Trucks at Work

Going green gets lost over cost

It’s funny, in an ironic and ultimately head-shaking way, how John Q. Public reacts to efforts to “go green” or “combat climate change.”

Poll any group of Americans, and no doubt, you’ll find healthy majorities ready, willing and able to back all sorts of “green initiatives” such as using more “renewable energy sources” to generate electricity or cutting petroleum consumption. You’ll get all sorts of “rah-rah, go get ‘em” cheering in the bargain, too.

Until you ask them to pay for it.

[My, my: is that the proverbial screeching sound of brakes in the air?]

Consider, for example, the recent survey of 1,003 Golden State voters conducted by the California Business Roundtable (CBT) as contentious deliberations continue over Senate Bill 350: a legislative effort to combat “climate change” in California by cutting motor vehicle fuel consumption, double the energy efficiency of buildings and increase the use of renewable electricity, among other initiatives.

Here are some of this poll’s findings, and I’ve highlighted one part for extra emphasis:

  • When asked if they viewed climate change/global warming as a serious threat to California, a moderate threat or no threat at all, 46% of those surveyed said they viewed it as a serious threat, while 36% viewed it as a moderate threat.
  • As has been found in previous survey research when asked about the specific elements of proposals to reduce petroleum use by 50%, increase the use of renewable energy and improve energy efficiency, those surveyed overwhelming supported these proposals by wide margins: 70% to 25%, 78% to 18% and 74% to 21%, respectively.
  • Yet when asked specifically their willingness to pay for these policy changes through higher prices for gas, electricity and other consumer goods to increase the use of green energy, that support eroded rapidly with just 36% saying they were willing to pay higher prices and 62% saying they were unwilling.
  • Voters surveyed also felt strongly – 56% to 14% – that the state legislature should have full responsibility for any environmental regulations to address climate change, rather than by un-elected bureaucrats like those at the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

“When they hear about potential price increases, it's not surprising that a majority of voters say we should wait and assess the costs and benefits before we mandate more regulations,” noted Rob Lapsley, CBT’s president.

Yeah, well, that’s not surprising view in least: you go right ahead and make the world a “greener” place, says John Q. Public, just don’t go into my wallet looking for the money to fund such efforts.

Only problem is, that’s exactly what all of these “green initiatives” do: they are expensive and thus someone’s got to pay for them.

On top of that, they’re usually bureaucratic initiatives, so as to get around political resistance regarding the cost of implementation (a tactic favored by the Environmental Protection Agency of late).

So we’ll wait and see how California fares in its latest “green energy” effort – and whether legislators in the end decide the costs are just too much to bear.

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