California Auto Emissions Showdown

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

California has geared up to defy President Trump’s efforts to dismantle ridiculously strict auto-emission standards. But there may be a way President Donald Trump can overturn their intransigence.

California Upholds Auto Emissions Standards, Setting Up Face-Off With Trump

By HIROKO TABUCHIMARCH 24, 2017

California’s clean-air agency voted on Friday to push ahead with stricter emissions standards for cars and trucks, setting up a potential legal battle with the Trump administration over the state’s plan to reduce planet-warming gases.

The vote, by the California Air Resources Board, is the boldest indication yet of California’s plan to stand up to President Trump’s agenda. Leading politicians in the state, from the governor down to many mayors, have promised to lead the resistance to Mr. Trump’s policies.

Mr. Trump, backing industry over environmental concerns, said easing emissions rules would help stimulate auto manufacturing. He vowed last week to loosen the regulations. Automakers are aggressively pursuing those changes after years of supporting stricter standards.

But California can write its own standards because of a longstanding waiver granted under the Clean Air Act, giving the state — the country’s biggest auto market — major sway over the auto industry. Twelve other states, including New York and Pennsylvania, as well as Washington, D.C., follow California’s standards, a coalition that covers more than 130 million residents and more than a third of the vehicle market in the United States.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/24/business/energy-environment/california-upholds-emissions-standards-setting-up-face-off-with-trump.html

One option is to allow US states to choose their own emissions standards – after all, one of the benefits of federalism is it allows experimentation, testing of different legislative solutions and frameworks. States which succeed, which embrace the best, most effective policies, inspire others by their example.

But a fragmented emissions framework could leave auto-makers in a situation where they have to attempt to satisfy 50 different emissions standards.

Another option might be to use the US constitution to overturn unfair barriers to interstate trade.

Article I section 8 of the US constitution contains the following clause;

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_One_of_the_United_States_Constitution#Section_8:_Powers_of_Congress

How might the power to regulate commerce apply to vehicle emission standards?

The Supreme Court has seldom restrained the use of the commerce clause for widely varying purposes. The first important decision related to the commerce clause was Gibbons v. Ogden, decided by a unanimous Court in 1824. The case involved conflicting federal and state laws: Thomas Gibbons had a federal permit to navigate steamboats in the Hudson River, while the other, Aaron Ogden, had a monopoly to do the same granted by the state of New York. Ogden contended that “commerce” included only buying and selling of goods and not their transportation. Chief Justice John Marshall rejected this notion. Marshall suggested that “commerce” included navigation of goods, and that it “must have been contemplated” by the Framers. Marshall added that Congress’s power over commerce “is complete in itself, may be exercised to its utmost extent, and acknowledges no limitations other than are prescribed in the Constitution”.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_One_of_the_United_States_Constitution#Commerce_Clause

If I have understood the Gibbons vs Ogden case of 1824, the Federal government has the power to regulate the navigation of goods, the transportation of goods. This obviously includes the right to regulate vehicles which transport goods. Vehicles registered in one state appear to have an unambiguous right to cross state lines, and be used in another state.

If a Californian resident wants to defeat Californian vehicle emissions laws, it might be as simple as buying a SUV out of state and registering it as a commercial transport vehicle in a friendly jurisdiction, possibly as part of a leaseback deal through that business registered in another state. California arguably does not have the right to prevent someone from doing this, as attempting to regulate the use of vehicles owned by an out of state business seems likely to infringe the Federal government’s right to regulate vehicles used for interstate commerce.

Such a leaseback deal would likely cost thousands of dollars over the life of the vehicle. The lawyers would get richer. But attempting to conform to lunatic Californian emissions standards could easily cost a lot more.

I am not a lawyer, so I may have misunderstood the Gibbons v. Ogden ruling, or there may be a ruling which supersedes and modifies the Gibbons v. Ogden precedent. But if the scheme I proposed is constitutionally and legally valid, California’s power to regulate vehicle emissions could be rendered essentially meaningless, by the large scale deployment of fleets of vehicles in California which do not conform to Californian vehicle emission standards, because they are registered out of state, in less insanely stringent jurisdictions.

