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Smart Bombs: Industry alarmists heat up

After pounding the “job killer” theme and exhausting all Al Gore jokes, conservatives still face the problem of global warming. I’m all for a solution that doesn’t shake workers or rattle the economy, so let’s hear them.

The Reagan administration allowed refineries to trade pollution credits to phase out leaded gasoline. The first Bush administration used a cap-and-trade scheme to curtail acid rain. But like the health insurance mandate, which was originally a Republican idea, such market-based solutions are now demonized.

President Bush also signed the Clean Air Act of 1990 against the wishes of powerful industrial interests. The Cry Wolf Project’s website has collected some quotes from that debate that sound familiar today. Examples:

“The technology to meet these standards simply does not exist today…[and we predict] major supply disruptions.” – Mobil Oil, 1990, on requirements for cleaner gasoline.

The phase-out of ozone-depleting CFCs would cause “severe economic and social disruption.” – DuPont Chemical Co., 1990.

“Initiatives such as the acid rain legislation would, in this respect, achieve only the dubious distinction of moving the United States towards the status of a second-class industrial power by the end of the century.” – National Association of Manufacturers, 1987.

It seems any prospective regulation triggers the can’t-do spirit of American business.

In 1966, Henry Ford II warned that auto safety requirements, including seat belts, would force his company to “close down.” Turns out people like safety, and the industry has adapted.

In 1974, Chrysler’s vice president of engineering told a U.S. Senate subcommittee that fuel efficiency standards might “… restrict the industry to producing subcompact size cars – or even smaller ones – within five years.”

While dropping off my daughter at school last week, I joined a long line of cars, all of them SUVs, including my hybrid.


Plaza Sweet. The city of Spokane is asking the public to name the new downtown plaza that connects to newly upgraded Huntington Park, opening up spectacular views of the waterfalls. My meager offerings:

Power Plaza – Next to a dam. Adjacent to City Hall.

Rift Plaza – The river’s chasm serves as the north-south dividing line for the city. What better way to acknowledge local class warfare?

Shadow Plaza – An ironic label to commemorate the Department of Ecology’s decision to deny the city a shoreline permit to build the Lincoln Street bridge. The state agency said the bridge would cast a shadow over the landmark falls. It signaled the beginning of the end of a structure that would’ve marred this magnificent vista.

This Is Why Plaza – In honor of the public’s strong opposition to the Lincoln Street bridge project. All six candidates for City Council in the 1999 general election opposed the idea. A ballot measure calling for a vote on the bridge passed overwhelmingly. Shortly thereafter, the city surrendered.

Good old days. Last week, some Texans celebrated the state’s “open carry” law by bringing their long guns into fast food restaurants. A National Rifle Association staffer called this stunt “downright weird,” but the NRA’s chief lobbyist later apologized to the riflemen.

In 1934, according to a National Journal article, NRA President Karl Frederick said during congressional testimony on a bill to regulate sawed-off shotguns and machine guns, “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I seldom carry one …. I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”

Associate Editor Gary Crooks can be reached at or (509) 459-5026. Follow him on Twitter @GaryCrooks.

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