California can barely keep the lights on as its climate policies bite the electric grid, but Gov.
is undaunted. On Friday he signed no fewer than 40—count ’em 40—new climate bills to amp up California’s green-energy shock experiment.
Even as gasoline prices nationwide have fallen to an average $3.68 a gallon, Californians are still paying $5.45 a gallon. California’s electric rates are already more than double those in neighboring states. This is what happens when politicians try to eliminate fossil fuels with a Molotov cocktail of regulation, taxes, and renewable mandates and subsidies.
But Mr. Newsom blew right past that on Friday: “We’re not only doubling down, we’re just getting started.”
One new bill raises the state’s “clean electricity” mandate to 90% by 2035 and 100% by 2045. The state currently generates about a third of its power from renewables such as solar and wind, so utilities will have to start skewing investments even more to meet the new targets.
This will require a rapid and massive expansion of battery storage, manufacturing and technology that doesn’t exist. This will be hugely expensive if it can be done at all. Utilities will have to decide if it’s worth maintaining gas-fired plants that will soon have to shut down. More power outages, here we come.
Another new law would require that the state reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to 85% below 1990 levels and achieve “carbon neutrality” by 2045. The state Air Resources Board would have free-wheeling power to impose regulations to achieve these benchmarks, including restricting new housing construction, manufacturing and agricultural production.
The Western States Petroleum Association says these new targets would cost every California household between $5,600 and $10,700 a year and increase the cost of building a new home by at least $50,000. Like all of California’s climate policies, the new CO2 goals are a hidden regressive tax that will smack low- and middle-income residents hardest.
Ditto a new law limiting new oil wells within 3,200 feet of homes, schools, parks or businesses open to the public. California’s oil production has fallen 40% since 2014 owing to climate regulation that discourages investment. The state has had to import more oil by tanker from overseas. Can Mr. Newsom explain how this reduces CO2 emissions?
California’s new oil production limitations could destroy tens of thousands of jobs. The State Building and Construction Trades Council warned they would eliminate “high wage industrial manufacturing union jobs in California’s most disadvantaged and underserved communities,” which “represent the only path out of poverty” for many.
You almost have to wonder if California Democrats are trying to drive away working-class families and businesses to ease the strain on the grid and meet their climate goals. Affluent progressives would then have the state to themselves.
Cruising to re-election, Mr. Newsom appears to be fleshing out a platform in case President Biden doesn’t run for re-election in 2024. This includes a new council to dictate wages and working conditions at fast-food franchises along with a $308 billion budget. The climate package is intended to appeal to progressives who say the Biden Administration has been too timid. High-cost, high-tax California governance may soon be coming nationwide.
Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8
Appeared in the September 21, 2022, print edition.