Sunday, May 8, 2011

Is California Killing Cap and Trade Softly With Its Song?

We've been a fan of Anthony Pignataro's writing since he worked for the OC Weekly, and we liked this piece he did for Cal Watchdog last week. Though it's gone largely unreported, the dysfunction in Sacramento these days is jeopardizing the implementation of a law beloved by Jerry Brown and most of California's liberals: the Global Warming Solutions Act, also known as AB 32.

Coming soon to a state near you!
At issue is a little known provision in SB 855, the 2011-12 Resources trailer bill, which requires "a zero-based budget [ZBB] be submitted by April 1, 2011 for all AB 32 expenditures across state government in order to reevaluate the base funding requirements of AB 32 program implementation." In other words, the nine agencies currently employing 182 people and spending $37.7 million this year to implement the law are statutorily required to justify every dollar of that money. Of course, this justification hasn't yet been submitted. Although Cal EPA Secretary Linda Adams assures us that Jerry Brown will get around to submitting the report sometime really soon, it's not clear when this will happen or whether the Legislature will get adequate time to review it. And the Legislative Analyst's Office is not amused: "Given that the administration has failed to comply with the statutory requirement for a ZBB, we recommend that the Legislature reverse, for now, all AB 32-related expenditures in the budget year that it has previously approved."

So, to summarize, if Sacramento were strictly adhering to the laws it passed in the interest of resolving the budget mess, the implementation of this awful, awful law would have to be defunded for at least a year. Of course, we have no illusions about how much Jerry Brown and the rest of the Capitol respect the rule of law, so we're sure the matter isn't resolved. But we are savoring the irony of seeing the budget-crisis train wreck endangering one of their sacred cows. And with the usually mild-mannered LAO taking such a hard line on this, cap and trade is certainly in more danger than we might have thought.


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