A Free-Market Energy Blog

California Energy Reform: Shellenberger’s One-Fourth Loaf

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- April 9, 2018

“Michael Shellenberger needs to go Alex Epstein. He must explain the fundamental energy concepts of density and intermittency in his political quest in the Golden State…. He must differentiate between global lukewarming and catastrophic warming from the enhanced greenhouse effect. The war on fossil fuels must end in California.”

Michael Shellenberger, founder and president of Environmental Progress, is running for Governor of California. Energy is his major campaign issue for a state that is in energy trouble. But he must properly finish what he has started–even to the point of speaking political incorrectness to power.

“I am a lifelong Democrat and have worked for progressive causes all of my life.” So begins the “About” section of Michael Shellenberger’s website for his run for California’s governorship. A resident of Berkeley, he touts his credentials as a Progressive Democrat:

In the 2000s, I helped persuade the Obama administration to make a big investment in clean energy, won the “Green Book Award,” and was named a Time Magazine “Hero of the Environment” for my writings on climate change.

I was against nuclear energy for most of my life but changed my mind after I learned the scientific facts. I now believe it is essential to the goal of lifting all humans out of poverty while protecting the natural environment. You can see me discuss my conversion on “The Colbert Report.”

He changed his mind about nuclear–and has become a partner-in-activism with climate scientist/alarmist James Hansen, who has (rightly) demoted renewable energy fantasy (“Suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy”).

Shellenberger continues his self-description:

Today, I am president of Environmental Progress, an independent research and policy organization located in Berkeley. I helped lead successful efforts to save nuclear power plants in Illinois, New York, South Korea and Connecticut, which prevented an increase in emissions equivalent to adding over 10 million cars to the road.

I decided to run for governor because California’s young people, middle class, and poor are being sold out.

California can be a light unto the world for its efforts to achieve prosperity and nature for all — not just the wealthy and those of us who are lucky enough to own a home.

Energy Problem …

At Shellenberger for Governor, the ‘Prosperity for All’ section emphasizes energy as a problem area for the Golden State.

Energy is more expensive in California than in most of the rest of the U.S. Expensive energy hurts poorer Californians directly and drives manufacturers out of the state. Electricity prices rose five times more between 2011 and 2017 in California than they did nationally, so that today we spend 60 percent more than the rest of the nation.

California is hostile to manufacturing. California manufacturers pay nearly 100 percent more for electricity than manufacturers pay nationally. “California is not a competitive place for a manufacturing company,” concluded a report that surveyed manufacturers. “Costs, regulations, permitting delays, a lack of incentives, high labor costs and a high tax rate among other factors make it very difficult for manufacturers to do business in California.”

… But Little Solution

But when it comes to ‘Solutions,’ Shellenberger goes all but quiet energy-wise. His golden cure is just the politically correct micro-issue of AVs–autonomous vehicles:

We must embrace the automation revolution (including autonomous vehicles) which could either destroy jobs and worsen inequality or create good jobs and reduce inequality. What’s clear is that the revolution is coming: analysts estimate that the global market for AVs alone will be $42 billion in 2025. California is uniquely positioned to benefit from it thanks to California-based AV leaders Google, Uber, and Apple.

AVs could radically reduce traffic accidents. In just California alone, over 3,500 people die each year in traffic accidents. More people are dying annually, which may be due to higher use of mobile devices while driving. Experts predict AVs could reduce road accidents by 90 percent, according to one firm’s research. Beyond lives saved, reducing accidents could save $190 billion annually.

AVs could reduce travel times and increase efficiency in many ways. Nearly one third of cars in San Francisco at any given time are trying to park. Los Angeles and San Francisco today have the first and fifth highest congestion rates, respectively, in the world. AVs could increase significantly mobility for everyone, including the elderly, minors, and the disabled at lower cost than existing public transit.

AVs could allow policymakers to reduce street parking thereby allowing more space for movement and encourage the adoption of roving robot cars.

Real Solutions

Yes, California has an energy problem. Yes, renewable energies and storage are not ready for prime (fossil-fuel) time. And yes, a huge educational task lies ahead for the Golden State.

Michael Shellenberger needs to go Alex Epstein. He must explain the fundamental energy concepts of density and intermittency in his political quest in the Golden State. He must differentiate between global lukewarming and catastrophic warming from the enhanced greenhouse effect. The war against fossil fuels must end in California.

Michael Shellenberger has made energy a central feature of his political run. He must properly finish what he has started.

One Comment for “California Energy Reform: Shellenberger’s One-Fourth Loaf”

  1. John Garrett  

    No can do.

    Pravda, NPR, PBS, Pravda (a/k/a the NY Times), the LA Times, the WaPo, CNN, FOE, NRDC, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, UC Berkeley, Stanford and the rest of the innumerate believers in unicorns and perpetual motion would have a collective meltdown.


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