Energy Fracas Fricasseed

by Nick Welsh

Around the same time the California Democratic Party embraced an energy platform written almost entirely by the Community Environmental Council (CEC) — Santa Barbara’s oldest environmental think tank — a Washington, D.C., public policy organization announced it will air TV ads in Santa Barbara disputing the existence of global warming and decrying efforts to curtail carbon dioxide emissions as economy killers. Produced by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), the ads’ punch line is, “Carbon dioxide: They call it pollution. We call it life.” The 60-second ads will be broadcast on Fox affiliates in 13 cities nationwide, including two in California. Contrary to most scientific reports, CEI — which enjoys considerable financing from the oil industry — claims Greenland’s ice sheets are getting thicker, not thinner. Partially in response to the threat of global warming, the state’s Democratic Party adopted a policy calling on California to produce 40 percent of its electricity from renewable sources and reduce electrical and natural gas consumption by 20 percent by 2020; the platform also demands the state use alternative transportation fuels for 40 percent of its total needs by 2030.

Citing the high price of gasoline, congressional Republicans are once again attacking the 25-year-old moratorium on new oil and gas development off much of California’s coast, including Santa Barbara. House Republicans inserted an amendment to an interior appropriations bill that would annul the moratorium on new natural gas development, while leaving the oil moratorium intact. Congressmember Lois Capps opposes this measure, and her press secretary Emily Kryder argued that opening the coast to natural gas development would do little to alleviate the pinch at the pump. Natural gas, Kryder noted, is cheaper today than it was a year ago. This is the second time in two years that the moratorium has come under attack. Capps and other coastal Californians repelled last year’s effort.

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