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.

CA’s War on Drivers Escalates

carpool-laneJust in case you had any doubt, it’s now clear that California’s war on drivers has escalated.

Three weeks ago, for example, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have allowed all motorists to use the carpool lane on two L.A. freeways during off-peak times. That may have seemed to you like an easy, no-cost way to relieve traffic congestion, but not to the governor. Brown shot it down, he said, because he believes carpool lanes are necessary “to reduce pollution and maximize the use of freeways.” Yeah, right; those miles-long lines of idling cars next to an open carpool lane at 8 p.m. sure help to reduce pollution.

But there are other examples of how our elected leaders lately have declared a surge in the longstanding war against motorists.

Santa Monica is considering moves aimed at curtailing cars there. And here’s the biggest example: The city of Los Angeles a couple of months ago decided to push ahead with a 20-year plan that – in this city known for traffic jams – calls for taking away what was described as “hundreds of miles” of lanes now dedicated to cars so that there’d be more room for buses, bicycles and pedestrians. City leaders are calling it Mobility Plan 2035 apparently without any awareness of the irony.

One bureaucrat actually pooh-poohed the suggestion that reducing car lanes increases congestion. She was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying: “Slower traffic can actually in some ways accommodate more cars moving through an area.”

If that’s the case, cars should be moving unfettered all over Los Angeles this very minute.

We’ve known there’s been a long-term war on drivers. Just look at how state and local governments have ignored street and bridge repairs. For years.

The group called TRIP reported in July that California had the worst road conditions in the country. San Francisco was the worst city in the country with Los Angeles a close second. Syria probably has fewer potholes. A different group said bridges statewide are similarly decrepit; you might recall that the 10 freeway bridge near the Arizona border collapsed this summer.

Add it all up, and well more than $100 billion worth of repairs and rebuilding are needed, yet the state budget included no new money for it. Having diverted tax money that should have gone to road and bridge repairs all along, the state is now talking about imposing new taxes, if you demanding taxpayers actually expect bridges not to collapse and roads not to break your axle every other week.

Yeah, this is a war all right. A nasty war of attrition on drivers. The goal, of course, is to make it so uncomfortable, so expensive for you to drive that it will force you to take mass transit.

Look, I think most of us agree that it’d be nice if we could ride a bicycle to work and take a train for an evening out. Maybe someday we’ll get there. But Los Angeles today is not like Paris or Tokyo or even New York, where long-established train systems and dense cities mean mass transit makes sense right now.

We barely have a train system in Los Angeles, and the build-out is painfully slow. The so-called subway to the sea isn’t scheduled to be completed until 2035. Gosh, that’s probably longer than it’ll take the drip-drip-drip of Hillary Clinton’s email controversy to end. Face it, a truly usable subway network won’t get built in spread-out Los Angeles for decades, maybe for well more than 50 years. If you’re reading this column, chances are you will not see it.

I don’t understand why California’s political class can’t adopt an all-of-the-above position. Continue methodically building out mass transit systems while accommodating automobiles and trucks with better and more roads. I’m convinced that people will gladly take the train or a bus or a bicycle when it makes sense for them. But because only 5.8 percent of metro L.A. commuters regularly used mass transit in 2013 (it was 5.9 percent in 1980), we have to conclude that cars remain the preferred choice for the vast majority of residents and probably will for years.

We motorists are tired of the punishment. Please, politicians, de-escalate. Stop the war.

All I am saying is give peace a chance.

Originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

ditor of the Los Angeles Business Journal

New Carbon Rules Press Aggressive Environmental Agenda

car exhaust1In the wake of a big legislative setback, Gov. Jerry Brown’s wish to use regulations to cut fuel emissions is swiftly coming true.

This month, Democratic lawmakers couldn’t muster enough votes to slash gasoline use by half within 15 years. Now, the state Air Resources Board has taken action widely seen as compensatory. “The action, coming two weeks after a stinging defeat for Gov. Jerry Brown’s planned 50 percent cut in petroleum use by 2030, signaled his administration’s determination to press forward with an aggressive environmental agenda through the regulatory process rather than by legislation,” noted the New York Times.

Resurgent regulations

In a unanimous, 9-0 vote, the board chose to reactivate California’s standards on low-carbon fuel, created years ago but recently held in legal limbo. The regime constituted “the first regulation of its kind in the U.S. when it was established in a 2007 executive order by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger,” as the Wall Street Journal reported. “It had been frozen since 2013, as the state made revisions to the law following a court challenge.”

“The California regulation further tightens the state’s emissions regulations, already the most stringent in the U.S. It requires fuel makers to reduce emissions by developing cleaner fuels or adopting greater use of biofuels. It also requires fuel producers to take into account all emissions for delivering gasoline, diesel or biofuels to California customers.”

Tweaks to the rules made in the wake of the court challenge included “streamlining the application process for alternative fuel producers seeking a carbon intensity score,” according to Ethanol Producer Magazine.

The interventions quickly drew howls from the oil and gas industry, which views the rules’ requirements as unattainable. Tiffany Roberts, director for fuels and climate policy at the Western States Petroleum Association, told the Sacramento Business Journal they weren’t feasible, suggesting that “even if oil businesses are able to incorporate those pollution-cutting methods, they still cannot meet the program’s aggressive standards.” Defenders of the plan, meanwhile, focused on its perceived benefits. “It will drive new technologies, not only in transportation fuel but in hybrid cars, electric cars and other means of transportation,” Pacific Ethanol spokesman Paul Koehler told the Business Journal.

Political heat

Industry interests haven’t fueled the only criticism of Brown’s regulatory approach, however. Earlier this month, the administration heard out the complaints of a gaggle of state lawmakers — including Democrats — frustrated by the activism and assertiveness of the Air Resources Board. Their debate with Brown “turns on questions of how the state can meet its environmental goals with the right balance between the executive branch, which prizes the ability to act independently, and state lawmakers, who want their own stamp on government programs,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

That disagreement came to a head amid the collapse of the Senate’s planned 50 percent cut in statewide petroleum use. “If the board made decisions adversely impacting constituents, many of whom have already been struggling economically, the consequences could be dire,” uneasy Democrats feared, as CalWatchdog previously noted. “What’s more, angry voters would have little way to respond but at the ballot box.”

While state Senate pro Tem Kevin de Leon portrayed the cut’s failure as the consequence of a massive industry campaign, Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Glendale, instead focused on the Air Resources Board’s “tremendous arrogance,” the Times reported, “noting that he’s never taken campaign money from the oil industry but remains skeptical about the measure.”

But the board’s recent successes at advancing its agenda suggested its influence was set to grow. Tipped by concerned scientists, it launched the investigation into the Volkswagen Group of America that revealed the auto company’s secret years-long use of “a defeat device to circumvent CARB and […] EPA emission test procedures,” as emissions compliance chief Annette Hebert revealed.

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

How Government Unions Are Destroying America

UnionNot one presidential candidate, apart from Gov. Walker’s last-ditch rhetoric prior to dropping out, has discussed the problems with unionized government as a major issue. That’s too bad, because these problems are bigger than even most critics acknowledge.

When people discuss the need to reform, if not eliminate, public sector unions, the only reason typically cited is that their demands are bankrupting our cities and states. And reformers also usually fail to communicate the fundamental differences between government unions and private sector unions, or emphasize the bipartisan urgency of public sector union reform. Government unions don’t merely drive our cities and counties into service insolvency if not bankruptcy, they are distorting policy decisions of fundamental importance to the future of America.

With a focus on California, and in no particular order, here is an attempt to summarize how this is occurring:

(1) The Economy

California has the highest taxes and fees in the U.S., and is consistently ranked as the worst state in America to do business. California also has the highest paid public employees in the United States, and with state and local debt and unfunded retirement obligations now hovering around $1 trillion – nearly half of the state’s entire GDP – virtually all new state and local taxes and fees are to pay for services that have already been performed. The uncontrollable political power of state and local government unions, combined with their insatiable appetite for more pay, more benefits, and more members, has – across all areas of policy – shifted political priorities from the public interest to the interests of public employees. The primary reason for excessive taxes and fees, as well as fewer services and less infrastructure investment, is because California’s unionized state and local government workers receive pay and benefits that are twice what the average private citizen earns.

(2) Cronyism and Financial Special Interests

When government unions control the government, big business either gets out of the way or gets on board. The idea that government unions protect the public interest against big corporate interests is absurd. Government union backed policies create deficits that bond issuers earn billions underwriting. Excessive pension benefits create additional hundreds of billions in pension fund assets invested on Wall Street. Excessive regulations are enforced by additional unionized government employees, to which only the biggest corporations can afford to comply. Government unions enable and enrich the largest corporate and financial interests at the expense of small independent businesses and emerging competitors.

(3) Environment

When it comes to cronyism, the “clean-tech” sector has risen to the top of the list. Government unions are partnering with “green” venture capitalists to carve up the proceeds of California’s carbon emission auction proceeds, a tax by any other name that will eventually extract tens of billions each year from California’s consumers to fund investments that wouldn’t make it in a normal market. From high-speed rail to side loading washers that tear up fabric, strain backs, and require expensive maintenance, “green” projects and products are being forced on Californians in order to enrich investors and corporations. But it doesn’t end there. A bad fire season isn’t because of normal drought recurrence, no, the cause is “man made climate-change,” so fire crews have a claim on CO2 emissions auction proceeds. A heat wave isn’t a heat wave, it’s global warming – and since crime is statistically known to increase during hot weather, police agencies also have a claim on CO2 emissions auction proceeds. Code inspectors and planners? Climate change mitigation via enforcing “additional” energy efficiency mandates and higher housing density. Transit workers whose conveyances replace cars? Ditto. Teachers who insert climate change indoctrination into curricula? Ditto.

An entire article, or book for that matter, could be written on the synergistic symbiosis between environmental extremists, big business/finance, and government unions. What about the artificial scarcity environmentalism creates by restricting development of land, energy, water, and other natural resources? When this happens, the wealthiest corporations and developers make higher profits while their smaller competitors go out of business. Utilities, whose margins are fixed, raise revenues which increases their absolute profits. Union controlled government pension funds, whose entire solvency depends on asset bubbles, ride investments in these artificially scarce commodities to new heights. Property tax revenues rise because home prices are artificially inflated.

(4) Infrastructure

California’s deferred maintenance on existing infrastructure – roads, bridges, rail, port facilities, utility grid, dams and aqueducts – has been assessed in the hundreds of billions. New infrastructure to solve, for example, water scarcity, would include toilet-to-tap sewage reuse, desalination, enhanced runoff capture, and – dare we say it – a few new dams. But none of these projects get off the ground, not only because environmentalists oppose them based on mostly misguided principles, but because artificial scarcity enriches established special interests, and because all the public funds that can possibly be found are instead perpetually needed to pay unionized government workers. More pay. More benefits. More government workers. Infrastructure? It’s environmentally harmful.

(5) Immigration

No matter where one stands on this sensitive and complex issue, they must recognize that government unions win when immigrants fail to prosper or assimilate. While American culture retains a vitality that is almost irresistible to newcomers and may overcome all attempts to undermine and fragment it, if government unions had their way, that’s exactly what would happen. Because the more difficulties new immigrants encounter, the more government workers are required. If immigrants fail to find jobs, if they become alienated and traumatized, if they turn to crime or even terrorism, then we need more welfare and social workers, we need more multilingual teachers and bureaucrats, we need more police, and we need more prisons. The unpleasant truth is this: If we import millions of destitute immigrants into America – people with marginal skills from cultures that are hostile to American values – it is a meal ticket worth billions of dollars for government unions, and for every crony business who services the programs they administer.

