Rights and Wrongs at the ARB

So, it’s not bad enough that ARB decided

ARB will issue an enforcement advisory to notify all stakeholders affected by the off-road equipment regulation that effective immediately, and until further notice, no enforcement action will be taken for noncompliance.

Especially since back in 2007 –3 years ago–when they adopted the rule they said:

“This regulation will prevent thousands of premature deaths and reduce health care costs for those suffering from respiratory disease such as asthma,” said Mary Nichols, ARB Chairman. “It is also the first of its kind in the nation, and, as has occurred with other California regulations, could serve as a model for other states to follow.”

So, I wonder, what part of the “model” will other states  follow–the adoption part or the non-enforcement part.  I have to admit, the “model” is a win-win–ARB  wins because they adopted the rule with a great press release entitled:  ARB adopts landmark rule to reduce toxic emissions from off-road equipment,  and business wins because they don’t have to comply with it.  Works great.   (Unless your trying to breath or not die prematurely.   It’s also not so great for those businesses who took their obligations seriously and have been making investments so that their equipment would  be in compliance.  I guess they kinda feel like chumps now.  I wonder who will implement a sensible plan for compliance for the next regulation ARB adopts.)

Anyway, its not bad enough, since back in 2007 they said:

ARB performed a comprehensive economic analysis of the rule’s impact on business, concluding that the regulation will cost industry up to $3.5 billion over its lifetime. Staff reviewed individual companies’ financial records and conducted numerous workshops to discuss the cost of the regulation as well as impacts on individual businesses. ARB also gave special consideration to small businesses (e.g., small fleets have until 2015 to begin compliance, while large fleets must begin in 2010) to ensure that the regulation would not provide undue economic hardship.

OK, so, there you go.  I guess that’s a lot of money and that was then and this is now?  OK. Well….  OK.

But, to me, the thing that really makes this bad is Air Resources Board Executive Officer James N. Goldstene saying:

Clean air is not a luxury – it is a right.  We need to continue to work toward goals that save us all money in healthcare costs, lost work and school days, and contribute to our quality of life.

Really, you know, if you’re going to decide not to enforce the regulation despite the benefits of doing so and the really, really, really bad precedent of deciding to cave—then just do it.  But don’t give me the clean air “is a right” talk.   Tell me about how clean air “is a right” when in 2007 you said:

According to ARB estimates, over its course, this rule will prevent at least 4,000 premature deaths statewide and avoid $18- $26 billion in premature death and health costs.

And how, exactly are we going to achieve these lofty “goals” we need to continue to work toward?  Would enforcing this regulation have helped?

And, I wonder, what kind of “right” he’s talking about.  And how does this decision impact that “right”? And most importantly, how does one enforce that “right”?

Oh, I forgot

until further notice, no enforcement action will be taken for noncompliance

As a “stakeholder[] affected by the off-road equipment regulation,” I’m looking forward to getting my “enforcement advisory” and pondering what the future holds for me (oh, wait, as a person who breathes the air do I qualify as a “stakeholder”?  Maybe I shouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that “enforcement advisory”).

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