Clearing the Air, But At What Cost?

I was born in southern California in October of 1978.  Burbank, to be exact, apparently right across the street from where Johnny Carson used to tape The Tonight Show.  My company is headquartered there, and I still have family in Orange County, so I try to return as often as possible.  Unfortunately, “as often as possible” isn’t quite all that often.

Nevertheless, each time I visit I’m reminded about how southern California makes for such a great place to visit, but probably an awful place to live.  The taxes are astronomically high, Spanish is the official language, and if you’re not being chased out of your home by a wildfire–as both of my brothers and their families were in 2008–then you’re shaking in your boots during an earthquake.  The weather is phenomenal, though.  And the mountains are beautiful . . . when you can see them.

The smog may be one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.  On a given Monday, I’ll look down the street from one of my brothers’ houses and see a big mountain, replete with fire breaks running to the top and radio towers jutting into the sky.  On Tuesday, I’ll look the same way and swear that there was a mountain there the day before. Such a beautiful area, and nobody can breathe.  I even remember getting phone calls from my nephews and nieces on a day where the county government recommended that nobody in the area leave the house because the air was so bad.  It’s sad.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before this administration, through the Environmental Protection Agency if not through Congress, used the polluted air in places like southern California to advance an agenda rooted wealth redistribution and a well-documented animus toward success and businesses large and small.  Given the difficulty that the Democratic Party leadership seem to be having in passing cap-and-trade legislation, despite having the numbers to do anything they want, that’s why on December 7 of last year–Pearl Harbor Day–we saw the EPA declare carbon dioxide a pollutant and a danger to the health and safety of the American people.  That way, if Congress failed, the EPA could still step in and increase the cost of doing business for those evil energy corporations.

And while the EPA has not yet made its move with regard to regulating carbon dioxide, as sneak preview can be seen in its attempts to regulate emissions of chemicals which form smog.  It’s typical liberal thought — let’s do something which, on its face, might seem to help people despite being a glaring departure from our constitutional authority, and completely disregard the possible consequences along the way.  That’s what’s happening with health care reform, and that’s what’s happening with the War on Smog.  From the Wall Street Journal:

The Obama administration on Thursday proposed tougher standards for reducing smog in a move it said would save lives and reduce respiratory illness, but businesses said the change would inflict new costs on employers and consumers in a weak economy.

The proposal is the latest shift toward stricter standards promised by the White House, which environmentalists have applauded but industry groups dislike.

The new smog standards, proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, could compel power plants, refineries, gas stations and other businesses to take steps to reduce emissions of chemicals that help form smog. The EPA estimated that the costs of complying with the new standards could range between $19 billion and $90 billion annually, depending on the final standard. Much of the cost will be in the form of new technologies.

The standards could also lead to new restrictions on construction, farming and other activities that generate what is known as ground-level ozone, a primary cause of smog.

Remember that this is the party and administration which seems to be so concerned about the rising rate of joblessness.  Yet imposing an additional burden of anywhere between $19 billion and $90 billion on business and industry would do wonders for increasing the ranks of the unemployed.  Which, of course, would be good news for a group of politicians who admittedly seek out and thrive from maintaining crisis.  Time and time again, we’ve seen this blatant disregard to common sense and basic business acumen in favor of advancing the liberal agenda, consequences be damned.  This example comes to mind:

This, of course, was then Sen. Barack Obama promising to bankrupt the coal industry. Last year, in an interview with William Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association, America’s Right learned that the cap-and-trade legislation which passed the House of Representatives last spring would spell out disaster for Coal Belt states.

“You can take it to whatever extreme you want,” Raney told me, “but even using the reasonable numbers, we have 20,000 miners today digging coal in West Virginia, and we have about 35,000 people we call ‘specialty contractors’ — they’re electricians, they hang conveyor belts, they do things of a very specific nature as it relates to the infrastructure of the coal industry. So you have 55,000 people that directly depend upon a mine operating.”

That’s right.  55,000 jobs depending on a single coal mine.

“Multiply that by what the economists use—it’s somewhere between three and six depending upon how close you are to the operation—to assess impact upon other jobs in the local economy such as convenience stores, food stores, the local car dealers, and so you start to multiply that out and you see quickly that, in a state with approximately 1.8 million in population, how goes the coal mining in West Virginia, also goes the state,” he said.  “And, that’s only in West Virginia.

Being haunted by unintended consequences is a hallmark of the left in America.  Look at what happened, for example, as a result of efforts during the 1990s to deem homeownership a constitutional right and foster the relaxation of lending standards so as to accommodate people with loans they had no chance of paying back.  In the case of energy policy, the unintended consequences loom large, but at the end of the day the danger of adverse economic impact will always be trumped by the chance of implementing another facet of the statist agenda.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Cah-lee-foh-nee-ya is already in the midst of a fiscal crisis.  And, thankfully and finally, late last month Mr. Maria Shriver sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her and Congress to quit sending the Golden State unfunded mandates which they simply cannot afford.  While new emissions regulations would not necessarily be the same as an unfunded mandate like the extension of unemployment benefits, the effect that the tighter smog limits would have on that state’s economy would be absolutely devastating.

Reality, however, has never stopped the left.  Smog or not, they just can’t seem to see the forest for the trees.



  1. Boston Blackie says:

    And how about the farmers in the San Joaquin Valley, where the EPA has shut off the water to the most fertile area in the world to protect a one inch fish!?!

    This article is from July, but it gives you info about the issue at hand.
    They don’t want a hand out, they want the water turned back on. This is right in Pelosi’s backyard and she has turned her back on them – SHOCKING!!

  2. Gail B. says:

    Well, GA 4th District Congressman Hugh Johnson sent me an e-newsletter that included the following (absolutely sickening) paragraph:

    “HELPING THE ENVIRONMENT – I was recently awarded a 100 percent score by Environment America, a leading environmentalist advocacy group, for my pro-environment voting record in 2009. I supported legislation to establish a cap-and-trade climate change mitigation policy, invest $80 billion of Recovery Act funds in clean energy and green transportation and protect more than 2 million acres of public lands and national treasures. I’m very proud of my record on the environment.”

    And, I’m personally ashamed and disgusted that he represents even a city block of Georgia, much less the complete Fourth Congressional District!

    You should have seen what he said about the GOVERNMENT JOBS he’s trying to make available, too! Wonder what he’s personally going to get out of this socialist attitude?

    The only good thing about all of this is that the voters in his (and other districts) are waking up. They realize that the change Obama touted is not the change they can believe in.

    Jeff, I’m glad you ended up on the East Coast!

  3. that is a very interesting topic to bring up. in some areas i believe they have the right mind set of what they think they are doing is right. but other times i am just there shaking my head.

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