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Editorial: Greenhouse gas mandates boil over

The Orange Count Register

The state Air Resources Board today is likely to plunge ahead with unwise, unnecessary mandates that greenhouse gas emissions be reduced as much as 8 percent by 2020 and 16 percent by 2035. The reductions are about twice what's recommended by government planning agencies in the San Francisco and Southern California regions.

But as usual, the unaccountable, single-minded state agency is blind to economic ramifications, even in the face of vocal opposition from the private sector that will be adversely affected.

"There was no explanation for these higher targets when they were clearly considered unattainable throughout the (regional) workshop process," complained Liz Snow, president of the California Building Association, in a column in the Sacramento Bee.

Ms. Snow said the air board's "staff has proposed greenhouse gas emission reduction targets ... that far exceed what can realistically be achieved by regional governments."

The reductions are permitted under Senate Bill 375, a 2008 law to require communities to consider emissions when planning new developments. It enables local planners to force land use and transportation decisions that result in people living closer to where they work, reducing vehicle miles traveled therefore reducing emissions.

As is typical of the air board, what was supposed to be collaboration between government and the private sector is being dominated by government.

"This collaborative effort has been hijacked," Bob Alvarado, executive officer of the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle. "Rather than keep all parties involved, the CARB (California Air Resources Board) staff has set lofty goals that communities realistically won't be able to achieve."

These arbitrary emission standards will further discourage construction, precisely when an economy trying to rebound needs less government intervention, not more. Moreover, the presumption on which state climate laws are based is shaky at best. There's no proven correlation between increased greenhouse gas emissions and increased global temperatures. This is a remedy in search of a problem. The air board should back off its latest heavy-handed manipulation and let prosperity return to California.