Time for a Real Debate on the Cost of Climate Programs

Finally, it’s here. A spirited, inclusive, and extremely critical debate over the true costs of California’s climate programs to our economy, small businesses, and working families.

On the heels of an abysmal voter turnout in this month’s election, the emergence of a growing chorus of diverse voices on a vital public policy issue should be welcomed news. It turns out, however, that certain state officials and other vested interests are not interested in debating the costs imposed on small business by California’s broad environmental policies.

But their actions have awoken a sleeping giant. Although CARB made no effort to hear concerns, and debate was shut down in the state legislature, people who are learning about the “hidden gas tax” have started speaking up and working together. From small business owners in the Bay Area to farmers in the Central Valley, religious leaders in San Diego to a mobile health clinic operator in the Inland Empire, consumers from throughout the state are banding together. This movement of drivers and fuel users has serious questions and concerns about the unilateral process used to increase household costs, particularly at a time of high unemployment and economic uncertainty.

To date, the cost of California’s programs to reduce greenhouse gases, subsidize the development of alternative energy, and change consumers’ purchasing choices and modes of transportation has been perceived by many to be someone else’s problem: large industrial energy users.

In this dynamic, the cost to real people – and the disproportionate burden on the low-income – has been mostly invisible, but still very real. As a result, everyday voters have been left out of the debate, which has been limited to just a few interests: industry, government, the environmental lobby, and those who benefit financially from cap-and-trade revenue.

Enter the “hidden gas tax,” the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) plan to expand its cap-and-trade program to gasoline and diesel next January. For the first time, state government is knowingly imposing the cost of its climate programs onto consumers in the form of higher fuel prices.

In response…CARB offered no response at all. They denied that their program was intended to raise costs or that fuel prices would increase next year, despite the fact that their own expert advisors were stating publically that prices at the pump would go up significantly.

What’s more, CARB claimed this wasn’t an issue of consumers. Rather, it was an “oil industry” issue. They went one step further and claimed that drivers didn’t need a public forum on the “hidden gas tax” because the board had held various workshops over the years attended by…you guessed it…environmental groups, bureaucrats, and big business and industry.

In short, CARB only wants to debate “Sacramento insiders,” not the millions of impacted Californians.

So it goes with the environmental lobby. At every turn, the organizations voicing concerns about the hit on jobs and working families have been dismissed as “front groups” and marginalized as “Astroturf”—all part of an elaborate oil industry “conspiracy.”

To their way of thinking, there are only two points of view: theirs and the oil industry. Either you buy into their worldview lock-stock-and-barrel or you are just a puppet on a string. If you’re looking to create your own space in the debate, they are not about to oblige. Unfortunately, every person in the state is impacted by their policies every time they make a purchase or drive their car.

These groups could promote the benefits and the costs of programs to combat climate change and welcome a vigorous debate. Instead, they would prefer to shoot the messenger and silence those with whom they do not agree.

Doubling down on ad hominem attacks may make for salacious blogs and sensational news copy, but it won’t keep the debate at bay for long. It is time for every Californian to ask questions and fight for their right to be heard by those charged with representing them, and not accept being told “it’s in your best interest”. So bring on the debate!

John Kabateck is California Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business

This article was originally published on Fox and Hounds Daily

Climate Changing

Climate Change

Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle

Surviving Global “Warming”

Global Warming

Cam Cardow, Cagle Cartoons

Climate Activists Tout Effectiveness Of School Brainwashing

Climate change activists are touting new evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of educational programs that seek to transform American schoolchildren into anti-carbon activists through the power of animation and freestyle rapping.

The Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) is a non-profit organization that seeks to educate students on climate science and inspire them to take collective action to fight global climate change.

One of the major ways it does so is by organizing school assemblies in which it uses cartoons, music, and even rapping to motivate children to stop living large and join climate activist groups. The assembly has been performed at over 2,300 schools and has reached over 1.7 million students. The long-term goal is to boost climate engagement among young people and minorities, mobilize some of them to become activists for the cause, and in turn counteract recent evidence that relatively few Americans are worried about climate change as an issue.

Now, a new study released in the latest edition of the journal Climatic Change indicates that this school propagandizing may be working. Researchers from Yale, Stanford, and George Mason University surveyed a total of 1,241 high school students at 49 schools that hosted the assemblies to gauge their opinions and actions regarding climate change both before and after the presentations.

