The Green Giant's Plan For America
California's Hummer-loving governor is turning the Golden State into the greenest in the land, a place where environmentalism and hedonism can coexist. How a star turned pol's become the muscle behind saving the planet.Schwarzenegger is not my hero, not so much because of who he is, but more because of what Sacramento is: a legislative den of pimps, panderers and parasites (primarily on the bulging Dem side of the aisle). Schwarzenegger decided to make compromises with them. I wanted him to fight and change the place, leaving scum like SF assemblyman Mark Leno, who wants the Legislature to ignore the often and strongly stated will of the people by driving through gay this and lesbian that bills, bruised, battered and beleagered.
But he took the do-able path instead. He'll get more done, but a fight would have been more fun and better long-term for the state -- and it probably would not have ended with Arnie becoming The Geen Giant. But Newsweek gushes over his greeness:
Re-elected and popular again in the polls thanks to his newfound "post-partisan" style, the Republican governor is peddling feel-good, consumer-friendly environmentalism that resonates not only with fluorescent-light-bulb-worshiping hybrid drivers, but also with big business and those who think "green" is a synonym for "Chicken Little." His faith in the power of technology and free markets to slow global warming is neither depressing nor polarizing. ...Schwarzenegger has gone national with this, chiding Detroit to build cleaner cars and signing a compact with four other Western states to create a regional "cap and trade" system for greenhouse-gas emissions. It would allow companies that reduce their emissions below certain target levels to sell credits to those that don't or can't.
If Gore is the nation's environmental conscience, Schwarzenegger is its environmental pitchman, making the fight against global warming accessible, palatable and relatively painless to big-living Americans, who generate more greenhouse gases than any citizenry on earth. "It's no different than what we tried in 'Pumping Iron'," Schwarzenegger tells NEWSWEEK, referring to the 1977 documentary that made him a celebrity. "It was all about ways of getting in and making body-building hip. You create a whole new conversation."
And he's gone international, working with Mexico and Canada on similar deals, and signing a technology swapping deal with Tony Blair.
Clearly, Schwarzenegger is a big man with big ambitions who sees global warming as a platform he can ride to ... where? Not the presidency, certainly, but perhaps a cabinet post or an "international climate ambassador" for the U.S. But for that to happen, his California model will have to work, and there's where the rubber he's putting on the road is likely to lose traction.
He doesn't think so. Hustling back East yesterday, Schwarzenegger told a bunch of assembled luminaries (fluorescent luminaries, no doubt):
"California is big. California is powerful, and what we do in California has an impact. We are sending the world a message."Carbon credit swaps and hydrogen highways are all great -- it's his moves on electricity and gasoline that may derail his biofueled train. My fear is that His Greeness is leading the Golden State towards energy rolling brownouts that would make Gray Davis seem like not such a black hat after all. (Green, gold, brown, gray and black all in one sentence -- not bad, eh?)
His clean fuel policies have grown to the point that when the state next starts suffering from brownouts and blackouts -- a grim prospect that should occur with ever-greater frequency if global warming models are correct and no one stops the Greenies from stopping new power plants -- California will not be able to supplement power supplies with "dirty" coal-generated power that is abundant in adjoining states.
Next summer, I believe we will see California's electricity rates soar because Schwarzenegger has forced a controlled market on the utilities by placing off limits the 20% or so of our peak load power we buy from these coal burning out-of-state plants. When this happens -- not if -- Californians will see that green comes at a price, an inconvenient truth if ever there was one.
Schwarzenegger doesn't see this. He also doesn't see the consequences of his September announcement that California will be the first state to cap greenhouse gases. At the time, he said:
"It will begin a bold new era of environmental protection in California that will change the course of history."At least that is true. But not true is the companion claim that other states and nations will rush to follow our lead, eliminating any risk of dire economic consequences that would follow California's' suddenly becoming uncompetitive.
California already has the strictest emissions standards in the nation -- so why haven't other states been falling all over themselves to match us? Rather, they've been positioning themselves to capture businesses fleeing California, enticing business wth promises of less restrictive regulations.
Again, Schwarzenegger plows through criticisms with his biofueled Hummer. He believes capping greenhouse gases, opting for expensive low-carbon fuels and shunning cheap coal power plants will lead to a booming new business sector in California devoted to meeting tougher emission requirements.
But, I noted in an earlier post, if businesses are leaving the state because they can't compete and meet the existing standards, why would any business devote itself to developing technologies so industries that fled long ago can meet the new standards? And could those enlightened new businesses manufacture their friendly new products here under the tougher emission requirements -- or would they have to manufacture them elsewhere?
Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger is not supporting construction of a Liquid Natural Gas port off the coast -- denying a source of clean, low cost energy. Mitt Romney supported a similar LNG plant in Massachusetts and survived politically, but Schwarzenegger won't touch it, just as he doesn't support more oil production off the coast.
The Green Giant is painting the state into a giant green corner. Without asking us, he's bet all the state's energy chips on emerging technologies that will be great when they get here, but no one knows when that will be. And he's making it more difficult for industry to produce those technologies, thanks to repressive greenhouse gas controls and the higher energy costs.
Even if he were right, as I pointed out in the earlier post linked above, even if every goal the Gov's set is met, California will have reduced global human greenhouse gas emissions by six-tenths of one percent.
Let's concentrate on the critical stuff first, and the most critical is protecting America from the jihadists.
Besides sticking it out in Iraq, the way to get the victory process going now -- not in some pie in the sky future -- is to stop giving the Islamic states that officially or unofficially help fund jihad billions in petrodollars. Solar and wind won't help muc there -- but drilling in ANWR and off the coast, burning coal by the trainload, building petro-friendships with non-Islamist African and South American nations, all these will start to attack the financial underpinnings of jihad. And yes, it will help to integreate green energy and new conservation technologies as they become available.
That is not the vision of the governor of the nation's most powerful state, and it's not his vision he's aggressively exporting to the other 49 states and any nation that will listen.
Deprived of the opportunity to be Commander in Chief, he's found a non-military playing field on which to play out his political future. In so doing, our larger than life governor has lost his way, and he's taking us with him. After all, it's tough to stand up to Conan, the Eraser and the Terminator.