CARB tightens regs, partners with cops

Oct. 19, 2012

By Katy Grimes

SACRAMENTO — The monthly meeting of the California Air Resources Board on Thursday was nothing more than a mutual admiration society and big tax-and-spend club. After board members shared esteem for one another and CARB staff, several members of the audience jumped in to grovel before the board, instead of showing fear of the omniscient state agency.

The self-congratulatory tone at the final board meeting before the November California Cap-and-Trade Program Greenhouse Gas Allowance Auction should have been enough to make even the most hardened bureaucrat wince, but instead, the agenda did that.

Help us!

Earlier in the week, the AB 32 Implementation Group delivered a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown advocating policies to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions to meet AB 32 goals in a manner that will protect jobs and the economy.  They said they were disappointed that CARB has not made very necessary repairs to the Cap and Trade program before the November cap-and-trade auction of allowances, and asked Brown to step in to exercise his authority under AB 32.

Part of the self-congratulatory tone from CARB board members is because they have made it right up to the November Cap and Trade auction without having to address the concerns of the public, employers, taxpayers, manufacturers and other industries, who have begged them to stop the auction, or face more business closures, downsizings, and “leakage” to other states.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office said the greenhouse gas auction of allowances is not necessary to achieve the mandates of AB 32, which is to reduce greenhouse gasses to 1990 levels by 2020. California is already showing greenhouse gas emissions reductions to 1992 levels. So many in business facing the very real prospective of having to buy expensive carbon credits just to keep doing business in the state are asking why the auction has to take place.

Windshield washer fluid, smog check program, and “Clean truck month” were on the agenda Thursday. These issues sound innocuous enough, but not in the hands of the Air Resources Board.

Windshield Washer Fluid regs

In 1990, CARB authorized changes to windshield washer fluid to lower Volatile Organic Compound emissions from the fluid. Initially, they recognized that the changes to the washer fluid would render it useless in freezing temperatures, and allowed the old formula to continue being sold in parts of the state with the colder temperatures.

But over the years since 1990, the Air Resources Board altered the exempted areas, and again lowered the washer-fluid VOC emission requirements four or five times. Ultimately, the washer fluid in the freezing temperature areas was worthless and a safety hazard.

At Thursday’s CARB meeting, after months and months of studies and staff time, CARB had to relax the washer fluid standards so that people living and working in mountainous regions of the state in freezing temperatures could use a washer fluid that actually works and won’t cause crashes.

Smog check program

CARB, together with the Bureau of Automotive Repair, is proposing to change the Smog Check program from the tailpipe emission test, to testing with a car’s onboard computer for emission levels.

Anyone who drives an older car knows the uncomfortable feeling of holding your breath during the tailpipe smog check test, hoping and praying that the car passes.

CARB wants to change the test on cars manufactured in 2000 and newer, to plug in to the car’s computers and read the engine data. They say it will take about three minutes, instead of the 20 minute tailpipe test, and mechanics and technicians can’t cheat to get a passing score for the auto owner.

Cars 1999 and older will still receive the same tailpipe test.

CARB and the Bureau of Automotive Repair also plan to increase the fine for cheating from $2,500 to $5,000 on station owners and technicians. They propose to do this with expensive new computer equipment that stations and mechanics will have to use. And there is an application process with CARB and the automotive repair bureau for the stations which want to be a part of the new program.

The more disturbing part of the presentation was that the CARB staff was very excited about all of the data that can be collected from a car’s onboard computer. It’s not just about the smog.

CARB Board member Daniel Sperling suggested that drivers should be taxed on the smog they produce. “Has there been any thought given to basic economic principles to just charge drivers for their emissions?” Sperling asked. “Economists have talked about this for decades.”

This launched CARB staff members into a discussion with board members about the “incentives” they’ve tried to impose for years to encourage people to get rid of older cars.

“I think that if we’ve had a hard time convincing the public of a carbon tax, not sure a tax is a good idea,” said CARB Board member James Balmes.

But he was interrupted by CARB Director Mary Nichols before he could finish his thought. “Hey, congratulations on getting ‘carbon tax’ back in the discussion,” she said.

Balmes pointed out that most of the poor drive older cars and a tax on emissions would unfairly hurt them.

The discussion led to how new technology would allow CARB to “track emissions” from cars through the onboard computer.  Nichols said that finding a way to monitor C02 would be a good project for a grad student.

CARB’s Clean truck month

Nichols then talked about how successful the new diesel regulations have been in forcing truck owners to replace their diesel engines with new ones at a cost of $50,000 to $60,000 each. Truck owner-operators who could not afford to do this have gone out of business.

However, the diesel regulations imposed by CARB were doctored, as I have written about extensively. Even with this information, CARB forged ahead with the program and killed a great many small businesses.

CARB’s enforcement arm

CARB has now “partnered” with law enforcement to ensure compliance. The California Highway Patrol has been ordered to pull truck drivers over to run tests on their engines to see if they are complying with CARB’s diesel regulations.

CARB calls this their “full commitment to compliance.” There was a great deal of talk at the meeting about enforcement and penalties.

Last month, enforcement activities were conducted at CHP inspection stations, border crossings, truck stops, roadside locations, rest stops and port facilities.

Additionally, there was a well-coordinated media campaign orchestrated by CARB. Board members and staff bragged about the 37 news stories done by television news. They even showed clips of a few news stories. These were not public service announcements.

So now we have the California Air Resources Board writing the news, and compliant media reporting it as if it is spontaneous.

The CARB board meeting ended after discussing a resolution to the Cap and Trade program to cap prices at the level of the price containment reserve.

Dorothy Rothrock, with the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, was the only audience member to speak out vehemently against CARB’s Cap and Trade program. “We are disappointed that CARB is moving forward without fixing the serious flaw of auctioning allowances to raise revenue in the cap and trade program,” she said. “CARB’s plan to kill manufacturing jobs is not necessary to achieve AB 32 goals. There is still time before the auction for the board to make a firm commitment to provide free allowances for all the compliance periods between now and 2020.”

The CMTA also explained on its website:

“The Emissions Market Assessment Committee met in September and identified a few more issues that CARB should resolve before the first auction.  The EMAC economists said that CARB should define what constitutes ‘resource shuffling’ — at this time electric power utilities and traders throughout the west do not know what is illegal ‘resource shuffling’ and what is normal power trading behavior.  Yet CARB’s regulation makes resource shuffling illegal and subject to penalties, also uncertain, starting in January 2013. This isn’t just an academic concern. EMAC said “uncertain liabilities associated with imports to California could discourage, and therefore raise the cost of, power imports into the state.” 

Many say that the price containment reserve will probably not protect companies from high prices, especially in the final years of the program. CMTA is concerned that California could have a market failure similar to the energy crisis of the 1970s, when prices skyrocketed and politicians stepped in to stop the market.

EMAC suggests the price containment reserve should “be strengthened and clarified before market operations commence.”


Write a comment
  1. Bob
    Bob 19 October, 2012, 10:12

    I don’t see how ya do it, Katy.

    Having to go to all these meetings full of these windbag bureaucrats and politicians who demand control over every aspect of our lives and demand as much of our money as they can get must be awfully frustrating. And then ya have to write about it.

    Just having to sit through hours of these corrupt politicians and bureaucrats bloviating would drive me insane and make me gouge my eyes out with a grapefruit spoon.

    Reply this comment
  2. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 19 October, 2012, 10:40


    Excerpt: “The EMAC economists said that CARB should define what constitutes ‘resource shuffling’ — at this time electric power utilities and traders throughout the west do not know what is illegal ‘resource shuffling’ and what is normal power trading behavior. Yet CARB’s regulation makes resource shuffling illegal and subject to penalties, also uncertain, starting in January 2013. This isn’t just an academic concern. EMAC said “uncertain liabilities associated with imports to California could discourage, and therefore raise the cost of, power imports into the state.”

    Reply this comment
  3. Hondo
    Hondo 19 October, 2012, 11:25

    I was back in Colorado for a while and accidentally bought some ‘summer blend’ windshield wiper fluid. When the cold hit, it froze and I couldn’t drive my car. I couldn’t see out my frozen windshield. I had to take several hours to warm up my car and exhaust the rest of the summer blend and refill with winter blend. It was a true safety hazard. I couldn’t drive my car.
    As a former fire fighter I have been to traffic accidents that have made me vomit. To think that these liberals took more than a couple months to change this regulation is murder, in my book.

    Reply this comment
  4. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 19 October, 2012, 11:35

    PACK AND SHIP….your way out of carb misery!

    Enjoy life…pack your doomsday bug out kit supplied by Ulysses…..your bud on CWD!

    Reply this comment
  5. Angela
    Angela 19 October, 2012, 12:17

    As I posted on my Facebook page, along with Katy’s great “blow-by-blow” report: perhaps the CARB board of directors should be the first to undergo the tailpipe test to tax their emissions because they’re nothing but a bunch of “gas bags”!

    Reply this comment
  6. us citizen
    us citizen 19 October, 2012, 13:32

    This is sooooo hypocritical! They tax the crap out of us, what about the trucks from mexico coming across the border? Is this another………oh they dont have to follow our rules, but we do, scenario?

