Anti-Carbon Crusaders Strike Again

Apple USALast December, Apple announced its next manufacturing facility – one that would build Macs – would be built in the U.S., not overseas. Many hoped a company facility in Elk Grove CA  would be the selected site. But that’s not to be, and California’s anti-carbon crusaders are to blame.

Apple announced last week that it will invest $100 million in a new facility – in Texas. The new plant will assemble Macs from components manufactured just about everywhere in the U.S. but California – Illinois, Florida, Kentucky and Michigan.

Why not California? Top among the many probable answers is energy costs, because it takes a lot of juice to build a Mac. Thanks to AB32, the ridiculously named Global Warming Solutions Act – energy costs in California are soaring as mandated increased reliance on expensive alternative energy sources are driving up power costs.

The smart-thinking editorial writers at the San Diego Union Tribune had this to say about Apple and AB32:

[Apple's decision] is primarily a result of AB 32, the landmark 2006 state law forcing a shift to cleaner but costlier forms of energy. After the law was passed, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and many green lawmakers and leaders predicted it would prompt the rest of the world to copy California, as had happened with many previous pioneering environmental policies.

That never came to pass. Instead, the big news on the energy front has been the revolution in fossil fuels, thanks to hydraulic fracturing and other improved energy-exploration tools. This has produced huge new supplies of natural gas in a half-dozen states, sending its price tumbling and prompting major European firms like BASF and Royal Dutch Shell to move manufacturing to the U.S. — something that would have seemed unthinkable a few years ago.

But such European firms have no interest in manufacturing in California. It is simply not cost-competitive with many other areas in the U.S. — a fact the Apple decision underscores.

So, as another $100 million leaves California and a raft of new jobs ends up in Texas, what do Californians think of all this? Chances are, they’re just fine with it because they’ve been well indoctrinated to be scared of global warming.

A just published Public Policy Institute survey (see page 20, here) tells us this:

A majority of Californians (57%) say global warming will pose a serious threat either to them or to their way of life in their lifetime; 39 percent say it will not. A decade ago, the perceived personal threat was much lower (45% yes, 50% no, July 2003). Adults nationwide are far less concerned: in a March Gallup poll, most said global warming will not pose a serious threat to their way of life (34% yes, 64% no).

frightened-woman-1960sHere’s how that majority of frightened Californians breaks down: 68% of Democrats are afraid global warming will pose a serious threat in their lifetime, but only 29% of Republicans are. Angelenos (66%) and San Franciscans (61%) are the most frightened, but majorities in the Inland Empire (52%) and Orange County (51%) are convinced warming will harm them. Only in the Central Valley do the frightened drop below 50%, at 49%.

This shows how effective the PEER Axis – Progressives, Environmentalists, Educators and Reporters – have been in establishing global warming as a threat in California. One can only hope people will wake up and call for change as they see their energy bills soar thanks to AB32′s green energy mandates, while realizing all that green energy hasn’t slowed down the PEER’s efforts to stir up greater global warming fears one iota.

Fill ‘Er Up – If You Can!

Oh, for those halcyon days of $2.99 a gallon!

Oh, for those halcyon days of $2.59 a gallon!

Gas prices have gone up in Southern California every day for more than a month. The average price for a gallon of regular is now $4.31 – 59 cents more than it was just a month ago.

There are two primary factors behind the hike, both of which are straight Crazifornia:

First, an unusually high number of California refineries are undergoing maintenance. If we could import oil from other states, this wouldn’t be as big a deal, but we can’t. Why not? See the next reason.

Second, on top of the maintenance, refineries are beginning the annual spring-time switchover from “winter blend” to cleaner-burning “summer blend.”  Required by California’s air quality eco-crats, summer blend is brewed to evaporate less quickly in the summer heat. The conversion shuts down refineries, temporarily dropping supply and driving up prices.

Special blends also wipe us out during periods of unexpectedly high refinery maintenance.  There are about 20 different blends around the country, all different, all trying to accomplish the same thing. If there were an agreement between the states to all have the same blends, we could bring in gasoline from other states during these maintenance periods. (Assuming that “greener-than-you” California would deign to having anything less than the toughest standards.)

It’s all apparently hooey anyway, because when Gov. Brown prolonged the sale of winter blend in response to high gas prices in 2012, we were told air quality would not be hurt:

State air pollution regulators said Monday that California’s air quality is not expected to worsen appreciably after the governor ordered the release of a dirtier blend of gasoline to help slash record-high pump prices. …

Gil Duran, a spokesman for Brown, said the governor looked at all the options available, particularly scientists’ prediction that such a change would not have a significant effect on the environment and “when he learned this could increase the supply by 8 to 10 percent, it just made sense.”

