Free Markets Work Best When Left Alone, there’s no need for SB32.
The Legislature is back in session after a summer hiatus. They’ve come back to some daunting challenges, many of those of their own making. One of those challenges is what to do about California’s (in)famous Global Warming Solutions Act, otherwise known as AB32.
One key piece is SB32 which, among other things seeks to extend a program which otherwise would expire. Gov. Jerry Brown, who is trying to reach an agreement with lawmakers by the end of August to
extend the program beyond 2020, said that he will “get it one way or the other.”
Much of the debate is about the current law’s cap and trade program, seen by many as the best option, but seen by others as a simple and illegal tax. Other types of reduction schemes are debated…from direct control regulations to a so called carbon tax. What seems to be missing from the debates is the one solution that data shows are the most effective. Using the power of free markets has shown better results that intrusive one size fits all government intervention. The legislature should broaden their discussion to include non-government approaches if they are truly interested in reducing carbon emissions and believe something must be done.
U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) have declined in seven of the past eleven years and in 2015 were 12% below the total for 2005. Total emissions from the electric power sector in 2013 totaled 2,053 million metric tons (Mmt), about 15% below its 2005 level. Similarly, the carbon (equivalent) intensity of the U.S. has declined between 2000 and 2013. While the U.S.’s total emissions rank high because of the size of the economy, its intensity (tons per dollar of GDP) ranks better than most other countries, especially some of the large industrializing developed countries, such as China. Imposing a domestic carbon tax might actually result in an increase in global emissions, as businesses—especially in manufacturing, but perhaps even agriculture—choose to move production to other countries where emissions intensities are much worse but energy prices more reasonable (in part due to the absence of carbon taxes or other mandates).
From 2008 through 2012, U.S. emissions dropped ten percentage points, while Europe dropped seven, despite no national carbon control (other than the relatively free market) regulation being in place in the U.S., and a near European-wide emission trading scheme there. The same better performance is illustrated on a state by state basis as shown in the second figure, looking at electric power sector in the various states. It is stunning the difference in emission reductions between states like California with the most stringent and interventionist laws on the books compared to, say, Georgia with a relatively freer market for electrical generation.
If California Legislators are truly concerned about the climate changing properties of carbon dioxide, perhaps they should include freeing the market and removing artificialities like renewable portfolio standard, cap and trade and other ineffective and ultimately harmful regulations. Or they can just let AB32 ride off into the sunset.
 Energy Information Administration at http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=18511
 Thomas Tanton, “Key Investments in Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Technologies from 2000 Through 2012 by Energy Firms, Other Industry and the Federal Government,” American Petroleum Institute, Washington, D.C., September 2013, and http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=10191
California’s independent and non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) has released a detailed report on ways the billions of dollars collected from Cap and Trade auctions might be better spent. Noting that spending on measures that reduce California emissions are likely not necessary to meet statutory goals, LAO nevertheless raises the specter that some additional flexibility is needed to meet Legislative priorities. This is important in itself, as many have concluded that ONLY greenhouse gas emission control was a legislative priority.
“Spending auction revenue on GHG reductions is likely not necessary to meet the state’s GHG goals, and likely increases the overall costs of emission reduction activities,” the LAO said. “Second, the requirement to spend on GHG reductions limits the Legislature’s flexibility to use the revenue in ways that could achieve other goals,” the LAO added.
Under AB32, California Global Warming Solutions Act, the cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2020 has two major components: (1) the regulation and (2) auction revenue. The relationship between these two components is complex, from both a policy and legal perspective. From a policy standpoint, the regulation is intended to ensure the state meets its GHG goals and provide an incentive for cost-effective emission reductions. It also should not cause–through ‘leakage’ — emissions to increase elsewhere—canceling out any small global benefit from reductions in California.
The state can, currently, only spend auction revenue on activities that facilitate GHG reductions. However, this requirement creates some significant policy challenges and an opportunity. The auction is an implicit tax on production, reducing California’s competitiveness. Second, the requirement to spend on GHG reductions limits the Legislature’s flexibility to use the revenue in a ways that could achieve other goals. In light of these challenges, LAO present alternative strategies designed to help the Legislature promote its priorities more efficiently under two alternative scenarios:
Strategies that can be utilized under the existing legal framwork include (1) targeting uncapped emission sources, (2) targeting cost-effective emission reduction activities, (3) prioritizing other legislative goals, and (4) offsetting other state spending. Each of these strategies would help promote different legislative priorities and present different levels of legal risk. The opportunity comes from one strategy that should pose little legal risk, to promote, rather than discourage, California manufacturing and agriculture production. The other option prided by LAO would convert and treat the cap and trade program more explicitly as a tax, requiring a 2/3rds vote.
