Australia’s is an Energy Cautionary Tale for California

In May the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) revealed wind, solar, and hydroelectric generated approximately 68.5 million megawatt-hours of power, and coal generated 60 million. That’s roughly 23 percent of total electricity from renewables versus 20 percent from coal, but those numbers are deceptively misleading. 

Australia is the case study to show why renewable energy numbers are generally incorrect; and if California continues following Australia’s lead in renewables (solar and wind) our electricity prices will continue rising (California has some of the highest in the U.S.) leading to economic stagnation, and energy poverty for Californians. 

The U.S., and California similar to Australia have abundant amounts of coal, and nuclear energy, but America and California have more natural gas, oil, and petroleum for power generation and economic growth. But California voters and policymakers have chosen Australia’s path by embracing chaotically, intermittent solar and wind farms for electricity over abundant, reliable, affordable, scalable, and flexible natural gas, coal, and nuclear. 

Trillions of cubic feet of natural gas and billions of barrels of oil that can be recovered in the Monterey Shale for California are sitting untouched instead of accessing these resources to fund services such as eliminating homelessness and lowering the tax burden on businesses and individuals. U.S. natural gas electrical generation reached “records highs” in July. There is nothing cleaner than natural gas for electricity and achieving economic growth while lowering emissions.

The deceptive practice of believing sun and wind have overtaken oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear is renewables need fossil fuel backup or nuclear backup, whereas a nuclear, coal-fired, or natural gas-fired power plant never does. Moreover, take away state renewable portfolio standards (California has one), tax subsidies, tax equity finance (solar and wind), production subsidies that last ten years, and consumer incentives, quotas, and laws to install and use renewables – eliminate those – and renewables use precipitously drop.

Even the technologically advanced Germans have watched their clean energy transition plummet, and emissions rise when subsidies were cut. German are letting the market decide how they use and produce energy to begin lowering their overly high electricity prices. California should do the same. 

Australia has spent billions on renewable subsidies, and received little in return, except political instability, and some of the highest electricity prices in the world. On a per capita bases, Australia has the highest amount of renewable energy investment in the world, with Japan coming in second, however the newly elected Australian government is shutting down renewable subsidies in the early 2020s. This is causing renewable use to plummet in Australia, and the same predicaments will plague California the more we move forward with a clean energy transition that doesn’t consider an all-of-the-above approach (fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewables working together).

The costs alone to electricity, and overall economic growth are crushing. Renewables do not work to lower electrical costs, and only bring economic misery to Australia, countries globally using them predominantly for power generation, and will bring the same consequences to California.

California’s carbon-free goals and climate polices at this time due to technological constraints will also not work, and Australia has run into the same predicament. The good news for California is “carbon-free energy consumption has increased since 2011 to 14.4 percent of total global consumption,” according the to British Petroleum (BP) Statistical Review of World Energy 2019.

A sobering reality for this good news comes from Professor Roger Pielke Jr., of the University of Colorado at Boulder, who details to achieve anything close to carbon-free energy to electricity, the entire world, and certainly California, would need to build and come online a brand new nuclear plant everyday until 2050. Additionally, Professor Pielke shows how climate policies are having negligible affect on the climate since global fossil fuel growth rose in 2018.

Where Australia and California collide is when elected policymakers ignore the reality of the only way to achieve a carbon-free society for electricity comes from nuclear energy power plants. If nuclear scares you then the only other energy to electricity resource that has been proven to reduce emissions – (whereas heavy-use of renewables is being proven to increase emissions and electricity costs in California, Germany, and Australia) – is natural gas.

The other issue that is never discussed when deciding which source of energy to use or not use is that over 6,000 products come from a barrel of crude oil. Literally, every product that contributes to human longevity and inspired living has their origins in a barrel of oil. Every part of the supply chain for solar panels and wind turbines comes from crude oil. 

Without oil there isn’t renewables, or the ability to advance solar panels and wind turbines to the point where they are affordable, scalable, reliable, abundant, sensible, and flexible. Being carbon-free, and environmentally sound makes ethical and economic sense, but when reality is tossed aside then California society and America itself could crumble into oblivion or at the least, energy poverty.

