California Cap and Trade may be the most under-reported mega-situation of the year. I am in no way a climate change denier — in fact I believe in taking aggressive and targeted action to protect our environment — BUT Cap and Trade turns sustainability into a joke and provides loopholes that allow the same corporations that pollute to collect the money siphoned from tax-payers through a simple shell game and use that money for whatever they want.
Investigative journalist group CalWatchdog and reporter Katy Grimes recently broke the huge story about the California Air Resources Board becoming a secretive Delaware LLc. “The little jewel, secretly placed into a trailer bill in the recently passed state budget, will allow the California Air Resources Board to conduct state business without any of that pesky transparency stuff.”
“According to legislative staffers, the California Air Resources Board, with help from Democratic Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, figured out a way to exempt itself from the state’s open meeting act.”
“Government Code 11120, the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, is explicitly exempted in the language of budget trailer bill SB 1018. ”That was the final nail in the coffin of transparency,” a Capitol staffer commented.”
HOW THE SHELL GAME WORKS: WESTERN CLIMATE INITIATIVE INC. CAP AND TRADE’S MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR SLUSH FUND
The CARB set up a company called Western Climate Initiative Inc. to manage the upcoming Cap and Trade auctions. Wow does this sound suspect! I’ve previously written about the Delaware LLc (here on author Naomi Wolf’s site) being government and corporate America’s dirty little secret and this is as dirty as it gets!
Delaware companies are more secretive than Swiss bank accounts in their unprecedented power to hide wealth and individual investor identities. So in this new scenario WCI can now make politicians anonymous investors that can be paid off by companies looking to profit from the auctions and the allocation of the funds (and in the case of California it’s land and housing developers — what could be less green?)
CalWatchdog reporter Katy Grimes astutely claims “Delaware is not subject to California state open meeting or sunshine laws, leaving many questioning why CARB opted for such secrecy. The only reason to register the corporation in Delaware is the lack of public or legislative scrutiny on any of their meetings or actions they take.”
HOW CALIFORNIA CAP AND TRADE MONEY CAN BE SPENT
And no wonder they want secrecy..,,California wants to spend the 50-100 billion dollar windfall intended to mitigate climate change on their favorite slushy secretive and lucrative interest….housing. Here is how CA Cap and Trade money can be spent according to CalWatchdog.org.
ASSEMBLY BILL 1532 GREENHOUSE GAS REDUCTION (Really? why the secretive account?)
AssemblyBill 1532, sponsored by Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, would deposit Cap and Trade pollution permit monies into a new Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account to be controlled by the California Air Resources Board.
SENATE BILL 535 AFFORDABLE HOUSING (See how that has worked out for CA for the last 50 years)
and Trade auction funds to disadvantaged communities, affordable housing, hospitals and schools.
535 is really suspect. California just shut down redevelopment agencies after 50 years and 50 billion dollars after realizing affordable housing was a giant ruse to create slush funds for for-profit development. California Assemblyman Chris Norby called Redevelopment the “UnknownGovernment” because of the enormous power and influence they had over state money and resources. He says “Redevelopment has become a massive wealth-transfer machine. Cash and land to powerful developers and corporate retailers…”
So SB 535 recreates this “Unknown Government” with unprecedented power to hand out money to private developers using Greenhouse Gases as the marketing ploy. How does new housing development reduce greenhouse gas emissions? How does building for-profit hospitals for multi-national companies reduce greenhouse gases?
ASSEMBLY BILL 2404 LOCAL EMISSION REDUCTION FUND (Sounds an awful lot like Redevelopment which we just ended due to abuse and corruption)
AB 2404, the Local Emissions Reduction Fund, sponsored by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes. D-Arleta, would delegate the award of Cap and Trade monies to the Strategic Growth Council — a six person cabinet level committee under the Governor’s Office.
AB2404 is another bill that allows the money to be used for development. Here is how strategic growth money can be used “increase the availability of affordable housing, promote public health, improve transportation, encourage greater infill and compact development, revitalize community and urban centers, and assist state and local entities in the planning of sustainable communities.”
As someone that is in the industry of building and design “infill” development is a misnomer. It implies you are filling in vacant lots. Nothing could be further from the truth. Infill occurs in urban cores which are always historic which also means the buildings are built with old growth wood and resources that can’t be bought anymore. Yet infill pays to demolish these buildings and throw them into landfills. 40% of landfill waste is building and construction demolition debris so the idea of using Cap and Trade money to throw 1000s of buildings into landfills is the exact opposite of green.
Here is a clip of CARB director Mary Nichols shutting down public comment because she didn’t like the way comments were going. Democracy at its finest…
The bottom line is the way the California state Legislature is handling the Cap and Trade situation is highly suspect and beyond alarming. Haven’t we learned that no matter how good the messaging or supposed cause it is never a good idea to allow giant slush funds to be amassed and allocated by politicians. Cap, don’t trade!