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Men on Emissions

by Mytheos Holt, published

It is no secret by this point that California faces a truly nightmarish situation fiscally, not to mention political roadblocks of gargantuan proportions. However, there is also a substantial problem circulating that nobody wants to address - namely, California's divisive concessions to environmental lobbying.

From the industry-shattering Proposition 2, which imposed 20 percent higher costs on the egg industry, to Governor Schwarzenegger's short-sighted push for AB-32, which tries to sneak the anti-growth, neo-Malthusian approach of the Kyoto protocol into California's legal code. Thankfully, this latter piece of legislation was blocked for a few years at the Federal level since its passage, but with President Obama's recent approval, the plan can go ahead. Those who supported the idea that human beings possess greater intrinsic moral worth than polar bears and insects previously looked in vain for a champion to not only attack AB-32's absurdity, but to offer an alternative.

Check and check. In recent weeks, several different figures have emerged to make it clear that not only is AB-32 unacceptable, it is also unnecessary. Some of them are related to special interest groups who are conventional allies of the Green agenda, whereas others are political candidates looking to get an entrance into the realm of policy entrepreneurship. All agree that AB 32 is the wrong way to cure environmental woes while simultaneously sustaining economic growth.

For a quick recap, AB-32 (or the "Global Warming Solutions Act") was introduced in 2006 and signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger on September 27th of the same year. This was a scant five months and three days after Al Gore's documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" had premiered in Los Angeles, and indeed, AB-32 was probably helped quite dramatically by Gore's bit of brilliantly alarmist crisis entrepreneurship, as the numerous falsehoods contained in the film would not begin to be fully exposed for more than a year. And indeed, as apocalyptically inspired bills go, AB-32 did not disappoint. According to a fact sheet put out by the Air Resources Board, AB-32 was designed to "establish a statewide GHG emissions cap for 2020, based on 1990 emissions by January 1, 2008," to "adopt mandatory reporting rules for significant sources of greenhouse gases by January 1, 2008."

How these orgiastic ventures into environmental statism were supposed to affect California's economy was not considered at the time, as the budget crisis had not yet hit.

So naturally, one would think that Schwarzenegger would postpone the act once it did. This would be to mistake Schwarzenegger's governing philosophy, which is, rather like the current president, almost solely concerned with good intentions while doing everything at once. But as already alluded, there is hope. So, naturally, the next question is who can save California from another instance of manipulation by Hollywood and the Green agenda?

There are two such saviors, one of which is surprising. The first one is State Senator Tony Strickland, whose energy ideas have been profiled on this Web site at great length. Mr. Strickland had already gained a reputation for campaigning on energy in his run last November, as the Santa Barbara Independent reported that "Strickland looks to private businesses for good ideas" and that Strickland "made a stop at California Solar, a small company that works with builders to install thermal, photovoltaic, and radiant heat solar energy systems." From this experience, Strickland has come up with an inventive plan to give individual citizens tax credits to switch to alternative energy sources, thus allowing the market to work through stimulation rather than through mandates. If successful, this plan would nullify the need for AB-32, as Californians would begin consuming a much larger share of alternative energy through their credited tax dollars.

But, of course, positive reinforcement is not sufficient to inform a pro-growth strategy. One also needs to have enemies for AB-32 who could give Schwarzenegger and his green backers pause. Such figures have also emerged from the woodwork and, to the surprise of nobody with economic knowledge, many of them come from a traditional Democratic voting base - labor unions.

One blogger pointed out that "The fact is private unions want jobs, so they want a healthy economy. Public sector unions want lots of revenue, which in taxphobic California means a healthy economy. Now that the economy is in a huge slide, unions need to be more pragmatic than ever about the policies been foisted on the state by their environmentalist allies." The blogger also mentions that "The barely hidden truth about the larger green movement, however, is that economic development just isn't a priority," which is a perception which is toxic for the environmental movement in times of economic crisis.

The move toward AB-32 is still going, naturally, but these other factors may contribute to the effort to stall it, which will make all the difference. Otherwise, Californians may find themselves watching the amount of times they exhale just to make sure that they don't over-emit.

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