The State of California was once the land of opportunity, captured by the song, “California Here I Come.” In the latter half of the 20th century, following the end of World War II, the Golden State’s population more than tripled in size, from just over 10.6 million in 1950, to nearly 34 million by 2000.

Times have changed, and California’s glory days are long over. Chief among the many factors for the state’s decline was on full display in recent days: rolling power blackouts. This is no accident, and should come as no surprise to the state’s obtuse political class, beginning with Gov. Gavin Newsom who, like Claude Rains’ character in Casablanca, feigned outrage over the outages

The governor also called for an “investigation” of the blackouts, as though anyone needed to learn the cause, and he completely ducked any responsibility. He should rather glance at a mirror.

California’s politicians, especially its former four-term loquacious governor, Jerry Brown, have made it state policy to force so-called “renewable” energy to replace fossil fuels. Accordingly, much of the state’s abundant energy sources underground and offshore are off-limits.  Gov. Newsom is another global warming disciple of Gov. Brown, only now such policies are palpably and increasingly harming the state’s residents.

The strategy has long been for climate alarmists to restrict access to fossil fuels and nuclear power by restricting development and closing power plants in order to create markets for renewable energy.  The result is people and businesses are forced to pay for higher-priced, less reliable wind and solar energy with limited fossil fuels accessible.  The problem is summers get hot, especially in southern California.  In fact, summers have always been hot there, and not because of “global warming.”  Renewable energy has nowhere near the capacity to make up for restricted fossil fuel supply.

Simple laws of economics say that insufficient supply to meet current demand results in shortages and higher prices.  In the case of electrical energy in California, lack of supply to meet demand means the lights don’t turn on and the air conditioner doesn’t work, along with everything else needing power.

Absent oil and electricity imported by California, the state’s residents and business would have a bigger energy catastrophe on their hands.

State populations historically fluctuate for plenty of reasons, the primary ones being robust opportunity and prosperity — both of which require copious energy supplies.  From the end of World War II to 1990, the population grew such that the state’s congressional delegation more than doubled, from 23 representatives in the U.S. House to 52 members.

The state’s population is now fluctuating in the other direction, at least relative to most other states. California, though now at 40 million in population, has not added a congressional district since 2000, and is not projected to add any from the 2020 census. It’s no wonder. The middle class cannot remain if the lights don’t stay on.  Their exodus is a reflection of the state’s decline wrought by costly and self-defeating climate-related energy policies.

Ex-Californians are ending up in Texas, Arizona, Utah, Idaho and other states.  At least three of those named states are expected to add congressional seats after the 2020 census.

Other states are following the California’s failing green energy experiment, including Virginia and New York.  Both states in the past couple of years enacted expansive “green new deals” that mandate higher energy use from wind and solar, and restrict access to fossil fuels.  New York and Virginia also will not be immune the laws of supply and demand any less than California. Even now, as New York continues to ban hydro fracturing from its huge shale deposits, it imports fracked natural gas from neighboring Pennsylvania; and that, too, is under attack and being restricted.

Which brings us to the proposed Green New Deal being advanced by presidential nominee Joe Biden, and his vice presidential running mate, California’s own Sen. Kamala Harris. If they manage to succeed in imposing on the entire nation California-style restrictions on fossil fuel energy and mandates for “renewables,” there will be no state for residents to flee.

California’s blackouts show the future – for New York and Virginia, which are close behind, and for America, if the Biden-Bernie-AOC-Kamala climate policies become reality. CFACT has repeatedly documented such policies designed purportedly to fight climate change would do no such thing, but rather cost millions of jobs, trillions of taxpayer dollars, and reduce living standards.

This is not theoretical or abstract. As goes California, so goes the nation if such climate policies prevail.


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  • Peter Murphy

    Peter Murphy is Senior Fellow at CFACT. He has researched and advocated for a variety of policy issues, including education reform and fiscal policy, both in the non-profit sector and in government in the administration of former New York Governor George Pataki. He previously wrote and edited The Chalkboard weblog for the NY Charter Schools Association, and has been published in numerous media outlets, including The Hill, New York Post, Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal. Twitter: @PeterMurphy26 Website: