Common Sense Environmental Regulation
It was over twenty years ago when Congress did it and the effort has been marching forward ever since.
By Warren Duffy
According to an April 4, 2013 article in the HB Independent, “Something fishy going on with fire ring ban”, author Chris Epting learned the hard way what the AQMD is really all about. Those green, environmentally-friendly shoes pinch when you have to wear them in your own town.
The Air Quality Management District hardliners were known this winter as the “fireplace” police – not the fire ring cops. To refresh your memory, a few months ago when most of us were enjoying the warmth of a fire in the fireplace on a cold winter’s evening, the kill-joys at the AQMD made the media rounds to warn us all, it was illegal to pollute the air with fireplace smoke. Little wonder outdoor fire rings are next in their environmental crosshairs.
If Chris thinks the AQMD is an unelected dictatorship, I invite anyone to travel to Sacramento some day soon and visit a California Air Resources Board meeting. These are the bureaucrats who, since 2006, have been openly at war with the California trucking industry (diesel trucks fill the air with harmful pollutants labeled “particulant matter” – sound familiar?), with gas refineries, with electrical generating plants, with cement manufacturers, dairy farmers, wineries and even with some University of California college campuses that generate their own power.
To control all manner of particulant pollution, the CARB bureaucrats instituted a scheme of quarterly carbon-credit-auctions that Congress rejected in D.C. in 2009. It’s called “cap and trade”. Paying no heed to our national government, Sacramento instituted an economy wide cap and trade program in California. With the Governor Brown projecting a windfall of $1 Billion from the first auction, thus far,the first two auctions, netted $400-million dollars for the green state government. A $1-million tourism hit in Huntington Beach is a huge…but $400-million statewide is a huge hunk of cash costing California companies. Businesses could be using that money for the creation of jobs and not playing with monopoly money. Instead CARB is ordering them to send the cash to Sacramento for that much needed transportation, like the governor’s “Bullet Train to Nowhere”.
I’ve read nare a word from Chris – or from most of the media – about the environmental dictators at CARB, none of them elected to office and most of them card-carrying environmental extremists. And while I agree, an attack on the fire rings is an assault against our city; we must all remember that California has more environmental laws on the books than any other state in the nation and why businesses are fleeing the once Golden State.. At some point in time, all of us are bound to run afoul of the state’s environmental bureaucrats.
All of CARB’s work is tied directly to the 1992 Earth Summit, an international gathering of environmental activists sponsored by the United Nations. It approved a new Agenda for the 21st Century now known as “Agenda 21”. One of the major elements of the program is “cap and trade” and it took two decades to be implemented in California. That same United Nations is implementing other elements of Agenda 21 on local jurisdictions throughout the world. With headquarters in Bonn, Germany, the Intergovernmental Commission on Local Environmental Initiatives – ICLEI – is directing their global war against “particulant matter”.
Guess what city uses taxpayer money to pay annual dues to ICLEI? You guessed it, the City of Huntington Beach. Go figure.
The sad lesson we must all learn from the fire ring episode is this; environmental bureaucrats have few friends. They do have a very narrow agenda and whoever gets in their way gets crushed. It’s been happening for seven years at CARB. Now, the green chickens have come home to roost.
Perhaps all of the above echoes the age-old adage; if you play with dynamite, you might lose a few fingers.
The City of Huntington Beach should immediately withdraw from ICLEI as a protest against this AQMD action and stop playing footsies with environmental bureaucrats who have no respect for the will of the people. If the city fathers refuse to take action, the ‘membership’ can be cancelled but it takes the voices of the residents to make it known they do NOT want their city being cozy with the United Nations. Wake up—this is not about the environment –but money and more control over every individual’s life.
This article written by Warren Duffy first appeared in Cal Watchdog on April 7, 2013
Just a few years ago…
In 2005, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed of the alleged threat of global warming, “I say the debate is over. . . . We know the science, we see the threat, and we know the time for action is now.”
Along with then-Assembly Speaker Fabio Nunez, Schwarzenegger drafted legislation that became AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.
In 2006, former Vice President Al Gore produced “An Inconvenient Truth,” a documentary about global warming’s supposed threat. The subtitle in the advertisements punned, “A Global Warning.” It won an Academy Award and garnered a Nobel Peace Prize for Gore.
Turn the page to 2013, and the evidence shows that there has been no global warming. A recent headline in The Australian highlighted, “Twenty year hiatus in rising temperatures has climate scientists puzzled.” The sub-headline, “DEBATE about the reality of a two-decade pause in global warming and what it means has made its way from the sceptical fringe to the mainstream.”
