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Meet Me in the Middle Ep 01 Transcript

 

Announcer: From Curtco Media,.

 

Henry Stern: Why can't we just think about solving the middle class budget and making our air clean and creating jobs here locally at the same time?

 

Bill Curtis: That was Henry Stern. He was the first millennial elected to the California State Senate in 2016. He's a fierce defender of the state's environmental agenda and he is committed to helping young people reach their potential. State Senator Henry Stern joins us next on this episode of Politics, Meet Me in the Middle.

 

Celleste: Whatcha gonna do about it?

 

Bill Curtis: Hello, I'm Bill Curtis. And meeting us in the middle is Henry Stern. He's young, good looking, Malibu bred and Harvard educated, and many feel he's on a White House track. It's an honor to have you here. Henry,.

 

Henry Stern: Thank you for that overly ambitious introduction. I appreciate it.

 

Bill Curtis: Before we dive in, the Malibu Times mentioned that you still find time for Boys and Girls Clubs and the Children's Lifesaving Foundation, teaching lots of kids how to surf.

 

Henry Stern: That's true. You know, you helped build this community, too. Malibu is a small town just like any small town, and trying to have that humility about it all and  be welcoming. There's a lot of exciting and fancy things happening here, too, of course, but the roots of it all are just being equal in the water and surfing and going to high school and being normal and not having to lock your door and just a different feeling of a place to grow up some. I'm still committed to seeing that through.

 

Bill Curtis: Well, today, Henry, we're gonna dive into a few of your focal concerns. But before we do, Henry, you didn't get much time to honeymoon after taking office. During your tenure. Your district has suffered overwhelming property and emotional losses from the Woolsey fire and unspeakable human losses from the Borderline massacre. How do you get your arms around such crises?

 

Henry Stern: I said I got old quickly going through tragedy literally within hours of of each other. You know, at the vigil, the fire came down the mountain and that was right on the heels of the last election we had. And, you know, it's very easy to get wrapped up in politics. I'm a Democrat. There are Republicans. There's people who aren't in a party. There's a whole fight going  on Twitter and Facebook constantly in this sort of war of words.  When the President showed up in the fire zone, I didn't have sharp words for him, and that wasn't the place to do that. The governor showed up, too, and everyone sort of behaved themselves in a circumstance where people's lives are on the line. And I think that was a bit of a hopeful moment amidst a kind of melee going on out there that gave me strangely some comfort that people are people underneath it all. And so, you know, you look at the victims of the Borderline and how does a Democrat from the beach who went to Harvard and Berkeley, they think I'm probably some leftist socialist, show up and be a useful problem solver. Someone to just mourn with them and at bottom, be human. And that's dealing with the faith community out there, with a bunch of Republican leaders who all stepped up. We melted those borders down pretty quickly with that fire. And it's because we had to.

 

Bill Curtis: Clearly you could put this into a category of climate change, how we're handling the environment. I wanted to bring in my co-host, Pulitzer Prize winning historian Ed Larson.

 

Ed Larsen: Hi Bill.  Great to be here again.

 

Bill Curtis: Ed,  who was the first president to focus on the environment?

 

Ed Larsen: The first president to really tackle the issue of conservation was Teddy Roosevelt. He was a hunter. He was an outdoorsman. He'd lived in North Dakota, in the Badlands. A Republican president, by the way. He saw lots of problems. And it wasn't just starting to set aside land and impose rules on conservation to protect land, to protect wildlife. He cared lots about protecting species and protecting wildlife. Sinclair Lewis's The Jungle had come out and he wanted to clean up food processing. But it was Franklin Roosevelt, Teddy's cousin with the Civilian Conservation Corps and other efforts to really tackle these problems. So you had those efforts that got going then.

 

Bill Curtis: So Henry, back in today's environment, it would seem that our national weather is acting like the beginning of a cheap disaster movie. How do we know if this is just natural change  of our planet or if this is man-made?

 

Henry Stern: If CO2 is a real pollutant or not?

 

Bill Curtis: Does CO2  have a hand in environmental disasters like hurricanes? And it just seems like we're watching news that's at an entirely different level all over the globe.

 

Henry Stern: Yeah, I mean, we started burning fossil fuels that added more CO2 to the atmosphere and that creates a warming effect, which then has a lot of different consequences. We can talk about it as something big and ethereal that sort of feels like, oh, the entire industrial revolution is piled up and millions of individual actions have resulted in this ethereal risk or it can just be, oh, my house burned down in my neighborhood and there aren't any more birds here anymore. You know, whatever those sort of tangible things that wake up that.

 

Bill Curtis: Henry only all we really have to do is make it undeniable. If operators of companies that have a rather large carbon footprint, if they could be shown very specifically, this is what the globe was going to do, by itself. This is what it's doing now that we're here. How do we do that?

 

Ed Larsen: Well, the way science works is it comes up with a theory and then you go out and test the theory. Before there was major industrialization, in the 1840s and 1850s, John Tindell, the great British chemist, concluded that there were greenhouse gases. And greenhouse gases is when you have a gas that has two dissimilar atoms connected like CO2, anything where the atoms are different and they're connected into a molecule that by its very nature it will be a greenhouse gas. What he said and from studying this and from other scientists picking up on this is if we burn carbon fuels, we will increase the amount of CO2.

 

Bill Curtis: Well, let's talk about that for just just a minute, if I may. Henry is the problem, at least in California, mostly cars and trucks and electricity. Is there something else that we have to worry about?

 

Henry Stern: Yeah, it's not as much electricity... Coal country. That's a bigger deal. We have a cleaner mix than the rest of the country.

 

Bill Curtis: We have about 11 percent hydro power here.

 

Henry Stern: Yeah, a bunch of hydro in wet years and really strong wind and solar sectors. We've got a pretty strong geothermal sector. We're looking at offshore winds. So we're actually doing really well. We need to do more with power but.

 

Ed Larsen: But you have a lot smaller carbon footprint if you're using natural gas than either oil or coal. Oil and coal are the worst for the carbon footprint.

 

Bill Curtis: So, Henry, what's the plan?

 

Henry Stern: For the future of the power grid in California, for the whole thing?

 

Bill Curtis: I would like to know the whole plan. And we've got oh, I don't know, about a minute and a half if you could... On the one hand, we want to be energy independent, but on the other, we have that not in my backyard thing. How do we create a balance between corporate needs, which which we all want to be reasonable about and still protect the environment?

 

Henry Stern: I think the corporations are acting without us right now to mitigate their multi-trillion dollar risk. The project I was just talking about wasn't an environmental exercise. It was Wall Street trying to figure out how to mitigate their financial risk from climate change. Think about the entire food system. Cargill,  right? They're gonna see net drops in wheat output, in corn and soy. So they're already trying to get ahead of government. I think our politics just need to catch up with where the markets are. The renewable electricity market is the fastest growing electricity market in the country.

 

Bill Curtis: Ok. So if electricity, we sort of have a handle on, we're headed in the right direction, sort of,.

 

Henry Stern: In California,yeah.

 

Bill Curtis: In California. Let's  talk about cars and trucks.

 

Henry Stern: Yes. And our great sin.

 

Bill Curtis: and the burning of fossil fuels for that. Well, apparently two thirds of the oil that California consumes, we still import from oil tankers arriving at the port.

 

Henry Stern: That sounds right.

 

Bill Curtis: How much fuel should we be buying from the outside of the U.S. and how do we bridge our gap wanting oil locally with protecting the environment?

 

Henry Stern: I would say we should be buying none, if possible, from outside of the state and get ourselves to a place where we can truly be independent. Petroleum is the great stain on the conscience of California's climate agenda because we can self-profess as much as we want that, you know, we're perfect environmentalists. And I've recycled, you know, single sourced my water and my jeans are from recycled denim and my car is a Prius. And, you know, I ate an impossible burger for lunch. But we consume more petroleum than anyone else on the planet except for the U.S. and China. It goes U.S., China, Department of Defense and then us as far as single, sort of clustered buyers of petroleum. We  I mean, what I think the status...

