Mike Brown, government affairs director of COLAB (the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture, and Business of SLO County), wrote an opinion piece in New Times for the April 12 edition (“Airing grievances”). True to COLAB’s screed of opposition to any environmental regulations or, for that matter, any green initiative, he argued in favor of giving free rein to any practice from the private sector no matter how injurious it may be to our county or our planet.
This is the same Mike Brown, again representing COLAB, who did anything and everything he could to defeat the action initiated by the Integrated Waste Management Authority to curb the proliferation of plastic and single-use paper bags in our county (and adjacent Pacific Ocean). “Freedom to Pollute” might be his slogan.
The explanation for his diatribe is that our little ol’ county is a flyspeck on the wall of global pollution and thus whatever we do will be “statistically insignificant.” Therefore, we should not be an impediment on his call for ever more rapid “progress.” Green energy is costly, he argues, and misplaced. Mitigation fees charged to businesses will only be used to further (horrors) “construct bikeways, fund mass transit, and provide other ‘green amenities’ elsewhere.” Of course this is nonsense, though even these goals are worthy ones and not to be sneered at.
“Social engineering” (Brown’s words) versus “a greener county and greener world” (my words) is one of the central issues of our time. It will be an issue in our June and November elections, both local and national. Is “global warming” (or “climate change”) bogus or real? Of what importance should land use, conservation, and open space programs be in formulating county policies?
Yet, it’s true, as Mr. Brown writes, that our county’s population of fewer than 300,000 is a tiny fraction of our globe’s more than 7 billion inhabitants. But that should not stop us from doing our share to make this “speck in the universe” more livable for generations to come. It is our responsibility to do what we can do to curb our outmoded growth-at-any-cost practices COLAB espouses.