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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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A timely reversal

Uploaded: Sep 24, 2015
The surprise of the week is that the Bay Area air quality board retreated from its onerous regulation proposal on wood-burning fireplaces.
The rule would have prevented homes from being rented or sold with open-hearth unless they were retrofitted with new wood-burning stoves; they were converted to gas or electric furnaces; or the chimneys were sealed.
The regulators had argued that the changes were necessary to continue to clean up the Bay Area's air that already is generally clean.
During a serious of public hearings, the testimony, according to news reports and Michael Austin of Pleasanton who attended several of them, was overwhelmingly against the heavy-handed regulation.
The board staff has shifted to a simple proposal to require home sellers and landlords to disclose the health hazards of burning wood.
That's a more rational approach, but still ventures into raising unnecessary red flags—it's likely designed to save face for the staff. Remember, this outfit still has the authority to declare no-burn days and receives plenty of publicity around them.
The Bay Area air district is governed by a regional board of elected officials. The regional board—similar to those overseeing transportation and planning—almost completely insulates elected officials from having to face their constituents and be held responsible for their actions.
Earlier, Austin pointed out that the feedback in public hearings has been 99 percent opposed and the Bay Area, in a seven-year period, has had just two years with 14 days that exceeded the very low limits. It doesn't seem like too big a problem, particularly given that the current regulations have resulted in a 59 percent decrease in pollutants tied to burning wood.
All of these potential mandates are decided by a board with no direct accountability to the voters—just as the state air and water boards do.
It is literally tragic to see how much authority Congress and the Legislature have placed in the hands of bureaucrats and regulators whether it is with ObamaCare, the disastrous Dodd-Frank financial institutions bill or all of the environmental regulations.

Comments

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Dave, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 25, 2015 at 9:08 am

Tim -

It seems as though the Board's decision to reverse itself in response to public sentiment on this issue exactly DISPROVES the thesis of your last paragraph that unelected regulators are either unresponsive to voters or that their decisions result in disastrous outcomes.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Adam Smith, a resident of Birdland,
on Sep 25, 2015 at 11:42 am

Tim's last para recites the dogma of The Right: tossing off gross generalizations without any specificity, because 'everybody knows they're true' (...they're true ... they're true...). I'm guessing he read the recent Jeb Bush op-ed in the comics -- I'm sorry -- the editorial page of the Fox Street Journal.

Here, Nobel laureate Krugman, who really IS smarter than Jeb and his brother, combined -- undresses that Op-Ed. Web Link

Anybody want to buy a VW clean diesel -- really really cheap (but not very clean)?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Ed, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Sep 28, 2015 at 8:44 am

Tim, you mentioned the Dodd-Frank financial act as being disasterous and I couldn't agree more. I've worked in the mortgage business for years before the crash of 2008 and afterwards too.
No doubt something had to be done to prevent the craziness that led to the mortgage meltdown but Dodd-Frank has swung the pendulum too far to the right.
It's much harder, more cumbersome, and more time-consuming to get a home loan these days than before Dodd-Frank, even for well qualified people. The restrictions in place are there to protect the consumer but from my perspective, they've taken something that's fairly easy and made it much more difficult than it needs to be.
I suppose we can thank Countrywide, Washington Mutual, Long Beach Fed and their ilk for this.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Hotslide, a resident of Oak Tree Acres,
on Sep 28, 2015 at 11:02 am

Adam Smith: Please come to the podium and confess: "It's true, it's true, I voted for Obama and support all of his socialist appointees, and his agenda, because I am a non-achiever."


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Adam Smith, a resident of Birdland,
on Sep 28, 2015 at 11:49 am

Classic. If you can't fight the post, then you go after the poster. Mr. O'Reilley schooled you well.

I will gladly compare whatever ridiculous indicia of material or biological success you choose. W-2s? Chest hair? Back hair? Ahem, shoe size?

I have as much as I'll ever need -- our difference is that I don't live in constant, angry fear of somebody taking it from me.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Bill, a resident of Pleasanton Heights,
on Sep 28, 2015 at 10:25 pm

Wait. Doesn't his comment below support the positive effects of the burn ban? Not that I'm surprised, given the author...

"Austin pointed out ... the Bay Area, in a seven-year period, has had just two years with 14 days that exceeded the very low limits. It doesn't seem like too big a problem, particularly given that the current regulations have resulted in a 59 percent decrease in pollutants tied to burning wood."

I burn wood, and have generally found the bans annoying. But on many of those days, I've seen the valley air while driving in from over the hill, and it's nasty looking stuff. Fireplaces would double it, so I understand. Hopefully we'll have some good rainy days for burning this year.



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