California’s clean-energy future: A ‘medieval society’?

The California legislature passed in July an extension of the state’s carbon dioxide cap-and-trade program, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law.

Brown has called for an international climate summit next September in San Francisco, and Senate President Kevin de Leon has pushed for a law that would virtually outlaw fossil fuel use in power plants after 2045.

The cap-and-trade legislation, Assembly Bill 398, demands that greenhouse gas emissions be cut to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. It is an extension of the cap-and-trade program that initially required greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020.

This is only a part to California’s ambitions. De Leon’s proposal didn’t come up for a floor vote in the session, but his Senate Bill 100 — which mandates that “renewable energy resources and zero-carbon resources” make up 100 percent of retail electricity sales and also provide all electricity for state agencies no later than Dec. 31, 2045 — is sure to be back in some form.

Meanwhile, Brown has reportedly said that he is interested in banning the sales of automobiles powered by internal-combustion engines. Shortly after Brown’s intentions made the news, Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, said he will introduce a bill in the next legislative session that would prohibit sales of new automobiles with internal-combustion engines after 2040.

Brown and others believe that California can inspire other states and nations to follow its model.

“California is leading the world in dealing with a principal existential threat that humanity faces,” Brown said at the AB 398 signing ceremony. “We are a nation-state in a globalizing world and we’re having an impact and you’re here witnessing one of the key milestones in turning around this carbonized world into a decarbonized, sustainable future.”

Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, who wrote AB 398, sees a future of improved air quality through policy that is “inclusive, equitable, and brings everyone along in California.” The Environmental Defense Fund believes the cap-and-trade extension will encourage “investments in alternative forms of fuel” and “further develop a green workforce for the 21st century economy” while driving an economic and employment windfall.

“Environmentally, we would have cleaner air to breath throughout the state,” Lauren Navarro, the Environmental Defense Fund’s senior policy manager for California Clean Energy, told The Daily Caller.

“Economically, our clean energy economy would continue to thrive, employing more and more Californians in good, local jobs and companies would be drawn here to set up shop because they see the economic opportunities created by our climate and clean energy goals. The best thing is, this California is right around the corner,” Navarro added.

De Leon’s idea will have to wait to become law, but once on the books, the Natural Resources Defense Council expects it to accelerate “progress toward a clean energy future that will support well-paying jobs and a prosperous economy” while also protecting public health from “the brunt of pollution from fossil fuels.”

The wide-lens view of a green-energy future seen by the environmental groups is maybe best summed up by Allen Hernandez of the Sierra Club, who said “our vision is of a California in which all people can breathe healthy air, all energy is clean and renewable, and everyone benefits from a successful economy and a sustainable environment.”

While clean-energy advocates envision a rosy California under a low-carbon regime, not everyone sees shares that outlook.

Hoover Institution senior fellow and classics professor Victor Davis Hanson told TheDC that “in California all such environmental questions are framed from the viewpoint of utopianism” while ignoring clean-energy policies’ “economic impact on those with less means who do not live along the coastal corridor.”

“These mandates would only further spike costs for basics such as transportation and power and continue to fall most heavily on the middle and lower-middle classes and accelerate the ongoing bifurcation of the state into a medieval society of masters and serfs,” said Hanson, who is also a California native and farmer.

Bruce Everett, a Tufts University professor who specializes in energy and environmental policy, told The DC that a “little common sense . . . suggests that California’s climate policies will have some negative effects on the state’s economy.”

While “the impacts of climate policy are difficult to isolate from the effects of other anti-business policies, such as high taxes and extensive regulations,” Everett says that “California’s climate policies have the effect of raising energy costs in a state that is already losing part of its economic base, particularly manufacturing.”

He further argues there is no tradeoff, no environmental return for the economic losses.

“The science behind catastrophic climate change is weak, and small carbon dioxide reductions in California are likely to have zero impact on overall atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. In other words, some cost for no gain,” Everett argues. “Doesn’t sound like a good policy to me.”

