A few weeks ago I had the great privilege of hosting the Honorable Christopher Monckton, one of the world's leading man-made climate change skeptics, at a legislative hearing at the state Capitol as well as at community events in Sacramento and Bakersfield. Monckton is a former advisor to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and was among the first to advise her about the issue of global warming caused by fossil-fuel related emissions. While Thatcher was originally outspoken in warning of the dangers of global warming, she eventually saw the flaws in climate change research and orthodoxy and came to question its main scientific assumptions due in part to Monckton's influence.
I brought Monckton to California in hopes that his visit would foster a spirited discussion on the science behind California's global warming law, AB 32, and the resulting cap-and-trade auctions slated to go into effect soon. Monckton has counseled numerous countries and has testified four times before the U.S. Congress, so I expected his unique comparative perspective on the science and economics behind climate change policy to enlighten both California legislators and citizens alike.
The community presence in Bakersfield was phenomenal. Almost 200 small business owners, community leaders, teachers, students and those who work in agriculture, oil and natural gas production came to the Student Union at Cal State Bakersfield for the opportunity to participate in the evening discussion. Monckton also spoke with Bakersfield Christian High School science classes urging them to dig deeper into the facts behind what they study.
If only lawmakers in Sacramento had so much backbone. Every one of the 120 state senators and assemblymembers were invited to participate in the Sacramento hearing, but a handful of Republicans and only one Democrat participated. Since the passing of AB 32 six years ago, much controversy has surrounded the science behind the law and the economic damage it will cause, and I believe that the people of California deserve a government that passes and enforces legislation based on the most relevant and reliable facts available. Apparently most California lawmakers don't agree, however, because they refused to even question or listen to another perspective.
California is facing a perpetual budget deficit and roughly $250 billion in unfunded pension obligations, and Kern County's unemployment rate still stands at 15 percent. The only real solution is more jobs, but AB 32 will impose new regulations on California agriculture and other industries at a time when the state government should help foster job growth by streamlining the regulatory process.
It is essential that California lawmakers get the science right for AB 32, and re-work California's climate change policy if it is found to be outdated, because California's economic recovery depends on it. But my fellow lawmakers' underwhelming response to even participating in the discussion doesn't bode well for California climate change policy.