What would increased California manufacturing and agriculture do for global emissions of greenhouse gasses? Contrary to popular wisdom, it would most likely reduce global emissions. Oh, and it would help our dismal unemployment and poverty rates.
From 2000 to 2010, the carbon dioxide intensity of the U.S. economy—measured as metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) emitted per million dollars of gross domestic product (GDP) — improved by over 17 percent or 1.7 percent per year. Improvements occurred even in years of economic growth, not just recession.
In a late 2007 Report by the Congressional Research Service, the various states were compared on both total GHG emissions and by GHG emissions intensity. California is better on average than the rest of the country. Naturally, as the eighth or ninth largest global economy (albeit falling from 5th or 6th in 1990) the TOTAL emissions for California ranked second highest (worst) nationally but second LOWEST (best) in intensity. California’s emissions intensity may be a beacon to other states and countries, but implementing Cap and Trade, and more generally AB32, will increase global emissions, by forcing businesses, manufacturing, and even agriculture out of state, where emissions intensities are much worse, leading to emissions “leakage.”
Under cap and trade, California will simply import more goods we used to make and grow—cement from Arizona, food from South America, high tech devices from Asia– with a net increase in global emissions.
We ought to be encouraging production and take advantage of our better performance. Targeting those billions of dollars towards improved trade would go a long way to correct the backwards approach of CARB. Better yet, remove the cap and trade burden altogether, as it is all pain and no gain.
In the spring of 2011, I was invited to speak at the annual South Carolina Bar Convention by the state Bar’s president at the time, D. Michael “Mike” Kelly.
The event, attended by judges and lawyers alike, was held at the Sanctuary Hotel at Kiawah Island, S.C.
The topic of my speech was how judges should handle high-profile trials – and judicial independence.
I had covered many high-profile trials on site for CNN, FOX News, MSNBC and HLN as well as being a legal commentator for other trials from afar, away from my home city of Seattle. I also had given speeches on legal issues both nationally and some internationally. But, in my travels, I had never been treated with the kind of grace and hospitality as I was in South Carolina.
It was a sign of things to come.
Judges in South Carolina are appointed to via a merit-selection system. The process by which they ascend to the bench is complicated, and it doesn’t involve the public electorate.
In my speech to the South Carolina Bar, I addressed the merits of such a system and how to remain above reproach by virtue of their system. I also spoke of the judicial management of high-profile trials, using models created by experts and judges from the Michael Jackson and Scott Peterson trials and outlining how the complexities of such trials can have simple solutions. I never dreamed my instruction on high-profile trials might have some impact in arguably the most heinous and high-profile trial of our time: the trial of avowed racist and Confederate poseur Dylan Roof, for the massacre of nine souls at the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston.
Considering the recent roiling unrest in Ferguson and Baltimore over racial issues with police, the response in Charleston to the brutal slayings of some of its best and brightest residents was nothing short of amazing.
In Roof’s first court appearance, the families of the victims forgave the troubled young man, one by one. The people of Charleston staged chains-of-love walks across the bridge to nearby Mount Pleasant, symbolizing unity, love and forgiveness. It reminds me of my time with the fine jurists and lawyers I met in South Carolina, of their graciousness and dignity,and also a speech, “A Plea for Mercy,” by the great lawyer Clarence Darrow in the Leopold and Loeb murder trial in 1924. At the end of his closing argument, Darrow borrowed a line from the old Persian poet Omar Kayyam: “So I be written in the Book of Love.”
Trials are mostly morality plays, and the courtrooms across our country provide platforms for discussion, debate and change. While protests, debates, media outcries swirl over racism, the Confederate flag, states’ rights, the death penalty, mental illness, and whether the problem with history is that it repeats itself, this case will ultimately be tried in the sanctity of a Charleston courtroom. With dignity, respect, and grace.
I am confident that perhaps the most important and disturbing trial of our time, the trial of Dylann Roof, will be handled with prudence and grace, the amazing grace of the people of Charleston, South Carolina.
