April 16, 2011
California's Renewable Economic SuicideBy Claude Sandroff
Gov. Jerry Brown, flakier now as a recycled geriatric governor than he was as Governor Moonbeam decades ago, has decided to place his state into economic hospice care. By proudly signing legislation that would require California to obtain 33% of its electric power from renewable sources by 2020 -- the Renewable Energy Bill -- he is telegraphing that the state does not have much longer to live.
Already plagued with some of the highest energy costs in America, California businesses are now guaranteed even higher costs. If you learn about a manufacturing-focused company currently domiciled in California that does not have an exit strategy to relocate to Nevada, Arizona, or Texas, or hear of one that is thinking about moving to California, sell their shares immediately.
"Instead of taking oil from thousands of miles away we're taking the sun," Brown beamed before the signing ceremony.
Of course, the only reason Brown and his fellow travelers would have to import oil from thousand of miles away is because they refuse to exploit California's own colossal petroleum reserves estimated recently by the Energy Information Agency at over 3 billion barrels, six times our yearly imports from Saudi Arabia. The same source estimates California's proven natural gas reserves at over 3,500 trillion cubic feet, a number that grew by 10% between 2008 and 2009.
Intermittent by nature, wind and solar are only remotely feasible when always-on sources -- coal, natural gas, and nuclear -- provide the base-load power. Supposedly pagan lovers of the unspoiled earth, the Californian legislators who are leading us over the precipice of insolvency are willing to devote about 300 times more land for wind farms than the land needed to generate the equivalent amount of energy from a nuclear facility.
It doesn't seem to bother the typical green zombie at all that a wind farm uses 30 times more concrete and 140 times more steel than the energy-equivalent natural gas facility and that the cement industry is the second largest emitter of CO2 after power generation, with iron and steel production not far behind. And the giant 100-meter turbine blades will probably not be made in the US but in India.
Jerry Brown was flanked by Barack Obama's sunbeam Energy Secretary, Steven Chu. That Chu would be thrilled to join by Brown's signing is no surprise given that Chu's great hope and dream for energy is to "somehow ... figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe."
Well on his way to having succeeded in accomplishing that goal for the country -- the national average for a gallon of gasoline has risen 108% since Obama's inauguration -- Chu will soon be able to boast about having supported the regime that figured out how to significantly increase the cost of electricity in California.
Brown and the bill's sponsor, Senator Joseph Simitian, believe that wind and solar power will reinvigorate the state and were proud to announce that 100 new jobs would be created in the solar cell facility serving as the Silicon Valley backdrop for the signing.
Only the delusional can get excited about 100 green jobs. In a depressing study from UC-Berkeley in 2010, only 1% of Californians are employed in the green industry despite one absurd, voter-supported green referendum after another. After all, before the Renewable Energy Bill we had Arnold Schwarzenegger's AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act and, before that in 2008 Californians voted to float a $10 billion bond to support high-speed rail.
While the rest of the country turned sharp right last November, California doubled down on its radical leftist bet and decreased the number of state-wide republican office-holders. We now have none. The same election cycle that brought us a conservative-free ruling class also saw Prop 23 fail to delay implementation of AB 32 in hopes of preserving jobs certain to be lost requiring the state to reduce its CO2 emissions by 12% below current levels by 2012.
Indeed the business exodus from California has become so self-destructive and violent a stampede that frustrated CA Assemblyman Dan Logue has organized a fact-finding mission to Texas, in hopes of learning what Texas is doing right and California is doing so wrong, when it comes to jobs creation.
It's hard to guess he'll learn anything we don't already know: California's problems are self-inflicted. We weren't brought to our knees by earthquakes, fires, floods, or droughts though we have our share of all of these, but by multi-generational, one-party inept liberal governance. For much of this Californians themselves are to blame.
The effectiveness of California's suicidal economic policies is inversely proportional to their supposed environmental good. Only the Western world's greatest satirists -- a Petronius or a Swift -- could do justice to the lunatic, self-righteous legislative victories of California's governing left.
Certainly reading the output of this imagined literary genius would be a lot more fun than living in the reality of a dying green experiment, governed by a whacked-out septuagenarian, run by one-party legislature voted in by neighbors unable to discern how quickly our light is dying.
Claude can be reached at email@example.com.