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161 thoughts on “California Auto Emissions Showdown

  1. Surely California has the right to set its own limits for emissions?
    They are a State not a conquered province.

    Yes, that means that auto manufacturers will want to design cars that meet the requirements of that large market.
    But the rest of the US is a large enough niche that they should still be served.

    What’s the problem here? As a Brit I thought this was how your federal system is meant to work.

    • Hah! probably the way it will work is that you will get a switch in the car to change from ‘California ECU mappings’ to ‘sane ECU mappings’

      I remember when we used to export MGBs to California that had an air pump that pumped air into the exhaust to dilute the CO and CO2 levels.

      Didn’t reduce emissions, just made the percentages look better :-)

      • And I didn’t waste any time removing the air pump from my California-based 1969 MGB the first time that I rebuilt the engine. It ran just fine and passed the smog tests, even with the SU carbs.

      • The air pump used back then did reduce ‘unburned hydrocarbons’. Only three things were considered pollutants back then: hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide & ‘oxides of nitrogen’. CO2 was added decades later to the list.

      • If I had a choice between a pickup truck that gets 18 mpg and one that gets 50 with the same performance and at a modest 3% price difference, I would buy the truck that gets 50 mpg. Travel 2.5 times farther on a tank and fill up far less

      • What if you had a choice between a vehicle that gets 18 mpg, costs 30% more, but meets CA emissions standards vs one that gets 50 mpg and doesn’t?

        Bit more realistic, eh?

      • I drove MGBs (1963 & 1969) for 12 years. So low to the ground you couldn’t keep the exhaust system intact, especially the muffler under the driver’s seat. Had to remove it and just rely on the resonator that was higher up back near the rear bumper. MGB owners had to keep metal coat hangers and exhaust bandages in the trunk for the inevitable emergency repairs. Loved those cars nonetheless.

      • Hive
        That is kind of what I do have. My Charger gets 19 – 22 mpg average per tank on Califormulated gas. We took a trip up to Washington and refueled in Oregon. The Non-Califormulated gas gave us 33 – 36 mpg. Same car, same equipment, different fuel formula. Californian government may think themselves eco proper but they certainly can be fuelish

      • Volkswagen has already perfected that ECU remappings technology in it’s TDI series, now they just need to integrate it with the GPS instead of the motion sensors!

        When I first thought of it, I was being snarky, but the truth is there is a lot of value in being able to crank down the pollution at the expense of fuel economy in urban areas and increasing fuel economy in rural areas.

    • The problem is the regs to control CO2, a product of combustion. CA can set its own stricter air rules since Federal law came after CA law originally on air standards. However, car manufacturers cannot lower CO2 emissions that are a part of combustion, so as a whole they can walk away from the CA market and CA can use horses to get to work.

      • Walking away from selling vehicles in the world’s ninth largest economy is not, well, an economically-sound business model. But, thanks for playing.

      • What if you set a regulation that said you have to have half of your vehicle sales in CA be fully electric? So, I offer electric vehicles and very few sell. Does CA fold or make me give away free electric cars so that I meet the requirement?
        This is a two way street. The big companies can restrict their offerings in CA, but you can’t force the public to buy it. CARB has bailed on their requirements before. Call their bluff. It’s not the market that you walk away from, but the lunatic unicorn chasing CARB.

    • States certainly have a right to go their own way, but there are limits. The Civil War, in part, was fought over such issues : slavery. Notice that had Rhode Island alone mandated emission standards different than the Federal govt, then none of the automakers would have bothered to pay any attention to those emissions, which demonstrates that California has been able to madate their own emissions for a very long time because no Federal govt bothered to contest them and the automakers all went along. The Federal system obviously was never conceived as allowing one state to disrupt those living in other states. One of the points that allows the Feds to control a state’s emissions is because those emissions travel across state lines.
      Nothing California ever did was particularly beneficial with respect to emissions (early user of air pumps)
      and much was premature – crappy carburetor technology designed to drive owners crazy , but designed to satisfy California emissions. It was the advent of computers, especially small cheap computers and fuel injection which had the gigantic effect on emissions, and California had nothing to do with that advancement.
      California’s emissions controls cost too much and achieved too little.

