NY Times blames climate change for NorCal inferno

Powerful, hot and dry winds like those that have fanned the deadly wildfires now raging in California are a common occurrence in the state, a result of regional atmospheric patterns that develop in the fall.

The impact of climate change on the winds is uncertain, although some scientists think that global warming may at least be making the winds drier. “That is a pretty key parameter for fire risk,” said Alex Hall, a climate researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The winds, known as Diablo winds in Northern California and Santa Ana winds further south, have their origin in the high desert of the Great Basin of Nevada and parts of Utah. High-pressure air that builds over that region flows toward lower-pressure air over California and the coast.

Along the way the air descends to lower elevations, which causes it to compress and become hotter and drier. The air picks up speed as it descends and funnels through canyons or across peaks that are lower than their neighbors. …

Click here to read the full article from the NY Times

California Cities Sue Oil Companies over Climate Change

Global WarmingCity attorneys in San Francisco and Oakland, California, sued five oil companies in two coordinated lawsuits on Tuesday, arguing that the courts should hold these companies responsible for climate change, and force them to financially compensate the cities for harm the plaintiffs claim those companies are causing to the planet’s environment.

The two cities are suing five of the top petroleum companies from around the world: BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobile, and Royal Dutch Shell. These local municipalities are suing them under California law for being a public nuisance.

The lawsuits use virtually identical language, like accusing the oil companies with language such as, “For decades, Defendants have known that their fossil fuels pose risks of ‘severe’ and ‘catastrophic’ impacts on the global climate through the works and warnings of their own scientists or through their trade association.”

The cities’ complaints impugn the worst possible motives to the oil companies, comparing their actions to a sustained “propaganda campaign to deceive the public” to encourage “fuel consumption at levels that (as Defendants knew) [were] certain to severely harm the public.”

The lawsuits are demanding money from the companies on a scale to offset all of the effects of climate change in those cities. While the lawsuit does not provide specific amounts, the plaintiffs could advance theories that would claim that those numbers are in the billions of dollars.

By bringing these claims in the county courts in San Francisco and Alameda, the cities’ attorneys are setting them on a legal course where the justices of the California Supreme Court—a reliably liberal court—would ultimately decide the financial liability of the oil companies.

One immediate step the oil companies could take is to remove these lawsuits to federal court. They could invoke a federal district court’s “diversity jurisdiction” under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because the plaintiffs are from different states or nations than all of the defendants and the amount being sued for exceeds $75,000.

Such a move would take any appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit where critics would fear the chances of a leftwing outcome, but would also preserve the option that the final word on this case would ultimately come from the U.S. Supreme Court instead of the California Supreme Court.

The first lawsuit is The People of the State of California ex rel. Herrera v. BP, No. CGC-17-561370 in the Superior Court of the County of San Francisco.

The second lawsuit is The People of the State of California ex rel. Oakland City Attorney v. BP, No. RG-17-875889 in the Superior Court of the County of Alameda.

Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

‘Cap and Tax’ Would Slam High-Tax, High-Poverty California

Photo courtesy Steve Rhodes, flickr

Photo courtesy Steve Rhodes, flickr

The craziest story of the moment is the Governor’s insistence on passing even more draconian legislation on the topic of climate change in the form of extending what is known as cap and trade (or, in this iteration, cap and tax) (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — Surprise! — July 11, 2017).

Gov. Brown believes that “climate change is real” and that California has to be the guinea pig in the world stage on addressing it. Therefore, Californians have to make certain financial sacrifices now to protect those who follow us 100 years from now. And that is only if his postulation that “climate change is real.”

With “quiet dignity and grace” (a line from “Young Frankenstein”), the Governor claimed that on Monday the Legislature would be making “the most important vote of our lifetimes.”

Is the vote to disallow collective bargaining a la Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker?

Is the vote to abolish the California Rule, and modify pension formulas going forward?

Is the vote for establishing a hybrid pension plan that includes a defined contribution component?

Is it a plan to make state government more efficient, since California has the highest tax rates and still can’t deliver decent services and roads to its residents?