(6) Authoritarianism

By over-regulating all activity that so much as scratches the earth, whether it’s to develop land, water, energy, minerals; to farm, transport, build, manufacture; to enforce these rules, more government powers are required. Similarly, by upending the cultural fabric that’s nurtured a social contract in America so strong that volumes of law never had to be written, but were instead the stuff of mutually understood courtesies and customs, we invite strife. To manage this, more rules and referees are necessary, enforced by more government. As society loses its cohesion, and as ordinary honest citizens rebel against excessive taxes and regulations, government unions benefit from training their members to mistrust the fractious and rebellious public. After all, unionized government workers are now a special class. As society fragments, they become more cohesive. As the middle class dissolves, they retain their economic privileges. Perhaps more than any other factor, government unions impel the growth of a police state.

(7) Education

To consider education is to save the most important for last. Because everything that is wrong with where our culture is headed can either be magnified or mitigated by how we educate our young students, regardless of their income or gender or culture or faith. As it is, in California’s public schools, students are taught that open space is sacred, that energy development will destroy the planet, that capitalism is innately flawed if not irredeemable, and that the legacy of Western European culture is a primary cause for most problems in the world. Instead of teaching children to develop functional skills in reading and math, they are being indoctrinated to believe that any failure or disappointment they ever encounter is the result of discrimination. Given the demographics of California’s youth, the union fostered educational environment currently imposed on them is nothing short of a catastrophe.

The reader may not agree with all seven of these assessments, but regardless of the scope of anyone’s reform advocacy, they must confront government unions. Because reform in all of these areas is stopped by government unions. Do you want to unleash California’s economic potential? Do you want to reduce the power of the financial special interests and crony capitalists? Do you want to restore balance to environmental policies, and build revenue producing infrastructure that eliminates scarcity and lowers the cost of living for ordinary people? Do you want to stop importing welfare recipients and instead admit highly skilled and highly educated workers who will enliven our economy and our culture with spectacular success? Do you want to avoid living in a police state? Do you want California’s children to be taught lessons that build their character and give them useful skills?

Reformers must recognize that government unions have a natural interest in preventing any of these reforms from ever happening. Addressing any of these issues without also taking on the government unions is futile. Conscientious members of government unions can play a vital role in reforms, by the way, if they are willing to make their personal interests secondary to their duties as a public servant. If California can be rescued from the grip of government unions, eventually everyone will benefit. And as goes California, so goes the nation.

*   *   *

Ed Ring is the executive director of the California Policy Center.

Tom Steyer’s $1 Billion “Green-Jobs” Initiative is a Bust

prop. 39California’s initiative process has sometimes been a boon to taxpayers — think Proposition 13, which checked the uncontrolled growth of property taxes. On other occasions, however, it has yielded some mighty boondoggles. Chief among these are the “boutique initiatives” advanced by celebrities and Silicon Valley billionaires to make themselves feel good or to advance pet political causes — think Proposition 10, Hollywood director Rob Reiner’s early-childhood-development measure that created a host of busybody commissions funded by cigarette taxes.

Boutique initiatives usually come with boutique prices. Among the costliest is Proposition 39, a 2012 measure that hiked corporate taxes on out-of-state businesses to “create energy efficiency and clean energy jobs” and fund “green energy” projects. Prop. 39 was the brainchild of hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer, who happened to make a substantial chunk of his fortune from coal and other “dirty energy” investments. Steyer poured $29.6 million of his own money into the campaign. Opposition was negligible; even several large corporations that would face hefty tax increases, such as General Motors, backpedaled from their initial opposition. Sixty-one percent of California voters approved the measure.

Three years on, the results are in: Proposition 39 is a massive waste. An Associated Press investigation found that the state legislature spent half of Proposition 39’s tax revenues “to fund clean energy projects in schools, promising to generate more than 11,000 jobs each year. Instead, only 1,700 jobs have been created in three years.” Moreover, the initiative has fallen well short of the revenue the state Legislative Analyst’s Office projected it would generate. According to the AP, “Proponents told voters in 2012 that it would send up to $550 million annually to the Clean Jobs Energy Fund. But it brought in just $381 million in 2013, $279 million in 2014 and $313 million in 2015.”

