As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Schwarzenegger Plan For Indefinite Depression

Senate Democrats have sent a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger asking him to reconsider his veto of the renewable energy standard and subsequent executive order. The strongly worded letter has about as much currency as the eleventy billion-dollar bill, but it does explain why the Governor's hypocritical action is a bad deal for California.

Respectfully, an Executive Order does not have the force and effect of law. Additionally, such a proclamation will only cause confusion and uncertainty to California's energy markets, jeopardizing California's role as the world leader in renewable energy development and green jobs.

As you noted when you signed AB 32, the landmark "Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006," administrative actions are no substitute for a statute that is permanent and enforceable.

Directing the California Air Resources Board to implement an RPS program is a fundamentally flawed approach. The CARB is not an energy agency; it is an air quality regulatory agency. There are numerous provisions of law which impair the CARB's ability to implement a renewable portfolio standard. Assigning this new responsibility to the CARB will not result in new renewable energy being built soon--it will only lead to litigation, regulatory confusion, and delay.

In our view, it is essential to green businesses and the renewable energy investment community which bring jobs and capital into California, that California's 33% RPS be statutorily established and not subject to the whims of changing administrations.

There's only one reason that Schwarzenegger gave the CARB the ability to implement a renewable energy standard - so he can go on talk shows and crow that he's instituted an environmental achievement. Except, as is explained here, it won't. It will get tied up in court challenges and confusion, without a clear mandate for the standard or penalties thereto.

Schwarzenegger has responded to this by calling the Legislature's bill "protectionist," and saying that if we get water from the Colorado River, we should be able to get renewable energy from other states as well. The difference is that a commodity is not the same as a job. The twin goals of a renewable energy standard are to spur the usage of renewables as a means to lower greenhouse gas emissions, and to build a green-collar economy that will create millions of new jobs. Schwarzenegger would rather give those jobs away. And given the perilous state of the economy here in California, we simply cannot afford that.

Job losses in the public sector will prolong the economic pain in California through 2010 even as a recovery gets under way nationwide, two forecasters predict.

Jeff Michael, a forecaster at the University of the Pacific, said Tuesday that California's recession will be over before the end of the year. But the cutbacks in state and local government, along with the continuing fallout from the mortgage meltdown, will make 2010 feel like another year of recession, Michael said in UOP's latest quarterly forecast.

Similarly, the newest UCLA Anderson Forecast predicts a sluggish recovery because of the weak public sector. UCLA senior economist Jerry Nickelsburg is more optimistic than Michael about the housing market, and says California will outperform the U.S. economy starting in 2011.

Yet both economists say Californians can expect continued high unemployment for a couple more years or so. The unemployment rate is currently 11.9 percent in California and 11.8 percent in greater Sacramento.

And yet here is Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoing the only major bill that would produce any semblance of an economic recovery for California.

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