While many people call Austin the "San Francisco of the South," thankfully it's just about the only thing that the Lone Star State has in common with the state of California. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
One example of why I am proud to live in Texas, as opposed to California, is California's new law mandating maximum feasible reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles. SUV-driving California legislators passed a bill on July 1 to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new vehicles; Davis signed it on July 22.
Why did they do this? To "save the planet" from "global warming" by reducing so called "greenhouse gases," of course. Except that CO2 is a non-pollutant and indispensable to plants, trees and other green things environmentalists claim to care so much about.
How is California going to meet these requirements? Well, the politicians there don't really care; the automobile industry will have to figure it out and consumers will have to pay for it.
Some CO2 reduction measures weighed by California legislators, including increasing gasoline taxes another 50 cents per gallon, imposing a new 2-cents-per-mile tax on vehicle miles traveled, reducing vehicle weights so they'll comply with new fuel economy standards, and charging user fees of up to $3,500 per year for high-CO2-emitting vehicles were cut from the final version of the legislation, thanks to tens of thousands of angry phone calls and -mails from level-headed California motorists.
This seems to leave the state with a purely "feel good" piece of legislation, pleasing to environmentalists but without teeth, with which politicians and bureaucrats demand a change, then pass the buck to the auto industry.
But as an old philosopher once said, "He who wills the end must also will the means." The practical reality is that the only way to reduce CO2 emissions from cars is to burn less gasoline. That means either producing and subsidizing cars with exotic (and expensive) technologies like hybrid gas-electric engines, or producing fewer heavy vehicles like the SUVs, pickups and minivans that many Americans want.
Larger cars are more crashworthy than lighter, smaller vehicles, plus you can actually fit stuff in them. These are just some of the reasons why SUVs are so popular. Evidently, California legislators don't care much about the safety and consumer preferences of the folks paying their salaries.
In addition to restricting auto emissions, California continues to face embarrassing energy shortages. They continue to blame these electricity crises on the folks in Texas, despite the fact that Texas is a leader in producing the goods that Californians consume through various industries, especially chemical. It seems that Californians have no problem using these goods, but are quick to judge the decisions of some to employ a slower pollution-reduction process.
Regardless, Gov. Davis and his pals in Sacramento have always been more concerned with pleasing environmentalists than with making sure the citizens of California have lights on in their homes. I guess with the restrictions on consumer choice the California Legislature continues to implement, it is only smart to keep citizens in the dark.
Even if global warming were a real problem, the California law would do nothing to avert or alleviate it, because banning all automobiles in California would decrease global emissions of greenhouse gases by less than one-quarter of 1 percent.
Texas, by contrast, has refused to let these environmentalists' agenda take away their freedoms. Although some have pushed for similar emissions restrictions in the state, they have gotten no further than a soon-to-be-repealed 55 mph speed limit and a few dead emissions bills in the state Legislature that have been "pending in committee" for years.
The Houston Oilers may have left Houston, but Texans seem to still realize the importance of keeping their feet on the ground when it comes to costly environmental mandates that produce few tangible benefits. Fixing something that isn't broken has many consequences, which Californians will come to realize.
Texans can then feel proud to say, "I told you so." As other states attempt to implement these devastating policies that take away freedom, Texas must remain as the "lone star" against the rising tide of California dreaming.