Proponents of California's Global Warming Law Were Against Renewables Before They Were For Them

Just forget about that whole global warming scare that was still in vogue up until just over a year ago before the “climategate” scandal erupted, to say nothing of updated research that interlinks natural forces with warming and cooling trends as opposed to human activity. In fact, over 1,000 scientists from the across the globe have gone on record to question earlier claims advanced through the United Nations that have been used to justify “cap and trade” schemes modeled after the Kyoto Protocol of 1997.

Small wonder then that opinion polls now show that alarmist climate projections evoke greater cynicism. However, the regulatory agenda that aims to extend government control over the private sector remains very much in motion, even as the rationale has changed.

This pivot away from global warming alarmism as a sales pitch can be traced back to President Obama’s first State of the Union Address.

“I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy,” he said. “I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But here’s the thing — even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy-efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future — because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation.”

Get that?

The government still needs to intervene so that industry is forced to convert over to alternative energy sources that will supposedly yield long-term dividends. This was largely the argument used in the campaign against Proposition 23 in Calif., which would have suspended implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act (also known as Assembly Bill 32).

MapLight.org, a non-partisan group, that tracks campaign funding, found that opponents of the initiative had a three to one funding advantage. Environmental organizations, Hollywood activists and other individual donors funneled in almost $31 million to help defeat Proposition 23 in comparison to with roughly $10 million in donations from supporters. With anti-regulatory efforts gaining traction in other states that had previously succumbed to regional greenhouse gas restriction initiatives, a victory for Proposition 23 would have been devastating to energy rationing proponents.

A little history is in order now that AB-32 is the law of the land in California. The legislation seeks to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, through a program administered and enforced by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The same activists and journalists who now argue that coercive command and control policies are needed to force industry into adopting alternative energy sources were previously not so keen on the idea, Chris Horner, a senior fellow with The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), has noted.

“The green mantra to defeat Proposition 23, which threatened to delay California’s AB-32 ‘global warming’ law from going into effect until the state’s economy recovered, was that such government intrusion into its citizens’ energy choices was actually necessary to ensure development of new energy sources needed to satisfy our needs, and enable our future prosperity,” he said. “In fact, until some late-hour ads arguing that the measure was really, somehow, about whether asthmatic children could draw breath, this was the entire justification for the anti-Prop 23 campaign in the face of weakened public faith in the idea of man-made global warming. Restricting the availability of ‘fossil fuels’ and mandating politically deigned icons like windmills and solar panels was the spur needed to innovate our way to clean and affordable energy for all. Yet for years luminaries of the same green movement insisted on the disaster that would befall humanity were we to discover a source of clean, renewable, abundant and affordable energy.”

The conflict in this U-turn from the greenies is apparent, but the motivations require some explanation. In an effort drive home how hypocritical and deceptive the anti-Propostiion 23 campaign was in retrospect, Horner has collected a series of quotes that could be highly instructive to the public going forward.


  • “If you ask me, it’d be a little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it.” – Green Energy guru Amory Lovins
  • “If super-cheap solar power is achieved, will humanity grow too much?” -NYT reporter Andy Revkin

Similarly, there are the green energy advocates who don’t really mean it, on threat of emission-free energy


  • “Like giving a machine gun to an idiot child” – Stanford’s Paul Ehrlich
  • “It’s the worst thing that could happen to our planet.” – Eco-writer Jeremy Rifkin

“This brings grave suspicion on the advocacy of the anti-Prop. 23 campaign, even before the shameless if by now ritual images of children, struggling to breathe,” Horner continued. “Was the defense of state-level Kyoto-style regulation, which is indisputably climatically meaningless, really that we need to ensure future energy needs, and that this agenda does so. How do we reconcile this with the robust record of years of green activists making plain their belief in the opposite as the agreed goal, that we must avoid access to abundant energy as discovering it would actually be their worst case scenario. Voters can now see how duplicitous those pushing the green agenda have been, and consider this is in the coming debate over ‘green energy’ mandates just now unfolding in Washington. As the recent ‘warming really means more cooling’ argument indicates, they are willing to say anything, even that they share your aspirations which they are in fact dedicated to defeat. But what they’ve said the loudest and the longest period of time seems to be what they really believe. And this is that the government must adopt policies to ensure Americans no longer have access to abundant, affordable and reliable energy supplies. And they know the ‘renewables’ agenda is the best way to impose that energy poverty. Even if it requires saying the opposite of what they believe, in order to fool people into accepting that which they reject when presented in a more straightforward fashion.”

Those Americans who reside in the more industrialized areas of the country, which are reliant upon affordable energy sources, have good cause to be concerned about how other states might react to AB-32. For starters, they should encourage state level policymakers to acquaint themselves with a study released last year by Robert Michaels of California State University, Fullerton. His paper explains in great detail the many ways in which CARB’s economic modeling of AB 32 is fatally flawed and how CARB threatens California’s economic welfare. Here are a few of the key findings:


  • “There are no world climate benefits from AB 32. California’s greenhouse gas emissions are only 2 percent of global emissions, and its share is falling as those from China and the developing world rapidly rise.”
  • “CARB’s results come from a computer model that is by its own admission unreal. In the model, it is mathematically impossible to have unemployment as high as prevails today, and the model does not allow climate policy to change the rate at which unprofitable businesses close or leave the state.”
  • ” To create benefits from costly command-and-control regulations, CARB assumes that Californians do not know best what works for their own lives, but that CARB’s choices are economically superior–a heroic and unsupportable assumption.”

“AB 32 started as `feel good’ legislation that would set an example for other states and nations, few of which have actively followed it,” Michaels concludes. “Since its passage, California’s unemployment has risen to 12 percent, and CARB’s claim that its policies will improve our lives becomes less credible by the day. An unelected Air Resources Board has chosen to bet the well-being of millions of Californians on computer models that cannot even give an accurate picture of today’s economy.”

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