How California became far more energy-efficient than the rest of the country


EXCERPT: . . . The Trump administration is currently attempting to stop California from setting its own pollution standards for automobiles. Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency has proposed freezing federal fuel economy standards for 10 years (a measure so extreme that even automakers oppose it), but as things stand, California has a waiver under the Clean Air Act that allows it to opt out of federal standards and implement its own vehicle standards. Other states are also allowed to opt for California’s standards if they so choose, which 12 states and Washington, DC, have done.

If Trump sets absurdly lax standards, more states are likely to defect to California’s. So the EPA has set out to deny the state its waiver. There’s going to be a whole huge legal fight over it. These aren’t just any standards, and this isn’t just any fight. Trump’s EPA is going after California because of the state’s long and, to this administration, dangerous history of dragging the nation forward on clean energy and energy efficiency — precisely by using ambitious performance standards.

California boosters often note that the state has become more energy-efficient than the rest of the US, which has helped keep its residents’ energy bills low even as the per-unit cost of energy increases. Skeptics have said that the state is merely taking credit for the effects of a temperate climate and copious natural resources, including hydroelectric power.

Oddly, no one seems to have run the numbers on it, to figure out whether California really is a leader or if it’s just lucky. But now, in a report for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Ralph Cavanagh, Peter Miller, and Charlie Komanoff gathered the official statistics, made the spreadsheet, and dug into the question of whether California really is doing something right. The answer: yes. It is. (MORE)
It doesn't help much to save a bit on utilities when your property tax is sky high.
California has perhaps the highest automobile fuel prices in the country. Why?

Because California's environmental standards mean that only specific blends of fuel can be sold here. Those California blends are only produced in a few refineries, mostly in LA. So if a particular refinery goes off-line for some reason, there are shortages and prices skyrocket. What's more, there are specific summer and winter blends, and refineries need to go off-line for a while to switch over, again causing prices to jump.

I don't believe that Californians use less energy than the average American either. Perhaps for heating, due to the mild climate. But Californians tend to be wealthier than people in 'flyover country' and live in bigger houses and own more vehicles. They fly more often (often traveling internationally). So I'd be willing to bet that absent heating costs, Californians consume more energy per-capita than the average American.

The story that CC cites (from a left-wing opinion publication citing environmental activists) is basing its assertions about California's relative efficiency on a metric of their own invention, called "energy intensity (energy consumed per unit of GDP)". (Not per-person, but per-unit-of-GDP.) And California, boosted by the profits of many companies like Apple that are headquartered there but manufacture their products in China, on paper has a disproportionate sized state GDP. (Which flows to the wealthy elite and most Californians never see.) But average it out, and average Californians can expend more energy than people in other states and still come out looking good according to this particular metric.

But try to enforce the same spurious "energy intensity" on states without California's tech-industries and hence with lower per-capita "GDP's", and you will be cutting deeply into real people's standards of living.

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