Abominations Dodged, Abominations Passed

Photo: Josh Arason

Photo: Josh Arason

The Legislature has wrapped up its work, passing on a passel of truly bad bills to Gov. Brown, who will sign most of them. A few truly abominable bills didn’t pass, thankfully. Here’s the rundown:

Abominations Passed

California is on its way to once again having the most onerous gun control laws in the nation, as these bills passed:

  • SB 374 by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento — would add all semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines to the state’s list of banned assault weapons.
  • SB 475 by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco — would ban gun shows at the Cow Palace exhibition hall for all intents and purposes, since its requires approval from San Francisco and San Mateo supervisors for such shows.
  • SB 683 by Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego — would require owners of long guns to earn safety certificates like those already required of handgun owners.
  • AB 48 by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley — would ban conversion kits that allow people to turn regular magazines into high-capacity magazines.
  • AB 180 by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland — would give Oakland an exemption from state pre-emption so it can pass its own stricter gun registration or licensing statutes.
  • AB 711 by Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-South Gate — would ban use of lead ammunition in hunting. One of my clients, Tejon Ranch, jumped the gun on this one (pardon the pun), banning lead ammo a number of years ago in order to protect condors from lead poisoning they were getting from consuming lead shot in carrion they were eating. That’s great, truly, but I worry that anti-gun forces now have an easy lift to find reasons to ban copper and other types of ammo as well.

Other abominations:

  • Planned Parenthood-sponsored AB 154, would allow nurses, midwives and other non-doctor medical professionals to perform abortions in Planned Parenthood clinics – saving the big abortion group big bucks – and elsewhere.
  • AB 10 by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville — would hike the minimum wage from $8 an hour to $9 next July and to $10 in January 2016. Gov. Brown has signaled enthusiasm for this bill, which (natch) will give California the highest minimum wage in the land,. And that will make California less competitive. Fortunately, an indexing provision that would have resulted in automatic increases was dropped.
  • SB 4 by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Calabasas — would impose regulations on fracking and other alternative means of extracting oil and gas. Most fracking in California occurs 1,000 feet or so below aquifers, so the risk of damage by fracking is tiny compared to the economic benefits fracking will bring. Greens opposed this bill because they thought it didn’t go far enough, but they needn’t  worry: This is California where regulations just get tougher and tougher, until they go far beyond what logic and science would dictate.
  • AB 4 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco — the TRUST Act, would partially withdraw California’s cooperation in the federal Secure Communities deportation program. The California Immigrant Policy Center, which would like to see illegal immigrants treated as citizens (at a minimum), loves the bill: “The TRUST Act limits cruel and costly requests from immigration authorities to detain people in local jails for extra time, and local expense, just for deprotation [sic] purposes.” In other words, lawful jailing of illegal immigrants pending deportation is now unlawful in California.
  • More notoriously on the immigration front, AB 60 by Alejo would let illegal immigrants living in California obtain driver’s licenses. Brown has signaled he will sign it, which would break his campaign pledge to fight drivers licenses for illegals. Another slide down the slippery slope to no borders.

Abominations on Ice

Before popping open the champagne, remember that any of these bills not passed by the Legislature could come back next year – and several likely will:

These gun control bills didn’t make it on their first try:

  • SB 47 by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco — would have banned “bullet buttons” that allow fast swapping of rifle magazines.
  • SB 53 by Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles — would have required background checks for ammunition purchases.
  • SB 396 by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley — would have forced Californians to give up all ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, no matter when they were bought. Its a short step from being forced to turn in your gun components to being forced to turn in your guns.

Also on ice:

  • One of the worst bills of the session, SB 323 by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Long Beach, didn’t make it this year. It would have revoked the tax-exempt status of any “public charity youth organization,” such as the Boy Scouts, that discriminates on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality or religion.
  • Some may think I’m out of my gourd saying SB 135 by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys  is an abomination, since it would require that the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services develop a comprehensive earthquake early-warning system. What could be wrong with that? Well, for starters, there currently is no feasible earthquake early-warning system to install. It would be smarter to watch China and Japan, which are dumping billions into developing a system, to see if they come up with something that works. If they do, we can copy it and save the billions California would waste on overwrought systems that don’t work, as is our tradition.
  • AB 976 by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, D-San Diego — would have allowed the California Coastal Commission to impose fines. The Commission is, as I wrote in Crazifornia, already the Star Chamber of the coast. More power is something it does not need.

