By Catherine Reheis-Boyd
The most telling question in the Public Policy Institute’s recent poll of attitudes about cap and trade and AB 32 policies was the one that wasn’t asked. Nowhere in the poll did PPIC ask Californians how much they were willing to pay for gasoline, diesel and other energy supplies to support the state’s climate change program.
Whether by design or oversight, the PPIC poll, titled “Californians and the Environment,” continues to perpetrate the myth that California’s experiment in solving global warming won’t cost consumers anything. It’s little wonder 71 percent of Californians say they support AB 32 when they are told it will have no impact on their jobs, the state’s economy and what they pay for gasoline.
State regulators continue to keep Californians in the dark about the potential costs, disruptions to gasoline and diesel supplies and lost jobs because of the way CARB is implementing AB 32 policies.
We know those policies will be expensive. The Boston Consulting Group recently concluded AB 32 fuels policies will likely increase the cost of making gasoline between 50 cents per gallon and $1.83 per gallon, most of which may have to be passed on to consumers if companies expect to remain in business.
Even CARB’s leadership knows the policies are likely to make fuel more expensive. UC Davis Professor Dan Sperling told a recent gathering he was working on new regulations that would cap increases in the price of gasoline at 30 cents per gallon.
And Sperling and CARB Chair Mary Nichols wrote an article earlier this year where they stated that increased costs of 70 cents per gallon “is not enough to motivate oil companies to switch to alternative fuels or to induce consumers to significantly reduce their oil consumption, but it is still important to establish the principle of placing a price on carbon.”
I wonder what kind of response the PPIC poll would have received had it asked Californians if they were willing to pay 30 cents more or 70 cents more for a gallon of gasoline so California could show leadership, with little real environmental benefit if CA goes it alone, in the fight to combat global warming.
As we have said many times before, WSPA members support the goals established by AB 32 in 2006 and are committed partners in the effort to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions. But we also support an honest approach to achieving those goals when it comes to the cost to the state and its consumers. A suite of policies that are built on unrealistic scenarios will fail spectacularly when the bill comes due and Californians realize they’ve been misled.
CARB and other supporters of this particular set of regulations need to tell Californians the truth about the policies they are promoting and come clean about the real cost to consumers, businesses and the state’s economy. Then Californians can decide if this set of policies are the ones they want to support to achieve the goals.
There are many effective, less costly ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than the policies being pushed on California by CARB. It’s time to go back to the drawing board and begin developing policies that we can afford, will actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that have some chance of sustained support from California voters.