Californians Have Paid Dearly for the Micromanagement of Emissions and Renewable Energy

Wind Turbines Power EnergyLooking back, California’s flagship climate change policy Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Initiative was signed into law in 2006 when California was a minuscule 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 440 million metric tons, which is less than one percent of the world’s contributions.

Today, we’re constantly being bombarded with reminders and progress reports toward achieving California’s plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, and an 80% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050.

Now, more than a decade since the passage of AB32, California remains as the most environmentally regulated location in the world, yet California still contributes a miniscule one percent, and has had little to no impact on the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Very often, when our political leaders are confronted with the facts that California is one of the most business unfriendly states in the union, our politicians often reply, “yes, but we’ve got great weather”.  Well, they’re right, California has the best year round weather in the nation and that has lead us to become the 6th largest economy in the world.

With a robust economy, the good news is that we can “afford” to micromanage almost anything, but the bad news is that the costs associated with micromanagement are being born by the rich and poor and has contributed to California having the largest homeless and poverty population percentages in the nation to compliment the robust economy.

California is an “energy island” to its almost 40 million citizens, bordered between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Nevada Mountains whose 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.  In addition, the state’s daily need to support its 145 airports (inclusive of 33 military, 10 major, and more than 100 general aviation) is 10 million gallons a day of aviation fuels.

No other State or Country has the stringent environmental regulations as California to keep greenhouse gas emissions in the world to a minimum, thus it’s imperative that California continue to promote in-state manufacturing of the chemicals and by-products, and aviation, diesel and gasoline fuels manufactured from crude oil on the California energy island. All those products from crude oil supports the military and all the California infrastructures, which are the basis of the prosperity of our growing population.

The renewable sectors of wind and solar, like every other infrastructure, are dependent on the products manufactured out of crude oil for all their components so they can produce emission free intermittent electricity.

With all the world’s efforts to protect life, United States wind farms are “legally” killing hundreds of thousands of birds, eagles, hawks, and bats every year, and it’s appalling that society has given the wind industry a FREE get-out-of-jail card!

Bald and golden eagles are not endangered species anymore but are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The bald eagle population is growing, while the golden eagle populations is declining.

In 2017, the Obama administration finalized a rule that lets wind-energy companies operate high-speed turbines for up to 30 years — even if means killing or injuring thousands of federally protected bald and golden eagles. Under the new rule, wind farms may acquire an eagle “take” permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that allows the site to participate in nationwide killing of up to 4,200 bald eagles annually, under incidental “take” permits without compensatory mitigation. If they exceed their eagle “take”, there are adaptive management measures designed for each project, that often include reducing operational hours if deemed necessary to reduce risk.

It’s appalling that wind farms can legally obtain permits from the USFWS to kill those majestic bald eagles.

The public, especially the homeless and poverty populations that have paid dearly for the micromanagement of our emissions and renewables, deserves to know the costs being incurred to reduce our minuscule contributions to the world’s greenhouse gases, and as a courtesy to provide emission free intermittent electricity, share with the public the total estimated impacts of all birds taken that are reported to the USFWS.

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

California’s Unsustainable Energy Policies


Solar panelsGlowing tributes to Gov. Jerry Brown’s environmental legacy obscure how long California has been proclaiming itself the leader in fighting “climate change.” The crusade began with Brown’s predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who promoted and signed the “Global Warming Solutions Act” in 2006, setting initial targets for greenhouse-gas reduction and empowering the California Air Resources Board to enforce compliance with laws and regulations aimed at achieving these goals. Other significant legislation followed. Senate Bill 107, also passed in 2006, mandated a “renewable portfolio standard,” wherein at least 20 percent of California’s electricity would come from renewable sources by 2010. In 2008, the landmark Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act directed cities and counties to increase the housing density of their communities.

