As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Sit-Down Strike For Pollution

Gas station owners in California have had FOUR YEARS to change over their pumps to comply with a new state law controlling toxic vapor emissions that leak from car fueling. They waited and waited and found themselves, at the last minute, staring into a deep recession without the ability to get credit to pay for the new capital expense. So they've done the sensible move by engaging in civil disobedience.

James Hosmanek, an ex-Marine, has operated his San Bernardino Chevron station for 21 years, patiently installing equipment to control gasoline emissions, even as the region's air grew smoggier.

Now he says he can't, and won't, obey the latest mandate: a state order to buy sophisticated nozzles and hoses to capture more of the vapors that cause respiratory disease and cancer. "It may be necessary to protect public health," he says. "But it's unaffordable."

I find it hard to weep for these owners who knew exactly when this deadline was coming for years and failed to make the necessary investment. But Arnold Schwarzenegger, of course, feels their pain. The so-called "green governor" wants the legislature to delay implementation of the rules.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants California's air-pollution fighters to delay a new rule that requires thousands of gas stations to beef up their pump nozzles so that less fuel vapor escapes into the atmosphere when drivers fill their tanks. The governor also asked the Legislature for a "one-year enforcement holiday" for the stations.

The new rule, scheduled to take effect Wednesday, requires the nozzles to block 98 percent of fuel vapor, up from the current regulation of 95 percent.

But the Republican governor late Friday asked Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols - an appointee of the governor -- to postpone the regulation by six months or a year because "significantly more time is needed before it can be successfully enforced without significant negative effects on our state economy."

Contrary to what the article says, the Governor has engaged in slow-walking and blocking environmental legislation for years, as long as the Chamber of Commerce calls for it. He forced the last Air Resources Board Chairman to resign due to meddling in the agency's affairs. And in February, he rammed into the budget a provision allowing construction firms to delay a changeover from diesel bulldozers into more energy-efficient equipment. He has always been terrible on the environment, and nobody should let the greenwashing fool them.

Meanwhile, Dave Cox (Yacht Party - Fair Oaks) seems to be taking the sober tack:

In the Legislature, Assemblyman Martin Garrick (R-Solana Beach) and Sen. Dave Cox (R-Fair Oaks) are leading the charge to delay enforcement. On Monday, Cox called for the resignation of state Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary D. Nichols for being "recalcitrant" in refusing Schwarzenegger's request for a delay.

Mary Nichols should definitely resign for having the temerity to schedule a deadline four years in advance when she knew full well there would be a recession, thanks to her time machine.

Asm. Ira Ruskin (D-Redwood City) is carrying a bill that would offer $8 million dollars in grants to gas station owners who have not ordered the new equipment. That's kind of pitiful, but Californians could at least breathe a sigh of relief. And when I say that, I mean they could breathe.

KQED Radio has more.

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