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Latest CARB Rules Screw Californians Yet Again

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From the people who helped bring us poison MTBE; we get a new set of irrelevant and dangerous regulations

By Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher

Recent comments from California's Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg brings this story back to the front burner.
Originally published February 4, 2012

On January 27th of this new year, California’s Air Resources Board unanimously approved a package of new emissions rules that they claim will save drivers money, create jobs, and cut smog and greenhouse gases under what is labeled The Advanced Clean Cars Program

It seems to me however that the new rules will do almost exactly the opposite of what is intended or needed, except in the area of creating new jobs. Unfortunately the problem with these new jobs, I think, is that the majority of them will only be opened in the increase of new authoritarian government positions.

Allow me to explain.

We are either facing an imminent catastrophic environmental disaster, or we merely have a pollution problem. If we’re facing catastrophic disaster, why is our government fooling around with half-hearted band-aid solutions that slowly kick in over the next several decades? We’ll be dead before the problem is solved.

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Big Oil filing up campaign coffers

If we merely have a pollution problem, then it’s time to own up to it and put into place - once and for all - measures that will eliminate the pollution. On this point, let me make the following perfectly clear: Buying carbon credits and changing CAFÉ standards does nothing to eliminate polluting activities. It is a scam that simply shifts the blame and allows exemptions; meaning that it permits on-going pollution as long as politicians and bureaucrats continue to get paid off.

In any event, both environmental scenarios require that we stop using gasoline and petroleum oil-based diesel as our primary engine fuels.

Basically, if you want to stop reading this story now, and say to yourself “OK, what is the take-away from this article?” it would be that the government(s) should mandate the end to using gasoline and petroleum oil-based diesel.

For those of you who choose to leave this page now, thank you for your time. I hope you learned something.

For those who wish to learn more about why the latest CARB rules are just another dangerous manipulation of the public, or if you’re hoping to find reasons to argue with me, please read on.

The new CARB rules (you can read all about them via the link in the first paragraph) rely upon electric-powered zero emission or plug-in hybrid passenger cars and light trucks to achieve the goals of The Advanced Clean Car Program. The reliance on these two types of vehicles is where the problem lies.

Firstly, zero emission electric vehicles are still in the realm of science fiction: The manufacturers can’t profitably produce enough within the targeted time frame. Battery technology is still too premature; and even if the technology improves, the batteries themselves rely on components (elements) and/or manufacturing facilities that seem to be mostly in the hands of ‘enemy’ nations who could do to us what OPEC has done and is doing.

Furthermore, studies from car makers, think tanks and governments indicate that electric vehicles may not really come into use as we would like until as late as 2090. The Auto Channel has links to a number of these reports. CLICK HERE for more information.

Second: plug-in hybrids, as we commonly know them, use gasoline-powered internal combustion engines to either supplement or provide most of the power used to put the vehicles in motion. The key word here is “gasoline,” the same gasoline that is at the heart of the pollution. There is no requirement or mandated provision for the engines to be fueled by either a non-fossil-fuel fuel or a domestically produced fossil-fuel fuel that causes less harmful emissions. Consequently, gasoline and diesel fuel pollution will continue by government mandate. This is like saying that the government has now mandated cigarette smoking.

Third: the number of zero-emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles mandated is insignificant to bring about the program’s desired results. Even if there is some amount of reduction in the amount of fossil fuel-borne pollution that emanates from each zero emission and plug-in hybrid vehicle, the number of total vehicles on the road will continue to grow, thereby creating as much or more pollution then we have at present.

It's also important to understand that classifying a vehicle as a plug-in hybrid doesn't require it to conform to any better emissions standards, nor does it signify that it offers better fuel efficiency than full internal combustion engine vehicles. It simply defines the vehicle as being able to operate in two modes. A large plug-in hybrid vehicle operating in gasoline ICE mode can get decidedly worse fuel efficiency and cause more pollution than a smaller gasoline-powered vehicle. Indeed, some newer diesel-powered cars get equal or better fuel efficiency with less harmful emissions than some hybrids. CARB's use of the blanket-term "plug-in hybrid" without requiring anything special of the vehicle in terms of fuel efficiency is an exaggerated category.

Fourth: the new rules provide no relief from the use of gasoline by the existing vehicles on the road in favor of less harmful fuels. Nor do the new rules provide an opportunity for the owners of the existing vehicles to convert them into lower polluting machines.

CARB continues to ban the conversion of existing gasoline-powered vehicles to CNG or propane. This ban not only grossly exceeds the EPA’s onerous restrictions on conversions of existing vehicles; it flies in the face of all global experience and scientific testing that proves that CNG and propane - as well as the conversion process itself - are safe, economical and efficient.

On this same point let me state further that CARB does nothing to expand the use of domestic ethanol or methanol or to encourage the purchase of newly manufactured CNG/propane powered passenger vehicles by mandating or even suggesting the installation of additional alternative fuel filing stations.

The Line in the Sand is Completely Imaginary
The worst part of the new CARB rules – regardless of whether the same rules are adopted by the EPA – is that the enforcement is toothless; and this is where the public really gets screwed.

Let's say that battery/electric technology doesn’t improve. Let's say that the car manufacturers just cannot make enough zero emission electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles to satisfy the requirements – either because they can’t afford to make that many vehicles that they lose money on or because public demand is just not there for a high priced or inferior performing vehicle. What happens then?

