Energy Policy: Top 5 Worst Sitting Governors/Governors-elect

by William Yeatman on December 28, 2010

in Blog

In an earlier post, I listed the top five worst governors on energy policy. Alas, four of the five were lame ducks, which means that my original list had a very limited shelf life. With that in mind, I made a new list. This one is limited to sitting governors and governors-elect, so it should remain relevant for the foreseeable future.

And so, without further ado, THE TOP FIVE WORST GOVERNORS ON ENERGY POLICY….[cue drum roll]…

5         Kansas Governor-elect Sam Brownback

Sam Brownback has yet to serve a day as Governor, but he earned a place on this list for a particularly egregious mistake he recently committed while representing Kansas in the U.S. Senate.  It happened late last July. At the time, with an election looming, Senate majority leader Harry Reid decided that to drop debate on a Soviet-style renewable energy production quota, known as a Renewable Electricity Standard. Cap-and-trade had already died in the Senate, and the Congressional calendar was nearing its end, so Reid’s decision to abandon a RES meant that the 111th Congress would avoid the worst ideas in energy policy. Then, Sen. Sam Brownback, in an apparent effort to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, announced that he would introduce aRES. Thankfully, Brownback’s proposal was ignored.

4.       New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

Christie’s skepticism of global warming alarmism is great. What’s not so great is his continued participation in a regional cap-and-trade energy rationing scheme. For whatever reason, the climate skeptic sounding governor has yet to pull his state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the aforementioned energy tax.

3.       Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick

For Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, climate policy is all about style over substance. In one sense, that’s a good thing, because Patrick (like me) has no interest in expensive energy policies.  In 2008, for example, Gov. Patrick championed the Global Warming Solutions Act, which, according to the Governor’s press release, requires emissions reductions 25% below 1990 levels by 2020. That sounds like a big commitment, but when you read the fine print, it turns out that the legislation mandates emissions reductions of only 10% below 1990 levels. Moreover, the State’s business-as-usual future is projected to reduce emissions 3% below 1990 levels by 2020. And when you account for federal and state policies already in place, Massachusetts is on track to reduce emissions 18% below 1990 levels by 2020. The upshot is that the Governor’s climate plan is pointless, which is probably the reason why his website’s “key priorities” page makes no mention of global warming. While I appreciate the Massachusetts Governor’s aversion to expensive energy climate policies, by enacting  long term, legally binding emissions reductions targets, he created a powerful tool with which environmentalist lawyers can gum up economic activity.

2.       Maryland Governor Martin O Malley

Governor Martin O Malley wants his constituents to believe that they can have their cake and eat it, too, when it comes to climate change mitigation. In 2009, Governor O Malley sponsored the Greenhouse Gas Reductions Act, which requires emissions reductions 25% below 2006 levels by 2020. Yet the law requires that any emissions reductions strategy also, “produce a net economic benefit to the State’s economy and a net increase in jobs in the state.” Of course, these are mutually exclusive propositions. No matter how much politicians blather on about “green jobs,” the fact remains that the price of “doing something” about climate change is forsaken economic growth. To be sure, O Malley ensured that he wouldn’t be the one to square this circle. The law postpones any meaningful requirement until after the Governor is safely out of office.

1.       California Governor-elect Jerry Brown (the #1 worst by a landslide)

Californians will rue the day they elected Jerry Brown for a second stint in the Governor’s mansion. He is exactly the wrong person at the exact worst time. The start of Brown’s term coincides the implementation phase of the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, which grants the state executive virtually unlimited authority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20% below 1990 levels by 2020. Governor-elect Brown has given every indication he will use this unprecedented expansion of authority in an imprudent manner. In the 1970s, when he was last governor, Brown refused to allow new generation resources to be built in the State, claiming instead that energy efficiency regulations would so diminish energy demand that no new power plants would be needed. Of course, he was wrong, and the policies he put in place led directly to the California energy crisis in 2000/2001. During the Schwarzenegger Administration, Jerry Brown served as Attorney General, and in that capacity he sued California counties for failing to take climate change mitigation into account in their long term growth strategies. It is difficult to overstate what trouble lies ahead for California.

gofer December 28, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Brown is a certified nut-job. Are people is Ca. really that crazy?

Sure Energy January 5, 2011 at 8:21 pm

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