Gov. Cooper apparently thinks we can mitigate hurricanes by incentivizing electric cars

There is absolutely nothing we can do in North Carolina that could possibly affect the world’s climate. That is why Gov. Roy Cooper’s climate-change Executive Order is such a futile gesture more geared for virtue-signaling, base pandering, crony greasing, and PAC pleasing.

The governor himself has justified the order by “citing Florence” and saying that it would “combat climate change” that he linked to Hurricanes Matthew and Florence.

He also said the order would “create jobs.”

Wow. So what would Cooper’s EO do? As of this writing, details are scarce as to how it would be implemented. Its goals are these:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below what they were in 2005
  • Add 80,000 “zero-emission vehicles” (ZEVs)
  • Cut energy usage per square foot in state-owned buildings by at least 40 percent below what they were, not in 2005, but in 2002-03

Remember, this is presumably what the state has lacked that would have mitigated Hurricanes Matthew and Florence and created more jobs.

How would the governor accomplish these things? By incentives for certain goods and choices, expensive infrastructure build-ups, cronyism, euphemism, and make-work.

I also suspect a great deal of it is rooted in the hope of relying on continued market-driven progress from which he can later steal credit by dint of having dropped a toothless EO in the middle of all this ongoing improvement. Consider this:

Imagine: If you were a “progressive” governor, and the private market was accomplishing these things and your government couldn’t take credit it, but … media have avoided reporting on it because they can’t credit government for it, what would you do?

Cronyism and more

That this EO will be profuse with incentives seem the logical result of such language as:

  • having the Department of Environmental Quality make a “Clean Energy Plan” that “fosters and encourages” favored resources and “collaborate” with “interested stakeholders” over utilizing favored resources
  • having the Department of Commerce “take actions supporting” favored businesses and develop a “workforce assessment” to “recommend actions to help” favored industries
  • having the Department of Transportation develop a plan specifically “designed to increase” ZEVs “to at least 80,000 by 2025,” a plan that includes incorporating “best practices for increasing ZEV adoption”

Among other things, this ZEV plan would also require building “interstate and intrastate ZEV corridors” and “ZEV infrastructure,” having state agencies “prioritize” purchasing or leasing ZEVs and use them for business travel, have state agencies build infrastructure necessary for ZEV use, and have state agencies develop “procurement options and strategies to increase the purchase and utilization of ZEVs.”

If you’re a manufacturer or lobbyist for electric vehicles, forget lottery fever; Gov. Cooper just flung the door wide open for government cronyism in your field. As they say in lottery ads: “You may already be a winner!”

Cooper’s order also requires setting up new climate councils, agency climate managers, agency climate plans, meeting and reporting requirements, and a “Climate Risk Assessment and Resiliency Plan.” At best these could result in a lot of meaningless bureaucratic work.

I worry, however, that they harbor potential for a great deal of burdensome rulemaking.

Jon Sanders / Director of Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...

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