With California continuing to face one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, citizen energy users were disappointed to read Susan Frank’s column in which she failed to offer any real solutions but focused almost exclusively on attacking California’s oil and gas industry.
Instead of demonizing people, why not have a more constructive conversation about how California policymakers can ensure access to quality jobs and affordable energy while simultaneously protecting the environment?
Failed policies imposed by the unelected California Air Resources Board (CARB) have led to industrial energy costs 50% higher than the national average and the loss of over one third of the state’s industrial base. These were good jobs that offered a pathway to a middle class life for the poor and the working poor. Meanwhile, the highest gas taxes in the nation and prohibitive regulations preventing both the construction of new refineries and the importation of refined fuel from out of state have led to gas prices that, according to GasBuddy, exceed every other state but Connecticut, New York and Hawaii.
While Frank’s article claims CARB policies such as low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) and the AB 32 cap and trade auction are creating new green jobs, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics says California ranks below the national average in green jobs per capita. In fact, California even ranks below Texas, which welcomes the development of all types of energy resources.
The costly LCFS proposal has been estimated by the California Energy Commission to raise gas prices a total of $3 billion in 2018, $4 billion in 2019 and $4.5 billion by 2020. Even worse, LCFS is a “food for fuel” biofuel program that intends to increase the burning of food crops, especially Brazilian sugarcane, in California gas tanks. Unfortunately, food for fuel is not just costly – it also threatens to worsen Third World hunger and destruction of the rainforest.
Western food for fuel policies have already caused riots in Africa, Asia and Latin America, with government officials demanding an end to the misguided and unjust policy. Jane Goodall, a British primatologist and United Nations Envoy of Peace, has spoken out against biofuels for destroying the rainforest.
If California has failed to produce green jobs even at par with the national average and if LCFS harms, not helps, the environment, then why would Ms. Frank back the program? Perhaps the California Business Alliance for a Green Economy includes companies whose business models would not succeed if not for heavy handed government intervention like the cap and trade auction and LCFS program?
The Coalition of Energy Users includes 10,000 Californians, 40% of whom are small business owners such as truckers, construction workers and auto mechanics and the remainder of whom are concerned citizen energy consumers.
I often receive emails from small business owners harmed by CARB’s overreaching programs. While we were forming our organization in 2010, I received a heartbreaking email from a woman whose family owns a small struggling trucking company and who comes from a long line of truckers. She said she prays for me every day because she doesn’t know what she will do if CARB’s policies aren’t reined in. She is just one example of the real human beings who form the backbone of our great state, who are hurting and deserve better.
We need to lower energy costs and get the good jobs back while protecting the environment. Fortunately, California has the ingenuity and resources to do both, but it must start with an objective fact-based look at what works and what doesn’t.
Ed’s Note: Eric Eisenhammer is the Founder of the Coalition of Energy Users and a Board Member of Friends for Saving California Jobs.