On behalf of Tesoro and Valero’s nearly 4,000 employees in California, we would like to express how disappointed we were to hear Gov. Schwarzenegger once again misrepresent and demonize our companies and our workers, who have been working day after day to provide Californians with the products and services they need to live their lives.
We understand that our companies and the governor are on opposite sides of the debate over Proposition 23, the ballot initiative that gives California voters the opportunity to postpone implementation of the state’s costly go-it-alone greenhouse gas reductions until the state’s economy recovers. However, opposing a political initiative is no excuse to retreat to the defense of the desperate: attacking the messenger instead of the message by insulting the more than 1 million Californians who work at our locations, who are vendors at our sites, and who shop at our retail outlets every day.
It may make for great headlines for the governor to denigrate Proposition 23 supporters as “greedy” or “cynical” – or even to compare them to Nazis, as he did in his speech on Sept. 27 to the Commonwealth Club – but doing so ignores the facts: Valero and Tesoro have donated millions of dollars to California charities in the years that we have operated in the state. Our employees have volunteered thousands of hours of their own time to charitable causes. We have met or exceeded California’s very rigorous environmental standards. And we have continued to do so even as our companies suffered financial losses in the current recession. In short, we have worked to make all of the communities where we do business better places.
Tesoro and Valero are just two of many, many California organizations that support Proposition 23. Neither of our companies can be properly characterized as “Texas oil companies.” Our companies have diverse operations in many states, particularly in California. Combined, we employ 3,841 people in California with annual payroll of $259 million. We also pay over $100 million in taxes in the state. Nor are we, strictly speaking, “oil companies.” We do not produce oil or own any crude oil reserves. Instead, we buy crude from third parties and turn it into the transportation fuels so vital to the California economy.
Proposition 23 isn’t a yes or no vote on the need for climate change regulation, but is simply one about timing of the regulation. Proposition 23 simply states that now is not the time to impose such an economic burden on the citizens of California. The proposition would only delay the imposition of the state’s climate change rules until unemployment drops from its current 12.4 percent to 5.5 percent, a rate that is still higher than when the law was passed. We believe that without the passage of Proposition 23, California’s economy and its citizens will suffer:
1.1 million lost jobs
$3.7 billion a year in higher fuel costs
Up to a 60% increase in electricity and natural gas costs
Up to $50,000 added to the cost of a new home
Valero and Tesoro have a vested interest in seeing California’s economy improve, but at this point, California’s economy is in deep trouble. We disagree with the governor and other Proposition 23 opponents about whether this is the proper time to implement costly new regulations, but surely we can agree that this is not the time for insults, invective and demagoguery. Let the voters weigh the cost of climate change rules and decide if they want to bear that cost right now. They should decide on the basis of facts, not on the basis of attacks on concerned corporate citizens who are working in the best interest of Californians.
Greg Goff, CEO, Tesoro Corp.
Bill Klesse, Chairman and CEO, Valero Energy Corp.