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The oil companies dont want to do their fair share
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If you’re a California resident - or have a business based in the Golden State - you’ve been paying the equivalent of a Third World country’s gross national product over the years in a bid to clean our air.

The whirling and dinging at the gas pump is one of the major ways since the early 1990s that we all pay for cleaner air. And if you stop and think about it, the end result has paid off. Our air could still be a lot healthier for us to breathe some days but overall it is a lot better than stretches in the 1990s when smog was much worse.

The little guys - you and me - as well as small to medium businesses have handled much of the burden to get our air quality to the point it is now. Even though the big oil refineries were retrofitted for cleaner burning reformulated California gasoline, the cost was all passed on to the little guys. And who can forget the big coincidences of how oil refineries would shut down at peak demand for maintenance when refined gas from other states could no longer be imported into California due to the reformulated requirement. These are the same oil companies now trying to get Proposition 23 passed.

If you need proof there is a lot of work to be done yet, just travel to the southern end of the Central Valley where visibility on stagnant days in the summer is almost as bad as fog rolling in through the Golden Gate.

Now that the next step in the quest to clean our air to a reasonable and healthy standard is fast approaching the big guys don’t want to foot the bill.

That’s why large corporations - led by Texas-based oil companies - are pumping tons of money into the effort to get Proposition 23 passed on the November ballot.

The measure suspends Assembly Bill 32 that requires major sources of emissions to report and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming until statewide unemployment drops to 5.5 percent or less for a full year.

They are billing this as a way to create jobs. If you think the oil companies - which won’t have to plow any of their billions upon billions of annual profits into making refineries cleaner - will pass along what they save in the form of new jobs or lower prices you may want to bet heavily on the San Francisco 49ers winning the Super Bowl this season. They are both sucker bets.

We’ve done our part, now it is time for the oil companies to do their fair share.

Granted, there are unknowns about Assembly Bill 32 that may have major impacts on local economies. But this isn’t being pushed as a “keep local government whole” measure.  Instead it is being pushed as a panacea to the state’s chronic jobless problem.

An independent analysis expects a modest increase in jobs plus a significant increase in state and local revenues from suspension of greenhouse gas regulatory activity.

Here’s the rub. It will be much cheaper to pay for what we can’t avoid now than to push it down the road four to six years when the economy gets better.

There is also the problem of other pollution clean-up. The San Joaquin Valley may have to pay back tons of money to Washington, D.C., next year based on being over the federal limit by one day on dirty air levels.

All air pollution is interconnected to a large degree.

We can’t avoid Assembly Bill 32 forever. And kicking it down the road along with the state’s budget mess will have little impact on actual job creation.

Perhaps if the oil companies are really worried about job creation, that might just hack the compensation of their top executives in half and create jobs in California. That in itself would probably cut the unemployment rate by more than passing Proposition 23 ever will.