California’s cap-and-trade faces tough questions

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

California’s marquee climate-change program faced tough scrutiny on Tuesday from a state appeals court judge who seemed skeptical that the $4.4 billion raised from the state’s cap-and-trade program complied with laws regulating taxes and fees.

“Where does this end?” Associate Justice Harry Hull asked state lawyers at a hearing in a long-running lawsuit that challenges the state’s ability to collect revenue from the cap-and-trade auctions it has sponsored since 2012.

Despite Hull’s questioning, two of three justices at the 3rd District Court of Appeal appeared to be leaning toward upholding the California Air Resources Board’s greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program. It aims to gradually reduce greenhouse-gas emissions over time by compelling industries to change the way they do business under the authority of the landmark 2006 law, Assembly Bill 32.

A decision from the court is expected within 90 days, but the losing side likely will appeal the case to the state Supreme Court.

Hold Climate Change Policy-Makers Accountable for Economic Consequences

Global WarmingIn reaction to the election of Donald Trump, California’s governor, state Legislature and Air Resources Board have made clear their intention to double down on our state’s already strictest-in-the-nation climate change policies.

Making such claims is easy when ignoring the current cost burden of the state’s climate policies on consumers and businesses, and how much more the costs will skyrocket under increasingly high greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Unelected bureaucrats at the California Air Resources Board have resisted any legitimate attempt at conducting a comprehensive economic analysis of AB 32, the state’s landmark 1996 global warming law– either during the rulemaking process or once the regulations took effect. CARB is attempting more of the same with the newly established 2030 40 percent emissions reduction target.

The significant consequences of this one-sided approach are being ignored as part of the policy and regulation development process. These rules will have real-life cost impacts on every major industry in California and every resident, who will see higher prices for food, electricity, gasoline, housing and just about all the necessities of life.

Higher costs, in addition to increasing consumer prices across the board, make California businesses less competitive with out-of-state companies. These have already resulted in a sharp decline in jobs, notably well-paying blue-collar jobs in the manufacturing, oil and gas and construction sectors, and a concurrent loss of tax revenues that support education, public safety, and social service programs.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  Sacramento lawmakers should demand that state agencies like CARB conduct objective economic analyses in order to craft balanced climate change regulations that will not exponentially increase costs on California’s businesses and families — especially those in lower income communities, which pay a larger share of their income in energy and transportation costs. Any increases created by new regulations will disproportionately impact those families who can least afford it.

Independent studies and subject matter experts have waved a warning flag about the economic impact and its burden on families and businesses. A recent study has shown that our climate change agenda will increase costs by $3,000 per year for every family in California. The Director of Stanford University’s Precourt Energy Efficiency Center has cautioned that achieving the new 2030 goal would likely entail “large economic costs,” and lead to a “less diversified and more fragile state economy.”

CARB has initially estimated that its new regulations could cost 100,000 jobs and result in the loss of up to $14 billion in gross economic output, which the agency brushes off as relatively immaterial in the context of the state’s overall economy.

Among regulatory initiatives being considered in CARB’s recently updated AB 32 Scoping Plan are: forcing higher density of commercial and residential developments; developing “pricing mechanisms” such as road user/vehicle miles traveled-based pricing, congestion prices and parking pricing strategies; creating expensive multiple “incentives” to make electric vehicles artificially more affordable than conventional vehicles and imposing arbitrary and unrealistic quotas for market penetration; and forcing decreases in the use of affordable, widely available fossil natural gas. These and other proposed mandates will significantly increase the cost and availability of housing, electricity, gasoline and diesel fuel and the cost of manufacturing and transporting goods produced in California with a chilling effect on jobs and revenues.

California can do better. Sacramento legislators have an opportunity to provide essential oversight over a regulatory body to ensure their constituents and the businesses they represent are not unduly burdened. It’s important to note that because California generates less than one percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, which know no boundaries, the hardships our state’s climate policies impose on its people and economy have little more than symbolic value.  This is why CARB must conduct a comprehensive economic analysis now, to weigh how aggressively we should get ahead of other states or nations with regard to climate policies.

Executive Director of the Industrial Association of Contra Costa County

This piece was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Top 10 Stupidest New Laws in California for 2017

california-flagI’m not in the habit of complaining at the outset of a column, but I’ve taken on a nearly impossible task — figuring out which, of the hundreds of new California laws about to go into effect, are the stupidest.

