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In 2006 the California Legislature passed the most sweeping environmental legislation in the nation. Celebrity Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger couldn’t wait to put his signature to the bill.
The two basic pillars of AB 32 was first, to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020 and second set up a cap and trade system that would make evil polluters buy credits to offset their GHG emissions. The money from the credits would go to fund green projects that would in turn meet the goals of pollution reduction.
At the time an overwhelming number of Californians enthusiastically supported this noble undertaking without asking what it would eventually cost.
The slick politicians told the gullible public not to worry about such minor details. And besides they could feel great about what they were doing and could look smugly at other benighted states that hadn’t reached their level of enlightened environmental consciousness.
Then in 2010 alarms were raised about the cost and the economic harm that might come if AB 32 was fully implemented.
Signatures were gathered for a ballot initiative that would delay implementation of AB 32 until California’s unemployment rate reached a level of 5.5%. In 2010 California’s unemployment rate was one of the highest in the nation at 12.4%.
Prop 23 as the initiative was labeled was opposed by Arnold and both candidates who were running for governor that year-Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman. Although Whitman said if elected she would use a provision in the legislation that allowed the governor to suspend the law.
Big money was spent from both sides.
Tom Steyer, the liberal billionaire who is currently trying to buy his way into “environmental heaven” after making his fortune in oil, gas and coal spent $10 million all by his lonesome to defeat the measure.
Arnold and his Hollywood pals campaigned up and down the state to protect his only achievement-and a dubious one at that.
Oil companies and refiners warned that unless AB 32 was suspended fuel prices in California would rise as they would be forced to spend millions on emissions credits through the legalized extortion racket called cap and trade.
This January their unheeded warnings will become a reality as the hidden gas tax kicks in.
Some environmentalists say that the refiners should just eat that cost and not pass it along to consumers as a way to demonstrate that they are good corporate citizens.
However this form of “economic altruism” would not sit well with the stockholders and this isn’t how a business is run.
This new hidden gas tax will also hit rural and working Californians the hardest. Raising the tax on gasoline will mean they will have less to spend on necessities like say food or rent.
Trickle down poverty brought to you by California’s elitists.
One particularly clueless Sierra Club leader said recently that to save money they should carpool or take public transit.
Has this person ever been to rural California except for weekend treks to commune with nature?
And as far as the oil and gas industry eating the cost, is the farmer supposed to eat the cost when he spends more on fuel to produce the food we consume?
But the coming gas increase as well as higher costs for electricity is not just the fault of radical environmentalists and conniving politicians.
In 2010, Prop 23 was defeated by a wide margin-62% ‘no’ to 38% ‘yes’.
The 62% who voted ‘no’ will not be shielded from this tax or any other negative economic impacts of AB 32. It will affect 100%.
California voters elected the politicians who passed the AB 32 boondoggle in the first place and they overwhelmingly ratified that law in 2010 when they defeated Prop 23 which would have postponed its implementation.
Those who voted to suspend AB 32 have the small consolation that they were right. Those who voted to keep it intact only have to look in the mirror for someone to blame when the higher gas prices hit in January.
So here is your Cowboy Wisdom for the Week and it comes from that great journalist and satirist of the 1920s, H.L Mencken.“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard”.
The people thought they knew what they wanted.
But they are finding out that environmentalism in the abstract is terrific especially when it is only polluters who will pay. Now that they will have to bear the cost their environmental enthusiasm has waned.
And they are about to get it good and hard.
Patrick Dorinson is a veteran of the political wars and has been a columnist for the FOX News.com Opinion on the FOX News website. He is the resident political analyst for Morning New on Newstalk 1530 KFBK radio in Sacramento, California. He also appears regularly as a commentator on local television.