When Brown took over as governor in 2011, major environmental legislation accelerated. A 2011 law raised the renewable-portfolio standard to 33 percent by 2020; another, passed in 2015, pushed the standard to 50 percent by 2030. In 2016, California set a greenhouse-gas emission-reduction target of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and extended its “cap-and-trade” program to 2030. This is just a partial list. High-speed rail, water rationing, “urban-containment” policies, a virtual prohibition on conventional energy development, retrofit mandates for trucks and dwellings, and much more have come down from Sacramento in an attempt to “address climate change.”

Will any of it work? Is California setting an example that the world can follow?

The short answer: no. Renewables alone cannot power the global economy. The latest data on global energy consumption by source show how dependent the world remains on fossil fuels. In 2015, oil supplied 33 percent of all energy consumed globally, with coal accounting for 29 percent and natural gas 24 percent—adding up to 86 percent of all energy consumed. Hydro-electric power added another 7 percent and nuclear power 4 percent. Renewables—primarily wind and solar power—contributed the remaining 3 percent. Even tripling renewable capacity would scarcely affect the primacy of fossil fuel to the world’s economy. Moreover, renewables are not “greener” than conventional energy, particularly if conventional energy is produced using the cleanest technologies available. If all the governments on earth enforced on their people the experiment that California is committed to, the result would be the collapse of civilization.

Back in the 1990s, before environmentalism had become so politically divisive, the Worldwatch Institute published one of the most reputable environmentalist journals, in which the organization consistently advocated for methane (natural gas) as the “transitional fuel” to power the global economy until breakthrough technologies such as fusion power or satellite solar power stations became commercially viable. More recently, environmental activists such as Greenpeace cofounder Patrick Moore have championed nuclear power as an essential component of our energy future. No place on earth is more capable of developing clean fossil fuel and nuclear power than California. A 2012 report for the Congressional Research Service estimated that California offshore areas contain 10.13 billion barrels of oil and 11.73 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Onshore, the state boasts the Monterey shale, which may contain upward of another 15 billion barrels of oil, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Recommissioning and expanding California’s San Onofre nuclear power station and retaining the Diablo Canyon nuclear facility could easily provide five gigawatts of baseload electricity—enough to keep millions of electric vehicles on the road.

Similarly, no place is more capable than California of developing abundant water resources—though the state’s wrongheaded policies have helped create chronic water shortages. California still boasts the most elaborate system of inter-basin water transfers in the world. Upgrading water storage by, for example, raising the height of the Shasta Dam could allow Californians to collect additional millions of acre feet of storm runoff each year. And if California embraced state-of-the-art desalination technology, additional millions of acre-feet could supply arid Southern California cities along the coast, where most Californians reside.

In short, California has a choice to make: it can impoverish its population by creating an artificial scarcity of land, energy, and water, enforcing draconian restrictions on development in the name of fighting climate change. Or it can face reality and become a pioneer in a new age of clean-energy development. If the Golden State chooses the second course, it will create a viable example for the world to follow.

Edward Ring co-founded the California Policy Center in 2010 and served as its president through 2016. This article originally appeared in City Journal.

Why California Senate leader’s 100% renewable energy bill failed

kevin de leon 2From pioneering air-pollution control programs in Los Angeles County in the 1940s to setting nationally copied standards on fuel efficiency and emissions to the 2006 passage of AB32, the state’s landmark anti-global warming law, California has long been proud of its role as a global leader in environmentalism.

So when Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León introduced Senate Bill 100 in January, the expectations were high. The measure committed California to generating 50 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2026 – four years earlier than the present goal – and to 60 percent by 2030 and to 100 percent by 2045. No government remotely as large as California’s had made such a commitment.

In spring interviews with a reporters at an energy conference in Orange County, the Los Angeles Democrat depicted his bill as a common-sense measure to goad investor-owned utilities into making long-term shifts in their infrastructure to prepare for an all-renewable future. He said progress had been so quick that he expected the state to meet the 50 percent renewable standard “in the early 2020s without breaking a sweat.” But he also depicted SB100 as setting up “the most ambitious program in the world.”

When it passed the California Senate on a mostly party-line vote in May, the world took notice. The New York Times set the tone: In a 2,100-word analysis headlined “Fighting Trump on Climate, California Becomes a Global Force,” it depicted the bill as a key part of California’s determination to take over the global lead in environmentalism from Washington.

