Nancy McFadden, a top aide to Gov. Jerry Brown, last week dismissed as “ridiculous” fears that Brown’s push to reduce oil-based fuel use in California by 50 percent would mean gas rationing.
She spoke during a conclave to support two measures that would commit California to making deep reductions in carbon emissions over the next few decades.
Senate Bill 350, now pending in the Assembly, sets 2020 goals of a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use, having 50 percent of electric power coming from renewable sources, and increasing energy efficiency of buildings by 50 percent.
Senate Bill 32 sets even more ambitious California carbon reduction goals for 2050.
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This is serious business.
While Brown and his co-religionists declare that it’s a moral imperative to become a global leader in battling climate change via carbon reduction, the goals they set forth will obviously require massive lifestyle changes and have immense economic effects.
The problem is that we don’t know what those changes and those effects will be.
The oil industry and other opponents of the legislation, mostly in the business community, have issued dire warnings about what could happen, one of which is that California would have to impose rationing on gasoline to meet the 50 percent reduction goal.
McFadden says that’s “ridiculous,” and it may be. But her response implies that she knows something the rest of us don’t know about what steps will be taken to reach the two measures’ goals – what adjustments Californians would have to make in their lives.
They are not in the measures themselves, nor are they in the various documents being distributed to support the proposed policies.
The materials being published by the California Air Resources Board, including a “Climate Change Scoping Plan,” Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, author of SB 350, and billionaire Tom Steyer’s supportive organization are full of lofty hopes but bereft of real-life detail.
Who will pay for the millions of electric vehicles they envision replacing conventional cars and energy-efficiency measures?
How will reducing oil-based fuel affect California families, who are already paying some of the nation’s highest gas prices?
Will our electric power rates, already among the nation’s highest, increase even more?
How will carbon-reduction costs affect the nearly 25 percent of Californians who are poverty-stricken?
Most importantly, would being a carbon-reduction leader hurt or help the California economy and its 18 million workers?
This is, indeed, serious stuff, and Brown and other politicians should be willing to tell us what the real-world impacts are likely to be, rather than merely dismissing scenarios such as gas rationing as “ridiculous.”
And if they don’t know what those effects will be, they should be willing to own up.
After all, we’ll be coping with their actions long after they’ve retired from politics and can no longer be held accountable.