California's green strategy, if anyone in Sacramento has the courage to be honest, should be called for what it is - the biggest rip-off of the working class and poor in Golden State history.
Consider the following that California has done:
• It has made it possible for those who can afford solar power to further sweeten the 30 percent federal tax credit by mandating utilities pay more for power generated by such systems than from other sources as well as essentially reduce their share for maintaining the grid. Who picks up the costs? Those that can't afford to install $18,000 systems.
• It adds $2,500 state tax credits to the $5,000 federal tax credit given for the purchase of electric vehicles. That effectively reduces the tax burden of electric car purchases at the expense of everyone else.
• Currently electric car buyers that get $7,500 from California and the federal government do not pay a cent for maintenance of any of the roads they use as they pay no gas tax. That will change next year. Based on 20,000 miles a year at 25 miles per gallon a gas powered car will pay $376 in gas tax in 2018 plus an average DMV surcharge of $100 or $476. The driver of more expensive electric cars will pay a flat $100 regardless of how many miles they drive. The working class and those of lower incomes typically drive cars that get worse mileage. So besides paying gas taxes that the better off can avoid by buying a Tesla that is subsidized at the point purchase as well as during production, the working class tends to spend more on gas to go the same distance as those with newer gas-powered vehicles making them double losers.
• The California Public Utilities Commission has approved rate increases on all PG&E electrical users to subsidize the for-profit utility to install 7,500 vehicle charging stations throughout Northern California. That not only means PG&E doesn't have to spend a penny out of their 11 percent plus guaranteed profits to make the $130 million investment that allows them another business model to pocket even more profits but the working class struggling to pay PG&E bills already are helping subsidize it and not just the people that can afford to drive them.
• The "ghost tax" that oil companies now pay as a penalty for greenhouse gas that even the most adherent supporters concede is at least 10 cents a gallon that is collapsed into the price of gas pumped in California has 20 percent of all revenue generated earmarked by Sacramento to go to high-speed rail. Even if tickets come in as low as the $80 one-way for Los Angeles to San Francisco as voters were told in 2008, how many families in Delano struggling to make ends meet with the household breadwinner driving a 1995 Ford F-150 pickup to job sites are going to be able to afford to ride the train that they are being forced to pay more at the gas pump to support?
These are five of the most egregious examples of the state taking from the poor and giving to those better off to pursue green environmental policies. There is no attempt to mask the Robin Hood in reverse bottom line.
The reason is simple. Saving the planet has becoming the Holy Grail of Sacramento politics.
While we should insist on reasonable air quality standards - something California has been successfully pursing for decades with solid results, the clamor over greenhouse warming has pushed rationale aside in favor of lunacy. It is one thing to purse air quality standards that reflect California's unique conditions compared to federal standards, but it is another believing we need to accelerate everything in order to "save" the world.
There are 57.5 billion square miles of land mass in the world. California has 163,696 square miles. How is Sacramento going to "save" the world when a solid case can be made very few places come close to how aggressive California has already been in pursuing air quality before global warming entered political vernacular.
Back in the 1970s the world was cooling according to many politicians who preached we were heading for another Ice Age. Now we're melting.
Climate change is real. It is what caused great glaciers to form and retreat numerous times to help carve the Sierra including Yosmeite Valley. It is what caused the world's sea levels to rise and create the Great Inland Sea now known as the Great Central Valley.
All of that was done when man was building fires and mostly getting around on foot.
That's not to say that man isn't impacting the climate today. But if we're not overreacting then why does Sacramento pursue and implement policies aimed at addressing the climate change concern that comes at the expense of the working class and poor while catering to those with means via income transfers? Should not everyone pay the price?
The answer can be found if you follow the money. The biggest benefactors of California's green policies that embrace Robin Hood in reverse isn't the Delano farmworker, the Ripon Tesla driver, or the Manteca household with a solar installation. It is big companies owned by the likes of Elon Musk or run by the likes of Antony Early Jr. that PG&E compensates $3.5 million a year that are the big winners as well as politicians and political action committees that they underwrite. It's not the birds, bees, and trees.
Sacramento's green policy is all about the green. But it's not the green in a pristine Sierra meadow but the green locked away in vaults of banks in places like Beverly Hills.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.