But earlier this month, SB100 failed to even get a floor vote in the Assembly as lawmakers wrapped up business for the year. A Desert Sun report depicted the decision as “unexpected.”

That’s not how it looked to some insiders. Business groups spent months hammering home the argument that it was risky to commit to 100 percent renewable energy use when it was not clear that was either feasible or safe for a modern economy. In a June interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Gary Ackerman, executive director of the Western Power Trading Forum, depicted SB100 as “reckless” and with a huge downside. The arguments echoed those made by Pacific Gas & Electric, Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, the state’s three giant investor-owner utilities, which quietly have established strong ties with Democratic lawmakers in poor districts buffeted by high energy costs.

IBEW adopted, modified utilities’ argument

Meanwhile, de León didn’t enjoy unified support on the Democratic front. An argument the utilities had been making – that SB100 was potentially a hugely disruptive force – was adopted and modified by some labor leaders. They worried what a 100 percent commitment to renewable energy might mean for thousands of union members. According to an NBC News report, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1245, began opposing the bill in late summer because the local union alleged de León had gone back on his promise to protect union jobs.

But a third factor may also have been at play. De León has never enjoyed the broad goodwill accorded his predecessor, Darrell Steinberg, now the mayor of Sacramento. Soon after taking over as Senate leader in late 2014, de León was the target of a scathing column by then-Sacramento Bee pundit Dan Walters for mistakes, power plays and a lack of humility. He faced similar criticism from the Sacramento Bee’s editorial board.

De León has since emerged as a legislative powerhouse, at least according to the conventional wisdom that holds that the 2017 session was one of the most productive in recent history. But his clout couldn’t overcome the late-emerging opposition to SB100.

The lobbying will begin all over again for the measure in January, the Greentech website reported.

“We’re going to be back next year,” said Peter Miller, Western energy project director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told the website. “I don’t want to underestimate the challenges to moving to a fully zero-carbon grid, but we can get there, and we will.”

This article was originally published by

Unions Stop CA Democrats from Requiring 100% Renewable Energy by 2036

Solar panelsCalifornia unions killed the Democrats’ last-minute push to force the state to adopt 100 percent renewable electricity production by 2046, over worries the nation’s highest utility costs are killing jobs.

Governor Jerry Brown and Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León were pushing hard to pass Senate Bill 100 in the final hours of the legislative session. The bill would require 44 percent of all retail electricity sold in the state to come from renewable energy and zero-carbon sources by 2024; 52 percent by 2027; 60 percent by 2030; and then 100 percent by 2046.

The Democrat party-line legislation would have accelerated the requirements of SB 350. That legislation, passed in 2015, requires 50 percent of all retail electricity sold in the state to come from renewable energy and zero-carbon sources by renewables by 2030.

But it appears that the state’s powerful union sector is feeling the heat from its members and employers, angered that energy-rich California now has the “lower 48’s” highest average electric utility rates for residential, commercial, industrial and transportation at 17.55 cents per kilowatt hour. They quietly killed the legislation, which had already passed the State Senate, by making sure it did not come to an Assembly floor vote.

To put a perspective on the current comparative cost burdens that the state’s families and businesses suffered last year, Californians paid 62 percent higher electrical costs than the national average for electricity. But even worse on a regional basis, Californians paid 124 percent more for electricity than residents of Washington State, and 98 percent more than residents of Oregon.

Because energy-rich California used to have electricity costs that were below the 1960 national average of 1.8 cents per kilowatt hour, the state was a large electricity exporter.

But under a government-mismanaged deregulation of utilities in the 1990s, the Democrat-controlled legislature demanded the public utilities commission implement a “Long Term Procurement Process.” Rather than encouraging the building of more efficient power plants, the California regulatory scheme prevented building new efficient power plants by forcing utilities to rely on the unreliable availability and predatory prices for imported electricity.

