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But this is the Sunshine State!

They would probably be better off just unplugging Hollywood but:

California is set to introduce tough new legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions under a deal reached by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It would make California the first US state to impose a cap on expulsion of carbon dioxide and other gases.

And when their energy bills start to climb, Californians will blame (a) George Bush and (b) the “so-called free market” while demanding state intervention and subsidies.

32 comments to But this is the Sunshine State!

  • Nuclear power has no emissions. And the waste can be recylced into more power-producing fuel.

  • guy herbert

    Not strictly true. The emissions of any plant include those involved in building, maintaining and supplying it. It isn’t clear that those (or equivalently the costs) are so much better for nuclear.

    Capping emissions doesn’t really help much if the most popular greenhouse models are correct – one needs to reduce CO2 levels, i.e. have net negative emissions, to deal with too much atmospheric CO2. So the policy is puzzling at a technical level.

    I’m inclined to think it is like smoking bans in public places. Or certain religious types whipping themselves. It doesn’t do any good. Even its advocates really know it doesn’t do any good. But they feel that by creating suffering deliberately, an evil is somehow set off. Call it the fixed-quantity-of-pain fallacy: redistribution of a problem is confused with its reduction.

  • Nick M

    Thaddeus,
    Technical quibble.
    California is “The Golden State”
    Florida is “The Sunshine State”
    They all have official nicknames.
    They have lots of “official things”.
    There are even official state insects.
    Drosophilla Rodhami is the official state insect for New York, for example.

  • You can also be sure that people from both factions of the Boot On Your Neck Party will continue to insist that Schwarzenegger is conservative, despite all evidence to the contrary.

  • Jacob

    “But they feel that by creating suffering deliberately, an evil is somehow set off.”

    “creating suffering deliberately…” isn’t that a concise and precise definition of leftist ideology ?

    But there is nothing new in this policy, except the spin.
    California has long prevented the building of new oil refineries or power plants. As long as there are others to supply the oil and electricity – it works fine.
    Any socialist state or commune can survive as long as there are some capitalists arround to support them…

    “major industries would be required to cut their output of greenhouse gases … ”

    Major indistries: go elsewhere, you’re not welcome in California.

  • Ahhh, I don’t read too much into this. Arnold can simply emulate France and Germany — say you are decreasing emissions but then actually increase them!

  • Jake

    This bill will succeed as ghost towns do not emit emissions.

    Just as there was a huge migration into California in the 1930s, there is a huge migration out of California today. It is very difficult to find one-way UHaul trucks out of California and very easy to find UHauls into California.
    One of the most high selling items in California Costcos, is a moving kit made up of packing boxes.

    Power-using industries will move out of the state or out of the country. Even low power using industries will flee as It prevents virtually every company from expanding its operations.

    The impact of this bill will fall almost completely on the shoulders of poor peopl

  • M.L. Rolland

    “Last month, he signed an accord with British Prime Minister Tony Blair establishing joint research into cleaner-burning fuels and technologies.”

    Isn’t this illegal under the US Constitution?

  • Mike James

    I tend to think that we’ll start out blaming the Governator first. It ought to be remembered that Gov. Schwarzenegger achieved office through a special recall election, only conducted once before since admittance into the Union in 1851. The election was held because we blamed the last Governor, Gray Davis, for rolling blackouts.

    We’ve got a regular election scheduled in November. Those of us who care ought to expect some amusement from the whole thing. California’s got some problems, but is still big enough that elections are fairly consequential, both inside and outside the state.

  • Bob

    I live just north of Kali in Oregon. Dur to economic refugees from there, our real estate market has been on fire for the last four years.

    Oregon -We might be a socialist pesthole, but we aren’t California!

  • Freeman

    Isn’t this illegal under the US Constitution?

    Not really. It’s just an “accord” aka in diplomatic terms a memorandum of understanding. Just a non-legally-binding gentleman’s agreement. There’s lots around.

  • Nick M

    Just one question. With Hollywood, Lockheed and Silicon Valley etc. how precisely did California manage to screw-up?

  • Alice

    California really is an interesting case. As recently as the 1960s, California had steel mills, shipyards, automobile factories, aircraft factories, etc. Now almost all gone. Rapidly de-industrializing California is too big to become the American Luxembourg, too left-wing to be attractive as a US State in the long term, and too close to Mexico to stay out of its orbit. Since “Sunshine State” is already taken, maybe California should be called the “Sunset State”?

    Anyone got a good guess at how many bureaucrats it will take to monitor & report on all the sources of CO2 emissions in a State with 35 million people? How many does it take in the UK or France?

