When California passed its Global Warming Solutions Act in August 2006 environmentalists hailed it as “a breakthrough piece of legislation” they hoped would lead to “a domino effect prompting other states, other countries, and — who knows? — maybe even the United States government to jump on board.” Of course, like everything else in environmentalist la-la land, the real costs and details of reaching the act’s 25% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 were either completely ignored or papered over with hollow rhetoric about how green industries would create thousands of new jobs for Californians. Now the San Francisco Chronicle reports that as Democrats and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger prepare the state’s budget “deciding who will pay for administering the new programs and regulations could prove to be especially difficult with the state’s softening economy, which has helped push California to a looming $8 billion budget deficit in the next fiscal year.”

Schwarzenegger wants to fund the program by borrowing $32 million from the state’s recycling fund which is normally used to pay consumers who recycle bottles and cans. Environmentalists want California to fund the program with new fees on refineries, power plants, and other business known to emit greenhouse gases. The scary part is, Schwarzenegger also foresees such fees in the future, but is insisting on a comprehensive reduction plan before such fees are established.

California already has the highest energy prices of any Western state. The Golden State also already imports roughly a quarter of its electricity form neighbors like Arizona and Washington. Environmentalists have been extremely successful in blocking low-carbon energy sources like dams and liquefied natural gas projects. The electric Power Research Institute estimates that meeting California’s 2020 targets will cost the state anywhere between $104 billion and $367 billion. And for what gain? Even if the entire world adopted Kyoto level reductions in emissions, the estimated reduction in temperature would be minimal. Worse California’s policies would probably raise over all emissions since it imports so much of its power from other states that do not have emission reduction policies.

Americans seem to want politicians to “do something” about global warming. Whatever they decide to do at the federal level, Congress needs to make sure it is not as economically damaging and environmentally pointless as California’s efforts.

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