The disparaging comments in the Dec. 5 Shredder column on Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian’s “yes” vote on Assembly Bill 8 is an unfortunate and unwarranted example of the old adage “No good deed goes unpunished” (“Hypocrisy and taxes,” Dec. 5). This bill, recently signed into law by Gov. Brown, extends the sunset date for existing vehicle, tire, vessel, and smog abatement fees dedicated to emission reduction programs like the Carl Moyer Program that provide critically needed investment in air quality and clean transportation. Many of these fees have been in place since 1997 and have provided more than $1 billion statewide for voluntary replacement or retrofit of more than 48,000 high-pollution engines with cleaner, low-emission units. These efforts have reduced more than 146,000 tons of smog-forming emissions and 6,000 tons of toxic, carcinogenic emissions while helping support more than 9,000 jobs.
Locally, the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District distributes more than $950,000 of these funds each year in grants to local businesses, government agencies, and school districts to help them replace aging, high-emission vehicles and other equipment to achieve early compliance with state air quality regulations while reducing their compliance costs and infusing dollars into the local economy. In the past 15 years, we have provided more than $11 million in grant funds to local projects through the incentive programs funded by AB 8, reducing more than 2,500 tons of pollutant emissions. This has contributed to significant improvements in local and countywide air quality and lowered risks to public health while helping support local jobs. Numerous local business owners have told us they could not comply with state regulations and stay in business without the assistance provided by these grants.
AB 8 was actively supported by a very broad, statewide coalition of more than 80 environmental, public health, education, transportation, business, and agriculture associations. Katcho was asked by this coalition and our agency to support the bill; at the same time, he was heavily lobbied by his own Republican caucus and anti-tax groups to vote against it. Katcho was one of only three Republican assemblymembers to vote for AB 8; without his vote, it would not have passed. Katcho voted for the bill because he believes in the demonstrated and substantial economic and public health benefits it has and will provide for his constituents and all of California. I know, because I talked to him about it prior to the vote. To portray Katcho’s vote as “a desire to please his oil industry buddies” is not just wrong, it’s a highly misinformed and misplaced dig at a local politician who should be commended for following his conscience and convictions in the face of considerable political risk.
-- Larry Allen - Air Pollution Control District, San Luis Obispo County