The Democrats and their friends in the media insist on calling this session a moderate one, saying they restrained themselves from charting too Progressive a course in order to protect their chances in 2014′s elections. So, this mess is moderate, Crazifornia style.

 

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The “California Miracle” Media Frenzy

Rolling Stone BomberRolling Stone, the music magazine with a longstanding hard-left view of politics (infamously evidenced by the accompanying cover), has gone mainstream.

Like dozens of mainstream media before it, it is hero-worshiping Jerry Brown, praising him for the “miraculous” economic rebound California is enjoying. Before we question how miraculous it may be, let’s let Tim Dickenson, the author of “Jerry’ Brown’s Tough-Love Miracle” in the current issue of Rolling Stone, explain just what Jerry’s pulled off:

America’s shrewdest elder statesmen blazed a best-worst way out of California’s economic morass. With a stiff cocktail of budget cuts and hard-won new taxes, Brown has not only zeroed out the deficit, he’s also begun paying down the debt. “Jerry Brown’s leadership is a rebuttal to the failed policies of Republicans in Washington,” says Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress. “California is proving you can have sane tax systems, raise revenues, eliminate structural deficits and have economic growth.”

Fed up with the state’s own obstructionist Republicans, California voters have even given Brown a Democratic supermajority in the state legislature. As a result, the Golden State is now reasserting itself as a proving ground for the kind of bold ideas that Republicans have roadblocked in Washington – including a cap-and-trade carbon market, high-speed rail and education-funding reform.

Nobody moveAs an obstructionist Republican myself, I understand the courage it takes – and ridicule it engenders – to stand in front of a run-away train like California, hold up your measly skin-and-bone hand against the juggernaut, and scream “Halt!” I get the motivation behind trying to stop giving the state more money to spend when it has such a robust history of blowing through every penny it’s got and having less to show for it than a sailor waking up with a crippling hangover and a budding case of the clap.

Be that as it may, Dickenson is right. California voters did give the Democrats a super-majority, which in turn gives Brown everything he needs to create his legacy. Republican-weary journalists around the nation responded joyfully to last November’s election results, heralding a turn-around in California with stories that, like Dickenson’s are designed to mute small government, anti-tax Republicans everywhere.

I’m not grumbling about a better California economy – far from it. When the unemployment rate falls from 12.5 percent to 8.7 percent, as California’s has, it means formerly desperate people are getting by again, children are eating better, and businesses are getting back customers they lost. (It also means a lot of Californians gave up on the state and left for more job-friendly places, of course, but why bother pointing that out?) What I’m grumbling about is how rose-tinted Dickenson’s glasses are.

He praises Brown on the environment while ignoring how California’s toughest-in-the-nation environmental regulations, along with its Progressive tax structure, drive businesses out of state.

He loves how California is leading the way to Obamacare, while ignoring the fact that major insurers are bailing from the state’s plan, raising questions about its viability.

He gives Brown good marks on education because spending is up, but ignores the fact that California’s schools continue to slide. Eighty-six percent of schools in the state fell short of No Child Left Behind goals this year.

And worst in the world of objective reporting, he fails to mention any of the many troubles that threaten California’s future economic vitality.  The voter-approved 2012 tax hike Brown championed isn’t permanent, so the current bump in revenues will drop in just over three years when the sales tax increase ends, and peter out the following year when the sales tax increase ends.

Meanwhile, Brown is not attending to the state’s fundamental fiscal instability. He isn’t proposing changes to the state’s over-reliance on income taxes on the wealthy. His lifelong fondness of public employee unions is keeping him from addressing the unfunded liabilities the state, its counties and cities carry in their employee pension plans. And his long-running, red-hot love affair with Mother Nature doesn’t bode well for any meaningful effort to make the state less regulated and therefore more business-friendly. In fact, the state’s renewable energy goals and carbon taxes are going to drive up energy costs (we’re already $3.90/kilowatt hour more expensive than the national average) and make electricity less reliable. That will force even more businesses to leave.

Rolling Stone can have its fun and write happily about all the cool stuff that happens when Republicans are minimized to irrelevance. Let’s see how well they cover the impending, inevitable consequences of having too many Democrats in the wheelhouse.

California’s Mullet Budget

It’s all hoopla in Sacramento today as Jerry Brown and the Legislative leaders sign the 2013-2014 California state budget into law. Jerry calls the balanced budget a sign that things are rosy in California again.

I say rose is just another shade of red.

The budget keeps the state employee pension gravy train intact, along with its $500 billion dollar hit on future generations. It doesn’t do nearly enough to address our debt, which is now pegged at $100,000 per California household. And it keeps the multi-billion-dollar boondoggle known as California High Speed Rail on track.

