SF Chronicle purported to present "[a]rguments for and against" Proposition 87, but ignored positive health impact

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

A San Francisco Chronicle voter's guide purported to provide the "[a]rguments for and against" California ballot initiative Proposition 87 to impose a tax on California's oil producers. But the guide failed to mention one of the major arguments of the initiative's proponents -- positive impact on California's air quality and health.

In an October 29 voter's guide that purported to provide the "[a]rguments for and against" 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 -- the San Francisco Chronicle failed to mention one of the major arguments of the initiative's proponents: that it would have a positive impact on California's air quality and health. Instead, the Chronicle noted only California's low drilling fees and that "oil producers should contribute to California's efforts to reduce petroleum consumption." As the California Attorney General's summary of Proposition 87 explains, Laura Keegan Boudreau, CEO of the American Lung Association of California, and Winston Hickox, former secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, have both signed on to a statement that characterizes Proposition 87 as a way to "reduce air pollution that causes lung disease and cancer," and asserts that the initiative would reduce "lung-damaging smog and soot" that "send[s] children to the hospital and cause[s] asthma attacks."

The Chronicle treated Proposition 87 similarly in an October 9 editorial, which urged Californians to vote against the ballot initiative but also failed to note the positive environmental and health impacts that proponents say it would have.

A report by CNN correspondent Ted Rowlands on Proposition 87 during the October 31 edition of CNN's The Situation Room also mischaracterized the proposition and the debate surrounding it. Throughout the report, onscreen text described the battle over Proposition 87 as "Hollywood vs. Big Oil," ignoring the fact that prominent environmentalists and health advocates such as Boudreau and Hickox also support the ballot initiative. The segment, which focused on the "A-list of politicians and celebrities" who have come out in support of Proposition 87, made no mention of the potential health impacts of reduced petroleum consumption.

Posted In
Environment & Science, Energy, Health Care
Network/Outlet
San Francisco Chronicle
Stories/Interests
2006 Elections
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