“‘… [T]he base’ isn’t the limited, clichéd thing it once was, it’s becoming a big, broad jumble that few understand.”
Political writer Peggy Noonan recently took stock of the Donald Trump phenomenon and declared, “America is so in play.” Her buddies in the GOP glitteratti noticed.
Noonan cited the latest polls, an old friend from Ross Perot’s ’92 presidential campaign, a democrat-turned-GOP/Trump fan girl and the guy at the local deli from the Dominican Republic to conclude the New York businessman embodies the kind of gruff gravitas voters crave.
Trump’s campaign appears to be, as he is himself, a political stem cell, morphing into whatever seems to jibe with what’s in the news and the latest intelligence of the day. He speaks fearlessly, sometimes foolishly. Like a ‘Trump the Insult Dog,’ Trump has no filter.
He’s learning to campaign as he goes. He’s getting good at it.
GOP elites and Jeb Bush backers, but I repeat myself, counter with Trump’s leftist positions on Planned Parenthood funding, taxes, single payer health care — hoping that will tamp down his support with the base and make their own moderate positions on the same seem conservative by comparison. Ordinarily that would persuade many, but instead, Trump’s poll numbers are increasing!
For the rest of the story … Donald Trump and the ‘No Fear’ Factor Makes a Big Impression on the New GOP Base.
Candidates seem to forget people attending these meetings aren’t the usual “man on the street” who just happens to wander by for a listen to a politician. The folks taking time to show up are generally well informed and aware of the issues facing their communities. These times are also when the phrase, “Know Your Audience” is often ignored by candidates. Recently, two-term Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator Barbara Boxer had such an opportunity and according to the Contra Costa Times Political Blotter it didn’t go well.
Like many candidates, Candidate Chavez appearing before an East Bay Republican Central Committee began by informing members about his background and experience, then came the “Question & Answer” time. That’s where according to the story “…the crowd’s mood began to change.”
Asked about immigration, Candidate Chavez apparently rambled on about economic and social distress in the world causing illegal immigration all over the world. Answering a question about Common Core he said the problem was the Legislature failed to properly fund the program and give teachers adequate time and resources to implement it.
Then came a global warming question which Candidate Chavez essentially said that he agreed with “U.S. military leaders” who believe the “…greatest threat facing the nation in the Pacific is sea-level rise.” At this point, loud voices broke out from the crowd and Candidate Chavez made his exit from the meeting.
Talking with a reporter afterwards about the criticisms he faced Candidate Chavez said that a bunch of people have been “indoctrinated” to believe things about immigration, Common Core, and climate change and his job is “…to educate and enlighten them.” Later, presumably to justify his logic regarding the unfortunate indoctrination of voters Candidate Chavez told the reporter “It’s not an issue of getting elected, it’s an issue of governance.” (Emphasis added.)
This news account of the encounter between Candidate Chavez and the voters he’s running to represent embodies one of the best examples in the world of politics of the arrogance of candidates who believe their job is to teach the backward rubes they deal with during a campaign. It’s also an example of a candidate who fails to understand that to many voters elections are in fact about governance and how their elected officials will represent them in the halls of power.
Candidate Chavez didn’t remember he wasn’t on the floor of the State Assembly “educating” fellow Republicans on how to get along with their Democrat colleagues or speaking before the local chapter of the SEIU. Rather, his audience was a group of voters that knew the issues they were asking about and didn’t need an education, seeking instead to hear how he’d represent them in the U.S. Senate.
Of course, he may not have taken into account the fact that they already knew where he stands on issues they believe important to the future of our country.
For example, they may have known that Candidate Chavez wouldn’t support repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a healthcare program that keeps the promise of affordability, portability, and access. Or, when it came to the issue of immigration, they may have already been aware of his failure to cast a vote for or against the measure that turned California into a “Sanctuary State,” making cooperation with immigration officials discretionary.
Since the county he was speaking in is next door to the home of the family of Kate Steinle who was murdered by an illegal alien with seven felony convictions and who was deported five time, it may have been more “educational” to explain whether he would support Kate’s Law or not. Or, they may have known he supports issuing driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, he just wasn’t crazy about the look of license being issued so he voted against the final version of the bill.
Yeah, the problem with elections are some people want to get elected and govern, but they have to deal with bothersome voters who want candidates to answer questions they already know the answer to because they want to see if you’re a teacher or a true representative of their beliefs.
