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Jewish World Review
June 8, 2007
/ 22 Sivan 5767
Burn a log, go to jail
Well, the Eco-Gestapo has struck again. As reported by the Los Angels Times, Southern
California air regulators have approved a plan that if implemented will "place stringent
restrictions on home fireplaces." The plan includes a complete ban on wood-burning fireplaces
in all new homes in Los Angeles county, Orange county, and parts of San Bernadino and Riverside
counties. It would ban wood-fueled fires in ALL homes in some areas during what they call,
"winter pollution spikes." And it would require homeowners in some areas to remove or
permanently close off fireplaces before they can sell their house. Either that, or install
costly pollution control devices on them. Welcome to yet another example of liberal big
government legislation taking a bite out of personal freedom.
Out of a total of 5 million homes in Southern California almost 2 million of them have
fireplaces. Besides missing the obvious aesthetics and enjoyment of having a nice cozy fire on
a cold wintry night, there are numerous businesses that would be hurt by the new regulations.
Chimney sweeps would go the way of the village blacksmith and girdle makers, people who work in
the brick and mortar sectors of home building would be hurt as well as the real estate
business. The only business that would profit from this will be the companies who manufacture
and install those new "pollution control devices" for the fireplaces.
"A fireplace - especially a beautiful fireplace, and what people normally mean by that
is a wood-burning fireplace it's the thing people like to have" when they buy a home, said
real estate agent Barbara Burner, who works for Century 21 in Thousand Oaks. Yeah, no kidding.
Try to snuggle up in front of a forced-air wall heater with your best girl you can pretty much
kiss off any romance for the night, my friend. And don't tell me about "natural gas logs"
there's nothing "natural" or "log" about having a hunk of painted cement surrounding a pipe
comprised of 6 gas jets which emit that steady blue/yellow front burner glow and run up your
gas bills like crazy. And spending an evening in front of that thing would be about as sexy as
cuddling up in front of my mother's O'Keefe & Merritt kitchen gas range.
An estimated 5,400 people in the region die prematurely due to exposure to fine
particles, generated largely by diesel exhaust, according to state estimates. I would
seriously question how the powers that be came up with that number, but for the sake of
argument let's accept the statement on face value. Now, what did it say again? "An estimated
5,400 people in the region die prematurely due to exposure to fine particles generated largely
by diesel exhaust." Did you get that? GENERATED LARGELY BY DIESEL EXHAUST not fireplace
So let me get this straight because trucks on the California freeways are spewing out
crap that kills people, the government shuts down private home fireplaces? That makes sense.
How about trying this instead how about curtailing all those 18 wheelers coming up across the
boarder from Mexico? Any restriction on those? No? Any regulations? No? I thought not.
And if you think the smog generated from those trucks is bad now, just you wait, Henry
Higgins. According to a report by the California Air Resources Board released this past March,
50 tons of new smog - the equivalent of that produced by 2.2 million cars will be pouring
into California's skies because 17,500 Mexican trucks will be crossing into the Golden State
each day under NAFTA's rules. Today, that number is only 3,500 trucks. You do the math. And
no, folks, Mexico does not require installation of any sort of pollution control devices on
It wouldn't surprise me to hear that banning outdoor barbequing is next up on the agenda
for the Eco-Gestapo. No kidding, just think of all that charcoal smoke polluting the air.
I'll bet someone is working on a barbeque version of the catalytic converter right now. Then
every barbecue will be required to have this device installed. And every year the state will
require people to bring their barbeques in to a certified barbeque smog check representative
who (for a nominal fee) will make sure your barbecue passes a smog test before you can use it
that year. Of course the state will get their piece of the action, too, in the form of license
fees for every barbecue in California. What a cash cow!
But let's get back to fireplaces. I guess you get the idea by now that I am against
government regulations on my fireplace. I'm also against government regulations on smoking,
seatbelts, bicycle helmets, and transfats. I want the government out of my personal life. The
government's job should be to protect me from bad people who want to do me harm and to fill
potholes in the streets period. I don't want the government telling me what I should eat or
where I can smoke or what I should wear on my head if I choose to ride a bike. The government
needs to keep terrorists off our shores and I'll decide what kind of fat should be in my
If you own a fireplace, better enjoy it while you've got it because you may not have
long to use it. If you don't have a fireplace, well, you can still put on your bicycle helmet
and peddle yourself over to get a tofu burger. But be careful don't breath in any of that
nasty smog from the unregulated Mexican diesel trucks on the way. That could kill you.
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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© 2006, Greg Crosby