Next Generation is attempting to have its cake shortly after polishing it off.
Using data generated by Next Generation, an advocacy organization for clean energy, Senator Anthony Cannella and Assemblywoman Kristen Olsen argued that poor, rural residents of the San Joaquin Valley will suffer disproportionately when the effects of the AB 32 requirements on fuels goes into effect in 2015.
Cannella and Olsen pointed out that rural residents with longer commutes spend 46 percent more on fuel per year than the state average. And because they often have older, less fuel-efficient cars, poor residents pay more of their income on transportation than do better off families.
These higher gasoline prices from new climate change regulations will be acutely felt in the San Joaquin Valley because its residents are disproportionately rural and poor.
Since Next Gen produced the basic analysis in the first place, you’d think they’d be delighted it was put to good use. But statistics in the service of the wrong argument, according to the Next Gen authors, suddenly become “cherry picked” and “out of context.”
The correct context, according to the Next Gen authors, is that these higher gas prices should be (1) used to provide incentives for families to buy more fuel efficient autos, and (2) since much of the new price of gasoline will flow to the Air Resources Board from the cap-and-trade auction, the state should use that money to subsidize purchases of more efficient vehicles.
The absurd conclusion of this logic is that by raising gasoline prices on all working Californians, the state can then (1) require automakers to manufacture more efficient autos, including electric vehicles, and (2) provide subsidies for some Californians to purchase these brand new, often more expensive cars. Guess what proportion of electric vehicles find there way to poor San Joaquin Valley residents with long commutes? Whatever you guessed was too high.
It is tautologically true that drivers will save money on higher gasoline prices by buying less gasoline. Many Californians will avoid these higher costs, but they will tend to be wealthier or live in urbanized areas well-served by transit. The predicament of the majority of San Joaquin Valley resident, persuasively identified by Senator Cannella and Assemblywoman Olsen, remains unaddressed – yet another burden to be borne by California’s poor and rural.