Ed Driscoll

The Return of the Dam Busters

At the Corner, Victor Davis Hanson writes, “While driving today, I heard two announcements on the local radio: one was the usual daily fare about another “wanted parolee” caught about two miles from my house, and the other was a Bay Area scheme to tear down one of the key dams and reservoirs in the drought-plagued state:

From the Bay Area Council:

The threat of losing the Hetch Hetchy clean water and power system that serves 2.5 million Bay Area residents and businesses took a dangerous step closer to reality with supporters launching a petition drive to qualify a measure for the November ballot in San Francisco.

The message? We have no money to keep behind bars a dangerous convicted felon, but apparently about $10 billion to tear down the dam at Hetch Hetchy that supplies a considerable portion of the drinking water of San Francisco. This news follows the proposal at Yosemite to destroy the near-century-old historic stone bridge (along with two other such landmarks) across the Merced River to let the river reach its natural potential to flow where it sees fit.

Presumably, MSNBC is forgainst the idea, but as the Wall Street Journal reports, the bill is starting to come due for California’s radical environmentalism:

California’s economy is still struggling, the jobless rate is 10.8%, and AB 32’s taxes and regulations are starting to bite. Two new studies by private consulting firms add up the real-world cost to California families and businesses.

The first study—sponsored by the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, whose members employ 1.2 million residents—estimates the price tag for three major new regulations associated with the law: cap-and-trade taxes on carbon emissions, a “low carbon fuel standard,” and a stringent 33% renewable mandate for electricity production. Together these policies raise energy costs and are expected to reduce state GDP by between 3.5% and 8.9% by 2020.

Even under the “optimistic” scenario, that’s a loss of up to $447 billion in California output over eight years and represents a bigger loss in income than the 2008-09 recession. The cost per California family is estimated at $2,500 a year due to higher costs. Repeat after Milton Friedman: There is no such thing as a free lunch.

One alarming conclusion is that “emissions reductions due to economic harm account for 26% of total reductions, more than any ARB mandated program” except cap and trade. This means that a major way Californians will reduce their greenhouse emissions is by slower growth, chasing industry out of the state, and putting more people out of work. If Californians produce less, their carbon footprint is smaller. The Sierra Club must be loving this weak recovery.

If they’re anything like Democrat Senators John Kerry and Sen. Claire McCaskill — and they are — that’s true.

Of course, for California, the source of funding for any new dam busting projects is obvious. Sacramento can simply put such destructive projects on their American Express card, given that august institution’s willingness to promote such ideas: