Can we afford fresh air?

Sometimes it looks as though there are no good answers to the problems that plague Californians. Yesterday, as reported in the S.F. Chronicle, the EPA recommended strict new limits on smog. Many parents who have watched their children suffer from asthma will be grateful for stricter standards. Elderly people who have trouble breathing when the air gets bad will also welcome the change. But progress seldom comes without a price to be paid. Stricter controls will cost corporations money for new equipment and will cost county governments money for enforcement. San Franciscans are lucky that their air already meets the new standards, but all of us occasionally venture into other counties. Even the pristine beauty of Napa County isn’t safe from having unacceptable air quality. Is there any solution that will be palatable to everyone? Probably not. Concerned citizens can be careful about their own carbon-producing activities like unnecessary driving, especially on Spare the Air days, but government regulation is what is really needed. Probably also needed are new tax revenues to pay for the regulation. What is the best way to share the costs of improving life for all of us? California needs tax reform, as Governor Schwarzenegger mentioned in his state of the state speech. We should all support the movement to put the state’s fiscal house in order. Everyone needs fresh air to live, even in golden California.

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