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Shovel ready means never ready
WRITTEN BY :   Jerome Stocks

We hear a lot these days about the need for “shovel ready jobs” and the lack of them, as well as the “do nothing Congress”. For those who want answers, not excuses, let’s visit some of the places where job preventers work.
First stop: The home of the President of the United States and his Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency. This group steals more jobs and wealth in one week than a corporate jet full of greedy bankers in a lifetime.
Right now, thousands of American local, regional, and state governments are willing to hire private contractors and their employees to build projects and thereby create jobs. But it takes years, if ever, to get permission to build infrastructure using the National environmental Protection Act(NEPA) approval process.
If the president simply uttered the phrase “we’re gonna’ drill in the U.S. and drill now” the worldwide cost of oil would probably plummet giving greater economic relief to our middle class than all the congressional bills combined. But so far he’s said the opposite making OPEC happier and wealthier than ever.
Would we actually need to drill? Probably not, but attitude matters.
$5.00 loaf of bread and $5.00 gallon of milk got you down? Thank the $4.00 per gallon cost of fuel which has increased the cost of food delivery.
What if workers were caught in a mineshaft and running out of air. How long would it take to get the emergency equipment into the field to start digging them out? Hours, maybe less.
What would we do if the EPA showed up and said it would take years to get to the permits for this life saving work? We’d run them over with our trucks on our way to save those lives, wouldn’t we.
America is said to be in an economic and unemployment emergency right now, but we are acting like business as usual and allowing the regulatory agencies to take up to ten years or more to approve projects and identify “mitigation” to offset them.
People are standing by ready to create jobs by the hundreds of thousands by drilling tomorrow, and building infrastructure critical to our future, yet if they did they would pay huge fines, and possibly go to jail for violating the environmental regulations.
In today’s America creating jobs without the proper regulatory approvals is illegal, and regulatory relief is not being seriously considered in Washington.
Does that sound logical to you?
By contrast: The Los Angeles home of former California Governor Pete Wilson.
After a California earthquake in 1994, then Governor Wilson declared an emergency and promised to rebuild the collapsed Santa Monica Freeway inside a year. Impossible, said the regulators. The permits and environmental studies alone will prevent us from starting for several years.
Wilson’s regulators got his message: Make it happen. And it indeed did happen. And by the way, the environment wasn’t destroyed either.
Now almost 20 years later the President of the United States says he is going to put America back to work by throwing money at shovel-ready jobs. But nothing in the “Jobs Act” or any of the other economic stimulus type bills has directed the regulators about this national priority and that “shovel ready” must not mean years and years of analysis and study before getting something built.
Maybe the President needs to call Pete Wilson.
Jerome Stocks is deputy city mayor for the city of Encinitas, board chairman of the San Diego Association of Government and a board member of the North County Transit District.

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Published: October 20, 2011 – Volume 10 – Issue 27



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