Effect Measure

I’d rather have a governor that said the right things about the environment, even if he acted to undercut his self-proclaimed goals, than one who said the most reactionary, retrograde and ignorant things. But why should I have to choose? Take Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California who has gotten brownie points for bucking the Bush administration on global warming even though he is a Republican. Maybe it says something about the rock bottom expectations we have about anything a Republican says on the environment that some progressives have praised him. But he still acts like a typical Republican (and too many Democrats; let’s clean house there, too):

As Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger travels the world exhorting countries to act quickly to reduce harmful gas emissions, his administration is helping California’s construction industry stall tough new air quality rules at home.

In public hearings and private negotiations, administration transportation officials are working to slow a planned crackdown by regulators on aging diesel construction equipment — among the state’s most noxious machinery and a major source of greenhouse gases.

The officials successfully lobbied a board appointed by the governor to delay voting on draft regulations for dealing with the polluters. The officials argued that the new rules, years in the making, were too tough on the construction industry — which is a major Schwarzenegger donor.

Last week, the governor fired the board’s chairman, who said he was let go after pushing ahead with aggressive pollution curbs. The administration said the chairman was fired because he wasn’t tough enough — a claim environmentalists find dubious. On Monday, the board’s executive officer quit with a sharply worded criticism of the administration.

The departed air board officials said they were frustrated by administration meddling in both the diesel construction equipment crackdown and the implementation of landmark legislation the governor signed last year to curb global warming.

It is not the first time the governor has made bold promises on the environment while his administration dragged its feet behind the scenes. Schwarzenegger has vetoed bills that would put new taxes on polluters, spur the development of alternative fuels and help clean the air. He has accepted $1 million in campaign cash from the oil industry, and he had threatened to veto the global warming bill unless it was made more business-friendly.

Although the governor says he wants to hold polluters more accountable, administration officials recently signaled lawmakers that Schwarzenegger may not support a separate legislative crackdown. Lawmakers are proposing to prohibit the dirtiest equipment from being used on public works projects bankrolled with state bond money approved by voters last year. (Los Angeles Times)

This is part of a detailed account of the firing of the head of the state agency that enforces environmental laws for failing to fire a too aggressive Board professional. Yesterday the professional, Catherine Witherspoon, quit:

In interviews with The Times, Witherspoon said there had been a pattern of interference by the governor’s top staff in favor of industry lobbyists seeking to weaken or stall air pollution regulations, including the state’s landmark global warming law and proposed regulations on diesel construction equipment and wood products containing formaldehyde.

“They were ordering us to find ways to reduce costs and satisfy lobbyists,” she said, adding that the governor’s chief of staff, Susan Kennedy, and Cabinet Secretary Dan Dunmoyer took the lead on pressuring the agency staff and board chairman.

Adding insult to injury, she said, members of the governor’s staff have publicly blamed her and Sawyer for not doing more — conduct she described as “Orwellian … a triumph of appearances over reality.” (LA Times)

The Governator has made a compelling public case that the technology forcing function of environmental regulations, like the proposed diesel rules, makes economic sense because it stimulates industries in California that design and produce the needed new equipment and retrofits. The industry lobbyists are complaining (don’t they always?) that the cost of retrofitting and new equipment would cost them piles of money. Assuming their estimates are right (not a plausible assumption given past track records, but let’s do it anyway), won’t those billions of dollars be spent making new jobs, new businesses, new industries and, lest we forget, a cleaner environment? Maybe not for the lobbyists’ clients, who not incidentally are the ones who spent millions greasing the Governor’s palm. But for the economy.

It’s not a matter of making environmental proposals “business-freindly.” It’s a matter of the Governor being too friendly with the proposals of some businesses: the ones who have bought him off.

Comments

  1. #1 bar
    July 6, 2007

    Revere

    So Arnie accepted political contributions and did a favor in return. welcome to political science 101.

    Although, come to think of it, Arnie can’t stand for a third term as Governor, or (being foreign born) as President, can he? So can someone please explain to me why he would need political contributions?

  2. #2 M. Randolph Kruger
    July 6, 2007

    Well Revere there is a reason for everything and mostly its always money. A D-8 new goes for almost 1 million bucks. An average sized construction company will have this, water trucks, land planes, packers, graders, and a whole bunch more. All of these use nasty diesel fuel because they cant get a gasoline or propane engine to produce the same horsepower to push or pull this stuff around. So they had to work a deal and it was based upon the best thing likely they could come up with IMO. It would put hundreds of people out of work because there is no reason to go out and buy a new one if they rebuild the engines to spec and on schedule. Generally every 20,000 hours.

    Remember, the Clean Air Act simply cannot be met in California until China’s emissions that drift all the way across the Pacific into the US are cleaned up. Thats been covered here before. MIH has the same problem in Hawaii with those same emissions. Hawaii has no industries, but it has problems meeting the Clean Air Act.. So do the construction companies get a pass? Certainly not, but there really isnt any way to get them green and have them do the work they are supposed to do. They are fully blown diesel engines and they dont emit much in the grand scheme of things against a ten year old Volvo.

    Also, can someone please tell me how they farmed in Greenland 1000 years ago without it being warmer? Do we really need “global warming” laws only to have to dump them as we go into the deep freeze in 10 years? This is pretty egregious. We cant compete as it is in the world markets because we keep upping the minimum wage, and we keep coming up with more and more regulations that strangle us. Can we do something about air pollution? Sure, but not at the cost of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Someone who lost their job to a 15 dollar a day worker in Vietnam isnt going to breathe any easier because of the air being probably less than 1% cleaner.

    As for the ouster..Was it for a political contribution? Senator Schwarzenegger in our future? How about VP Arnie?

    Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution….

    ” No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States”

    The part at the adoption of the Constitution as I understand it is open for interpetation as we reaffirm the Constitution every year in writing. Its in there somewhere about where, but I distinctly remember this from Pol-Sci class in the 1970′s. I am a Republican, Arnie is a West Coast Republican. There are many tigers in the hills, some have stripes that turn this way and that way, but we are still tigers. Dont be surprised if suddenly you get an official ruling on the Constitutionality of this. Quid pro quo……

  3. #3 bar
    July 6, 2007

    MRK.

    Thanks. To my somewhat naive political/legal understanding Art.II Sect.1 looks unambiguous that Arnie could not be President, however if he was elected VP (which does not directly conflict with the constitution) I suppose that a compliant court might allow accession in the event, since the people had already implicitly approved that possibility.

    To my mind, a good actor is probably a better bet as President than most other professions. This because actors are trained to be determine the appropriate “Image” for the various parts that they fill, and method acting teaches that the actor must “be” the image he wishes to project.

  4. #4 Lea
    July 6, 2007

    It’s not a winnable situation when China’s pollution blows over into California. Perhaps the Governator knows this.

    And a bit of history: When Rudolph Diesel produced his famous engine in 1896, he assumed that the Diesel engine would be powered “by a variety of fuel, especially vegetable and seed oils.” Rudolph Diesel, like most engineers then, believed vegetable fuels were superior to petroleum. Hemp is the most efficient vegetable.
    It would be advantageous, if possible to do, for a person of wealth to start developing these seed methods of “fuel”. And corn isn’t going to make the grade, it’s far too expensive to produce and will only keep the costs of fuel sky high.

    By the way, it’s impossible for me to lurk! Argh . . .

  5. #5 Trinifar
    July 9, 2007

    M. Randolph Kruger,

    Are you really a global warming denier? If so, why even bother reading Science Blogs?