 

Bill Curtis: So is your focus, how much we consume. Or is your focus, how much we have to produce and how we do so protecting the environment.

 

Henry Stern: I want to cut the energy bill of the middle class in half. And I think we can do that with smart climate action. I don't think it's an either or issue. I think, you know, when you look at plugging in, being a third of the cost of filling up and being able to do it with localized energy, and then all that dollars savings actually goes back into local economy where it's 16 times more productive than it is to go pay Equador.  The economics are going to line up for the private sector. And like I said,UPS, United Airlines, anyone who can afford to sort of be long term thinkers when they buy, they're switching away from petroleum. But we're sort of over the barrel as consumers because the options aren't there yet. It's looking better, though. The car market's looking more and more interesting. I think there's some exciting you know,.

 

Bill Curtis: Well we're going to talk about that in a minute, too.

 

Henry Stern: Mercedes is doing cool stuff. Audi, VWs has got their, you know, see if the bus sells. I don't know if you want to go back to the retro 60s, but I'm excited that there's going to be some choice. And hopefully we fix the middle class family budget in the process. I like that climate change is an issue and it's a central one.

 

Bill Curtis: But why is it specific to the middle class?

 

Henry Stern: Well, they're the ones getting the worst of it. They they drive the most, I mean its affecting those in poverty, too, now. But when you look at commute times and what it's doing to families and their ability to pay their bills and spend time with their kids and we don't think about traffic as a social issue. But.

 

Bill Curtis: I do. It's geez...

 

Henry Stern: It destroys our sanity, our infrastructure and our air. And, oh, by the way, it drives climate, climate change, extreme weather events. But we almost don't need to fight that fight. I think the science fight is done. But why can't we just think about solving the middle class budget and making our air clean and creating jobs here locally at the same time?

 

Bill Curtis: Well, remind me, I want to talk to you about trucks and delivery in just a minute, but we're going to take a quick break.

 

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Bill Curtis: We're back with State Senator Henry Stern and my co-host Ed Larsen. You know Henry, here in the middle, contrary to the reputations that many corporations may have, they really do have a conscience and they are concerned about our lifestyle or life environment and our planet. If there was a way for you to prove that carbon actually has affected climate change more than just the natural direction of the planet, I think they would come along more easily.

 

Henry Stern: I think you're right. But I think they now have an obligation to see through our politics. I'm looking at leadership from corporate America. I actually think that that's where the innovation is going to come from to drive this new economy. Not from politicians on either side of the aisle. I don't,I don't have a lot of faith in our ability to innovate. We fight always. That's sort of our DNA.

 

Ed Larsen: Before it became a partisan issue, the Republicans were as concerned about carbon dioxide and climate change. George Herbert Walker Bush when he was president. That's when the issue first came out and he was committed that they talk about the problems.  well, this White House can solve them. Cap and trade is a free market way to deal with this issue as opposed to direct regulation. They both show that they can work. You can have a free market solution to this. That came from Republicans. Then if you, you can just google...

 

Henry Stern: Nixon even with the EPA.

 

Ed Larsen: Well Nixon started the EPA. You can Google Pelosi and  Gingrich on climate change and you'll see the ad they made before the Koch brothers got involved and they said, Nancy. We don't agree on a lot, but the one thing we do agree on is climate change. It's a great ad.. That's where the Republicans were. So this wasn't a partisan issue.

 

Bill Curtis: But this is all talk. All we need is to present black and white, clear facts. Give me the science that we can tell corporate America: This is why climate change is happening. It's not the natural progression of our planet. We're responsible for this. And this is how. You know, frankly, Gore built a whole movie that many of these folks watched and it was unconvincing. I need something hard. What do you got, Henry?

