Orange County Register
September 3, 2009
Full disclosure, please
Air Resources Board resists complete audit
transparent is the work of unelected staff members of the CA Air
Board as they prepare to micromanage California's
private economy with as-yet unwritten regulations to curb global
Already, the state Air Resources Board is being challenged about how it
spent $57 million of tax money advanced by the Legislature to implement
Global Warming Solutions Act, which ambitiously – and we feel
unnecessarily – aims to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
The ARB contends every dime is fully accounted for in a 141-page
50,000 documents that show where the money has been spent to date. The
insists the document on its Web site insists the document on its Web
site ( www.arb.ca.gov/regact/2009/feereg09/feeisor.pdf)
complies with California's
Public Records Act.
Not so, says the California
Chamber of Commerce, which unsuccessfully sought an audit of Air
Board spending for the current and previous fiscal years.
"ARB staff members expressed surprise when" asked to explain how the
money had been spent, according to a chamber statement. What followed
government agency's refusal to release records showing where the $57
went, and a lawsuit by the business group. "The ARB finally released
documents, but has continued to withhold nearly 50,000 pages of
says the chamber.
The chamber sought help in the Legislature. But last week a legislative
committee rejected the business group's request for an audit of the
Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, took the request to the Joint
Committee and says the Democrat-controlled committee blocked it.
Despite the government agency's insistence it has complied with the
chamber continues to maintain, "the records ARB has released to date
to provide any substantiation for more than $24.5 million (43 percent)
For example, the ARB claims 306 "person years" have been expended by
the agency implementing the 2006 law, but the chamber says the
accounted for only 122 person years. More than $11.6 million in
"are not substantiated by records released thus far," says the
chamber, and only $63,955 of $1.8 million in equipment expenses are
while $4.1 million is unaccounted for in contract costs "in just the
We wonder why the air board resists full disclosure and accounting.
bureaucrats poised to inflict on the business community who knows how
rules should not want to further aggravate the people they intend to
An audit seems not only appropriate, but politically prudent.
Disclosure would provide more than a mere accounting of how public
spent. As the chamber notes, the air board is authorized under the 2006
legislation to charge California businesses fees based on what it cost the agency to
implement the law.
If we can't know how the agency has spent $57 million so far
law, how can we tell whether any fees the agency decides to impose on
Californians are appropriate?
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should intercede immediately and demand a
audit of the $57 million spent so far on implementing the Global
Solutions Act. If not, what kind of transparency can be expected when
unaccountable agency begins to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars
in fees, as provided for in just one bill pending in the Legislature?