Google’s Sergei Brin and Microsoft’s Bill Gates are donating millions of dollars to defeat Prop 23, the ballot initiative which would suspend the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which reduces the emission of carbon dioxide and other gasses associated with global warming throughout California. Opposition to Prop 23 is being led by three fossil fuel companies: Valero and Tesoro, both based in Texas, and Koch Industries. In April, Louise Bedsworth, a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, predicted that spending for and against the contentious measure could top the $154 million record set in 2006 by Proposition 87. In the past two weeks alone, opponents of Prop 23 have raised $11.9 million, much of it from Bill Gates and Sergei Brin.
Opponents of the measure point out that not only would it be a step back in the struggle against climate change. It would also threaten $9 billion in venture capital investments in companies specializing in alternative energies. One source claims that three major companies—First Solar of Arizona, the world’s largest manufacturer of solar modules, SunPower Corp., the second largest supplier of sun power modules in the U.S., and China’s second largest manufacturer of solar panels Yingli Green Energy Holdings, may all fail if Prop 23 passes. The impact on Silicon Valley would be doubly felt, because SunPower Corp. is headquartered in San Jose.
Supporters of Prop 23 argue that its opponents are trying to artificially prop up their investments in alternative energy. Google has been investing heavily in alternative energy for the past three years, with a recent focus on wind power.
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