Given that transportation and air pollution are important parts of
the energy and agricultural cycles, I thought this might interest
some of you.
------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
California air cleanup: oversize wagons, trucks get treated like cars
LARRY GERBER, Associated Press Writer
Friday, November 6, 1998
(11-06) 06:20 EST EL MONTE, Calif. (AP) -- California, the nation's
most car-populated state, became the first to force most sport
utility vehicles, pickups and minivans to meet the same pollution
standards as regular cars.
The 12-member state Air Resources Board, facing federally mandated
emission reductions by 2010, unanimously approved the rules Thursday
after a final hearing. The new rules are likely to be closely examined
by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Automakers said they cannot meet the tough new smog-control
standards. But the air regulators said they can and must.
In California, there are 25 million vehicles on the roads. As in the
rest of the nation, about half the new vehicles sold are the bulky
variety exempt by weight from more stringent car-pollution standards
because regulators used to regard them as work wagons.
The new rules apply only to new cars sold starting in 2004 and will
be phased in through 2010, with re-evaluations scheduled every two
The rules would expand passenger car emission standards to all
vehicles that weigh up to 8,500 pounds. That will include about 90
percent of sport utility vehicles and most pickups and minivans.
The rules would also create a new medium-duty class between 8,501
pounds and 14,000 pounds gross vehicle weight that would have nearly
as stringent standards.
``I'm very disappointed in the outcome,'' said Samuel A. Leonard, an
emissions expert with General Motors. ``It just means we've got to
put our engineers to work, put the catalyst companies to work, come
back in two years and see where we are. It's all we can do."
He and other industry experts predicted that Californians would be
paying more for cars in a decade and would have fewer choices.
Advocates for the tougher standards disputed that claim.
``We've heard that `end of Western civilization' scenario every time
there's talk of standards,'' said Janet S. Hathaway, an attorney for
the Natural Resources Defense Council. ``It's not going to change the
variety of vehicles that are available, and the cost is
Air Resources Board members showed off a 1998 Ford Explorer that had
been converted to meet the new standards for about $200.
``We feel if we could do this in our lab for a couple hundred bucks,
what can the biggest car manufacturers in the world do with all the
facilities they have?'' board spokesman Jerry Martin said. ``And we're
giving them five to seven years to do it.''
I cannot believe the number of Damned SUVs on the road anymore. I
swear I'll go postal the next time I see one at Whole Foods with a
Save The Earth bumper sticker and Muffy or Biff in their enviro
T-shirts toting their paper bags of organic salsa and arugula back to
the 3,600-square-foot, lawn-surrounded Starter Castle atop former Dane
County Antigo Silt Loam. "Work wagons" my left ventricle.
In response to Heidi's question about consumption-based taxes, I
believe that these vehicles are a good example of something that
should be taxed heavily--for their increased pollution outputs and
resource consumption. Hauling shopping bags, kayaks, Trek bicycles,
skis, sailboards, surfboards, camping gear, giant dogs, and scuba
diving equipment around doesn't qualify for "work wagon" status in
Michele Gale-Sinex, communications manager
Center for Integrated Ag Systems
UW-Madison College of Ag and Life Sciences
Voice: (608) 262-8018 FAX: (608) 265-3020
Take a deep breath. Yeah, I know it doesn't make
you feel better, but it oxygenates your blood and
allows you to swear in longer strings. --Mister 3D
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