Forbidden Speech

Philosophers have pondered and debated the question of “what is true?” for eons. Now thanks to the bureaucrats at the California Air Resources Board (CARB) we have our answer: The truth is whatever CARB says it is and those who utter forbidden opinions to the contrary will be punished.

Sounding like something from George Orwell CARB is poised to adopt a regulation that literally “forbids” and “penalizes” opposing views. The resolution which CARB dubs “prohibition on false statements” is frightening in that it would actually sanction communications to the agency during hearings or in the presentation of studies that CARB disagrees with. Apparently CARB’s legal staff missed that whole bit on the First Amendment. In America we don’t jail people for making “counter-revolutionary statements.”

Not surprisingly it is usually the crackpot dictator forbidding dissent who plays fast and loose with the truth. CARB’s regulations which have so devastated the trucking industry were based on a discredited report by a “Dr.” Hien Tran a CARB researcher who mail ordered his PhD from a phony university. However even when it was discovered that Hien Tran had falsified his qualifications CARB refused to fire him and stood by his study — a study that now even CARB itself admits overestimated pollution by more than 300%. If you are waiting for CARB to apply its new proposed rule to itself don’t hold your breath.

That CARB seeks to squelch dissent before it even begins is not surprising. In the wake of Prop 23’s defeat CARB is chafing at the bit to fully implement California’s one-of-a-kind “global warming solution” law known as AB 32. The last thing the agency wants is to have to contend with contrary views about complex issues — notwithstanding the fact that the so-called “consensus” on climate change has become much less of a consensus since the days of Al Gore.

Moreover it is not just the science of climate change to which CARB has an allergic reaction to competing views. In attempting to measure the true cost of AB 32 on California’s economy any suggestion that “green jobs” won’t be the miracle cure claimed by CARB and the investors behind Green Tech will be met with a reaction similar to that of a vampire to a crucifix.

Despite its lack of economic expertise CARB and its allies are committed to a vision of California unhinged from reality. They believe that imposing price hikes during a recession will lead to this new “green jobs” economy. But that myth has already started to unravel with the closure of model green business Solyndra’s first factory. Solyndra a solar panel manufacturer had once been hailed by the CARB cheering section as an example of many more green manufacturers to come. Yet despite hundreds of millions in subsidies and the support of the Governor and President Obama the Solyndra closure illustrates how even green manufacturers have difficulty competing under our state’s crushing burden of high taxes and endless red tape.

The important question here is whether an effort by credible economists taxpayers consumers or business interests to inform CARB that price increases during a recession are bad for the economy will be met with “penalties” for failing to line up with the “truth” as decreed by CARB.

CARB’s Chairwoman Mary Nichols is now proceeding “full speed ahead” with AB 32 implementation effectively flooring the accelerator as she and her agency drive our economy over the cliff. “Forbidding” people from saying this may not be a good idea right now is the equivalent of Mary Nichols putting her hands on her ears and saying “la la la I can’t hear you la la la” as taxpayers and business owners scream that she stop.

[Final note: The first hearing on CARB’s proposed regulation was scheduled for December 1st. According to CARB’s website the hearing has now been postponed until next year. Moreover the proposed regulation providing for “penalties” for false information has been removed from CARB’s website.]

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.