Don’t laugh. I’m serious.

It’s really, really hard to keep the list at 10 with hundreds of hare-brained schemes that became real laws.

After all, for far too long, the California Legislature has been a “conservative-free zone” — even though there were a handful of “Republicans” occupying seats and taking up space.

I’m going to list the new laws in order of their egregiousness to me, but I’m open to additions or wholesale re-ordering if you care to comment.

Given that Californians are facing 898 new laws going into effect on January 1st, 2017, there’s plenty to hate.

  1. Prop. 63: “2nd Amendment Nullification” Act.  Although various portions go into effect in various years — yes, they staggered implementation of this “critically needed reform,” some out to 2019 — this is the most sweeping assault on our long-cherished, God-given natural right as Americans to protect our lives and our freedom.  It requires you to pass a background check and pay for a permit to buy ammunition for the gun you may have just passed a background check to buy.  Yeah, that’ll stop criminals — who buy their guns and ammo in parking lots from other criminals. WooHoo! Next, it makes high-capacity magazine (any magazine that holds more than 10 rounds) illegal to possess — even if you bought it prior to the current ban and ownership was previously considered grandfathered.  This law should make it clear that the goal of the left is not “safety” — it’s control.
  2. SB880: “Bullet Button Ban.” For years, California Democrats have sought to ban a made-up classification of semi-auto rifles with “evil features” that they re-named “assault weapons” for propaganda purposes. Every year, California Democrats attempt to increase control over this “hated group” of guns — until they finally outright ban all semi-automatics.  This law will not do a single thing to further public safety, as the San Bernardino terrorist attack illustrated — determined mass murderers will simply ignore and work around all gun control laws — as if they are just words on paper. One last bit of irony: in a previous legislative session, this same bill was sponsored by none other than disgraced State Senator Leland Yee. If that name sounds familiar, you’re right. Leland Yee wanted to “protect” Californians from “assault weapons” on our streets — that is, until he was arrested for trafficking fully automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades in exchange for campaign contributions. He’s currently serving a five-year prison sentence.
  3. SB3: Minimum Wage Hike to $15/hour by 2020. As a result of a strong socialist push by unions and complicit governments — such as the union-controlled California legislature — businesses are looking to eliminate as many jobs as possible, investing in automation instead. When you combine this with unchecked illegal immigration — where you have an unlimited labor pool willing to work for sub-par wages under the table — the future for entry-level jobs and small business owners in California is bleak.
  4. AB1785 The “Hands Free” Law. This is another example of government gone wild. AB1785 prescribes driver behavior so severely that in and of itself, I believe it will cause more accidents — and more deaths. Not only must the phone be dash mounted — meaning you’ll have a permanent distraction right in front of you — but you may not text, take photos or video, or enter GPS destinations while driving. Fat chance of stopping those activities with a mere $20 fine. The bill does stipulate that “the only time a driver is allowed to touch the device is when he or she is activating or deactivating a “feature or function.” However, that process should only involve a “single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger,” according to the bill,” mynewsla.com reports. How about “hands off” my phone instead of an unenforceable “hands free” law?
  5. AB 1732: Single-User Restrooms. If you’ve ever had to go so badly that you used the opposite sex restroom at a gas station or Starbucks, then perhaps you think this law is needed. But do we really need another law regulating bathrooms? Some businesses have already put signs on their single-use restrooms designating use by either sex. And sometimes people just take it upon themselves. I can’t help but think this law is unnecessary and diminishes us as a society a little.
  6. SB 1383: Controlling Cow Flatulence. Not making this up. In spite of the fact that 53 California dairy farmers went bankrupt, moved out of state, or just closed down this year, the Marxist-Progressives are back at it again. Capture cow farts or suffer heavy fines.  CARB (CA Air Resources Board) suggests inserting a tube into the cow’s digestive system and venting into a backpack. Even liberals admit that laws like this, where government tries to control the uncontrollable, can have undesirable economic consequences. Lost jobs, lost industries, lost revenue. Stupid law.
  7. AB 857: Ghost Gun Ban.  Even if you manufacture your own gun — starting with an 80 percent receiver — that requires you to have special skills and tools to complete the machining, you must now register it and obtain a serial number from the California Department of Justice. The purpose of this law is simply to record your name and your firearm on a list for eventual confiscation. Once again, control — not public safety — is the goal.
  8. SB1322: Legalizing Child Prostitution. This law bars law enforcement from arresting sex workers who are under the age of 18 for soliciting or engaging in prostitution, or loitering with intent to do so. So teenage girls (and boys) in California will soon be free to have sex in exchange for money without fear of arrest or prosecution. Now that is nuts. I understand the idea of trying to not punish the victim, but certainly granting judges discretion is better than legalizing and therefor “green-lighting” behavior that is so harmful to the individual child.
  9. Prop. 57:  Early Release for so-called Non-Violent Criminals. This was Governor Jerry Brown’s baby — the crown jewel of his prison reform initiatives. Among those offenses he considers “non-violent”: rape of an unconscious person; human trafficking involving sex acts with minors; and assault with a deadly weapon. Blogger Felicia Wilson summed it up well (original emphasis): “Call me crazy, but shouldn’t a crime that includes the word rape or assault be considered, I don’t know … violent?”
  10. AB 2466: Felons Voting. Low-Level felons serving sentences outside of state prison get to keep their right to vote. Hmm. Wonder which party this could possibly help? Just like the “illegal alien vote,” Democrats will have the felon vote locked down. This is simply about protecting their power and making it permanent.

