Report Finds Global Warming Fight Hurts Poor, Inland Communities

A new report released by the Pacific Research Institute concludes that California’s big-government approach to fighting global warming hurts inland, rural, and poor communities, which have hotter temperatures and larger percentages of minority populations.

The report, Legislating Energy Poverty, reviews the impact of global warming policies adopted in Sacramento, such as a 100% renewable energy goal, strict low-carbon fuel standards, and the nation’s second-highest gas taxes. The report finds that, collectively, these unrealistic and burdensome policies are dramatically increasing the energy burdens of many Californians.

“Hard-working Californians are united in conserving energy, but they can’t afford the costly burdens, unrealistic mandates, and giveaways to the wealthy imposed by Sacramento politicians,” asserts Wayne Winegarden, senior fellow in business and economics at the Pacific Research Institute and author of Legislating Energy Poverty. “California’s approach to fighting global warming has increased energy poverty in many communities and driven jobs and opportunity away from the Golden State.”

Among the specific findings: average state electricity prices in California are the highest in the lower 48 states; monthly power bills in inland California are 57% higher on average in the summer months than in coastal regions of the state; California drivers pay the nation’s second-highest gasoline prices; and California has the nation’s highest poverty rate.

Windgarden compares the efforts of states like New York and California, which have adopted big-government approaches to fighting global warming, with states that have embraced market-based policies. Surprisingly, states like West Virginia and Ohio have seen larger percentage declines in emissions than California.

“Sacramento’s overzealous and unrealistic global warming mandates haven’t been shown to be relatively more effective in reducing emissions,” Winegarden maintains. “States like Ohio and West Virginia show that market-based policies can be more effective than big- government policies in cutting emissions. Lawmakers in Sacramento should learn from these states and embrace the free market policies.”

The report observes that raising the cost of any activity decreases its amount. The CA-NY approach to global climate change increases the costs of energy use in these states, which results in higher consumer costs, higher production costs, less energy use, and large economic losses. Despite this clear economic logic, there is a grow- ing belief that global climate change policies will not harm economic growth. In fact, growing numbers of people believe that these policies will actually promote economic growth. Due to the growing concerns surrounding global climate change, this misconception encourages other states to adopt the CA-NY approach.

Further, advocates claim that subsidizing the production of green energy resources encourages the creation of so-called green jobs, and the creation of these jobs is a net economic benefit. “When the government subsidizes any industry, such as renewable energy, these subsidies will create jobs in the industries lucky enough to receive the government largess, or in this case green jobs. But this is only part of the story. A complete analysis recognizes that the tax dollars spent subsidizing a favored industry must come from somewhere. The total green jobs created are, by definition, offset by the lost jobs that could have been created had the resources not been diverted toward the favored industries.

“The negative impacts from the subsidies must also consider the other adverse economic impacts that include higher energy costs, diminished energy efficiency, and diminished incentives to work, save, and invest that the higher taxes needed to fund these subsidies impose. When the full impacts from the policies are considered, it is clear that the CA-NY climate policies are imposing net economic hardships on Californians and New Yorkers.”

(SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, December 24, 2018)