As the senator who spoke out most forcefully against a proposed pipeline that would carry Canadian crude oil to the Gulf Coast, the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate endorsed Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) vision for a Keystone-free American economy on Tuesday night. It is worth reviewing some of the arguments which her Democratic colleagues found so compelling.
Unbeknownst to the public at large, Boxer insisted that the “XL” in the Keystone XL Pipeline really stood for “extra lethal.” She contended that the tar sands oil which Canada is exploiting, and that would be transported by a Keystone pipeline, was inordinately dirty. “It has heavy metals, it has sulfur dioxide, it has nitrogen oxide, it has particulate matter, it has carcinogens,” she insisted. Boxer did not make note of the fact that these are compounds found in or are byproducts of the combustion of almost all petroleum products.
“I want to show you a picture of a little girl,” Boxer told her colleagues. “And she has on her face an oxygen mask.” And that’s exactly what she did.
It would have been a compelling argument, had she attempted to make a causal link between the construction of Keystone and a dystopian future characterized by children forced to use assisted breathing apparatuses.
Not only would the construction of Keystone put no negative pressure on gasoline prices, an argument President Barack Obama has also made, but the California senator claimed it would have the precise opposite effect. “We’re going to see higher gas prices because of this,” Boxer insisted.
These and other comments delivered by Boxer over the course of her hours on the floor on Tuesday were equally confounding, but her most mystifying pronouncements were those in which she touted the bustling green economy of her home state.
“Ask yourself the question, is it worth exposing our people to these risks who I stood with shoulder to shoulder, and is it worth exposing the planet to these risks when we can create millions of jobs in a clean energy economy like we’re doing in my state,” she said. “And we’re going gangbusters!”
“I come from a state that is booming with hundreds of thousands of jobs with balanced budgets — clean energy future — and I come from a state that embraced cleaning up the environment and building the economy and jobs,” Boxer later added. “And they go hand in hand.”
That is a uniquely offensive rewriting of the historical record.
California’s “gangbusters” economy is one which is characterized by a 7.4 percent unemployment rate, 9.4 percent in Los Angeles alone. That is well above the national rate which is currently pegged at 5.8 percent. For a state with virtually every natural advantage you can imagine – lovely climate, industrious people, spectacular mineral wealth, and millions of acres of arable land – that is a disgrace which is due only to mismanagement.
As for California’s green energy utopia, Conn Carol puts this claim to shame in an extensively researched piece published in The Washington Examiner last year:
California already has some of the nation’s highest electricity prices — 39 percent higher than the national average — and those will continue to rise as the state begins to enforce both its renewable energy mandate and cap-and-trade programs.
The cap-and-trade law will at least spare residential consumers and utility companies part of the added pain with rebates and special allowances. But it does so at the expense of businesses and manufacturers, who are simply are out of luck. Cap-and-trade will cost them about $1 billion a year, according to the California Chamber of Commerce.
And that comes on top of the renewable energy mandate, which requires all utilities to produce 30 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. It contains no rebates or loopholes. The mandate alone will drive up electricity rates for everyone by more than 13 percent, according to the Pacific Research Institute, as utilities are forced to buy more expensive electricity from renewable sources.
The California Public Utilities Commission’s Division of Ratepayer Advocates has already estimated that 59 percent of all renewable energy contracts signed by utilities paid above-market prices for their renewable energy.
Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that California will once again face rolling blackouts starting in 2015, thanks to the loss of conventional plants and unreliability of wind and solar energy due to weather fluctuations.
But all these new green energy programs must at least be creating thousands of new green jobs, right? Wrong. According to the best numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fewer than 2,500 green jobs have been created in California since 2010. Compare that with the more than 556,000 jobs that California has added in total since the recession ended in June 2009.
41 Senate Democrats endorsed Boxer’s vision for an American future that looks quite a bit like California’s present. Republicans would do well to repeatedly remind the nation of that fact.