Tuesday, July 3, 2007

New Chair for CARB

Just as Arnold was getting some seriously negative press in England questioning his commitment to the environment, he goes and appoints Mary Nichols, environmental lawyer and Democrat, CARB Chair. Perhaps I'll be eating some crow in the upcoming months. This could be very interesting.

Schwarzenegger taps Nichols to lead Air Resources Board

Schwarzenegger's Green Cred Fading with CARB Caos

The CARB mess is taking the shine off Arnold Schwarzenegger's supposed environmentalism. The firings and their implication has gone international. Over 130 stories, from LA to the UK, are reporting on the situation. The governor and his people are contradicting each other and the recently "fired" are releasing documents and voice mails to prove their good intentions and reveal the governor's meddling in CARB's attempts to regulate diesel exhaust and greenhouse gases. No one really wants to mess with Arnold, so the recently fired blame staff and not Arnold, but in cases like this, we all know the fish stinks from the head.

The LA Times headline, Mixed messages in the air, The governor's actions often work against his tough talk on pollution tells the story. New rules contemplated by CARB are angering the construction industry.
The officials argued that the new rules, years in the making, were too tough on the construction industry — which is a major Schwarzenegger donor.

The departed air board officials said they were frustrated by administration meddling in both the diesel construction equipment crackdown and the implementation of landmark legislation the governor signed last year to curb global warming.

It is not the first time the governor has made bold promises on the environment while his administration dragged its feet behind the scenes. Schwarzenegger has vetoed bills that would put new taxes on polluters, spur the development of alternative fuels and help clean the air. He has accepted $1 million in campaign cash from the oil industry, and he had threatened to veto the global warming bill unless it was made more business-friendly.
From the San Jose Mercury News:
The executive director of the California Air Resources Board resigned Monday, saying the governor's office had made it impossible for her to do her job by interfering with the implementation of the state's landmark global warming law.
"I think they're trying to control it, and they don't have a very cogent vision for what's needed," said Catherine Witherspoon, who has managed the agency since 2003.....

She said Sawyer was fired because two top Schwarzenegger aides—Susan Kennedy, the chief of staff, and Dan Dunmoyer, the cabinet secretary—wanted him to go more slowly in implementing the global warming law.
"It's utterly mystifying," she said. "They're firing quality people who know how to do the job, emeritus people with 50 years' experience."
Adam Mendelsohn, Schwarzenegger's communications director, has said just the opposite was true and that it was Sawyer who was moving too slowly in implementing the law. He said Sawyer was unable to lead the agency and was "scrambling at the last minute" to find ways to implement AB32.
But on Monday, Sawyer released the transcript of a voicemail he said he received from Dunmoyer asking him to adopt fewer so-called early action items under the global warming law—in other words, to go more slowly in implementing it.
No longer on the administration payroll, Sawyer yesterday said:
"The fundamental difficulty is there really is no one in the [governor's] office who understands the science, the technology, the economics or even the legal aspects of air pollution control," he said. "Now is the time for the governor's staff to get out of the way and let the professionals do the job."
Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez will be holding hearings in the Assembly. But he seems to have a sense of what's happening on "I" Street.
"It's been pretty clear to me that the administration has been putting undue pressure on the leadership of the Air Resources Board," Nunez said during a Monday news conference. "The administration was tying their hands behind their back."
Additional independent reporting: Contra Costa Times (MediaNews): Nunez seeks inquiry into emissions board claim As reported here, Arnold says:
"I've heard people whining. But we've got to be extremely sensitive toward businesses here."
Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier, who served on CARB for 10 years:
"I served for three governors," he said, "and I never saw this level of interference."
San Francisco Chronicle, page 1: Governor accused of playing politics on warming rules
"The governor has made his name across the world as the jolly green governor, and now we have the regulators saying his inner circle has pressured them to go slow because the big industries don't want us to go too quickly," said Jamie Court, president of the Foundation for Taxpayers and Consumer Rights, a consumer watchdog group.