- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 25, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

After a 28-year absence, Jerry Brown has returned to the California governor’s mansion with a mission to make America’s most broke state less broke and more green. He might as well try singing “California Dreamin’ ” to the tune of “The Impossible Dream.” Since being sworn in Jan. 3, Mr. Brown has declared a fiscal emergency and pressured the state legislature to close a $25.4 billion budget gap. His plan to balance the once Golden State’s ledger contains a 50-50 combination of spending cuts and tax hikes.

At the same time, Mr. Brown is presiding over a state bureaucracy that has adopted the creed of “climatic disruption,” which holds that mankind’s collective exhalations have warmed the planet to such a degree that global catastrophe is inevitable. Accordingly, the state’s official “climate-change portal” on the Web lists no fewer than 21 state agencies that are part of the effort to sell the public on the need to fend off climate apocalypse. The governor’s offering is a Clean Energy Jobs Plan that calls for the state to generate 20,000 megawatts of intermittent energy through solar panels and windmills, which he says will guarantee a boost in government-subsidized employment. “There are hundreds of thousands of new jobs to be created if California regulatory authorities make sensible and bold decisions,” Mr. Brown told his inaugural audience.

“Sensible” is a term rarely applied to bureaucracies like the California Air Resources Board, which in December approved the state’s own version of cap-and-trade. Under this scheme, large businesses will be forced to buy permits for the emission of “greenhouse gases.” That term, of course, primarily refers to carbon dioxide, the same gas all humans and animals emit. The idea of the permits is to make conventional sources of energy more expensive so that otherwise uncompetitive “green” options will have an artificially created market. The net result is that the cost of the permits and the higher energy prices will ultimately be passed on to consumers.

Investors in the “green” schemes will win big, as will the government. Annual revenue from the cap-and-trade system could reach as high as $58 billion by 2020. It remains to be seen if the predicted influx of a half-million new green jobs can offset the outflow of employment as businesses seek shelter in less oppressive jurisdictions.

At least Governor Moonbeam and Californians are on the same wavelength. Voters who bought his green platform on Election Day also said no to Proposition 23, which would have suspended the state’s Global Warming Act of 2006. This law, which takes effect next year, requires that greenhouse-gas emission levels in the state be cut to 1990 levels by 2020. Prop. 23 would have frozen the act until the unemployment rate, currently stuck at 12 percent, drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters.

For now, California has put all its effort behind the global-warming fantasy. It serves as an example of what to expect when environmental extremism becomes the guiding ideology for governance. In his inaugural address, Mr. Brown recalled as a metaphor for his life’s path the song “California, here I come, right back where I started from.” It could also become a symbol for the rough road ahead for Californians as the Golden State attempts to become both solvent and green.

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