The U.S. Environmental Movement is Bad for America and the World

The current United States environmental movement is dangerous for America and the world – because of how many times their predictions are wrong – which is normally 100% of the time. Patrick Moore and Michael Shellenberger are the notable exceptions; environmentalists who care about the environment, prosperity and people. But what we are currently living under is witnessing local areas and nations destroyed over ill-conceived environmental policy related to global warming/climate change (GWCC). Current, unabated flooding taking place seasonally in the U.S. is over green insanity in the Missouri River Basin, Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota. This began when “Congress in 2004 under pressure from environmental organizations approved a revision to the Master Water Control Manual (MWCM).”

This allowed the U.S. Corps of Engineers to have the authority via the U.S. Congress permission to flood eight states in the MWCM. The MWCM’s original mandate was flood control, but now the Corp “are utilizing dams in a way for which they were never designed – to attempt to mimic the natural cycles of the river through the season.” This environmental fragmentation of using emotion over reason has caused billions in damage and cost many lives and family destruction all in the name of “wild rivers” being returned to their natural habitat.

California suffered some of the worst wildfires in the State’s history in mid-2018. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is in bankruptcy over the damages where entire towns went up in flames over faulty electrical infrastructure and high winds, which led to devastating wildfire. But the real culprits causing this destruction were environmental regulations, green organizations and high-powered, faux environmentalists like Tom Steyer stopping excess brush and dead trees from being cleared throughout California cities, towns, forests and wilderness areas. However, top California state policymakers and political leadershave blamed:

“Climate change as an excuse for California’s recent wildfires and even criticized those addressing California’s poor forest management and community development policies as being a huge contributors to these wildfires.”

Rebuking state officials at all levels of California government a new February 22, 2019 California Department of Forest and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) report doesn’t include climate change as a leading cause for devastating wildfires. The report specifically noted:

“An epidemic of dead and dying trees, and the proliferation of new homes in the wildland urban interface (WUI) magnify the threat and place substantially more people and property at risk than in preceding decades.”

Blaming climate change is a false canard that doesn’t look at the complete incompetence of elected officials, environmental regulations and organizations that stand to profit from the GWCC narrative. The Cal Fire report clearly laid out priorities, which are:

“Suspending onerous regulatory requirements to use prescribed fires to thin out dense brush areas, set specific priorities for removal of dead trees, excessive forest undergrowth to reduce fuel (fire) and restore forest health. 35 specific high priority fuel reduction areas in state that cover more than 90,000 acres of forest land need immediate action.”

The report also identified 25 million acres of California wild lands are pegged at very high or extreme fire heat risk – over half the state – and estimations in the report put 15 million acres of California forest in some need of restoration. Since California is a one-party state (the US Democratic Party) and have significant campaign contributions and voting bloc-power from the GWCC movement and organizations that back this line of thinking it is doubtful much will be done with Cal Fire’s recommendations.

Forget the GWCC adult crowd when for years now a 9-year old boy, yes a 9-year old, is the one who began the ban-plastic-straw movement to the detriment of the global plastics industry. We are repeatedly told the US is causing a tsunami of plastic straws littering our oceans, rivers and drinkable waterways. That is false. The World Economic Forum did analysis on the issue and found:

“That more than 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. Most of the plastic washed into the oceans, 90% of it come from just 10 rivers in Asia.”

The US environmental movement has embraced letting a child destroy the plastics industry. That is the epitome of today’s global and US-based environmental movement. Facts take a backseat if it pushes the GWCC story forward.

What is easily understood are the people, environmental organizations and government leaders who tout their green credentials are not telling the truth. Are they knowingly lying to gain money and power, because that seems to be the point in the entire GWCC crusade? Truth is relative and facts or sound policy that benefits affected constituencies and citizens is never taken into consideration. Claiming the US, Europe or other westernized countries are environmental hellholes all in the name of smearing capitalism or trying to sway continents such as Africa to use unreliable, intermittent renewable energy is the worse form of environmental practice. These lies halt “mining, logging, fossil fuels extraction and environmentalists condemn communities to poverty.”

But environmentalists rail against America, Trump, Republicans, oil companies, capitalism – when the pathetic irony is – “it’s not really about pollution or reducing CO2 emissions or solving the energy needs of the most needy and making the world cleaner and healthier.” American companies many times are the only way developing countries have access to better lives or have the resources to clean up environmental deprivations. Environmentalists should praise America and understand it is India and China that should truly scare the entire world for the damage both countries are doing to their countries and collective global health. America is the solution:

“Since 2005, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have fallen by 758 million metric tons. It’s the largest decline of any country in the world, while China’s and India’s CO2 emissions mushroomed by 3 billion and 1 billion metric tons respectively.”

