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Thousand Oaks
Arnold Can't Give Us 'Green' Cement
by Tom McClintock [politician] 6/4/07

GOV. Arnold Schwarzenegger has staked his administration upon two signature issues: his international leadership to reduce greenhouse gases and his promise to construct new highways, dams, levees, aqueducts and other public works.

In April "the green governor" toured the globe to tout his greenhouse-gas bill (AB 32) that requires a 25 percent reduction in carbon dioxide by 2020, making it the most restrictive emissions law in the country. More recently, the governor toured California to tout his public-works renaissance that requires $40 billion in taxpayer-financed bonds, making it the biggest borrowing binge in the country.

Tom McClintock

Mr. McClintock is an expert on matters of the State budget and fiscal discipline. He is a Senator in the California State Legislature and ran for Governor in the 2003 recall election. His valuable website is found at www.tommclintock.com [McClintock index]

Individually, these two media events, have played to rave reviews. But combined, they form a picture of breathtaking mendacity.

Schwarzenegger's crusade against greenhouse gases is the single greatest impediment to the era of public works that he has promised. And the crusade for public-works construction is the biggest impediment to reducing greenhouse gases.

To understand the dilemma requires a recap of the chemistry lecture that Schwarzenegger apparently missed.

Highways, dams, levees and aqueducts require prodigious amounts of concrete, whose central ingredient is cement. Cement is manufactured by superheating limestone to produce "clinker," which is about two-thirds of the rock's original weight. The missing third is carbon dioxide.

Lots of carbon dioxide. In fact, cement production is the third-biggest contributor of greenhouse gases in all human activity, ranking only behind internal combustion and deforestation.

And now the farce begins. Schwarzenegger's AB 32 declares carbon dioxide to be the premier environmental hazard of our era. California's Environmental Quality Act requires that any project that degrades the environment must include plans to mitigate that damage.

Last month, Attorney General Jerry Brown used AB 32 to sue San Bernardino County and threaten San Joaquin County on the grounds that their transportation plans fail to explain how they intend to construct or operate highways without increasing carbon-dioxide emissions. In short, the counties cannot proceed with construction until they can demonstrate that highways can be built without earthmovers or concrete and that, once completed, no one will use them.

Brown has suggested that the counties rethink their plans for highway construction and shift the money into mass transit, bus, bicycle and pedestrian projects instead. It's a good bet that's where most of the highway bonds will end up.

The remaining funds for dams, levees, aqueducts, schools and housing will no doubt be sidetracked into similar new-age boondoggles. Legislative plans are already afoot to divert money from Proposition 84 (the water and flood-control bond measure).

This is Jerry Brown's dream come true. As governor in the 1970s, Brown canceled aggressive public-works plans, condemning our generation to shortages of highway capacity, water, electricity and housing.

But he's legally correct. By signing AB 32, Schwarzenegger has turned his promise of a public-works renaissance into a very expensive hoax. CRO





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