But wait, it gets even worse than that.

mulletThe guy with the best line about this dangerously expensive sham of a budget is Republican Assemblyman Jeff Gorell of Camarillo who called it “the mullet budget” – Conservative in front, very liberal in back.

He pointed to how the budget defers the restart of several expensive social welfare programs that were cut during the recession until the 11th month of the fiscal year. If those very expensive, very ongoing programs were implemented at the start of the budget year, or even  half way through the budget year, the budget would not be balanced. So … conservative up front, liberal in the back. Brilliant!

Of course, the next California budget will have to start with the assumption those programs will be in effect for all 12 months, so a new trick will be needed to balance the books. Maybe a new tax on millionaires ….

For more on what’s wrong with the budget Brown and the Democrat super-majority are pretending to be so happy about, read this post by Katy Grimes at CalWatchdog.

 

Still More Oakland Bay Bridge Cali-Incompetence

Oakland Bay BridgeIt’s been almost a quarter century – 23 years, seven months and four days, to be exact – since the Loma Prieta earthquake knocked out a section of the eastern span of the Oakland Bay Bridge, causing one of the earthquake’s 57 fatalities.

Despite the huge chunk of time that’s passed, California is still bungling along without a safe replacement bridge in place. Talk about Cali-Incompetence! Yes, the new span is supposed to be ready to open this Labor Day, Sept. 5, but whether does, and whether it’s safe remain to be seen. And the cost? The first bid came in at $1.4 billion, and we’re at $6.3 billion today … with some potentially very expensive fix-it work ahead.

Here’s a brief summary and timeline of the slowly unfolding human disaster that followed the natural disaster:

  • After the quake, Republican governor Pete Wilson proposed a concrete viaduct as a replacement, which could be built cheaply ($1 billion) and safely.
  • That idea was promptly shot down by haughty Bay Area leaders, who refused to accept something as pedestrian as a viaduct. (A viaduct is mundane – just several short spans tied together, getting from one side to the other without any showiness.)
  • For the next ten years, Bay Area politicians fought over an appropriate design, while the patched-together Oakland Bay Bridge remained vulnerable to the next big quake. So what if a few more people die in the name of great bridge architecture?
  • New Oakland Bay bridgeIt was decided the western portion of the eastern span (leaving Yerba Buena Island towards Oakland) would be a “signature structure” and the rest would be … a viaduct.  A design contest was held, Wikipedia tells us, that was judged by the Engineering and Design Advisory Panel (EDAP) of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. You might be shocked – Shocked! – to learn that many of the design finalists were proposals submitted by the very firms that employed EDAP members, and the ultimate winner was an EDAP member’s entry. “This posed a serious conflict of interest,” says Wikipedia. Indeed, especially since the selected design was more expensive than the alternatives.
  • The mayor of Oakland, one Jerry Brown, protested mightily because the signature structure was as far away from Oakland as it possibly could be. He said the design “speaks of mediocrity, not greatness.” As an Oakland native, I can say that mediocrity is actually a complimentary symbol for the town.
  • Gov. Gray Davis put an end to the squabbling and moved the selected design forward, signature span, viaduct and all.
  • When construction bids – well, there was only one bid, actually – were opened in September 2004 state officials were surprised to see it was $1.4 billion, about twice what the ace number-crunchers at Caltrans thought it would be.
  • Gray was gone and Arnold was in, and in December 2004 Gov. Schwarzenegger canceled the contract, saying it was too expensive. Instead, he wanted an all-viaduct design. Ghosts of Pete Wilson!
  • Signature span hawks fought back in a battle of conflicting cost estimates until, in November of 2005, a “compromise” was reached that returned the signature span. It’s not clear to me what the countering half of this compromise was, but the cost of the delay is clear enough: as much as $400 million. That’s a small price to pay for great bridge architecture, right?
  • Construction got underway, and a few months later, in April 2005, welds on the bridge were called into question.
  • Baby Bridge oopsieOn October 27, 2009, a crossbar and two tension rods collapsed, dumping 2.5 tons of debris onto the upper deck roadway during the evening commute. One car and a delivery truck were struck, but no one was killed. The bridge was closed to traffic in both directions for six days. (Photo credit: San Francisco Chronicle)
  • In November 2009, a cracked eyebar was discovered that would have closed the bridge had it not been under a temporary construction closure already.
  • As detailed in Crazifornia, in November 2011 Caltrans got caught covering up that one of its staffers had fabricated the results of tests on the integrity of Bay Bridge concrete pours, including pours of the structure supporting the massively heavy signature span tower. A report on what this means to the bridge’s integrity is due out in Spring 2013 – any day now.
  • In March 2013, three big bolts (3 to 19 feet in length) that connect portions of the bridge deck to concrete columns failed load tests. Subsequently, 30 of the 96 bolts failed the test. Some of these bolts cannot be removed because the bridge has been built around them.
  • And just this last Saturday, the Sacramento Bee reported that incompetent construction and bureaucratic ineptitude have led to rust forming on steel tendons that are critical to the bridge’s safe operation. First, Caltrans did a duct tape fix (Really, with actual duct tape, God bless ‘em!), then they attempted to minimize this problem, but metallurgists who know a lot more about how steel performs than Caltrans have declared the rust to be a very big deal.