  • CFM

    The emissions of any plant include those involved in building, maintaining and supplying it. It isn’t clear that those (or equivalently the costs) are so much better for nuclear.”

    You’re right about carbon generated by construction, operation, and maintenance Nuclear Plants, not much different from any other power plants.

    But delivery and use of fuel? Try a small fraction of one percent of the cabon emmissions – a dozen truckloads of nuclear fuel a year versus a nearly continuous intake of thousands of tons of fossil fuel, be it coal slurry, trucks, gas pipelines, or rail cars.

    Fossil plants produce upwards of 800 tons of CO2 per Megawatt hour. Dirty ones more than 2000.

    A single 900 MW Nuclear power plant generates over 7 million MW hours per year (with a 90% capacity factor). And “burning” nuclear fuel produces NO CO2. None.

    Whether you take Global Warming seriously or not, the politics of the world at the moment are going to add costs to fossil fuel use. Nuclear has it’s problems (risk management, lawsuits from greenslime, subsidy of government provided liability insurance, etc, etc.) but it’s still cheap from a fuel cost standpoint.

    If the cost of forecast (U.S.) government imposed carbon sequestration is taken into account, Nuclear looks pretty good on a total cost/MWhr basis. The film on the other end of this link is kind of dry (and the speaker is homely), but the graph built about two thirds of the way through illustrates the point.

    I know. Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

    CFM

  • K

    My old home, California, is leaving the United States. The population will soon consist of a large majority loyal to Mexico plus an ultra-liberal minority around San Francisco and Sacramento loyal mostly to themselves.

    The remainder of the population, perhaps 20%, will consist of rather bewildered blacks, conservative whites, and asians. They will have no political power whatever.

    We are right in the middle of baby-boomer retirements. And in California they are the ones with overpriced real estate and comfortable pensions. They can afford a wonderful house and no concerns if they leave California. And they are.

    How it will work out is difficult to say. But it will not be a part of the United States in a meaningful sense.

  • Californians are “stuck on stupid” Imagine an agricultural state with these limits. Zimbabwe comes to mind……….. everybody could starve to death.

  • CFM wrote:

    Fossil plants produce upwards of 800 tons of CO2 per Megawatt hour. Dirty ones more than 2000.

    This seems a little high to me. Environmental Impacts of Electricity Generation: A Global Perspective reports more like 0.156 tonnes of carbon per MWh (from table III, section 2.2 and a bit of division).

    So CFM is out by some factor, but which one?

    Lets try 8,760 (as a first guess, given the evidence of CFM’s full posting). 8,760 times 0.156 gives 1,366.56. That seems to be it.

    Never mind the numbers; save the world.

    Best regards

  • Midwesterner

    Nigel, I’m not a scientist so this could be irrelevent, but CFM is talking about CO2 (as in greenhouse gas) and you referred to carbon.

  • Midwestener, CO2 versus carbon is a good point. However, the difference is a factor of 3.67 (ratio of the molecular weights of CO2 to C), not approaching 4 orders of magnitude.

    I had thought about that difference too. However, it seems to be fairly standard to quote fossil fuel emissions in terms of weight/mass of carbon and not of CO2. So I thought it better not add that point to my earlier posting.

    Now, of course, I may be jumping to conclusions in reckoning the mistake was weight of carbon for a MW year rather than a MW hour, but it seemed (and still seems to me) that that is the most likely explanation.

    Best regards

  • Midwesterner

    Could be. When I went on the net ant tried to learn a little more, (perhaps because of the way I phrased the searches) most of the CO2 emissions I found were quoted in terms of tons per hour and ranged from ~.95 to ~1.05 with a few flyers on either side.

    That 3.67 number is in the range of what I guestimated. (I couldn’t remember the A weights and didn’t look them up.)

    One thing I hard an amazingly difficult time finding was coal consumption (assuming black coal at +92% carbon) per MWh. I was trying to project approximated figures coming from that direction.

  • Midwestener, you’ve persuaded me to post this: because it has in a link that you might find useful. In fact there is loads of stuff (that I currently assume good) concerning global warming on Wikipeadia.

    At 1130 on Friday 1st September 2006. To be saved, in case case anyone reports noticing.

    I have a caveat concerning the reference linked to in my above comment (at 0953 today 1st September). Table III looks to have a column heading wrong (by a factor of a million). Table IV is better. I had actually cross-checked the overall (approximate) figure against another reference before making the above 0953 posting (but have forgotten which other reference).

