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Tuesday, Jul 17 2012 11:06 PM

Flexibility in rollout of AB 32 makes sense

By The Bakersfield Californian

Most everyone can agree that taking older trucks off the road will, over time, improve the quality of Central Valley air. Most everyone can also agree, however, that the consequences of Assembly Bill 32, signed into law in 2006, will be challenging for many businesses and institutions.

Especially vulnerable to the financial consequences of the well-meaning law, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, are smaller nonprofits, which often operate on the smallest of margins and only by the grace and generosity of benefactors. While many nonprofits will have planned for the rollout of AB 32 restrictions, to be enforced starting in January 2015, many others will not be ready -- and will therefore be subject to fines.

Several nonprofits surveyed by The Californian this week expressed that very fear -- that they won't be able to replace older trucks that emit carbon dioxide at levels exceeding the new limits.

For that reason, the Legislature ought to explore the possibility of grandfathering in, or otherwise temporarily exempting, nonprofits of sufficiently modest means.

Some, like the Community Action Partnership, will have to start replacing fleets -- in the CAP's case, four 24-foot trucks that transport food to dozens of Kern County locations. Or Bakersfield's New Beginnings church, which will have to replace or upgrade its used Peterbilt semi, which brings food to the hungry throughout the American Southwest.

Can these institutions make the deadline? They certainly can and should try, but if AB 32 shuts them down or hurts their ability to fulfill their mission, California will be the worse for it. AB 32 will do much good, but the Legislature must reserve the right to be flexible.

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