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corporate dominance | environment | sustainability

California OKs toughest car emission rules

This converted Suburban truck is powered by compressed natural gas, which emits fewer pollutants than conventional vehicles. California took the lead in the international effort to reduce global warming Friday by adopting regulations that would cut vehicle emissions by as much as 25 percent.
LOS ANGELES - California air regulators Friday unanimously approved the world's most stringent rules to reduce auto emissions that contribute to global warming a move that could affect car and truck buyers from coast to coast.

Under the regulations, the auto industry must cut exhaust from cars and light trucks by 25 percent and from larger trucks and sport utility vehicles by 18 percent. The industry will have until 2009 to begin introducing cleaner technology, and will have until 2016 to meet the new exhaust standards.

The move by the California Air Resources Board came despite vigorous opposition from auto industry officials, who argued that the board did not have the authority to adopt such sweeping regulations and that they could not be met by current technology.

The industry has threatened to challenge the regulations in court. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has expressed support for the proposals and has pledged to fight any such lawsuits.

Schwarzenegger's environmental protection secretary, Terry Tamminen, said that California should do its part to reduce pollution.

"We can make it clear that yes, we understand that our contribution, no matter how large or small, makes a difference," Tamminen said. "Every single action that we take or inaction makes a difference."

Heat-trapping greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are believed by many scientists to contribute to global warming.

Automakers will be required to reduce emissions by way of such innovations as better air conditioners, more efficient transmissions and smaller engines.

Automakers argued that the regulations would raise new vehicle costs as much as $3,000. But the agency's staff said that the automakers had exaggerated and that the cost increases would top out at about $1,000 per vehicle by 2016.

Gloria J. Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the industry trade group Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said no decision has been made on whether to challenge the regulations in court.

Bergquist said introducing the technology would be "almost as complicated as developing the first automobile." And she complained that the regulations would reduce worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases by only "one-tenth of 1 percent."

"We see that as no apparent health benefit at a great cost to California consumers," she said.

The new standards could have coast-to-coast effect: Because California represents 10 percent of the national auto market, the auto industry often overhauls all of its cars to meet California's standards. Also, other states sometimes follow California's lead when it comes to adopting clean-air standards.

California is the only state able to set its own vehicle pollution standards. Other states can adopt either federal vehicle pollution standards or California's.

Board members said they were disappointed automakers did not accept invitations to work with them on the regulations.

"The response, the silence, was deafening," said the chairman, Alan Lloyd. "I hope that we still can work together on this tremendously important issue. The stakes could not be higher."

homepage: homepage: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6091913/

less than the whole story 27.Sep.2004 08:29


This article fails to make an adequate distinction between "smog" emissions and greenhouse emissions.
Smog sucks, and dealing with combustion byproducts other than co2 does help deal with it, but ultimately, all that carbon winds up as c02, which is heating up the planet and screwing up the weather. Cutting heavy vehicle emissions 18% is not going to help much, considering how many of them their are, including the ones in the governator's and mr kerry's garage.
I got Brad Berman's Hybrid Car Newsletter a couple weeks ago, and he bemoaned the lack of prescence in the presidential contest of fuel economy/hybrid cars as an issue(duh).
Brad did some investigation, and contacted both campains for their official stance on hybrids and fuel economy. As expected, bushco has no interest, and the only incentive they offer to get people into vehicles that would really make a difference is continuation of the modest federal tax credit for buying a hybrid.
Kerry's stance is hardly better. He wants to give Detroit a 10 billion dollar subsidy to get moving on hybrids, in addition to the modest tax incentives already on the books.
I need to haul stuff, and a Prius just isn't big enough, so I researched the much ballyhooed toyota highlander hybrid. Turns out toyota's committment to hybrid technology is so deep that they are shipping every toyota dealer in the country 6 hybrid highlanders. Boy howdy, that's gonna make a difference. These 6 vehicles per dealer will all be loaded with every option and sold with additional dealer markup above msrp, which puts them in the low 40k range(kinda outa my price league). I was told that if I wanted to put a thousand dollar deposit down, they would guarantee vehicle delivery in 6/05.
Considering that I could buy the vehicle with conventional drivetrain, without options I don't want and no markup beyond msrp for about ten grand less than the price of the eventually available hybrid, I have no reason to doubt that the purveyors of cleaner vehicles will jack the consumer for several thousand dollars a vehicle after they jack the government for 10 billion dollars to develop them (assuming bush is removed).
I find toyota's behavior dispicable, but at least they took the lead on their own buck. The other automakers are even more reprehensible.
I suspect the long term plan is to deal with the problem by making gas hogs impractical for persons of normal means. Raising the price of fuel as quickly as possible will do this, producing (more)recession in republican states and depression in democratic ones. Untaxed windfall profits, which could boost public transit, will go tothe petro-purveyors, instead.
This will address the emissions problem somewhat, and while it is great corporate policy, it is terrible social policy. One more reason not to throw away a vote which could help remove the greater of two evils.
Ford is making a hybrid escape with some obselete toyota powertrain components from the first generation Prius. Reviews I've read suggest that aside from the obselete toyota technology, the rest of the car is typical detroit junk.
For the time being, I think biodiesel is the most responsible option, but I also suspect that when fuel hits $3/gallon, waste vegetable oil will become a conventional feedstock for petroleum refiners. All diesel fuel will be some% veg oil, and bd 100 will be very difficult to come by.
Maybe I shouldn't care. I only drive 5k/year, and the effects of global warming seem to be punishing florida for putting this abomination in office. Problem there is most of florida didn't want this abomination in office, anyway.