Naturally, Steyer and his allies didn’t respond well to the AP’s revelations. State senate president pro tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, defended Proposition 39’s record in a joint statement with Steyer published Monday: “It’s irresponsible and more than a little misleading to prejudge a long-term, multi-year program this early in the process. We are disappointed that the Associated Press did not take time to present an objective or comprehensive analysis of what is still a developing program.” Would Steyer say the same about a three-year, private-sector investment that turned sour?

De Leon and Steyer have been super-glued together of late. As the Bakersfield Californian reported, “Steyer, a major donor to Democrats nationwide, is pouring money into the California Capitol, and de Leon is introducing bills that echo Steyer’s environmental agenda.” Steyer has appeared at hearings for de Leon’s Senate Bill 350, which would mandate a 50 percent cut in gasoline consumption in the Golden State by 2030. The only way to achieve that goal would be to increase prices substantially. Hardest hit by Proposition 39 and the scorched-earth environmentalism of SB 350 would be de Leon’s own constituents in East Los Angeles, one of the poorest areas in a state with the highest poverty rate in the nation. Working- and middle-class Californians with long commutes or who drive trucks for a living would suffer the consequences.

De Leon and Steyer’s protests notwithstanding, the AP investigation might spur some corrective action in Sacramento. “It’s clear to me that the legislature should immediately hold oversight hearings to get to the bottom of why yet another promise to the voters has been broken,” insisted Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff of San Dimas. “We should hold some oversight hearings to see how the money is being spent,” said Fresno Democratic assemblyman Henry Perea, “where it is being spent and seeing if Prop. 39 is fulfilling the promise that it said it would.”

At least somebody is getting a nice piece of the action: of the $297 million already doled out to public schools, half went to consultants and auditors. Turns out that “green jobs” means more green for government contractors. Maybe voters will respond more wisely the next time Steyer tugs at their environmental heartstrings.

Steyer’s Prop. 39 Promises Fall Flat

Tom SteyerA decade ago, former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg authored a book titled “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America.” If Goldberg were writing today about Californians, he would no doubt include billionaire Tom Steyer near the top of the list.

Steyer achieved his extreme wealth as a hedge fund manager, an uber capitalist whose profitable investments have included oil, gas and coal.

In 2012, he separated from the management of  his company – he still owns shares – and committed to a “green” agenda. He became the leading sponsor and financial backer of Proposition 39 on the 2012 ballot, which was sold as pro-environmental reform measure virtually guaranteeing its passage by Californians understandably concerned about the environment. Proposition 39 increased taxes on businesses — those evil companies that provide so many Americans their jobs — and directed the money be put into something called The Clean Jobs Energy Fund. Steyer promised it would bring in $550 million and create 11,000 jobs per year. But a recent investigation by the Associated Press reveals that it has raised less than 60 percent of that amount over three years, and has created only 1,700 jobs mostly for consultants and auditors.

Steyer has shied away from taking responsibility for, or being critical of, these dismal results, even though one of his top advisors serves on the Proposition 39 oversight committee that, ironically, has yet to meet.

However, Steyer continues to insert himself and his views into the political arena. In 2014, he spent $57 million of his personal fortune in support of out-of-state candidates for the Senate and governor, most of whom lost. And there is talk of his being a candidate for governor in 2018.

When it comes to Steyer, voters may continue to have a bad taste in their mouths if the promises of Proposition 39 are not kept. He may come to be regarded as a guy with a huge ego who uses his money as a megaphone to promote ill-conceived plans on which he stamps a green label to gain public acceptance.

With the Sacramento politicians, led by the current governor, continuing to dedicate themselves to spending nearly 100 billion taxpayer dollars on a “green” bullet train that will be neither fast nor cheap, as promised, will they be ready to accept another politician with a pie-in-the-sky agenda, one who seems to have more money than sense?

Average Californians are tired of paying high taxes for little or no return. They are rapidly getting fed up with having to carry the burden for the dreams of limousine liberals who are concentrated in idyllic coastal enclaves where only the wealthy can buy homes. Those who can afford to insulate themselves from life’s rough edges should not ignore those who struggle to get to work, feed their families and keep a roof over their heads. If they do, they do so at their own peril.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

Originally published by HJTA.org

GOP Presidential Nominees Fire Back at Brown on Climate Change Challenge

jerry-brownAfter submitting a letter-length question to Republican candidates ahead of their first round of primary-season debates, Gov. Jerry Brown has received some responses.