It’s past time for the eco-crats to make a case for the continuation of this silliness. I doubt very much they could prove the benefits of California’s special blends outweigh the costs.

Jerry Brownout

SONGSI was at a presentation this morning on the now year-long shut down of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). One of its two reactors was shut down last Feb. 1 because of pinhole leaks in some water pipes – a serious issue – and the other closed Jan. 31 for routine maintenance, but is now under the same regulatory hold as the other one.

The Southern California Edison representative said we got through last summer with SONGS off-line only because of the lucky alignment of four factors: (1) New transmission lines went on-line so more power could be brought in from elsewhere, (2) Different places in the service area had hot spells at different times, (3) Edison was able to buy power from the AES natural gas-fired power plant in Huntington Beach and (4) people conserved.

This year, only #4 remains certain. No new transmission lines will go on-line this year. Who knows what the weather will bring? Whatever it is, it’s unlikely to be as flukey as last-years migrating hot spots. And that AES plant? Oh, we can’t get even a single kilowatt of power from it this year.

carbon-emmissions-global-warmingWhy not? It’s sitting there. The natural gas line is still connected. Well, it turns out AES sold the plant’s carbon credits at this year’s California carbon credits auction.

My friend Brian Probolsky asked SCE’s guy, “Do you mean a make-believe slip of paper could be the difference between brownouts and getting through the summer without problems?”

The SCE guy didn’t understand the question. It’s this: Just because AES sold its carbon credits on the plant this year in California’s costly, harebrained and doomed to accomplish nothing carbon cap and tax auction, does that REALLY mean that come an emergency, the plant will just sit there?

The answer, unfortunately but not at all unexpectedly – this is California, after all – is yes. The sick and frail, deprived of air conditioning and medical equipment, could be dropping like Europeans in a summer  heatwave, and Jerry Brown’s carbon auction would trump their very lives.

Do you think for a moment the earth would notice whether or not the plant fired up again? Of course not. But environmentalist hand-wringers, including our governor, a super-majority of our legislature and eco-crats would, so it’s not going to happen.

Should electricity brown-outs and black-outs return to California this summer, remember this: It wasn’t problems at San Onofre that caused them. Problems in the thinking of California’s leadership did.

Crazifornia Scores Big at Daily Caller

My recent op/ed on California’s passage of the nation’s first state-run cap-and-tax program proved very popular with readers at The Daily Caller – to date, 76 readers have recommended it, 41 have tweeted it, 5 have shared it on Linked In and 44 have posted comments.  As expected with the Daily Caller’s audience, most of the comments are favorable, informed and even witty, like this one that starts with a quote pulled from the op/ed:

“AB 32, the state’s crusade to save the planet from the scourge of greenhouse gases”

Should read: “The scourge of unicorns and leprechauns” as there’s as much science behind it.

Here are the lead paragraphs from the piece:

Mary Nichols, one of the most dangerous women in America, looked out into the packed California Air Resources Board (CARB) hearing room late Thursday after an eight-hour hearing and declared, “We’ve done something important.”

Nichols is the chair of CARB and therefore the person most responsible for implementing the California Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32, the state’s crusade to save the planet from the scourge of greenhouse gases. A former assistant administrator of EPA under President Clinton, Nichols now controls multiple programs designed to penalize conventional energy sources to the benefit of not-yet-competitive alternative sources. She has already forced the toughest diesel engine standards in the country onto California — standards that will cost the state’s battered trucking industry $12 billion — and Thursday she trumped that by ushering in the biggest playing field-leveler yet, the nation’s first state-run carbon cap-and-trade program.

California, in going where no other state or the federal government has dared to tread, certainly has done something important, but just what “important” means is a question for the historians.

Read the rest of the piece here.

California Agencies Oblivious to the Budget Deficit

Why in the world would California – caught as it is in a budgetary black hole – give $250,000 to some outfit in Oregon to build a government-subsidized fish market at Fisherman’s Wharf, California’s foremost free market fish market?

The answer to that question and much more on the budgetary obliviousness of California’s 300-plus departments, agencies, commissions, councils and boards is given in my new Daily Caller opinion piece, which you can read here.