Lawn mowers pollute much more than cars 27.Sep.2004 11:57

Let grass grow

The typical 2-stroke engine in lawn mowers creates more emissions in half an hour than the average vehicle being driven hundreds of miles! Attempts were made to outlaw 2-stroke engines in CA, but they were blocked by people in Congress owned by the 2-stroke engine manufacturers. Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) led an effort to keep 2-stroke engines in CA, claiming that US factories would shut down because only foreign factories are capable of manufacturing the alternative non-polluting mower engines.

Anyone who runs a 2-stroke engine is polluting more than any car.

Lawn Mowers 27.Sep.2004 13:03

Aye Nay

Lawn mowers may not burn quite as clean as cars but lawn mowers put out a tiny fraction of the amount of total hydrocarbons especially CO2 than a car or SUV. And likewise they use a tiny fraction of the gas that cars do which is whatt we are in Iraq for.

Lawn Mowers are 4 -stroke 27.Sep.2004 16:41


Most lawn mowers have Briggs and Stratton engines which are four-stroke side-valve engines. Most leaf blowers are 2-stroke and they run DIRTY in part because they are 2-stroke and in part because their operators mix-in too much oil.

Dodge will be marketing mid and full size hybrid pickups and SUVs to contractors in the near future. The other cool thing is these vehicle will have a 120 volt outlet, eliminating the need for a gas-powered generator on the work site.

... 27.Sep.2004 16:59

this thing here

we can invent electric light and telephones, powered flight and flying machines, we can invent the combustion engine automobile, the microchip, radar, radio, t.v.'s, send men into outer space, send men to the moon, supercomputers, research dna, operate remote control rovers on a distant planet, yet we cannot produce a technology which efficiently moves our automobiles, invented almost 100 years ago, cleanly and efficiently.

something is not right with this picture of technology and mankind. this is something which REALLY doesn't make ANY f'ing sense.

and what's sad is that it's not that we CAN'T, it's not we don't have any clue about where to begin, it's the we don't want to. really, what other reason is there? i can't think of one.

all the money for reasearch, all the computational, modelling, fabricating and production technologies, techniques and facilities, all the engineers and technicians, all the ideas, yet we just don't want to get our butts in gear.

sorry folks, not gonna work. not wanting to is not a good enough reason not to do something which we can, and should, do.

Market 27.Sep.2004 21:45


No we have the technology right now to cut our fuel consumption in half or less. Its called hybrids. Problem is the millions of pigs who will only buy big full gas engines. In other words the market is what has to be changed.

about lawnmowers... 28.Sep.2004 01:17

Vystrix Nexoth

well, even if lawnmowers put out more bad stuff than your average automobile over a given length of time, lawnmowers are not used nearly as often as automobiles.

couple more things 28.Sep.2004 19:24


The so-called hybrid pickup trucks chrysler and gm are introducing are really half-assed. They don't have regenerative braking, and their fuel mileage is barely better than their conventional counterparts, particularly on the highway.
With respect to people preferring to drive pigs, I'd argue that the waiting list for hybrids suggests that people want to drive hybrids more than the scumbag automobile manufacturers want to make them.
I'm not willing to wait nearly a year for a hybrid cargo-hauler that's $12000 overpriced.
The type of driving I do (almost entirely city) is well suited to a real hybrid, but Toyota is just a bunch of pricks and everybody else earns that moniker plus half-assed as well. I suspect biodiesel is in my future.
Amory Lovins/Rocky Mountain Institute have a great vision of getting all this weight and required horsepower under control with lightweight materials, but The automakers are just as resistant to this good idea as the oil oligopoly.