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California Digging

July 6, 2009

ARE THEY CRAZY?!?! YES!

IBD: 2 July 2009

Regulation: Ignoring the first rule of holes, a bankrupt state passing out IOUs welcomes an EPA waiver allowing it to further kill its economy. Too bad the state can’t stop the air pollution imported from a growing China.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday granted California its long-standing request — denied by the Bush administration — for a waiver to allow it to impose even more stringent air pollution rules than currently required by the federal government.

The way is now clear for implementation of a 2002 state law requiring new cars to increase their fuel economy 40% by 2016. At least a dozen other states are champing at the bit to follow California’s lead.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, captain of a ship seriously listing to port, hailed the decision as a “huge step for our emerging green economy that will create thousands of new jobs and bring Californians the cars they want while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” So far the green economy is withering on the vine.

Californians don’t want clown cars any more than the rest of the country. That’s why they’re driving their real cars out of the state. For four straight years California has suffered a net loss of population to other states. Without illegal immigration, California would be shrinking. For the rest, it’s go east, young man.

California faces a $42 billion deficit. It needs nuclear power plants to generate pollution-free power to attract, not repel, industry and jobs. It needs revenues from the exploitation of its offshore oil resources. Redemption will not come from paving the state with solar panels and hoping the sun shines.

As Peter Brookes of the Heritage Foundation reports, sulfur from China alone in California, Oregon and Washington state alone reaches 10% to 15% of the EPA’s allowable levels. Estimates are that a third of California’s air pollution and a fifth of Oregon’s comes from China. Sensors in the Sierra Nevada Mountains have identified huge Chinese pollution clouds that traverse the Pacific.

“We’re going to see increased particulate pollution from the expansion of China for the foreseeable future,” says Steven Cliff, a research engineer at the University of California, Davis.

“If they started driving cars and using electricity at the rate in the developed world, the amount of pollution they generate will increase many, many times,” adds Tony Van Curen, a UC Davis researcher who works with Cliff.

In a recent issue of the Journal of Environment Economics and Management, a UC Berkeley research team noted that China had in fact become the world’s biggest polluter and that current computer models substantially underestimate future emissions growth in China. The Berkeley researchers say China’s emissions are now growing at an annual rate of 11%.

“When you look at China’s population growth and industrial growth, it’s hard to imagine how air quality could improve in the near future,” said Ruby Leung, a researcher at the Energy Department’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., which collaborates with Chinese government scientists on atmospheric research.

Every seven to 10 days, as the New York Times reports, a new coal-fired plant big enough to serve every household in San Diego comes on line in China, exporting more pollution to California and the Western United States than Schwarzenegger’s draconian proposals could ever hope to eliminate.

As a “developing” nation, China is exempt from the Kyoto agreement under which industrialized countries are trying to reduce their collective emissions of greenhouse gases. China burns 2,500 tons of coal and 210,000 gallons of crude oil per minute. It has plans for 2,200 additional coal generators by 2030.

For every “cleaner” car put on California highways, many more regular cars will be added to Chinese roads with their drivers going to businesses that are opening, not closing or moving elsewhere. Guess which way the wind will blow all those greenhouse gases and auto pollution.

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