Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger praised Republican State Assembly Leader Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley) on Tuesday, after Mayes led a handful of Republicans to cross party lines and vote to extend the state’s controversial cap-and-trade program.
Schwarzenegger praised Mayes on Twitter and Facebook for “for following in the footsteps of great Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.” Mayes returned the compliment: “Change agents like you have paved the way for others seeking to make our world a better place to live. Thank you for your friendship.”
Change agents like you have paved the way for others seeking to make our world a better place to live. Thank you for your friendship. https://t.co/MpOhkb9vE4
— Asm. Chad Mayes (@ChadMayesCA) July 18, 2017
Roosevelt, an avid hunter and outdoorsman, pioneered many of the nation’s conservation programs, though some argue that he would not have recognized today’s environmental movement, which is more extreme. Reagan is credited today by climate change activists with supporting a cap-and-trade system in the Montreal Protocol to restrict the global use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which destroy the ozone layer — though in that case there was a clear scientific link between the chemicals and their harmful impact, as well as available chemical substitutes.
In the case of cap-and-trade for carbon emissions, there is no global trading system in place, no way to substitute completely for fossil fuels, and no direct link between carbon dioxide and specific environmental impacts.
Still, Mayes touted cap-and-trade as a conservative policy: “[W]e believe that markets are better than Soviet-style command and control. We believe that markets are better than the government coercing people into doing things that they don’t want to do. We believe that businesses in California want to do the right thing, which is why we supported cap and trade,” Mayes said on Monday after the vote on the legislation, according to Calmatters.org.
Those arguments are familiar from the initial debate over cap-and-trade in the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton supported cap-and-trade as an alternative to the command-and-control policies that European nations favored to restrict carbon dioxide emissions. Arguably, however, those arguments are outdated: cap-and-trade systems have failed to have a significant impact on carbon dioxide emissions or on global climate. They still involve government coercion — in the form of setting an overall emissions limit — and often function as a subsidy for politically well-connected “green” companies, such as Tesla, which has been kept afloat by selling carbon emissions permits.
In the two decades since cap-and-trade emerged as an idea, the most important emissions reductions have not come through government policy, but through technological innovation and a movement away from coal and toward natural gas, especially through hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) — which, ironically, environmentalists oppose.
Seven Republicans in the State Assembly followed Mayes in voting for the ten-year cap-and-trade extension, as did one Republican in the State Senate. Other Republicans were bitterly disappointed in their defections, which gave Governor Jerry Brown the two-thirds majority he needed to shield the law from legal challenges. In the aftermath of the vote, some activists raised allegations that Mayes had an affair with his predecessor, calling for him to resign.
Though cap-and-trade in California has had no impact on global climate, Brown sees it as a way to set a global example of leadership that he hopes will one day lead to a global system of reducing fossil fuel emissions.
Brown told legislators last week that “organized human existence” was at stake in passing the cap-and-trade bill.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.