Agency lauds enormous fine on business

California Air Resources BoardJan. 18, 2013

By Steven Greenhut

When you talk to business owners who are considering a move out of state, their main complaint is not typically California’s sky-high tax rates or the myriad regulations they face. Their main frustration is the attitude of the state’s bureaucrats and Democratic majority toward them. They are treated like enemies and frequently harassed and fined for minuscule regulatory transgressions.

For example, in Texas the officials welcome businesses, but in California the state government sends out press releases celebrating the massive fines they impose on private enterprise.

Check out this press release from the California Air Resources Board. Here is a snippet:

“The San Bernardino County Superior Court has fined Foster Enterprises, an Ontario-based refrigerated transportation and cold storage business, $300,000 after an Air Resources Board investigation revealed that the company failed to upgrade older diesel engines in its refrigerated trailer fleet as required to meet current emissions standards.

“The case is noteworthy in that it resulted in the first court-imposed fine issued under ARB’s 2004 Transport Refrigeration Unit (TRU) regulation. The company owners will pay $200,000 and the balance of the fine will be stayed, as long as they comply with the terms in the judgment handed down by the San Bernardino County Superior Court, and keep their fleet updated as required. The company is not connected to Foster Farms.

“‘All business owners should pay attention to this case,’ said ARB Enforcement Chief Jim Ryden. ‘This company actually had to pay twice — once to comply with the law, and then again as a penalty. Had the owners complied originally, they would have saved us and themselves significant time and money, and helped to keep a level playing field for their colleagues and competitors.'”

The most telling line is from CARB’s chief enforcement bureaucrat: “All business owners should pay attention to this case.” Here’s a Web site devoted to ending CARB.

Obviously, businesses need to follow regulations, but there’s a nasty, gloating, threatening tone to this quotation. CARB issues reams of hard-to-understand, inconsistently imposed air regulations — yet the agency celebrates a fine imposed on a company that didn’t comply with one of them. I listened to a CARB board member as farmers complained about cap-and-trade regs and the officious bureaucratic attitudes and arrogance she displayed were astounding.

I find it strange how much Jim Ryden sounds like a villain from an Ayn Rand novel. But I do agree with him that all California businesses ought to pay attention to CARB and to the attitudes possessed by the growing ranks of state government officials.

Tags assigned to this article:
Ayn RandBloombergCARBJim Ryden

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