Australia is proving what happens by embracing energy technologies that are still in their infancy when an all-of-the-above approach is what should be embraced. As California electrical prices rise, homelessness increases over lack of housing, and prices at the pump increase over climate polices like Senate Bill 100 that elected officials, and Governor Newsom will begin to ask the hard questions of how all Californians can prosper with energy solutions that work such as natural gas-fired power plants and nuclear energy. Otherwise trillions that have been wasted so far on the climate without results will continue unabated in California, Australia, and Germany.

Todd Royal is an independent public policy consultant focusing on the geopolitical implications of energy based in Los Angeles, California.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily.

California’s recycling bills propose dramatic new rules

As bills that take aim at plastic waste make their way through California’s legislature, the damage they intend to fix already is rippling through the state’s recycling economy.

On Monday, rePlanet, a major collector of beverage bottles and cans, shut its 284 collection centers in California, citing lower subsidies from the state as well as challenges facing recyclers and municipalities across California: higher operating costs and dwindling returns from post-consumer recyclables.

It was a vivid example of challenges threatening the ability of Californians to recycle and helps explain the progress a trio of bills is making through the legislature. All aim to change the economics of recycling by legislating a tough financial incentive for manufacturers.

Two of the bills, authored by Democrats Lorena Gonzalez in the Assembly and Ben Allen in the Senate, are identical and would require manufacturers to reduce waste from packaging and certain plastic products. The other, by Assemblyman Phil Ting, calls on manufacturers to increase the minimum recycled content in plastic beverage bottles over the next decade. …

Click here to read the full article from CalMatters.org

How Some Teacher Unionistas Spent Their Summer Vacation

At a time when most U.S. citizens have benefited from the Trump tax cuts, the American Federation of Teachers joined up with a motley assemblage of leftwing organizations over the summer on what was billed as the “Tax the Rich Bus Tour.” The road show, which lasted 35 days and ended just last week, was replete with the usual tropes – including demands that “the rich and corporations pay their fair share” and other socialist-inspired class warfare twaddle.

What the unionistas don’t get or refuse to acknowledge is that the rich already pay their “fair share” and then some. According to the Tax Foundation, while the top 1 percent of taxpayers earned 19.7 percent of the income in 2016, they paid 37.3 percent of federal income taxes. Also, the top 1 percent of taxpayers paid a 26.9 percent individual income tax rate, which is more than seven times higher than taxpayers in the bottom 50 percent (3.7 percent).

In all fairness, the rich do have ways to mitigate part of their tax burden that may not be available to the rest of us. For example, AFT president Randi Weingarten, a long-time class warrior, strongly supported the Tax the Rich Bus Tour. But Weingarten talks one way and lives another. In reality, she is a card-carrying member of the dreaded “1 percent” class. Her union’s latest tax filing shows that she earned over $500,000 in total compensation in 2016. Most hypocritically, she will tell you that it’s just a coincidence that she abandoned New York City in 2012 for East Hampton, a very wealthy community on Long Island’s south shore, thus avoiding paying $30,000 in city income taxes.

Here in L.A., the United Teachers of Los Angeles is also talking socialist red. Licking its wounds after missing an opportunity to gouge the city’s taxpayers via Measure EE in June, the union is back with “The New Deal for Public Schools.” Inspired by New York socialist Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, the UTLA plan is nothing more than a wealth-transfer gimmick which aims to “close corporate tax loopholes, provide more green space on campuses, fight the corporate charter industry’s influence in politics, and increase investments in adult education, early education, multilingual education, and special education.” In other words, tax the rich, spend tons more money, establish more programs and eliminate charter schools. Interestingly, there is no specific plan to improve on the district’s 76.6 percentgraduation rate or address the fact that less than half of the 2019 Los Angeles Unified School District graduating class will be eligible to attend one of the state’s public universities.

At least they’re more upfront about their socialism in Chicago, where teacher union president Jesse Sharkey was a leading member of the revolutionary International Socialist Organization until the group’s dissolution earlier this year. Sharkey and a group of teacher union comrades decided to spend their summer vacation in Venezuela. As reported by Chicago City Wire, in the union’s name, the group met with dictator Nicolas Maduro’s henchmen, including the Ministry of Communes, Ministry of Education, Adult Education Teachers, and students, as well as on-the-ground activists, praising the Maduro regime the entire time. And needless to say, any problems with Venezuela were blamed on “U.S. and European sanctions.”

I’m sure these teachers will come back to school in two weeks and regale their students about the glories of Venezuelan socialism – where 90 percent of the people live in povertythe inflation rate is an astonishing 282,973 percent and civil rights have been abolished. And they will stress that is the fault of the U.S., of course.

