You may have missed it, but there was another shot fired last week in the war by California bureaucrats against gas-powered appliances.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District – the unelected body given sweeping regulatory powers in the name of reducing air pollution in Southern California – passed a sweeping measure at its Friday hearing outlawing commercial gas ovens by 2036. It will primarily affect the declining number of factories producing food in the Los Angeles area.
Frank Coser with Anita’s Mexican Foods, which makes tortilla chips and taco shells, told the Orange County Register in June that, “if there’s a way out there to make this happen, we’re not opposed to it, but what they’re asking is basically to do something that’s not possible.”
According to the AQMD staff analysis of the proposal, the annual costs of the measure will range between $12.8 and $13.5 million, primarily affecting bakeries. These costs will have to be absorbed by the food producers, who will either raise prices on customers or, as is most likely, will have to reduce the number of workers or will consider leaving the state in response to the new rule.
Whatever commercial food producers decide to do, workers will surely be big losers. About 116 average annual job losses from the measure are also expected between 2024 and 2051. While AQMD bureaucrats crow that the job losses “represent less than .001 of the total annual jobs in the four county area,” government overreach will nonetheless be destroying about 3,200 jobs due to this costly new regulation.
Those who will be impacted the most by this regulation will be minority workers, who will lose a good-paying job they need to provide for their families.
As documented in PRI’s Breaking Down Barriers to Opportunity series, this is just the latest move by California policymakers imposing regulations that negatively impact minority entrepreneurs and take away economic opportunity. Consider the recent effort by the state ban the sale of gas-powered lawn equipment which, as I previously wrote about at Right by the Bay, “will make it much more expensive for small entrepreneurs who run lawn care and landscaping businesses to prosper.”
Like most of California’s green mandates, including the 100 percent electric car mandate, the new rule is also unrealistic – an example of government demanding change by fiat where the technological innovation required doesn’t yet exist.
Coser of Anita’s Mexican Food told the Register that while “there are four major manufacturers that make ovens for operations like theirs . . . two have already been out to their plant and said they don’t make equipment that would meet even the first phase of the proposed rules.”
Of course, there will also be impacts of the power grid if massive, commercial ovens are forced to switch from gas to electric. PRI recently documented that California will fall 21.1 percent of the electricity required to fuel an an-electric car future for the state. This doesn’t even include the power that will be needed for commercial and residential electric appliances, HVAC systems, and lawn equipment.
Going forward, there might be hope on the legal front. In a lawsuit on a similar issue, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently threw out the city of Berkeley’s ordinance requiring electric appliances in new construction on the grounds that only the federal government can regulate appliance emission levels. But given that the Biden administration views California as its think tank on green energy, don’t count on help from Washington any time soon.
The bottom line – a few government bureaucrats and pressure groups may think they have taken a step forward for progress by pushing through this new rule, but consumers who will have to pay higher prices and hard-working Californians who will lose their jobs because of it will see it for the regressive policy that it truly is.
Tim Anaya is the Pacific Research Institute’s vice president of marketing and communications.