Leece to protect businesses

Costa Mesa Mayor Pro Tem Wendy Leece says she’ll use her new position with the League of California Cities to fight to protect businesses from environmental legislation that, in her opinion, is driving businesses out of the Golden State.

Leece has been picked to serve on the Orange County division of the league’s 2010 Policy Committee on Environmental Quality.

The league, which is made up of various committees comprised of city officials from across the state, discusses policies and issues facing California.

Leece served on the same committee last year and has been appointed to serve on next year’s environmental quality committee.

She says her job on the 2010 committee will be to slow down implementation of Assembly Bill 32 and state Senate Bill 375, which are about reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“When they were passed, we didn’t have the economic challenges that we have today,” Leece said. “I think in principle we need to be more respectful of the environment, but businesses are leaving California because it’s too expensive.”

Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) championed AB 32, which reduces the level of greenhouse gases. The bill was signed in a fanfare event by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006.

State Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) was behind SB 375, which was signed last year by the governor. The bill established a law to control greenhouse gas emissions by curbing sprawl.

However, opponents of the bills say they stand in the way of business growth by putting the burden on business owners.

“These two bills, I’m concerned, will have a very negative effect on businesses,” said state Sen. Tom Harman (D-Costa Mesa), who voted against both. “It’s going to cost businesses hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, to implement them and I’m in the mind-set that we shouldn’t be implementing these bills in the middle of an unprecedented recession.”

“All Californians want clean air and clean water and are concerned about global warming,” Harman said. “But there are ways to do it. We’re making dramatic strides curbing greenhouse gases by replacing it with hybrid and solar powered plants.”

Harman said Costa Mesa businesses are not yet affected by the bills because both haven’t been implemented.

“But as soon as they get enforced, you’ll see a firestorm of opposition,” he said. “They are going to have to spend a lot of money to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. One way to do it is by letting some of their employees go and that’s what’s concerning to me.”

The League of California Cities has eight committees in which about 400 city officials from across California serve as members.

The committees meet four times a year and will hold their first meetings in January in Sacramento.

“I’m intrigued by the complexity of the issues,” Leece said. “I believe in smaller government and fewer regulations. I believe, as an elected official, I should be very aware and informed of the consequences of these new laws and how they affect the people who want to do business in Costa Mesa.”

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