    Reply this comment
  7. tesla_x
    tesla_x 19 October, 2012, 14:39

    You know, I just really wonder how they can justify a Carbon price of $10-40/ton, set in such an ENRONesque fashion, when the prices of Carbon worldwide are a touch less:

    I give you New Zealand:

    “Guess what? The last trade of a New Zealand Unit (a tonne of carbon dioxide) was $3.10.”

    In Europe, it ain’t much better:

    “The recent figures released by the market are not encouraging. The credits fell to a record 5.99 euros ($7.77) per metric ton in April, and permits for December were level at 7.80 euros on the London futures exchange on Friday. In contrast, four years ago, the price was about 30 euros per ton.”

    So, if on the world scene the price is somewhere between $3 and $7.77, in the world’s largest cap n trade market, what justification does CARB have for a $10-40$ market price?


    Unless they’re just picking a number out of Her Majesty Mary Nichols’ backside, that is…

    Isn’t this just the type of thing that public oversight is suppose to prevent?

    Reply this comment
  8. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 19 October, 2012, 17:03

    Sheep are led….Carb Commissars are going for your fireplace and Kmart barbeque real soon. You will have a domicile energy audit by OCCUPY or Commissar Asner or Dern or Gore or Big Sis.

    Black drones go up in January 2013…..your leaf blower or lawnmower with be tazed….no smoking either!

    Reply this comment
  9. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 19 October, 2012, 18:59

    are Teddy and the sock puppets in a Time-Out??????? 😉

    Reply this comment
  10. AB32 Fighter
    AB32 Fighter 20 October, 2012, 07:45

    We have already seen AB32 kill thousands of jobs, now Valero Refining is looking to exit California primarily due to AB32. One has to wonder what will happen if they do not find buyers for their refineries, will they shut them down? If you think $5/gallon was bad, this would mean $7-8/gallon.

    Reply this comment
  11. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 20 October, 2012, 12:19

    Ab…….your toast……it’s over… the way, pay your carbs fee going out the door!

    Reply this comment
  12. Hank
    Hank 20 October, 2012, 13:57

    Resource shuffling is when the NGO’s need more return from their investment, them and the Green Industry that is tax exempt. Just move on, nothing to see here.
    The great thing about Cap & Trade is WCI/CARB control the price, always. It is as phony as global warming is, Cap like captured, that’s you and trade is trading hot air for money that’s them. Money from nothing, pretty cool huh? It only works if you let it.

    Reply this comment
  13. Ron Kilmartin
    Ron Kilmartin 20 October, 2012, 20:41

    CARB, ABAG, MTC, and the rest of the unelected boards and councils in this state are all completely out of control of the citizenry. They have no standing in the Constitutional framework; how did we allow this to happen?

    The American governance model has always been Federal-state-county-city or town. In California it has become Federal-state-unelected councils boards -county-city or town. And as the unelected boards have become more powerful, the elected bodies have become less powerful, particularly at the county and city or town level. The elected city councils defer to the councils for orders and regulations, and the people get left out of the equation
    The councils, etc., are exactly like the soviets of Communist Russia, the members all appointed members of the elitist Nomenclatura (or as we say here, the Democratic Party). It is time to return CA governance structure to its unconstitutional basis so that these nanny-state job-killers are subject to the citizens’ vote It is time to get rational people in these councils and boards, or better yet, close them down.

    Reply this comment
  14. Ron Kilmartin
    Ron Kilmartin 20 October, 2012, 20:45

    Oops, 2nd to last line should read “constitutional”, not “unconstitutional”.

    Reply this comment
  15. Queeg
    Queeg 20 October, 2012, 20:49

    Some new kool-aid drinkers……welcome!

    Reply this comment
  16. Donkey
    Donkey 21 October, 2012, 18:40

    The RAGWUS feeders are very busy eating what is left of our once great state. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  17. Donkey
    Donkey 21 October, 2012, 18:43

    I see this carbon crap as nothing more than a game of monopoly, only being played by very ignorant fools with governmental powers to distroy the private sector machine. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  18. Ha! Someone hit the essence of the problem
    Ha! Someone hit the essence of the problem 22 October, 2012, 10:04

    You’re not going to change the minds of these environmental extremists and the people of California who are brainwashed by their schools and popular culture into worshiping Gaia. But you can try to return the state’s governance to the constitutional structure mentioned above by Ron Kilmartin. Free market advocates need to target and dismantle regional governments, Joint Powers Agencies, and regulatory boards. What happened to “blowing up the boxes” that Schwarzenegger wanted to do in 2004?

    Reply this comment

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