Oil & Sprawl Mislead To Fight California’s New Climate Legislation

Well, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out which industries stand to lose if California transitions to a low-carbon economy.  Judging by the latest attacks on SB 350 and SB 32, sprawl developers and the oil industry are feeling a little panicked.

First oil.  They sent out a deliberately misleading mailer claiming that SB 350, which seeks to reduce California’s oil consumption in half by 2030, will lead to gas shortages and higher prices.  Under the fake pro-consumer-sounding group the California Drivers Alliance, they claim the following:

The Gas Restriction Act of 2015 (SB350) will restrict the use of gas and diesel by 50 percent. This law will limit how often we can drive our own cars. The state will also be collecting and monitoring our personal driving habits and tracking how much gas we use. They’re now reviewing regulations to force automakers to include data monitoring systems in all cars so that regulators will be able to penalize and fine us if we drive too much or use too much gas.

The Sacramento Bee then shot this lying fish in its barrel with a fact check:

The ad exploits a lack of specificity in Senate Bill 350 about what measures the California Air Resources Board could take to reduce petroleum use. But it misleads by suggesting gas rationing, surcharges and citations based on driving habits are in store.

Bottom line: California will be pursuing fuel economy measures, electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cells and biofuels to meet these objectives — not gas rationing. With battery costs declining, battery electrics should be the dominant vehicles in production by then anyway.

Next comes big sprawl in the guise of the Building Industry Association.  The BIA claims SB 32, to extend our greenhouse gas reduction goals to 2030 and 2050, will be an automatic “zero net energy” mandate, leading to an additional $58,000 in costs for each new housing unit, or a price increase of over 12 percent.

However, these numbers once again mislead. First off, the bill is no such mandate for new construction. The California Energy Commission will continue to develop new ways to reduce pollution from new buildings, but it will be on the same trajectory it’s been on for decades, which has saved Californians billions since the 1970s.

Second, most of the costs the BIA tallies are attributed to oversized, expensive solar PV arrays for each new home. Even if all new buildings had to have those arrays (which they don’t), prices will come down by 2030 significantly (80% in the last five years or so), while most neighborhoods would likely pool together on community solar rather than purchasing it individually.  Finally, any increase in efficiency measures and solar will only save California residents in reduced energy bills.

For more on the BIA arguments, NRDC has a nice take-down here.

I guess it’s good news these industries are fighting back.  If we have any hope of a cleaner, more prosperous and sustainable economy, it will only happen if these industries go the way of the fossils they help burn.


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