Never Underestimate California’s Idiocy

Ann thinks the neanderthals attempting to repeal AB 32 won’t get the signatures to put the thing on the ballot.  I hope she’s right, but given my general pessimism, I’d be willing to bet otherwise.

Climate change regulation is like catnip to the Teabagger set.  It is a vast left-wing conspiracy to destroy capitalism and otherwise regulate our Precious Bodily Fluids.  All it takes is one impassioned appeal from Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity, with a website or 1-800 number, and the contributions will come rolling in.  While I agree with Ann that many industries are more willing to be sensible, for a coal executive, any and all attempts to stop this thing might be something close to a fiduciary duty.  Finally, Tom McClintock is something of a heartthrob in the national Conservative Movement, and has a lot of contacts who can get this done.  (Full disclosure: I’ve met McClintock, and despite the neanderthal characterization he’s a very nice, quite intelligent guy who just happens to be out of his mind on anything having to do with public policy).

H.L. Mencken famously observed that “no one ever lost a nickel underestimating the intelligence of the American people.”  Such an investment is even less risky when it comes to the California electorate.

Reader Comments

3 Replies to “Never Underestimate California’s Idiocy”

  1. But if CARB continues with its current AB-32 implementation strategy, what will it achieve? If something like Waxman-Markey is enacted then AB 32 will become largely superfluous. (Carbon prices are projected to be $10/tonne under AB 32, whereas the W-M price floor starts at $10/tonne.) If W-M is not enacted, then what is California’s end game? The whole idea of AB 32, WCI and RGGI is to provide an evolutionary path toward a federal system, but if a federal cap-and-trade system is not in the stars, then what?

    In any case, one thing CARB’s AB-32 implementation strategy will not likely achieve is the “maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective greenhouse gas emission reductions” called for in the legislation. They seem to have bet all their chips on cap-and-trade, which is intended to only achieve the minimum emission reductions sufficient to achieve the cap. CARB’s AB-32 implementation plan does not appear to be affected in any significant or meaningful way by the presence of the qualifier “maximum” in Sec. 38560 of the statute. For example, California has so far eschewed a price floor, under the theory that a $2/ton carbon price (the going rate under RGGI) is a Good Thing. Never mind disintegrating glaciers and ice caps, encroaching desertification, and mass species extinctions; as long as we are achieving the cap, why would we not want to do so at the lowest possible cost?

    One trait that the anti-AB-32 Neanderthals share in common with Neanderthal “defenders of the status quo” is an inability to be creative, to invent new tools — like policy tools — that are realistically responsive to the impending threat of imminent climate change. Cro-Magnons might be open to alternative approaches such as that exemplified by “New-Source Subsidies” ( http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2009.12.044 ).

  2. First, great post, Jonathan. Second, here’s the observation I have followed by questions: there seems to be very little on line activity stirring up the teabaggers. If you go to the websites of the sponsors it’s hard to find much of anything going on. Given that they’d need to start gathering signatures pretty much immediately to qualify the initiative by June (for the November ballot) shouldn’t we be seeing more on line agitating? Or is fundraising for the signature gathering likely to be an off line thing?

  3. Your characterization of those who oppose AB 32 as neanderthals is demeaning and reflects badly upon the legal academy. It’s one thing to criticize the latest American political movement, it’s quite another combat its effectiveness by using sexual connontations.

    If I was I co-blogger on this site, I would be embarrased.

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Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic – Land Use, the Environment and Loc…

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