Don’t Mess with Texas

Conn Carroll /

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) told the Environmental Protection Agency that its national carbon capping plans were not welcome in the Lone Star State:

Implementing such regulations would cripple the Texas’ energy sector, irreparably damaging both the state and national economies, and severely impacting national oil and gas supplies. … Costly regulation that reduces our ability to provide energy and other products to the nation will have a disproportionate impact on Texas.

Reuters also reported:

Despite its traditional oil-and-gas image, Texas also has more installed emission-free wind generation than any other U.S. state and has attracted proposals for three new nuclear plants, more than any other state, Perry said.

Contrast Texas’ free market approach with California’s heavy handed environmental regulations. The Manhattan Institute notes:

Since the early 1970s, California has instituted new efficiency standards for appliances and the construction of new buildings. It mandated aggressive conservation programs and required a certain percentage of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources like wind and solar, which it has subsidized. It implemented far-reaching regulations on emissions from car tailpipes and from stationary sources like factories. And it has moved to shut down the state’s nuclear facilities.

The blunt secret is this: California now imports lots of energy from neighboring states to make up for having too few power plants. Up to 20% of the state’s power comes from coal-burning plants in Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Montana. Another significant portion comes from large-scale hydropower in Oregon, Washington State and the Hoover Dam near Las Vegas.

“California practices a sort of energy colonialism,” says James Lucier of Capital Alpha Partners, a Washington, D.C.-area investment group. “They leave those states to deal with the resulting pollution.”

California’s proud claim to have kept per-capita energy consumption flat while growing its economy is less impressive than it seems. The state has some of the highest energy prices in the country—nearly twice the national average—largely because of regulations and government mandates to use expensive renewable sources of power. As a result, heavy manufacturing and other energy-intensive industries have been fleeing the Golden State in droves.

And what has been the result of all this manufacturing job loss to do excessive environmental regulation? The American reports:

As recently as the 1980s, Californians generally got richer faster than other Americans did. Now, median household income growth trails the national average while the already large divide between the social classes—often bemoaned by the state’s political left—grows faster than in the rest of the country.

California has the 15th highest poverty rate in the nation. After accounting for cost of living, L.A., Monterey, and San Francisco counties—all places known for concentrations of wealth—have poverty populations of 20 percent. “San Francisco,” says historian Kevin Starr, a native of the city, “is a cross between Carmel and Calcutta.”