French philosopher and political activist, Jean Paul Sartre said: “A victory described in detail is indistinguishable from defeat.”For the environmental movement who are the winners and losers when it comes to energy and electricity? The energy debate is now a zero-sum game. Someone wins and someone loses. Instead of looking at all energy and electrical options – then putting forth balanced, reasonable energy policy without thinking about the next election cycle.

Todd Royal is a geopolitical risk and energy consultant based in Los Angeles

California moves to ban racial discrimination based on hairstyles

A bill that would ban schools and workplaces from having dress codes that forbid braids, twists and other natural hair styles has passed the California State Senate.

SB 188 updates the state’s anti-discrimination laws so the definition of race “also include traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.”

It passed on Monday in a 37-0 vote and will now go to the State Assembly.

The bill, which is also known as the C.R.O.W.N. Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair), states that the standards of professional dress and grooming in workplaces and schools are often based on Eurocentric standards. …

Click here to read the full article from CNN

Gov. Newsom Defers to Legislature on Wildfire Bills

Gov. Gavin Newsom and his wildfire “strike force” surprised some with the vagueness of its most important recommendation: That it’s time to revise the “inverse condemnation” state law that holds energy utilities can be held fully responsible for fires that were caused by their equipment even if the equipment was properly maintained. The law appears to be an existential threat to Pacific Gas & Electric, the state’s largest investor-owned utility, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January after being blamed for fires that resulted in $30 billion in damages.

Newsom’s pointed deference to state lawmakers – saying he hoped they could hash out a plan by mid-July – is an example of the “leading from behind” management gambit, which has a mixed history. Just as the Obama administration did with aspects of its foreign policy, the Newsom administration is expecting its allies to take the helm. The governor said he believes progress is more likely with him in the background.

“I’m purposely not including my personal opinions because I actually want to accomplish something. And I believe it’s incumbent upon me to create the conditions where we can actually get something done, versus to assert a political frame,” Newsom told Capitol reporters.

The governor may also perceive political risk if he puts out his own specific blueprint for how PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric can survive in a hot, dry era in which massive wildfires are common annual events.

Tactic seen as best for long-range causes

Leadership experts, however, think the “lead from behind” gambit works better for issues with low stakes or for long-term causes – for the most famous example, Nelson Mandela’s decades-long effort to end apartheid in South Africa – and isn’t necessarily right for addressing pressing problems.

Jack Dunigan, a longtime management consultant who runs The Practical Leader website, believes that “it works best in times and places of non-crisis. If a child is running into the street and into traffic, it is not the time to convene a focus group to discuss the threats of playing in the street. It is the time for action. Leading from behind, as [Harvard business professor Linda] Hill describes it, works best in non-threatening, non-urgent conditions.”

Given that PG&E emerged in 2004 after three years in bankruptcy and returned to regular operations, that may suggest that there is no urgent reason for Newsom to take a bolder approach. But the idea that the Legislature will be able to come up with a plan in three months or less is difficult to square with its recent history – and the intense dislike that many state lawmakers and Northern California residents have for scandal-scarred PG&E.

In January, after PG&E’s bankruptcy filing, state Sen. Bob Hertzberg told a Sacramento TV station, “Nobody in the Capitol wants to bail out PG&E, period, exclamation mark, end of story, full stop. They just don’t.”

While lawmakers don’t hold Southern California Edison and SDG&E in such contempt, any attempt to help them deal with wildfire liabilities that also protects PG&E would face tough sledding.

This background is why Newsom’s predecessor, Jerry Brown, got nowhere last year with his proposal to give state judges the flexibility to limit the amount of liability a utility has for wildfire damages based on circumstances – including consideration of the importance of a utility being able to continue to provide power to millions of customers.

Further complicating the prospects for relatively quick approval is that “inverse condemnation” is written into the California Constitution. Changing it would appear to require a vote of the public as well as two-thirds approval of both the state Assembly and Senate.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Has the California business community had enough?

There is a particularly nasty YouTube video that made the rounds several years ago where a school punk was bullying another student who was overweight. The punk kept punching the other kid who was forced to retreat until his back was against a wall. After several punches, the overweight kid picked up the bully and slammed him to the ground so violently that the punk literally bounces off the pavement.

For decades, taxpayers in California have been the punching bag for tax-and-spend politicians and the special interests that consume tax dollars. Periodically, however, those receiving the blows stand up and punch back.  The recall of former Governor Gray Davis in reaction to his car tax increase is a good example.