Is the vote to address the highest poverty rate of any state in the nation?

No.

It’s about one man’s personal crusade to supposedly “save the planet,” when the science may not support his claims.

His comments culminated with the hysterical claim no one else in the country seems to believe enough to enact mitigating policy: “Climate change is a threat to organized human existence.” Pop some corn and enjoy his harangue.

No doubt, everyone is concerned about our planet.  But, at a cost of some 90 cents per gallon of gas? Most people don’t think so.

tate Senator representing the 37th Senate District

This piece was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

How Trump’s Paris Climate Agreement Decision Will Affect California Businesses

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image12155315The issue of how business will fare, respond to or be affected by President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement received much attention after Trump’s announcement yesterday. Responses to the move in California often highlighted the business issue in both supporting and opposing the president’s move.

Trump argued that his decision would help preserve jobs and businesses in the United States. But many business leaders, especially in California, opposed Trump’s move. The Wall Street Journal reported that many companies will not change strategies that are designed to reduce greenhouse gases because of the announcement. According to the Journal, these companies are responding to shareholder or customer demands to reduce greenhouse gases; are on the path to converting to renewable energies; or businesses in states like California are responding to state mandates to reduce their carbon footprint.

While some energy companies, particularly coal companies, applauded the president, other company leaders expressed disappointment. Business always likes certainty and many business leaders complained that they want to follow a consistent set of rules to face the challenge of climate change. One such company urging a consistent message was ExxonMobil, the country’s largest oil producer. General Electric’s chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt said, “Climate change is real. Industry must now lead and not depend on government.”

In California, both foes and advocates of the president’s decision used the business issue in commenting on Trump’s move.

Two prominent California based business leaders, Tesla and Space X head Elon Musk and Disney’s Robert Iger announced they were resigning from the president’s business advisory council because of Trump’s decision on the Paris accord.

Gov. Jerry Brown said California’s growing economy and new jobs were created under the state’s strong climate change mandates. “California, the sixth-largest economy in the world, has advanced its nation-leading climate goals while also growing the economy. In the last seven years, California has created 2.3 million new jobs – outpacing most of the United States – cut its unemployment rate in half, eliminated a $27 billion budget deficit and has seen its credit rating rise to the highest level in more than a decade.”

NextGen Climate president Tom Steyer went from the farcical calling Trump a “traitor” to urging “courageous action from American business leaders, who know clean energy is simply the better way to clean the air, protect our health and create jobs.”

California Manufacturers & Technology president Dorothy Rothrock said, “California has a new reason to provide meaningful leadership by adopting a market-based approach to reduce emissions that will protect manufacturing jobs and keep costs affordable for consumers.”

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) said Trump made the right choice by relieving a burden on the United States and freeing private enterprise to create more jobs. “The American energy renaissance has been good for our country and the world. It created American jobs, freed the United States and our allies from OPEC price controls, and helped to reduce emissions at the same time…President Trump made the right call in leaving a deal that would have put an unnecessary burden on the United States.”

Jim Wunderman, CEO of the Bay Area Council business association, said California’s businesses will continue to pursue a clean-energy future. “Addressing climate change is not just an environmental or moral imperative, it is an economic imperative.”

ditor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee

This piece was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

The Green Guillotine

Hermosa BeachIf you’ve ever wondered what happens when Berkeley-grade environmentalists finally seize control of all the levers of government power, let me introduce you to my town of Hermosa Beach, California.

The first thing they do is come for your carbon.

They want you to stop burning it. Immediately.

Environmental purists believe that burning carbon in any of its various forms ultimately causes the seas to rise and the polar caps to melt. They believe carbon emissions cause the rainlessness that is turning central California into fallow hardscape.

Hermosa’s newly elected political leadership decided to take a stand against carbon and recently unveiled a blueprint to reach the city’s goal of being “carbon neutral” by 2030. In green-speak, “carbon neutrality” means achieving zero net carbon emissions by eliminating greenhouse gasses (i.e., carbon dioxide) and purchasing “offsets” (i.e., trees) for whatever they can’t. Their roadmap to achieve this goal is called PLAN Hermosa.