After California suffered a 2000-era energy crisis, the state forced utilities to comply with a Renewables Portfolio Standard in 2002. The movement to renewables started slowly, but since 2010 about 80 percent of new electrical production has come from highly subsidized renewables, according to the Hass Energy Institute at the UC Berkeley Business School.

Proponents of strong renewable standards claim new purchase contracts for renewable energy are only priced “modestly above those for a new conventional natural gas power plant.” But renewables such as solar and wind have intermittent availability. For evenings and whenever the skies are overcast or the wind is calmed, California utilities must pay to have an equivalent percentage of natural gas electrical generation available to offset 100 percent renewable sources.

Breitbart News reported extensively about Governor Brown’s hopscotching around the world to sign climate change agreements with some of the world’s worst polluters, such as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and China’s General Secretary of the Communist Party Xi Jinping.

With only 16 months left before he is termed out of running for governor for a second time, Brown is running out of time to drive up California electrical prices.

This article was originally published by

The Disaster of Believing in 100% Renewable Energy

Solar panelsSenate Bill 584, the California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program, introduced by state Senator Kevin de Leon, would reformulate the calculations for how much energy California would receive from renewables while eliminating fossil fuels. Senator de Leon wants to amend Section 399.11 of the Public Utilities Code relating to energy that currently states by December 31, 2030, California would have retail sales of renewable energy at 50 percent. Under the senator’s bill, California would have 100 percent of energy only from renewables. Currently, the U.S. receives around 10-13 percent from renewables, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), and sees that figure only reaching 21-26 percent by 2050.

With California it’s more severe than in other parts of the country for how much renewable energy is required for consumers and business, because the California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program already states:

“The Public Utilities Commission to establish a renewables portfolio standard requiring all retail sellers, as defined, so that the total kilowatt hours of those products sold to their retail end-use customers achieves benchmarks of 25 percent, 33 percent, 45 percent, and 50 percent.”

California already has some of the highest electricity rates in the country, and passing this bill would only exacerbate the problem while sending more companies and jobs to other states or overseas. There is a direct correlation between higher business costs (electricity being a large cost) and business relocation. Why is Senator de Leon risking this happening by upping the cost of electricity when even the EIA says a large, fully-developed economy – that is California – will have a difficult time thriving and keeping middle class families and workers with skyrocketing energy costs? Not to mention we owe trillions in outstanding debts.

Believing renewable energy is scalable, and not downtrodden when intermittent weather occurs, while having excess energy storage issues follows the same misguided policies guiding electrical vehicles. Where even with generous tax credits and beautiful vehicles built by Tesla and all major car manufacturers has still only allowed EVs to capture roughly 1 percent of worldwide car sales.

But there are even bigger problems with renewables, and this bill that need to be ascertained by Senator De Leon, Governor Brown and other advocates for turning California into a 100 percent renewable energy state. Internationally, we are seeing that countries that attempt to do away with fossil fuel realize they can’t. A great example is the U.K., which in 2016 saw oil production gains for the second straight year. Not coincidentally the U.K. also saw the best economic growth in the world per these gains in 2016. There is direct causation between oil, natural gas, and coal production linked with economic prosperity for all sectors of society.

The facts about renewables are the issues that need to be overcome before proceeding forward with SB584. According to the BP 2016 Statistical Review of World Energy – the most popular forms of renewable energy – wind and solar accounted for less than 2 percent of world energy consumption. The U.S. electrical grid will have to be completely updated and overhauled, costly trillions of dollars, because The American Society of Civil Engineers gives the U.S. grid a D+ grade in every category of electrical use. Without a state-of-the-art grid that can handle spikes and fluctuations in energy that renewables create and cause (particularly wind and solar) then California will have blackouts and expenses worse than previously experienced in the early 2000s.

During the recent rain and snowstorms that were unprecedented that is when some of the biggest energy needs occur that renewables can’t handle. Natural gas is a flexible fuel, along with coal and oil (WTI & Brent), but all forms of renewables need a fossil fuel backing them up. In other words what SB584 doesn’t address is reliability and the costs to the grid compared to fossil fuels. Beijing, China recently switched from coal to just coal-based electricity and saw costs rise 100 percent from $200 a month to $300 a month. Renewables will be more expensive than what Beijing experienced.

