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Union-Tribune Editorial
Jobless? Too bad
Leaders indifferent to economic toll of rules

2:00 a.m. October 16, 2009

The single most immediate problem facing California is the deep recession that has driven unemployment to a 70-year high of 12.2 percent. We appreciate the circumstances that led Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to call special sessions of the Legislature to deal with pressing water, education and tax reform issues. But there is an even bigger need for a special session on how to preserve and create jobs.

Yet even with some economists predicting 15 percent unemployment in coming months, the governor and the Democrats who control the Assembly and Senate want nothing to do with such a session. Why? Because it would make it more difficult for them to continue to pretend that the excessive environmental regulations they champion are unrelated to the state's economic decline.

Consider the tough new rules on diesel emissions for commercial trucks, off-road vehicles and some portable mechanical equipment that are being phased in as a result of a decision last December by the state Air Resources Board.

The cost of compliance is estimated to be up to $10 billion. While large companies with fleets that are regularly replaced and/or upgraded may be able to readily handle these new requirements, they amount to a death sentence for a great variety of small businesses all over the state, which in many cases will be forced to get rid of vehicles and equipment with years and years of use remaining.

This prompted 52 state lawmakers — including eight Democrats — to send a Sept. 9 letter to the air board requesting a temporary suspension of the rules. The letter noted that only $250 million of the $750 million in grants, matching funds and low-cost loans promised by the state to help undercapitalized companies retrofit or replace their fleets had been made available because of the state's problems in selling the bonds slated to fund the assistance program.

Nearly six weeks later, the air board has not even bothered to respond. It may be an official letter signed by nearly half of the Legislature, but since it acknowledges the economic price of heavy regulations, air board officials consider it unofficially invisible.

No wonder California has record-high unemployment that is much worse than most states. No wonder economists predict the jobless rate will go even higher. The bureaucrats with the power to make or break the state's economy are bent on the latter — and the politicians with the power to make them shift course don't care.

They've got more pressing concerns. Consider Senate President Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, who held a press conference yesterday to denounce the three-day-a-month furloughs of most state workers. This confirms whom the majority party in the Legislature most worries about during this economic bloodbath: the public employees who have jobs.

As you might expect, Steinberg wasn't one of the eight Democrats who signed the petition asking the air board to get its boot off the throat of small business owners. As far as he and the rest of the Sacramento establishment is concerned, they're on their own.

Chris Reed

Comments by Readers
It's worse than the article states. By the wanton destruction of saved capital (trucks and equipment owned by employers) through edict, CARB has destroyed the very model that creates and sustains businesses. This model provides for an investment in a good or a service to supply a clientele. The abolishing of once useful but now outlawed trucks and equipment kills employment and eliminates the very tax base that makes a government possible. California is playing Russian Roulette with 5 loaded cylinders and only one empty.

The lack of available used trucks and equipment (now illegal) will forestall start up and/or rebuilding the assets of small businessses, the once largest employer in California. The existing and proposed regulations will eliminate most small and medium size trucking, logging and construction companies now in existence as the requirement for replacement of same at the mandated schedule is impossible to meet other than by attrition.
Chris, you are right on the money with this one. i am a scientist and a physician, and the studies used by CARB to develop these PM rules are horribly slanted. Based on these studies, the Malibu fires this past year would have produced enough TOXIC PM2.5 to kill the entire population of West Los Angeles, yet my ER wasn't overrun with gasping, dying poeple.
I'm all for cleaner air, and CARB did good work when it stuck to forcing manufacturers to make a better product. But now they are creating retro-active rules which only punish the end users that bought CARB certified vehicles, but now CARB has made them illegal?
Truckers that comply and retro fit their trucks have no gaurantee theri trucks will be "legal" next year, when the GHG emissions rule will come out from CARB. So if we can't trust CARB to stick by it's original certification of a vehicle as legal for use in California, and we can't trust them to not continue to pile on more rules, why even do business in California? that's the conclusion many have already come to, and will close their doors here in California starting January 1st, 2010.
This Depression is just getting going...
Chris has hit on yet another reason why you are going to see more cuts in services, more cuts in education, and all services you rely on. CA regulators are systematically forcing industries to leave California and that affects everyone even you eco-terrorists. Whether you like it or not it is business that pays most of the taxes that pay for the services you use.

In any normal get together of business people or even regular people living in tract homes the conversation turns to leaving California. You don't find that in other states that actually appreciate business and job growth and would never see a post where the entities that provide jobs are the "bad" guys being blamed for ills.

For goodness sakes, liberalism doesn't work, it is dead and when the Gov is out and Nichols loses her inside support for CARB, things are going to change.