Tough clean air rules could cost 30,000 jobs if Southern California companies leave the region rather than implement costly anti-smog regulations, a coalition of business and labor leaders said Monday.
The Southern California Coalition for Jobs and a Clean Environment delivered a simple message to the South Coast Air Quality Management District: Let's talk.
"We want clean air. We want clean water. But at the same time, the quality of life is dependent on having a job," said William Campbell, president of the California Manufacturers Assn.
The coalition said 106 companies in the region estimated they would lose between 24,000 and 30,000 jobs during the next decade because of the new clean air rules.
With an existing 6.7% unemployment rate in California, the area can ill afford to lose the jobs, industry leaders told reporters at a Greater Los Angeles Press Club news conference.
The survey was taken in reaction to rules imposed by the AQMD, the regional agency assigned to battle the country's worst smog. Its regulations are so far-reaching that critics say they will stifle the regional economy.
District spokesman Bill Kelly estimated costs for complying with the rules adopted in March, 1989, would vary widely. A large power plant might pay roughly $8 million per smokestack, while a dry cleaning operation might pay several thousand dollars for new equipment.
Campbell said business leaders are concerned about environmental issues, and that fewer jobs would be lost if they could sit down and discuss "creative" ideas with district officials.
Campbell cited Unocal's recent program under which gas-guzzling older model cars were purchased and snatched from roadways as being better than sweeping directives which simply indicate what a business cannot do.
The year-old coalition includes the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the California Manufacturers Assn. and the Ethnic Coalition of Southern California.
Coalition members asked to meet with district Chairman Norton Younglove to discuss its recommendations.
Those include providing job retraining and turning the AQMD's public advisory office into an ombudsman to help small businesses deal with the regulations.
District spokesman Tom Eichhorn said he was surprised by the appeal for discussions.
"I thought we had been talking," he said. "We're willing to meet with them any time they want. We want dialogue. However, we still have a bottom line of emissions reduction we have to meet."