I used to spend a fair amount of time mapping alternate routes to class to avoid the phalanx of Greenpeace volunteers that descend on campus every year. It wasn’t because my views don’t fall in line with the organization’s, but because ducking through an alley and darting behind a few trash cans is marginally less embarrassing than showing a volunteer my latest bank statement and pointing to the number next to the negative sign.
Every year, however, there is invariably at least one day when I realize there simply aren’t enough alleys. Our campus is often host to a variety of environmentally conscious organizations, and this is appropriate.
We are an environmentally conscious student body — or at least we have the potential to be. Walking to class might feel like navigating the upper levels of PacMan, but ultimately we are lucky to be a student body on the cusp of sustainability and change.
The real question, however, doesn’t involve our ideals as much as our stamina.
Sure, we’re green. But how politically active is our campus going to be in an election that doesn’t determine the president?
With such a flurry of activism on campus, it would seem a no-brainer that students will come out in hordes against Proposition 23, a measure that would freeze AB 32 — the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 — until California’s unemployment rate drops below 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters.
But this summer’s primaries saw five students vote on campus. The cast of Friends could have shown up and had more of an impact. This number was a vertical dive from the more than 300 who cast their ballots in 2008.
USC boasts a squad of environmental groups: Always Living In View of the Environment, Trojans for Environmental Awareness, Conservation and A Healthy Planet, Environment First — the list goes on. But who’s going to decide the fate of Prop 23?
Proponents of Prop 23 take beef with AB 32, the 2006 ballot measure intended to reduce California emissions levels by 2020 to what they were in 1990. A statewide pledge to put a lid on greenhouse gases with a concrete time frame, however, was a victory for those trumpeting California as the bastion of environmentalism. But it did ruffle some feathers with oil companies — the ones that stood to lose.
These companies — Valero Energy and Tesoro Corp. — have poured a combined $5.6 million into the Yes on Prop 23 campaign.
Both are based out of San Antonio, Texas.
Clearly, out of state interest groups play more than just a fringe role in California politics; you’d have to look back no farther than Prop 8’s 2008 campaign, to which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints contributed lavishly. Ordinary citizens don’t have the money to back their pet causes — but they can make an effort to turn out to the polls.
Prop 23 plays on a logical fallacy. It aims to put a moratorium on a clean energy bill until California’s unemployment rate drops drastically — an entirely unfeasible goal.
This midterm election is all about jobs; California’s unemployment rate is wavering around 12.4 percent, and both gubernatorial candidates have stressed employment as one of their biggest goals.
The stipulations for reintroducing AB 32 are almost unattainable. California’s employment rate must drop to less than 5.5 percent — something it has done only three times in the last 30 years.
Ultimately, the proposition is a way for oil companies to skirt regulations on the amount of emissions they produce. Jobs are simply the buzz word thrown in to lure voters.
In fact, there’s nothing to prove that AB 32 has a negative impact on the economy — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says that 500,000 green jobs have been created because of its enactment.
Ultimately, passing this proposition could damage California’s place at the helm of environmental reform. The Global Warming Solutions Act doesn’t simply affect our state — reform spurs more reform. As goes California, so goes the nation.
It’s time for California students — who have already proven themselves vested in the interests of a sustainable state — to rally enough support and enthusiasm at the polls this November to overturn this Proposition.
Who’s going to decide the vote — out of state interest groups, or ourselves?
Lucy Mueller is a senior majoring in cinema-television production and a managing editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Everything is Copy,” runs Mondays.