    As an additional cross-check, try Wikipeadia. This gives, in the table at the bottom of the article, a gross calorific value of 25.92kg of coal per Megajoule. This is a gross energy of 7.2MWh per tonne of coal, which is 0.138 tonnes per MWh assuming that coal is 100% carbon. Given that (from the same table), coal is 61% carbon and assuming (off the top of my head) 40% generation efficiency, this gives 0.210MWh of electricity per tonne of flue carbon. Of course, quite a bit of the 60% “waste” heat is used usefully, which improves the overall efficiency a bit.

    It is, however, clear that carbon in flue gasses is around the 0.15 tonnes per MWh, rather than 1,300 tonnes per MWh. Thus I stand by my factor of 8,760 as the mistake. [This being the ratio of a year to an hour, for those who have not worked that out.]

    Best regards

  • Bother, again: I wrote (mistakenly):

    Given that (from the same table), coal is 61% carbon and assuming (off the top of my head) 40% generation efficiency, this gives 0.210MWh of electricity per tonne of flue carbon.

    This should read (or at least I think so just now after the interruption of an interesting chat with neighbours on a totally different topic, plus some Grolsch):

    Given that (from the same table), coal is 61% carbon and assuming (off the top of my head) 40% generation efficiency, this gives 0.210 tonnes of flue carbon per MWh of electricity.

    Apologies for the careless error, and best regards

  • Midwesterner

    Okay Nigel, I’m not sure where this is going, but in your linked report(PDF), table V worked a lot easier for me. It is a table of carbon emissions given in Kg per KWh for electricity generated by all means combined in each given country. You’ll notice Norway has zero carbon emissions. Apparently no carbon fuel generation at all.

    This table shows emissions averaging .15 Kg per KWh for the OECD countries. Tell me if my math is hopelessly fubared.

    Australia appears to have the highest percentage of carbon fuel electrical generation and may closely enough resemble coal. I get 0.25 Kg per KWh = 250 Kg per MWh x 3.67 (C to CO2 conv) = 2018.5 Kg or 1.0925 metric tons. Which falls just a little to the high side of the ~.95 to ~1.05 tons per MWh I stated earlier.

    I’m not sure what or if there is a point of contention. You’re guess is probably right. Our numbers are both at least similar.

    P.S. I just saw ‘Ahnold’ on the tv about this. Somebody needs to buy that man a pocket calculator and some better advisors.

  • CFM

    Ooh! Aack! GAACK!!!

    Nigel Sedgwick wrote: “This seems a little high to me. . . .” You’re a polite fellow. “This” was fucked up by two orders of magnitude.

    Sloppy. I just looked at the first site that came up in Google, and should have done some checking. These links (1) (2) (3) indicate Nigel’s figures are far closer to correct than the mess I made. “Tons” should have read “pounds” Hey, when I screw up, I do it right. Sorry.

    Anyway, the point I was trying to make got lost – burning fossil fuels produces CO2, in large quantities. Fission produces NO CO2.

    Embarrassing. I’ll shut up now.

    CFM

  • Midwesterner

    I don’t know about you guys but for me, that exercise was actually quite useful. I much strengthened my frame of reference regarding fossil fuels and emissions and will know how to ballpark verify numbers people throw at me.

    I also learned

    1. Norway apparently doesn’t generate with fossil fuels.
    2. Australia apparently doesn’t generate with much else.
    3. It takes a lot less coal than I thought to generate a MWh of electricity.

    Something I would still like to know is a reasonable estimate of what the ratio is of carbon geologically captured in the form of fossil fuels to carbon captured in the form of calcium carbonate rock (limestone). It seems to me we could release all of the oil, coal, gas, etc. with out it amounting to more than a small fraction of total captured carbon. Can that be right?

  • CFM has been good enough to come back with explanation of his error.

    I must now admit that, though I was right that he had made a big error in the numbers, my guess as to the cause was wrong.

    As CFM explained, he misread “pounds” as “tons”, which is a factor of around 2,200, the exact figure depending on whether one talks tons or (metric) tonnes.

    This is, however, not enough to explain the full difference. That is, I strongly suspect, down also to the ratio of weight/mass of carbon to carbon dioxide (1:3.67), an issue raised earlier by Midwesteren. So we clearly do need to be a bit more cautious on our precision on what is being weighed: the gas or the carbon burned to make it.

    I thought it might also be worth mentioning how the problem leapt out at me, and it’s not because I spend all my time weighing CO2 pollution. I know that my house consumes on average about 1.5 Kilowatts of electricity (excluding heating, which is gas-fired), through repeated attempts by suppliers to get me to use their “cheaper” electricity. From this, I know that the house consumes one Megawatt Hour in a smigeon under 4 weeks. The concept of this energy use being replaced by delivery of 800+ tonnes of coal per month was just too much to believe.

    Best regards

  • CFM also wrote:

    Anyway, the point I was trying to make got lost – burning fossil fuels produces CO2, in large quantities. Fission produces NO CO2.

    I agree it is important to remember the different pollution impacts: chemical versus radioactive, and the severities of their effect.

    [As an aside, I'm most sceptical that CO2 should be classified as bad pollution, as discussed very recently on Samizdata here and here.]

    Personally, I’m for a mixture of electricity generating methods (including nuclear), to get good value combined with some “insurance” against fuel supply problems and price fluctuations.

    Best regards

  • Midwesterner

    Nigel, I like your visual image of a household, a period of time, and a pile of coal. Last month, with air conditioning, our household consumed approximately 1MWh.

    Add to my previous list, one more useful frame of reference. I burn wood in the winter for heat. I know how big of a pile of wood will heat me for how long. With information learned in this discussion, I can now turn that MWh into a similar mental image of (very approximately) 1/4 ton of coal.

    THank you CFM for explaining the error, and thank you both of you for this enlightening diversion. If more of these kind of reality check discussions occured, the anti-tech movement could not be the limpet it is, riding on legitimate issues to carry it’s own agenda.

  • Robert

    Why don’t we bow to the inevitable, save time and trouble, and give California back to Mexico now? Then the loony bin is THEIR problem. I hope the Reconquistidors like living in Aztlan without the govermnent funds from the evil, oppresive gringos.

  • Paul Marks

    Nick asks when California started to go wrong.

    Well California was a very low tax State till after the election of 1938 – but even after that it did not become a high tax State.

    Gov Brown (in office till after the election of 1966) first put in place programs that have grown out of control over the years.

    Gov Reagan did try to deal with the problems – but neither the State Legilature nor the voters (there was a general vote in 1974) would accept spending restraint.

    There was a spending limit later (not prop 13 in 1978 – that was propery tax), but it got repealed a few years ago.

    Gov S. did try spending control – but the voters rejected that in the prop votes last November.

    So now he just plays to the voters – proposing spending increases that would have been proposed by the Legislature anyway (and other such).

    Actually California may not be the highest spending State government.

    Oddly enough as a percentage of income the State and local governments of Maine tax the most (although California finds ways to borrow money even though it is supposed to balance the budget).

    New York State has for decades been the first or second biggest tax and spender (again as a percentage of income – and local and State government together).

    But California does have a lot of odd regulations that even New York does not have. New York State (especially New York City) used to dominate America at one time (a true “Empire State”) and only slowly has its statism undermined its influence.

    “So why do not business enterprises leave California” – well California used to be a really great place to do business (and business enterprises interact – look at the cluster in s, valley) – but slowly even the high tech ones will start to go.

    And some State and local taxes are deductable from the income on which one pays Federal income tax (the little secret that keeps statism going at State and local level in the United States), rich people are especially good at deducting.

    Also remember that (like New York State and the area it is in) it is a vast population centre.

    As for energy – yes the Californians even called their price controls “deregulation” and blamed this “deregulation” for power cuts. Many States are like this.

    Intergration in the energy market is made difficult by Federal and State “antitrust” ideas, which are in turn based on misunderstanding of the market concept (the fallacy of the “perfect competition” model).

    “Far out man”.

    It is, of course, the 40th anniversary of the “summer of love” in California (well San Francisco anyway) next year.

  • CFM

    Nigel & Midwesterner: In case anyone’s still paying attention. Sorry for not keeping up. Had to make a run to Phoenix. Cranked out a buncha CO2 in the process.

    I agree it is important to remember the different pollution impacts: chemical versus radioactive, and the severities of their effect.”

    Yes, indeed. I would only add that the evaluation is a job for technically qualified people. Not clueless bureaucrats or watermelon greenie crusaders.

    “[As an aside, I'm most sceptical that CO2 should be classified as bad pollution, as discussed very recently on Samizdata . . . .]“

    You’re “most sceptical.” You’re really are polite. I think classifying CO2 as “pollution” is effing stupid. Unfortunately, the above-mentioned clueless bureaucrats and watermelon greenie crusaders will classify it so anyway, and use the classification to pick our pockets.

    Personally, I’m for a mixture of electricity generating methods (including nuclear), to get good value combined with some “insurance” against fuel supply problems and price fluctuations.

    Perfectly logical. Unfortunately, logic is forbidden west of the Colorado.

    CFM.

  • Dan DeLong

    Here’s a good comparison of the amounts of CO2 liberated by several types of electricity producers. Note that mining and transportation are included in the total.

    http://www.uic.com.au/nip100.htm