A Glimmer of Sense in California, Obscured Soon Enough

Perhaps environmental utopianism is crashing into economic reality. At least a little bit. Two reality-challenged initiated measures pushed by environmentalists and anti-prosperity types were smacked down by the voters Tuesday in California.

First down, a fantastical renewable fuels standard. Fifty percent? Why not 70 or 80? From the NYT’s Green Inc. blog:

Proposition 7, which would have required that California’s electric utilities get half of their power from renewable sources by 2025 (the current requirement is 20 percent by the end of 2010), was easily defeated with 65 percent of voters casting ballots against the measure.

Critics of the measure — which included an unusual alliance of environmentalists and public utilities, which are not covered by current requirements but would be folded into the new mandates — argued that, as drafted, the initiative would have driven up electricity rates, stalled the state’s already steady shift to clean power and strangled small alternative-energy companies.

And been impossible to meet without shutting down the state’s economy. That too.

The other defeated measure, the kind of incentive measures that we’ll now see repackaged as “stimulus” at the federal level:

Proposition 10, meanwhile, which would have created rebate incentives for the purchase of cars and trucks running on natural gas or other alternative fuels, was also struck down, with nearly 60 percent voting “no” at last count. …

Critics opposed Proposition 10 on the grounds that the state is already cash-strapped, facing a $15.2 billion deficit. The measure, if approved by voters, would have cost the state billions of dollars through public bonds aimed at financing the rebates.

So fiscal reality wins the day. With the state facing a crushing $11.2 billion budget deficit, California’s voters decided not to add to the long-term indebtedness. Right?

Not right. From the Initiative and Referendum Institute:

• Prop 1A. $9.95 billion bonds for high speed rail systems. APPROVED 52-48
• Prop 3. $980 million bonds for children’s hospitals. APPROVED 55-45
• Prop 12. $900 million bonds for home and farm aid for veterans. APPROVED 64-36 



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