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December 27, 2010

EDITORIAL: Bloodmobiles targeted by climate crazies

The San Diego Blood Bank is scrambling this holiday season to raise big bucks to replace its fleet of bloodmobiles. There's nothing wrong with these life-saving vehicles - unless you're one of the eco-extremists at the California Air Resources Board (CARB). This state equivalent of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved an "On-road heavy-duty diesel vehicles" rule designed to force businesses to "retrofit" or replace all of its engines to a 2010 model-year equivalent within the next few years.

A fleet of eight bloodmobiles serves about 50 hospitals in San Diego by holding an average of 1,800 blood drives each year. Those donations helped 150,000 patients in 2010, but CARB rules mandate that seven of those bloodmobiles would need to be replaced before the end of their regular service life. "The $1-million additional cost of complying with new regulations and sustaining the bloodmobile fleet will stretch us financially," San Diego Blood Bank Board President R. Elaine Hanson wrote in a Dec. 21 e-mail to donors.

A tiny bit of common sense delayed implementation of the CARB rules to Jan. 1, 2012. Older truck replacement mandates would begin in 2015, a small concession to the Great Recession. Still, according to the regulators, particulate matter in diesel exhausts causes 9,200 premature deaths and implementing the rule would "reduce premature deaths by 2,700 annually." Cleaning up nasty fumes from grossly polluting vehicles - especially mass-transit buses, often the worst offenders - is certainly a laudable goal. At the same time, forcing businesses to replace their heavy equipment trucks means they won't have money to hire new employees. The costs must be carefully balanced against the benefits.

In CARB's case, the balancing test was performed by Hien T. Tran, a state worker who received his job by claiming he had a doctorate from the University of California, Davis. He did not. Linda Smith, CARB's health-impacts chief, wrote the following in a disciplinary memo to Mr. Tran on April 9, 2009: "Since you were the lead author and project coordinator of this report which was used to support the Regulation, your lack of credibility has called into question the credibility of the entire Regulation... Because the implications of the Regulation place additional requirements on truck and bus companies, it is critical that the research behind the regulation is considered valid." Instead of being fired for fraud and dishonesty, Mr. Tran was suspended 60 days.

Global warming zealots only extend leniency when it comes to saving their own jobs. When an environmental rule will suck $10 billion out of the state's economy and cost thousands of jobs, they aren't interested in being nice. When it comes to justifying their actions, eco-warriors will rely on junk science dreamed up by "scientists" with bogus degrees. The concerns of those who actually do save lives, such as the San Diego Blood Bank, fall on deaf ears. California's diesel rules, and those being developed at the federal level, should be scrapped.