In a November 3 article in the Los Angeles Times, staff writer Marc Lifsher reported on voters who are confused about California ballot initiative Proposition 87, which would impose a tax on California's oil producers with the intent of creating a $4 billion fund to promote alternative energy vehicles, fuels, and technologies and reduce statewide petroleum consumption by 25 percent. At the end of the article, Lifsher quoted an argument against Proposition 87 by James Sweeney, who was labeled as "an economist and energy expert at Stanford University." But Lifsher failed to note Sweeney's ties to oil companies Exxon and ARCO and the oil industry's trade association, the American Petroleum Institute.
According to Sweeney's bio on Stanford's website, Sweeney "periodically serves as a consultant or advisor to Exxon Corporation, ARCO, the American Petroleum Institute, Charles River Associates, Cornerstone Research, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Energy." Lifsher quoted Sweeney as saying that the $150 million that has been spent on Proposition 87 by supporters and opponents combined "could be much better spent on energy efficiency research at Stanford, Berkeley, UC Davis or USC."
From the November 3 Los Angeles Times article:
What effect the tax will have on motorists is much debated. Opponents say it's obvious that oil companies will pass along much of the tax with higher prices at the gasoline pump.
But supporters disagree. They counter that oil prices are set on an international market and that a local tax of a few cents a gallon on oil production shouldn't show up at the retail pump.
Supporters also note that the initiative specifically contains wording that would make it illegal for oil refineries to pass along the cost of the tax to consumers.
Pushing an expensive initiative campaign to create a state agency may not be the best way to pay for research on alternative fuels, said James Sweeney, an economist and energy expert at Stanford University.
"The $150 million could be much better spent on energy efficiency research at Stanford, Berkeley, UC Davis or USC," he said.