Worried that AB-32 will not have destroyed the California economy by 2020, which is only five years away, Senator Kevin De León proposed new comprehensive regulations to control California’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Loren Kaye, President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education, writing at CalWatchDog has some details. “Without so much as a wink toward market mechanisms, the Pro Tem’s approach is determinedly command-and-control:”
• Increase the mandate on electric utilities to purchase half of their power generation from renewable sources by 2030 – the current purchase mandate is one-third. The supporting materials claim that “renewable power generation costs in 2014 were either as cheap or cheaper than coal, oil, and gas–fired power plants – even without financial support and despite drops in oil prices.” Unless I’m missing something, if renewable power generation is in fact price–competitive with traditional generation, a more aggressive mandate may not be necessary.
• Reduce the use of petroleum-based fuels by 50 percent by 2030. The Senator’s materials correctly identify the transportation sector as the largest single source of California’s GHG emissions, as well as the major remaining source of criteria air pollutants like ozone and particulates. Advances in fuel and automotive technologies have cut ozone levels by half since 1980, and are a small fraction of the levels in the 1960s. These reductions were driven by tailpipe standards – not product or driving quotas. As for GHG emissions, Senator De León’s proposal ignores the promise that an economy-wide market mechanism, such as a cap-and-trade system, can reduce carbon emissions more efficiently that selecting a specific product or behavior for hyper regulation.
• Achieve 50% greater efficiency in buildings by 2030. California has led the nation in energy efficient building standards since Gov. Brown’s first administration. While new buildings can always be made more efficient, today’s tight requirements means additional future mandates will be subject to diminishing returns. The best opportunity for cost-effective energy efficiency would be retrofitting older homes, but this requires either generous incentives or potentially punitive mandates on homeowners and small businesses.
There you have it, another liberal wet dream that humans can control the climate by reducing greenhouse gases. Note there was no consideration of the economic impact of this regulatory fantasy. Elections have consequences and we had and opportunity to put AB-32 out to pasture with Prop 23, but supporters of Prop 23 were out spent 10-1 by the venture capitalist that had taken government subsidies to build alternative energy plants, solar and wind farms. Couple that with a host of low information voters that were clueless when it come to climate change science, we have an economic disaster in the making. Higher energy and transportation costs will continue to drive more business out of the state, leaving behind low and middle income families to foot the tax bill.