California Sends Pickens Packing – Prop 10 Crushed

Voters make choices, rejecting Prop 10  while approving more costly rail bond

The No on Proposition 10 campaign won a lopsided defeat of T Boone Pickens’ ballot measure. With 56 % of the ballots counted, 61% of voters were voting No and only 39% were voting Yes.

Voters looked beyond the price tag of the initiative. At this moment, voters are approving Prop 1A (High Speed Rail Bond) with a 51% Yes vote. The taxpayer cost for Prop 1A is nearly twice that of Prop 10, and the Yes on 1A campaign had little money. The same voters are rejecting Prop 10 and its $23 million war chest in a landslide. Clearly voters considered not only the costs of bond measures ‘ they weighed their merits and looked at the endorsements for and against the measures, and made discerning judgments.

‘California voters didn’t fall for a Texas oil tycoon’s $10 billion money grab, no matter how much he spent camouflaging it as green,’ stated Richard Holober, spokesman for the No on Prop 10 campaign, and Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of California. ‘Proposition 10 is the ultimate example of a wealthy special interest abusing the ballot initiative process to enrich itself.  We built a coalition of major environmental, consumer, business, labor, taxpayer and civic organizations that triumphed over Prop 10’s $23 million war chest.  The defeat of Prop 10 sends a signal that California’s ballot initiative process is not for sale to the highest bidder.’

Mr. Pickens’ Clean Energy Fuels Corporation contributed nearly $19 million to the Yes on Prop 10 campaign. Chesapeake Energy and its owner Aubrey McClendon donated $3.5 million to the Yes on 10 campaign. Clean Energy is the nation’s largest operator of natural gas fueling stations, and Chesapeake is the largest independent producer of natural gas in the U.S.  Both corporations would have made a fortune under Prop 10’s multibillion dollar giveaway program to create a market for natural gas-fueled trucks. The No on Prop 10 campaign raised about $170,000.

The defeat of Proposition 10 is the first test of voter support for the self-styled ‘Pickens Plan.’  News reports state that Mr. Pickens has spent $58 million on national television ads since July promoting his plan. One key component of his plan is the conversion of vehicles to run on natural gas. Pickens Plan ads do not spell out who pays for this conversion, and who benefits from it.

‘Proposition 10 pulled back the veil from the Pickens Plan, and revealed that taxpayers would be hit hard with the cost of funding giveaways designed to put money in Mr. Pickens’ pockets.  The Pickens’ Plan flunked the smell test with California voters,’ Holober stated.