Sunday, January 17, 2010

Environmental Attacks are no surprise

It should come as not surprise to anyone that there are major lobbying efforts going on all the time, that these lobbying efforts are well funded, that very large public relations firms make fortunes in running campaigns against the future.  What should wake people up is the ease with which these organized attacks can insinuate themselves into public discourse, easily gaining media coverage while the rest of us struggle to be heard.  I provide a good example.

Take a look at the web site for the AB 32 Implementation Group.  The banner on their home page says that they are "Working Towards Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions and Enhancing California's Competitiveness."  The site lists all of the group's members, starting with the always retrograde California Chamber of Commerce.  However, journalists at California Watch have found that even this list is very suspect, some of them being no longer in existence and others surprised that their names were even mentioned.

It should also be no surprise that the list contains 22 of California's largest carbon polluters, as ranked by California's Air Resources Board, the organization responsible for the implementation of AB 32. So, the "implementation group" is, in reality, an effort to slow down, minimize or even prevent the implementation of CA state law, all in the name of economic effectiveness.

This issue is going to loom large in the upcoming gubernatorial election.  California has an economic crisis, there is not enough revenue for state government to provision all of the programs currently in place.  Republican candidate Steve Poizner has endorsed an initiative measure called the California Jobs Initiative that would set aside implementation of AB 32 until California's economy recovers.

Meg Whitman is only a little less strident in her opposition, limiting the suspension to a 1 year moratorium on "most" of AB 32's rules.  That is a position that has gotten her in trouble with some Republicans for not being aggressive enough.

Now, let me come back to the AB 32 Implementation Group and ask why it took an independent investigative reporting effort to publish this story. All of the state's major papers have written something about the politics of the governor's race but none of them have taken the effort to go beyond reporting what candidates said and giving us some hint as to what facts were being ignored.

Let me conclude by giving everyone a fact.  AB 32 was designed to reduce carbon emissions and help forestall the type of future you can see on the big screen in The Road. But that is a long way off in most people's minds.  AB 32 will also help clean up the air pollution that makes the San Joaquin Valley one of the more medically challenging places to live in the country.  Add in the South Coast and the cost to the CA Economy is $28 Billion per year.

This is what Whitman and Poizner want for CA. Just keep on letting all businesses do what bad business do, continue to pollute because clean up is too costly.  Well, the health effects are too costly as well.  They cost every one of us, every time we have to visit a doctor or a clinic.  They cost every business that provides medical coverage for their employees.  But then Whitman and Poizner don't really care about the public.

In contrast, Green candidate Laura Wells puts forward a platform with a range of actions on climate, energy and clean air.  AB 32 is just a good first step towards getting what California needs. The Cap-and-Trade system that is at the heart of AB 32 must not be allowed to become an excuse for continuing to pollute and raising consumer costs to pay for it. Wells says that …
A community already burdened by these emissions should not be harmed further as the result of a dubious industry-concocted market-based cap & trade plan.
Statistic: According to the CSU-Fullerton study linked above. CA's dirty air causes 3,812premature deathes of adults over 30 every year.  That compares to the 2,976 lost in the 9/11 attacks.  Yet, we would do nothing because it costs too much?

It should also come as no surprise that demagogue millionaire politicians will twist every event to their partisan advantage, playing off the emotions of a public that wonders if their job is secure or that they will be able to stay in their homes. 

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