Heated rhetoric

Pressing ahead with the environmental emphasis characterizing his final term in office, Brown asked the presidential hopefuls to outline their own policies. “Longer fire seasons, extreme weather and severe droughts aren’t on the horizon, they’re […] here to stay,” he wrote, as the Sacramento Bee reported. “Given the challenge and the stakes, my question for you is simple: What are you going to do about it? What is your plan to deal with the threat of climate change?”

Brown’s office told the Bee he submitted his question via the Facebook page of Fox News, which solicited questions from viewers of the debates, which it hosted and televised.

This month, as the San Gabriel Valley Tribute noted, Brown hit out against the field again, using a fresh report on July temperatures to lambaste “Republicans, foot-dragging corporations and other deniers.” Surveying the damage to the fire-stricken Clear Lake area, Brown “repeated his challenge to Republican presidential candidates,” the Los Angeles Times reported, warning that “California is burning” and asking, bluntly, “What the hell are you going to do about it?”

Republican responses

So far, at least three Republican candidates have touched on environmental issues in the wake of Brown’s challenges.

Not all their remarks have been directly responsive, however. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker recently took the opportunity to critique “radical environmental policies that stop things like dams from going in so that water … can be used effectively,”according to the Bee.

But Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, who had challenged Sen. Barbara Boxer’s re-election, both addressed Brown head on, the Bee added. While Cruz dismissed “alarmists” as power-hungry schemers, Fiorina took a more nuanced approach; although she first conceded it “may well be true” that California’s drought was worsened by climate change, she also criticized policymakers for failing to prepare for the kind of droughts the state has had “for millennia.”

Shifting opinions

Republicans on the campaign trail have broadly reflected opinions among constituents nationwide. Even in California, Republicans have demonstrated consistent skepticism toward claims that human activity has fostered dangerous alterations in temperatures and weather. In a new poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California, a majority of Golden State Republicans said “they don’t believe that climate change is happening and that they don’t think it will be a serious problem in the future,” as the San Jose Mercury News reported. “They also support expanding fossil fuel production — from increasing offshore oil drilling along California’s coast to expanding fracking.”

Yet the poll evinced some wiggle room on environmental policy issues. Fully 43 percent of California Republican respondents supported stricter in-state climate rules than what the federal government has passed into law. “Californians of all parties said they support increasing tax credits for electric vehicles and solar power,” the Mercury News added.

In a recent nonpartisan poll commissioned by a water policy foundation, Californians seemed to confirm that the drought had become a leading issue of worry across the ideological spectrum. According to the Los Angeles Times, “62 percent of poll subjects said they would be very willing or somewhat willing to pay $4 more a month for water if the funds were used to improve water supply reliability. Such an increase, if applied to the entire state, would generate about a billion dollars, according to poll sponsors.”

Environmentalists divided

Brown’s environmentalist policies haven’t satisfied all critics. His administration’s emphasis on reducing emissions, for instance, has led some to wonder why he hasn’t pushed harder for cheaper electricity rates, which would benefit owners of many zero-emissions vehicles. One objection, recently voiced in the San Diego Daily Transcript, warned that Brown’s policies “will systematically shift profits into a few private hands instead of building, managing and maintaining a solid and reliable electric-charging infrastructure comparable to our utility grid.”

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

VIDEO: James Lacy — Why CA Gas Prices Remain Sky-High

James Lacy, author of Taxifornia, explains to Fox Business’ Stuart Varney how CA’s over-the-top environmental regulations cause the state’s gas prices to soar above the rest of the nation.

 

VIDEO: CA drought a result of environmentalist priorities

“Taxifornia” author James V. Lacy explains to Fox’s Stuart Varney that CA’s water scarcity is a result of misplaced environmental priorities.