When California Democrats promised to take to the streets to defend the rights of convicted felons, illegal aliens and welfare recipients, they weren’t kidding. If only they were as serious about cracking down on immigration cheats and violent criminals as they are about penalizing law-abiding citizens and gun owners, California would have more jobs, less crime — and might be a place people want to come to instead of fleeing.

Tim Donnelly is a Former California State Assemblyman. FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/tim.donnelly.12/ Twitter: @PatriotNotPol 

This piece was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Carbon tax program sputters again

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

When California launched its cap-and-trade program four years ago, the unspoken fear was that the price of carbon emissions credits would soar out of sight and bankrupt manufacturers and other industries forced to buy them.

Now cap and trade, a crucial piece in California’s war on climate change, finds itself with exactly the opposite problem: an excess of credits and insufficient demand. The result is a program that’s stumbling badly and facing an increasingly hazy future in the Legislature.

The cap-and-trade market had another bad day Tuesday, with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of unsold carbon credits left over following the latest state-run auction. Only about 30.8 million credits were sold, each one representing a ton of carbon emissions, out of approximately 96 million credits that went on sale. The auction was held last week, but results weren’t released until Tuesday by the California Air Resources Board.

It was the second straight quarterly auction in which scores of carbon credits failed to attract buyers, although there was higher demand this time around. Last spring’s auction ended with roughly 90 percent of the credits unsold. …

Click here to read the full story

Let’s Pump the Brakes on Cap-and-Trade

cap-and-trade-mindscanner-sstockIn 2006, elected officials gave the California Air Resources Board virtually unchecked authority to implement AB32, which aims to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. The legislation, including the controversial cap-and-trade program, expires in four years.

Some lawmakers have already introduced legislation, such as SB32, to extend CARB’s authority. However, instead of rushing to renew this controversial and expensive program, we should slow down and come up with a more affordable solution that benefits all of California.

Cap-and-trade limits carbon emissions by energy producers and raises money through the sale of carbon credits. It’s supposed to fight global warming by making it more expensive to use carbon-based fuels. But that’s not the only thing it does.

It turns out the program has made life more expensive for Californians as well.

Since being given the authority, CARB has implemented a steady stream of costly regulations, such as the “hidden gas tax.” Experts agree that this hidden tax costs California drivers at least 10 cents more in added cost per gallon of gasoline. They also acknowledge CARB’s “low-carbon fuel standard” could add another 13 cents per gallon by 2020.

Motorists might be open to paying these costs if the money actually went towards repairing our crumbling roads. Instead it seems the cap-and-trade program has become a multi-billion dollar slush fund for politicians’ pet projects.

Perhaps intentionally, CARB still hasn’t come up with a systematic way to determine if cap-and-trade dollars are really doing anything to help lower emissions levels.

There is little consensus on what constitutes a “green project.” When pushed for answers, CARB officials deflect. This obscurity allows the governor to direct cap-and-trade funds towards his $71 billion high-speed rail project, which is actually increasing the state’s carbon emissions.

Some cap-and-trade funds were supposed to go towards programs for low-income communities that want to invest in renewable energy. Because CARB is largely free to do as it wishes, there’s no real way of knowing if these grants are reaching their intended targets. That’s a kick in a gut to the less fortunate who supported AB32.

