Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Arnold Strikes

Arnold seems to have learned an important lesson from George W: Run as a moderate, but govern the way business tells you to.
Schwarzenegger's second act in office was to halt all pending state government regulations for a review period of 180 days. Executive Order No. 2 also suspends or postpones the effective date of all regulations that have been approved but haven't taken effect, and requires a review of every regulation adopted, amended or repealed by the Davis administration -- nearly five years' worth.

There's some pretty heady stuff here. Caught in the cross hairs, to uncertain effect, are rules such as the first paid family-leave law in the nation and nurse-to-patient staffing ratios for California hospitals.

Other pending regulations deal with everything from privacy protection to energy efficiency and drinking water standards for toxic chemicals such as arsenic and perchlorate.

Scuttlebutt about the Capitol is that a bunch of business insiders got together after the Oct. 7 election of a business-friendly governor to take aim at new mandates they see as "job killers."
Organized labor is not pleased, to put it mildly:
"Reviewing regulations solely on the criteria of whether they're good for business is weak," said Nathan Ballard, an attorney with the California Federation of Labor. "Where's the balance? Where's the analysis based on whether these regulations are good for working people?

"Executive Order No. 2 looks great to the guys at the country club. But what about the folks who are working two jobs and trying to make ends meet? Is Gov. Schwarzenegger going to look into how his decree affects them?"
The L.A. Times reports that a group called the
The Thursday Group, a coalition of lobbyists for some of the most powerful industries in the state — including chemical companies, defense contractors, real estate developers and biotechnology firms — sent the governor a letter last week with a lengthy list of environmental rules that it did not like.

The memo, which was immediately circulated by environmentalists, raised objections over everything from air pollution regulations on consumer products to the California Coastal Commission.

It also voiced concerns regarding impending regulations on perchlorate, a chemical used in rocket fuel that government scientists have linked to health problems, and a landmark law passed last year that makes California the first state to regulate the carbon dioxide emissions of cars.
The Thursday Group is also concerned with California’s flirtation with the “precautionary principle” which argues that chemical should be proven safe before people are exposed to them. Industry has already plotted to undermine the California movement.
That preemptive approach is a departure from the current practice in the United States, which largely consists of regulating potential pollutants only after they have been scientifically linked to hazards.

Under recommendations approved this summer by a task force looking to improve environmental conditions in poor and minority communities, the California Environmental Protection Agency is set to incorporate the precautionary principle into some of its procedures. Industry groups hope that Schwarzenegger reconsiders the issue.

"We want to take advantage of the opportunity to present our case on the precautionary principle, which we feel is a radical departure from the science-based procedures currently used by the state," said Tim Shestek, a Sacramento lobbyist for the American Chemistry Council. "We are concerned about the vagueness of the recommendations in the [task force] report, and we want to make sure there is a clear criteria that industry can meet."