THE HIGH PRICE OF BEING GREEN
California is being touted as the green leader across the nation. We live in a state with the strictest air quality regulations, where hybrid car drivers cruise in the carpool lane solo and where major cities ban the use of plastic grocery bags, all in the name of the environment. The environmental movement is pushing full speed ahead, but at what price to California?
Last year Governor Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The law requires that California cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 25 percent by the year 2020. A “scientific consensus” has determined that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases add significantly to global warming. Also passed last year were landmark bond measures to fund California’s failing infrastructure. Many feel that both these actions taken by our state are long overdue, but they are both impediments to each other.
The governor’s pledge to cut greenhouse-gas emissions and rebuild California’s infrastructure cannot both be done. Building dams, levees, highways and aqueducts all require large amounts of concrete. The main ingredient in concrete is cement and cement production is the third largest producer of greenhouse-gas emissions in our state. This being the case, Attorney General Jerry Brown is suing two California counties on the basis that their transportation plans fail to address how they plan to construct highways without increasing greenhouse-gases. The Counties will have to invest in mass transit, buses, and other programs, to become compliant with these new State regulations. The rest of the bond money, approved by California voters in November, will end up being sidetracked into other environmentally-friendly programs.
Proposition 84, is a perfect example of what the plan may be for California bond money. Proposition 84, the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006, is being hijacked for river bike trails, museums, and a “water trail”, as well as other proposed options. Though these projects may be greatly enjoyed by many Californians, bond money should not be paying for them.
Furthermore, the environmental regulation facing developers, water agencies, car manufactures and energy producers, as well as the agriculture industry, will further hurt our economy. Money will be focused on staying ahead of the impending lawsuits and the costs will be passed onto consumers. California has no idea what it will cost to reduce greenhouse gas emission, but major changes in business, commerce, and lifestyle will need to be made to accomplish this goal, and that comes at no small price tag. The energy crisis we experienced in 2001 will become common place as energy producers have to come up with alternative ways to power our air conditions during the hot summer months.
Californians should understand that accomplishing the goals set forth by our Governor will affect every resident in the state. Proposals being considered include mandating land use, agriculture, energy and manufacturing. Essentially telling every California, where and how to live.
The future of our state is uncertain, but potential effects of AB 32 are alarming. We must continue to plan for the future needs of our state but how that will be done is yet to be seen. Rural communities will see added pressure on agriculture and the need to band together will be greater than ever before. ■
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