Modern California politics was forged from the Progressive Movement’s “purification” of the political machines and bosses to bring about the reform of monopolistic railroad, insurance and banking trusts that dominated the state. The Progressives reached their apogee a century ago with Gov. Hiram Johnson’s reforms of 1911, especially his initiative, recall and referendum reforms.
Fast-forward to 2013 and “Progressive” has a new meaning in California. “Progressives” are desperately trying to re-monopolize energy, workplace, consumer, healthcare and poultry farming industries to advance the state’s environmental laws.
The U.S. states and Congress are beginning to push back against California’s new “landmark” laws that mainly use environmentalism to trump the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and anti-trust and consumer protection laws. The Interstate Commerce Clause gives Congress the complete power to regulate trade among the states, giving America a vast free-trade zone that has been essential to our prosperity.
Congress is trying to counter California’s use of environmentalism as way to re-legitimate monopolization.
Green Chemistry Law as covert CA bailout bill
The Green Chemistry initiative is winding its way through the California Legislature in Senate Bill 498, sponsored by state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, which would further regulate toxic chemicals; and in Assembly Bill 597, by Assemblyman Brian Dahle, R-Shasta, which would redefine all chemicals as hazardous until approved by the state. Once enacted, the Green Chemistry Law would create a trade barrier for out-of-state products that did not conform to California’s chemical standards.
The Green Chemistry Initiative is a bureaucratic process requiring every maker of chemical products to submit data on chemicals in their products to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. Green chemistry is the “design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances.” California’s Green Chemistry Law would usurp the federal regulation of chemical substances by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration, and effectively would replace California’s existing Proposition 65.
To counter California’s new Green Chemistry Law, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, S. 1009, has been introduced by U.S. Senators David Vitter, R-La., and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. It’s a bipartisan bill by a coalition of states to prevent California from erecting trade barriers to their products in the name of protecting health. Both Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and California Attorney General Kamela Harris, are opposed to S. 1009.
Proposition 2 let the fox in the henhouse
The law that spearheaded California’s re-monopolization of its industries was Proposition 2, the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act of 2008, which created a virtual monopoly for in-state poultry operators.
This has been followed by a host of other re-monopolization efforts. The most notable has been the 33 percent mandate for green power created under AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006; and by a requirement signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011. AB 32 produced the quarterly “cap-and-trade” auctions of greenhouse gases that the state has been running since last November.
AB 32 erected new Smoot-Hawley Act-like trade barriers against imported power from other states. That’s because one aim of AB 32, promoting the growth of green industries in California, is thwarted if those industries grow in other states with fewer regulations and taxes than California.
Recently, a federal judge decided that states cannot erect trade barriers to out-of-state green power without violating the Interstate Commerce Clause. The ruling severely limits AB 32′s impact.
But California already has ingeniously erected covert trade barriers against out-of-state green power by:
(1) Indirectly routing new power line routes to carry power only from wind and solar farms situated in California’s desert;
(2) Imposing a “smart grid” that eliminates energy providers having to buy imported power on the spot market;
(3) Deregulating environmental laws so that green power from surrounding states that do not have environmental laws do not have an advantage over California; and
(4) Using only direct current (DC) power lines such as used by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to keep alternating current electricity from entering its power lines.
All of the above would not have been possible without the California Legislature using its environmental laws to trump federal interstate commerce and antitrust laws. But that soon could end if S. 1009 passes in the U.S. Congress.
Wayne Lusvardi is a former chief real estate appraiser for a large utility district and low-income housing development analyst. He resides in Pasadena. This article originally appeared in CalWatchDog.com. It is republished here with permission.