Like you, I want breathable air and clean parks for our children and grandchildren. But do CARB’s unelected bureaucrats really need this much power? Government mandates can be very expensive and inevitably the costs are passed down to consumers. Not everyone can afford a Tesla.

Why can’t we use cap-and-trade funds to solve real problems like emission-causing traffic congestion? Think about it: What pollutes more, a car that reaches its destination quickly or one that’s stuck idling on a freeway for an extra 20 minutes?

A state appeals court has already put the future of cap-and-trade in doubt. And many questions remain, such as how to spend the billions collected and whether or not the program is really an illegal tax. Some doubt CARB has the right to collect the money at all.

There’s also a fierce debate over whether or not regulators can extend the program without the Legislature’s permission. The Legislature’s chief counsel doesn’t think so.

California is already a leader on climate change, and our current law doesn’t expire until 2020. Perhaps we should leave lawmaking to our elected officials, not abdicate power to unelected regulators. Rather than rush an extension, let’s invite the public to join the discussion. Californians deserve clean air, but they also deserve affordable energy—and to know how their dollars are being spent.

George Runner is an elected member of the California State Board of Equalization.

Controversial Carbon Tax Faces Strong Opposition

carbon-tax-1Despite years of success in doing what it was supposed to do — cut emission levels — California’s controversial cap-and-trade system has run up against opposition that could be strong enough to sink it. But with nothing to lose and everything to gain, Gov. Jerry Brown has shifted into political overdrive to save it instead.

Big plans

Through the California Air Resources Board, Brown’s administration has tried to restore confidence among big California businesses that the state’s carbon-trading regime is here to stay. Amendments to the cap-and-trade rules proposed by CARB “envision a carbon market through 2050 with increasing allowance prices,” according to Scientific American. But legal uncertainty has clouded CARB’s ability to promulgate such regulations beyond the year 2020, “thanks to a combination of potentially limiting language in the original climate law, AB32, and a lawsuit challenging the legality of cap-and-trade auctions under a law requiring a two-thirds legislative majority to approve taxes,” the magazine added.

“The amendments released [last month] would establish decreasing emissions caps for covered entities through 2031, to reach 40 percent below 1990 levels, and would include preliminary caps through 2050 ‘to signal the long-term trajectory of the program to inform investment decisions.’ Other proposed amendments would provide for compliance with U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan for existing power plants, allocate allowances to businesses in order to prevent emissions from escaping state borders, and streamline how emitters register and participate in auctions.”

Backrooms to ballots

Despite broad support for an extended cap-and-trade system among influential Democrats, whose grip on Sacramento is virtually unchallenged, California’s legislative counsel has sided against CARB on the extension plan. “Meanwhile, a lawsuit from the California Chamber of Commerce charges that the permit fees are a tax and should have required a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to take effect,” as the San Francisco Chronicle reported. “Although the suit has dragged on for nearly four years, questions raised by an appeals court judge in April suggested that he might side with the chamber.”

The ordeal has presented Gov. Jerry Brown with a potentially devastating threat to one of his keystone policies. Although the governor “has been trying to muster support from at least two-thirds of the Legislature, in case the Chamber of Commerce wins its suit, […] convincing Republicans and business-friendly Democrats hasn’t been easy,” the paper added. “And the current legislative session ends Aug. 31.” Beyond the obvious challenge of securing Republican support, Brown must contend with members of his own party, who have split awkwardly on cap-and-trade since before its inception.

“When the law enabling cap and trade was being argued over, the whole progressive left-of-the-left were pretty suspicious of carbon trading,” as Stanford Law energy expert Michael Wara told Wired. “So the law’s authors offered a compromise: the state Legislature would re-evaluate cap and trade in 2020,” the magazine noted. “It didn’t seem like a big gamble at the time.” But Brown’s determination to use revenues from the program to fund his cherished high-speed rail project — according to environmentalists, not the greenest expenditure to choose from — added another political wrinkle.

Now, the prospect of a drawn-out loss in the Legislature has raised speculation that Brown will respond, in a manner somewhat reminiscent of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, by taking his plans directly to the voters. Preparing for a showdown, Brown has launched — perhaps for the last time as governor — back into campaign mode. “Mr. Brown last week created a PAC, Californians for a Clean Environment, signaling he may turn to voters for support to extend cap and trade and the state’s emissions-reduction goals through a ballot initiative,” the Wall Street Journal recalled. “The program is particularly important to Mr. Brown, as profits help fund the state’s planned bullet train, among other goals by the state’s Democrats.”

