What Happened to California?

What Happened to California?

Here’s Todd Royal of Law & Liberty on the forest fires in California:

What we are witnessing is a “man-made power outage problem” caused by Democratic Party-aligned environmentalists, activist judges, and the California Air Resources Board. Obama-era environmental regulations rewrote decades-old solutions to forest management by eliminating controlled fires to clear away dead foliage, and allowed plaintiffs attorneys and judges free reign to impose crushing judicial and regulatory costs for basic land management. If these regulations continue unabated then PG&E’s grid will continuously be shut off when hot winds affect their customer base.

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Trump Has Backed Off Freezing 2020 Fuel Efficiency Standards

Replacing the Obama administration/California standards for vehicle CO2 emissions with the Trump administration’s Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule would have insignificant impacts on climate change. This is Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute:

As explained in my congressional testimony this week, according to the Obama administration’s own climate modeling, replacing the current CO2 standards with the SAFE rule would add only 0.003°C to global average temperatures 81 years from now—an undetectably small and climatically inconsequential change.

However . . .

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The Right Way Forward on the Antiquities Act


As I previously discussed here, the Antiquities Act is probably unconstitutional, and by modifying the size of two monuments, Grand Staircase/Escalante and Bears Ears, President Trump has reined in its worst excesses. But the law remains. While no president has ever undone a national monument designation entirely, as John Yoo and Todd Gaziano explain in a study published by the American Enterprise Institute, previous presidents have downsized national monuments on 18 occasions and modified the management of a number of other monuments. No presidential action to downsize or change the management of a monument has ever been successfully challenged in the courts, however, so it is likely Trump’s actions are legal and will withstand judicial scrutiny. Trump has yet to act on Zinke’s other recommended monument changes and it is unclear if he will.

Although I think Trump’s actions are justified and, indeed, that he should reverse and rescind more monument designations, in truth no president’s actions alone can fix the problems inherent to the dictatorial, entirely undemocratic, and arguably unconstitutional Antiquities Act. As Trump and other presidents before him have shown, what one president establishes as a monument, later presidents can modify.

Indeed, Trump himself yielded to the siren song luring Presidents to declare national monuments. Less than a year after he dramatically reduced the size of two national monuments, he designated 525 acres in Kentucky, once the site of a civil war camp and depot, the Camp Nelson National Monument.

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Violence in Chile: A Warning about Energy Prices

Riots in Chile have led to violence, 18 reported deaths, and a state of emergency. What caused the riots? John Authers writes in the Washington Post that there are a number of reasons. Second in importance after income inequality is energy price hikes. The immediate cause was a 4 percent rise in transit fares, which rose partly because of a switch to more-expensive renewable energy.

The catalyst was a proposal to raise public transport fares and energy bills. There is ample evidence from across the world that these will incite rebellion like nothing else — a point that those who hope to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions via a carbon tax should bear in mind.

The violent protests of the Gilets Jaunes in France were over higher gasoline taxes, which were seen as penalizing car-dependent people in the provinces while favoring metropolitan elites. Mexico in 2017 saw riots and protests against what was known as the “gasolinazo,” a 20% rise in fuel prices that was a part of the government’s partial privatization of Pemex, the monopoly state oil company.

Last year, Brazil was rocked by protests and a strike by truck drivers in response to fuel shortages and a sharp increase in the price of diesel.

Authers, who writes for BloombergOpinion, listed the other reasons as the lack of a populist leader who could control populism and slumping prices of copper, a major Chilean export.

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Turbulence Ahead for Wind Energy

Ken Artz of the Heartland Institute reports that U. S. wind energy faces hard times:

  • The federal tax credit for wind energy ends Dec. 31, 2019.
  • Countries are dumping wind turbines on the U. S., hurting U.S. producers.
  • The Internatiinal Trade Commission is considering tariffs on turbines and parts.

Writes Artz:

The wind industry is entirely dependent on government favoritism, says Rob Bradley Jr., Ph.D., CEO of the Institute for Energy Research.

“Cronies live and die by the government sword,” Bradley said. “Each and every wind project depends on large tax subsidies as well as preferential federal regulations to be built.

“It is ironic—and rare—the wind industry finds itself on the losing end of government policy, but tariffs on imported parts are just that,” Bradley said.

“How about eliminating all the subsidies, along with the tariffs, and let the market, not government, decide what electrical generation is best?” Bradley said.

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About this blog

This blog is about appreciating the environment and protecting it using the tools of economics. Your blog manager is Jane Shaw Stroup, a former senior fellow of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC).

We are grateful to the Goodman Institute for providing this opportunity.

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Please note: We are affiliated with the Goodman Institute, a virtual think tank founded and operated by John Goodman. The institute’s mission is to find private alternatives to government programs that aren’t working. These areas include health care, taxation, entitlement, and environmental protection. John Goodman is one of the leading experts in health care, and the Goodman Institute works with many prominent thinkers.


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