 

Henry Stern: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that so that peer reviewed science that came out, I think we've had the, maybe we're now in our eighth assessment. But it's the convention that started, I think, way back   with Reagan, with the Montreal Protocol. But the best scientists in the world saying that burning fossil fuels is the difference between natural cycles and what's very unnatural now. I actually don't think corporations need to be convinced. They're investing. The government's the one dragging their heels. Corporate America already believes the science. They get physics.

 

Ed Larsen: But you also look at some of the corporations like Exxon, which have been involved in the denial process. Yet they're making corporate decisions. They are designing their rigs. They are making decisions, designing their systems to withstand the very climate change that they are denying it's going to happen.

 

Henry Stern: isn't that ironic!

 

Ed Larsen: They know it's coming.

 

Henry Stern: Oh, yeah. No, they price in long term a price on carbon into their investment scenarios, as does Shell and BP and and Chevron now, too. So under S.E.C. regulation, if there's material risk that you're not disclosing to your shareholders, you're violating your fiduciary duty to your company. So that's why you're seeing the Fortune 500 all sort of look at climate risk in their portfolios and assess it and try to mitigate it. Again, it's government that's like, "well, California, you're a bunch of wacko socialists. And, you know, out here in North Dakota or Texas, like we like pollution," like, no, that's not the conversation. That's a very arbitrary divide that I'm just so tired of having everything just burn down our community. It's just asinine. The politics around it. So I'd say, you know, physics and economics. Let's just leave the politics behind and put those together and solve some issues.

 

Bill Curtis: So it's basically said that the U.S. industrial age built our economy, sometimes at the environment's expense. Other countries have basically said now that it's their turn and that us trying to regulate them or get them not to invest in their economy and make an exception for the environment, they're just not willing to do it. They said you did it. Now it's our turn. Now what do we do? Henry, what do we do about that?

 

Henry Stern: I think it's a fair point. They ought to have some room to grow and especially pre-industrial nations. I mean, you look at things going on in rural India right now. Women spend all day gathering biomass, trying not to be assaulted on the way to and from the home, trying to carry water. I mean, power is part of social progress. The greatest engineering achievement of the 20th century, according to the Global Council on Engineering, was electrification of these massive swaths of human society. So ,darn right they deserve energy. The question is what kind of energy? So China's actually looking to leapfrog us here. They're going to get more electric vehicles and more battery charging out into their  stream of commerce 10 times as fast as we are. The manufacturers are already on track to far eclipse the California, the U.S. market.

 

Bill Curtis: But even for electrical power, isn't natural gas frankly the best solution globally? I mean, we have so much of it available.

 

Henry Stern: We have so much available. But at what cost? And I guess if you're in a community that's relying on coal,  would I rather have that coal plant go off line and be burning gas instead? Yes. But the concern with all that kind of energy is you got to keep drilling for it. It's a variable cost. You're a businessman. I mean, if you have some fixed costs and some variable costs, if you can actually find a product that has zero variable costs,right? There's no fuel cost to sun and wind. That is a free resource. That's the reason that wind and solar are actually beating gas in the American market right now, because... Okay, I hope the Straits of Hormuz are good this week with Iran. Oh, they aren't. Henry Hub goes up five bucks a btu.

 

Bill Curtis: BUt is wind really viable, Henry?

 

Henry Stern: Oh, I mean, it's the fastest growing resource in the United States of America. So, yeah.Warren Buffett says yes

 

Bill Curtis: And tell me, when you drive out to Palm Springs and you see miles and miles of these wind turbines, are they storing the power?

 

Henry Stern: We have some pretty large scale storage out there. It is so cheap right now to install wind power or solar power because of that lack of variable cost. That even if you generate more than you can use, even if you're, you know, it's blowing and sometimes we're not using it, we need to capture more storage. That's gonna be a huge piece of it. But even then, it's cheaper than going out and doing the huge new fossil fuel plant. Then you got to also factor in again, again, Straits of Hormuz or a conflict in the Middle East or I hope Ecuador makes it through. I don't want that risk in our financial planning for this country, period. And that's that's the real problem. On the gas side, a heck of a lot better than coal. But how exposed are we to those sort of big risk factors that I don't see as big with the renewables market?

