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Labeling Business, Punishing Individuals

by Susannah Kopecky, published

Now, just because something is fashionable, that doesn't mean it's right. Unfortunately, many government leaders these days don't seem to grasp that fact. A bill currently in the California Assembly would make it a rule that consumer products would have to be labeled according to the amount of greenhouse gases used to create said product. For an already ailing business community, this is a terrible idea.

The current rage for all things green, may, ironically, cause a serious setback in the amount of green that businesses, and by extension, government, would see. When business is bad, there are fewer dollars from which to tax.

AB 19 concerns "Greenhouse gas emissions: consumer product labeling," and is a bad bill for a number of reasons. The legislation, which is still in committee, would authorize the Carbon Labeling Act of 2009, which supposedly would be a voluntary program for businesses. What exactly is the point of a business volunteering to disclose approximately how much carbon dioxide was created when making a product? You've got us there.

AB 19 was introduced in December 2008 by Assemblymember Ira Ruskin, and was amended earlier this month on May 4. The bill itself bases its power on the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which "designates the State Air Resources Board as the state agency charged with monitoring and regulating sources of emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming in order to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases."

If passed, AB 19 would usher in the "Carbon Labeling Act of 2009," which would "require the state board to develop and implement a program for the voluntary assessment, verification, and standardized labeling of the carbon footprint, as defined, of consumer products sold in this state."

Bills such as AB 19 are frivolous and a waste of taxpayer's time. State leaders are paid to enact reasonable and helpful legislation and to oversee a responsible and useful government apparatus, not create further regulations to punish businesses using flimsy reasoning.

As the recent pushback against climate change legislation has proven, some citizens (and even representatives, local and federal) are no longer buying the blanket explanation that all climate change is from man-made evil. With fluctuating temperature, both record highs AND lows, and flimsy data to support the foregone conclusion of global climate change, it begs the question: why are legislators focusing on punishing citizens for working and creating goods, when no one really knows exactly where carbon footprints are stepping?

A darker question bubbles beneath the surface, however: once businesses are allowed to be legislated and punished for alleged anti-environment byproducts, at what point are individual citizens targeted as well? If this legislation is passed, individuals in the business community will be punished, if not forced straightaway into falsifying "carbon footprint" information and misleading the public on an already frivolous issue. Once all state leaders have taken a course in basic environmental science and can thoroughly explain why they're against what is viewed as "evil" carbon, then and only then should they be legislating on such complex issues.


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