While almost every politician in America was stumbling all over themselves to be photographed with a shovel or some other tool of manual labor on Earth Day, a California company announced that after 65 years it was closing its doors effective immediately.

Gregg Industries is a foundry in El Monte and it has been in operation since 1944 when California was a critical player in FDR’s “arsenal of democracy”. They didn’t make planes or tanks. But they made some of the critical engine pieces that drove tanks in war and the bulldozers and heavy equipment that built postwar California.

They were due to close on April 30, but decided to close today, a week early.

Why? What was the rush?

Enter the Environmental Storm Troopers of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD).

This is from a press release from Gregg Industries parent, Neenah Foundry Company:

“At this point, we feel like SCAQMD is literally running Gregg out of California and our employees out of their jobs,” said Bob Ostendorf, President and CEO of Neenah Foundry Company, Gregg’s parent company. “We’d rather cease foundry operations early than risk SCAQMD inspectors inciting workers who already feel worried about Gregg’s closure and the loss of their jobs. Neenah and its affiliates operate in four other states and I have never seen any government agency behave like SCAQMD,” Ostendorf said.

These bureaucratic bullies have been harassing Gregg Industries despite the company agreeing last October to invest $5 million in new processes to reduce the manufacturing odors that had been the source of some complaint.

Do you think that mattered to the SCAQMD? Hell no!
They just kept on showing up unannounced for inspections, abusing staff and demanding entrance to the facility without escort and without wearing protective equipment. (Wait till CALOSHA hears about this!)

They even threatened force to push past a lone security guard on Good Friday when the plant was closed.

The company had intended to keep open a machine shop that employed 75 people but have since said they would rethink those plans. 75 people will lose these high skilled high paying jobs and will join others in the unemployment lines because the desk sitters and environmental Luddites at the SCAQMD said so.

And here’s the kicker.

They were also making some of the very green turbo diesel parts that would have helped California truckers meet the new emissions standards set by the state in accordance with Arnold’s favorite bill, AB 32!

And speaking of the Governor, where is he and his vaunted economic team that is supposed to help keep jobs in California? How about it David Crane? Where was the California Commission on Jobs and Economic Growth? Where was the Legislature? Probably too busy holding meaningless hearings on nanny state laws and passing even more stringent environmental legislation that sacrifice California businesses on the green altar of environmental purity.

Let’s see, press conferences and gala events for Tesla electric cars that no one can afford at $109,000, but a silent, swift kick out the door for Gregg Industries who was actually producing something that works and helps the environment.

Someone needs to stand up to these zealots of the SCAQMD and none too soon lest they continue to drive away California businesses and jobs at an alarming rate.

How about it Governor?

But somehow I think that the coastal environmental elitists snug in their compounds in Hollywood, Beverly Hills and the San Francisco Bay Area sipping on Chardonnay and eating vegan could care less about how some hard working blue collar workers in El Monte will put food on the table now that their jobs have vanished.

For the workers at Gregg Industries, Earth Day 2009 will always be remembered as the day they were told that after 65 years of building California, they were no longer needed.