Thursday, July 16, 2009

A "Government Solution" To Climate Change Still on the Table in California

If you want to be a player in Sacramento, inserting yourself prominently in the energy agenda is a prudent place to start. Nobody has ever accused Sen. Alex Padilla of not being "prudent" (or insert your own synonym here).

So nobody should be surprised by the longish piece in Capitol Weekly today about Padilla's efforts to take up where Don Perata left off on pushing for a massive new state agency/research institute to study potential solutions to climate change.

Perata's bill to establish the $50 million a year insitute was killed for a variety reasons-- not the least of which was Perata himself and the implications it had for his stature in the capitol-- but he's gone now and Padilla has stepped up with a what the Weekly calls a "placeholder bill," hoping to revive negotiations over the propsoed institute next year when the economy improves.

The Weekly reports:

"Padilla’s bill takes a slightly different tact, but it is sure to go through a number of revisions if and when it is resurrected next year. As of now, the bill is still mostly a placeholder. It does not specify a governance structure for the Institute, the size or scope of the research to be undertaken by the Institute, or the funding source for the Institute’s operating costs or research,” according to a Senate analysis of the bill.

Padilla says the idea of the institute would be to leverage federal stimulus dollars, and coordinate efforts to meet new state greenhouse gas requirements set forth in AB 32, the greenhouse gas reduction bill authored by now Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills."


"In addition to the ratepayers’ fee, the California Climate Change Institute would have been financed with about $12 million worth - about half - of the natural gas fees that currently go to an Energy Commission research program known as PIER. The institute’s total budget would have been about $500 million dollars over the next decade. The intention was to woo federal matching money, too - a likely prospect because of the federal government’s infusion of cash into carbon emission research. Since the goal of the institute, which was written into the legislation, was to get matching money for 100 percent of its income, the CCC1 would have had authority over $1 billion. "

All of this begs the question of whether we really need a $50 million a year state entity to combat the problem of global warming. After all, nothing says "innovation" "groundbreaking" like a California state agency.