When researchers checked up on them several days after the assemblies, students were significantly more likely to express agreement with ACE’s ideology. “Recognition of scientific agreement that climate change is happening” soared by 15 percent, while 38 percent of children rose to a higher level of climate concern on a six-point spectrum that ranges from “dismissive” to “alarmed.”

They were more likely to take action as well: the proportion of students talking to their friends or parents about climate change more than doubled from 9 and 6 percent, respectively, to 21 and 15 percent.

“We find this encouraging,” researchers said, “as it suggests that students carry the Climatic Change information and enthusiasm they gained from the edutainment presentation into their families and social circles.”

The survey also found that high schoolers were more likely to perform a host of minor climate-saving behaviors, including taking shorter showers, unplugging electronic devices when not in use, and shutting off the lights more frequently.

The authors, hardly neutral on the topic themselves, conclude that more effort is needed, however, and that “further intervention will likely be necessary to cultivate deeper engagement in the climate change issue among youth.” That further intervention is close at hand, as researchers note that ACE’s long-term strategy is to collaborate with willing school staff to present updated and modified assemblies to the same students for several years in a row.

“Given the changes resulting from a single presentation, the net impact of all these intervention efforts could be a population shift in climate science knowledge and positive engagement in the issue of climate change.”

This piece was originally published at the Daily Caller News Foundation

Brown fuels incentives for alternative-energy cars

Convinced carbon emissions pose an “existential threat” to the human race, Gov. Jerry Brown just signed a set of bills designed to push ahead an environmental agenda dependent on automobiles that don’t run on gas. Among other new rules, regulations and programs, the new legislation set three changes in motion.

Assembly Bill 2013, by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, expanded the sticker program that authorizes drivers of low-emissions vehicles to use High Occupancy Vehicle lanes regardless of whether they carry any passengers. The bill raised the total number of stickers authorized for DMV issuance from 55,000 to 75,000.440px-Electric_car_charging_Amsterdam

Aware of the symbolic political value of statistics, Gov. Brown has sought to use memorable numbers to capture the environmental imagination of elites and the public alike. That approach was evident in an additional bill signed by Brown, Senate Bill 1275, by state Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles; on Oct. 15 he will become the Senate’s president pro tempore.

It officially set a goal of one million zero- or near-zero emissions vehicles on California roads by 2023. In addition to ordering the California Air Resources Board to create a plan to meet the objective, SB1275 required the board to create new incentives for lower-income residents, who are less likely to purchase or lease alternative energy cars or trucks.

To do that, CARB was tasked to expand California’s electric and hybrid car rebate program. First used in 2010, over 75,000 rebates have gone out to Golden State motorists. As the Los Angeles Times reported, CARB will beef up that program by offering extra credit to qualifying “low-income drivers” who choose an electric vehicle.

Moreover, CARB will oversee the installation of new charging stations in selected low-income residential buildings and bolster car-sharing programs in targeted neighborhoods. “Low-income residents who agree to scrap older, more polluting cars will also get clean-vehicle rebates on top of existing payments for junking smog-producing vehicles,” according to the Times.

Beyond cars

Finally, Brown signed off on legislation using CARB to push alternate fuel use for heavier vehicles. That bill, SB1204, was introduced by state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens. Its aim is to subsidize the development, purchase and leasing of zero- and near-zero emission buses and trucks, dramatizing Brown’s vision of an overhauled transportation infrastructure for California.

To do that, however, SB1204 authorized $200 million in cap-and-trade fee revenue to be allocated to various incentives for alternate-fuel buses and trucks. In the recent past, Brown came under fire, even from environmentalists, for diverting cap-and-trade funds to his prized but costly high-speed rail project. Although critics have not rallied against the new allocation of funds, Brown’s rival in this year’s gubernatorial race did not hesitate to jump on the move.

“If he was serious about climate change,” Neel Kashkari told the Sacramento Bee, “he would be taking the cap-and-trade revenue and funding basic research at Stanford, at Berkeley, at Caltech, so we develop cleaner technologies that are also cheaper, and we export them around the world.”

A final mission

With Brown’s tenure in Sacramento coming to an end either this year or in four years, his idiosyncratic but dogged approach to environmental issues has taken on the air of a capstone personal project. At this week’s United Nations summit on climate issues, Brown told world leaders that within six months he planned to set new, lower carbon emissions goals for 2030.

AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, mandated reducing carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2020, just six years away.

Realizing his ambitions, Brown said, will take more ambition and more technology, “and will also require heightened political will.”

James Polous is a contributor to Calwatchdog. This piece was originally posted on Calwatchdog.com