So, what did we get for our quarter century of waiting and 450 percent cost overrun? A bridge with a design that satisfies no one, that may not have met the basic requirement that it be safe, and that certainly will have much higher ongoing maintenance and repair costs than it should have.

Welcome to Crazifornia, and thank you, Caltrans.

Jerry Brown’s Zombie Budget

Gov. Brown presentation of the annual May revise of the state budget this morning wasn’t the duck-and-shuffle we’ve grown used to, in which our gov du jour confesses that revenues weren’t nearly as good as “projected” (read: in our wildest dreams) when the budget was first released in January, then launches into a long list of proposed cuts.

PlagueZombiesNope, the Prop 30 tax increase and an improved California economy have the state economy up and walking again … if a bit zombie-like. Brown led the zombies with a dreary but true warning that the economy is still under threat, with lots of stuff at the federal level (sequestration key among them) trickling down to hurt the state.

There’s also plenty wrong in California, as it trudges along dead-eyed and scary with a burden of up to $1.1 trillion of combined state and local government debt, and an over-sized, over-paid, over-coddled and under-performing quarter million state employees. We’re also waiting to see if the recent tax hikes and California’s ongoing regulatory zealotry will increase the exodus of business owners and the wealthy from the state, taking their tax payments with them.

Dem Response: Polite Hostility

The Democrat super-majority knows it has to say it’s dedicated to not squandering the current cash flow, but look at their reactions and you see some between-the-lines and not so between-the-lines clues that they are cued up and ready to spend, baby, spend. All quotes are from the SacBee.

I agree we must aggressively pay down our state’s debt and set aside money for a reserve, but there’s a disappointing aspect to this proposal. It’s important that we also begin making up for some of the damage done to tens of thousands of Californians. – Sen. Pres. Pro Tem  Darryl Steinberg

Our economy is showing signs of recovery but our budget is sending us mixed signals. The modest surplus we now possess took a lot of sacrifice to obtain and we cannot squander it. With many Californians still out of work, this budget is not just about paying down debt and saving money for a rainy day. It is also about growing our economy and broadening opportunities for Californians to succeed through education and a better environment for small business. – Assembly Budget Committee chair Bob Blumenfield

The May Revise continues to shortchange the most vulnerable in our state–such as those who need health care, child care, access to justice, or essential support services to escape poverty. – Dem Assemblyman Robert Dickinson

Mr. Dickinson, have you not heard that California spends three times more per capita on social welfare programs than it should, based on national per capita averages? We need to shortchange many welfare recipients more, not pay them more.

California’s fundamentals are still wrong. We are too dependent on taxing the wealthy, we are a long way from getting control over burgeoning pension and benefit costs, far too much education funding is wasted on fulfilling unnecessary reporting mandates from Sacramento and paying under-performing teachers, and, as mentioned above, our social welfare programs need to be brought in line with other states’.

But at least the budget’s in the black for a change.

 

Brown Gives Up, Returns to Zen

April 1, 2013 – Crazifornia heard today from credible sources that Jerry Brown will soon resign as governor and return to his earlier pursuit of Nirvana somewhere other than Sacramento.

“If I can’t push California at least a little bit in the right direction – and Lord knows, I haven’t – then no one can,” Brown told our source, who ran into the soon-to-be-ex-governor Saturday at a coffee shop in Williams, California, near the governor’s Colusa ranch .

Jerry Brown meditating at his Colusa ranch.

Jerry Brown meditating at his Colusa ranch.

We’re told Brown continued, “The very thought that I considered myself capable of fixing California is an indication that I am lost in my ego. It’s time to move my inner being out of Sacramento and back to a simpler way, so it’s bye-bye bogus budgets and last-minute legislation and hello mediation mat.”

