Columnist: Brown’s Environmental Policies Hurt the Poor

Steven Greenhut, writing for the San Diego Union-Tribune, points out that while California Governor Jerry Brown (D) attacks climate change, he ignores the calamitous effect his policies will have on the poor and disadvantaged.

Greenhut cites Brown’s inaugural speech earlier this week, in which he loftily warned of “potentially catastrophic changes to our climate system,” and added: “California has the most far-reaching environmental laws of any state and the most integrated policy to deal with climate change of any political jurisdiction in the Western Hemisphere.”

As Greenhut points out, AB 32, the Cap-and-Trade bill, “creates the blueprint for Brown’s efforts. That law was not designed to realistically slow climate change given that even a dramatic cutback in one state’s emissions can only have a tiny effect on the world’s climate.”

The columnist notes that Brown’s goals of reducing petroleum use and skyrocketing the use of renewable sources for electricity make cost-of-living problems worse, force businesses to leave the state, push electricity rates up and increase manufacturing costs.

Brown simply ignores the economic costs of his policies. As Brown said in his inaugural speech, “Taking significant amounts of carbon out of our economy without harming its vibrancy is exactly the sort of challenge at which California excels.”

The Capitol Weekly noted in October that a panel of Brown’s officials called the Strategic Growth Council was funded with $130 million from the sale of greenhouse gas emission credits. The Weekly continued, “Environmentalists have contended that cap-and-trade revenue should only go to efforts to clean up the air and finance other environmental protection programs. But Brown has a broader interpretation of the funds’ use, such as his decision to provide hundreds of millions of dollars to the state’s bullet train project which he says, ultimately, will help cut carbon emissions.”

That bullet train aims to force developers to build more in high-density areas rather than suburbs, thus forcing prices in urban area to increase, a stratagem that will hurt the poor and disadvantaged even more. Brown has historically championed environmental policies to the detriment of the poor; when Brown was attorney general, he praised Marin County for its land use, but its harsh building restrictions have made prices exorbitant, leaving no hope for the poor.

The Census Bureau reports that when cost-of-living factors are included, the state’s poverty rate leads the nation.


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