Within the Brown camp, however, the official line has remained more optimistic than the ballot preparations might suggest. “There is no state or nation in the Western Hemisphere doing more to curb carbon pollution and our dangerous addiction to oil than California,” said Brown’s executive secretary, Nancy McFadden, in a statement noted by the Journal. “The governor will continue working with the legislature to get this done this year, next year or on the ballot in 2018.”

This piece was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

CA Cap-and-Trade Credits Extend to Brazil

carbon-tax-1In late 2012, as officials with the California Air Resources Board were refining rules for the state’s nascent cap-and-trade pollution rights program, a huge scandal was unfolding in the European Union. Five Deutsche Bank AG officials were arrested for their role in a complex scam involving using the sale of carbon-emission certificates to avoid paying taxes. Earlier that year, six cap-and-traders involved with the bank had been arrested as well.

Cap-and-trade critics had always warned that as soon as programs were introduced, there would be aggressive efforts to game and/or cheat the rules to make money. With these warnings reinforced by the EU scandal, California officials in early 2013 said they’d learned their lesson. Greenbiz.com reported that …

California, with the advantage of advanced warning, has taken the EU market’s lessons to heart. It has recognized the crucial need to tightly control — and extensively oversee — who can participate in the carbon market and how. With the help of the state Attorney General’s office, California has adopted more stringent rules than the EU ETS [Emissions Trading Scheme].

State tax credits for payments to indigenous communities?

Now, however, the Brown administration is pondering relaxing these rules by allowing companies to get pollution credits by paying for preservation of forest lands in Brazil.

The idea has been discussed for years but has picked up momentum of late. According to recent reports, state regulators are closer than ever to formally expanding the cap-and-trade program by allowing polluting industries to offset their carbon emissions by paying indigenous communities in the Amazon to preserve the rain forests in their region.

This idea has won praise from environmental groups, who have long depicted preservation of the rain forests in the Amazon delta as a global priority. They call it a great way for Brown to burnish his environmental legacy.

The Western States Petroleum Association has also been supportive, saying industries need options to meet their commitments under AB32 and related laws.

Brazil’s huge corruption scandal bodes poorly for CA program

But the initial coverage of Brown’s trial balloon omitted mention of two key issues: Gaming and cheating of cap-and-trade programs remains a huge problem around the world, and Brazil has both a long history of corruption and a lack of transparency.

In early 2015, Foreign Policy magazine reported how the European Union’s program had become a “playground for gangsters, international crime syndicates, and even two-bit crooks — who stole hundreds of millions of dollars in pollution credits.”

In October, Forbes magazine reported on a slew of new scandals, starting with schemers in Russia and Ukraine being accused of using the EU cap-and-trade market to sells counterfeit credits for 600 million tons worth of carbon dioxide emissions. The account noted that the less sophisticated a nation’s law-enforcement system, the more likely cap-and-trade scams were to be — and that some of the world’s richest people and companies were taking advantage.

“The cap-and-trade system of emissions trading is very difficult to control and its effects are diluted. … It is precisely because I am a market practitioner that I know the flaws in the system,” Forbes quoted financier-investor George Soros as saying.

Meanwhile, in January, Transparency International reported that over the previous year, Brazil’s corruption problems were growing worse at a faster rate than in any nation on the planet. Agence France Presse reported last week that a scandal involving billions of dollars of missing revenue from state oil giant Petrobras continued to grow, with dozens of government and business leaders implicated.

Efforts to remove President Dilma Rousseff from office have been complicated by the fact it is hard to find many credible critics of Rousseff within the Brazilian government, given how many prominent Brazilian politicians are either directly tied to the scandal or indirectly tied through close political alliances.

According to CalMatters, state air board officials said they would look to avoid problems caused by Western nations’ cap-and-trade programs in another tropical nation: Nigeria. But the issues there involved indigenous communities being denied use of forest lands they relied on because of restrictions under new conservation agreements — not necessarily the problems that California could risk if it counts on Brazil as a partner in a cap-and-trade pact.

This piece was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

CARB’s Ironic Quest to Save the Rainforest

RainforestThe California Air Resources Board recently announced plans to dedicate a portion of its hidden gas tax to saving the tropical rainforest. This is ironic because CARB’s own policies actually contribute to rainforest deforestation.

