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Thousand Oaks

The Man Behind the Curtain…
by Tom McClintock [politician] 7/5/07

About six weeks ago, I published a column in a number of newspapers warning that the governor’s dueling promises to radically reduce carbon dioxide emissions while delivering a new era of public works comprised a public policy charade of breathtaking mendacity. Highways, dams and aqueducts require heavy construction equipment and prodigious amounts of concrete that in turn produce enormous amounts of carbon dioxide. I wrote:

“The governor is now on the horns of a dilemma of his own making. He must either confront the fact that AB 32 was an intellectually dishonest stunt or that his $40 billion of infrastructure bonds were a fraud. There is no third option.”

The charade is now starting to unravel.

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 http://www.carepublic.com/blog.html[McClintock index]

Last week, Gov. Schwarzenegger fired Dr. Robert Sawyer, his own appointee as chairman of the California Air Resources Board. The CARB’s longtime executive director, Catherine Witherspoon, resigned in protest yesterday. And they’re not going quietly into that good night.

CARB is the agency principally responsible for implementing the governor’s AB 32, and Sawyer and Witherspoon were taking that mandate seriously. And why shouldn’t they? According to the governor, this is the most important legislation of the century and the very survival of Planet Earth hangs in the balance.

But when Sawyer and Witherspoon actually tried to begin implementing AB 32 by imposing severe limitations on diesel construction equipment, the governor’s office bluntly warned them to back off, including a candid phone message that Sawyer saved. The state’s contractors have plainly warned the governor that enforcement of AB 32 would shut down most of their equipment.

Having spun his way into this fix, the governor couldn’t stop himself. The official reason he gave for firing Sawyer was that he just hadn’t been environmentally tough enough. Both Sawyer and Witherspoon have impeccable environmental credentials dating back to the days when the “Green Governor” was still hanging out at Gold’s Gym and his claim must be particularly galling to them and their supporters.

I think this controversy is going to continue for some time. Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez has scheduled public hearings in the Assembly starting on Friday, giving Sawyer, Witherspoon and the entire green establishment a high-visibility forum to air their grievances.

Don’t expect many Republicans to rise to the governor’s defense. Just three months ago during his East Coast environmental tour, he called any opponents of AB 32 “fanatics” and promised their political extinction.

The Greeks called it “hubris,” and in their classic tragedies it was the root cause of the fall of many a prince. CRO





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