California’s Clean Air Policy Influences Neighbor States

Already the state with the strictest pollution laws in the nation, California is now using its clout to influence the pollution laws of other states. In a sense.

For the most part, California has phased out coal-fired generators within its borders. Most of the state’s energy comes from “clean” sources; however, California still buys about 20% of its energy from other states, much of which is generated by coal-fired plants.

Regulators in California have just adopted new rules that will require out-of-state electrical plants to sharply reduce emissions if they want to sell power to California utilities in the future. This probably won’t prevent other Western states from constructing dozens of new coal plants in the coming decades, but it will essentially force them to lower their greenhouse gas emissions or risk losing one of their biggest clients.

This certainly could appear to be political strong-arming, with a large and powerful state essentially forcing its own policies onto elements of smaller states. Or is could just be seen as free-market economy on a large scale. In this case, “policy” is simply an expression of the consumer’s desire for a cleaner product. If the vendors don’t want to incur the additional costs of cleaning up their product, then the consumer is free not to purchase it and the vendors will lose business. There is no threat of force or aggressive lobbying or questionable political contributions ~ simply the desire of the people expressed in the form of commerce.

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