Are you for building a “resilient infrastructure for tomorrow’s economy”? Me too! Or #MeToo. This new political idea is being fertilized with this dogmatic article of faith:

“It is critical we take strong and comprehensive action to protect all Californians from the threat of natural disasters and climate change” – Joint statement of Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Assembly Republican Leader Brian Dahle, Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins and Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates.

Here’s the message in a nutshell. Climate Change is bearing down on us with a vengeance, necessitating radical actions including reorienting our entire energy-based economy lest we bequeath our kids and grandkids a fiery ball of CO2, CH4, N2O, 123, ABC, and XYZ. Translation: Fossil Free by 2033…if not sooner.

Now before I’m arrested for war crimes against humanity, let me state the following as unambiguously as I can; I have no problem with building a “resilient infrastructure for tomorrow’s economy”. I campaigned on a version of the idea when I ran for Carpinteria City Council in 2004. I’ll tell you how that worked out later. Now this was before the left was hyperventilating about climate change as the main reason we needed to stop oil projects…back in those day the cause celebre was mostly about “peak oil”.  We’re running out of oil, the left screamed, so we need to start the transition to alternatives before we all freeze to death in Summer, and swelter in the Winter, and eventually have to ride our bikes to work because there will be no more oil left. This was part of the we’re running out of everything philosophy. It turns out we’re not running out of anything. But I digress. Once peak oil was proven to be peak idiocy, as I predicted it would be, thanks to Fracking and directional drilling, climate change became the chief organizing political principle to oppose any and all oil and gas projects.

It seems to me common sense that the public sector and private industry partner to build a better mousetrap including more resilient infrastructure (whatever that means). But it is the dogmatic attitude on the left that is sheepishly acquiesced to by the center right, i.e., private industry, that disappoints. Maybe I’m just naïve. Maybe private industry knows the science on climate change is wobbly at best, but the political benefits of jumping on the renewables bandwagon has become solid as a rock.

By the way, the left, while criticizing oil and gas industry advocates for always mentioning the economic benefits of oil and gas projects, including the number of jobs created, and the annual salaries associated, always make sure to mention the number of jobs created, and the annual salaries associated in their own advocacy materials. They cite, for example, the 800 thousands jobs nationwide in the electric power generation industry, quickly pointing out that 500,000 workers are employed in “advanced, clean energy” jobs here in California.  They claim these jobs pay an average annual salary of $100,000. Their source is the U.S. Energy and Employment Report. Well, I read the report so you wouldn’t have to. You can thank me later.

What the U.S. Energy Report actually says is that the “electric power generation” industry in the United States employs over 1.9 million people,1.1. million (55%) of those employees work in traditional coal, oil, and gas. While almost 800,000 workers are employed in “low carbon emission generation technologies”, including renewables, nuclear, and advanced/low emission natural gas. However, with respect to the 500,000 jobs in California, the so-called “advanced, clean energy jobs”, 300,000 of them are what are called “energy efficiency” jobs…the majority of these jobs, 181,000, are heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and Energy Star jobs. Nothing wrong with that. A job is a job. But the average wage of these jobs sways between $14 and $24 per-hour for HVAC. Some earn as high as $30 per hour.

In other words these clean, green jobs of tomorrow, so-called advanced, clean energy jobs, are predominantly construction jobs (58%), and less than 23% are in professional services which is where the real bucks are. The other 200,000 jobs that comprise these 500,000 “advanced”, clean energy jobs in California are in the motor vehicles sub-sector. With most of these being in repair and maintenance. The brutal reality is these jobs are essentially borne out of government’s red and green tape regulations. Politicians pass hundreds of new laws forcing people to buy favored “clean, green and beautiful” products and services, a new industry sub-sector is created to react to this government created and heavily tax subsidized market, and then the enlightened politicians pat themselves on the back while crowing about some sort of new economy they’ve created.  It’s tomorrow’s economy you know.

Consider this inconvenient chart that shows the number of solar energy workers required to produce the same amount of power from coal, and natural gas. So here’s a shocking admission. Energy companies do not exist to create jobs. Gasp! Say that again? Energy producers do not exist to create jobs. They exist to produce energy at the lowest possible cost, with the highest possible outputs, and the fewest inputs, and impacts. How many other more productive, better paying jobs could be created in California, particularly in the technology, engineering, manufacturing, health care, finance, and mining sectors, if the economically illiterate politicians weren’t causing this misallocation of human resources in order to pursue a politically advantageous scheme? The economically literate answer is lots and lots.

By the way, speaking of “environmental sustainability” and “resilient infrastructure”, the last time I checked the more people we have working in low productivity energy sectors, including solar, wind, etc., in any given town, city, county, or state, the more unsustainable land use impacts there will be, and the more demand on local finite resources will inevitably occur. Think road and freeway capacity, water supplies, public schools, community hospitals, local parks, jails, and on and on.

The most resilient entity on earth is man’s ability to solve problems. In that spirit I commend those involved in the above politically correct adventure. However, the controlling and governing principle and priority going forward, a covenant or an oath if you will, must always be to first do no harm. And by driving up the cost of energy in California by limiting the aggregate supply of plentiful and affordable energy, isn’t only harmful, it is unethical if not immoral.