According to some politicians, climate change hurts minorities the most. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez writes in her Green New Deal that “climate change, pollution, and environmental destruction have exacerbated systemic racial, regional, social, environmental, and economic injustices.”
She’s got it backwards. In reality, expensive and regressive policies that drive up the cost of energy — and therefore the cost of living — hurt the poorest among us the most.
A civil-rights organization, The Two Hundred, has sued the State of California for discrimination, claiming the state’s environmental program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — which adds tens of thousands to the cost of building a home and imposes a maximum vehicle mileage on each and every resident — has disproportionately harmed minority Californians.
“The unintended consequence of this scoping plan increases the already astronomical cost of housing and cost of living in California. These costs disproportionately attack low and moderate income families and endangers the economic future of the state,” said The Two Hundred. “Families of color are disproportionately affected.”
And for all these issues, California’s environmental policies haven’t even worked! “California has made far less progress in reducing GHG emissions than other states. Since the effective date of California’s landmark GHG reduction law, the Global Warming Solutions Act 41 states have reduced per capita GHG emissions by more than California,” writes The Two Hundred. “The Two Hundred have learned, the hard way, that California’s purportedly liberal, progressive environmental regulators and environmental advocacy group lobbyists are as oblivious to the needs of minority communities.”
California isn’t exactly known for fiscal restraint or prioritizing its taxpayers’ hard-earned money — but you’d think the Golden State would learn a lesson from Germany, Denmark, or Georgetown, Texas. Renewable energy mandates and other regulations that limit access to energy invariably drive up energy costs.
Reliable, affordable energy is essential to every aspect of modern life, from running water to modern medical care to heating and cooling our homes. It’s a shame that California has decided its residents — especially the poor — don’t deserve those basic benefits.
Katie Tahuahua is Life:Powered’s communications manager. She previously served in two gubernatorial administrations and the Texas House of Representatives.