Two leading policy experts in California, a state that passed its Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006, are calling Vermont’s pursuit of similar legislation a big mistake.
On Thursday, the Vermont House of Representatives voted to override Gov. Phil Scott’s veto of H.688, setting the stage for the Global Warming Solutions Act to become law in the Green Mountain State. The bill turns carbon emission targets into law and enables citizens to sue the state over missed targets.
Across the country in California, that state’s residents marked the 14-year anniversary their own version of the same bill last week. Californians are now experiencing rolling blackouts and the highest energy prices in the nation, and critics are blaming the state’s aggressive green policies.
“The bottom line is, welcome to hell,” Will Swaim, president of the California Policy Center, told TNR in a phone interview. “If you want to know what your future is going to look like, take a look at California. This is not the future you want.”
Swaim said after 14 years, despite elevated power rates and rolling blackouts to accommodate more renewable energy, California continues to use mostly non-renewable sources of energy. Now it just comes from out of state.
“Most of the energy we now buy isn’t renewable, it’s produced by coal and natural gas outside of California, which makes us feel much better about ourselves that Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas are all producing electricity that’s just as dirty as the stuff we would have been producing on our own,” he said. “But since it’s not actually produced here it’s just consumed here, we pretend that we’re not contributing to global climate change. It’s theatrical. It is phony.”
Vermont’s and California’s Global Warming Solutions Acts share more than just the name. The California bill sets emission targets to reduce its carbon emissions levels to 2000 levels by 2010, to 1990 levels by 2020, and to a level 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Vermont’s requirements are 26% below 2005 carbon levels by 2025, then 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
Both bills require a new bureaucracy to set the policies intended to reach these emission targets. In the text of the California bill, SB 32, it describes the body given this task.
“The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 … authorizes the State Air Resources Board to adopt regulations to achieve the maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective greenhouse gas emissions reductions,” it states.
Vermont’s H.688 describes a 23-member climate council that will produce new rules.
For both states, critics describe these rule-making bodies as unaccountable to the voters. On the House Floor during a recent vote to approve the legislation, House Minority Leader Patricia McCoy, R-Poultney, stated, “I do not take lightly the responsibility of representing our citizenry and I am opposed to giving away my authority to draft a plan, write policies, and roll out a plan that will get us to our carbon emission goals.”
At about the same time, 2,500 miles away, Daniel Balcombe, a pastor for a church in Poway, California, posted that his state’s 2006 act created an “unelected bureaucracy.”
14 years ago California legislators gave super powers to an unelected bureaucracy with the mission of stopping global warming. 14 years later here we are complaining about how global warming is causing all these wildfires. Can we admit the Global Warming Solutions Act failed?
— Daniel Balcombe (@DanielBalcombe) September 9, 2020
Swaim said California’s energy policy is contributing to the raging wildfires at least in part due to lacking funds to update the power utilities’ transmission lines, some of them more than a century old.
“The utilities come back and say ‘you told us that we had to invest our new income on things like solar or other renewables, you close power plants, you’re limiting our capacity to use natural gas, what are we supposed to do?'” he said.
Swaim added that green energy policies contribute to the blackouts too, including one that lasted 12 hours when the temperatures were hitting 107 degrees.
“We’ve been told here don’t use any appliances between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. Why? Because that’s when the sun starts to go down and we have a shortage of electricity in California,” he said.
Hayden Ludwig, an investigative researcher at Capital Research Center and a native of Orange County, California, shared with True North how the GWSA is working out for them.
“Well, I can tell you that the bill has been pretty awful for Californians (speaking from experience),” he wrote in an email. “It led to creation of CA’s cap-and-trade framework, which I know VT is suffering under from RGGI [Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative].”
He says the state’s energy policies are hindering the ability to provide cheap and reliable energy to Californians.
“CA cutting itself off of the world’s most widely available, cost-effective, and efficient form of energy (natural gas and oil) for purely ideological reasons,” he wrote. “CA is a net importer of energy even though it sits on a vast reservoir of natural gas and oil. All of its solar panels and wind turbines were sold as clean and job-generating, but the truth is they’re unreliable, highly resource-intensive, and won’t replace other forms of proven energy sources.”
On Twitter, some users are associating California’s rolling blackouts with the green agenda. Jake Shields, of San Francisco, made that connection in a reply to Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris.
I guess this is why California keeps getting black outs https://t.co/zyn87yBZZu
— Jake Shields (@jakeshieldsajj) September 9, 2020