Editorial: A resounding ‘no’ on Proposition 87

Let’s be serious. In order to get cleaner fuels and domesticate the animalistic behavior of the oil companies, you cannot do it by rolling up a newspaper and swatting those companies. Nor can you do it by persuading a majority of California’s voters to mark their ballots as if to say: “Hesto presto, clean air!”

Astonishingly, that is precisely the infantile reasoning that drives Proposition 87: Impose new taxes on the oil companies; collect $400 million a year (the promised sum, assuming the industry doesn’t go south, the contradictory motive of the supporters); spend that on a new, self-perpetuating bureaucracy charged with converting Californians to alternative fuels; and — oh, by the way — insert language into the measure that prohibits the companies from passing the taxes on to consumers. As if.

It’s always tempting to think the law of supply and demand can be suspended at the ballot box. Of course, trying to abide by this proposed law, oil executives won’t pass the taxes along to the pump directly. But the measure obviously intends for them to curb further exploration and drilling for fossil fuels, drastically limiting supply and, ineluctably, driving up costs.

In San Francisco, with its official animus toward the automobile, that may look like sound public policy to the progressive elite. But out on the state’s roadways, where 100-mile daily commutes are not uncommon, motorists won’t want to stuff their plastic, their checkbooks, their wallets and their jewelry into the pump with each fill-up. And they won’t want to choke at the cash register for every consumer item transported by eighteen-wheelers.

OK, that’s only slightly exaggerated, but we were struck by the cavalier way Mayor Gavin Newsom dismissed such concerns. Prop. 87 will deliver an intentional blow to California’s oil industry, and by extension to its mobile economy, but the mayor decried its opponents as disingenuous. Said Newsom: “These misleading ads that suggest that gas prices are going to go up — it’s just outrageous.”

Excuse us, but Prop. 87 itself is not only disingenuous, it’s dishonest. Its language can bar the companies from passing on the new taxes, but its authors clearly want to manipulate the market in order to wean us off gasoline. The means? Higher pump charges, the authors forswearing any responsibility or knowledge of how the new taxes found their way to the pump. Blame big oil, not us immaculate environmental activists.

If Californians are tempted to punish the oil companies, they should think again. The true owners of, say, Chevron, which is substantially bankrolling Prop. 87’s opposition, are its investors, many of whom are state employees whose savings are directed to the company by CalPers. The mayor, of course, won’t have to worry about that until he’s governor. Meanwhile, let’s protect our lifestyles and pocketbooks by voting “no” on Prop. 87.

Part of The San Francisco Examiner's 2006 election coverage.editorialsOpinion

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

The Rev. Norman Fong of the Chinatown Community Development Center joined San Francisco city leaders and community partners in a “Campaign for Solidarity” at Civic Center Plaza on Saturday, Apr 17, 2021. (CraigLee/Special to the S.F. Examiner)
City launches ‘Campaign for Solidarity’ to combat racial violence

Mayor London Breed, the city’s Human Rights Commission and community leaders launched… Continue reading

Former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs spoke to San Francisco’s new Guaranteed Income Advisory Group on April 16. (Courtesy SFGOV)
City launches task force to explore Universal Basic Income programs

San Francisco on Friday launched a guaranteed income task force that could… Continue reading

Muni’s K-Ingleside line will return six months earlier than previously announced. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
K-Ingleside train to return on May 15

Announcement comes on the heels of pressure from Supervisor Myrna Melgar

Demonstrators march from Mission High School towards the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Vigil, march honors those killed by police

Deaths of Daunte Wright, Roger Allen and others prompt renewed calls for defunding

A Recology employee stands at the comapany’s recycling facility on Pier 96 in 2016. (Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)
Nuru scandal: Feds charge second former Recology executive with bribery

A second former Recology executive is facing charges for allegedly bribing ex-Public… Continue reading

Most Read