I think I'm in a bad mood today. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the dreary Columbus weather. For those not in the know, Columbus has more rain days per year than Seattle--157 to 153. They don't tell you that when you're considering moving from North Carolina to Ohio.
CORRECTION: Thanks to David for pointing out that according to my own link, Columbus only has 137 rain days per year, not 157. I must have misread the 3 as a 5. My bad. The lesson, as always, I'm an idiot. Due to my incompetence, I will donate all of the royalties on all of my future env-econ posts to the Sierra Club.
Or maybe it's the futility of improving my health. My father is having his second knee replacement today. Brief background: In his late 30's--roughly my current age--my father decided to improve his health. He quit smoking and took up running, eventually running a marathon. Good move, right? Since he turned 55, he has had 1/2 of a lung removed due to lung cancer and both knees replaced. But hey, at least they have his heart problems under control. I'm now going back to my couch before I decide to improve my health.
Whatever the cause of my mood, I found myself making sarcastic comments about this piece in today's Washington Post on climate federalism, so I thought I would share--Happy New Year.
For those of you who don't like pointless sarcasm, stop reading now. For the remainder, my comments will be in italics. The rest is from the Washington Post piece.
Regulators in Connecticut think carbon dioxide in auto exhaust threatens maple syrup production and the skiing industry, and they fear what rising sea levels would do to real estate values along the state's coastline if the planet's temperatures continue to rise.
Allow me to write between the lines: "auto exhaust threatens [to relocate] maple syrup production and the skiing industry"
On Friday, Massachusetts joined Oregon, Connecticut` and five other states in adopting California's tough greenhouse gas rules, which limit the amount of carbon dioxide and other gases that can be emitted from vehicle tailpipes. These new rules would supplement federal exhaust pollutant standards already in place. Two other states are in the process of adopting the rules.
States good, Feds bad.
The carbon dioxide regulations are so strict, the auto industry argues, that they would cause extensive design changes to new vehicles, driving up prices and crippling new-car sales. Every major automaker that sells vehicles in the United States is suing to have the new rules overturned, even as states on the West Coast and in the Northeast are moving quickly to adopt them.
I'm shocked, stunned, and a bunch of other 's' words that mean the same thing. Does this mean that producing cars that pollute is cheaper? Whodathunkit?
The California rule -- which was approved by a state environmental board in 2004 and, with federal approval, would take effect for the 2009 model year -- requires a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2016. The rules are one element of a wider trend of states enacting their own energy policies to govern auto and factory emissions and appliance energy efficiency, updating older federal rules or writing new rules where none exist.
Automakers are countering with a proposed 10 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emitted in vehicle production by 2012. They have not supported restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions from vehicle tailpipes.
I bid a 15% reduction by 2015.
If the California rules were in effect today, automakers claim, only a handful of vehicles could meet the test.
And those are slow and ugly so we wouldn't want to drive them anyway. For the interested, here's the EPA's Green Vehicle Guide for 2006. I don't know what the exact California rule requirements are, but there seem to be a lot of above average cars on the EPA Greenhouse Gas score. I'm thinking that automakers have more than 5 fingers on each hand.
Gloria Bergquist, vice president of public affairs for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which leads the lawsuit, said the rules are too burdensome and costly. "There would be marketplace chaos if each state were deciding which products should be sold within its borders," Bergquist said. The suit was filed in federal court in California in December 2004.
Anyone else see the irony in an auto manufacturer complaining about regulations determining "which products should be sold within [a state's] borders?" Substitute the word 'country' and don't we have every WTO negotiation?
State regulators say they are taking the initiative because the federal government, including the Environmental Protection Agency, has been slow to act. They worry that their efforts may ultimately be blocked at the federal level. Also, several state regulators said they are fearful that Congress may use a forthcoming study by the National Research Council to limit states' ability to join the California program. The study is due later this month.
States good, Feds bad.
In a statement, the EPA said it favors other methods of lowering carbon dioxide besides regulating tailpipe emissions, siding with automakers that the changes will limit consumer choice and raise vehicle prices.
Normally I applaud such statements as "siding with automakers that the changes will limit consumer choice..." Unfortunately, this time it follows "the EPA said it favors other methods of lowering carbon dioxide besides regulating tailpipe emissions." Like what? A gas tax? I think they oppose that too.
"The only way to cut [carbon dioxide] emissions is through a drastic increase in fuel economy -- which in the past has led to smaller, lighter and less-safe vehicles," the EPA said in the statement.
I read Michael Crichton's State of Fear. I know what they are trying to do to me here and it won't work I'm telling you. Wait, that's backwards...I'm supposed to be irrationally afraid of global warming, right? Now I'm confused.
Vehicle emissions are the No. 2 -- and fastest-growing -- source of greenhouse gases, after power plants, a number of scientists and regulators say.
And we all know that No. 2 is the first loser.
"For greenhouse gases, the federal government hasn't taken any action at all, and California has," said Andrew Ginsburg, Oregon's air quality administrator. "It's clear the federal government won't do it unless California paves the way and enough other states opt in."
States good, Feds bad. I get the point.
Oregon's decision to adopt the California rules is temporary. Ginsburg said he expected permanent approval to come by summer.
Gina McCarthy, commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection, said states are growing increasingly concerned with fluctuations in temperature but lack tools to deal with the problem.
Well, a consistent temperature of 110 degrees would stop fluctuations.
Environmentalists say they fear that the rest of the world is passing the United States by adopting tougher standards. Steve Hinchman, staff attorney a the Boston-based Conservation Law Foundation, said the United States is in danger of becoming a "technological backwater" by not acting.
"The whole world is moving. Canada, Europe, China, Japan, Korea, India are all adopting more stringent standards," he said.
Can we stand for this as Americans? We must unite as a country to prevent them foreigners from doing something better than us. What would the founding fathers--er, group of people who all happened to be male--have said?
"We are going to become the dumping ground for the dirtiest cars made in the world. China will have more stringent standards than the U.S. in 2010. That's only a few years away."
It's good to have a role model.
Wow, I feel a little better. That was therapeu...damn, nevermind, I just looked out the window. I'll just call it a day and hope for the sun in April.