Thursday, December 10, 2009

California's ARB fails again.

When Governor Schwarzenegger appointed Mary Nichols to head California's Air Resources Board (ARB), I was skeptical. In fact, I suggested that she be fired.

Since then, the ARB has muddled along. The strongest action they have taken was to put controls on diesel engine emissions, long known to be a health risk and particularly bad in the corridors leading to the ports in Oakland and Long Beach / San Pedro. Now, even that is falling apart.

To begin with, the retrofit to older diesel exhaust systems is costly, as much as $11,000 per truck. There was a $15 million fund to provide assistance to independent truckers, but that was exhausted long before most of them got around to applying. Now those trucks would be banned from entering the port after Jan 1.

Having long ago criticized the ARB for being in-effective, Green Party of CA continued their criticism yesterday. The fact is that even if the State Government were to line up the trucks and pay for the retrofit directly, it would save the California Economy so much that it might be a good deal. After all, a study from CSU-Fullerton Economists Jane V. Hall and Victor Brajer put the cost of our bad air at $28 billion per year.

If this were not enough, we found out yesterday that much of the ARB's analysis work on rulemaking for diesel exhaust was performed by a man who lied about his academic credentials, and ARB Board Chair Mary Nichols knew it. She just decided to let it slide. It is incomprehensible to this writer that a person in her position could be so tone deaf to the political realities that she would just pass this off or hide it.

Most would agree that there was nothing wrong with the analysis done, nor the conclusions reached by the ARB but Nichols must be politically tone deaf not to understand that this was dumb.

So, everything is now delayed even more, and the costs of California's health care wil go up, emergency room visits for asthma will continue high, some might die, and there is no one to blame other than Nichols. Once again, I will repeat what I said a year ago. Nichols should resign.

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