Moreover, Senator de Leon and legislators agreeing with SB584 need to make sure they are using the correct calculations for Energy Return on Energy Invested or at least consider the overall levelized costs. Boundary issues are relevant to wind and solar but more accurate analysis needs to use “point of use,” because wind and solar need massive changes as described above for them to work on a scalable, statewide basis. Many publications touting renewables don’t calculate this properly, and in some cases could be less than 1:1 energy-to-energy ratio.

Storage isn’t discussed enough either. If you want heat in the winter and cool air in the summer then somehow wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric have to be stored. For now small amounts can be stored, but for extreme weather, even overbuilding solar farms and wind turbines doesn’t solve the intermittent weather and storage problems that would be caused by SB584.

Some countries such as Sweden, Norway, Finland and Switzerland have large shares of their electricity from all types of energy mixes, but even that is deceiving. The BP Statistical Review confirms these four countries have high proportions of their energy from multiple sources, but each country has low populations and significant hydroelectric supply. Currently, as an example, the Oroville Dam is old, decaying and giving away to torrential rains; therefore, would the legislature be willing to appropriate billions towards new dams and maintenance of old ones to up California’s percentage of hydroelectric? So far the answer seems to be no for environmental reasons. The EIA (source: Gail Tverberg, has also confirmed that hydroelectricity deals with the problems of intermittency, reliability, scalability and storage – the same as all other renewables.

What California needs to decide in their quest for a 100 percent renewable energy portfolio are how much consumers are willing to pay in their quest for energy parity? Californians can only purchase what wage growth predicates, and if the cost of a commodity increases (energy) then wages, though rising, aren’t keeping up with the cost of living or doing business. Peak energy is a myth, and there is more oil and gas than the world can fathom. Thus energy demand comes not from a lack of supply but from a lack of affordability, seen from the Beijing example.

Rising costs don’t translate necessarily into a more prosperous society. What SB584 doesn’t take into account are what happens to fossil fuel companies that still have to pay interest on loans, continuing retirement benefits for workers and pipelines that have to operate for 365 days a year. The question isn’t renewables versus fossil fuels or vice versa, but the question is whether California is willing to pay for two systems of electricity. There’s the rub, and more than likely, unless you can afford higher electricity costs, the state will see more businesses and middle class families along with their taxes, leave the state.

Todd Royal is an independent public policy consultant focusing on the geopolitical implications of energy based in Los Angeles, California.

This piece was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Renewables Have Glaring Obstacles to Overcome for California

Solar panelsBloomberg is now reporting that solar energy is cheaper than coal, and could become the lowest form of energy within a decade. Economies of scale are causing solar to drop from an average of $1.14 a watt all the way to .73 cents per watt by 2025. This should be great news for California’s overwhelming embrace of renewable energy.

Agencies such as the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab to the International Energy Agency all confirm this decline in costs. Capacity for solar is doubling causing lower costs for bank loan premiums and manufacturing capacity in the solar energy space; and now with Tesla’s gigafactory opening, the cost of batteries is also expected to drop for electric vehicles and home battery systems.

China also plans to invest over $360 billion on renewable energy and fuels to help decrease their serious smog issues. Unsafe, coal-fired power plants are currently suffocating that country’s air supply. And California can feel the affects of China’s crippling smog depending on seasonal wind patterns.

California could be entering a new era in energy, and an era renewable investors and environmental advocates have been touting this century. Unfortunately they are overlooking glaring weaknesses, and for renewables to truly breakthrough into a low-cost, scalable energy along the lines of coal, oil and natural gas numerous obstacles such as costs, back-up generation power, storage and grid modernization will need to be solved.

Gov. Brown, the California Legislature and the California Air Resources Board need to understand the true costs and limitations at this time when using renewable energy.

