Monday, November 19

Clinton backs Prop. 87


Students camped out as early as 3 a.m. Friday to see former
President Bill Clinton speak on campus as a proponent of
Proposition 87, which is directed toward decreasing
California’s dependency on oil and would fund research to
develop alternative sources of energy.

The $4 billion program, to be voted on in the Nov. 7 election,
would be funded by a 1.5 percent to a 6 percent tax on California
oil producers and would attempt to reduce petroleum consumption by
25 percent as well as provide incentives for the production of
alternative energies.

Opponents say the proposition would increase the prices of
foreign oil and would create a state bureaucracy that operates
outside a state budget review process and the “˜checks and
balances’ systems that regulate other state agencies.

But Clinton said California must find alternative sources of
energy to decrease the harmful consequences of the states’
high oil dependency, which he said include global warming and
polluted air.

“California has been given the opportunity and the
obligation to do something remarkable to save the planet, (and) to
improve our national security,” Clinton said, to an audience
of five thousand students, faculty, staff and campus visitors, who
were watched closely by both Secret Service agents and university
police.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the state
currently has the worst air quality in the nation, with 95 percent
of Californians living in areas that fail to meet state and federal
air quality standards. Along with Clinton, speakers Eric Garcetti,
president of the Los Angeles City Council and actress Geena Davis
repeatedly brought this to the audience’s attention in their
remarks.

“Are you ready for clean air? Are you ready for a strong
California economy? Are you ready for Prop 87?” Garcetti said
to a cheering crowd ““ some pumping their fists in the air,
others showing peace signs with their fingers.

The environmental impact and challenges faced in California are
a result of the increasing population and growing economy in the
state, Clinton said with the wooded backdrop of the sculpture
garden surrounding him.

The former president referred to conservation projects in
countries such as Norway and Brazil. These countries, he said, had
brought about environmental protection against greenhouse gas
emissions while boosting economic development.

He said Denmark produces 20 percent of its energy from wind and
in the past years has increased its economic output by 50
percent.

“I think it’s a pretty good investment for just one
vote,” Clinton said.

After arriving to the event in a hybrid car, Clinton did a
demonstration for the press with a car by CalCars, a hybrid
automobile company, to showcase what he said is another useful
method of energy conservation.

The vehicle is a plug-in hybrid, which adds a bigger battery and
an extension cord into a hybrid car.

Felix Kramer, the founder of CalCars, said the car would help
produce lower greenhouse gas emissions and would have a lower
lifetime service cost.

Though the car is not on the market yet, Kramer said there have
been many car brands that are interested in developing and
purchasing the design.

But there have been some concerns with the proposition regarding
how it will distribute taxes and the possibility of increasing gas
prices, which some say is a real possibility if the proposition is
passed. The proposition would decrease the amount of oil produced
locally, meaning that Californians would have to buy oil from
foreign sources, which will add to the distribution and
transportation costs of each barrel, William Hamm, a former
California state legislative analyst, said in a statement on the No
on 87 Web site.

Opponents also fear the program would take away tax revenues
that could be used for transportation, public safety, health care
and education and raise taxes for the wealthy. They also say the
proposition would allocate $4 billion to fund a new unnecessary
state bureaucracy to decrease oil consumption.

But Clinton denied that the extraction taxes would increase the
price of gas, and said the transition to decreasing dependency on
oil would “make all the difference in your future.”

Clinton also suggested alternatives oil companies could develop
that would be both beneficial to them and the environment. He
suggested companies should begin looking toward additional sources
of fuel, such as solar and wind power, and find avenues of profit
through such environmentally friendly energy sources.

“(Oil companies should) make more money by helping to pave
the way of the future, and not hold on to untenable, unsustainable
and dangerous paths,” Clinton said.

Jennifer Propper, the Bruin Republicans marketing director, said
she is concerned about the impact Proposition 87 will have on the
economy, and that the tax could discourage firms from investing in
new technologies and will increase the cost of oil products in the
state.

“Anything that makes gas cost more will hurt the economy.
I do support private industries and alternative sources of energy,
but I don’t believe by taxing us or hurting the oil companies
is a solution,” Propper said.

Jorge Pimentel, a first-year psychology student, camped out at
three in the morning before the event with friends from his floor.
Nine hours later, Pimentel said he left with a more comprehensive
idea of how he felt about the proposition, especially with a
president he said he respects supporting the ballot measure.

Though he said he would have liked to hear the former president
speak more about outlets of energy conservation such as hybrid cars
and alternative substances and chemicals that could be used in
place of gasoline, he said the event was worth camping out for.

“At the end, he shook my hand,” Pimentel said.

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