    • It is some years since my last visit to California. Early one morning heading oceanward, I was the only pedestrian on the Santa Monica boulevard. My lasting impression is that Californians need to learn how to walk.

      • Walking away from selling vehicles in the world’s ninth largest economy is not, well, an economically-sound business model. But, thanks for playing.

      • brians356 walking away from selling to CA could be a very sound business decision.

        There are 253 million vehicles registered in the USA, including about 28 million in CA. About 1.1 billion worldwide. About 60 million produced annually.

        So, California has about 11% of US cars/trucks, and about 2.5% of the world’s vehicles.

        Any good manufacturer will ignore a few percent of the market in order to please 90 or 97%.

        Particularly if that tiny minority is demanding features that raise costs for everybody.

        Thanks for playing. Next time, do your homework.

      • “MrPete March 26, 2017 at 7:23 pm”

        When I worked at Honda in Swindon, UK in the mid-1990’s, where one car came off the line every 2 – 3 minutes, a lot of that production was stored offshore, channel islands IIRC. There was so much over-production then I was surprised car makers actually made any money.

      • Michigan Capacity Resource Assessment, Jan.31, 2017

        Re: Michigan electricity supply situation.

        Many Michigan businesses have already agreed to curtail electricity use if needed.

        Presently, Michigan is seeking additional electricity supplies from Ontario, Canada.

        U.S. auto companies already have to deal with CAFE regulations and in addition Michigan auto companies have to be prepared for electricity shortages.

        POTUS has to deal with important issues regarding U.S.vehicle manufacturing. California is not the only U.S. state that has to be considered. There are 49 other states.

        http://www.michigan.gov/documents/energy/Michigan_EGEAS_Report__01_31_2017_550217_7.pdf

      • MrPete

        Your data are faulty and/or mispleading. Without looking very far, NADA reports there were $938B in light vehicle sales in the USA in 2015. In 2016, $119 B worth were sold in CA alone. Uh, let’s see … roughly 20% of US sales in CA. Care to play again? (So much winning!)

        https://www.nada.org/statedata/

      • @brian356
        119.5/995.6*100 = 12%, not “nearly 20%”. Take your denominator from the same report, next time. Mr. Pete was a lot closer than you. Care to play again? (So much losing, for you!)

    • What am I missing here? Wikipedia lists 25 car manufacturers in California. In time, isn’t there a good chance that some or all will relocate interstate where less insanity rules?
      We’ve had that sort of thing happening in Australia. South Australian Premier Wetherill, as bonkers as, has shut down that State’s fossil fuel based power, replacing it with wind and solar toys. Power is a dog’s breakfast. Prices are surging. Big surprise; businesses are going broke or interstate, unemployment is the nation’s highest and only fools or mad green Lefties would invest in the State.
      By the way, your Californian brawn head, Arnie, is out here advising Wetherill! Thanks for nothing, guys.

    • There is no problem. The car companies already manage to have different versions of cars sold in CA. Even when you buy spare parts there are components that are mandated for CA.

      I like my clean CA air.
      Happy to pay for it

      Sitting in Beijing and now Seoul, you can feel the difference in a few hours.. and see it of course

      • Except what you are paying for is reduction in CO2 emissions which have no proven affect on anything in the real world except improving plant growth. So all Californians are paying for is the reduction of plant growth and the rent for a lot of ‘researchers’ who have yet to provide an unfalsified hypothesis.

      • There is no empirical evidence that the increase in C02 caused greater plant growth. Just some lab tests and correlation. Plus all the plants in my back yard died.. Plus there is nothing out of the ordinary about the greening of the earth. Its been greener before..

        Ya know every skeptical against c02 as a warming agent works against c02 as a growth agent.

        [Really? You most certainly have gone off the deep end working there in warmist land at Berkeley. NASA says you’re wrong.

        Carbon Dioxide Fertilization Greening Earth, Study Finds

        So do I – Anthony]

      • Except the CA mandates had little or nothing to do with the clean(er) CA air, see above re: on-board computers and EFI. Sure, cleaner air is worth paying for, but why pay for something that has nothing to do with it?

