Cap and trade shifts from cutting smog to shifting wealth

urban heat island profile, wikipediaMarch 17, 2013

By Wayne Lusvardi

California is  subtly shifting the spending goals of its cap-and-trade taxes from reducing air pollution to reducing the “urban heat island effect.”  In so doing, it believes it has found a green justification finally to divert pollution taxes to pet political low-income constituencies of the majority Democratic Party.

In 2012, the California legislature passed a law to divert cap-and-trade taxes to low-income communities under Senate Bill 535. But that legislation needed a scientific justification for diverting taxes these communities, many of which have less air pollution than wealthier but smog-prone suburban communities.

Now, Gov. Jerry Brown’s Office of Planning and Research has found what it believes will be a scientific justification for redistributing cap-and-trade taxes from the suburbs to low-income communities: reducing the urban heat island effect.

The urban heat island effect is defined as a “higher-temperature ‘dome’ of heat created over an urban or industrial area by hot layers forming at building top or chimney level.” The “heat island effect” disappears by midday, when temperatures rise, so it technically should be called the “nighttime urban heat island effect.”  The science behind reducing urban heat island effects has been seriously questioned by scientists from California’s highest institutions of learning.

Green smokescreens for wealth redistribution

Anthony Watts reports on his website that the motivation for this project is to provide justification for CalEnviroScreen.  This is a so-called scientific-based method for lessening environmental impacts on disadvantaged communities.  In other words, neighborhoods near freeways or smokestack industries might end up with utility bill subsidies or green jobs projects to offset “global warming” by reducing urban hot spots.

Ironically, the alleged low-income victims of urban heat islands are the same people who travel on hot concrete surface freeways.  How are wealthier suburbs any less affected by the urban heat island effects from freeways than industrial areas?

The shift from reducing air pollution to reducing urban hot spots is politically necessary because California government has to concoct some green justification for failing to clean up suburban smog. Air pollution doesn’t stay put in the Los Angeles Air Basin or anywhere else.  In Los Angeles County, any visible pollution is typically pushed up into the wealthy suburbs near the San Gabriel Mountains, such as Pasadena, Arcadia, Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga and Upland.

Should smoggy and wealthy industrial-based cities — such as the City of Industry, the City of Commerce, and Vernon in Southern California — subsidize “poorer” but clean coastal cities such as Oxnard, National City, and the Wilmington area of Los Angeles?  Where is the science behind such a policy?

Should smoggy inland agricultural cities in the Central Valley — such as Visalia-Porterville, Fresno, Merced and Bakersfield — end up subsidizing green jobs in lower-income industrialized coastal industrial cities that have cleaner coastal air, such as Oakland, Alameda and Richmond?

The governor’s apparent solution to this dilemma is to subtly shift from the air pollution reduction goals of cap and trade to reducing the effects of urban heat islands. Presumably, the suburbs are greener and thus cooler than the central cities and industrial areas.  So cap-and-trade taxes would be diverted from reducing suburban air pollution to reducing urban hot spots in low-income communities, many of which ironically have cleaner air.

Carbon offsets for reducing urban heat islands

This is why California’s Cap and Trade program is considering 25 projects that would, for the first time, allow carbon offset credits. Among the projects being considered are timber harvesting and the reduction of bio-gas from farm animals. The reduction of urban heat islands will likely be added to the list of eligible carbon offset projects.

There is little political compromise between suburbs and cities in this scheme to shift from pollution reduction to reduction in wealth inequality.  Wealthy suburbs won’t get any smog reduction or higher property values in return for being disproportionately taxed to create green jobs programs or utility bill subsidies in lower-income areas.

Opinion polls shows that lower-income communities do not perceive environmental issues as a high cause of concern. The intent of this shift is to buy green votes in blue collar communities at the expense of white collar suburbs that won’t get any real reduction in air pollution specifically from this action.

How the smokescreen of science behind the state’s CalEnviroScreen computer model can withstand legal challenge also is questionable. There is no legal nexus — logical connection — between air pollution emissions and urban heat-island effects. And many lower-income areas arguably have cleaner air than wealthier suburbs.

Making communities cooler would also likely result in worsening the “inversion layer” that traps smog.  The state’s shift from reducing air pollution to reducing urban heat island effects might also end up reducing the credibility of science and, if voters revolt, the Democratic Party supermajorities in the state Legislature that concoct such programs.


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  1. us citizen
    us citizen 17 March, 2013, 12:11

    All I can say is OMG!!! What have these people been smoking? This just gets more insane by the day. Who thinks up these convoluted ideas and plans. Do they actually sit around a table and see what they can plot to screw things up everywhere? And how complicated they can get…….or insane……or just plain stupid?!!!!

    Reply this comment
  2. Richard deSousa
    Richard deSousa 17 March, 2013, 12:18

    What idiots! UHI is primarily caused by asphalt, concrete, and other man made changes to the environment BUT not CO2! Thermometers in the rural areas outside cities show little elevated temperatures! CARB is headed by enviro wackos!

    Reply this comment
  3. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 17 March, 2013, 13:26


    UHI has been known of for some time…….even longer than Brown has been roaming the earth…..(The phenomenon was first investigated and described by Luke Howard in the 1810s….)

    And Richard is 100% correct……the asphalt, concrete, etc. trap heat, making the change more noticeable at night. Nighttime temps on the Vegas strip can be 4-6 degrees warmer than in the suburbs just a few miles away.

    Reply this comment
  4. BobA
    BobA 17 March, 2013, 18:21

    Nowhere is the discussion of alleged global warning is there any serious discussion of the heat trap effects of concrete. And the public will never learn the truth about the effects of HAARP’s ionospheric testing but I digress.

    Suffice it to say, certain entities in society have perfected the art of milking the public teat for all it’s worth. It’s a gift that keeps on giving when you know the rules of the game.

    What’s truly nefarious about this whole fiasco is that they only need to convince the politicians who in turn, see to it that those entities get a public teat on which to suckle in return for a reliable stream of campaign donations.

    Bottom line? Heads they win, tails we (the tax payers) lose. That’s the nature of politics and political corruption and it isn’t going to change anytime soon.

    Reply this comment
  5. CJ
    CJ 17 March, 2013, 18:47

    I read articles here on the WatchDog and compare this info to what is in the Sacramento Bee and the SF Chronicle and I wonder if they are coming from the same state. People that rely on the Bee or the SF Gate for their news must be among the most poorly informed people in California.

    It seems that there must be a disinformation effort on the part of those publications… Look what is going on in EU today… This wealth transfer and tax scheme is nothing compared to the outright theft taking place in the European Union. The new bank deposit tax of 10 percent is outright theft by the Plutocracy. It’s leading to a run on their banks…

    Could it happen here? …Here in America? … Consider this, what the fed is doing to dilute the dollar is fundamentally the same.

    Scary times indeed… then look at the Bee and the SF Gate… in the SF gate blogs the Hot topic is Fabio’s Birthday …

    Nothing in either publication that I saw on anything that is being discussed here or on the Drudge Report.

    First make them stupid, give them cell phones and then you can steal their children’s future and enslave a nation.

    Reply this comment
  6. BobA
    BobA 17 March, 2013, 21:57


    The looting of America has been ongoing for a number of years and it’s not going to end until people wise up to what’s happening. Given the general ignorance of the American people (including the media) the looting will continue until the US collapses just as Greece is doing now.

    The savings and loan scandal of the 80s, the dotcom bust, the housing market crash, the financial meltdown and of late the LIBOR scandal is nothing more than a well orchestrated scheme to loot countries and concentrate the wealth into the hands of a few.

    Moreover, the American people only vaguely understand what is now QE infinity is all about and yet they are stumped as to why fuel and commodity prices are going up. They fail to make the connection between prices and the falling value of the US dollar while the feds pump $85 billion dollars a month in freshly mint cash into the economy to keep it afloat.

    Personally, I think the entire US economy goes over the cliff the minute inflation arrives on the scene and our national debt goes over $20 trillion dollars.

    Alas, to the average American, who won an oscar or grammy is more important than the impending collapse of the US. Stated another way, we’re getting screw every which way but loose and people are still stuck on stupid blaming George Bush!

    Reply this comment
  7. CJ
    CJ 18 March, 2013, 01:19


    You are right on the mark! Especially about the American people not knowing what QE Infinity is all about, this one minute video tries to explain it in very simple terms…

    As I see it the USA Financial System Is a Fraud and the Federal Reserve is part of the problem not the solution.

    Reply this comment
  8. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 18 March, 2013, 06:56

    The velocity of money has and will remain for awhile at an historic low. Plenty of time for the fed to adjust— relax bunker-Beck doom know-it-alls!


    Reply this comment
  9. BobA
    BobA 18 March, 2013, 10:50


    This video is even better.

    Reply this comment
  10. BobA
    BobA 18 March, 2013, 18:28


    I’m going to break my prohibition against responding to you this one time to say you’re a naive fool if you believe that.

    Take it from me, Our government lies to us all the time and not without it’s reasons or justification for doing so. There are some things the public shouldn’t know and need never know.

    Reply this comment
  11. CJ
    CJ 18 March, 2013, 22:06


    Don’t even waist your time, the ted thing is either a moron punk that just tries to push buttons with an idiot act or a paid poster by the left doing the same – ignore it, it is not a real argument or person.

    Nobody is that stupid.

    Reply this comment
  12. Yrgal
    Yrgal 19 March, 2013, 06:06

    Wayne, Wealth and Fontana do NOT belong in the same sentence, Fontucky, Felony Flats, are to names we use for the dump,
    Bob in Ontario 🙂

    Reply this comment
  13. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 19 March, 2013, 06:41

    Poor Bobo———-He thinks he knows more than EVERY economist! LOL zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……..I try to work with him……it’s tough…….ignore…….

    Reply this comment
  14. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 19 March, 2013, 06:47

    Little Buddies—– Please have someone read this article to you— you might start to understand how far over your heads you are! LOL

    Reply this comment
  15. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 19 March, 2013, 07:08

    Once the fed sees bank lending….they will assume increased velocity and back of the easing little buddies— relax!

    Reply this comment
  16. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 19 March, 2013, 07:08

    Here endeth the lesson.

    Reply this comment
  17. BobA
    BobA 19 March, 2013, 08:27


    Stupid is as stupid does. That cretinous moron lacks the intellect to push my buttons but such inferior intelligence needs to be put in it’s place from time to time lest it begins to thinks it’s being paid attention to or taken seriously.

    Reply this comment
  18. Ted Steele, Navigator
    Ted Steele, Navigator 19 March, 2013, 08:52

    Hmmmmm…..seems like I pushed Bob-o’s buttons……….well…….yet again.

    Reply this comment
  19. PJ
    PJ 19 March, 2013, 13:36

    I thought high density living was a good thing! Surprise — those central planners don’t know what the heck they’re talking about.

    Reply this comment

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