Predictably, the first step towards “carbon neutrality” calls for getting rid of the city’s cars. According to PLAN Hermosa, transportation accounts for 54 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the city, so it is important to “disincentivize conventionally fueled automobile use.”

Hermosa Beach politicians aren’t bold enough (at least not yet) to issue a diktat banning gasoline burning automobiles from the city’s streets, so they do the next best thing – they make it hard for their residents to use them. PLAN Hermosa calls for the elimination of parking spaces and charging more for the ones that remain. In the densely populated beach city where parking is already at a premium and 95 percent of the working population drives to their place of business, this will be a significant imposition. But bicycling is good for you, and the ice floes and polar bears aren’t going to save themselves.

PLAN Hermosa also says that natural gas has to go because it’s the next biggest source of greenhouse emissions after cars. A draft of PLAN Hermosa “mandated” all homes in the city that currently use it (almost all of them) for heating and cooking convert to “biogas technologies and electrification of heating and cooking appliances.” Commercial buildings that use it (almost all of them) would be forced to retrofit with renewable energy sources at the time of sale or before any major renovations.

Given that “electrification” means homes and businesses will be forced to draw power from plants that generate most of it from fossil fuels, this is an obscenely expensive, self-congratulatory gesture.

The drafts of PLAN Hermosa are peppered with the word “mandate,” which means there’s no choice. City forces will presumably identify homes in Hermosa Beach (again, almost all of them) that use gas stoves and force homeowners to replace them with electric ones. It would be one thing if the city paid for the conversion, but given the state of the city’s finances homeowners will likely bear the cost. For the Hermosa’s businesses, consumers will pay for achieving carbon neutrality through higher prices. Either that or they’ll shop elsewhere.

Notably absent from PLAN Hermosa is a discussion of how the city will enforce these green “mandates.”

What will the city do to homeowners who refuse to convert? Typically, violating the municipal code is a misdemeanor offense punishable by fines and jail time. Will the city fine homeowners who keep the outlawed ovens, or will it throw recalcitrant “climate deniers” who refuse to do their part to combat global warming in jail? (This might seem like oppressive government overreach to most, but don’t forget President Obama’s DOJ contemplated legal action against “climate deniers.”) Either way, the city will have to do something, because a mandate without enforcement is merely a suggestion.

Hermosa Beach’s green political activists also know eliminating residents’ demand for carbon is only half the battle; they must also cut-off the supply. Like the DEA dusting Colombia’s coca fields with herbicides to stem the production of cocaine, Hermosa Beach’s politicians will choke-off the supply of climate-killing carbon through “Community Choice Aggregation.” This is a state-approved plan that allows cities to create a municipal utility to purchase and sell energy from green sources. In other words, when Hermosa residents fire-up their new electric stoves the power will come from solar panels and wind turbines. Some estimate the set-up cost could be as much as $1,000,000. Residents and businesses will automatically become customers of the new utility unless they choose to “opt out.”

The idealistic French revolutionaries who seized control of their country brought liberté, égalité, fraternité to the French people – and eventually, the guillotine. When the green Jacobins took control of Hermosa Beach they brought a regime of taxpayer funding, symbolism, and government coercion to residents. The last two, symbolism and government coercion, are to environmentalism what fuel and oxygen are to fire. Cost – especially when it’s other people’s money – isn’t a consideration. Green idealism currently rules Hermosa Beach, and where idealism rules the guillotine isn’t far behind. But in Hermosa Beach, at least it will be solar powered.

Patrick “Kit” Bobko is a former two-term City Councilman and Mayor of Hermosa Beach, California. Kit was also a Republican candidate for Congress in 2011. Kit is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and a proud Air Force veteran. He currently practices law in Los Angeles.

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

Jerry Brown: California to Bypass Trump on Climate Change

Photo courtesy Steve Rhodes, flickr

Photo courtesy Steve Rhodes, flickr

California Gov. Jerry Brown has suggested that the state of California could bypass the administration of President Donald J. Trump and work directly with foreign governments in advancing the cause of climate change, the New York Times reports.

Last May, Gov. Brown signed a climate change deal between 12 regional and provincial governments in seven countries, committing to reduce the “greenhouse gases” that trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere and are thought to drive global warming. The aim was to show that California was committed to tackling the issue, even if Congress and the courts were not prepared to rubber-stamp President Barack Obama’s aggressive climate change agenda. He also played a prominent role at the Paris climate change talks last December (prompting speculation as to whether he was still clinging to presidential ambitions).

Brown had also been outspoken throughout the presidential campaign against the climate change positions of several Republican candidates. Last September, for instance, he sent Dr. Ben Carson a flash drive containing the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Earlier this month, Brown attacked President-elect Trump’s views on climate change and also attacked Breitbart News for describing methane regulations (accurately, if crudely) as rules on “cow farts.”

In an interview with the Times, Brown said: “California can make a significant contribution to advancing the cause of dealing with climate change, irrespective of what goes on in Washington. … I wouldn’t underestimate California’s resolve if everything moves in this extreme climate denial direction. Yes, we will take action.” The Times speculates that foreign governments might devote more effort to lobbying Sacramento than lobbying Washington under the Trump administration.

The Times adds that California Democrats are committed to their climate change agenda, even if the state loses in economic competition with other states as the Trump administration rolls back existing regulations.

Brown will serve two more years as governor.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Controversial Climate Change Legislation Signed by Gov. Jerry Brown

Photo courtesy Steve Rhodes, flickr

Photo courtesy Steve Rhodes, flickr

Over staunch opposition on his right, Gov. Jerry Brown signed several new climate bills into law, aiming to keep California on the regulatory trajectory first set during former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration.

That suite of laws, “in which polluters pay to offset emissions under a declining cap, is on tenuous footing amid litigation and uncertainty in the Legislature,” the Sacramento Bee noted. The idea of a new set of rules, “negotiated by Brown and legislative leaders last month, was significant to many moderate Democrats who viewed spending in their districts as critical to buttress a state climate program that has faced heavy resistance from industry,” the paper added.

Complex divisions

Some Democrats with that stance have worried that national and statewide populist sentiment could pose an especially sharp threat to their political fortunes this election year. Complicating the ideological picture still further, “many lawmakers representing low-income communities of color made themselves a force in the state’s climate change debate after complaints that existing policies weren’t doing enough to benefit the districts they represent,” as the Los Angeles Times noted.

But Democrats further to the left did not want to back down, or be seen as backing down, to industry interests. At the same time, however, their own interests have not shifted measurably closer to Gov. Brown’s, which have wound up at loggerheads with party members to his left over allocations to projects such as the state’s bullet train. With talks moving slowly, “Brown negotiated the spending plan with top Democratic legislative leaders Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon of Paramount and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles,” according to KPBS. “It was approved on the last day of the legislative session, Aug. 31.”

Big ticket

Environmental activists and policymakers embracing their cause had to scramble to craft the fresh scheme in a way that seemed to ensure it could survive a spirited fight during the legislative process. “The new plan, outlined in SB32, involves increasing renewable energy use, putting more electric cars on the road, improving energy efficiency, and curbing emissions from key industries,” NPR reported. “Brown signed another bill, AB197, that gives lawmakers more oversight of regulators and provides aid to low-income or minority communities located near polluting facilities such as oil refineries and factories.” All told, the package amounted to some $900 million in outlays sourced from the state’s cap-and-trade revenues. “The money represents two-thirds of the available funding from California’s carbon-emission fee,” noted KPBS.

On hand for Brown’s signing ceremony in Fresno, Republican Mayor Ashley Swearengin touted the prospect of statewide infrastructure construction associated with Brown’s environmental agenda, which would include the long-simmering high-speed rail effort. With success, “Swearengin added, the Valley will see a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the next 20 years,” the Business Journal noted.