The agency is a strong advocate of a “low carbon fuel standard,” or LCFS. The LCFS is a food-for-fuel program that, along with similar mandates in the European Union and the United Kingdom, is wreaking havoc in the rainforest.

Unlike the national ethanol mandate, which relies heavily on domestically-produced corn-based ethanol, CARB’s LCFS places a much greater emphasis on sugar and soybean-based fuels – crops often produced in tropical nations where rainforests are endangered.

When CARB initially considered adoption of the LCFS in 2008, 27 scientists and researchers submitted a letter indicating the policy could have serious unintended consequences on land use.

Holly Gibbs, a researcher at Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environmentstated: “If we run our cars on biofuels produced in the tropics, chances will be good that we are effectively burning rainforests in our gas tanks.”

Noted primatologist Jane Goodall has also spoken out, stating: “We’re cutting down forests now to grow sugarcane and palm oil for biofuels and our forests are being hacked into by so many interests that it makes them more and more important to save now.”

Just a few days ago CARB collected hundreds of millions in hidden gas taxes in an opaque carbon credit auction. However, instead of raising gas prices to save the rainforest CARB could do much more by reevaluating its LCFS program instead.

Eric Eisenhammer is the founder of the Coalition of Energy Users, a nonprofit grassroots organization for access to affordable energy and quality jobs.

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Cost of Regulations Will Take Your Breath Away

HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. (AFPN) -- Trucks began arriving here to pre-position water, military rations, ice and tarps for the post-hurricane relief effort. The trucks, which began arriving Oct. 20, have delivered supplies from Key West to northern Miami-Dade County since the storm passed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lisa M. Macias).

In 2008, the California Air Resources Board banned diesel truck engines manufactured before 2010. Over a million trucks operating in California, including 625,000 that were registered out-of-state, were suddenly illegal.

Existing diesel engines could only be operated in California if they were retrofitted with a filter that could cost as much as $15,000.

The regulation, known as the Statewide Truck and Bus Rule, carried an estimated price tag of $10 billion. If you were wondering why everything moved by truck in California is more expensive, it’s because you’re paying that bill. A little of the cost is passed along in the price of everything from furniture to strawberries.

It’s a basic principle of freedom that the government cannot pass a law that applies retroactively, criminalizing something that was legal at the time it originally happened. The U.S. Constitution says no “ex post facto Law shall be passed” by the federal government or by the states. “Ex post facto” is Latin meaning “from a thing done afterward.”

It’s another basic principle of freedom that the government exists by consent of the governed, meaning government officials are accountable to the people, not the other way around.

Alas, in California, these principles have been kicked to the curb. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say they’ve been kicked to the CARB.

The California Air Resources Board is accountable to no one, something that troubled lawmakers in both political parties during the recent debate over climate legislation. When the governor would not agree to amendments giving the Legislature more oversight over the agency, lawmakers dropped a proposal for a 50 percent cut in petroleum use for transportation that CARB was set to enforce.

CARB claims an urgent need for the Truck and Bus Rule. But there are serious questions about whether this is true.

In the fall of 2008, a CARB staff report concluded that reducing “fine particulate” air pollution from diesel engines would prevent 9,400 premature deaths in California between 2011 and 2025. The report was presented to the CARB board members, who quickly voted to approve the new regulation requiring filters or new diesel engines.

But the lead staffer responsible for that report, Hien Tran, was later revealed to have lied about his academic credentials — he purchased his Ph.D. from a diploma mill for $1,000 — and although CARB chair Mary Nichols knew about the deception, she withheld that information from board members until months after they voted to pass the new rule.

The problems with the report were not limited to credentials. Extensive studies of the health effects of fine particulate air pollution, including one by CARB-funded scientist Michael Jerrett of the University of California at Berkeley, showed that it is not causing any premature deaths in California.

That’s all ignored by officials who are now throwing the book at companies that have failed to comply with the rule.

On Oct. 8, CARB and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that trucking firm Estes Express Lines will pay a $100,000 fine and another $290,000 for pollution-reduction education programs for operating 73 trucks in California between 2012 and 2014 without the required filters. In addition, Virginia-based Estes “voluntarily” replaced its trucks with new models to comply with California’s regulations.

