Commentary: Fire rings are falling prey to environmental bureaucrats

According to Chris Epting's In The Pipeline column, "Something fishy going on with fire ring ban," April 4, he learned the hard way what the Air Quality Management District is really all about. Those green, environmentally friendly shoes pinch when you have to wear them in your own town.

The AQMD hardliners were known this winter as the "fireplace" police — not the fire ring cops. To refresh your memory, a few months ago, when most of us were enjoying the warmth of a fire in our homes on a cold winter's evening, the killjoys at the AQMD made the media rounds to warn us all that it was illegal to pollute the air with fireplace smoke. It's little wonder that outdoor fire rings are next in their environmental crosshairs.

If Epting thinks the AQMD is an un-elected dictatorship, go to Sacramento and attend a California Air Resources Board meeting. These are the bureaucrats who, since 2006, have been openly at war with the California trucking industry (diesel trucks fill the air with harmful pollutants labeled particulate matter — sound familiar?), gas refineries, electrical generating plants, cement manufacturers, dairy farmers, wineries and even with some University of California college campuses that generate their own power.

To control all manner of particulate pollution, the CARB bureaucrats instituted a scheme of quarterly carbon credit auctions that Congress rejected in 2009. It's called "cap and trade." Paying no heed to our national government, Sacramento instituted a cap-and-trade program in California.

Gov. Jerry Brown projected a windfall of $1 billion from the first auction, but the first two auctions have netted $400 million for the state government. A $1 million tourism hit in Huntington Beach is huge, but $400 million statewide is a big hit to California companies. Businesses could be using that money for the creation of jobs instead of sending it to Sacramento, where money is wasted on things like the bullet train.

I've read nary a word from Epting — or from most of the media — about CARB. None of the members are elected to office and most are card-carrying environmental extremists. And while I agree, an attack on the fire rings is an assault against our city, we must all remember that California has more environmental laws on the books than any other state in the nation, and that is why businesses are fleeing the once Golden State. At some point, all of us are bound to run afoul of the state's environmental bureaucrats.

All of CARB's work is tied directly to the 1992 Earth Summit, an international gathering of environmental activists sponsored by the United Nations. It approved a new agenda for the 21st century now known as Agenda 21. One of the major elements of the program is "cap and trade," and it took two decades to be implemented in California.

The United Nations is implementing other elements of Agenda 21 throughout the world. With headquarters in Bonn, Germany, the Intergovernmental Commission on Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) is directing this global war against particulate matter.

Guess what city uses taxpayer money to pay annual dues to ICLEI? Yes, the city of Huntington Beach.

The sad lesson we must all learn from the fire ring episode is this: Environmental bureaucrats have few friends. They do have a very narrow agenda and whoever gets in their way gets crushed. It's been happening for seven years at CARB. Now, the green chickens have come home to roost.

The city fathers should immediately withdraw from ICLEI as a protest against this AQMD action and stop playing footsie with environmental bureaucrats who have no respect for the will of the people. Wake up: This is not about the environment but money and control over every individual's life.

WARREN DUFFY is president of Friends for Saving California Jobs and author of "The Green Tsunami — A Tidal Wave of Eco-Babble Drowning Us All." He lives in Huntington Beach.

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