 

Bill Curtis: Let's talk hydro for just a second. I mean, the Hoover Dam is damn impressive if you've ever been there. It really is. It really is something else. Ed, tell us a little about the history. How did it get built? I assume that Hoover had something to do with it.

 

Ed Larsen: The Hoover Dam was started during the Hoover administration and finished up under Roosevelt. Not only that, though, a Bonneville power was even a more massive effort. That was the Columbia River and the TVA on the Tennessee Valley.

 

Bill Curtis: Who paid for them.

 

Ed Larsen: The federal government put in the money. The government went in a big way in water power. Now, the problem with some of these dams is they have, they affect the salmon flow in the northwest. You have to play with all those factors. But water power has been an important part of the mix in certain areas, just like atomic power as an important part of the mix. You talk about China earlier. Yeah. China's doing amazing things with wind power, with water power, with atomic power, with other forms of power. But they're also building more coal power plants than any place.

 

Henry Stern: More of everything.

 

Ed Larsen: They're just doing of everything.

 

Henry Stern: More

 

Ed Larsen: And that's where you get to your issue worldwide. And the Trump administration raised this. One reason they say, well, we're not going to do anything here because it's not going to make a damn's worth the difference.

 

Bill Curtis: Well, it's a little hard for me to sacrifice  my straw at Starbucks when two things. One, I know what's going on in China and two - Starbucks is simultaneously handing out these these massive plastic cups. I know that you're developing strategies about plastic. Yes. And look at this idea of a Texas sized clump of plastic in the Pacific. It doesn't make anybody happy. But what are we really going to do.

 

Henry Stern: and in my sushi! I've pulled up the exact statistic, but I think it's 30 percent or so of the global fishery food supply has microplastics detected already and it's scary.

 

Bill Curtis: So what are you going to do about it?

 

Henry Stern: So we think industry, the markets can actually just deliver better product to us. This is stuff they're already doing. And I think they're going to end up saving more money because our past policy was just to ship it all the China. And we thought that that was recycling. But we've been lying to ourselves when it comes to waste. I'm working with Senator Allen to make good on this promise of a single use plastic free future with a bill SB 54. So we're putting targets in for industry to look in their value chain and.

 

Bill Curtis: So you can't just shut it off. You can't just say there's no more Aquafina in the plastic bottle.

 

Henry Stern: I'm not a mandates guy. I'm a markets guy. Our system can work  if we put the right challenge out to the business sector. They're smart. You know, they can figure things out. We just got to be clearer as government about what people really want and then take our hands off and let them solve it.

 

Bill Curtis: All right. So let's switch over to solar.

 

Ed Larsen: People have always used passive solar for heating.

 

Bill Curtis: Passive solar. But not, we're not talking about the solar panels and the battery and.

 

No but just passive solar. If you design your house. right. If you aim it right. If you have curtains, the way you use curtains the way you use windows, you can make a tremendous difference. You know, you go back to ancient Rome. They knew how to do it. And that can make a difference. And then you, of course you add to it with solar panels. And really, we're talking about in the last 50 years when they developed the crude forms of solar panels. But the technology has leapfrogged in the past.

 

Bill Curtis: Has it really, Henry,  have we gotten there with the efficiency of solar panels yet?

 

Henry Stern: I mean, solar is cheaper than any fossil fuel resource in the system right now to install. So that's why it's taken off. And it's actually not taking off in California as much as it is in Idaho, Arizona, Texas. Texas is going off right now. I mean, people are making a lot of money.  Gathering free energy from the sun and trying to, you know, make your shower hot with it or charge a car or run your factory. So if we can do it for you cheaper in a way that actually doesn't give your kids asthma and make us addicted to fossil fuel,  nobody should care.  As long as government doesn't come in and screw it up, the market's going to go renewable on its own.

 

Ed Larsen: It's not really a political issue. You can find the most conservative rancher in Wyoming or the most conservative Texan who happily puts up solar panels himself. He doesn't want the government to order him to, but if he sees the cost benefit analysis, they do. I know them. They put them up.

