Obama Commerce Nominee John Bryson Calls for Implementation of California Energy Regulations Nationwide

Joe Schoffstall | June 1, 2011
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On May 31, President Obama said he would nominate John E. Bryson for the position of United States Commerce Secretary. Bryson, who was the former Chairman and CEO of Edison International, spoke in front of the UN on September 1, 2009 at the International Energy Conference and praised California's regulatory system on energy, and called for the same to be applied to the United States as a whole. However, he didn't stop there. He went on to say they should place the same regulations globally:

"The academic debate around this has often been should we send price signals, or should we regulate, and for some this is a negative sense about regulation. The fact is, regulation is setting minimum standards means that markets come to meet those standards and nothing is sold- nothing in the way of new goods is sold-without meeting those standards. So that's step number one, high energy efficiency standards. I believe they should be increased. Interesting thing is the new Obama administration is taking a look and has said encouraging things about adopting these kinds of standards across the United States that would have a huge impact. These ought to have impacts elsewhere around the world. I believe these are applicable to developing countries, just as they are applicable to developed countries, and they make a huge difference. They don't involve, kind of, the responses that we get simply to price signals that are often transitory, that often fade away over time, and in any event are very slow in having impacts. So I argue- number one- for this kind of regulation."

However, the positives of regulations that Bryson speaks of were oversold and the negatives were swept under the rug, according to Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal:

"Now, as the Golden State prepares to implement this regulatory scheme, employers are howling. It's become clear to nearly everyone that the plan's backers have underestimated its negative impact and exaggerated the benefits. "We've been sold a false bill of goods," is how Republican Assemblyman Roger Niello, who has been the GOP's point man on environmental issues in the legislature, put it to me.

The environmental plan was built on the notion that imposing some $23 billion of new taxes and fees on households (through higher electricity bills) and employers will cost the economy nothing, while also reducing greenhouse gases. Almost no one believes that anymore except for the five members of the California Air Resources Board (CARB). This is the state's air-quality regulator, which voted unanimously in December to stick with the cap-and-trade system despite the recession. CARB justified its go-ahead by issuing what almost all experts agree is a rigged study on the economic impact of the cap-and-trade system. The study concludes that the plan "will not only significantly reduce California's greenhouse gas emissions, but will also have a net positive effect on California's economic growth through 2020."

Today, the New York Times reported:

"Trained as a lawyer, Bryson helped co-found the Natural Resources Defense Council in 1970 and headed California state commissions governing utilities and water during Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) first administration. Bryson retired as chairman and CEO of Edison International, the parent company of electric utility Southern California Edison, in 2008 after 18 years.

Calling him "a fierce proponent of alternative energy," Obama said that experience would serve Bryson well in the Commerce post. Although the department's duties include promoting economic growth and issuing patents, the bulk of its budget goes to an agency focused on the environment -- the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."

For the full clip of Bryson speaking on California's regulations he believes should be implemented nationally, click here.

For more information on Bryson, particularly his statements that the U.S. has an "obligation to lead" on climate change legislation from the same conference in front of the United Nations, make sure you check out this great CNS News article from Matt Cover.