Valero, Tesoro Fight California Emissions Law

SAN ANTONIO -- Two refining companies based here, Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp., are putting significant funds towards a campaign to suspend a California law designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, San Antonio Express reported.

The law -- California's Global Warming Solutions Act -- would reportedly reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, but Valero claims the law is bad policy that will cost California jobs, according to the report. The measure became law in 2006, and its main provisions are slated to take effect Jan. 1, 2012.

Valero, Tesoro and other opponents hope to get an initiative on California's ballot in November that would put the law's implementation on hold until California's 12.6-percent unemployment level falls to 5.5 percent and there or below that mark for a full year. In efforts to suspend the law, Valero contributed $500,000 and Tesoro gave $375,000 through an organization called the California Jobs Initiative, the report stated.

Supporters of the initiative to put the law on hold expect a ballot initiative will be certified to appear on California's Nov. 2 ballot.

"We needed 434,000 signatures and we turned in more than 807,000," Anita Mangels, spokeswoman for the California Jobs Initiative, said in the report.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last month labeled Valero and Tesoro "greedy Texas oil companies that are trying to take out [the law] and roll it back." And at least two advocacy groups, one headed by a former oil executive, are calling for a boycott of Valero and Tesoro stations in the Golden State, according to the report.

"The governor has been very unfair to Valero saying that it's a Texas company coming to California -- very unfair," Valero CEO Bill Klesse said in the Express report, noting Valero's contributions to California's economy -- including a $122 million annual payroll in California with two refineries that employ a combined 1,000. It has 600 employees at its retail stations and last year paid $45 million in sales and use taxes.

"I do believe that this is a bad (law) for our country, for California -- bad for jobs," Klesse added. "It's bad for Valero, too. All we're saying is put it on the ballot and let Californians vote."

The boycott, meanwhile, has had no effect, he said.

Meanwhile, opponents of the ballot initiative say the effort to roll back the law "has only one purpose, and that's to enrich oil companies," Rick Jacobs, a former vice president of Occidental Petroleum and the founder of advocacy group Courage Campaign, said in the report.

Suspending the measure will be bad for business and the economy, "because we all understand that it's not wise to rely more heavily on foreign oil, to extract more oil from the Gulf of Mexico with deep wells and to push against diversifying. That ultimately will be bad for investors," he added, noting holding back the law would hurt the state's growing green jobs sector.

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