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Clearing the air about Stockton

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POSTED August 13, 2013 12:43 a.m.

Forbes Magazine is at it again. This time it lists Stockton on its “Dirtiest Cities in America” list.  Not playing favorites, Fresno and Modesto are also included on the list.

Okay, we get it.  This part of the Central Valley has less than desirable air quality.  But rather than stewing about being on the list, let’s focus on doing something to get off the list. 

We expect our legislators in Sacramento to work together and find solutions to the growing problems that have weighed on us for too long.  Our part of the central valley is well represented at the Capitol.  We have a good group of legislators, Republican and Democrat, collaborating to tackle these problems.  Dealing with air quality should be on the top of their list.

A package of bills is moving through the legislature that will go a long way to improving our air quality.  These bills will help our fragile business climate as well.  Specifically, Senate Bill 11 (Pavley) and Assembly Bill 8 (Perea) will provide funding relief to farmers, truckers, school districts and any others who must comply with onerous, and often costly, federal and state clean air regulations and requirements.  This legislation presents no new regulations; it just helps meet existing ones.

These bills extend vital, locally administered incentive programs for businesses hit the hardest by existing regulations.  For example, this legislation directly benefits the Carl Moyer Program, which helps farmers, truckers, school districts and other commercial users of heavy diesel equipment replace and retrofit their units to meet new and increasingly stringent standards. 

This bill package contains numerous elements and provides significant benefits including:

• Capping several fees at current levels for the next seven years;

• Preserving California’s tire recycling program for the next eight years;

• Providing funding to construct only the infrastructure necessary to support current hydrogen fuel cell vehicles;

• Preventing harmful new regulations from being implemented for a decade;

• Creating certainty in the marketplace, especially for manufacturers and other local businesses; and

• Preparing job seekers for careers in the new-fuel economy by funding workforce training partnerships.

Some may argue that any bill contemplating fees, even the extension of existing fees, must be opposed as a tax hike.  While others may advance that any postponement of regulations is a sell-out also calling for opposition.  Both positions are understandable. Yet, neither achieves the desired result of improving our community.  Simply opposing this bill package will not make our problems go away but rather leave us at a bigger disadvantage.

It is time to clear the air about Stockton.  Our legislators should support this bill package, which will improve our air quality and make it easier for our local industries to prosper, bringing more jobs and economic stability to our region.  Also, SB 11 and AB 8 would go a long way in erasing us from Forbes’ annual “Hit” list.

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