The next time you hear about the Red for Ed movement, please keep in mind that all too often this is not just a group of teachers trying to advance their profession. Oh, to be sure, some may fall into that category, but for many others, it is nothing more than a call to advance Bolshevik bushwa.

Please talk to any and every teacher you know about this, and remind them that as a result of the Janus ruling, they no longer have to fund a bunch of socialist activists masquerading as educators. Again, time to #NEA/AFTexit.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network– a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.

This articles was originally published by the California Policy Center

San Bruno pressured by state to approve housing project

The May decision of state Senate Appropriations Chairman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, to kill a sweeping bill making it far easier for developers to build four- or five-story condominium and rental projects near mass transit led many disappointed pundits to complain that the Legislature still hadn’t done enough to spur housing construction. Senate Bill 50, by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, was seen as crucial to getting local communities to meet housing needs.

But officials and residents of the San Francisco suburb of San Bruno don’t want to hear that the state hasn’t done enough to pressure local governments. Thanks to a 2017 housing law – also crafted by Wiener – and another bill recently signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the city of 43,000 residents could eventually face fines of as much as $600,000 a month for failing to meet housing mandates, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle.

At issue is the San Bruno City Council’s July 10 decision to reject a 425-unit housing project proposed by the Signature Development Group. Zachary Olmstead, a deputy director at the state Department of Housing and Community Development, warned city officials in a letter last week that under the 2017 law, they were legally compelled to approve the project since it met all planning and zoning requirements without imperiling public safety or health. Olmstead noted that state law compels San Bruno to approve construction of 1,155 new housing units by 2023, but so far it had approved just 118 units – with none for low-income families.

Gov. Newsom sees lawsuits as way to fight local NIMBYs

The formal notice from the state clears the way for the Newsom administration to eventually sue San Bruno if it doesn’t reverse its decision on the project or otherwise approve new housing. The governor already made it clear he considers such lawsuits as a powerful tool to force housing construction, suing Huntington Beach in January because the Orange County city had made little progress toward the requirement that it add 533 low-income housing units by the end of 2021.

Huntington Beach officials, who believe that their state constitutional protections as a charter city are being violated, are suing the state over its housing edict.

San Bruno officials have reacted with much less defiance. That may be partly because as a general law city, San Bruno can’t claim constitutional cover. It’s also because there is far more support for the 425-unit project in San Bruno than there is for low-income housing in Huntington Beach.

According to the Chronicle, the Signature Development Group worked to firm up support for its project by accepting city officials’ request that its plan add 64 more low-income units and include a grocery store, among other concessions. But while four of the five council members backed the project, two of those members recused themselves because of perceived conflicts of interests, since they live within 1,000 feet of the proposed project site. That meant there weren’t the necessary three votes for approval.

Unlike Huntington Beach, San Bruno is conciliatory

Even before the state’s warning arrived, San Bruno City Manager Jovan Grogan posted a statement on the city’s website about the controversy late last month that acknowledged the City Council’s decision might not stand. 

Grogan’s conciliatory remarks presented a sharp contrast with Huntington Beach officials’ reaction to the state’s pressure. There, City Attorney Michael Gates blasted Newsom and suggested that Huntington Beach’s history as a Republican stronghold was why it was singled out first instead of the 50-plus other cities in California that also failed to meet state housing mandates.

Meanwhile, there were reports this week that the San Bruno City Council would meet soon to review its limited options. An opinion from the city’s legal advisers saying the two council members who recused themselves from conflicts could vote because of the unusual circumstances could be a tidy way out of the problem.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Bid to block California ballot measure costs taxpayers

Backers of a pending criminal justice initiative say California taxpayers are on the hook for nearly $60,000 in legal fees after a judge rejected former Gov. Jerry Brown’s attempt to bounce it from next year’s ballot.

Brown argued the measure lacked enough valid signatures to roll back a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2016. It allows most prison inmates to seek earlier parole and participate in rehabilitation programs.

A Sacramento County Superior Court judge ruled against the former governor in May. The ballot measure’s backers said Wednesday that an agreement with state officials requires the state to pay their legal costs. …

Click here to read the full article from the Associated Press

San Francisco’s Latest Idea – Banning Plastic Water Bottles at the Airport

San Francisco has most recently been known more for its quality of life problems and lack of affordability than the home of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.