Yes, costs are possibly going down for solar and wind, but is that truly the case? And while costs for manufacturing and kilowatts per hour are dropping that isn’t the final costs when it comes to renewables. The BP Statistical Review of Global Energy in 2015 showed renewables provided only 2.4 percent of total worldwide energy needs, hydroelectric power generated 6.8 percent and nuclear came in at 4.4 percent. California citizens and businesses need clean fuel, and at this time renewables can’t provide that for them.

Moreover, no matter how much renewables are touted as a replacement for fossil fuels, and even with positive economies of scale, they still will not overtake coal, oil and natural gas in the near future even with AB32 and SB32 in effect.

Weather is the biggest hindrance for both solar and wind, but not as much for biomass or hydroelectric – though hydroelectric, or the process of damning water for electric use, can run into serious environmental issues. But if the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing then solar and wind become difficult to use without fossil fuels – particularly natural gas and coal-fired power plants – backing them up. Additionally, batteries have not caught up to enhanced storage for renewables, and they aren’t productive enough for entire California cities, counties and the state at-large.

When looking at the total cost of renewables versus fossil fuels there really isn’t a comparison in the near-term future because wind and solar can only generate intermittent electricity. Fossil fuels can run without backup supplies, and then factoring in levelized costs for renewables makes them under-productive and more expensive as a wide-scale energy source for California.

As much as California continues using renewables it still hasn’t been achieved without fossil fuels backing them up. The Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2017 to 2050 (page 13) only has renewables at 18-26 percent penetration by 2050 in the United States. The equivalent of not understanding the facts about renewables are how electric vehicles currently only have 1 percent of the market and are projected to only have 6 percent by 2040, but are highly touted as being able to replace the combustible engine vehicle.

Energy storage and grid modernization are separate issues for California policymakers to understand, yet the two issues are linked together in many ways. How energy is stored from fluctuating renewable sources (wind and solar) are needed to accommodate, “multiple grid services, including spinning reserve and renewables integration.” To improve the problem of intermittent generation for resources such as wind and solar the EIA recommends:

“Examine the potential for transmission (grid) enhancements to mitigate regional effects of high levels of wind and solar generation while developing higher resolution time-of-day and seasonal value and operational impact of wind.”

Further, the EIA also perceives utility rate structure for different levels of photovoltaic solar generation being needed to control costs for consumers and industry when using renewable energy. What the EIA is saying is that renewables fluctuate in power generation based upon different weather patterns, which causes the grid to fluctuate. These upward grid spikes are then passed on in higher electricity costs to utility’s customers. It is one of the reasons California has some of the highest energy costs in the United States due to its heavy reliance on renewable energy.

The most important component in the entire process of renewables overtaking fossil fuels for a cleaner future is grid modernization. According to T. Boone Pickens, “The electrical grid of the future will have to be built,” for renewable energy to overcome the above-mentioned hurdles. With California’s exploding pension costs it is difficult to envision a brand new, multi-trillion dollar grid being built in the near future.

Renewable energy has incredible potential for California, but until power grids are modernized renewables will lag behind fossil fuels through rising costs and unstable energy delivery. California’s electric grids can’t handle millions of electric vehicles, varying, spiked energy from wind and solar and the ability to be flexible the way a natural gas power plant is at this time. The best power plants for energy efficiency and lowering carbon emissions while keeping costs reasonable are natural gas. A natural gas-fired power plant is the biggest reason coal is losing market share in the United States.

Majorities of Californians want renewables to be the number one source of energy in our state’s portfolio for cleaner air, water and a healthier environment. But instead, renewables like electric vehicles have taken on a fad-like quality without the technology having caught up to the hype. CARB needs to look at the facts, and not the emotions that currently lead the renewable energy debate. Let’s not pit renewables against fossil fuels, but look to incorporate the different energy sources into what’s best for California and the United States.

