Scott Wilk | Newsom’s Green Policies Aspirational, but Not Practical

Scott Wilk

“It’s the economy, stupid.” Not much has changed since political consultant James Carville uttered those words during the 1992 presidential elections. 

The 2021-22 legislative session ended Aug. 31, and the governor has until Sept. 30 to decide the fate of around 1,000 bills. I’ll tell you – few will help families struggling to recoup their jobs and life savings in this semi-post-pandemic, economically difficult time, but that didn’t stop this governor and his fellow Democrats from doubling down on the state’s efforts to lead the nation in green policies.

Rather than focusing on what would help almost all Californians – lowering the cost of living – the governor prioritized and signed into law legislation enabling his green energy agenda. 

It creates wholly aspirational long-term goals first, leaving worries about the policy and regulations to implement them for later. 

This will cause significant upheaval to lives, communities, jobs, industries and the economy, because the technology, infrastructure and money aren’t there to back up the policies and keep the state running.

For example, Democrats codified new emission standards requiring the state to use 100% renewable energy by 2045. 

And, still under consideration, the California Air Resources Board – largely made up of gubernatorial appointees – banned the sale of gas-powered cars by 2035. 

The problem: The numbers and goals are being picked arbitrarily. The state has no pathway for how to achieve these standards without destabilizing the energy grid.

Former Gov. Jerry Brown plucked the year 2045 out of the air back in 2018. Then as now, “scientists debate whether cost-efficient 100% clean energy is feasible or if it would require new technological advances.”

That the technology is not there is evidenced by the governor’s last-minute legislation at the end of the session to extend the life of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant another five years, until 2030. 

While this bill flies in the face of all the green rhetoric, Diablo Canyon – a source of clean, renewable energy – supplies almost 10% of the state’s energy. The grid would collapse without it.

I appreciate that the governor eventually recognized how unprepared California is for his climate goals. Yet, had Democrats given some thought to the implementation of their green agenda prior to passing it, the governor’s Hail Mary would’ve been unnecessary.

The Legislature’s push to eliminate oil production in California is another feel-good policy for Democrats wanting to claim California leads the nation’s green movement. In reality, California still relies heavily on fossil fuels. 

As a result, we are shifting to a greater reliance on imported oil from countries with worse environmental and human rights records, not to mention all the in-state jobs lost.

The ink was barely dry on national news stories about the governor’s green energy policy coups when a 10-day heat wave strained the state’s power grid to the point citizens were told to expect rolling blackouts. 

Highs hit 116 in Sacramento, and the governor begged people to turn air conditioners off so California’s lights would stay on.

Also due to the heat wave and only a week after the administration announced the ban of gas-powered car sales, the same administration advised electric car owners to avoid plugging in their vehicles. (Well, there’s an argument for keeping gas-powered cars.)

The only reason the grid didn’t fail, and Californians didn’t experience blackouts, was because ordinary Californians restricted their power usage and the grid can still rely on nuclear power, hydropower and natural gas… the very forms of energy the governor and progressive Democrats seek to restrict or eliminate.

I believe in climate change and am committed to working on energy goals that not only move us forward, but also are balanced and practical – policies that don’t fly in the face of common sense, safety and affordability. 

Inflation is at a 40-year high, families are paying some of the highest gas and energy prices in the country, the cost of housing and food is skyrocketing. Californians are being forced to figure out how to absorb the costs associated with half-baked energy policies into their already stretched budgets.

Californians want a green future, but not at the expense of their quality of life. Picking arbitrary goals and making wholesale changes to our economy and infrastructure before we have the technological capability to implement them safely and practically is not good governance.

A last point the governor and Democrats should recall about energy policy – Gov. Gray Davis. Californians REALLY don’t like unreliable power, and for most of us right now, it really is about the economy, stupid.

Sen. Scott Wilk is the current Senate Republican leader and represents the 21st Senate District, which includes the Antelope, Santa Clarita and Victor valleys.

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