What happens is that CARB and/or EPA allows gasoline and diesel powered vehicles to continue to be manufactured, but they then impose penalty fees on consumers when they register the non-compliant vehicles or on the manufacturer for the right to sell the vehicles (which would of course be passed along to the consumer in a higher vehicle price). Therefore, what we have here is just one great big dodge to increase government revenues without actually doing anything to alleviate the pollution problem or to solve our general economic problems.

The New Jobs Fallacy of the New CARB Rules
The Advanced Clean Car Program claims it will create a significant number of new jobs. Actually, I don’t think there’s any wording that says that the program will create a “significant number” of new jobs, I put that in. After all, what’s the benefit of an all-encompassing mandated program creating new jobs if it’s not for a significant number?

In reading the new CARB rules information I couldn’t see where the new jobs will be. It looks to me as if they just said it, but then left out the details.

The new jobs won’t come in the manufacturing process: Vehicles are built in other states or countries. It’s too expensive in California and the majority of California’s politicians continually prove that they are disinterested in attracting new private-sector business.

The jobs won’t come from increased oil drilling and refining. California doesn’t want either because of other environmental reasons.

Will the jobs come in the form of additional people needed to work at fueling stations? Probably not since most stations are automated or self-service, and they will continue to be so as electric-charging becomes as commonplace as filling a tank with gasoline.

Will there be more repair and maintenance jobs? There might be if the vehicles of the future are manufactured poorly and they require more service then is currently required. But this is unlikely because the move has been to improve vehicles so that they require less, not more service.

So where will the new jobs be?
As I wrote earlier, the only obvious place is in the creation of new government jobs to insure that the public dutifully observes the new fascist regulations (I guess they might be communist regulations – it depends on your political perspective), and to administer the additional new revenues collected from the public in the pursuit of not actually doing anything that improves the environment.

The better way - the Alternative Way - to improve the environment and the economy
The development of a domestic alternative energy program is by definition a “domestic jobs program.” If the fuels to be used are domestically produced, then they must be produced by domestic workers (hopefully U.S. citizens). The facilities to produce the alternative fuels must be located domestically (hopefully built by American contractors using U.S. citizens).

The raw materials used in the production of some of the alt fuels must be grown domestically, on farms or plantations that employ domestic workers (hopefully U.S. citizens, or at the least legal workers who are “paying their fair share into the system”).

If CNG and propane conversions to existing vehicles are allowed there are about two hundred million vehicles in the country that could be candidates. These conversions open the door for thousands of new mechanics, and for the increase in jobs at the conversion kit manufacturing facilities. Incidentally, we already have excellent educational institutions in the U.S. with programs in place to train these new mechanics.

The nearly half-trillion dollars that leaves our country each year to pay for foreign oil stops. That money gets spent domestically to purchase other domestic products or services, which winds up supporting and enlarging an entire range of additional domestic businesses and their employees. The Auto Channel refers to this as the “Ethanol Dividend.” It could just as well be termed the “CNG Dividend” or the “Propane Dividend” or the “Methanol Dividend,” but you get the point. You can learn more about this by CLICKING HERE.

A Surprising Omission
In perusing the California Air Resources Board website and their description of this new mandated program, I found it quite surprising that the authors of the CARB report chose to liberally use information from the “Green Car Journal” website to support their position. I’m not surprised that they would have chosen this website as a supportive resource since Ron Cogan, its creator, has done an excellent job in advancing alternative fuels and energy, but because this past November, at the Green Car Journal’s annual “Green Car Of The Year Awards,” the award went to Honda’s Civic GX* powered exclusively by CNG. This was the second time in the past few years that the Civic GX won this award. Minus changes or improvements to the design of the car, it’s engine and drive train is the same as it was.

So here we have an important technical award that has - in most recent years - gone to hybrid, diesel and electric cars, coming full circle back to a vehicle with a propulsion system that isn’t even part of the new CARB program.

What is really behind the new CARB rules?
Ultimately, I think you have to follow the axiom “Follow the Money.” And since “money” usually equates to “power,” the axiom could be stated as “Follow the Climb to Power.” So who benefits, clearly the oil industry and OPEC. As my business partner, Bob Gordon, has opined ad nausea, the promotion of electric vehicles as a solution to the energy and economic crisis is just a diversion used by Big Oil to keep the world addicted to petroleum oil products. There is no information or argument that refutes this accusation. Even if it is not an official policy of the American Petroleum Institute or OPEC or any individual gasoline company, it is a matter of fact: as long as there is a carrot out on the stick, we will plod along without change to the status quo.

Who else benefits on the money or power angle, the people who run CARB and the EPA, as well as those politicians responsible for creating or overseeing these agencies. Padding jobs, particularly in a time of high unemployment, gives those in power more minions who are willing to follow, which translates to retention of an office or position that provides princely rewards.

America needs a revolution in its thinking and approach to many issues. The policies that subjugate; be they from the private sector or the public sector, must be thrown off. It’s not enough to “occupy” a position against one oppressor and let another get off scot-free, especially when the other is the worst of the lot. And the worst of the lot is Big Oil and the bureaucrats and media elite that they control.

NOTE: *For 2012, GX has been dropped as the designation for the CNG-powered Honda Civic model. I use it simply for easier identification. Coincidentally, I am mid-way through a one-week test drive evaluation of a 2012 Honda Civic CNG vehicle.