition 10, the Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy measure, was also rejected, attracting only 40 percent of the vote.
It was backed by billionaire oilman and recent natural gas and wind energy advocate T. Boone Pickens. Critics of the proposition have noted Pickens' financial interest in supporting natural gas vehicles.
Proposition 10 was written to provide large subsidies to natural gas, a non-renewable fossil fuel source, that the groups point out would have crowded out better vehicle technologies and cleaner fuels.
Prop 10 would require $5 billion in public bond money to fund a grab-bag of alternative fuel, vehicle, and energy measures which was predicted to balloon to $10 billion by the time it was to have been repaid.
"Californians were not be fooled by clever packaging and fancy TV ads," said Del Chiaro. "This initiative was a special interest give-away to the natural gas industry and voters rightly said ‘no way.'"
The groups said the failure of Propositions 7 and 10 in no way reflects negatively upon the strong support for renewable energy or clean, alternative-fueled vehicles in the state.
David Pettit, director of NRDC's Southern California Clean Air Program, said, "California voters overwhelmingly support renewable energy and alternatives to oil, and voted No on Props 7 and 10 to sustain California's momentum and leadership on clean energy solutions. We cannot delay investing in solutions that will free us from our addiction to fossil fuel."
"The fact that voters struck down Props 7 and 10 does not mean Californian's support for clean energy solutions has waned," said Del Chiaro. "On the contrary, Californians are keenly interested in promoting real, big and bold clean energy solutions as demonstrated by their willingness to pass Prop 1A."
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.
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