Pickens-Backed Bill Is Shot Down in California

by NY Times Blogger, New York Times

California didn’t show T. Boone Pickens the love Tuesday.

Voters in the state shot down a proposal backed by the oil billionaire to give Californians rebates to buy alternative fuel vehicles and set aside money for research.

But voters, it seems heeded a coalition of critics, which included environmentalists, business and union groups, and top politicians from around the state, who warned that the $5 billion bond measure would have tarnish the state’s green image and steered taxpayer money to the Texas investor.

Mr. Pickens’s natural gas fueling company, Clean Energy Fuels, gave nearly $19 million to support the initiative.

Opponents of Proposition 10, as the measure was known, raised $125,000 to fight the bill.

‘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,’ Richard Holober, a spokesman for the No on Prop 10 campaign, and Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of California, said in a statement after the bill was defeated. ‘Proposition 10 is the ultimate example of a wealthy special interest abusing the ballot initiative process to enrich itself. ‘

It’s been a rough year for the energy investor.

Mr. Pickens and his investment fund have lost $2 billion since peaking in late June.

And about half of the investors in Mr. Pickens’ energy-oriented equity hedge fund have asked to withdraw their money on the heels of losses of about 60 percent this year, The Wall Street Journal reported recently.