In announcing the penalties, Jared Blumenfeld of the EPA stated that the Truck and Bus Rule will prevent 3,500 premature deaths in California between 2010 and 2025. The precise origin of this number, which used to be 9,400, is a little murky. The real number appears to be zero.

Meanwhile, billions of dollars are being spent to replace or retrofit diesel engines that already meet the clean-diesel engine standards established in 2001. It’s one more reason for businesses to take their jobs and leave the state.

California regulators can create any kind of rule, apply it retroactively, and declare illegal the equipment that five minutes earlier was in full compliance with the law. And the EPA is helping CARB enforce its rules on out-of-state companies that are beyond the jurisdiction of California authorities.

Why is this even legal?

It may not be. The California Construction Trucking Association, now renamed the Western States Trucking Association, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether federal courts have jurisdiction to review the matter.

Truckers will never get their billions back. But it’s not too late to save everybody else’s jobs from being retroactively criminalized by reckless regulators.

Brown Admits Nobody Knows How To Solve Climate Change

Global WarmingGov. Jerry Brown warned at a recent climate change workshop that trillions of dollars, the transformation of our way of life and a worldwide mobilization on the scale of war will be required to stave off climate change’s “existential threat” to mankind.

Brown also said the problem is so complex that it’s likely no one knows how to solve it.

Emissions Targeted

The governor conveyed his warning at the California Air Resources Board’s Oct. 1 workshop, “California Climate Change Scoping Plan: 2030 Target.”

The 2030 target reduces California’s greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels in the next 15 years. Brown also designated a 2050 target: emission reduction to 80 percent below the 1990 level.

The 2030 target is “the most aggressive benchmark enacted by any government in North America to reduce dangerous carbon emissions over the next decade and a half,” said Brown in an April 29 statement.

The governor began his remarks at the workshop with an admission of ignorance on climate change science.

“I come today because this is a topic that is not easy to grasp,” he said. “It’s complicated. The more you dig into controlling air pollution or measuring greenhouse gas emissions or attempting to understand the [climate] models that examine and attempt to predict how world climate patterns will change over time, it definitely is a very complicated science that we mere lay people just get little glimpses of.”

That complexity makes it easy for climate change skeptics to disseminate misinformation, according to Brown.

“It allows people who have bad motives or soft minds to then raise doubts that are not based on science or facts, but are able to be communicated without people reacting with total ridicule,” he said. “And it takes enough knowledge that it’s hard to be in this conversation at any level of depth.

Relying on Climate Scientists

Brown said we should rely on climate change scientists who “have clearly stated that human beings and the industrial activity of our modern lives is affecting climate by building up heat-trapping gases, and that the effects over time will be catastrophic.”

“When and how all of that unfolds is something that cannot be said on a precise date,” he continued. “But we know with a high degree of confidence that we are facing an existential threat to our well being and the well being of the generations that come afterwards.”

Brown acknowledged that the public has thus far been largely indifferent to the climate change issue, ranking it well below crime and jobs among issues they are most concerned about. That indifference or ambivalence may be due to the omnipresence of fossil fuels in the quality of our lives.

“What we are looking at is making a shift in the way life shows up,” Brown said. “We are who we are because of oil, coal and natural gas. Fossil fuels is what makes it. I assume that most of the people here are here because fossil fuels got you here, clothed you, medicated or whatever way you are functioning as a modern person, you are dependent on fossil fuels.

“So when we say we are going to reduce [emissions by] 10 percent, 20 percent, 40 percent, we are setting forth a hugechallenge that is very easy to state. But anybody who has any understanding of what is implied by what is being called for, realizes this cannot be done lightly or without a mobilization globally that we have never seen before outside of time of war.”

Potential Economic Meltdown

Brown, citing a Sept. 29 speech by the Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney, warned there is a potential for a global economic meltdown when energy companies are forbidden from using up to a third of their fossil fuel resources.

“Once it becomes conventional wisdom, once we get it that climate change is going to be catastrophic and that becomes clear and vast majorities of people at all levels of society agree with that, it may be too late because we’ll be too far down the road,” he said.

“If the oil and gas companies are undermined, the financial system itself can be undermined. We can’t wait until everybody gets it. We have to start now.”

Brown said the state’s current annual output of 460 million tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions must be reduced to 431 million tons by 2020 and down to 260 million tons by 2030.