For the most part, individual taxpayers and grassroots organizations are more vocal – at least publicly – against tax hikes than the business community. Certain business interests, especially large corporations, are more likely to have a “go along to get along” attitude which means that as long as a tax increase doesn’t hit their business directly (or can be passed along to consumers), they won’t put up much of a fight.  The rationale for this is that many of these business interests are vulnerable to arbitrary government action that threatens their interests and it would be unwise to anger the politicians who could, with a stroke of a pen, put them out of business.

But the frequency and intensity of recent tax proposals out of Sacramento and from various city halls is causing pushback from even the business community. In the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Unified School District jammed through a tax increase proposal that is an affront to taxpayers of all stripes. Measure EE, appearing on the ballot in a June 4th special election, would add hundreds of dollars to property tax bills and rents by imposing a tax of 16 cents per square foot of building improvements on properties within the district. That’s $160 for every 1,000 square feet. This would hit homeowners, renters and businesses with a huge new property tax increase.

To read the entire column, please click here.

Gov. Newsom’s progress on his key policy promises for California

In his first 100 days in office, California Gov. Gavin Newsom quickly set about launching parts of the progressive agenda he promised during his campaign.

On the day Newsom was sworn into office, the Democrat vowed to expand Medi-Cal coverage for immigrants in the country illegally and drive down the high cost of prescription drugs.

Since then, Newsom has also promised to expand paid family leave, tax credits for low-income workers and early childhood education. He vowed to modernize the state Department of Motor Vehicles, crack down on cities that refused to plan for adequate housing and retool California’s high-speed rail system, which has been plagued by cost overruns.

Newsom also worked behind the scenes to help settle the teachers’ strike in Los Angeles, inflamed California’s feud with President Trump by pulling national guard troops from the U.S.-Mexico border and traveled to Washington, New York and El Salvador.

Susan Kennedy, who served as chief of staff to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and cabinet secretary to Gov. Gray Davis, said one of the most significant moments of Newsom’s first 100 days was his decision to impose a moratorium on the death penalty, for which he won the praise of criminal justice advocates and drew the ire of death penalty supporters, who said the governor defied the will of California voters who refused to abolish the death penalty in a 2016 statewide vote. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times

California gas prices surge to five-year high; what’s causing the spike?

California residents are paying much higher prices at the pumpcompared with the average U.S. resident.

As of Thursday, the average gasoline price in the state was about $4.02, according to AAA, compared with the national average of $2.83.

Those are the highest prices California has seen since 2014. Prices have risen around 68 cents per gallon over the course of a month.

What’s driving prices to multiyear highs? According to Dan McTeague, a senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, it’s a supply crunch resulting from refinery upsets in Los Angeles and San Francisco. …

Click here to read the full article from Fox Business.

California’s Unfixable Housing Mess Is Years in the Making

Whenever I write about complex public-policy problems, I hear from readers who ask something like this: “OK, wise guy, if you’re so smart then tell me how we fix the problem.”

Unfortunately, there aren’t many vexing issues that can be resolved in an 850-word column or a 50-word email rebuttal. Most of California’s myriad “crises” have been years in the making, and they will take years of unraveling—provided they are fixable at all.

The best example is the state’s housing mess, which recently has sparked angry debates in the Capitol as home prices soar, homeownership rates plummet and homeless encampments become ubiquitous.  You know the problem has gotten severe when lawmakers have moved beyond the usual superficialities and false solutions designed mainly to give politicians cover.

As journalist H.L. Mencken wrote, “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.” In California, that simple, well-known and wrong solution is to provide more subsidies and programs. There will never be enough taxpayer money to subsidize an apartment for every Californian who needs one.

At least now we’re arguing over the right thing: the need to hike housing supply. The crisis is caused by years of local and state regulations that make it tough to build new developments. In 2015, the Legislative Analyst’s Office reported that California is falling 100,000 units short each year to house its population. A new study from UCLA finds that zoning restrictions make it infeasible to meet the housing goals set by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Something has to change.

The change agent is Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, and his laudable Senate Bill 50. Last year, a similar measure—to require localities to approve high-density apartment buildings and condos around transit lines, provided certain conditions are met—died a quick death. This year, the bill passed out of committee, but has an uncertain future. Suburbanites, even in elite suburbs of Los Angeles and San Francisco, and community activists are uniting to stop it.

The former don’t want their single-family neighborhoods surrounded by apartment buildings, nor do they want more congestion. The California Dream drew me to Southern California from the Midwest 20 years ago. But as the state grows, holding on to that low-density, suburban vision means depriving younger Californians of their shot at the dream.

