California’s Nanny State is invading household kitchens

Not surprisingly, every top search result for “Senate Bill 1383 Food Waste” returns links to cheap, upbeat summaries of what’s going into every California home kitchen.

For example, by CalRecycle, under the heading “Recycle organic materials into new products” there is a photo of two women in the kitchen, one of whom is preparing to toss a plate full of leftovers into a special new bin. Both seem incredibly happy. Out of Rethink wasteunder ‘residents’ there is a photo of a smiling woman pouring ‘organic’ from her special kitchen collection bucket into the large ‘compost only’ can she will be wheeling to the curb.

Happiness appears to be closely related to reducing.short-lived climate pollutants‘, and to foster our collective happiness, the state will turn our kitchen waste into ‘biogas’ (good) before it can decompose and release methane (bad). How much biogas? How much methane? Compared to what? And at what price?

Do not ask. Be happy.

But as usual, our state legislatures have abandoned common sense. Today, most people either throw their banana peels and apple seeds in the green waste bin or shred them in the sink with the garbage disposal. But bones and scraps of meat usually end up in a trash can lined with a plastic bag that ties shut as it’s filled and thrown in a trash can. That’s hygienic. It’s efficient too.

Do people really want to dump every oozing scum scraped off their skillets and every half-chewed chicken bone into a state-issued “organic” bucket that’s taking up space on their counter, and then regularly empty that bucket into their compost bin, which has ? so far only grass clippings and hedge trimmings? Who is going to clean up the fetid, putrid liquids from dead animals that inevitably end up on the bottom of those buckets and bins, accumulating week after week? That’s unsanitary. It’s also an intrusive nuisance.

If you take into account the new requirements as specified by SB1383what households are already doing should be good enough. Because these “organics”, i.e. garden waste enriched with banana peels, half-eaten spare ribs, bacon fat, chicken bones, etc., are now either delivered to an “anaerobic digestion plant” that produces biogas, or they will continue to be delivered to existing composting plants. Because California’s composting facilities are already well established, most of this modified waste stream continues to be composted, and they emit greenhouse gases as they decompose. As for the anaerobic digesters, they must be built at taxpayer expense, and cannot possibly be built on a sufficient scale to process all of California’s yard waste and food waste without spending hundreds of millions, if not billions. They will then produce fabulously expensive biogas, which will then be burned to produce fabulously expensive energy, still releasing CO2.

At some point, millions of Californians must wake up and demand sanity from their legislators and bureaucrats. If greenhouse gases really are an existential threat, and if the world is really going to be so impressed by California’s example that it’s going to emulate everything we do, can’t we at least indulge in honest carbon accounting? How much energy does it take to build anaerobic digesters big enough to hold the yard waste and kitchen waste of 40 million Californians? Can’t much of this kitchen waste methane simply be harvested from existing landfills? And if not, what percentage of California’s total methane emissions come from household food waste?

There may be legitimate answers to these questions. But don’t forget these are the same politicians who almost wiped out California’s lumber industry. If you are serious about capturing CO2, nothing is more effective than lumber. California’s Lumber Industry used to harvest 6 billion board feet wood per year only in the 1990s. Now California’s annual timber harvest is less than a quarter as much. Instead of the CO2 contained in harvested trees being sequestered as lumber, these unharvested, overcrowded and unhealthy trees burn like hell every summer. But let the forests burn and pollute the air with more greenhouse gases year after year than kitchen waste from California households would emit in a hundred thousand years. Then blame climate change instead of forest mismanagement and justify whatever you want with it.

These are the politicians coming into your kitchen now.

Who supported the politicians who sponsored SB 1383?

When evaluating legislation, it always makes sense to follow the money. Finally, compliance with SB 1383 requires more government spending. More government employees need to be hired. More employees have to be hired at all public waste disposal companies. So, have government unions and unions representing government contractors – whose membership will grow thanks to SB 1383 – contributed to the campaigns of SB 1383’s sponsors in the State Senate? Yes they did.

SB 1383 was passed in 2016 and will come into effect this year. The two main sponsors of the bill were Senators Benjamin Allen and Loni Hancock.

Allen is running for re-election this November. He has four donors so far who have each made the maximum contribution of $9,700. These are the California Teachers Association, SEIU Small Contributor Committee, SEIU Local 721 and the California Association of Realtors. Three out of four are unions. Back in 2014When Allen was running for Senate, he had five donors who contributed the then-maximum of $8,200. Along with the real estate agents, these were AFSCME, the California Association of Electrical Workers, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the California State Council of Laborers, and the United Nurses Association. Four out of five were unions. And back in 2018, Allen’s campaign had six donors who donated $8,800, the maximum this year. They were four SEIU members, along with the California Federation of Teachers and the State Building and Construction Trades Council. Six for six.

What about Loni Hancock? Hancock ran for re-election in 2012 before retiring in 2016 after co-sponsoring SB 1383 during her last Senate session. The maximum allowable contribution in 2012 was $7,800, and for that amount Hancock had five donors. These were the IBEW Local No. 302, the Electrical Workers Local 595, AFSCME, the California Teachers Association, and the California Federation of Teachers. five for five

These maximum donations are guidelines. On the links above, point to the contributions received from these politicians, download the spreadsheets and rank them by height. From top to bottom, the dominant sources of contributions are either public sector unions or public sector contractors. Why the teachers union? How do they benefit? Because these public sector unions support each other. That’s why The firemen’s union marched with the United Teachers of Los Angeles in January 2019, rather than using their political influence to advocate for the revitalization of the timber industry – which it is only practical way to drastically reduce forest fires.

Loni Hancock was committed to public sector unions for her political career. Benjamin Allen is Pledged to public sector unions for his political career, as have dozens of politicians who currently hold a supermajority in both houses of the California Legislature. What these unions want, these unions get. Their agenda, of course, is more salary, more benefits, more hiring, and more contracts. This agenda may or may not be in the interests of all Californians. Sometimes it’s enough straight into your kitchen.

It’s not just about leftovers. Climate change is a convenient excuse for politicians and their benefactors to profitably meddle in just about every activity we do that produces some greenhouse gas emissions. Somewhere. Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. Regardless of the cost or inconvenience, our legislators will require “mitigation.” They’ll claim it’s about saving the planet. Only a cynical “denier” might think it’s really just about creating more jobs for public sector employees and contractors.

The tragedy is that intrusive, expensive programs like this, with little if not counterproductive benefit, waste taxpayers’ money in California when practical and much-needed public works – water supply projects spring to mind – are not funded. Everyone, certainly including union members and leaders, who still care about this state should think carefully about what to do next.

In the meantime, and going forward, Californians are forced to regularly clean their compost bins and bins of rotting, rancid, liquefied food waste. Be happy.

About Rachael Garcia

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