Sanity in the Main Stream Media
San Diego Union -Tribune
Energy mandates ignore real world
By Union-Tribune Editorial Board
Sunday, April 3, 2011 at 12:01 a.m.
Gov. Jerry Brown is expected in coming days to sign a bill requiring that 33 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2020, much more than the present requirement of 20 percent. This is by far the most ambitious plan of any state, spurred by a determination to reduce the emissions that contribute to global warming and to stop sending billions of dollars each year to oil-producing nations with troubling agendas.
But on two fronts, there is a quality of make-believe to the legislation.
For starters, given the extent of opposition to renewable-energy projects, California was going to struggle to meet the 20 percent requirement by 2020, much less a 33 percent standard.
Who are the most powerful opponents? As has been widely reported in the state and national media, it’s members of the same environmental movement that has led the fight for cleaner energy.
“NIMBY activism has blocked more renewable projects than coal-fired power plants by organizing local opposition, changing zoning laws, opposing permits, filing lawsuits and using other long delay mechanisms, effectively bleeding projects dry of their financing,” concluded a recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce report on the obstacles facing green-energy firms, which are often thwarted despite having governmental support and billions of venture capital.
This problem is amply evident in our own backyard with the many attempts to block solar and wind projects in Southern California deserts.
The air of make-believe surrounding the legislation continues with the never-ending attempts to depict a forced shift to cleaner but much costlier energy as a big boon to the larger California economy.
Independent experts hired to evaluate the California Air Resources Board’s upbeat study of the effects of mandating costlier power ridiculed this claim. Indirectly, at least, so did President Obama’s energy secretary, Steven Chu. He testified to Congress that the U.S. would be at a competitive disadvantage with its economic rivals if it shifted unilaterally to cleaner but costlier energy.
This isn’t rocket science. Energy costs are a key component of many industries, especially manufacturing. Yet even with California’s unemployment at 12 percent for the past year and a half, state leaders want to place a unique new burden on our economy.
Which brings us to an odd twist related to this legislation’s first make-believe element: If green activists prevent construction of renewable-energy plants in California, it may keep energy costs down.
This editorial page thinks there needs to be concerted global action on climate change. We hope that green technology born and made in California helps this global effort. We think most Californians agree with us.
But that doesn’t mean we should have a state energy policy that ignores the powerful green opposition to green goals and Chu’s warning. It’s time for Brown and the Legislature to get real.