“To go from 460 where we are to 260, that takes heroic effort, scientific breakthroughs, massive investments, a lot of cooperation and a political understanding that does not exist today,” he said. “So this is not stuff for amateurs. This is quite challenging.”

“It’s a political problem,” Brown continued, “but also it’s a technical problem. And it’s going to require a lot of breakthrough, a lot of research and billions, tens of billions of dollars, invested by many, many different sources.”

It will also require Californians driving a lot less, he said, by living closer to where they work and telecommuting. “Californians drive over 330 billion miles a year – 32 million vehicles of various kinds moving around on almost entirely fossil fuel,” he said. “We’re going to reduce and take fossil fuels out of our lives and out of the economy.

“And we’re going to creep our prosperity and ability to keep inventing and improving the quality of everybody’s life. And not only here, but we’re going to do it all over the world. And we’re going to add a couple billion people besides and probably another billion cars.”

Changing Lifestyles

The governor admitted, “How the hell we do that, probably nobody knows. But the people who have the best understanding and the best capability to do things [are] right here.”

Brown acknowledged that it will be a big challenge convincing people to change their lifestyles. He also admitted that even getting the conversation started is tough:

In my world of politics this is … a dark reality that you just can’t even talk about. Because it’s too obscure, too complicated, it’s not high in the polls, “don’t bother me now.” But if that mood persists … it will be too late then, and there will be a real catastrophe.

People don’t like to think that something horrible could happen. We all like our happy time news in the morning. But you got to see it, and then we have to take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen.

This is about taking the steps to deal with fuels, the investment in biofuels, [energy] efficiency in appliances and buildings, across the whole range of how our modern civilization works, within the limited reach that the Air Resources Board has confidence and the legal authority to do, which is quite a lot. Everything that can be done will be done. California will do what it has to do.

Leading the Way

Brown believes California is setting an example other states and countries will follow.

“People know about California, people are watching what’s going on, and there’s a lot of goodwill to get us to the goal,” he said. “Of course, it’s going to take a lot more than goodwill. It’s going to take billions, trillions of dollars. And it’s going to take commitment all over the world.”

Brown’s pep talk received a standing ovation. After the applause died down, CARB Chairwoman Mary Nichols said, “You can see why I get up raring to go to work every morning.”

Facing Opposition

No one at the workshop questioned whether California’s efforts will do much to prevent the planet’s climate from changing, and whether the cost will be worth it.

But state Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, issued a statement on Oct. 7 in opposition to Brown signing into law Senate Bill 350, which mandates an increase in renewable energy among other emission reduction actions:

The district I represent is still reeling from the Great Recession and the devastating years-long drought. Too many people in rural and inland communities are impoverished; standing in food lines because they can’t find work to make ends meet.

Senate Bill 350 is a devastating measure that will force already-struggling families deeper into poverty by drastically increasing energy costs that are already some of the highest in the nation.

It’s wrong when parents have to choose between the necessities of keeping the lights on and feeding their children. The governor’s signature on SB350 kicks folks while they are down. It is a selfish gesture designed to fluff up his “legacy” and pander to coastal elites’ “environmental” self-righteousness.”

The impact on most Californians from the state’s climate change regulations has been minimal thus far. The state has been averaging a 1 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions annually. That pace is projected to continue through 2020, and is enough to meet the 2020 reduction goal.

But residents and businesses will be hit harder after that. Emissions will need to be reduced by at least 5.2 percent annually from 2020 to 2030 in order to meet the 2030 target.

“This gives an indication of the challenge of the work that we have ahead of us in the scoping plan to develop an approach, to develop a set of measures that can contribute to and achieve this ambitious greenhouse gas reduction level for 2030,” said ARB Assistant Executive Officer Michael Gibbs.

An analysis of the economic impacts of the climate change regulations will be conducted as a part of the scoping plan. No cost estimates were provided at the workshop, but several officials in addition to Brown said that billions of dollars in increased funding will be required.

“Investment in [energy] efficiency [in buildings] will need to be quadrupled or quintupled from today’s levels in order to reach the scale necessary to meet the 2030 and 2050 goals,” said Patrick Saxton, representing the California Energy Commission. “Clearly this is much more than ratepayers and taxpayers can fund on their own.”

Regional workshops on the scoping plan will be held this fall; the Air Resources Board will receive an update on Nov. 19. The draft plan is scheduled to be released in spring 2016. The final plan is expected to be approved in fall 2016.

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com