A new NASA report reveals, “NASA’s Langley Research Center has collated data proving that ‘greenhouse gases’ actually block up to 95 percent of harmful solar rays from reaching our planet, thus reducing the heating impact of the sun.” This revelation debunks the greenhouse gas (GHG) theory about pesky carbon dioxide (CO2) trapping heat in the earth’s atmosphere, causing the planet to warm.
But AB 32 specifically was designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, a 25 percent reduction. The California Air Resources Board was tasked with implementing AB 32. Yet if the NASA report is correct, increasing such gases as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide actually protected the planet from solar rays, reducing temperatures.
Despite these recent reports, the global-warming alarmism continues from some quarters.
The Daily Caller recently wrote that earthworms, of all things, are causing accelerated global warming. And you thought those wiggly little buggers simply aerated your garden soil. The report said, “Earthworms play an essential part in determining the greenhouse-gas balance of soils worldwide, and their influence is expected to grow over the next decades. They are thought to stimulate carbon sequestration in soil aggregates but also to increase emissions of the main greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.”
(Wasn’t sequestration about Washington, D.C. budget economics?)
Despite the earthworms, the consensus lately is one of a 180-degree-turn against the popular notion of the threat of global warming. In March, The Economist published a lengthy article that concluded, “If climate scientists were credit rating agencies … climate sensitivity would be on negative watch — but not yet downgraded.”
If that is the case, have views changed in the U.S. and California governments? Apparently not.
CARB continues to move forward with yet another cap-and-trade carbon credit auction, scheduled for May 16, 2013.
In addition, any California businesses using vehicles such as trucks or buses now must comply with CARB’s latest emission standards. The CARB police are in full force to make doing business in the state all pain and no gain.
At the federal level, President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address claimed the last 12 out of 15 years the planet had warmed. He issued an authoritarian warning, “If Congress won’t act to protect future generations — I will. I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take to reduce pollution, prepare our community for the consequences of climate change and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”
Although federal and state officials so far have not change their policies, one thing they have changed is their rhetoric. In his 2009 Inaugural Address, Obama attacked “the specter of a warming planet.”
But in his 2013 address, that has morphed into “the threat of climate change,” with no mention of global warming. The regulations and the budgets have to be justified somehow.
This article written by Warren Duffy first appeared in Cal Watchdog
AB245 is a bill that would reverse the secrecy that currently exists around the cap-and-trade auctions of the California Air Resources Board. As CalWatchdog.com reported last August, the Legislature “nixed” proposals to mandate accountability under Sections 11120-11132 of the California government code, which is the Bagley Keene Open Meeting Act.
AB 245 is sponsored by Assembly Member Shannon Grove of Bakersfield. The bill would open all carbon auctions to public scrutiny.
Europe’s problems with cap and trade show why public scrutiny is necessary.
California’s February cap-and-trade carbon auction by CARB went off as planned. But a similar auction in Europe was canceled for the first time in eight years as the reserve price was not met.
The EU’s historic cancellation of a carbon-credit auction is the result of years of a sluggish business economy. Many businesses were forced to curtail production because of the economic turndown and that, in turn, dropped the use of fuel and the production of polluting carbon exhausts. That put a damper on the need for businesses to buy carbon credits. And the floor literally fell out from under the cap-and-trade market.
In 2012 alone, the price per carbon credit dropped 49 percent, one half of its asking price. In the last five years, the price has plummeted by an astounding 90 percent and carbon credits are now virtually worthless pieces of paper. Such are the vagaries of the auctioning of non-tangible assets.
For example, when commodities like wheat, corn or oil are traded, there is a supply of tangible assets investors purchase. Even if the price drops, you still hold the asset.
In the non-tangible world of “carbon,” only credit slips are being traded. They are of no value unless there is a strong demand by someone having scarce supplies. For five straight years, that has not been the case and businesses have a glut of unused carbon credits. As more credits came onto the market with each new auction, the price per unit started to free fall, causing this week’s auction cancellation.
Carbon credit auctions are the central ingredient in both the EU’s and California’s cap-and-trade systems.
California held its first two quarterly auctions in the state’s history in Nov. 2012 and Feb. 2013. Though response to those auctions has been mixed, the results have been generally disappointing. Revenue figures from both auctions vary. But when combining the income from both, they fall extremely short of lofty goals of pre-auction predictions and the dollar figure Gov. Jerry Brown plugged into his fiscal 2012-13 budget. Together, the two auctions were supposed to net the state $2 billion; but they raised a bit less than $500 million, combined.
Last fall, the Legislature squabbled with the Governor over how an estimated $1 billion of revenue from each auction would be spent. While legislators insisted on overseeing the expenditures of the “windfall” profits, the governor expected at least a sliver of the green pie revenues to help fund his California High-Speed Rail Authority project in the Central Valley.