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

The Type of Prosperity California Ought to Show the World

As reported earlier this month in the Los Angeles Times, California policymakers are expanding their war on “climate change” at the same time as the rest of the nation appears poised to re-evaluate these priorities. In particular, California’s Legislature has reaffirmed the commitment originally set forth in the 2006 “Global Warming Solutions Act” (AB 32) to reduce the state’s CO2 emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

Just exactly how California policymakers intend to do this merits intense discussion and debate. As the Los Angeles Times reporter put it, “The ambitious new goals will require complex regulations on an unprecedented scale, but were approved in Sacramento without a study of possible economic repercussions.”

At the risk of providing actual quantitative facts that may be extraordinarily challenging for members of California’s Legislature, most of whom have little or no formal training in finance or economics (ref. California’s Economically Illiterate Legislature, 4/05/2016), the following chart depicts data that helps explain the futility of what California’s citizens are about to endure:

Comparisons to the rest of the USA, China, India, and the world


(For links to all sources for this compilation, scroll down to “FOOTNOTES”)

The first row of data in the above table is “Carbon emissions,” column one shows California’s total annual CO2 emissions including “CO2 equivalents” – bovine flatulence, for example, is included in this number – expressed in millions of metric tons (MMT). As shown, in 2014 (the most recent year with complete data available) California’s CO2 emissions were down to 358 MMT. That’s 73 MMT lower than 1990, when they were 431 MMT. While this is a significant reduction, it is not nearly enough according to California’s state legislature. To hit the 40 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2030, CO2 emissions still need to be reduced by another 100 MMT, to 258 MMT. That’s another 28 percent lower than they’ve already fallen. But California is already way ahead of the rest of the world.

As shown on row 8 of the above table, California’s “carbon intensity” – the amount of CO2 emissions generated per dollar of gross domestic product – is already twice as efficient as the rest of the U.S., twice as efficient as the rest of the world, more than three times as efficient as China, and nearly twice as efficient as India. We’re going to do even more? How?

A few more data observations are necessary. As shown, California’s population is 0.5 percent of world population. California’s GDP is 2 percent of the world GDP. California’s total energy consumption is 1.4 percent of world energy consumption, and California’s CO2 emissions are 1 percent of the world’s total CO2 emissions.

These stark facts prove that nothing Californians do will matter. If Californians eliminated 100 percent of their CO2 emissions, it would not matter. On row 1 above, observe the population of China – 1.4 billion; the population of India – 1.3 billion. Together, just these two developing nations have 70 times as many people as California. The per capita income of a Californian is four times that of someone living in China; nine times that of someone living in India. These nations are going to develop as much energy as they can, as fast as they can, at the lowest possible cost. They have no choice. The same is true for all emerging nations.

So what is really going on here?

If California truly wanted to set an example for the rest of the world, they would be developing clean, safe, exportable technologies for nuclear power and clean fossil fuel. Maybe some of California’s legislators should take a trip to Beijing, where burning coal generated electricity and poorly formulated gasoline creates killer fogs that rival those of London in the 1900’s. Maybe they should go to New Delhi, where diesel generators supplement unreliable central power sources and raise particulate matter to 800 PPM or worse. Maybe they should go to Kuala Lampur, to choke on air filled with smoke from forests being incinerated to grow palm oil diesel (a “carbon neutral” fuel).

According to the BP Statistical Review of Global Energy, in 2015, renewables provided 2.4 percent of total energy. Hydroelectric power provided 6.8 percent, and nuclear power provided 4.4 percent. Everything else, 86 percent of all energy, came from fossil fuel. In the real world, people living in cities in emerging nations need clean fossil fuel. So they can breathe. Clean fossil fuel technology is very good and getting better all the time. That is where investment is required. Right now.

Instead, purportedly to help the world, California’s policymakers exhort their citizens to accept a future of rationing enforced through punitive rates for energy and water consumption that exceed approved limits. They exhort their citizens to submit to remotely monitored, algorithmic management of their household appliances to “help” them save money on their utility bills. Because supposedly this too averts “climate change,” they restrict land development and exhort their citizens to accept home prices that now routinely exceed $1,000 per square foot anywhere within 50 miles of the Pacific coast, on lots too small to even put a swing set in the yard for the kids. They expect their citizens to avoid watering their lawns, or even grow lawns. And they will enforce all indoor restrictions with internet enabled appliances, all outdoor restrictions with surveillance drones.

