California’s Climate Change Hypocrisy

On September 19, 2016, California’s governor, Jerry Brown, signed into law America’s toughest restrictions on “super pollutants” including black carbon, fluorinated gases and methane. Per the press release from Governor Brown’s office, if such legislation is followed worldwide “…these acts would help cut the projected rate of global warming in half by 2050.” In reading through this legislation (SB 1383) I found this head-slapper:

Enteric emissions reductions shall be achieved only through incentive-based mechanisms until the state board, in consultation with the department, determines that a cost-effective, considering the impact on animal productivity, and scientifically proven method of reducing enteric emissions is available and that adoption of the enteric emissions reduction method would not damage animal health, public health, or consumer acceptance. Voluntary enteric emissions reductions may be used toward satisfying the goals of this chapter.

This aspect of the law, poorly written as it is, was aimed specifically at dairy and livestock operations; in which the State of California desires to reduce the methane emitted by cattle via belching and flatulence. Governor Brown, clearly, is so concerned about global warming that he is willing to sign legislation in which a section is targeted at regulating the bodily functions of cattle. However, if enteric fermentation is such a concern, in California, then why isn’t alcoholic fermentation even more so? Of course, the answer is simple in that environmentalists, such as Governor Brown, are hypocrites.

In 2015, California shipped 275.7 million cases of wine within the U.S. and abroad. California is, by far and away, the largest wine producing state in the U.S.; which is great for the California economy considering the estimated retail value of California wine shipped within the U.S. alone, in 2015, was $31.9 billion.

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On the flipside, does this not also mean that California’s wine producers are emitting significant amounts of pollution? Carbon dioxide, after all, is a by-product of alcoholic fermentation; and the EPA has designated carbon dioxide to be a pollutant and a dangerous greenhouse gas driving climate change. Having toured wineries in Napa Valley, I can assure you the ones I visited had no equipment capturing their carbon dioxide emissions. If Governor Brown is willing to sign legislation that literally drills down to the concept of reducing enteric emissions from cattle, then why not pass legislation requiring every California winery (and brewery for that matter) to capture carbon dioxide emissions before being released into the environment? Sounds expensive and controversial; but isn’t the future of the planet at stake here?

Let’s give some additional context to the alleged dangers of carbon dioxide. Here’s what is stated, regarding carbon dioxide, on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website:

In 2009, EPA determined that greenhouse gas pollution threatens Americans’ health and welfare by leading to long lasting changes in our climate that can have a range of negative effects on human health and the environment. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas pollutant, accounting for nearly three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions and 84% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Well Governor Brown, in light of the EPA’s alarming description of carbon dioxide, and your recent signing SB 1383 into law, how can you continue to allow California’s wineries (and breweries) to spew carbon dioxide into the atmosphere unabated? Are you putting wineries above human health and the environment? If enteric emissions from dairies and stockyards can be tackled, legislatively, then why not CO2 emissions from wineries? If you’ve got the guts, Governor Brown, there is some low-hanging legislative fruit for you to pick here.

Governor Brown, to be sure, will never whisper a word about wineries being greenhouse-gas polluters. Green limousine liberals, after all, love their California Cabernets and Viogniers; so don’t mess with California’s wine producers. Moreover, vineyards are beautiful, serene and represent a genteel and eco-friendly lifestyle. This is why, undoubtedly, Napa Valley had 3.3 million visitors in 2014; who spent $1.63 billion in the valley that year. With the pastoral images that come to mind when drinking a lovely Napa Valley wine, even environmentalists, especially Governor Brown, aren’t foolish enough to equate wineries to smokestack industries. Doing so, after all, may focus people’s minds on questioning climate change “science” wherein they would discover it is nothing but politicized junk.

Ultimately, it is easy to look like a green hero by signing into law America’s toughest super-pollutant legislation which deems enteric fermentation to be a contributing factor to climate change; and must be regulated accordingly. But when it comes to alcoholic fermentation, the silence from Governor Brown is deafening. If climate change truly is a threat to mankind’s well-being, which is what the EPA claims, then all breweries, distilleries, and wineries would be legitimate targets for legislation mandating reductions in their CO2 emissions. With only junk science in his hip pocket, Governor Brown will never ever take on California’s wine industry. It would be political suicide. The hypocrisy here is almost as delicious as a Chimney Rock cabernet sauvignon.