10:00 PM PST on Monday, February 8, 2010

By DUANE W. GANG
The Press-Enterprise

COLTON – U.S. Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina used the CalPortland cement plant in Colton on Monday as a backdrop to criticize the “thicket of regulations” that she said is killing jobs in California.

Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO, is seeking the Republican nomination in June and fighting for the chance to take on incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., in the general election.

The loss of jobs in California has been a Republican theme in both the U.S. Senate race and contest for California governor, with many of the candidates calling for streamlined regulations and tax cuts.

At CalPortland, Fiorina held a roundtable discussion with more than two-dozen local business owners, including the company’s president and CEO, Allen Hamblen, and others in the construction and transportation industries.

She used the event to criticize Boxer for supporting what she called job-killing legislation. Fiorina did not mention her two main GOP challengers — former congressman Tom Campbell and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine.

“We have the capability to solve all of our problems in this country,” she said. “But the hurdles being put in our way are becoming more and more onerous.”

CalPortland’s plant in Colton had produced cement since 1891 but shut down nearly all of its operations in November because of the economy. Nearly 100 workers lost their jobs.

Stimulus not enough

Fiorina said the federal economic stimulus bill did not include enough money for infrastructure and did little to help save jobs at companies such as CalPortland.

“You can’t build much of anything without cement,” she said. “And yet, here this plant sits virtually idle.”

Although she advocated for responsible environmental protection, she said regulations such as cap-and-trade proposals to curb greenhouse gas emissions and the federal Endangered Species Act can kill jobs.

Fiorina said CalPortland has been an environmentally responsible company. But cement production produces carbon dioxide emissions. Too much regulation will just shift cement manufacturing to China, she said.

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