JUICE: The King Is Dead, Long Live the Prince

By Published On: July 30, 2010

As a journalist for a Boston-based publication, my editors anticipated my “quirky” California stories. As proper Bostonians, they fell in with the rest of the 49 states who consider Californians a suspect species of Americana. With the demise of federal legislation to reduce greenhouse gases last week, California remains a wounded warrior in the bid to gain ground against global warming. We here might be crowned “lunatics” (or “solaratics”) in the eyes of the rest of the country, but we’re anointed a “better than nothing” by the warming globe’s sword. If the “king” of reducing greenhouse gases through the federal government is dead, then long live the “prince” of our nation-state to get on with the dominion. California had a bright vision--through AB 32 the state’s leadership would implement efficiencies, renewables, and reduce our outstanding contribution to global warming. That was 2006, practically a lifetime ago in political years. Our CO2 queen at the California Air Resources Board began hoarding intellectual armor for the mission. She plotted a cap-and-trade infrastructure that aimed to please for-profit Republicans and spread-the-wealth-around Democrats alike. With a big shot of public funds, the Air Board peers over an evolving anti-greenhouse gas map. Yet, in four years, California has been unable to actually bring about its far-reaching policy. Enter the federal government with the face cards. Last summer at this time, the U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works Committee reviewed climate legislation that included the basis for a cap-and-trade market in greenhouse gases. About the same time, the House Energy & Commerce Committee passed its version of similar legislation. The full House then approved it. This past May, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) introduced new climate legislation that favored less “cap” and more support for coal and nuclear power. In spite of that concession, that legislation expired due to a lack of votes last week. Crash! went the national coronation of a United States moving to control its pollution leading to the massive earth shift to global warming. What’s left of this nation’s effort remains in Prince California’s betting hand. But, the Prince is being slashed by slings and arrows. The biggest one is that the state law, AB 32, may be slain at the ballot box this November. In addition, the cap-and-trade infrastructure being built on paper by the Air Board is listing in favor of carbon-emitting businesses (like generators) with a free credit system, instead of a carbon credit auction. Political attraction for doing the right thing--that is, reducing our carbon footprint at a slight charge to Californians--is losing favor as the knee (jerk) hits the foot (print) in a bad economy. What’s the favored Prince California to do? We may be eccentric and wear unspeakable bathing suits in the eyes of the rest of the nation, but Californians are, indeed, mini monarchs. Don’t let Proposition 23 (the anti-AB 32 ballot measure) rob us of our glowing leadership. Be careful about those billions of dollars in investments, but still, show the rest of the nation the state’s straight flush with kings, queens, and princes. Global warming is not bluffing. As Mel Brooks remarked, “It’s good to be King.” Being Prince has its glamour too.

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