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Penalties for Air Pollution

July 20, 1988

At a time when concern over the disappearing ozone layer and the rapidly appearing greenhouse effect is at an all-time high, it is more than a trifle disconcerting to see your chart of "Top Air Pollution Penalties" (Metro, July 7) for the month of May.

With a maximum penalty from the South Coast Air Quality Management District set at $25,000 per day, Mobil Oil Corp. in Torrance was fined a total of $9,250 for the entire month. Various other textile and petroleum processing firms were also listed, including such hard-hitters as Shell Oil Co. and Exxon Co. USA.

Fining a multibillion-dollar corporation a paltry $9,000 a month or less for violating air pollution standards is like ordering a murderer to pay for the ammunition he spent while shooting somebody--and then setting him free. When are penalties for big business going to become proportional to their offenses?

If I were CEO at one of those firms, I would sign off monthly pollution penalties in my budget as a "necessary operational expense."

GORDON N. GARY

Los Angeles

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