California’s Incestuous Relationship with the EPA

by | Oct 13, 2023 | Environmentalism

The far Left’s climate cultists are in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency, and California “progressives” couldn’t be happier

California has richly earned its extreme “green” reputation for never finding an environmental policy it didn’t like.

Its Prop. 65 warnings alone have garnered intergalactic fame for naming virtually every consumer product under the sun a carcinogen. These products require a warning label and include aloe vera, amusement parks, coffee, dental offices, Christmas lights, and wood dust alongside things like benzene, tobacco smoke, lead, and mercury.

The state has also taken a radical and aggressive stance on global warming, setting ambitious goals to corral consumer choice, economic activity, and personal liberty to cool the “boiling earth.” Most other states outside the elitist coasts look upon this approach with mockery and derision, knowing the disastrous results of adopting such crazy public policies.

Not the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Joe Biden, though.

The Biden EPA, like every other agency in his administration, has adopted the craziest of the crazy, in an attempt to push the envelope ever further left. And they’re using California as the model.

Go Left, Young Man

The California Model uses the state’s outsized economic influence to push regulations beyond what most states would consider reasonable, and they do it on purpose. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has bragged multiple times that other states and countries have lined up to follow his state’s lead.

Since 2022, California has announced its goals to ban the sale of gasoline-powered automobiles and diesel-powered semi-trucks used for long-haul freight. In 2022, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted to implement a phase-out of sales of new internal combustion cars, leading to a full ban of sales of any new cars except zero-emission vehicles by 2035. Other states expect to follow California’s lead, including Oregon, Washington, New York, and Rhode Island, among a handful of other blue states.

Then, earlier this year, CARB received permission from the EPA to implement a phased ban of diesel semi-truck sales. Companies with 50 or more trucks must report their use of trucks for shipping and transit. Manufacturers must ensure that up to 75 percent of trucks sold in California, depending on their class, qualify as zero-emission.

These draconian bans resulted from California’s long-standing authorization under the Clean Air Act to adopt emissions standards far stricter than what the EPA requires. During the twin crises of energy shortages and smog buildup in the 1970s, the EPA allowed the state to enact its own rules. Since that time, a feedback loop of ratcheting regulations has developed between CARB and the EPA.

It’s not just cars and trucks, and it’s not just California. CARB has also announced its intent to require Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs) on tug boats and barges, despite a lack of evidence they even work, or that these vessels produce an outsized amount of such pollution. In fact, when California started requiring DPFs on trucks, they led to lots of fires and lawsuits against the state. None have been approved for maritime use, but CARB is plowing ahead anyway.

As an aside, in my book, Behind the Curtain, I detail how the EPA created regulations on particulate matter in the 1990s, despite having lost all the data from the original studies on that type of air pollution and being completely incapable of reproducing the results, with the guy in charge of making those rules being convicted of defrauding the federal government in several different ways.

Anyway, back to the out-of-control CARB. They either have no conception of how supply chains work or have decided to press on with their destruction deliberately. California ports such as Oakland, Long Beach, and Los Angeles receive goods via international shipping that get distributed across the entire nation. The DPF requirement threatens to put commercial harbor craft out of business, and ships and supertankers can’t come to port without them.

So again, it’s not just California affected by the state’s insane regulatory regime. This affects the entire United States.

Power Grid Madness

The mighty and all-powerful CARB—and myriad regional air quality boards—have an outsized influence on a lot of industries, but their control of the power grid puts lives at risk. Various regulatory agencies in California have moved to shut down petroleum refineries under the perverse directive to move the power grid and transportation industries toward renewables. They believe they can influence consumer choice by removing supply, which, of course, creates huge inflationary pressures and a loss of personal liberty.

Meanwhile, instead of creating a regulatory regime that would allow regional utility monopolies to pay for infrastructure upgrades, the California Public Utility Commission removed the free market incentives of competition. When the infrastructure failed, instead of looking in the mirror state officials charged Pacific Gas & Electrical (PG&E) with criminal charges related to the loss of life in the 2018 Paradise fires.

Such regional utility monopolies exist across the United States, with very little competition for consumer spending. Infrastructure and capacity have degraded as a result. On top of that, Biden’s EPA has reinstated Obama-era regulations, and even gone further, to regulate so-called “carbon pollution.” The Biden administration has stated it will enact strict regulations on power plants fueled by “fossil fuels,” despite the Supreme Court ruling it can’t legally do so.

The California Effect

Under its carve-out from the EPA to allow more draconian regulations than required under the Clean Air Act, California has embraced its ability to push the envelope. It’s even got a name—the California Effect.

David Vogel, professor emeritus of business ethics at U.C. Berkeley, coined the phrase to describe the outsized effect the state has nationally due to its sheer economic size. California has roughly 10 percent of the nation’s population, and Californians spend one out of every eight dollars spent in America. If it were a separate nation, California would be the world’s fourth-largest economy.

So when it passes regulations, it has both direct and indirect effects. For instance, regulations on auto manufacturers affect so many consumers  it also affects a large swath of the total cars built in any given year. Manufacturers are unlikely to build a separate line of vehicles for states without such regulations because it simply wouldn’t make economic sense. This affects foreign manufacturers just as much as domestic manufacturers, if they want to export into the United States.

In addition, other states and jurisdictions with similar (blue) perspectives towards overregulation often follow suit.

Thus, California and its merry band of blue state followers can have effects the EPA could only dream of. Red state attorneys general have fought back, with 17 recently signing on to a lawsuit against the EPA stating the California carve-out gives the state far too much power over other states.

Ironically, where the EPA fails to overregulate, or loses lawsuits, California and its regulatory madness can pick up the slack, throwing its weight around to affect the entire global economy, even without the backing of the federal government.

With climate cultists having fully subsumed California government, as well as the EPA deep state, the activists have fully taken over the U.S. economy, without a single vote of anyone in Congress. The bureaucratic state doesn’t need them.

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