By contrast, urban activists fear that these loosened development standards will further gentrify their neighborhoods by replacing older buildings housing lower-income residents with upscale condos that bring in wealthier people. These groups tend to dislike anything that helps those dreaded “developers,” even though more development is exactly what’s needed to lower the state’s housing prices. Both groups are using government to keep others out.

Despite its attempt to tackle the supply issue, SB 50 is a far cry from a straightforward, market solution. A Vox writer even argued last year that the bill will “fix” California’s housing problem, but it will do nothing of the sort. It’s the equivalent of trying to unravel a giant hairball by giving one strand a solid tug. Instead of reducing construction regulations—something that would never get off the ground in the current Capitol climate—the bill imposes pages of new regulations, formulas, subsidies and caveats in exchange for the by-right approvals it is granting. Its legislative analysis is 19 pages long.

As Curbed San Francisco reported, Wiener has complicated it further by making “sweeping revisions.” This includes language promoting new developments around ferry lines and ports, a requirement that 15 percent to 25 percent of the new “inclusionary” housing units be set aside for low-income people, and complex regulations for building near “job-rich” areas.

The legislation avoids bigger issues. As Randal O’Toole wrote in his Anti-Planner blog, higher density housing alone won’t solve the affordability problem because “high-density housing costs more to build per square foot than low-density housing—up to 650 percent more depending on the density.” That doesn’t even account for soaring land costs in urban centers.

The main problem: urban-growth boundaries that restrict development throughout entire metropolitan areas. O’Toole reports that only 31 percent of the Bay Area’s six counties has been developed. I’ve addressed this issue when then-Attorney General Jerry Brown touted Marin County a model for land use, even though most of that wealthy county’s land area is off limits to development. Is it a wonder that one must spend upwards of $1 million to live there?

Indeed, past policies—including Brown’s attempts to stop suburban development as a means to battle global warming—have much to do with current problems. The housing crisis is a complicated mess with many causes and no easy buttons. It will require myriad solutions over many years, most of which will run up against interest groups that will derail them. SB 50 should help things, but one must be delusional to think there’s a simple “fix” to anything.

This column was first published in the Orange County Register.

Steven Greenhut is Western region director for the R Street Institute. He was a Register editorial writer from 1998-2009. Write to him at sgreenhut@rstreet.org.

Union Pickets Eric Garcetti’s ‘State of the City’ Speech over ‘Green New Deal’ Policies

LOS ANGELES, California — Union members picketed Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “State of the City” speech on Wednesday in protest against his “Green New Deal” policies, which they worry will cost jobs and raise electricity rates.

Garcetti has embraced the “Green New Deal” of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), canceling plans earlier this year to rebuild three natural gas power plants — even though city officials worry they will struggle to keep the lights on.

In his speech, Garcetti unveiled ambitious environmental goals aimed at fighting climate change — including moving the city to 100% renewable energy sources by 2045 — though scientifically, there is little the city can do by itself in terms of affecting global average surface temperature.

LAist.com noted that some union members are worried that Garcetti’s war on fossil fuels and enthusiasm for the “Green New Deal” could mean job cuts and higher electricity rates:

Not everybody is in favor of the Green New Deal at City Hall. Garcetti’s speech was picketed by members of IBEW Local 18, which represents Department of Water and Power workers. The union says it supports moving away from fossil fuels, but not if it costs thousands of middle-class jobs held by IBEW members or raises utility bills for DWP customers.

The mayor also pledged to end street homelessness in Los Angeles by the time the city hosts the Olympics in 2028 — though he has repeatedly fallen short of past promises on that issue.

Garcetti also paid tribute to students who protested inequality in 1968 under the slogan “Viva La Raza.” Though used in a broadly political sense, the phrase “la Raza” literally means “the race.”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Resistance is NOT Futile

The union assault on charter schools in California has intensified, but resistance is not futile. Parents, students, conscientious teachers, lawmakers and concerned citizens are stepping up. There are many ways to fight for charter schools, which represent one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal performance by California’s K-12 system of public education.

In an April 2019 report in the respected website CalMatters entitled “Charter-mageddon: Lawmakers advance a raft of union-backed charter school curbs,” the ongoing battle between charter school advocates and their foes is updated as follows: “While the two sides have battled for decades — typically to a draw — the political momentum has shifted in favor of organized labor this session.”

