KEVIN MOONEY | OPINION CONTRIBUTOR
While posturing as a champion of American freedom during his tour of Southern states this past spring, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) left out that part about how his own administration is attempting to force an expensive climate agenda onto a public that really just does not want it.
In fact, news coverage of Newsom’s visits to Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama suggest that he steered clear of energy policy altogether while lecturing his fellow governors about what he describes as the “authoritarian” tendencies of certain other governors who are running for president.
That might be because the average citizens whom Newsom claims to represent reject his climate schemes and the government mandates that go with them, at least when they are asked clear questions.
Two free-market advocacy organizations — the American Energy Alliance and the Maryland-based Committee to Unleash Prosperity — released a straightforward survey of 1,000 likely voters last month. It showed that, by a wide margin, respondents favored affordable energy over climate policies that raise energy costs and limit consumer choices.
When voters were asked the open-ended question of what the “most pressing issue” is facing the U.S., climate change barely registered. Most people were chiefly concerned about practical questions, such as inflation and the economy.
The survey also asked voters to indicate if they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements concerning energy policy. Sixty-five percent disagreed with the position that “the federal government should impose a tax on carbon dioxide emissions collected at the gas pump and in heating and utility bills.”
Seventy percent disagreed with the statement that they “trust the federal government to decide what kind of cars should be subsidized or mandated.”
And an astounding 82 percent disagreed with the statement that “The state of California should be able to determine what kind of cars can be sold in other states.” Newsom’s position — one long-held by liberals in Washington — is that California can and should leverage its position as the nation’s largest state market, circumventing the federal government and the other 49 states’ democratic processes to do precisely that.
Respondents appeared to be attuned to the real word ramifications of California’s energy policy. The state consistently ranks among the highest in terms of electricity costs, with the average residential electricity rate more than 70 percent higher than the national average. Recent figures from AAA, the national auto club, also show that California average gas price of $4.836 significantly outpaces the national average.
California also has a recent history of power outages that might suggest a course change is in order. Newsom has insisted, unconvincingly and with lots of ad hominem rhetoric, that his pursuit of green energy is not to blame for the blackouts.
The blackouts have already begun to interfere with the state’s aggressive electric vehicle mandate, which bans the sale of non-electric vehicles by 2035. Automakers are already preparing for the financial fallout. Chrysler’s parent outfit, Stellantis, the maker of Jeeps, plans to curtail shipments of gasoline-powered cars to states that adopt California’s emissions rules. California is also leaning on the Biden administration to impose its electric vehicle mandates across the country.
This probably won’t play well politically, as the AEA survey results show that consumers are practical. They want affordable cars and energy. They are skeptical about government climate initiatives that will affect their transportation. This message should help wavering Republican lawmakers resist the easy path of giving in to the demands of environmental extremists.
Asked “who should make decisions about what kind of cars you should be able to buy,” 80 percent of respondents in the AEA survey said that consumers should decide for themselves. Only 8 percent said the federal government should decide for them.
As a follow-up, it would be interesting to learn how the percentages might break down if voters are asked whether Newsom, as a potential presidential candidate, should be permitted to decide what sort of cars, stoves, leaf blowers, air conditioners etc. they should be permitted to buy.
Perhaps Newsom could be asked about this during his next trip to Red State America. After all, wasn’t he saying something about freedom and the dangers of authoritarianism?
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