The South Coast Air Quality Management District in Southern California has a well-deserved reputation for activism. And that's not bad, considering the people vs. the environment situation in the highly populated area. The agency's latest interaction with the rubber business, however, has the industry fuming—and with good reason.
The South Coast district wants a new air quality rule approved requiring rubber product makers to pay fees for presses and molds that process more than 200 pounds of rubber on any given day. The cost: an annual fee of $175.60 and a one-time charge of $304.20 for each press or mold.
That adds up to about $190,000 for permits on the existing machines and molds used by the 2,500 manufacturers in the region, plus $110,000 annually in licensing fees.
Maybe those amounts don't sound like much to the air quality board. But rubber goods makers in the area already operate under some severe handicaps. They don't need a new regulation that companies in other states don't face, nor an extra cost.
The environmental movement is ahead of the curve in California. Again, that's not a bad thing. It does mean, however, businesses in the area face higher costs than their competitors in other regions.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District shouldn't just dismiss the pleas of the rubber processors who, hoping to steer the regulation toward something they can live with, proposed an emissions-from-presses rule. The board rejected the suggestion as 9too complicated.9
If the cost of doing business gets any tougher in California, it may become 9too complicated9 for some rubber processors to operate in that state. The air quality board should consider that before it makes its final decision.