Democratic Western governors pursue renewable energy platform that critics say will cost jobs,

(The Center Square) – Three Democratic Western U.S. governors discussed goals to move their states to become reliant on renewable energy in a recent webinar hosted by the U.S. Climate Alliance, despite recent reports of conflicts of interest, higher costs to taxpayers, and low-income communities being hit the hardest by renewable policies.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom acknowledged that transitioning California to renewable energy sources and zero-emissions vehicles has already left the state dependent on foreign oil imports.

“As it relates to managing decline, we’ve got to address the issue of demand. California since 1985 has declined its [oil] production by 60 percent, but only seen a modest decrease in demand, 4.4 percent,” Newsom said in the recorded webcast. “And that means we’re making up for a lack of domestic production from Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, and Colombia, and that’s hardly an environmental solution when you look globally.”

Newsom made national news last week after issuing an executive order to ban the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles in California by 2035 in an effort to reduce greenhouse gases.

The overwhelming majority of Californians drive gasoline-powered vehicles; less than 6 percent of cars sold in California in 2019 were zero-emission vehicles. Prohibiting poor and low-income residents from purchasing less expensive gasoline-powered cars could severely limit their ability to drive, critics argue.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis discussed Colorado’s renewable energy goal, saying, “We have a similar goal to Rhode Island; 100 percent renewable energy is where we are headed,” he said. “We are planning to get us there by 2040 at 100 percent, we’re going to be at over 80 percent by 2030. Along with electrification of sectors like vehicles where Colorado has led the way, adopted a zero-emissions standard.”

Western Wire reported that Colorado’s emissions reductions roadmap could lead to a ban on natural gas appliances including gas-fired stovetops, which would be replaced by electric appliances, costing residents more money in electric bills and buying new appliances.

The Colorado Sun recently reported that Colorado’s membership in the U.S. Climate Alliance potentially poses a conflict of interest. It reported that Polis “is accepting more than $1 million from donors, nonprofits and foundations to pay salaries and costs associated with six top policy positions.” The salary of one of Polis’ staff members tasked with focusing on climate change is also “funded through the U.S. Climate Alliance with money from a foundation backed by the grandson of Walmart’s founder,” according to the report.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who also participated in the webinar, said her state, which is the third-largest oil-producing state in the U.S., needed “to transition out of fossil fuels” production.

New Mexico accounts for more than 30 percent of onshore natural gas production in the U.S. and nearly 60 percent of all onshore oil production.

Through taxes and fees, the oil and gas sector funds roughly 39 percent of New Mexico’s annual budget.

In 2019, the industry contributed a record $3 billion in tax revenue, which greatly contributed to public education funds.

“Restricting oil and gas development on federal lands will rob New Mexico of opportunities for economic growth and hollow our schools of critical resources that put teachers in classrooms and help our young children learn,” New Mexico Oil and Gas Association Executive Director Ryan Flynn, who was not a participant in the webinar, said in a statement.

The American Petroleum Institute estimates that banning new federal leases for energy production alone in New Mexico would lead to nearly 22,000 job losses in the state and a loss of $1.1 billion in state revenue. It would also reduce oil and gas production by nearly 50 percent, the institute adds.

According to a University of Chicago study that examined the impact of New Mexico’s new Energy Transition Act, the state’s push towards renewable energy use has already imposed a tax on low-income families of roughly 17 percent.

By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square
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Reposted with permission

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