We called two prominent California politicos with the news and found them shocked, but respectful of Brown’s ability to at least appear he’s doing more than most recent governors toward improving California’s desperate condition.

“Sure, he promoted the high speed rail fiasco in spite of all logic and his attack on public employee pensions was more of an ‘excuse me’ than the needed frontal assault, but he was better than Gray Davis,” said state GOP leader Jim Brulte in one of the best examples of damning by faint praise we’ve heard recently.

Senate president pro tem (and likely candidate to replace Brown) Darryl Steinberg told us, “I had to fight Jerry from time to time because he kept trying to look too much like he was actually trying to do something to slow down our union, trial lawyer and trust fund baby benefactors, but even so, he was better than Schwarzenegger.”  Wow – faint praise seems to be the new trend in Sacramento!

We expect Steinberg, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsome and two or three hundred other hangers on, goof balls and wannabes will run for the vacant seat in a special election currently scheduled for October 31.

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.

A Well-Spent $24,000

Texas governor Rick Perry just showed California a thing or two about using public funds wisely. He leveraged a $24,000 ad buy – less than enough to buy next to nothing in California’s expensive media markets – into a full week’s news coverage for his campaign to woo California companies to Texas.

Why is Rick Perry covering his nose?

Why is Rick Perry covering his nose?

Gov. Jerry Brown assured Perry’s success when he said of his counterpart’s ad program, “It’s not a burp … it’s barely a fart.” Those eight words bought Perry at least $8 million in California and national print, broadcast and blog visibility.

Not to be out-stupid-ed, Senate President ProTem Darrell Steinberg wrote an op-ed for the Orange County Register in which he taunted Perry, saying, “Bring it on.”

Engaging with Perry is ultimately a losing proposition since Texas has added 400,000 jobs in the last five years while California lost 640,000. We can be pretty darn certain that numbers count for more in business than they do in California government.

Instead of belittling Perry, California’s two top leaders should have been bitch-slapping the Franchise Tax Board for its stupid retroactive tax hike on successful businesses, or telling the Air Resources Board to stop beating up on truckers, or throwing incentive-laced body blocks on departing over-taxed millionaires, or leading any number of other real pro-business initiatives.

The fact that they opted for words instead of actions played into Perry’s hands and allowed Texas to notch up one more in the win column.

 

Time to Stop Bashing California?

WoodshedCrazifornia has been taken to the woodshed by liberal columnist Froma Harrop. Her piece Thursday in Real Clear Politics, Tough Times for California Bashers, declares:

[W]hen the Golden State conspicuously succeeds, California bashers find themselves at a loss. Until recently mired in deep budget deficits, California’s general fund is set to end next year in a surplus.
Surely deeper evil lies ready to bubble up, the bashers warn. To them, California resembles the phantom Rollo Tomasi from “L.A. Confidential” — the criminal “who gets away clean.”

It must especially pain conservatives that sunnier economic news partly results from voters directly rejecting Republican politicians and their agenda. A simplification here, but California’s famously dysfunctional politics have reflected Democrats’ desire to spend on certain public goals and Republican resistance to raising revenues needed to fund them.

So what did the voters do? Last November, they approved a temporary tax hike on themselves, expected to add $6 billion annually in revenues for the next seven years. And they handed Democrats a two-thirds supermajority in the state legislature, enabling them to raise taxes without Republican support.

Cornered by good news, some conservatives need to lash out.

I confess, I do lash a bit, but no, I’m hardly at a loss. Behind the liberals’ rush to launch into a rowdy rendition of Happy Days are Here Again remains a wealth of inconvenient truths they would rather ignore. Harrop certainly does.

She passes off the flight of companies and capital (both fiscal and intellectual) from the state with a Scarlet O’Hara-esque, “Right, and they’re no longer sewing sweatshirts in Manhattan or butchering cows in Chicago.” Cute, but it doesn’t turn the moving vans around. She lampoons our concerns about the costs inherent with the shift to subsidy-needing alternative energies without admitting our power costs are the highest in the nation and no one is predicting them to drop any time soon.

And she doesn’t even mention underfunded public employee retirement and health plans which will cost hundreds of billions of dollars to make whole. That’s billions, Froma, hundreds of ‘em. Oops. Was I lashing?

I could go on, but I sense you’re probably ahead of me on this anyway. If you’re not and still believe the Jerry Brown Choir that all is now better in California, I suggest you read Wayne Lusvardi’s response to Harrop at CalWatchdog, Is CA Really Barreling Down Recovery Road?

 

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.