Big Government Energy Policies Beget Bigger Government

California leads the country in both the number of electric vehicles and wildfires, largely due to big-government policies. Now, in a shocking twist, the industries subject to these onerous laws and regulations are using ballot measures to try and force taxpayers to pay for these policies.

In 2018, the California legislature passed a law called the Clean Miles Standard and Incentive Program, which directed the California Air Resource Board (CARB) to set standards mandating a 90% electric vehicle fleet for rideshare companies. California Governor Gavin Newsom took the mandate a step further, declaring in 2020 that the state would ban sales of new gas passenger vehicles in 2035.

While some proponents of these mandates cheer the hypothetical benefits that may come one day, the short-term reality is that EV vehicle charging infrastructure is, in its current state, woefully ill-equipped to handle this level of future demand. Without significantly upgrading the state’s EV vehicle charging infrastructure, car transportation in California will largely – although not completely – grind to a halt once this mandate is fully implemented.

If you thought California would use its $100 billion budget surplus this year to invest in the necessary infrastructure upgrades to make its leaders’ vision of an EV future a practical reality, you would be wrong. Instead, a coalition of companies, activists, and political players started a ballot initiative, Proposition 30, that would increase taxes on Californians making over $2 million to pay for the new infrastructure and wildfire remediation efforts.

If passed, the new top-level personal income tax rate would increase by 1.75%, bringing the total to 15.05%, which would be the highest rate in the nation according to Rich States, Poor States. Of the revenue collected by this proposed tax, 80% would subsidize EV charging stations, while the other 20% would go towards vital wildfire remediation efforts. Interestingly, the proposition’s language would set up a special fund that could not be raided by Sacramento’s busybodies.

The most notable proponents of the proposition are the rideshare company Lyft and the California Democratic Party, while the governor, the California Teachers Association, and the Republican Party of California oppose it.

This is a classic example of how big government energy policies beget increasingly bigger government solutions, and this is only the start of the snowball quickly picking up speed as it crashes down this mountain.

EV charging stations will need reliable connectivity to the grid, which will be an added expense likely paid for by taxpayers later. That reliable connectivity to the grid will necessitate an increase in last and middle-mile infrastructure, which will also likely be paid for by taxpayers. The grid’s generation load will need to increase substantially to keep up with EV demands, driving up prices on consumers. California is already a case-study on how increased demand for electricity over already-failing infrastructure leads to wildfires, which cause loss of life and property.

In other words, this is just the beginning.

ALEC has three model policies on these issue that would benefit all Americans. The first is a model resolution urging state utility commissions to declare the electric vehicle charging market to be a competitive market outside utility commission control. The second is a model resolution calling for equalizing the tax treatment of different types of vehicles by supporting the end of the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles and for adding vehicle registration fees for electric vehicles. Finally, ALEC’s Resolution Urging Removal of Governmental Barriers to Active Forest Management to Reduce Catastrophic Wildfires calls on states and the federal government to engage in science-backed best forestry practices in order to reduce the chance and impact of wildfires.

In Depth: Energy

It is difficult – and perhaps even impossible – to overstate the relationship between readily available access to safe, affordable and reliable energy and individual prosperity and economic wellbeing. This is because energy is an input to virtually everything we produce, consume and enjoy in society. Think for a minute…

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