California is regulating itself into a climate catastrophe

Chuck Devore:
Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom and his political allies claim climate change is driving California’s increasingly intense and deadly wildfires.

That’s nearly true. Climate change assumptions drive the state’s energy and environmental policies. This has resulted in people being killed in terrible wildfires, electrical blackouts to millions of people causing $5 billion so far in lost economic activity, all while diverting limited resources to a fool’s errand.

For instance, California’s large and heavily regulated public utilities—PG&E, SDG&E, and SCE—prioritize wind and solar power, leaving little for powerline maintenance and upgrades. Simply put, the utilities are doing exactly what the regulators tell them to do. They make money for their investors on wind and solar; they don’t on powerline maintenance.

Examining California’s determined push to decarbonize its economy shows a policy unsupported by logic, and shaky on fact.

First is the matter of leakage. California already has among the highest electrical prices in the nation, its gasoline prices are often the highest, and its regulatory burden, most of which is connected to environmental concerns and related lawsuits, have all acted to push energy-intensive manufacturing out of state.

Some of this activity has moved to Texas and other states. Some has moved to China and other Asian nations. As a result, goods that used to be made in California are made elsewhere, often generating more harmful pollution. The majority of the increase in ozone levels on the Pacific Coast traces its origins to Asia, mostly China, where coal-fired powerplants emit nitrous oxides that, when combined with volatile organic compounds and sunlight, create ground-level ozone that irritates lungs and increases rates of asthma.

As for the state’s main concern—greenhouse gas emissions—California’s policies aren’t helping much in that department, either. California features one of the most efficient economies in the world, with stringent air quality standards. But as energy-intensive manufacturing moves out of the state and California imports back those same goods, the net effect may be greater emissions due to the shipping increases.

This can be seen in California’s oil production. The modern fracking revolution has passed California by as politicians yearn to wean the state from oil and gas. In 1986, California produced 59.5 percent of its oil needs, with only 5.7 percent of oil coming from foreign suppliers, the remainder being shipped down the Pacific Coast from Alaska.

Last year, California’s oil production dropped to half of what it had been 32 years earlier. As a result, the state was forced to import 57.5 percent of its oil from foreign countries, mostly from Saudi Arabia. Oil tanker traffic off of California’s coast has skyrocketed. Meanwhile, Texas oil production has quadrupled in the last dozen years.

Then there’s the issue of relative scale. The People’s Republic of China, where a well-placed bribe to a Communist Party apparatchik can allow a factory to belch pollution, is the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide. If you can believe China’s economic growth numbers, seven months’ worth of emission increases from China would wipe out all the gains made by eliminating California’s carbon emissions. All of them.
There is much more.

Much of the blame for the wildfires is a result of poor forest management.  They have pushed to loggers out of the woods and are no longer harvesting deadwood which adds fuel to the fires.  They consider the underbrush an animal resource adding more fuel.  They are no longer cutting roads through the forest which would make it easier to contain these fires.  They do not have enough fire bracks cut through the forest to control a burn.

In other words, Big Green is responsible for this mess and there is no political will to change the situation even to saves lives and property.  The contrast with Texas could not be starker.


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