Alternative Energy Makes State’s Budget Redder

My friends at CalWatchdog just published my critique of the state’s insane energy policies.  Why does California give incentives to folks to buy electric cars when every electric car sold takes money out of our all-too-broke budget?  Why do people in Washington and Oregon fear California’s commitment to green energy?

Find out here.  Please click through – it’ll make Steve Greenhut very happy.

My Column on CalWatchdog

The CalWatchdog blog (“Your Eyes on California Government”) ran a column by me as its lead feature today – it’s reproduced below.  Please bookmark and consider contributing to CalWatchdog – it’s a great monitor of California government malfeasance run by Steve Greenhut, the long-time editorial crusader at the OC Register.

NEW: Deceptive Agency To Punish Deception

NOV. 29, 2010


On Wednesday a California state agency with a well-earned reputation for deception will hold a public workshop that may well set a new standard for governmental hypocrisy in California – and that’s really saying something.

The hearing is the spawn of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which has proposed a regulation prohibiting false statements.  Under the new regulation, no one submitting information to CARB could knowingly and willingly “falsify, conceal or cover up by any trick, scheme, or devise a material fact.”  The draft regulation ends ominously with:  “This section shall not be the basis for any private right of action.”

A private right of action?  As in some poor over-regulated sap going to court to charge CARB itself with making false statements to further its mission of saving the planet by smothering the private sector under regulations?  Were such an action to be brought, the aggrieved sap would have many precedents to bolster his case – which is why CARB is guilty of proffering what is probably the most hypocritical regulation ever proposed in California.

The foremost exhibit against CARB is Dr. Hien Tran, a CARB scientist who wrote a key study the agency used to force recession-wracked operators of diesel off-road construction equipment to buy new, less polluting graders and trucks, at a cost of up to $12 billion. CARB identified Tran as a UC Davis-educated Ph.D. in statistics, a claim that gave his report some credence.  But that was a false statement – Tran’s Ph.D. is from Thornhill University, which the Pacific Research Institute, the parent organization of Calwatchdog, points out is located “in a New York City office of the United States Postal Service.”

So Tran deceived us – but was CARB using tricks, schemes and devices to cover up for him?  It appears CARB was duped just like the rest of us … initially. But ultimately, the agency hid Tran’s deception so it could stick it to off-road construction equipment operators – whether the facts backed up the regulations or not.  CARB only came clean after one of its board members, John Telles, excoriated its staff in a three-page letter that explained the cover up in detail:

“On December 8, 2008, the Chief of the Research Division asked [Tran] if he had a Ph.D. in Statistics from UC Davis …. [Tran] on the evening of December 10, 2008, confessed to the Chief of the Research Division that he did not have such a credential. The following morning, the day [CARB] had convened to deliberate on the Truck Rule, this chief informed the Executive Officer, the Chief Deputy Executive Officer, the Deputy Executive Officer, the Chief of the Heavy Duty Diesel In-Use Strategies, the Chief of the Mobil [sic] Source Control Division, the Chief of the Health and Exposure Assessment Branch and at least one Board Member of [Tran’s] confession ….  This information was not, however, relayed to the full Board. …

“Last week, on November 11, 2009, I learned that the Chair of CARB [Mary Nichols] was also aware of this information prior to the Vote ….  Thus, neither the Staff nor the Board Chair informed the full board of this discovery prior the Vote.  The Public, of course, was also not informed.”

CARB had allowed the fraud to be perpetrated in order to get the vote it wanted – an act far worse than any likely “false statement” anyone would ever try to pull on the agency.  Embarrassing as that was, it wasn’t as embarrassing as Tran’s work itself, which Dr. S. Stanley Young of the National Institute of Statistical Sciences called “too flawed to be done by a capable statistician.”

The Tran study itself is a violation of the “false statements” regulation, which prohibits making or using “any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry.”  Another CARB study in support of the off-road construction vehicle regulations violates the regulation as well because it overestimated the pollution caused by these vehicles by 340 percent. That little flub finally caused CARB to shamefacedly suspend the tainted regulation for the time being.

Asked if this kind of action by its staff – incompetence at best, criminal at worst – might call into question other allegedly scientific work of the air board, CARB chair and Tran co-conspirator Nichols told the Chronicle, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no and no.”  That may be easy for her to say, but evidence points to the real answer: CARB can’t be trusted to follow its own proposed regulation because it routinely justifies its actions through staff-authored studies that are false, false, false, false, false, false, false and false.

Despite all this, the state’s air police have the unbridled arrogance to attempt to stop others from doing what they do with criminal regularity, even if it means having to strip the public of its right to free speech in the process.