California gas tax won't help climate

Published on Friday, 14 March 2014 23:37 - Written by

California already has some of the nation’s most expensive gasoline. But later this year, consumers will pay even more as that state enacts a “global warming” tax. The problem is bigger than that, though. The tax is a good example of most government efforts to affect climate change — it will have a big impact on people, but no impact at all on the climate.

“California’s greenhouse gas reduction law already has shaken up the state’s industrial sector, costing it more than $1.5 billion in pollution permit fees,” the Sacramento Bee reported last week. “It’s now poised to hit the pocketbooks of everyday Californians. Starting next year, the law will force fuel distributors into the same cap-and-trade marketplace as utilities and major manufacturers. The oil industry says it will lead to price increases of at least 12 cents a gallon immediately, while state regulators say any price spikes could vary widely, from barely noticeable to double-digits.”

But the law was designed to hurt consumers.

“The program is a central part of AB32, the greenhouse gas reduction law that passed the Legislature and was signed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, in 2006,” the Bee explains. “But it is just one of several provisions of the law — such as requiring lower-carbon fuels — meant to prompt Californians to change their transportation and energy consumption habits as the state seeks to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases to 1990 levels by 2020.”

Did you get that? It’s meant to “prompt” Californians to change their ways.

Can Californians at least feel better, as they shell out more money for gas (and anything made with or transported by petroleum products)? Not really. The fact is that even assuming all the worst climate change models are accurate, the California gas tax will have exactly zero net effect.

“One year’s economic growth in China generates more total CO2 emissions than are emitted by the entire California economy every year — presuming, of course, that man-generated CO2 is the primary driver of the Earth’s climate, that the Earth is actually warming, that warming is a bad thing, and that there aren’t more effective ways to spend limited resources than to increase the cost of energy,” notes the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Chuck DeVore.

And as researchers for the Heartland Institute point out, “While U.S. carbon dioxide emissions already are falling, emissions in India, China, and other developing countries are rising rapidly, causing global emissions to rise regardless of what we do in the U.S. In fact, increasing energy costs in the U.S. would simply drive manufacturing (and jobs) to India and China, where energy costs are lower and carbon dioxide emissions per-unit of output are higher.”

Nor will most of the revenues from the tax go toward addressing any specific climate change issue. Instead, it’s a simple redistribution scheme.

Californians have only themselves to blame, perhaps — they keep electing avid redistributors and would-be social engineers. But when the state’s economy takes a hit, we can expect to see an influx of transplants to Texas.