Is California Going Bananas?

“It shall be a goal of the State that 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks will be zero-emission by 2035,” proclaims Executive Order N-79-20, issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom on September 23. California workers, who depend heavily on their cars, have reason to wonder about this proclamation. 

As the blackouts of 2020 confirm, California is currently unable to keep electric power flowing under conditions of high demand. More zero-emission cars and trucks are certain to ramp up demand for electricity, yet the governor does not explain how the state will boost generating capacity by 2035. That year, workers’ choices of vehicles will be greatly diminished.

In effect, executive order N-79-20 is taking. But on further examination, it’s also giving. Who are the beneficiaries?

The State Air Resources Board, the Energy Commission, Public Utilities Commission and other relevant State agencies “shall use existing authorities to accelerate deployment of affordable fueling and charging options for zero-emission vehicles, in ways that serve all communities and in particular low-income and disadvantaged communities . . .” And the Air Resources Board and PUC “shall update the biennial statewide assessment of zero-emission vehicle infrastructure.”

The Labor and Workforce Development Agency and the Office of Planning and Research, in consultation with the Department of Finance and other State agencies, “shall develop by July 15, 2021 and expeditiously implement a Just Transition Roadmap.”

The California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Natural Resources Agency, in consultation with the Office of Planning and Research, the Department of Finance, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development and other local and federal agencies, “shall develop strategies, recommendations and actions by July 15, 2021 to manage and expedite the responsible closure and remediation of former oil extraction sites as the State transitions to a carbon-neutral economy.” And so on, all of great benefit to bureaucrats. 

Workers don’t get to vote for state agency bosses, and the workers’ elected legislators did not vote on the 2035 zero-emission mandate. The edict’s utopian, autocratic style may remind workers of Esposito, the revolutionary dictator of San Marcos in Woody Allen’s 1971 Bananas.

“From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish,” Esposito proclaims. “In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16 years old, are now 16 years old.”

In similar style, Gov. Newsom’s Executive Order N-79-20 gives workers a stronger case that their state has somehow gone bananas.

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at The Daily Caller.
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