I received an alert from the ARB news service touting a recent employer citation and fine and was struck by a few comments in the article.

SACRAMENTO – The California Air Resources Board recently fined Rapid Harvest Company $16,500 for diesel emissions violations.

An ARB investigation showed Rapid Harvest, based in Salinas, Calif., failed to properly inspect their diesel vehicles in 2005.

Recently fined $16,500 for failing to properly inspect in 2005?! Where is the equity in this? I guess the fact that this employer apparently DID properly inspect their diesel vehicles in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009, as one would assume due to the lack of any fine or penalty levied for those years, didn’t matter?

Thankfully, we find out that the fine wasn’t levied in vain. As it turns out, they did it for the kids!

"There are instances where companies are not aware of ARB’s requirements," said ARB Enforcement Chief James Ryden. "And while this doesn’t excuse them from complying, any company found in violation that cooperates to bring its equipment quickly into compliance scores a victory for public health."

Rapid Harvest agreed to pay $16,500 in penalties: $12,375 will go to the California Air Pollution Control Fund for projects and research to improve California’s air quality. The remaining $4,125 will go to the Peralta Community College District to fund emissions education classes conducted by participating California community colleges.

I’m sorry, but if the point is to score a victory for public health, why doesn’t CARB send that $16,500 to the Oakland Children’s Hospital, or (gasp*) to The American Lung Association of California, or to any one of the thousands of organizations that are actually involved in public health. And how does fining Rapid Harvest in 2010 for something that happened in 2005, score anything for public health back in 2010?

What I really want to know is who is watching over how the money in the California Air Pollution Control Fund is being spent? Who watches over where and how Rapid Harvest’s hard-earned $12,375 is being spent? According to the State of California Manual of State Funds, "the money in the fund shall be available to the State Air Resources Board to carry out its duties and functions."

A victory for public health, indeed.