Monday, July 28, 2008

Taking Shots at Prop 10

We've already said our piece about T. Boone Pickens and his passion project, but the San Jose Mercury News piles on today in its analysis of Proposition 10, the green energy ballot initiative being supported by Mr. Pickens.

The Merc acknowledges what it calls a "parochial snit" over San Jose being left out of Prop 10's plans for demonstration projects funded by the $5 billion the initiative seeks to borrow, and it raises the requisite conflict of interest objections to the "Pickens Plan." But the best point the editorial raises goes beyond Prop 10.

Why are we still offering incentives for hybrid cars that people are lining up to buy anyway? Doesn't it make more sense to stop giving consumers a break on things they already use, and challenge them to take even more aggressive conservation and clean energy measures in their personal lives by incentivizing new products and practices that the general public has not yet embraced?

The Merc notes:

"One-quarter of the bonds would go toward research, development and construction of solar, wind and other alternative sources of electricity. But $2.9 billion of the $5 billion in bonds - 58 percent - would be in rebates to owners of low-carbon emission vehicles, mainly those fueled by natural gas. Natural gas is at best a transitional fuel to run vehicles. Taxpayers would be paying the interest on bonds long after the cars that got rebates ended up in junkyards.

The rebates would include $2,000 for high mileage cars, like the Prius, even though buyers already are lining up to buy them, and up to $10,000 for natural-gas fueled cars and electric plug-in cars, assuming the car makers get enough of them out the door in time."

Even if you disagree with that logic, is now the time to take on billions of dollars in more state debt to fund practices that have become comonplace and are transitional anyway? If Prop 10 passes, 25 years from now we will still be paying for it and cars like the Prius will be as anachronistic as the 8-track tape is today.