This is an understatement. On April 4th, three charter-killer bills cleared the State Assembly’s Education Committee, and all of them have a good chance of moving on to the Governor’s desk, where Gavin Newsom is considered far more likely to sign them than former Gov. Brown would have been. These bills, as reported in CalMatters, “would give local school districts the sole power to authorize charter schools [AB 1505], create state and local caps on the number of charters allowed to operate [AB 1506], and put strict limits on charter school locations [AB 1507].”

March 2019 report, written by Larry Sand and published by the California Policy Center, entitled “Chartercide in California,” not only discusses how the teachers unions are attacking charters, but also relates how charter schools are delivering dramatically better educational results in some of the most disadvantaged communities in California. He writes:

“According to a 2017 report from the California Charter School Association, Oakland charters, home to 30 percent of the city’s students, performed on average in the 45th percentile on the state administered standardized tests, while Oakland traditional public schools (TPS) performed at the 25th percentile. In Los Angeles, where 26 percent of all students are charter-educated, a 2014 study showed that the city’s charter school students receive the equivalent of about 50 more days of learning in reading and 79 days of math than students in the city’s TPS.”

The war on charter schools has raged for over twenty years in California. The teachers unions have contended that because public school revenue is allocated based on attendance, charter schools take away badly needed funds. But these same unions typically complain that classrooms are overcrowded, which means charter school enrollments has nothing to do with the financial challenges facing traditional public schools.

Rather than face the true challenges – out of control pension and retirement healthcare costs, and out of control hiring of administrative and support personnel that never see the inside of a classroom – the powerful teachers unions are out to kill charter schools. For years, the unions fought a low intensity war against charters, based on the assumption that their relentless push to unionize the charter schools would allow conquest from within. But then the U.S. Supreme Court made the unionization push more difficult.

The urgency of the union campaign to kill charter schools has been elevated by the recent Janus vs AFSCME decision, which permits individual teachers to opt out of paying union dues, or even union “agency fees.” And it’s not going to end there. Additional cases are working their way through the courts, such as Uradnik vs IFO, which would take away a public sector union’s right to exclusive representation, or Few vs UTLA, which would nullify many steps the unions have taken to thwart the Janus ruling.

Resistance is NOT futile – pressure state legislators

Despite the incredible power of the teachers unions – the three major ones combined, CTA, CFT, and CSEA, collected over a half-billion in revenue last year– it is not a sure thing that these bills will pass into law. And despite the mega-majority of Democrats – who now occupy more than 75 percent of the seats in both chambers of California’s state legislature – these bills can be stopped. Because supporting charter schools is a bipartisan issue. Democratic politicians fear losing union money, but they also want to do the right thing. Allowing charter schools to continue to offer educational alternatives, especially considering the dismal performance of California’s public schools, is the right thing to do.

An example of what can be done to help prevent passage of charter-killer legislation is a resolution opposing anti-charter legislation, available on the CPC’s “CLEO” website, where practical information on nonpartisan government reforms are compiled to serve as a resource for local elected officials in California. This model resolution, provided by the California Charter Schools Association, has been adopted by the Orange County Board of Education, the Sacramento County Board of Education, and the Riverside County Board of Education. It addresses AB 1505, which would deny the ability of charter school applicants rejected by school district boards to appeal to the county or state boards of education.

Resistance is NOT futile – join the parents union

Another way to demand changes is to join the growing “Parent Union,” an organization of “parents uniting with community members to ensure that all students receive an outstanding public education regardless of their zip code of residence. We strongly believe that it is every parents’ right to choose the best quality public education for their child whether it’s District Schools, Public Charter Schools, Home School, Magnet Schools, Independent Studies or Online Learning. We believe that there is power in the Collective voice of Parents.”

With a motto “When Parents Unite, Students Win!” the parents union has already attracted over 1,000 members in Orange County. As this powerful movement spreads across California – and it will, because traditional public schools are failing, and everyone knows it – state and local legislators will come to view meaningful education reform as necessary to their political survival. That day cannot come soon enough.

This article originally appeared on the website of the California Policy Center.

California is reviewing 23,500 state tax refunds it paid too soon

California erroneously sent refunds to 23,500 taxpayers last month, according to an announcement Tuesday from the state’s Franchise Tax Board.

The department responsible for collecting state personal income and corporate income taxes said a “system error” from March 8 to March 11 caused it to issue refunds to people without first verifying the amount of money people claimed was automatically taken out of their paycheck.

As a result, as many as 23,500 Californians might have their income tax returns adjusted, though the board said the vast majority aren’t expected to change.

The FTB said it will spend the next few weeks reviewing all of the affected accounts. …

Click here to read the full article from the Fresno Bee