Cameron Gives $1 Million to Protect California’s Climate Law

Two stories I’ve been tracking collided today, as Avatar director James Cameron (interviewed here) donated $1 million to the “No on Proposition 23” campaign in California (detailed here).

The proposition, backed in large part by major oil interests from out of state, seeks to delay the implementation of California’s landmark climate change law indefinitely. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Cameron, who has previously embraced such environmental causes as saving the Amazon and battling Canadian tar sands development, is the first entertainment industry figure to make a major donation in the initiative fight. However, another player with deep Hollywood ties, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, held a fundraiser at his home in Brentwood last month to raise money to fight the measure, which he sees as a threat to his legacy of promoting clean energy.

“Mr. Cameron is not only a filmmaker with a conscience,” said No on Prop. 23 spokesman Steve Maviglio, “he is willing to put his money where his mouth is when it comes to a fight for California jobs and our clean energy future.”

Environmental groups have poured money into the campaign, growing its coffers to $20 million in the past weeks. Money has also come from clean-tech executives and other wealthy greenies, but this is the biggest check from one person so far. The “No” campaign now has a sizable lead on the oil and gas companies that have been working to defeat California’s landmark climate law. The side that wants to put the climate law on hold has just $9 million in the bank.

So far, the vote is looking good for those who want to maintain California’s forward momentum on climate. With a little more than three weeks to go, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found 46 percent of likely voters plan to vote “No” on Prop. 23. Thirty-five percent of the state wants to put the climate law on hold, and another 19 percent still aren’t sure how to vote.


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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.