Doug Haaland worked for nearly 30 years as legislative staff and policy consultant in the California State Legislature. He is currently serving as the Executive Director of the Sacramento County Republican Party.
Shortly after Susan Cox Powell went missing from her home in West Valley City, Utah more than five years ago, I was asked to help Charles and Judith Cox with public relations associated with their daughter’s disappearance. Little did I know that this was but the first step in a very long, tortured journey for everybody involved.
The case received national media attention due to the bizarre circumstances surrounding Susan’s disappearance, Susan’s husband’s Josh’s move to his father Steven’s Puyallup, Wash. home shortly thereafter, and the very public battle between the Powells and the Coxes over everything from Susan’s journals to custody of her two sons. Susan’s family and I were insistent that Josh be deprived custody amid mounting evidence of inappropriate behavior and word that the West Valley City PD was preparing to arrest Josh for murder.
For the rest of the story …. PR FOR A MISSING MOM EVOLVED INTO A SERIES OF SUCCESSFUL LEGAL BATTLES
Once upon a time California was known as the “Golden State” and today it struggles to be the “Land of Limits.” Once, California’s leaders dreamed big dreams and saw the future of California as a place of unlimited opportunity for people looking to find the “American Dream.” They believed it was the place that could make such things possible. Those visionaries included Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, the current governor’s father.
Unfortunately, beginning with the first term of Governor Jerry Brown, Californians have been subjected to liberals failing to not only plan, but to act. Instead, our leaders seem to suffer from a philosophy that is based on the belief that we are no longer big dreamers, having even bigger ambitions.
During his failed 1976 presidential campaign then Governor Jerry Brown expressed his vision of America and our state saying, “The country is rich, but not so rich as we have been led to believe. The choice to do one thing may preclude another. In short, we are entering an era of limits.” (Emphasis added.) At the time it was very Carteresque, but today that vision of “limits” doesn’t apply to the government he leads. Examples of this era of limits ideology have been visible for decades.
Maybe it was when California’s growing population ran afoul of its aging electrical infrastructure. Instead of moving forward with dynamic programs to increase capacity for the future, Governor Brown during his first term, fashioned the California Energy Commission into a body to block new power plants and not just nuclear ones. As a result, Californians have had to live with rolling brownouts and blackouts, the creation of a state entity to buy electricity at hyper-inflated rates and watch his former chief of staff, Gray Davis, become the first governor in California history recalled by voters.
Perhaps, when Governor Brown was talking about limits during his first term and he decided his cancellation of new dams and aqueducts had no impact on the effects of the drought California suffered during 1976 and 1977, he never imagined that nearly 40 years later his decisions not to expand water storage would impact his second term, but of course now he’s blaming climate change for our current mess and not his “environmental” decisions.
That said, one must complement Governor Brown for his consistency when it comes to your limits. During his announcement of the executive order mandating water restrictions in April of this year he once again referred to his belief about limits saying in part, “…we’re in a new era… the idea of your nice little green grass getting lots of water every day, that’s going to be a thing of the past.” (Emphasis added.) Even while his fixation on limits doesn’t apply to his dedication to water diversion projects through the Delta.
Lastly, during his first term of limitations, when he discarded road and highway construction projects across our state, he never imagined that the money he believed he saved wouldn’t be used to at least maintain our aging freeway system. Thus, almost 40 years later when he was handed one of the largest budget surpluses in California’s history he dedicated so little to the tens of billions of dollars of back-logged maintenance that he felt compelled to call a special legislative session to address the taxpayer’s failure to pay enough.
This is where things will get very interesting for the people of California. Governor Brown wants the Legislature to consider increasing everything from gas taxes to registration fees in an effort to create a “revenue stream” to address our crumbling roadways. At the same time, the liberal leader of the State Senate is pushing a bill mandating a cut of gasoline consumption by 50% in the very near future. So the Governor wants more taxes on the product that his liberal friend wants to make less available in the future?
There is a saying in politics, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu!” Taxpayers have been “on the menu” of liberal politicians for decades and now Governor Brown wants to super-size the table at which they sit. Taxpayers are supposed to be represented “at the table” by the elected officials we send to Sacramento. Let’s see who has the courage to call for a stop to the insanity of higher taxes on something we’re supposed to have less of… then again maybe Governor Brown will discover the era of limits doesn’t apply to just Gray Davis.