You would think that city officials would be doing everything they can to lure both tourists and business travelers back to the City by the Bay.

Apparently, San Francisco’s reputation as being the 4th most expensive city in America, having the world’s 5th-worst traffic congestion, and its out-of-control homeless problem were not enough.  It now wants to start annoying travelers the moment they land in San Francisco.

San Francisco International Airport announced last week that, starting on August 20, the airport’s shops and restaurants may no longer sell plastic water bottles.

In a troubling display of government officials trying to dictate people’s beverage choices, there is even an “SFO approved water bottle list” on the airport’s website, which lists in painful detail the brands and packaging of water that are approved for sale at the airport.

According to the airport, only “reusable water bottles, recyclable aluminum, glass and certified compostable water bottles can instead be provided or sold” after August 20.

Airport spokesman Doug Yakel told the San Francisco Chronicle that, “we’re the first airport that we’re aware of to implement this change.”

Sadly, they’re not the first in California to propose banning plastic bottles.

As our Kerry Jackson wrote earlier this year, California lawmakers “have a new target in California’s war on plastics:  those handy bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and lotion that hotels hand out guests.”  Assembly Bill 1162 would ban those.

Let’s look at the real, practical problems caused by this plan.

The plan has the effect of government picking winners and losers among bottled water producers.  Why is government effectively outlawing the sale of an otherwise-legal product as benign as plastic water bottles?  Californians should have the choice to decide which legal products we buy and consume.  We don’t need government bureaucrats and the airport dictating our bottled water choices.

As a practical matter, travelers can’t take their own water with them into the airport.  No one can bring more than 3 ounces of any one liquid through security under the security initiatives that have been in place at U.S. airports since 9/11.

It could also complicate the loading of airplanes as passengers are already lugging too much onto planes and overhead bin space is at a premium.  Encouraging people to lug large and bulky metal reusable water bottles onto planes will make this problem even worse.

Additionally, this proposal is likely to make airports – which are already a hotbed of germs – even bigger epicenters of illness.  When you drink out of a public water fountain, you never really know how recently or how often they are cleaned.

According to Penn State University, “there are many damaging pathogens that live in water fountains, which cause people to get sick.  E-coli, legionella, and coliform are three types of bacteria found in water fountains.  Drinking water also contains viruses, chemicals, and metals.  These types of bacteria can cause stomach problems and pneumonia-like symptoms such as headaches, vomiting and diarrhea.”

If the goal of San Francisco officials is to cut down on littering and improve plastic recycling rates, then public policy solutions should be aimed there rather than dictating consumer choices. It seems clear that all the fuss from this “only in San Francisco” proposal will be for naught.  As Kerry Jackson noted in a recent City Journal op-ed, “only about 1 percent of all plastic in the oceans is from the U.S.; California’s contribution to the mess is negligible.”

The real mess here will be the hassle felt by travelers in and out of San Francisco airport, who just want a cheap and easy-to-handle bottle of water while traveling.  Apparently, that’s too much to ask when visiting San Francisco.  Meanwhile, the city’s well-deserved reputation as a place not worth the headache of visiting will surely grow because of this ridiculous, virtue-signaling mandate.

Tim Anaya is the Pacific Research Institute’s communications director.

This article was originally published by the Pacific Research Institute.

High Fees for Developers Ratchet Up California Home Prices

A long-awaited study detailing how much cities and counties charge developers to build housing in California found that such costs are often hidden, vary widely across the state and have slowed growth.

The report, released this week by the state Department of Housing and Community Development, comes as Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers continue to search for ways to lower construction costs to help remedy a shortage of available homes. The study recommends that legislators push cities and counties to make public their fees, set standards for services so that costs will be more predictable and take into account how they affect housing production.

“While fees offer a flexible way to finance necessary infrastructure, overly burdensome fee programs can limit growth by impeding or disincentivizing new residential development, facilitate exclusion and increase housing costs across the state,” said the report by researchers at UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation. …

Click here to read the full article from the Los Angeles Times

Derailing the Bullet Train

A decade ago, shortly after California voters narrowly approved a $9.95 billion bond issue to finance a statewide bullet train system, an official involved in early planning for the project confided a dirty little secret.

While a 200-mile-per-hour bullet train was the sizzle sold to voters, he told me, the unspoken motive was getting more money to expand commuter transit services in the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California without having to directly ask voters.

