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Government regulations frustrate business leaders
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What do a water expert, a trucking executive and a techie have in common?

Their shared concern about excessive government regulation and the lasting impacts they will have.

At a panel Thursday night to discuss regulation and the possible fallout on everything from cap and trade to renewable energy, South San Joaquin Irrigation District General Manager Jeff Shields, Silego Technology Executive John McDonald and California Construction Trucking Association representative Betty Plowman voiced their respective concerns and talked in-depth about the forecast for their given trades.

The forum was hosted by The Manteca Tea Party Patriots.

And while some signs are pointing towards the current recession reaching its twilight – a better than expected jobs forecast coupled with a rebounding housing market – others gave some of the experts pause to celebrate just yet.

Or at all for that matter.

McDonald – who lost his bid to challenge Jerry McNerney for a freshly drawn congressional district in November – said he could hardly believe it when he went to China on a business trip and discovered that companies in the Communist country actually go bankrupt.

“We’re using terms in America like ‘too big to fail’ – I don’t recognize capitalism for what it actually is today,” he said. “When I go to China, companies over there actually go bankrupt. There’s something that just isn’t right about that.”

Shields said that he doesn’t have a problem with regulation per se, but when it goes overboard – like when the district had to meet California’s stringent Environmental Quality Act for a project and then being required to do it all over again for the federal government just to clear another hurdle – it hamstrings the very people that it’s supposed to help.

With two agencies that oversee the power distribution for the state and a total of 18 that regulate water, Shields said that regulation can be more than just a little bit burdensome at times – never fully attaining the standard that it sets out to reach.

“You’re supposed to have regulations that make sure that your streets don’t explode. But that’s not a very high standard – your streets aren’t supposed to explode. Eight people shouldn’t die,” he said – referencing the PG&E San Bruno pipeline explosion. “You have regulations that are supposed to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Some things, however, cut across the board.

Plowman said the biggest thing facing those in her industry was the 2006 adoption of AB32 – known as the “cap and trade” bill targeting greenhouse gas reduction – which she believes will raise gas and diesel prices and cost businesses throughout the state.

And with all of the other states that were originally part of the “Western Climate Initiative” now on the sidelines, it’ll only be a matter of time, she said, before truckers are filling up at border stops on their way into California – costing local businesses and travel stations money.

“We’re on our own on this one now,” she said. “Our trading partner is going to be Quebec. That’s a lot different than it was when it started, and I think people are going to see how much this is really going to impact them almost instantly.”