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LBBJ: How do you think we can become energy independent?
DeLong: First of all, I think we should continue to invest in researching alternatives to fossil fuels.
LBBJ: Any specifics as to what those alternatives might be? Are we talking about wind, solar . . .
DeLong: I think everything. Solyndra certainly wasn’t the best investment, but other than that I would continue to do that. Give tax incentives to the private sector to go make those investments.
LBBJ: What about biofuels? Do you support investment in biofuel technology?
DeLong: I do. Again, what I’d like to see is the private sector make the investment. Now, the private sector reaps the rewards if it turns out to be beneficial, but my preference is for the private sector, not the public sector, to make these investments.
LBBJ: In an environment where corporations are holding on to their funds because Washington is at a stalemate, do you think that kind of investment could occur?
DeLong: I do. It’s a matter of sitting down with those industry leaders and saying, “What would it take for you to invest your dollars in this way?” I’ll give you an example. When the AT&T and T-Mobile merger was going to happen a couple of years ago, and the federal communications commission said, as part of this deal, “If we approve this, you need to bring those offshore call centers back to the states.” I’ve always thought that was the wrong approach. I always thought the right question to ask is, “What is it that we are doing that is motivating you to take your call centers offshore? What could we do to keep those jobs here for Americans?” I think that’s the kind of dialogue that you need to have with industry leaders. What can we do to have a more hospitable business climate so that businesses can grow in the United States and keep Americans in those jobs? What can we do at a policy level to make that happen?
I go back a number of years to when George Deukmejian was governor. He was interviewed on a radio show recently and was asked, “Governor, how do you create jobs in California?” He said two things which struck me. One was a blue ribbon commission that looked at 50,000 government regulations. They got rid of some that were just awful, kept ones that were doing great. Some of the other ones they had to tweak. They are mostly good, but they had some unintended consequences. He said, “The next thing you know, several million jobs were created in California.” That was the private sector that created those jobs. It wasn’t the public sector. But what government did was create a hospitable environment so that the private sector could grow and expand and create jobs. That’s what we need to do in our country.
LBBJ: So you see the Keystone Pipeline as creating jobs?
DeLong: I do. But again, you need to do it in an environmentally friendly manner.
LBBJ: Offshore drilling as well?
DeLong: I think you have to look at it. If it can be done so it is environmentally friendly, then let’s examine it.
LBBJ: Do you have any ideas as far as offshore drilling regulations that may need to be put in place after the gulf oil spill?
DeLong: I don’t.
LBBJ: So you would have that conversation with the private sector?
DeLong: I would. The environmentalists get a seat at the table, too. So that conversation isn’t just with the private sector. I think all the stakeholders need to be there.
LBBJ: Our existing landfills, such as Puente Hills, are reaching capacity. What’s your position on increasing recycling efforts to reduce the “everything is disposable” mindset?
DeLong: I absolutely think we should head in that direction, but we need to be careful. What we don’t want to do is create rules and regulations that then add costs to both consumers and the private sector. [That could further damage our] economy, which is stumbling as it is. So we need to be balanced in our approach. We need to look at examples like Long Beach. We have a great SERRF (southeast resource recovery facility). Very little of our waste goes to landfill; instead we take that waste and we convert it to energy here in Long Beach. It’s a great model.
LBBJ: One thing about SERRF, though, is it is coming under regulation of AB 32. So what do you think about that particular legislation?
DeLong: We need to look at it very closely. I am very concerned about the negative impacts that AB 32 is going to have on the economy. We need to be careful as it is implemented.
LBBJ: When you are talking about the economy, you’re talking about public and private sectors?
DeLong: It’s the State of California that chases business out. There are fewer jobs for our residents, and then there are fewer tax revenues going to our state government. It negatively impacts our economy. More businesses left California last year than ever before. They didn’t go out of business; they chose to go out of state. California has a horrible track record.
LBBJ: And a piece of that would be environmental regulation?
DeLong: That’s a piece. It’s not the only piece, but it is a piece. I think we saw some bipartisanship when governors Davis, Wilson and Deukmejian put an op-ed together [in 2009. To read it, go to: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/feb/02/california-governors-decry-red-tape/] and talked about the unintended consequences of CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act). Many now use it to extort funds from developers. That doesn’t serve the public.
LBBJ: Access to quality drinking and bathing water is a challenge by various factors, including the high cost of desalination. How do we address the issue of water accessibility beyond conservation?
DeLong: As you know, the City of Long Beach has been a leader in water conservation. It’s been amazing. We consume much less water per capita today than we did 15 to 20 years ago. Most of it is not just drinking water. It’s landscaping and those kinds of things. So I think that if every city in California or in the country did what Long Beach did, we wouldn’t have any water problems for many years to come. Don’t forget, the ocean is rising. That will take care of it.
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