Men on Emissions

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.