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Jul 06, 2007 - 05:00 PM

Fired Enviro Regulators Reveal Arnold Interfered On Donors' Behalf

by Carmen Balber
 
Does the governor regularly coordinate meetings between his biggest donors and top regulators? That's the first question Arnold has to answer after revelations made today by Catherine Witherspoon and Robert Sawyer, the Air Resources Board (ARB) Executive Officer and Chair forced out by the Schwarzenegger administration last week.

Witherspoon and Sawyer outlined repeated interference of Arnold's staff in board decisions, and Witherspoon pinpointed statements from the governor's office that made clear they were acting on behalf of big industry.

The revelations came as the Assembly Natural Resources committee grilled administration reps in a hearing on their interference in the independence of the ARB and the implementation of California's greenhouse gas reduction bill.

Witherspoon was asked "why you can't do it industry's way" and was chastised for adopting regulations that were "going to hurt business." She was even told the day before a hearing to make sure a specific provision was in a resolution because the administration had promised the oil industry it would be there. Since when does the oil industry get to tell the governor what to do? Maybe since they funneled $4.3 million to his war chest.

Arnold put his foot down on behalf of big industry last year and insisted that an emissions cap-and-trade system be the focus of greenhouse gas legislation as the bill was being negotiated. When legislative leaders refused to agree Arnold caved, because he needed an environmental win as much as they did. But the governor has worked ever since to undermine the law and steer away from regulation, as prioritized in the bill, toward market mechanisms like trading schemes.

Lawmakers must determine when, where, and why the administration was applying pressure.

For example: Witherspoon revealed in passing that the governor's office had arranged a meeting with the construction industry interested in pending regulations, and the meeting included the Associated General Contractors. The construction and real estate industries are Arnold's largest contributors at $20 million. The contractors' association gave Arnold $200,750 since 2004. $42,700 of that money flowed into the gov's coffers on May 3rd. When did that impromptu summons take place? What regulations were involved and what impact would they have on the contractors?

The public needs more answers. What other donors did Arnold tow the line for? The legislature should immediately issue subpoenas for Susan Kennedy and Dan Dunmoyer (who refused or were prohibited from testifying) and demand details about their advocacy on behalf of big industry.

Arnold has advertised himself as the planet's green giant. Today's revelations knock the giant into the mud.




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