This crackdown is a tremendous opportunity for a handful of high-technology billionaires operating in the Silicon Valley, along with an accompanying handful of California’s elites who benefit financially from politically contrived, artificial resource scarcity. For the rest of us, and for the rest of the world, at best, it’s a misanthropic con job.

The alternative is tantalizing. Develop clean fossil fuel and safe nuclear power, desalination plants, sewage recycling and reservoirs to capture storm runoff. Loosen restrictions on land development and invest in road and freeway upgrades. Show the world how to cost-effectively create clean abundance, and export that culture and the associated enabling technologies to the world. Then take credit as emerging nations achieve undreamed of prosperity. With prosperity comes literacy and voluntarily reduced birthrates. With fewer people comes far less pressure on the great wildernesses and wildlife populations that remain, as well as fisheries and farmland. And eventually, perhaps in 25 years or so, renewables we can only imagine today, such as nuclear fusion, shall come to practical fruition.

That is the example California should be showing to the world. That is the dream they should be selling.

Ed Ring is the vice president of policy research for the California Policy Center.


World Population Clock:
Directorate-General of the European Commission:
US Census Bureau – California:

Carbon Emissions
U.S. Energy Information Administration:
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change:

Total Energy Consumption
BP Statistical Review of World Energy:
California per capita energy consumption:

World Bank:
US Dept of Commerce – Bureau of Economic Analysis:

Note: There are only minor differences between the nominal US GDP and PPP (purchasing power parity) US GDP: With other nations, such as China and India, however, the differences are significant. Using purchasing power parity GDP figures for comparisons yields ratios that more accurately reflect energy intensity and carbon intensity among nations. 

Citizens Exhausted By Renewable Hypocrisy

Exhaust is what was emanating from the idling three ton SUV bearing state license plates sitting at the curb outside the Griffith Observatory. The parked vehicle’s engine continued to run for over an hour, according to news reports.

Inside the observatory, overlooking downtown Los Angeles, a ceremonial signing of major legislation was taking place. Amidst self-congratulation by members of the political class in attendance, Gov. Brown added his signature to legislation mandating that half of California’s energy come from renewable sources within 15 years.

car exhaust1The bill by Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, originally contained language requiring a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use by 2030. This draconian feature contained no specific formula for reducing gasoline use, leaving it up to the unelected California Air Resources Board to implement restrictions that could have included massive fees, gas rationing or driving restrictions. Moderate Democrats and Republicans united in opposition to adding to the burden on working families already paying the highest gas prices in the nation, and de Leon was compelled to remove the restrictions on petroleum use.

Brown has blamed lobbying by the oil companies – not the thousands of angry constituents who called their representatives — for the Legislature’s failure to cut back gasoline use and he has promised to implement the restrictions using CARB, whose 12 members are appointed by the governor.  (Just approved legislation will allow the Legislature to approve two members.) This approach of going around lawmakers, who represent the people of California, is reminiscent of President Obama’s using executive orders to circumvent Congress in order to make changes to the Affordable Care Act and to halt enforcement of immigration laws.

Even without the de Leon legislation, the state has the nation’s highest air quality standards and, due to legislation passed in 2006, a third of electricity is required to be provided by renewables by 2020.

The problem remains that California has a weak economy and stringent restrictions on energy production will add to the cost paid by average citizens. Many see this legislation as overly severe and agree with State Senator Jim Nielson who has stated that energy, food and all things that require abundant affordable energy to produce and transport will become more expensive, hurting California families least able to afford it.

Meanwhile, back to the SUV sucking up taxpayer financed gasoline: After chatting with reporters for nearly an hour after the signing ceremony, Senator de Leon entered the vehicle and was driven away. It was a hot day and, no doubt, the senator enjoyed entering an air conditioned interior as he was about to be chauffeured to his next appointment.

Although we didn’t get a close look, it would not surprise us if there were a bumper sticker on the back the senator’s ride that read, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Originally published by the

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.