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Lynne Plambeck: Nazism, fascism and cleaner air

Environmentally Speaking

Posted: February 10, 2010 10:10 p.m.
Updated: February 11, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Recently, some people in the business community have called for a rescission of our landmark climate change law, AB32, passed in 2006 and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

While leaders worldwide have praised this forward-thinking legislation as a means to reducing greenhouse gases and improve air quality, others such as local radio hosts called it “the global-warming final solution act” promoted by “fascist Nazi” officials.

Interesting that a law meant to clean up our air and encourage investment in alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind, should be called fascist. Somehow I just don’t see the connection.  

Here in family-oriented Santa Clarita, where we care a great deal about the health and well-being of our children, increasing air pollution has coincided with rising rates of asthma in our schools. Why would any of us oppose a bill that will help reduce this air pollution?

And how in the world could encouraging investment in alternative energy be called Nazism?

In addition to improving our air quality and reducing global warming, alternative energy sources will reduce our need for foreign oil imports. Reducing oil imports will reduce our trade deficit and our dependence on unfriendly and unstable foreign markets. I just really don’t see how this is “Nazism.”

Perhaps the real concern for some businesses lies in the report released by the Legislative Analyst’s Office, a non-partisan office tasked with providing background data on proposed legislation.

The report on the proposed suspension of AB32 dated Feb. 2, stated the measure could lead to greater short-term profits for some businesses, but would dampen investments in clean technology and green jobs:

“The longer-term economic impact of the measure is less certain. This is because the suspension of AB32 could also have some negative impacts. For example, it could delay investments in energy technologies or in so-called “green jobs” reaping longer-run savings or dampen additional investment in clean energy technologies by private firms, thereby resulting in less economic activity than otherwise would be the case.”

So is this the real problem? Some businesses want more short-term profits at the expense of our communities? Or could it be some businesses do not want to see an investment in “green” technologies because they can’t compete.

Or are their businesses founded in old technologies that will disappear? One has to wonder who is leading this opposition.

Will California fall behind on this desperately needed opportunity for innovation, while China surges ahead?

Let’s not forget the statement made by Schwarzenegger at the signing ceremony in 2006: “Some have challenged whether AB32 is good for businesses. I say unquestionably it is good for businesses. Not only large, well-established businesses, but small businesses that will harness their entrepreneurial spirit to help us achieve our climate goals.”

The move to suspend AB32 began Monday in the Capitol when Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Marysville, unveiled Assembly Bill 118 in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. Logue’s proposal would suspend the law until the state’s unemployment level shrinks to 5.5 percent, a level not seen since 2007 and not expected again for many years in the future.

Since this proposal is opposed by a wide variety of organizations including the American Lung Association, it will most likely fail in committee. But it closely resembles an initiative now being circulated for the November ballot.

I have begun to notice the words “Nazi” and “fascist” used increasingly as adjectives for everything from clean water laws to community activists who speak up for the quality of life in their neighborhoods.

The rising clamor of this repeated litany by those who would destroy our cherished environmental protections against air pollution and water contamination and discourage public participation in our democratic processes is alarming. But it is only alarming if you and I are swayed by such language.

And in the end, how could any thinking individual believe a law meant to move us forward to cleaner air, passed by a large majority in the legislature and vocally supported by our governor was a Nazi and fascist plot? Come on.

Lynne Plambeck is president of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment (SCOPE) and a Santa Clarita resident. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. “Environmentally Speaking” appears Thursdays in The Signal and rotates among local environmentalists.


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