 

Henry Stern: Absolutely. Plugging into West Virginia or Ohio might be a little dirtier. We're doing pretty well in L.A.. I think we're over 30 percent on what the mix.

 

Ed Larsen: It depends on what the mix is.

 

Henry Stern: totally,

 

Henry Stern: Yeah, I think Tesla, when they took on Solar City, that was the goal. They wanted to integrate the grid as the new gas station. And, you know, Elan is pushing hard.

 

Bill Curtis: We're manufacturing batteries mostly from substances that come from offshore. We're charging most of these right now off the grid. Then the batteries run out of oomph, we take the batteries, we package them up and what? We bury them where? Tell me, how are we going to make the concept of the Tesla be something that California is actually proud of?

 

Henry Stern: We're going to make our own batteries in the state of California.

 

Bill Curtis: Really?

 

Henry Stern: I think there's, possible for us to be a lithium champion. We've got massive lithium deposits here in California, including in the Salton Sea.

 

Bill Curtis: So why are we importing it?

 

Henry Stern: Well, that's a good question. Sometimes people fear manufacturing in the state of California doing big industrial projects. But I think we can do this one sustainably in a way that actually enhances the habitat for all the birds that move through there. And again, in terms of the original source of the lithium itself. That's a that's a national security issue, too. When you look at all the rare earth minerals that we rely on, not just you talk about our cars, but our phones, in silicon and all the sort of minerals we use in technologies of all kinds, we rely far too much on foreign nations to supply that with us. So it's someone we're looking at right now in the state of California. I think the big opportunity here for petroleum, and it's odd for me as a climate advocate to be talking about an opportunity for petroleum, but why wouldn't they want to lead and put together the cleanest, most sustainable oil industry in the world or in the mineral extraction industry? Why wouldn't we want to be leaders in those practices where you're having, you know, not using petroleum, for instance, to heat your fields because they're all sticky and old and sort of they've been extracted from for a long time. But all that steam is coming from fossil fuel right now. Why not run a  solar system on an oil field and actually pull that stuff out and then sequester all that carbon and feed it back into the system?

 

Bill Curtis: So how long do you think that California's still going to need oil?

 

Henry Stern: 2050 is kind of drop dead date for switching over, but it pains me to think we've got to wait that long. I'm hoping that the automotive industry just comes to consumers with really good products that save them money.

 

Bill Curtis: So you would hope that 30 years from now.

 

Henry Stern: Oh, I'm hoping for faster than that.

 

Bill Curtis: That California doesn't use any oil.

 

Henry Stern: The question is, can we get a product to the market that's actually going to appeal to a mom who drives a minivan or a mom who drives a truck or dad who drives a minivan or so I mean, we've got to just get better consumer choices.

 

Bill Curtis: And natural gas is that's something you're going to continue using.

 

Henry Stern: Look, gas has been really hard on this district I'm working for. Out in Porter Ranch it made a lot of people sick when that  Aliso Canyon gas field blew. So it's been really sensitive when you figure where you store it and especially when it's in somebody's backyard how sick their kids can get. So I'm really sensitive about the gas issue. I get it's better than coal in some circumstances, but the system is so leaky and broken already. In many cases, it's worse than coal. Once you actually get it to you, after all the earthquakes and methane leaks in pipelines, system breakdowns and Aliso Canyon, by the time it finally gets to your stove or  your furnace, it's not as clean as maybe it's cut out to be.

 

Bill Curtis: So this is why it's hard to get the oil companies to come meet you in the middle, because essentially you're looking to put them out of business in the next 30 years.

 

Henry Stern: Oh no, they're going to get rich one way or another. I'm not worried about them.

 

Bill Curtis: We're looking to have them supply us more oil over the next, let's say, 20 years because we want to stop importing it. Right. So what do we do with the fact that we actually want to shut them off on a date, not to be certain.

 

Henry Stern: I don't think it's shut them off. I don't think that's actually the goal. I think the goal is just to innovate and challenge them to be the incredibly inventive companies they are, to create renewable fuels, to get into energy efficiency and solar. There was a point at which Chevron was...