Depending on a wide range of variables, California could potentially fall into the same glut-of-market trap on carbon credits. If, for example, the state continues to auction carbon credits four times each year, the supply could overwhelm the demand and drive prices below the floor price set. That price is set by CARB. How the state might implement reforms to the auction process to avert an auction cancellation has yet to be discussed publicly by CARB officials. But then, CARB is known for not discussing much about cap-and-trade carbon auctions publicly.
However, the results from the first two CARB auctions contain a few cautionary alarms for state regulators and legislators. While CARB officials deemed the first auction a glowing success, later revelations showed that one of the bidders, Edison International, mistakenly purchased more than 70 percent of all of the credits CARB auctioned. The asking price set by CARB was $10 a ton and the top price bid at auction was only about 11 cents over the floor price. No one has offered any analysis of how successful the auction would have been had Edison not made their astoundingly large “blunder.”
The second auction proved a shade more successful from both revenue and operational viewpoints. At least that’s the analysis of the auction according to CARB. The cap-and-trade auctions are veiled in strict secrecy and no information is available to anyone, not even participants. Bidders don’t know whom they are bidding against and prices are not publicized to other bidders. Participants simply submit a bid to CARB, bids are accepted in order, with the highest price getting first choice. That continues until all the credits are sold.
To protect their veil of secrecy, CARB has openly threatened businesses that might be tempted to reveal how much they paid for credits or how many they purchased. By not complying to these demands by CARB, a business would be banished from future auctions.
AB 245, if enacted, would cut through the smog to let citizens see what’s really going on.
When you flip on a light switch in California you are using the most expensive electric power in America. Your electric oven and water heater may also be gobbling up mandated green electric power that costs everybody, including the electric companies, a great deal more money to produce.
In their all-knowing green wisdom, the state’s legislature in Sacramento has issued an edict that by the end of 2020, a full 33 per cent of all California’s electric power sold to customers must be obtained from “renewable” energy sources. This “renewable portfolio standard” means more solar, wind and geothermal plants within the state; but, in the end, at what cost?
So, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) gave an update to state legislators on their very ambitious green goal for companies purchasing renewable energy. From California’s “big-three” electric power companies (Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric) the bottom line was clear. This insistence on renewable energy production for the state’s electric customers and power companies means both are paying through the nose.
The reports don’t detail how bad monthly electric bills are being impacted. However, the officials at PG&E estimate an increase in their monthly bills from 1 to 2% per year through 2020. That means a total increase of 8 to 16% over the next eight years.
The three PUC reports compare the cost of electricity power purchased from the old fashioned, clean burning coal or natural gas fired generators to those costs associated with purchasing renewable energy. Last year, depending on the length of a purchase power contract, the cost of the old power listed at 7.7 to 9.3 cents per kilowatt hour. When compared to an average 2012 renewable contract, that makes the cost 6 to 28 percent cheaper.
Not only are customers paying through the nose, but the PUC also lists some interesting costs to the big three energy companies. In order for them to comply with the state’s renewable standards, San Diego Gas and Electric spent last year a mere $170 Million in compliance fee s. However, PG&E spent a whopping $1 Billion, while Southern California Edison finished in first, shelling out $1.34 Billion in compliance costs.
With the state government’s “33% by 2020” goal in mind, the PUC reports also show the success of the electric companies implementing legislators demand for renewable sources. PG&E is at the bottom of the list with only about 19% of their power coming from alternative sources. Edison obtained the best marks with 20.6% of their total power coming from renewable sources, while San Diego was in the middle at 20.3%. That means they are 2/3 of the way to meeting this big 2020 goal.
The PUC did inform legislators that the price of renewable energy in California is expected to decline as more solar, wind and geothermal plants are coming on line. San Diego Power, for example, announced this week that two huge Imperial County solar power plants located near El Centro are about to start generating electricity as early as the this Spring. Imperial Solar Energy South is a massive 950-acre solar plant near the Mexican border. The construction project announced that the one-millionth solar panel in the gigantic field was installed this month. The plant must have a total of 2 Million garage-door-size solar panels installed before operating at full capacity.
Federal subsidies provide a 30% tax credit for investments in large industrial size solar and wind plants, including provisions for accelerated cost recovery. While that funding is paid for by taxpayers and eventually the electric customers, those costs were not included on any of the PUC spread sheets.
In the final analysis, combining the three PUC reports concludes:
How many businesses being impacted by those higher electricity costs are relocating out of the state and taking jobs with them is anybody’s guess. No figures of that nature were in any of the PUC reports. But those of us in California know, even as Sacramento is in need of more and more money to pay the bills, legislative action such as the “renewable portfolio standard” is causing companies to exit the state daily. And due to this stranglehold on businesses, fewer new firms are opting to set up shop in the once Golden State.
One thing the three reports cannot deny….going “green” is about money…..this is an expensive proposition for everyone involved.