California’s Environmental Tax Grab

Published June 19, 2013

Well, well, well.  It seems California is not all that interested in theenvironment after all. As this editorial in the Wall Street Journalnotes (June 18, 2013, p. A18), the state is raiding environmental cap-and-trade funds not for improving the environment, but to balance its books.  Snip:

California expects to generate $500 million this year from auctioning off permits to emit carbon, and between $2 billion and $14 billion annually by 2015. This rich new vein of revenues was supposed to flow to green programs (e.g., solar subsidies), but Governor Jerry Brown cut a deal with Democrats in the legislature to seize this year’s proceeds tofinance more generous welfare and Medicaid benefits. Environmentalists are suddenly stunned to discover that they’re not exempt from Sacramento’s generally accepted accounting principle of raiding internal accounts to backfill the budget.

Will all these environmental taxes and fees the state imposes on business become the latest cash cow for state and local governments to tap for anything but environmental improvement?  It seems so.  The Wall Street Journal concludes:

“In short, California Democrats are proving that the real point of cap and trade is to give politicians another revenue stream for income redistribution while dodging accountability for raising taxes. That’s worth keeping in mind when [politicians] resurrect the scheme for the entire U.S.”