]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]      BRAVE NEW CALIFORNIA      [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[
                                                       (4/21/89)
  Editorial, The Wall Street Journal, 20 April 1989, p. A14:1

            [Kindly uploaded by Freeman 10602PANC]

   In Southern California, this is what it is coming to:
   On spacious lawns, defeated-looking  humans cut acres of grass
using pitiful,  little electric  hand-mowers.  Criminal  users of
forbidden hairspray cower in shuttered bathrooms, fearing a knock
on the door by the clean-air police.  Once-proud men are rendered
pathetic  trying to  light  a backyard  barbecue  without starter
fluid.   Families stuff  themselves into  wee  sci-fi cars  for a
Sunday outing.   They drive, very  slowly, to a  local theme park
and weep  nostalgically at  the sight  of a  drive-through Burger
King, now declared illegal.
   This  may  be  Southern  California   in  the  year  2007,  as
rearranged by the folks at the South Coast Air Quality Management
District and the Southern  California Association of Governments.
These two  bureaucracies recently  released something  called the
1988  Air Quality  Management Plan  (AQMP), ``the  culmination of
nearly five  years of study,''  to clean  up Soutern California's
air.  Why are they  doing it?  Because the  Federal Clean Air Act
told them to do  it.  Not that it was  easy.  The AQMP report was
preceded  by ``over  45 interim  reports and  approximately 5,500
pages of evaluation and analysis.''
   The result promises a new world for Californians.  ``Livestock
waste  should  be reused  for  energy-generating  purposes,'' the
report says.  Solar and  wind power are back  in the picture, but
measures  will  be  necessary   to  mitigate  ``light  and  glare
impacts.''  And of course  any new construction necessary ``shall
consider the impacts on sensitive animal species.''  The regional
officials   have  in   fact   produced  a   massive,  three-phase
anti-pollution program  weird enough  to provide  scripts forever
for the creators of ``Teen-Age Mutant Ninja Turtles.''
   A lot of it  sounds about like what  you'd expect from a place
where actresses  often set the  direction of  public policy.  The
plan, however, was fueled by the region's unhappy experience with
the  federal government's  12-year-old Clean  Air Act,  which was
manufactured in  Washington, D.C.  Threatened  by Washington with
federal funding losses, Southern Californians had to come up with
a clean-air  program or have  federal regulators do  it for them.
Never mind  that the law's  mandated air  standards are arbitrary
and  based on  arcane sampling  techniques  and nutty  goals long
deemed  dubious  and worthy  of  overhaul.  Never  mind  that the
123-point program  probably will  achieved little  improvement at
vast costs  while creating a  regulatory nightmare as  dense as a
cloud of hydrocarbons.
   The inversion-prone  Southern California  basin has  as much a
Brave New California geographic as a pollution problem.   Will the
smog really lift by forcing  the local  bread bakers,  dry cleaners
and charbroiling restaurants  to  adopt state  of  the art  filtering
systems (to control ``ROG,'' or reactive organic  gases), systems that
are so costly many  will simply  close down.   Or by  reformulating
auto assembly  coatings   and  household   aerosols,  or  transporting
biodegradable garbage out of the basin on (non-existent) railroad
lines?  The  most immediate  benefactor of  Southern California's
clean-up campaign  is probably Northern  California, which should
start  booming   as  businesses  relocate   to  escape  draconian
regulations and continuing gridlock.
   However  seriously  Californians take  their  air  problem, we
can't help but notice the plan's emphasis on such ``alternative''
energy  sources as  solar  dishes, windmills  and  methanol.  How
ironic that  these same  folks who  want to  ban such  threats to
mankind  as oil-based  paints  don't have  a  thing to  say about
nuclear  power,  a reliably  safe,  non-polluting  alternative to
fossil-fuel generators  and hydroelectric  power plants.   But of
course the possibility of ever using that obvious alternative was
destroyed  years ago  --  and is  still  opposed --  by  the same
Hollywood visionaries who now wash lettuce in soapy water to save
themselves from the terrors of microscopic pesticide residue.
   Maybe as the proposal drifts  up through the approval process,
beginning  with  the U.S.  Environmental  Protection  Agency, the
basin dwellers will look at  the ``plan'' and wonder whether they
want  to finance  this  bureaucratic quest  to  the tune  of $2.8
billion a year for the first  five years.  Perhaps they will come
to realize that  the greater crisis  is not up  above in the air,
but down  below in  the Orwellian  realm of  public policy, where
agencies  and   public  officials   now  assume   they  have  the
extraordinary  authority  to  simply   redesign  daily  life  for
everyone else.

                         *       *       *


Return to the ground floor of this tower
Return to the Main Courtyard
Return to Fort Freedom's home page