Commentary: Environmental regulators' flights ethically uncertain

The officials directing California's historic effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions already face an extremely difficult task. They shouldn't be complicating the challenge by taking luxury trips abroad that are partially financed by the businesses they regulate.

Unfortunately, more than two dozen top officials have done just that, raising questions about their independence and judgment. An investigation by Bee reporter Tom Knudson published in the July 26 editions found that California regulators have taken trips outside the country to examine other nations' response to climate change that have been partly paid for by greenhouse gas polluters, including Chevron, PG&E, Shell Oil and BP.

The regulators have been accompanied on these journeys by lobbyists and executives of the industries they are supposed to oversee, and even some legislators. The state has added to the ethical uncertainty by making it difficult to find out exactly what goes on during these nonpublic interactions.

To read the complete editorial, visit sacbee.com.