Pixel Tracker

Thursday, January 17 , 2019, 12:25 pm | Overcast with Haze 60º


Ron Fink: Politicians’ Insatiable Need to Use Your Money to Save Environment

California has the most stringent environmental regulations in the nation. Not to be outdone, Santa Barbara County "improves on" these regulations and is widely known for being the hardest county in the state in which to do business.

Not only do these harsh standards chase businesses away, they directly impact your pocketbook.

State regulators, and specifically Democratic politicians, make themselves feel good by passing new rules every session of the Legislature.

Overeager governors readily sign laws that impact each of us unnecessarily. All this costs money, but frequently the costs associated with these rules are passed along to local jurisdictions.

Community budgets all over the state are in serious trouble, and part of their problem is so-called unfunded mandates; that is, things legislators think are important for the environment, but not important enough to provide funding for them.

And, whether you live in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Lompoc or Sisquoc, you are going to have your budget impacted, too.

One example was a $90-million-plus project in Lompoc to upgrade the wastewater plant to meet new state standards that greatly exceeded the national standard for effluent discharges.

This cost rate-payers — that’s every family in Lompoc — significant wastewater rate increases for the next several decades.

Another are the landfill standards that require bundles of cash to be piled up for closure actions when the canyon gets filled up.  Of course, to pay for it, local agencies were required to raise solid-waste rates.

And, recycling programs cost you money when you buy many different items in your local grocery store, and even more because these rules now require three trash trucks instead of one to pick up your trash.

Yet another: gasoline for your car costs 65-cents-a-gallon more than the national average just so pompous politicians who rule California can claim they are “saving the environment.”

And, Gov. Jerry Brown just got approval to extend the cap-and-trade rule which is estimated to add another 24-73 cents per gallon.

Not satisfied with taxing the air we breathe, now there are new rules for rain. Rain water, known in the regulatory world as storm-water discharge, flows into piping systems designed to carry excess water downgrade to the nearest stream or river.

Folks commonly refer to these systems as the sewer, which clever politicians are seizing on as an opportunity to raise taxes again without your vote. The Assembly committee on local government correctly determined that:

“Local governments face several barriers to funding for storm water and dry weather runoff projects due to the constitutional requirements for special taxes, benefit assessments, and property-related fees.

"As regulatory burdens continue to increase, financially strapped local governments are forced to examine alternative funding mechanisms and regional strategies to address costs.

"For example, the costs in Los Angeles County alone are cited to be over $20 billion.”
And, the Senate found that since 2002, “state and federal water quality regulators have imposed increasingly costly requirements on cities and counties to clean up their storm water discharge.”

So, how did legislators solve a problem they created by adopting new requirements? For them it was to change a couple of definitions and eliminate the voter from the process to help with the decision-making process.

Finding money is tough when you must persuade voters, but not that hard when you only need to persuade a majority of council members to raise fees.

After passage of this legislation, the action would allow politicians in local jurisdictions to raise fees at will based on new storm-water requirements.

As we have seen in the past, local government officials have never seen a fee they weren’t willing to raise for almost anything. To you and me, it will mean rates will be increased, but what can we expect in return?

Let’s say reconstructing the storm-water system — including drainage from private property, sewers, catch basins and creating new filtration systems that don’t allow anything other than pure rainwater to leave your property — is going to require reconstruction of the entire rainwater disposal system in every part of California, including your driveway.

That will cost billions to accomplish, and when it’s over, all we will have is emptier wallets due to the rain tax.

To all of you well-meaning environmentalists who think your quest is noble, consider all the people who are paying for it.

Personally, I get tired of paying to save the environment and then have a new crop of pilgrims tell me the earth is still dying and if we just spend more money it will fix it.

Let’s face it, for all the trillions of dollars that have been spent, and lost through onerous regulation, by working folks and businesses to save the environment, are we any better off today than when we started?

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >