The road to Hell was paved with good intentions and so too are California’s green energy initiatives. Environmental activists point to California as the petri dish for the burgeoning of a green economy. Last week, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Lisa Jackson, gave a speech at the Governor’s Global Climate Summit change held in Los Angeles, which highlighted the important role that California has played in climate change legislation:

California has been out front on energy efficiency, greenhouse gas reduction, transportation innovation, and so much more. In many ways, the country is once again catching up with what’s happening here. That is literally true with one of President Obama’s signature initiatives – a groundbreaking agreement on national fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for vehicles.

15 days ago, the Secretary of Transportation and I signed a formal proposal setting standards of 35.5 MPG by 2016, and containing the first ever national action to significantly control greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. That breakthrough had its roots in the California waiver, which President Obama directed EPA to reconsider almost as soon as we stepped into office. To stay ahead of the game – rather than just play catch up – discussions are already underway between California, EPA, and DOT on what happens in 2017 and beyond.”

According to Jackson, climate change regulations have their “roots” in California, and much of what the President is trying to accomplish is guided by what California has already achieved. She touts that the United States is finally “catching up with what’s happening [in California]”

But what do we want to catch up to? A report by the American Lung Association from May 17, 2009 shows that Los Angeles, Fresno, Bakersfield, Sacramento, Visalia, and Hanford all rank in the top ten of one or all three categories of pollution: short-term particle pollution, ozone pollution and year-round particle pollution. Maybe the results will come in the future but it’s highly unlikely the economic pain will be worth the negligible environmental benefits.

California’s unemployment rate for August 2009 was 12.2 percent, nearly 5 percentage points higher than a year ago and tied for fourth highest in the country. While supporters argue that thousands of green jobs will be created, David Kreutzer of the Heritage Foundation warns that green job growth is “grossly overstated because they don’t take into account the jobs lost elsewhere.”

The irony of mainstream environmentalists praising one of the most polluted states as a model to follow in one of the most polluted cities in America has not been lost on critics. It has become very clear that the concern is not so much for the pollution itself: mainstream environmentalists offer effulgent praise to California, calling it a “green state” not because it is clean but because it has installed stringent greenhouse gas regulations. The California energy plan should be used as a lessons learned model rather than hailed as a success.

Katie Brown contributed to this post.