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Kristin Eberhard’s Blog

Here's Texas Again Trying to Impose Its Views on California

Kristin Eberhard

Posted September 13, 2010 in Curbing Pollution

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Apparently, it’s not enough that fossil fuel conglomerates are fighting implementation of AB 32, California’s landmark clean energy bill that will create thousands of jobs, pump up R&D on cleantech, slash global warming pollution, and put the state on the cutting edge of the global clean energy economy.  Now Texas and three other states with Attorneys General beholden to Dirty Oil and Big Coal have jumped on the high carbon bandwagon, vowing to sue California as a last-ditch effort to kill AB 32. 

Proponents of clean energy and jobs already are battling Proposition 23, a stalking horse ballot initiative funded by out-of-state oil companies Valero and Tesoro and the billionaire Koch brothers  that would suspend implementation of AB 32 indefinitely.  Though Proposition 23 is deceptively touted as a “jobs protection” bill, its real goal is to keep California dependent on fossil fuels and keep profits pouring into the coffers of those polluting corporations that don’t care about sacrificing California’s health and clean air standards.

Now Attorneys General (AG’s are not part of administration in CA – are they in these other states?) from Texas, Alabama, Nebraska and North Dakota — all states with dirty oil and big coal interests – have vowed to sue California if Proposition 23 fails at the ballot box.  They claim that AB 32 constrains free commerce because it establishes limits on California’s greenhouse gas emissions, possibly affecting the interstate purveyance of electricity produced by dirty fossil fuels.

This isn’t just a desperate gambit by dirty energy corporations and their government minions to turn back the technological clock – it is spurious legal strategy.  Here’s why:

  • The state Attorneys General threatening these actions probably don’t even have standing to get into court.  The states they represent are not selling electricity to California, and in fact, for the most part, the states themselves don’t sell any electricity at all.  Private corporations within the states sell electricity, but it is not the state Attorney General’s job to represent private corporations – their job, as a public official, is to represent the citizens of their state.  Wasting time and public money suing California over our efforts to chart a clean energy future seems a wasteful way to carry out this public trust. 
  • California imports about 27% of its electricity: 8% from the Pacific Northwest and 18% from the Southwest.  None comes from Texas (which, to avoid Federal Regulatory Energy Commission’s jurisdiction, maintains its own electricity grid, separate from the rest of the West), nor Alabama, Nebraska, and North Dakota. 
  • California is not discriminating against out-of-state power producers in favor of those operating within California.  Rather, AB 32 creates a level playing field to ensure the greenhouse gas emissions of in-state and out-of-state power producers who deliver electricity to California are treated exactly the same.  Out-of-state producers can still sell power to California; they will just have to play by the same rules as producers inside California. 
  • California’s public agencies have carefully designed their electricity sector regulations to keep things even across state lines.  They have conducted an exhaustive public process over the past four years, inviting all impacted parties to participate in a series of workshops, hearings, and comment letters, and have examined and responded to a host of legal issues.  If Texas and others see a real legal problem (rather than a political problem) with AB 32, they have had ample opportunity (four years!) to raise it.   
  • The Attorneys General have no basis on which to prevent California from attempting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently issued an “endangerment finding” for greenhouse gases, concluding – on the back of overwhelming scientific evidence – that greenhouse gases, including CO2, endanger public health and welfare.  The state of California has every right to take legislative action to protect the health and economic wellbeing of the people who live in California, and Texas has no right to interfere.

Finally, a certain irony must be noted here. These same four states are often the first to champion of states’ rights, resenting what they claim is undue interference from outside authorities.  Their intrusion into California’s internal issues is therefore all the more puzzling. The lawsuits they threaten undermine states’ rights, and smack of hypocrisy.  Here in California, we are looking to protect our residents’ public health and economic future.  We will actively resist the short-sighted attempts of other states – or the corporations that try to use public officials to further their private agendas – to keep us addicted to oil.

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Comments

Earl RichardsSep 14 2010 12:00 PM

The California Jobs Initiative (CJI) is an oil corporation farce and fraud. There is not connection, whatsoever, between greenhouse gas emission reduction and the loss of jobs. This notion is an insult to the intelligence of the people of California. In fact, there is job growth in the clean, renewable energy industry. Chevron employs 65,000 worldwide and CJI is not going to change this. The only jobs created by the oil industry are clean-up jobs after oil spills and deep water, blow-outs and pump-handler jobs. CJI will make fantastic profits for the oil industry, increase air pollution, especially in communities around their refineries, and there will not be lower gas prices. Koch Industries, Valero and Tesoro are super Enrons. Since when did the oil companies start to show any concern for the unemployed and their families?

Jim DrennanSep 14 2010 09:51 PM

Earl, one thing can be said you are consistent. You've pasted this exact post on nearly every article I've read on Prop 23. It makes me wonder if you bother to read the articles before you post this canned diatribe. Like Kristin, you over-simplify and state opinion as fact. AB32 impacts almost every job in CA with draconian regulations, fees and a cap and trade program (pioneered by ENRON and Goldman Sachs). The statement that green jobs has been a "bright spot" in CA's troubled economy is an "insult to the intelligence of the people of CA". The probable number of green jobs (as determined by the PEW Charitable Trust study of the "Clean Energy Economy", which is most quoted by the AB32 advocates) is 150,000 jobs. That number is now being exaggerated to 500,000 by the lobbyists for AB32 policies. A realistic comparison of jobs numbers show that even the exaggerated 500K jobs is less than 3% of the 18,000,000 jobs in CA. The realistic 150,000 is less than 1%. Coincidentally, these small per centages are almost identical to what wind and solar combined contribute to the total energy produced in CA. The investment in our green economy by venture capitalists, is not an act of benevolence. They hope to profit from a rigged market that is favored by mandates, subsidies and government intervention. If their enterprises can't stand on their own merit, perhaps they are not valid solutions to the problem. From real experience as a small business owner, I can unequivocally state that AB32 and its partial implementation has put many of my customers and associates in a position of downsizing, and consequently jobs are being lost. With full implementation it will only get worse.

Renewable GuySep 14 2010 10:26 PM

So is Texas really threatened by AB32 of California? This is so biazarr of an action, that it just has to be the oil companies peeing in their pants. I would be looking for a way to kick those companies out of the state with that kind of behaviour if I were Californian.

Earl RichardsSep 15 2010 04:31 AM

For Jim:

Check out, www.stopdirtyenergyprop.com

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