 

Bill Curtis: Would you actually offer them incentives

 

Henry Stern: Yes.

 

Bill Curtis: To move over?

 

Henry Stern:  I got no beef.

 

Bill Curtis: Cause you need them a lot now.

 

Henry Stern: Sure. And look, petroleum is useful right now. I just drove here. It helped. Now,  I came down on electric power but we took a 10 minute extra commute on petroleum. When you don't have the power, it's really nice to switch over to a resource that's there. I just think we're going to need it less and less. And so I think the petroleum industry is the one that's really going to get motivated about what's next.

 

Bill Curtis: Ok. So, Henry, how do we handle the middle here? We've got reasonable transition to renewables. You want to reduce importing fossil fuels for the for the near-term, but at the same time, you want to not need fossil fuels in 30 years. How are you going to handle that juggle?

 

Henry Stern: I think of it more like spinning plates but I think...

 

Bill Curtis: Because I can put a bunch of oil magnates sitting here at the table.

 

Henry Stern: Oh, yeah.

 

Bill Curtis: And you could figure out a way to actually incent them to work with you.

 

Henry Stern: Let's do it! I like it. And  I think there's some hope to be seen in some of the new corporate leadership and what their shareholders are pushing on them about and their commitments to integrating, just carbon price. Look, if we just make the market tell the truth, companies are going to figure out how to solve these issues. Ed's talking earlier about just a price on carbon. Right now, we're creating these inflated markets that aren't addressing the true cost. And so if there was some kind of market break based price on carbon for the country, we not only would have an incentive for the oil industry to sort of be a partner, Oil and gas to be a partner, but also to invest in infrastructure and all the things we know we need. So we don't have to jack up people's taxes, but we can actually just reflect it in the cost of carbon and then maybe revitalize this country.

 

Bill Curtis: Ok. Well, we we just have a little more time for our part one of Meet me in the Middle with you. I have one other question, because I'm personally bothered by the whole concept of corporations being able to buy carbon credits. What's your philosophy around that?

 

Henry Stern: You don't like them to be able to purchase these...

 

Bill Curtis: Well then it's just money. You can go ahead and continue to pollute and just pay your way out of this.

 

Henry Stern: Some people do favor a carbon tax because they say just give us a fixed price. We want to know what it is so we can put it on our, you know, our sort of assets and liabilities and just deal with it in the accounting books.

 

Bill Curtis: Yeah, but that's not, that's not a great thing for our environment.

 

Henry Stern: Well, it's also, I mean, the economics of it don't work. There's dead weight loss when you set an arbitrary price floor, just like in minimum wage and any other sort of firm price based regulations from government. If you allow it to float a bit and reflect market demand, then you can actually get corporations who someone had beat the market. They say, you know what, carbon is twenty-five bucks a ton right now. I can do that in-house for ten bucks a ton. So I'm not going to buy my way out of it and pay for that allowance. But another says, I don't want to put the man and woman power into overhauling our boilers. And, you know, we're just going to keep running our system as is and.

 

Bill Curtis: Paying money.

 

Henry Stern: And then pay some money. So it incentivizes the entrepreneurs, but it also, it's a little more flexible than the tax system. I got a lot of good friends who want to do the tax and dividend, which is another viable option, basically making it net neutral to the taxpayer. I like the market based system we've got in California here.

 

Bill Curtis: Ok. OK, well, let's about all the time we have for this show. If you want to follow Henry Stern on his Web site, you can yell at me on the internet @HenrysternCA. You can yell at me  on Twitter any day of the week. Anytime. This is America. I welcome it.

 

Bill Curtis: State Senator Henry Stern, it has been an absolute pleasure to have you here to.

 

Henry Stern: Oh, honor's mine, Bill thank you for doing it.

 

Bill Curtis: Ed, thank you very much. As always, you are a font of knowledge. And thanks so much for tuning in. And we will see you again right here in the middle.

 

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