LOS ANGELES - Hours after Gov. Jerry Brown drew protests from environmental activists over his permissiveness on hydraulic fracturing, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer called Saturday for legislation requiring a two-thirds vote of the electorate in any county before the controversial form of oil extraction can go forward in that area.
The remarks reflect the expansion of Steyer's effort to lobby the state Legislature on oil. He previously announced an effort to push for a tax on oil extraction in California, although such efforts failed to gain support in past years.
"In California, it takes a two-thirds vote by the Legislature to impose taxes, and in local communities it requires a two-thirds vote to impose taxes," Steyer told delegates at the California Democratic Party's annual convention. "The business community has argued for years that this two-thirds vote is important to make sure they are not taken advantage of. Well, that exact same logic should apply when it comes to fracking."
Steyer has refrained from criticizing Brown on his environmental policies, despite their differences. Asked after his speech if his remarks were a challenge to the Democratic governor, Steyer said, "No, we didn't write this speech in the two hours in between then and now."
PHOTO: Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer speaks to reporters at the California Democratic Party convention in Los Angeles on March 8, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders