California

In the midst of an energy crisis, California to ban gas vehicles

With the stroke of a pen, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order this week banning the sale of emissions-producing cars by the year 2035.

Effectively, this means no gas-powered cars will be for sale in the nation’s most populous state in less than 15 years. It’s not only the most populous state but the state with the most cars overall.

If the 15 million cars registered in California were their own country, they’d be the 73rd largest by population.

That means no prospect for a 2035 Camaro, Mustang, or even Honda Civic powered by gasoline on the streets of California in the near future.

Newson says climate change is why this moratorium is needed. Heatwaves, wildfires, and faltering energy supply to millions of Californians.

IMPACT ON YOU AND ME

How will this impact ordinary consumers?

This ban is concerning for two reasons.

First, California’s market is the largest in the United States. That means any and all legislation they make impacts consumer products sold across the country. We’ll call that the California Spillover Effect.

No manufacturer wants to design or create items to sell at scale across the entire nation only to have to retool them for California. That means many larger suppliers decide to comply with California’s burdensome regulations as a rule. That’s without the say of the populations and legislatures of other states, even if the laws are unconstitutional and economically backward.

(Many officials are already stating the order will be easily struck down by the EPA or the courts)

It is a fact that, over time, our cars are getting more efficient. Engineers and scientists are combining different elements to maximize fuel efficiency in internal combustion vehicles in order to reduce emissions, lower costs, and provide better cars for drivers.

This has been a market and consumer-led revolution. Consumers demand more efficient cars that won’t force them to the gas pump every two days.

Those preferences have signaled to carmakers that they need to provide quality vehciles with better gas mileage and they have delivered. In most cases, the mileage efficiency goes beyond the mandates imposed by California and the EPA in Washington.

Regardless, with an executive order outlawing gas-powered cars, that means California drivers will be forced to switch to using electric cars wholesale. That will mean much higher prices that many people just won’t be able to afford. That will harm lower-income individuals who still depend on transportation by car for their work and home lives.

What the state of California is effectively doing here is endorsing a particular technology — electric vehicles — that may even be obslete by 2035.

This rebukes the principle of technology neutrality, the idea that the government should not pick winners and losers in the tech sphere. Not only will there be better and more efficient solutions by the year 2035, but government has a poor track record of defining which technological solutions will win consumer favor in the end.

AN ENERGY CRISIS AND FALSE SOLUTIONS

This is also concerning because California is in the midst of an energy crisis. Rolling blackouts are the norm, large wildfires threaten electricity infrastructure, and persistent water mismanagement has led to many areas with less than adequate water supply.

Energy policy that can provide stable power to millions of homes is a challenge in California, and a mandate to switch the entire vehicle fleet to electric will put even more pressure on energy supplies, driving up costs for ordinary consumers who may not even own electric cars in the future.

There is no question that electric cars are more economical on the road, but they are also less reliable for longer drives, maintenance, and will still depend on the fossil fuel economy for electric charges.

Most, if not all, electric cars draw their power from the energy grid, we’re still relying on coal power to provide energy for the charge. That’s anything but an environmental panacea.

Further, the resources needed to build and power electric cars, including the mining of precious minerals, still contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

By the time an electric vehicle has rolled off the assembly line, it has already been responsible for more than 25,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, more than twice that of a traditional internal combustion vehicle.

As political scientist and economic Bjorn Lomborg explains in the video below, over the lifetime of a modern electric car, it will only be responsible for three to five tons less of CO2, including production, energy consumption, and scrapping.

(Also check out our interview with Bjorn Lomborg on Consumer Choice Radio on all things environmental policy and smart solutions for the world)

If California wants to reduce emissions, there are consumer-friendly ways to do so.

Reforming zoning laws to encourage development and reduce the need to commute long distances for workers and consumers is one step.

Encouraging innovation by entrepreneurs to come up with alternative fuels is another. And so is the embrace of nuclear technology, fracking for natural gas, and Compressed Natural Gas as a fuel for public transportation and governmental fleet vehicles, as is done in other countries.

The path toward a cleaner and more prosperous planet is not through bans, restrictions, and piecemeal technology ensorsements. It’s through innovation, consumer demand, and creative solutions.

Is the gig economy bill a disaster or triumph for ride-hailing? Depends on who you ask

Uber and Lyft have been warning drivers about the end of flexible schedules, and passengers about more expensive rides that take longer to arrive, all thanks to a California bill that passed this week

But drivers and other gig workers are celebrating what could be a pathway to fair pay, benefits, and other employee rights, which some claim will come at only a slight cost to riders.

After the bill, called AB5, makes its way to the governor’s desk, it should go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. It would make companies reclassify many independent contractors as employees, something Uber and Lyft have opposed. 

While this would directly affect drivers and other gig economy workers, like the 200,000 in California working for Uber, the people who use the apps could also see changes. 

The New York Times cited “industry officials” who say costs for companies like Uber and Lyft could rise by 20 to 30 percent because of AB5. Other industry experts like Michael Droke, a partner at Dorsey & Whitney in California, a law firm that has represented big companies like 3M and Wells Fargo in labor disputes, also sees costs going up for companies and prices going up for riders. 

“Many industries rely on independent contractors to deliver products and services, from food delivery to software coding and design. Those workers will be converted to employees, significantly increasing the cost of the products and services,” Droke said. 

Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, which supports deregulation, said the law could force people to “seek out alternatives.” Instead of ordering a cheap ride, he thinks people will be forced to do things like carpool, hail a cab, or find a nearby bus.

LINK: https://mashable.com/article/ab5-lyft-uber-driver-rider-changes/

California’s effective outlawing of contractors will make consumers worse off

California’s effective outlawing of contractors will make consumers worse off

Sacramento, CA –
 On Tuesday, the California State Senate voted in favor of AB 5, requiring all companies using contract workers in the state to treat them as employees. Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to sign the bill.

Yaël Ossowski, Deputy Director of the Consumer Choice Center, responded to the law’s passage:

“The proponents of this bill are celebrating the fact that they’re all but shutting down the prospects for the entire sharing economy and thousands of other industries in California,” said Ossowski. “The plain fact is this will hurt more people than it purports to help, depriving consumers of the innovations that have made their lives better and more prosperous.

“That includes home deliveries, home healthcare, ride-share, handyman apps, antique selling, and thousands more businesses and applications that millions of contractors and even more consumers have used,” said Ossowski.

“State Sen. Maria Elena Durazo said this proves lawmakers are “determining the future of the California economy.” She’s right. And they’re doing it by stamping out innovation. It will ultimately be California’s sharing economy consumers who foot the bill for this heavy-handed intervention, as well as anyone who relies on contracting work to get by.

“The entire gig economy has grown and been successful because it offers alternatives to consumers and workers alike, who all benefit. Changing employment law to make certain business relationships illegal will deprive millions of people of the opportunity of using these services, and cause even more repercussions for those who rely on them, both consumers and workers.

“California’s move is heavy-handed, paternalistic, and favors the monopoly of larger traditional companies more than people who rely on this new sector of our economy. That’s a shame,” said Ossowski.

A Consumer Choice Center survey from March 2019 found that 72% of Americans believe the government should protect the freedom of choice for consumers.

The same survey found that 69% of Americans think policymakers don’t spend enough time listening to consumers before proposing new regulations.


More information can be found on our website.


***CCC Deputy Director Yaël Ossowski is available to speak with accredited media on consumer regulations and consumer choice issues. Please send media inquiries HERE.***

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

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