Sunday, April 29, 2007
State should consider program to cut tailpipe emissions
APRIL 27, 2007 - - Turn on the television or radio. Listen
at the water cooler. Look at the hardware store's newspaper
ads. The talk and public interest - seemingly everywhere -
is green and environmental.
But in the South Carolina legislature, it's mostly just talk.
Yes, there have been about a dozen "green" bills
filed this year on everything from solar and wind tax credits
to promoting energy independence through green public buildings,
fleet management efforts, energy efficiency programs and more
recycling. But they haven't become law.
So far, the only real environmental victory of the year has
been the legislature's vote to keep its word on prohibiting
most other state's low-level nuclear waste from a Barnwell
low-level waste facility.
Missing from the environmental discussion in South Carolina
is a focus about what can be done about cars and trucks, which
contribute one-third of U.S. global warming gas emissions,
according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. With Americans
driving more and more, trying to reduce what comes out of
tailpipes will cut harmful greenhouse gases - - and provide
myriad other positive benefits.
A great way to reduce gases is to boost efficiency of vehicles.
Federal law, however, prevents states from directly regulating
gas mileage. In short, the reason is it doesn't want a bunch
of different standards to force car companies to make up to
50 different kinds of cars.
Southern state has adopted the Clean Car program. South
Carolina should be the first.
The federal government also regulates air quality through
the Clean Air Act. But unlike the mileage issue, it provides
states with an alternative if they want better air quality
standards for vehicles. Instead of the federal automobile
tailpipe emissions standards, states can adopt the "clean
car" program developed in California which has tougher
regulations on tailpipe emissions, but also provides for innovation.
By requiring car companies to produce vehicles with lower
emissions and other improvements, this California policy alternative
already has resulted in a decrease of smog-forming gases by
10 percent to 15 percent, analysts say. And because 11 other
states have adopted the standards, they have created a new
market of more environmentally-sensitive vehicles for carmakers.
The impact of this Clean Car program is dramatic. According
to the US Public Interest Research Group, "By 2020 the
Clean Cars Program will eliminate as much carbon dioxide annually
as is produced by 17 coal-fired power plants generating enough
power for 6 million US homes. At the same time, the standards
could reduce gasoline consumption by as much as 7.2 billion
gallons per year in 2020 - nearly as much as is consumed by
all the vehicles in Florida in a year - and save consumers
up to $16.7 billion annually at the pump in 2020."
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To date, no Southern state has adopted the Clean Car program.
South Carolina should be the first. Here's why:
- Saves money. Consumers realize major savings in
states that have adopted the California standard. In early
years of the alternative regulation, cars cost about $300
more, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. But
as emissions reductions increase, reductions in gas usage
will create savings of $1,000 or more. A North Carolina
study commission on the program estimated that it saved
$100 for every ton of global warming pollution taken out
of the air.
- Improves health. With less tailpipe pollution in
the air, people's health improves. A federal estimate showed
asthma and other lung problems dropped in states that have
adopted the Clean Car program.
- Reduces air toxics. Another study showed air toxics,
such as benzene and formaldehyde in tailpipe emissions,
may be reduced by as much as 25 percent through the program.
South Carolinians drive 17 percent more than the national
average, according to the US Department of Transportation.
If state lawmakers were to adopt the tougher California tailpipe
emissions standard through the Clean Car program, South Carolinians
eventually would own cars that polluted less and got better
gas mileage, which should save them money in the long run.
The Clean Car program makes sense at the pocketbook level
over time. But it also makes sense as a practical way to be
greener and to lower our impact on this planet God gave us.
You can reach Andy Brack, publisher of
SC Statehouse Report, at email@example.com.
Another great cartoon by Bill McLemore:
4/22: Enjoy seeing them while you can
To the editor:
The televised debate will be more for the benefit of a national
audience, than a local one; therefore, Global Warming will
also be addressed. As soon as the primary election is over,
the Democratic candidates won't waste their time coming to
this backward state.
-- Janie Behr, Florence, S.C.
- 4/15: Great
piece, Pat Jobe, Greenville, SC
- 4/4: SC
should take head out of sand, Daniel Berler, Mount
- 4/3: Don't
condemn people for choices, Elizabeth S. Bunker,
Fountain Inn, SC.
- 4/2: Sanford
would be good veep, Terry L. Bowyer, Lyman, SC
- 3/26: House
off-base on ultrasound vote, Ree Mallison, West Columbia,
- 3/25: Condemns
abortion, George W. Dargen, Darlington, SC
- 3/20: Payday
lending is sought-after service, Ken Compton, Spartanburg,
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