The bond issue set aside $950 million for such auxiliary transit systems on the theory that they would feed passengers into a bullet train system.

By and by, as construction of the initial bullet train segment in the San Joaquin Valley stalled due to mismanagement, cost overruns and stiff local opposition, advocates of the regional urban transit projects began to chip off pieces of the other $9 billion in bonds that voters had approved.

The most aggressive raids were led by sponsors of upgrading the Caltrain service between San Francisco and San Jose from diesel-powered trains to electrification – especially after bullet train officials stopped trying to build a separate line down the San Francisco Peninsula due to adamant local opposition and agreed to “blend” with Caltrain.

An amendment to the 2012 state budget allowed bond money to be used for “bookend” projects, meaning Caltrain and Southern California’s Metrolink service, and a 2016 bill, patched together in the final days of that year’s legislative session, legitimized the raid on bullet train funds even further.

Now, as the bullet train project gasps for air, more diversions of voter-approved bullet train bonds may be in the offing.

Gov. Gavin Newsom says he wants to concentrate on finishing the San Joaquin Valley segment, with extensions to Bakersfield and Merced, which would cost about $20 billion, and then connect it to the Bay Area via conventional rail service. A train that now runs between San Jose and Stockton, known as the Altamont Express, would be extended to Merced.

However, the Los Angeles Times reported last week, “Key California lawmakers have devised a plan to shift billions of dollars from the Central Valley bullet train to rail projects in Southern California and the Bay Area, a strategy that could crush the dreams of high-speed rail purists.

“Assembly Democrats see greater public value in improving passenger rail from Burbank to Anaheim, relieving congestion on the busy Interstate 5 corridor before the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and putting additional money into San Francisco commuter rail.”

Improving transit in the state’s most congested urban areas, advocates of the new scheme contend, is more important than the patched-together system that Newsom has proposed.

“I like the concept,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon told The Times. “Any project that doesn’t have a significant amount of service to the largest areas in the state doesn’t make much sense.”

It’s difficult to argue with that logic, especially since the bullet train project has utterly failed to attract the many tens of billions of dollars needed to become a reality.

Were the new legislative proposal to prevail, one presumes that the current construction, running from Chowchilla to an orchard near Shafter, would be completed and used for regular-speed Amtrak service. But it would leave Fresno and other San Joaquin Valley cities without the high-speed service they had once been promised.

The plan now gaining traction in the Legislature would acknowledge reality and could hasten an end for the ill-conceived, mismanaged bullet train, even Newsom’s much-abbreviated version.

It’s about time.

This article was originally published by CalMatters.org

California ammo check law blocked 100 sales in first month

California’s new ammunition background check law in its first month stopped more than 100 people from buying bullets illegally, officials said late Monday as they struggled to deter more of the mass shootings that have roiled California and other states over the last week.

“Countless other prohibited persons were likely deterred from even trying to purchase ammunition that they cannot lawfully possess,” Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a court filing. He disclosed the early results in response to a gun owners’ rights group attempt to block the law that took effect July 1.

A federal judge is expected to decide later this month whether to halt the law as a violation of the Second Amendment right to bear arms and other federal laws.

The filing came as Gov. Gavin Newsom said the federal government should follow California’s lead in requiring background checks for ammunition buyers. …

Click here to read the full article from KRCA3 News

2020 Democrats Blaming Trump’s Rhetoric for Shootings

Democratic presidential candidates sought to lay blame Sunday on President Donald Trump following a pair of mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, saying his language against minorities promotes racial division and violence.

At public events and on television, several candidates pointed to a need for more gun restrictions, such as universal background checks. But they directed much of their criticism at Trump, seeking to draw a link between the shootings in Dayton and El Paso that have left more than two dozen dead and months of presidential rhetoric against immigrants and people of color.

“There is complicity in the president’s hatred that undermines the goodness and the decency of Americans regardless of what party,” New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said. “To say nothing in a time of rising hatred, it’s not enough to say that ‘I’m not a hate monger myself.’ If you are not actively working against hate, calling it out, you are complicit in what is going on.”

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said confronting white nationalist terrorism would be embarrassing for a president who “helped stoke many of these feelings in this country to begin with.”

“At best, he’s condoning and encouraging white nationalism,” Buttigieg said. …

Click here to read the full article from the Associate Press