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Senator Mimi Walters on AB375: Stop the Madness!

Stop the Madness

California’s jobless rate is the third highest in the nation. Our tax burden is the highest in the nation. Our permitting process is a nightmare. Lawsuits are killing California jobs.

Just when you would think our policy-makers have done enough to drive the state’s economy to the worst in the nation, they’re using the SB 375 implementation to go even further. You may recall that SB 375 was designed to merge regional planning with greenhouse gas (GhG) reduction goals. Even though some of us opposed the bill, we hoped the process would be fair and that the goals of economic growth and emission reduction would be pursued equally. But, the proposed emission reduction target levels issued by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) demonstrate, again, that elitists have taken over the policy–making and are developing massive new regulatory programs to serve their interests.

What are the SB 375 emission reduction targets for Southern California? The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), which is the metropolitan planning organization representing six counties, 190 cities and more than 19 million residents, recommended a realistic target range of 6–8% for 2020 and 3–6% for 2035. Somehow CARB staff disregarded this recommendation and instead proposed completely unrealistic targets that were not even discussed or modeled. The CARB staff recommended raising the levels to 8% for 2020 and 13% for 2035. The problem with SCAG and CARB setting unachievable levels is that extraordinary measures will have to be taken to even come close to achieving these goals.

How will this impact Orange County, Southern California and the state? Although the official record is silent on why the levels were raised and embarrassingly void of any economic and job analysis, the means for achieving the higher levels has been described as the following:

  • Count on reduced employment in Southern California. That’s not a typo – the SCAG scenario assumes a loss of jobs and continuing recession to reduce emissions.
  • Dedicate more tax dollars to mass transit. With state and federal governments already running huge deficits, we know whose wallet and purse SCAG and CARB will be grabbing to pay for these new projects. The new funding needs will be in addition to the $40 billion the public will be shelling–out to pay for high speed rail.
  • Force people from their cars to biking and walking.

If these strategies do not work, SCAG will be forced to adopt what the elitist environmental advocates really want – frightening price increases that will harm our families and small businesses. This special interest agenda on pricing strategies was not part of the SCAG analysis, but those strategies were fully analyzed in Northern California. They include the following:

  • Gas price increases up to $9.07 a gallon. The analysis indicated that drivers will finally give up their cars if the price of fuel is raised high enough.
  • Congestion fees for driving in urban areas.
  • Mandatory parking fees to reduce traffic in cities.

SCAG and CARB have set up a “no win” situation for the people of Orange County and the state. We either accept higher fees and taxes to pay for mass transit, or the region is declared out of compliance with the unachievable targets. If we are out of compliance, then we can expect lawsuits by the same elitists who are gaming the target levels. Their lawsuits will seek to stop new developments in the region or extract fees so high that it will make building in California uneconomical. No building, no construction jobs, fewer consumers purchasing goods – more of the same policies that are making life miserable for working people.

Get involved. Call the CARB members. Demand a balanced approach that encourages job creation. Make these decision–makers explain the rationale and the implications of their decision. Stop the madness that is ruining this state.