Cost and economic burdens are not the only difficulties that can plague a clean-energy program, skeptics say. The skeptics believe that California’s energy structure of the future might not be as dependable as one powered by conventional fuels.

The California Policy Center noted a year ago that renewable energy is “still unreliable” and warned of “government-created energy blackouts” coming even though the state is “awash in ultra cheap natural gas” to fire power plants.

Two years ago, economist Travis Fischer called renewables “the single greatest threat to reliable electricity” in an Energy Research Institute paper.

“The host of bad policies now coming from the federal government,” Fischer wrote, “and unfortunately from many state governments – is creating far greater and more predictable problems with grid reliability.”

This article originally appeared in The Daily Caller

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About the Author: Kerry Jackson

Kerry Jackson contributes to The Daily Caller

  • pkwz

    The only solution to this madness is to let the lemmings all take a leap off the cliff. Californians will be hit with a 12 cent gas tax increase November 1st. Given that the Global Warming Madness hasn’t deterred the Europeans, Japanese, Australians, New Zealanders et al from instituting mindless policies that are destroying their economies, I think it’s going to be a long time before Californians toss the Global Warming Hoax into the dust bin of history.

    • MichaelR

      The EU’s GDP growth is currently 2.5%. Australia has not had a recession in the last 20 years. What is this economic destruction that you are citing?
      In the US, green technology is the fastest source of new jobs of any sector in the economy.

      • pkwz

        Green tech only works with government subsidies. So the EU and Australia, Japan and the USA are literally sinking billions of dollars that will produce nothing except for virtue signals.

        There is no Global Warming and so these green technologies are only chasing imaginary windmills. The EU can’t even put up a symbolic army to face off against the Russians. Yeah, if you think that things are fine there, your pixie dust must be really good stuff.

        And look at Japan–they can’t stop the Chinese from pushing them around. Even if they change their dumb constitution and allow themselves to have a MILITARY (instead of a “Self Defense Force”), they’re broke. And they are literally burning up billions of yen generating electricity from fossil fuel power plants instead of getting their nuclear power plants online. Their renewable resources couldn’t boil water for tea.

        Liberals and environmentalists are great at spending other people’s money. Green Technologies are the biggest scam in the history of the world.

        • Li D

          Hoy you. Jeez. Answer the bloody query posed by the other commenter. Like an adult instead of a ranting child.
          This means providing evidence
          that 1. Australias economy is being destroyed. Perhaps a few charts with sharp declining trends or somesuch. Or whatever led you to that conclusion of a process of destruction underway.
          2 Specific detail on the destructive mechanism.

          Should be a piece of piss for ya given your adamant claim.
          If you feel adamant you must have had evidence to feel that way.
          Unless you are like every other climate denier and just spout evidence free crap till the cows come home.
          Your call on who want to be and how you want to be percieved.

          Li D
          Australia.

          • pkwz

            There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

            BTW, what is a “denier”? Really, I want to know. And why don’t you go piss on yourself.

            • Li D

              ” There is no Global Warming … ”
              Its the epitome of denial.
              Now answer the bloody query and stop being such a fricken idjit.
              Back your claim of the Australian economy being currently destroyed.
              Some sort of evidence led you to make this claim, be it statistical or something else.
              Whatever it was, put it up.
              Even if it was a unicorn whispering in your ear or aliens or
              whatever denialist yanks use as sources.
              Most people talking about economies use stats to illistrate but if that dosnt float your boat use whatever led you to the belief.
              Its not hard is it.
              The idea came from somewhere afterall.
              Li D
              Australia

              • pkwz

                China. That’s what Australia’s economy depends on. You can find the links yourself that show that without China, Australia’s export markets collapse.

                At what drives China? COAL. And what happens WHEN China’s economy hits the skids?

                Oh yea, Australia is a “green” country.