It seems my suspicions on California’s actions are confirmed. In the debate over Jesse James’s recent fine of over $200,000 for violation of the California Clear Air Act, I recently questioned why it had taken so long for the state to care. James was fined for about 50 bikes he made between ’98 and ’05 that did not adhere to environmental standards. It appears that his celebrity-status may have lent him to being a target.Â Jesse cleared this up in an interview with the Press-Telegram,
“I’ve alwaysbeen in compliance with CARB,” he told us,Â “Back before ’98, they used to go after the bigger manufacturers, companies that built more than 50 bikes a year. We’ve always made 20 or fewer. In ’98, apparently, there was a change in the bureaucracy, but I never received any notification of the change.
“Then, in July 2005, right after I got married (to Sandra Bullock; you might’ve read about that, too), a CARB official came into the shop and revoked the registration of all the bikes I’d sold in that period, saying they either had to be removed from the road or removed from the state.”
According to the article, James offered to take back the bikes and outfit them with the necessary equipment, but the state wanted a financial settlement of almost $22,000 per bike! “Look, West Coast Choppers is famous. I’m famous. My wife is famous. I think that’s why they went after us so strongly. But just because I’m famous doesn’t mean I’m a billionaire. I said, `Do you want to clean up the air, or do you just want a bunch of money? Because I can bring those bikes into the shop and clean them up the way you want them.’ I told them to choose between the environment and the money.”
Obviously, the state chose the money — but the entire process appears to have made an example of James at an unfair price to his pocketbook and name. Hit the article for more; including some of the environmental projects James is currently involved. Of particular interest is a hydrogen car he built called the ‘Hydro-Hell’ that, once ready, will be vying for the hydrogen-land speed record.