Tom Steyer Vows to Fight for Cap-and-Trade Funds

Jul 29th, 2014 | Posted by

Oil companies have been pressuring skittish Democrats to remove fuels from the cap-and-trade system, even though doing so would significantly reduce the revenues that system brings in. But help is on the way, pledges Tom Steyer:

Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, who has pledged to spend $100 million in the midterm elections to push his climate change agenda across the nation, announced Tuesday that he would fight efforts to delay a key element of California’s landmark environmental law.

Steyer said he would “spend what it takes to win” but declined to say how much money he or his Super PAC would devote to thwarting efforts to delay the Jan. 1 start of a new phase of the law: including motor vehicle fuels in the state’s system for buying and selling rights to emit greenhouse gases….

Steyer plans a three-pronged approach against such a move: organizing those most affected by pollution, countering the oil industry’s public-relations efforts and monitoring price fluctuations at the pump.

This is good news, as it means there will be some real resources offered to counter a desperate move by a dying industry to avoid having to pay up to deal with a climate crisis they have caused. It’s unlikely that the cap-and-trade system will lead to significant gas price increases, but even if they did, the revenues will be spent largely on projects that give people alternatives to driving.

Democrats need to not be so scared of the oil companies. Gas prices rise and fall by wide margins every year with the seasons. Most drivers won’t notice the shift, though I would not be surprised if the oil companies artificially jacked up prices to try and prove that cap-and-trade is causing a rise at the pump.

California has been leading the nation in action to reduce CO2 emissions. The cap-and-trade funds are, of course, essential to building high speed rail, among other projects. Giving the oil companies some temporary relief would only prolong Californians’ agony, delaying the construction of needed alternatives to driving and making it that much harder to meet the AB 32 carbon reduction goals.

Kudos to Tom Steyer for stepping up to fight. More Californians should stand with him against the oil companies on this.

  1. Keith Saggers
    Jul 30th, 2014 at 08:13

    “Lots of folks in office have been concerned about the amount of money coming in from the fossil fuel industry,” said Chris Lehane, Steyer’s chief political strategist. “But money can’t buy you love and policy protection if you’re going to lose at the ballot box…. What elected officials care about is whether they win or lose, and this issue can make a difference in if they win or lose.”
    Mobilizing Democratic voters – notably millennials and Latinos – would be a critical part of the effort, Lehane said.
    “The goal here is, consistent with the national plan, to demonstrate that climate can be an incredibly effective wedge issue, particularly when defined as right vs. wrong, good vs. bad, moral vs. immoral,” he said. “Once an issue is deployed that way, people win elections and lose elections … that is what creates changes in the body politic. That is how you begin to change policy.”

  2. les
    Jul 30th, 2014 at 08:45

    You want to keep gas prices at the point where innovation and change occur, yet cause as little suffering amongst constituents as possible. Politicians need to push for more cheap Texas/Dakota oil and wean themselves of expensive foreign imports. If there is a significant jump in prices I think the consumer will revolt against the Dems and there will be a power shift.

    JCC Reply:

    Nonsense. You confuse location of the oil, Texas/Dakota, with price. How exactly is Texas/Dakota oil cheap?? I bet the oil worker in the United States is paid the same or even more than those working in the field in other parts of the world.

    Then there is a World Wide Marketplace for oil such that the cost of oil is dictated by the world marketplace. Domestically produced oil is not magically “cheaper”. Texas has an excise tax on oil that California does not. Is Canada oil cheaper? Is the Keystone Pipeline going to usher in the second coming of 2 buck gas? Do the Tea Bags realize that Canada Oil is going to be sucked through the Keystone Pipeline into waiting Oil Tankers in the port Houston and shipped away from North America forever and perhaps greasing the factories of China?

    The list of reasons why your wrong is as varied as it is long. But Right Wing nutters will continue to watch Faux News Channel and salivate while the truth is being carefully orchestrated and obfuscated.

    joe Reply:

    With the pipeline, prices in the US (MIDWEST) will go up. Domestic oil production will have easier access to global markets so they’ll ship it out.

    Even Sarah Palin raised the taxes on oil extraction. It adds zero to the pump price. We’re the only major producing state that doesn’t.

    les Reply:

    Price $3.50/gal Arizona. Average price $4.1 for Ca. 60 cent diff. Over 1/2 of California’s crude is foreign origin, over 1/2 of Arizona’s is Texan. Arizona tax per gal: 37.4. California: 71.3.
    34cent difference.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    France: $7.93. In the EU, it’s illegal for a member state to set its fuel taxes so low as to only be $4.10 per gallon.

  3. Keith Saggers
    Jul 30th, 2014 at 08:53
  4. Alon Levy
    Jul 30th, 2014 at 12:48

    Steyer is doing great work. If every company that does not pollute, and thus benefits from climate action, fought for climate action the way Steyer does, the planet might just survive. That, of course, is why states and laws exist: to coordinate many different actors who wish to contribute money to a cause instead of relying on a single benefactor to provide public goods.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    If every company that does not pollute, and thus benefits from climate action, fought for climate action the way Steyer does, the planet might just survive.

    Oh fer Christ’s sake…every person on this earth creates some pollution simply by turning on the lights in the morning. Undoubtedly, some activities and professions spew more greenhouse gases into the air than others…but you have to think in terms of the entire chain of production too. Plus, if you could produce something from nothing, it would be very cost efficient and firms would gladly switch!

    I think Steyer’s goal isn’t to end pollution at all–he’s trying to be the Rockefeller of electricity…taxing carbon to the point that electric cars become very popular and necessitating a much larger distribution grid. I would bet he’s very heavily invested in Tesla and nuclear power and other companies that will be part of the future.

    Steyer is no philanthropist–he’s a capitalist.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    People who pollute less than average are likely to gain. The same is true of those who pollute more, but specifically compete with ones who pollute even more: for example, the aluminum industry is an energy hog, but aluminum is lighter than steel, so climate action is likely to encourage a shift in construction materials from steel to aluminum. Steyer is presumably counting on large financial gains from climate action; what I’m lamenting is that there’s a problem of distributed benefits – the people who gain from climate action usually gain only a little, in the same manner that the people who gain from ending farm subsidies only gain a fraction of tax relief, and so they can’t profitably engage in focused climate activism.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Aluminum tends to be made with hydro power.

    Eric Reply:

    Power is pretty fungible. Hydro power is limited, and if you use it all for aluminum manufacture, you need to build other power plants for domestic use.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You can ship bauxite and finished aluminum cross country. It’s harder to do that with electricity. You can make aluminum today, put it into inventory for three months and it still there in three months. It’s even harder to that with electricity than it is to ship it.

    Eric Reply:

    Yeah, but IIRC, all the possible hydro power in the US (subject to environmental constraints) is already in use. There is no spare hydro capacity to be used for additional aluminum manufacture.

    Zorro Reply:

    And during a drought Hydro is not reliable.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    in use converting bauxite into aluminum….

    Joey Reply:

    If there’s money to be made in not fucking over the entire planet, I’m willing to let that money be made.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    No, there is no money to be made in fucking over the entire planet…there is simply ways to do it that don’t involve injecting large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

    And I’m beginning to think that the Sierra Club is right about electric cars being more important than HSR for California…BUT…the State’s role in that transformation is going to be minimal, whereas it’s going to be imperative for transit and HSR…

  5. Keith Saggers
    Jul 30th, 2014 at 15:52
  6. Keith Saggers
    Jul 30th, 2014 at 15:59

    please skip the first two minutes

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