No Need to ‘Follow These Developments” – California’s Energy Mandates Hurt Working Class


In the latest sign that California is the “de-facto think tank” for the Biden administration, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg made headlines this weekend when, speaking about California’s push to ban gas powered cars by 2035, he told Fox 11 in Los Angeles that “it is interesting to see how the states are trying to go above and beyond what we’re doing at the federal level and I’m really interested to follow these developments.”

Secretary Buttigieg’s recent comments come on the heels of those by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, who told Fox 11 in late August that “California really is leaning in” when it comes to the state’s big government energy mandates like the ban on gas-powered auto sales, and said the California law “could be” a national model.

These laws actually could be a national model – if imposing huge new energy burdens on hard-working Americans is their objective.

Here are a few examples from PRI’s recent research:

  • Electric Vehicles – As documented in PRI’s landmark “Costly Subsidies for the Rich” study, 79 percent of tax credits for electric car subsidies were claimed by households with incomes greater than $100,000 per year. While there are some income eligibility limits to EV tax credits in the so-called Inflation Reduction Act, it is unlikely that working class households are going to be able to afford electric cars with average prices of $54,000 – even with $7,500 tax credit.
  • Electricity – Californians were under the threat of mass power blackouts last week due to a record week-long heat wave. This is a preview of coming attractions if California moves to a 100 percent renewable energy mandate, as state officials were forced to rely on conservation and extra power acquired from “non-clean” sources of energy to keep the lights on.

    Not only is California power more unreliable due to state energy mandates, but it is also more expensive.  As noted in PRI’s “Legislating Energy Prosperity” study, Californians pay the nation’s highest electricity prices thanks to state policies.  Energy mandates have driven residential electricity prices by 46 percent versus the national average and business power costs by 69 percent and eliminating these inefficiencies could save between $5.3 billion and $15.7 billion, depending on the scenario.

  • Gas Prices – While Americans paid record prices at the pump this spring and summer, Californians paid even more thanks to government energy mandates imposed by Sacramento. According to PRI’s research, Californians paid a 37 percent premium for gasoline versus the national average.  Ending state mandates on gasoline could, depending on how much gasoline is consumed, save consumers up to $9.6 billion annually over time. In addition, according to the Western States Petroleum Association, government taxes, fees, and energy mandates add about $1.30 to the price of a gallon of gas.

Buttigieg and Granholm should regularly check out PRI’s “Been There, Done That” website to learn how California’s green policies are hurting working class and minority communities – and would negatively impact millions of Americans if adopted nationally.

Tim Anaya is the Pacific Research Institute’s senior director of communications and the Sacramento office.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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