Lingering resistance

But business, energy and conservative groups, which had struggled to turn the tide against the bills, quickly vented their frustration. “Taken together, SB32 and AB197 impose severe caps on the emission of greenhouse gases in California, without requiring the regulatory agencies to give any consideration to the impacts on our economy, disruptions in everyone’s daily lives or the fact that California’s population will grow almost 50 percent between 1990 and 2030,” said Allan Zaremberg, California Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, in a statement.

Under Zaremberg’s leadership, the organization has spearheaded litigation targeting the current cap-and-trade regime. “A state appellate court is considering a challenge by the California Chamber of Commerce, which argues the fee is a tax that needed support from two-thirds of the Assembly and Senate in order to be valid,” KPBS recalled. “Republicans have in the past said it’s irresponsible to spend money generated from a fee being challenged in court.”

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Gov. Jerry Brown Signs New Climate Change Laws

As reported by NPR:

California is already on track to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Now under legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, the state will ratchet up its fight against climate change by launching an ambitious campaign to scale back emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

“This is big, and I hope it sends a message across the country,” Brown said.

California reduced emissions by imposing limits on the carbon content of gasoline and diesel fuel, promoting zero-emission electric vehicles, and introducing a cap-and-trade system for polluters.

The new plan, outlined in SB32, involves increasing renewable energy use, putting more electric cars on the road, improving energy efficiency, and curbing emissions from key industries. …

Click here to read the full article

How Do Voters Really Feel About Climate Change Legislation?

VotedWhen the greenhouse gases extension bill seemed to be stalled in the legislature, Gov. Jerry Brown’s Executive Secretary, Nancy McFadden, said that the administration would get its way on the climate change: Either the bill would pass the legislature or the governor would take his agenda to the ballot. He filed papers for a ballot measure committee as a first step.

Now the bill has jumped a difficult hurdle by passing the Assembly. However, new polling by the California Business Roundtable indicates that the voters might not be so supportive of new regulations if they heard a complete explanation of the law’s effects.

Maybe the climate change debate should go to voters.

The greenhouse gases extension bill, SB 32, which would require greenhouse gas levels to be reduced 40% of 1990 levels by 2030, made it out of the Assembly to face fairly clear sailing in the Senate. Expect it to land on the governor’s desk.

There could be a complication because SB 32 is joined to AB 197, which would give more power to the legislature to oversee the California Air Resources Board. An argument is made that AB 197 could undermine the cap-and-trade law, something the governor wants, especially to help fund his financially struggling bullet train.

The Assembly vote came on a day when the latest cap-and-trade auction results were announced and they continue to show poor results. Hanging over the head of the cap-and-trade law is a question of legitimacy. A lawsuit filed by the California Chamber of Commerce and other business interests presently sits with appellate court judges to determine if the cap-and-trade revenue is a tax. If so, the law requires a two-thirds vote, a standard that was not achieved in the legislature.

Business is particularly concerned with the costs to the economy and to workers if the climate change legislation passes. Tom Scott, president of the small business organization, National Federation of Independent Business/California, said after SB 32 passed the Assembly, “SB 32 will make California even more hostile to small businesses, increasing costs and making them less competitive, discouraging growth and expansion across the state.”

The California Business Roundtable poll showed strong support for the first greenhouse gases (GHG) law. By 66% to 18% the 1200 voters surveyed agreed with the goal of reducing GHG by 2020. The extension to 2030 also received strong support, 63% to 21%.

But when asked if voters knew that state regulations to combat global warming would increase the price of gasoline, electricity and groceries, support collapsed to 47%; opposition rose to 46%.

Opposition skied when the question of lost manufacturing jobs was tested. The potential loss of thousands of middle class jobs garnered only 24% support for the climate change regulations, 66% opposed.

Such arguments would be part of a campaign if the issue comes before voters.

The Business Roundtable poll asked who should enact tougher environmental regulations, the legislators or un-elected state bureaucrats. The legislators prevailed 42% to 28%. But the question seems incomplete. Given the poll results, it probably should have included the voters.

This piece was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily