Let’s Avoid a “High Speed Rail” Situation in Space

Photo courtesy Steve Rhodes, flickr

Photo courtesy Steve Rhodes, flickr

Putting aside questions of effectiveness and even validity of the satellite project proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown at his Global Climate Action Summit, we should be concerned that the satellite could emulate the high-speed rail in that the costs will not be covered as promised and that taxpayers will end up holding the bag.

The release from the governor’s office said initial funding “has been provided by Dee and Richard Lawrence and OIF, as well as The Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust.” The release adds that, “Additional scientific, business and philanthropic partners are expected to join this initiative…”

Then there’s this: “Planet (Labs) will manage the mission operations and collaborate with the State of California and others on funding this groundbreaking effort.”

Clearly, the state–that is the taxpayers–are expected to chip in for the satellite project. More is expected from outside sources such as business and others. But let’s not forget the promise of the high-speed rail: That it would be funded by the state, federal and private interests. Yet, no private money has come forward.

Whether the state should even sponsor such an endeavor is not the issue here. The point to be considered is that given the situation with the rail, it would be best to have that money in the bank before setting off on this project; before the taxpayers are involved to a greater extent than desired.

Will California embark on the satellite project on the hope that money will come from private concerns? As with the high-speed rail, will we see a General Obligation bond to help support it?

Remember, the idea is not for one satellite but multiple satellites. No price tag was associated with the project so we can’t compare its costs to that of the rail project. But, who really knows the high-speed rail cost. It’s forever changing. Is that the future of the California satellite venture?

If, in fact, taxpayer money is involved it should also come from taxpayers beyond California’s borders. The satellite monitoring will be world-wide and at a minimum the United States Climate Alliance made up of 17 states that are involved in the alliance should contribute because they would benefit from any information the satellites collect.

On another level, you do have to hand it to a clever Jerry Brown for turning around the “Governor Moonbeam” moniker once given to him by Chicago Tribune columnist, Mike Royko, when Brown proposed California launch a satellite for a different purpose 40-plus years ago.

While Royko declared the moniker “null, void and deceased” 15 years after appending it to Brown, the governor has come to embrace the nickname. With his latest satellite pronouncement, he turned a mocking handle into a mark of enlightenment. And to do so at the end of his term completes the circle of his time as California’s governor.

But part of Royko’s complaint was the issue of cost and that nagging question of cost still exists. It is currently spoiling Brown’s signature issue, the high-speed rail. If the satellite proposal follows a similar path, it would undercut the now prized Gov. Moonbeam appellation.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Governor Moonbeam: California to launch its ‘own damn satellite’

SACRAMENTO, CA - OCTOBER 27: California Governor Jerry Brown announces his public employee pension reform plan October 27, 2011 at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California. Gov. Brown proposed 12 major reforms for state and local pension systems that he claims would end abuses and reduce taypayer costs by billions of dollars. (Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images)

He’s mostly shed the “Governor Moonbeam” nickname, but Gov. Jerry Brown pointed California toward the stars as he closed out a global climate change summit here Friday.

“We’re going to launch our own satellite — our own damn satellite to figure out where the pollution is and how we’re going to end it,” Brown told an international audience on the final day of the San Francisco gathering.

California will work with San Francisco-based Planet Labs to launch a satellite capable of tracking climate-altering emissions, Brown said. The effort will lean on the expertise of the state’s Air Resources Board, which has taken the forefront in pursuing climate-related innovations.

The governor’s choice of words in making the announcement deliberately echoed his late 2016 challenge to Donald Trump, amid rumors that the incoming administration would undercut NASA’s climate research role.

“If Trump turns off the satellites, California will launch its own damn satellite,” Brown said at the time, after musing on his celestial history: “I remember back in 1978 I proposed a Landsat satellite for California. They called me ‘Governor Moonbeam’ because of that,” he said. …

Click here to read the full article from Politico

California is following Germany’s Failed Climate Goals

Global WarmingGermany was the first major economy to make a big shift in its energy mix toward low carbon sources, but Germany is failing to meet its climate goals of reducing harmful carbon-dioxide emissions even after spending over $580 billion by 2025 to overhaul its energy systems. Germany’s emissions miss should be a “wake-up” call for governments everywhere.

Germany stepped us as a leader on climate change, by phasing out nuclear, and pioneered a system of subsidies for wind and solar that sparked a global boom in manufacturing those technologies.  

Like Germany, California’s renewables are becoming an increasing share in electricity generation, but at a HIGH COST. The emission reduction goals have increased the costs of electricity and transportation fuels and increased the already high cost of living in California and may be very contributory to California having the highest percentage of homelessness and poverty in the nation.

California households are paying about 40 percent more than the national average for electricity according to 2016 data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Californians continue to pay almost $1.00 more per gallon of fuel than the rest of the country due to a) the state sales tax per gallon which are some of the highest in the country; b) refinery reformatting costs per gallon; c) cap and trade program compliance costs per gallon; d) low-carbon fuel standard program compliance costs per gallon; and e) renewable fuels standard program compliance costs per gallon.

California is an “energy island” to its almost 40 million citizens, bordered between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The state’s daily need to support its 145 airports (inclusive of 33 military, 10 major, and more than 100 general aviation) is 13 million gallons a day of aviation fuels. In addition, for the 35 million registered vehicles of which 90 percent are NOT EV’s are consuming DAILY: 10 million gallons a day of diesel and 42 million gallons a day of gasoline.  All that “expensive” fuel is a heavy cost to consumers.

Despite higher energy bills, public opinion has remained supportive of the energy transition and the strategy to cut emissions. That support is apt to shift when politicians resolve the debate about how their targets match reality. Either they will have to abandon the goals and live with more pollution than they’ve promised, or they will have to force through painful and expensive measures that further limit emissions.

Germany, like California, is also trying to phase out nuclear reactors. California has already shutdown the 24/7 nuclear generating facility of SCE’s San Onofre (SONGS) which generated 2,200 megawatts of power that closed in 2013, and will be closing PG&E’s Diablo Canyon’s 2,160 megawatts of power in 2024.

Shutting down nuclear plants is leaving California, like Germany, short of 24/7 generation plants that can work on the breezeless and dark days when wind farms and solar plants won’t provide much to the grid—and demand is at its peak. Yet to be determined is the impact on rate payers? Will there be more reliance in California placed on fossil fuels for 24/7 power?

Germany’s economy, like California’s, is dominated by services that require less energy and produce less carbon than places tilted toward industry and manufacturing. Thus, less emissions to micromanage cost effectively reduce. California is a miniscule contributor to the world’s greenhouse gases. Statistically, the World is generating about 46,000 million metric tons of GHG’s, while California has been generating about 429 million metric tons, which is less than one percent of the world’s contributions. Germany’s contributions are about 905 million metric tons, which is about two percent of the world’s contributions.

Germany’s failed climate goals is an ominous wake-up call for California and governments everywhere struggling to reach their own targets. The result is a puzzle for politicians. Enacted legislation to make sure climate targets are hit, including stringent rules governing energy use, and new building codes to make buildings carbon neutral, and utility bill charges that subsidize investment in green energy, are all resulting in higher energy costs to consumers.

ounder of PTS Staffing Solutions, a technical staffing agency headquartered in Irvine.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

California’s Climate Extremism is Costing the Poor and Middle Class Dearly

Global WarmingEnvironmental extremism increasingly dominates California. The state is making a concerted attack on energy companies in the courts; a bill is pending in the Legislature to fine waiters $1,000 — or jail them — if they offer people plastic straws; and UCLA issued a report describing pets as a climate threat. The state has taken upon itself the mission of limiting the flatulence of cows and other farm animals. As the self-described capital of the anti-Trump resistance, California presents itself as the herald of a green, more socially and racially just society. That view has been utterly devastated by a new report from Chapman University, in which coauthors David Friedman and Jennifer Hernandez demonstrate that California’s draconian anti-climate-change regime has exacerbated economic, geographic and racial inequality. And to make things worse, California’s efforts to save the planet have actually done little more than divert greenhouse-gas emissions (GHG) to other states and countries.

Jerry Brown’s return to Sacramento in 2011 brought back to power one of the first American politicians to embrace the “limits of growth.” Brown has long worried about resource depletion (including such debunked notions as “peak oil”), taken a Malthusian approach to population growth, and opposed middle-class suburban development. Like many climate-change activists, he has limitless confidence in the possibility for engineering a green socially just society through “the coercive power of the state,” but little faith that humans can find ways to address the challenge of  climate change. If Brown’s “era of limits” message in the 1970s failed to catch on with the state’s voters, who promptly elected two Republican governors in his wake, he has found in climate change a more effective rallying cry, albeit one that often teeters at the edge of hysteria. Few politicians can outdo Brown for alarmism; recently, he predicted that climate change will cause 3 to 4 billion deaths, leading eventually to human extinction. To save the planet, he openly endorses a campaign to brainwash the masses.

The result: relentless ratcheting-up of climate-change policies. In 2016, the state committed to reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. In response, the California Air Resource Board (CARB), tasked with making the rules required to achieve the state’s legislated goals, took the opportunity to set policies for an (unlegislated) target of an 80 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2050.

Brown and his supporters often tout their policies as in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement, note Friedman and Hernandez, but California’s reductions under the agreement require it to make cutbacks double those pledged by Germany and other stalwart climate-committed countries, many of which have actually increased their emissions in recent years, despite their Paris pledges.

Governor Brown has preened in Paris, at the Vatican, in China, in newspapers, and on national television. But few have considered how his policies have worked out in practice. California is unlikely to achieve even its modest 2020 goals; nor is it cutting emissions faster than other states lacking such dramatic legislative mandates. Since 2007, when the Golden State’s “landmark” global-warming legislation was passed, California has accounted for barely 5 percent of the nation’s GHG reductions. The combined total reductions achieved over the past decade by Ohio, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Indiana are about 5 times greater than California’s. Even Texas, that bogeyman of fossil-fuel excess, has been reducing its per-capita emissions more rapidly.

In fact, virtually nothing that California does will have an impact on global climate. California per-capita emissions have always been relatively low, due to the mild climate along the coast, which reduces the need for much energy consumption on heating and cooling. In 2010, the state accounted for less than 1 percent of global GHG emissions; the disproportionately large reductions sought by state activists and bureaucrats would have no discernible effect on global emissions under the Paris Agreement. “If California ceased to exist in 2030,” Friedman and Hernandez note, “global GHG emissions would be still be 99.54 percent of the Paris Agreement total.”

Many of California’s “green” policies may make matters worse. California, for example, does not encourage biomass energy use, though the state’s vast forested areas —some 33 million acres — could provide renewable energy and reduce the excessive emissions from wildfires caused by years of forest mismanagement. Similarly, California greens have been adamant in shutting down nuclear power plants, which continue to reduce emissions in France, and they refuse to count hydro-electricity as renewable energy. As a result, California now imports roughly one-third of its electricity from other states, the highest percentage of any state, up from 25 percent in 2010. This is part of what Hernandez and Friedman show to be California’s increasing propensity to export energy production and GHG emissions, while maintaining the fiction that the state has reduced its total carbon output.

Overall, California tends to send its “dirty work” — whether for making goods or in the form of fossil fuels — elsewhere. Unwanted middle- and working-class people, driven out by the high cost of California’s green policies, leave, taking their carbon footprints to other places, many of which have much higher per-capita emission rates. Net migration to other, less temperate states and countries has been large enough to offset the annual emissions cuts within the state. Similarly, the state’s regulatory policies make it difficult for industrial firms to expand or even to remain in California. Green-signaling firms like Apple produce most of their tangible products abroad, mainly in high-GHG emitting China, while other companies, like Facebook and Google, tend to place energy-intensive data centers in other, higher GHG emission states. The study estimates that GHG emissions just from California’s international imports in 2015, and not even counting imports from the rest of the U.S., amounted to about 35 percent of the state’s total emissions.

California’s green regulators predict that the implementation of ever-stricter rules related to climate will have a “small” impact on the economy. They point to strong economic and job growth in recent years as evidence that strict regulations are no barrier to prosperity. Though the state’s economic growth is slowing, and now approaches the national average, a superficial look at aggregate performance makes a seemingly plausible case for even the most draconian legislation. California, as the headquarters for three of the nation’s five largest companies by market capitalization — Alphabet, Apple and Facebook — has enjoyed healthy GDP growth since 2010. But in past recoveries, the state’s job and income growth was widely distributed by region and economic class; since 2007, growth has been uniquely concentrated in one region — the San Francisco Bay Area, where employment has grown by nearly 17 percent, almost three times that of the rest of the state, with  growth rates tumbling compared with past decades.

Some of these inequities are tied directly to policies associated with climate change. High electricity prices, and the war on carbon emissions generally, have undermined the state’s blue-collar sectors, traditionally concentrated in Los Angeles and the interior counties. These sectors have all lost jobs since 2007. Manufacturing employment, highly sensitive to energy-related and other regulations, has declined by 160,000 jobs since 2007. California has benefited far less from the national industrial resurgence, particularly this past year. Manufacturing jobs—along with those in construction and logistics, also hurt by high energy prices—have long been key to upward mobility for non-college-educated Californians.

As climate-change policies have become more stringent, California has witnessed an unprecedented level of bifurcation between a growing cadre of high-income earners and a vast, rapidly expanding poor population. Meantime, the state’s percentage of middle-income earners— people making between $75,000 and $125,000—has fallen well below the national average. This decline of the middle class even occurs in the Bay Area, notes a recent report from the California Budget and Policy Center, where in 1989 the middle class accounted for 56 percent of all households in Silicon Valley, but by 2013, only 45.7 percent. Lower-income residents accounted for 30.3 percent of Silicon Valley’s households in 1989, and that number grew to 34.8 percent in 2013.

Perhaps the most egregious impact on middle and working-class residents can be seen in housing, where environmental regulations, often tied directly to climate policies, have discouraged construction, particularly in the suburbs and exurbs. The state’s determination to undo the primarily suburban, single-family development model in order to “save the planet” has succeeded both in raising prices well beyond national norms and creating a shortfall of some 3 million homes.

As shown in a recent UC Berkeley study, even if fully realized, the state’s proposals to force denser housing would only reach about 1 percent of its 2030 emissions goals. Brown and his acolytes ignore the often-unpredictable consequences of their actions, insisting that density will reduce carbon emissions while improving affordability and boosting transit use. Yet, as Los Angeles has densified under its last two mayors, transit ridership has continued to drop, in part, notes a another UC Berkeley report, because incentives for real-estate speculation have driven the area’s predominantly poor transit riders further from trains and buses, forcing many to purchase cars.

Undaunted, California plans to impose even stricter regulations, including the mandatory installation of solar panels on new houses, which could raise pricesby roughly $20,000 per home. This is only the latest in a series of actions that undermines the aspirations of people who still seek “the California dream;” since 2007, California homeownership rates have dropped far more than the national average. By 2016, the overall homeownership rate in the state was just under 54 percent, compared with 64 percent in the rest of the country.

The groups most affected by these policies, ironically, are those on whom the ruling progressives rely for electoral majorities. Millennials have seen a more rapid decline in homeownership rates compared with their cohort elsewhere. But the biggest declines have been among historically disadvantaged minorities — Latinos and African-Americans. Latino homeownership rates in California are well below the national average. In 2016, only 31 percent of African-Americans in the Bay Area owned homes, well below the already low rate of 41 percent black homeownership in the rest of nation. Worse yet, the state takes no account of the impact of these policies on poorer Californians. Overall poverty rates in California declined in the decade before 2007, but the state’s poverty numbers have risen during the current boom. Today, 8 million Californians live in poverty, including 2 million children, by far the most of any state. The state’s largest city, Los Angeles, is also now by some measurements America’s poorest big city.

To allay concerns about housing affordability, the state has allocated about $300 million from its cap-and-trade funds for housing, a meager amount given that the cost of building affordable housing in urban areas can exceed $700,000 per unit. These benefits are dwarfed by those that wealthy Californians enjoy for the purchase of electric cars and home solar: Tesla car buyers with average incomes of $320,000 per year got more than $300 million in federal and state subsidies by early 2015 alone. By contrast, in early 2018, state electricity prices were 58 percent higher, and gasoline over 90 cents per gallon higher, than the national average, disproportionately hurting ethnic minorities, the working class, and the poor. Based on cost-of-living estimation tools from the Census Bureau, 28 percent of African-Americans in the state live in poverty, compared with 22 percent nationally. Fully one-third of Latinos, now the state’s largest ethnic group, live in poverty, compared with 21 percent outside the state.

In a normal political environment, such disparities would spark debate, not only among conservatives, but also traditional Democrats. Some, like failed independent candidate and longtime environmentalist Michael Shellenberger, have expressed the view that California’s policies have made it not “the most progressive state” but “the most racist one.” Recently, some 200 veteran civil rights leaders sued CARB, on the basis that state policies are skewed against the poor and minorities. So far, their voices have been largely ignored. The state’s prospective next governor, Gavin Newsom, seems eager to embrace and expand Brown’s policies, and few in the legislature seem likely to challenge them. The Republicans, for now, look incapable of mounting a challenge.

This leaves California on a perilous path toward greater class and racial divides, increasing poverty, and ever-more strenuous regulation. Other ways to reduce greenhouse gases — such as planting trees, more efficient transportation, and making suburbs more sustainable — should be on the table. The Hernandez-Friedman report could be a first step toward addressing these issues, but however it happens, a return to rationality is needed in the Golden State.

Californians Deserve Climate Policies That People Can Actually Afford

Ivanpah solar energyIn a recently published interview, Paul Hawken, an environmentalist, and Executive Director of Project Drawdown, a global coalition of researchers, scientists, and economists that models the impacts of global warming, made a spot-on observation about the pitfalls of seeking a simple, single solution to climate change.

Hawken observed that “people who are earnestly guiding us to climatic stability have not done the math.” Instead, he says “sincere, well-meaning people profess their beliefs.”

Nowhere is this truer than in California. In recent years, policymakers have increasingly aligned with advocacy groups pushing for one-track solutions to climate change, like 100 percent renewable electricity or all-electric buildings.

Two weeks ago, Assembly Bill 3232 – legislation that aims to electrify homes and businesses in the state – passed through the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee with little fanfare.

There is a certain seductive simplicity to many of the single solutions aimed at addressing climate change. But, the math just doesn’t work. Moreover, the single solution policies that advocacy groups like Sierra Club are churning into new laws don’t take into account important considerations like affordability and the preferences of Californians.

Take 100 percent renewable electricity, for example. A recent Black and Veatch analysis showed 100 percent renewable electricity could cost California $3 trillion and require 900 square miles of solar panels and another 900 square miles of depletable and unrenewable battery storage.

That’s an area almost four times the size of the City of Los Angeles dedicated to disposable batteries and solar panels. For the price tag, you could buy Apple and have $2 trillion left over, eliminate a sizeable chunk of the US federal debt, or pay for private college tuition for about 25 million high school seniors.

AB 3232 seeks to move California toward another one-track solution – all electric buildings. A report released earlier this month by the California Building Industry Association (CBIA) found that replacing natural gas in every home would cost California families up to $6 billion annually and require most buildings to undergo expensive retrofits. That’s an almost $900 increase in annual energy costs for every California family. As Hawken points out, people seeking a single solution to climate change simply haven’t done the math.

Importantly, they also haven’t considered the preferences of California’s families and businesses. A separate CBIA study recently found that only 10 percent of voters would consider purchasing an all-electric home and 80 percent oppose laws that would take away their natural gas appliances.

Does it make sense to charge Californians a lot more for something they don’t want in the first place? Moreover, would the increased burden on families and businesses address climate change?

Hawken argues that most people trying to address climate change simply don’t know what the solution is. “If you had asked every person at COP21 in Paris (us included) to name the top 10 solutions in any order, I don’t believe anyone would have gotten it even close. That is still true. After 50 years of global warming being in the public sphere, we didn’t know the top solutions to reversing it. And there’s a reason: We never measured and modeled the top solutions.”

In California, a lot of work has been done to measure and model emissions linked to climate change. According to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), about 40 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the state come from the transportation sector, with heavy duty trucks being the single greatest source. Consistent with Project Drawdown’s analysis, agriculture and waste are also significant contributors in California. More than 80 percent of methane emissions in the state come from farms, dairies and landfills. In contrast, natural gas end uses in residential buildings account for about 5 percent of emissions statewide, according to CARB.

Make no mistake about it, renewable electricity will play a crucial role in reducing emissions and reversing the effects of climate change. But, if California is serious about achieving the state’s ambitious climate goals we need all options on the table, including policies that reduce emissions from transportation and investments in technology that capture methane from farms and landfills for use as affordable and renewable energy.

Doing the math shows us that California needs a balanced strategy – one that achieves climate goals, but considers the impacts on families and businesses. Affordability and choice matter.

resident & Chief Operating Officer for Southern California Gas Co.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

SF judge orders first-ever hearing on climate change science

A federal judge in San Francisco has ordered parties in a landmark global warming lawsuit to hold what could be the first-ever U.S. court hearing on the science of climate change.

The proceeding, scheduled for March 21 by U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup, will feature lawyers for Exxon, BP, Chevron and other oil companies pitted against those for San Francisco and Oakland — California cities that have accused fossil fuel interests of covering up their role in contributing to global warming.

“This will be the closest that we have seen to a trial on climate science in the United States, to date,” said Michael Burger, a lawyer who heads the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University.

Experts on both sides say Alsup’s call for a climate change “tutorial” is unlike anything they’ve heard of before. …

Click here to read the full article from McClatchy

Climate Change: Local Governments Tell Different Stories in the Courtroom and on Wall Street

Global WarmingBy 2050, because of climate change, Oakland officials insist that the city faces dealing with “100-year” type floods every two years – or maybe it won’t have those floods. Apparently, that forecast all depends on who city officials are talking to – whether you are an energy company being sued by the city of Oakland demanding money because of the dangers climate change supposedly bring or you are an investor interested in buying an Oakland municipal bond. In the latter case, Oakland officials attest that the city is unable to predict the impact of climate change or flooding.

This contradiction should be a concern to taxpayers and is worthy of the panel discussion scheduled at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy on Tuesday, February 27.

The panel, which includes the Reason Foundation’s Marc Joffe and Chapman University Law Professor Anthony T. Caso, will focus on the lawsuits potential impact on municipal bonds and the ultimate effect on taxpayers. “The Unexpected Consequences of Climate Change on Government Finance” is scheduled to begin at noon at the Drescher Graduate Campus in Malibu.

Within the past year, eight California jurisdictions have filed public nuisance climate lawsuits against a slew of oil and gas companies demanding millions of dollars to offset the certain dangers facing the jurisdictions because of climate change. At the same time, these local governments have reached out to investors to back local bonds, declaring in the bond prospectus that they cannot predict risks related to climate change.

As law professor Caso suggested in an Orange County Register op-ed last month, “One could hardly be criticized for concluding that the cities and counties involved in these lawsuits have either lied to the courts or to their bond investors. If they have lied to either, there is big trouble ahead.”

The trouble for taxpayers comes if the Securities and Exchange Commission seeks million dollar penalties from the governments for making false statements to investors. When a local government must pay a penalty it falls on the backs of taxpayers. Such a consequence could also lead municipalities being required to offer more disclosure and result in higher borrowing costs for future bonds.

ExxonMobil has filed a counter action pointing out the discrepancies in the California jurisdictions’ actions—some would say hypocrisy—when discussing the effects of climate change—a different approach in the courtroom versus Wall Street. ExxonMobil argues that the lawsuits are designed to force companies to align policies with those “favored by local politicians in California.”

The integrity of the local governments and ultimately taxpayers’ financial responsibility is hanging in the balance.

ditor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

San Francisco Politician Wants to Outlaw Gas-Powered Cars

Electric CarSacramento is threatening to outlaw a freedom Californians have enjoyed for more than a century through a bill introduced by Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting, of San Francisco. If it’s passed and signed, new gasoline-powered cars will become the state’s new undocumented immigrants. Government will refuse to register them.

Should it become law, Assembly Bill 1745 would, beginning Jan. 1, 2040, “prohibit the department from accepting an application for original registration of a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is a zero-emissions vehicle.” Commercial vehicles weighing 10,001 pounds or more when fully loaded are exempt as are vehicles brought in from other states.

While the San Francisco Democrat insists a transition to electric vehicles is necessary to sharply cut greenhouse gas emissions, the argument has more smoke than fire. Speculation that man is overheating his planet due to Industrial Age atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations is far from settled science.

The latest research shows how the science continues to unfold. An academic study released just last week reported that the doomsday, worst-case scenario, the most extreme projection that global warming alarmists commonly cite, isn’t credible. The climate’s reaction to CO2 simply isn’t as intense as they claim. Lead researcher Peter Cox of Exeter University said both the low and high sensitivities had been all but ruled out.

The virtues of “zero-emissions” vehicles are overhyped, as well. There are few bona fide zero-emission vehicles in California or elsewhere. Their batteries aren’t charged by the dynamos of political rhetoric. Unless 100 percent of the state’s electric power is generated by sources that emit no greenhouse gases nor pollutants by 2040 — Sacramento’s goal is 2045 — a sizable portion of zero-emissions vehicles will be charged by electricity generated at power plants whose smokestacks vent the byproducts of fossil fuel combustion. Electric cars don’t have tailpipes, yet most still have a carbon footprint.

Also conveniently missing from the electric vehicle discussion is the environmental damage unleashed by their assembly. Even before their tires hit asphalt, they are belching emissions. Building a Tesla Model S P100D, for example, produces more than 12,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This includes emissions discharged in the mining and transportation of rare earths needed to produce electric cars’ hulking batteries.

Meanwhile, production emissions from a gasoline-guzzling BMW 750i — 17 mpg city, 25 highway — are only 8,190 kilograms of CO2 equivalent. Building a gasoline-powered subcompact Mitsubishi Mirage emits a mere 4,752 kilograms of CO2 equivalent.

Though the BMW’s use emissions are about twice as high as the Tesla’s, the Mirage’s are less than the electric car. The Mirage is also cleaner over its entire lifecycle, which includes emissions produced when an automobile is scrapped. If the electric-vehicle campaign were more about actually cutting emissions and less about virtue signaling and raw politics, wouldn’t Sacramento be pushing us into subcompacts instead of EVs?

Not that that is an acceptable alternative. A nation of ostensibly free people should not be saddled with a 21st century Trabant, the 20th century “peoples car” of the captive East German population.

Given our rich car culture that delights in cubic-inch displacement, and the hum and roar of combustion, it’s reasonable to believe that most Californians would not be terribly interested in EVs if it weren’t for the interventions of political nags. As Pacific Research Institute fellow Wayne Winegarden says in his upcoming electric vehicle study, without the taxpayer-funded subsidies, “a robust EV market will not develop.”

Winegarden’s research proves his point.

“After Hong Kong eliminated its tax break for EVs in April 2017, registrations of new Tesla electric cars in Hong Kong fell from 2,939 to zero,” he says. “Similarly, after Georgia eliminated its $5,000 EV subsidy in 2015, EV sales fell 89 percent in two months.”

Even with as much as $42 billion in spent and promised federal subsidies, and billions more issued by the states, fewer than 352,000 EVs have been sold in the U.S., according to Winegarden. That’s less than one percent of the entire market.

Despite EVs’ thin popularity, policymakers have determined that those are the cars we have to buy. It’s a policy decision sure to create electric-car dissidents who will resent the day they lost their power to choose. The fact that the law is a wholly unnecessary stunt will only make it hurt more.

Kerry Jackson is a Fellow at the California Center for Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Gov. Brown’s Budget and Legacy Priorities

Governor Brown released his 2018-19 Budget last week and the OC Register was kind enough to publish my first impressions in their commentary section.  Here is a link:

The good and bad of Jerry Brown’s budget

I also sent out an immediate reaction:

Governor Brown admits that the “last 5 budgets have significantly increased spending” and this budget proposal is no different. Coming in at just under $300 billion dollars of total spending, debt and poverty remain at all-time highs. Even worse, our balance sheet is massively short and unfunded liabilities are in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Our underfunded pension systems will get minimum payments of $6.2 billion to CalPERS and $3.1 billion for CalSTRS. These costs are directly related to policies Jerry Brown embraced 40 years ago during his first time as governor. While he’s sensitive to a possible economic slowdown and should be lauded for increasing our rainy day funds, he has been a spendthrift in Sacramento. We have to acknowledge that the $9.3 billion in pension payments won’t go to pay for more teachers or cut college tuition or build roads right now. And yet, we’re hoisting these liabilities on future generations at a higher cost unless we do more to address them now. I was wondering how seriously Governor Brown would be in his last budget about addressing our liabilities. It looks like he’s kicking the can down the road to the next governor. Oh well.

The primary focus for Governor Brown has not been that California has the worst balance sheet of all 50 states. Just look at the city of Oakland’s balance sheet, and you’ll see that being deep in a fiscal hole is not one of Jerry’s worries.

Brown’s focus has been climate change and converting California to an electric car state, relying on solar and wind to provide the energy. It’s covered in a lengthy and thorough manner by CALmatters here:

California’s climate fight gets harder soon, and the big culprit is cars

The irony is that electricity needs to be carried by power lines. These power lines have caused many of the wildfires in California. And, wildfires create more greenhouse gases than our state’s cars, by a long shot. So, where is the effort to address the cause of the biggest greenhouse gas source? It’s nonexistent. See: MOORLACH UPDATE — Fire Safety Concerns.

Worse, being totally dependent on electricity for travel, communication, preserving food supplies, and dealing with occasional inclement weather, this state will shut down in a matter of days without it. This is also a scary proposition in a world where terrorism is the new norm. I’m just sayin’.

There’s the legacy. He’s funded the required Rainy Day Fund. He’s exposing residents to a different danger in the potential loss of power.  And he’s flown around the world to preach climate change. But, our balance sheet sucks and our wildfire zones went up in smoke this year and are now suffering from the damages that rain can cause.  Sometimes I just want to weep.

California pension funds likely to face new pressure to divest from fossil-fuel companies

Calpers headquarters is seen in Sacramento, California, October 21, 2009. REUTERS/Max Whittaker

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for his state’s biggest government pension fund to stop new investments in fossil-fuel companies and phase out existing investments is likely to lead to renewed calls for the Golden State’s two massive pension funds – the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System – to do the same.

The Common Fund – New York’s pension fund for state and local public sector employees – has $200 billion in holdings. Cuomo, a Democrat who is expected to run for president in 2020, said it was time to craft a “de-carbonization roadmap” for the fund, which “remains heavily invested in the energy economy of the past.”

New York City Comptroller Scott Stinger agreed with Cuomo and called for changes in the investment policies of the city’s five pension funds, with holdings of about $190 billion.

The announcements were hailed on social media as a reflection of the mission statement of the 2015 Paris Accord outlining international efforts to address global warming.

It’s possible Brown could use his State of the State speech later this month to reveal his call for CalPERS and CalSTRS climate-change divestment. The pension giants have already been forced to end investments in coal companies because of a 2015 law signed by the governor, selling off shares worth less than $250 million, a tiny fraction of their overall portfolios.

But selling off stakes in energy companies would be a much more impactful event. Giant firms like ExxonMobil are among the most common holdings of pension funds around the world.

Some unions worry divestment will hurt CalPERS finances

And while the California Democratic Party has been largely unified behind Brown’s and the state Legislature’s efforts dating back to 2006 to have California lead the fight against global warming, such unanimity is unlikely should Brown follow Cuomo’s lead because some public employee unions are worried about divestment damaging the finances of CalPERS and CalSTRS.

As of July, CalPERS had $323 billion in assets and said it was 68 percent funded – meaning it had about $150 billion in unfunded liabilities. As of March, CalSTRS had $202 billion in assets and said it was 64 percent funded, leaving unfunded liabilities of about $100 billion.

CalPERS’ steady increase in rates it charges local agencies to provide pensions and the heavy costs facing school districts because of the Legislature’s 2014 CalSTRS’ bailout have taken a heavy toll on government budgets.

Corona Police Lt. Jim Auck, treasurer of the Corona Police Officers Association, has testified to the CalPERS board on several occasions, imploring members to focus on making money with investments, not making political statements.

According to a July account in the Sacramento Bee, Auck said public safety is hurt when police departments must spend ever-more money on pensions.

“The CalPERS board has a fiduciary responsibility to the membership to deliver the best returns possible,” Auck testified. “Whatever is delivering the return they need, that’s where they need to put our money.”

The International Union of Operating Engineers, which represents 12,000 state maintenance workers, has taken the same position, according to the Bee.

In New York, Gov. Cuomo also is not assured of success. The sole trustee of the Common Fund is State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. While he agreed to work with Cuomo in establishing a committee to consider possible changes in its investment strategies, his statement pointedly emphasized that there were no present plans to change the fund’s approach to energy stocks.

While DiNapoli cited his support for reducing global warming and the Paris Accord, his statement concluded with a sentence emphasizing his priorities: “I will continue to manage the pension fund in the long-term best interests of our members, retirees and the state’s taxpayers.”