Opinion

SB 32 hits the pocketbook

A powerplant at sunset. (Photo: David Crockett)

 

Don’t be fooled—SB 32 is déjà vu all over again: blank check authority to unelected bureaucrats at the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and no modicum of effort to address the policy flaws we had the opportunity to observe over the same policy over the past 10 years under AB 32.

There are ongoing legal questions about whether the Legislature has the authority to collect the revenue generated from the state’s cap-and-trade program.

AB 32, the predecessor that passed in 2006, has shown why oversight and accountability are so important, and why SB 32, which lacks those critical components, will be more of the same. This year, Assemblyman Jim Frazier headed up the effort to provide the oversight and accountability that has been sorely lacking by holding committee hearings with the sole purpose of demanding that CARB provide data and basic metrics to demonstrate what GHG emission reductions we have achieved after billions of dollars have been invested in climate change programs.   It is a primary job of the Legislature to make sure government programs are cost-effective and not overburdening the ratepayers and consumers paying for them. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Assemblyman Frazier received the same non-answer that legislators in the past also received.

Rather than taking the time to make fundamental fixes that put us on the right path over the next decade to progress with balanced solutions that maximize GHG emission reductions and economic vitality, we got a “solution” that is no solution at all.  There are looming questions that have gone unanswered in SB 32—particularly about whether the state’s cap-and-trade program developed under AB 32, and also the main mechanism to meet emission targets, is being legally operated.

There are ongoing legal questions about whether the Legislature has the authority to collect the revenue generated from the state’s cap-and-trade program, which has become an enormous slush fund for legislators to earmark for projects that have very little to do with climate change.

SB 32 is a symbolic gesture that only provides a 2030 target without any guidance, parameters, and accountability on how we get there—the legislature leaves it up CARB to decide.

Proposals resulting from SB 32 can be a carbon tax, penalties for buying and driving mini vans and SUVs or higher gas prices – no one knows for certain. What’s the impact on people who must commute to work and what will they pay? What will happen to energy prices? Does the technology even exist to meet these mandates? Unfortunately, CARB is the only one who gets to decide since they have all the control under SB 32.

Ed’s Note: Julian Canete is director of Public Policy and Strategic Partnerships at the Cal Asian Chamber of Commerce

 


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