      • California, particularly Los Angeles and a few other big cities, still have smog problems due to temperature inversions. A simple solution would be to put windmills around and through those cities and use them to disperse the smog the way that nature handles the limited amount of pollution now produced by vehicles. A second fix would be to limit the population in smog areas and limit the number of vehicles of all types in these areas. Cap the population at current levels and reduce the cars until the smog goes away.

        A third help would be to limit new electricity sources to nuclear, since it is the only source that produces more electricity and power than it takes to build and run the plant through its lifespan.

      • Clean air in California? In LA the air is purple and greasy. Not so much in SF but only because the winds blow all their crap into the Central Valley. But at least the likes of Pelosi, Steyer and Brown can clearly see all their serfs from the fiefdom’s throne room.

      • False dichotomy. The alternative to CA strident rules is not Beijing air. Air can only be so clean. CA wants it cleaner than clean, and is willing to spend your money to get there.

      • The models say that CO2 doesn’t help plants. Therefore it doesn’t.
        IPPC says, I believe it, that settles it.

    • A rational approach M. Courtney.

      A large part of the USA would be thrilled to buy trucks, cars and SUVs with sensible engines and sizes.

      The big manufacturers would not need to worry about creating more life endangering lightweight structures carrying heavy batteries, expensive electrics or tiny engines that suffer going uphill and can not get out of their own way.

      Those states with large rural populations will quickly vote for vehicle freedoms while large cities can live within their own fantasies.

      The rest of America would be grateful if liberal elite progressives were unable to drive long distances through the more sensible areas of the country.
      There are quite a few states that view vehicles with California or Colorado license plates as akin to invasive cockroaches.

    • Time for President Trump to issue an executive order: “Pursuant to the commerce clause in the Constitution, any vehicle compliant with pollution regulations on the date it was manufactured will be allowed complete unfettered access to any roadway funded in whole or part by federal taxes, grants, or in any way supported or assisted by federal moneys.”

      That ought to clear the air.

    • “Surely California has the right to set its own limits for emissions?
      They are a State not a conquered province.”

      They can do whatever they want. They still have to follow Federal law. As long as the state rules are more stringent that the Feds, there is no conflict. The state would lose such a conflict.

  2. It used to be that there were three versions of North American cars: Federal, California, and Canada. That managed to cover the three different emissions and economy standards. Some states decided to hop onto the California bandwagon.

    California has a unique issue with the LA Basin and smog. Having some consideration for that is fine and understandable. Applying that same standard in other places is ridiculous and unnecessary.

    This is an EPA problem, and I foresee major changes for the EPA over the next year or so.

  3. California should NEVER have been allowed to set their own emission controls. They were stupid attempts to do what the technology of the day was not capable of doing in any kind of cost effective manner.

    • Why not? States and cities with huge dense populations have air pollution issues that other places do not. Conservatives constantly argue for state rights until it is inconvenient not to.

      One size does not fit all.

      Federalism is far from a perfect concept and it is full of compromises.

      One of the huge difficulties with federalism is that populations tend to cluster far more than when the Constitution was written. Clinton only one 489 counties out of 3,144; yet she won the popular vote, but badly lost the electoral college.

      Such are the vagaries of federalism.

      So it is very easy for both sides on any federal issue to have legitimate reasons for their opinions.

      • It’s highly entertaining to see all those who espouse globslism, at least in the form of mandated CO2 emissions, “green” energy, and the like suddenly jumping on the state’s rights bandwagon in defense of California’s emissions standards. Nothing is as hypocritical as a liberal who wants his own way. But I repeat myself.

      • @Cube
        I am not a proponent of globalism. My mother used to describe my politics as being “slightly to the right of John Birch”. On this issue, California should feel free to find it’s own special handcart to hell. The beauty of federalism is that you can learn from other people’s mistakes and save your electorate a ton of money in the bargain.

  4. Let governor moonbeam do whatever he wants. Let the morons in CA keep voting for him. Just let the rest of the country stop subsidizing them then let the free market of policies and ideas do what it does best, puts incompetent morons out of business.

  5. The motor vehicle exhaust-mod industry needs to pipe up, here. There are already thousands of them, one practically on every street corner in metro areas with signs telling you to “Come in for your CARB inspection” (or whatever it said — I didn’t care (I bought my car in CA in 2014), just noticed that there were an awful LOT of those shop signs around).

    Solution:

    1. GM, et al. — make ONLY Federal-okay cars.

    2. People in CA (and other envirostalinist-run states) — get your car modified at any local Jiffy Lube or the like.

    That is, there is NO NEED for the auto makers to make CA-okay cars in order to sell them to CA people. If the price is right, the CA people will willingly drive east to Nevada or Arizona or wherever and purchase their vehicle, then, have it CARB-modified at a shop in CA so they can register it in CA.

    Speak up, auto-mod industry!

    And: Go, free market solutions!

    #(:))

    • The problem isn’t just pollution control per se, it’s the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy). link California may feel that it can go ahead with Gina’s wet dream of 54.5 MPG. That would reduce the fleet to tiny hybrids.

      There’s no way the CAFE problem is going to be solved by after market manufacturers.

      • CAFE can be addressed very easily just by swapping engines. A BMW X3 with the wimpy 4 cylinder gets 31 mpg highway and X4-M version, (basically same platform with 2.5 x’s the power), gets about 19 mpg highway. The other part of this is that CAFE standards are fleet-wide, not linked to a specific model, so people in CA only get smaller, wimpier, pathetic little econo-boxes, and the rest of us can go 0-60 in 4.2 seconds. Problem solved

      • CAFE sorted by Porsche 918 Hybrid. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under its five-cycle tests rated the 2015 model year Porsche 918 Spyder energy consumption in all-electric mode at 50 kWh per 100 miles, which translates into a combined city/highway fuel economy of 67 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (MPG-e) (3.5 L/100 km; 80 mpg-imp gasoline equivalent).[1] When powered only by the gasoline engine, EPA’s official combined city/highway fuel economy is 22 mpg‑US (11 L/100 km; 26 mpg‑imp)

      • The Constitution’s interstate commerce clause surely applies to CAFE at least, if not to emissions. California cannot discriminate against out-of-state goods, except for a federally approved regulatory purpose such as clean-air standards.

    • And, don’t worry! Before long (I’d give it about …… 3 -2 -1 …. 30 seconds after the above scenario got underway), the car dealers in CA will offer “UNBELIEVABLE DEAL!! Buy your car HERE! No long drive to Nevada! We make it CARB-OK right here!” And set the price at the base plus CARB-mod cost, plus round-trip to NV cost plus $100 for convenience.

      Go, free market!

      #(:))

      • Oops. Good ol’ Bob correcting me (as he often does — thank — YOU — Bob :) ) got in the middle there. My little add on should go directly after my above comment.

        Why did you post your comment as a criticism of ME, Bob? It was a good stand-alone comment. Sigh.

      • i.e., Bob, your subject-modifying remark would be better directed toward the author of the main post.

      • there will be an ample supply of vehicles that comply- nissans, toyotas, hondas, kias, hyundais
        california’s car market will be filled by somebody.

      • My dearly beloved Janice … my only point was that the after market might not be able to fix the problem … otherwise I think we are in complete agreement … anyway, you need a pessimist to offset your incurable optimism. ;-)

      • Well, lol, dear Bob, because you were so sweet, I will overlook our CARB/CAFE difference and send you TWO songs!

        Accentuate the Positive (I mean, like, come ON, Bob — do you want “pandemonium to walk upon the scene”??)

        (youtube — Peggy Lee)

        …. Your problem’s just a toy balloon {it’ll} be bursting soon,
        {it’s} just bound to go — POP!


        (youtube — Frank Sinatra and friends :) )

        Optimism wins wars!

        Your ally!

        For TRUTH!!

        Janice #(:))

    • its federally illegal to alter emission equipment though so even making it stricter to meet CA standards would require federal legislation allowing it.

  6. The biggest problem with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) standards are the zero-emission requirements, which CARB imagines are met by battery vehicles. California also lost a court case when they tried to tax vehicles originally purchased outside the state (as a pollution tax), and eventually lost on a commerce clause rationale.

    • When I moved to CA in 1995, I brought a federal car with me. It didn’t have the magic sticker that said it met the stricter CA emissions requirements. So they added an $800. fee to register my car in CA. Later, that law was overturned and the judge said the state had to return my fee. Did I ever see a single penny? No, of course not. When I later had the mandatory biennial smog check, the car passed with good margins. Therefore, the state did not care about pollution, only stickers. There are multiple reasons why I moved out of CA.

  7. But California can write its own standards because of a longstanding waiver granted under the Clean Air Act…
    Pull their waiver.

    • Unless it is specifically in the statute – that is the solution. And California (plus the other Deep Blue States) cannot do a thing about it.

      Wickard v. Filburn – the Federal Government can prohibit your growing grain, on your own property, for your own exclusive use. It can certainly prohibit any application of different standards by a State.

      Of course, this might actually encourage a few liberals to support the proper restriction of the Commerce Clause back to its original intent – not the license to tyrannize that they turned it into under their hero Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

      • That is a bogus argument if there ever was one. Interstate commerce is vastly different from what it was when the Constitution was written. Virtually every business operates using equipment or products made in a different state and now most are made in different countries. And our corporations now are seldom intrastate, nearly all of them are at least interstate and many are global.

        If anything, the laws that now exist give a much too strict interpretation of interstate commerce as it is. Most older interpretations of the commerce clause are nothing but legal fictions at this point since interstate commerce is so ubiquitous.

        But the other side of the equation is it advisable to have the federal government have its hands in everything? And if we are going to have federalism, well then the federal government has to keep its hands off of many things.

      • Ah yes, Federalism is good = when it prevents the national government from interfering in more Leftist State policies.

        Federalism is bad only when the State attempts to protect its citizens from Leftist overreach.

        Need to find the link to the video where the character says “That is the most bogus bogosity ever, man…”

    • California has had their own clean air standards since 1955. The Federal rules started in 1968. CA has had a free hand ever since.

      Southern California has been the world center of car design because of the way metropolitan L.A. is laid out. A car is practically required to live & work there.

      The EPA has required L.A. to clean up their air & L.A. still is a long way from compliance; they’ve been living with a waiver for many years. The EPA has threatened cancel the waiver & start fining the counties of SoCal.

      It actually is not possible for the L.A. Basin to ever comply because of its geology.

      I lived there for most of my life working either as a mechanic or an engine builder.

  8. Twelve other states, including New York and Pennsylvania, as well as Washington, D.C., follow California’s standards, a coalition that covers more than 130 million residents and more than a third of the vehicle market in the United States.

    I suspect that some of those states will not follow California this time. If enough of them don’t, maybe auto-makers will not develop cars for the California + market, and see if California blinks first. I.e., to see if its car-poor residents protest against the CARB ruling.

  9. RayG at 1:44 PM:
    And I didn’t waste any time removing the air pump from my California-based 1969 MGB the first time that I rebuilt the engine. It ran just fine and passed the smog tests, even with the SU carbs.

    Sounds like you got a “friendly” test station. The first thing they generally do is check your vehicle for missing required hardware. I ran a series of Toyota Coronas with 3rc engines on LP and I still had to maintain the air injection systems. You couldn’t get a legitimate test pass if you modified the emissions system.

    I have felt for a long time that regulators should regulate emissions, not hardware. If I can meet the emission standards, what difference does it make what the machinery looks like? (Ay, I’m beginning to sound like Hillary.)

    • There used to b so much fraud in the CA smog testing that they came up with the idea to have two types of testing stations, those that were permitted to work on cars & ‘test only’. In alternate smog certificate years you could go to one but not the other.

      The state published required equipment books each year for new cars that were permitted on the road. If your car did not have the equipment the testing station would outright reject the vehicle without any further testing. One year the book published the wrong equipment list for the new Corvette & none could be registered in the state until the book was amended. That took months & GM made a big stink about it. I think that was ’90 or ’91, when the first square tail light ‘Vettes came out. Ah, the good old days.

  10. Cali being the behemoth car market that it is. Detroit et al will find a work around. Since the CAFE is a “fleet” measurement. They’ll roll out some tin can electric that won’t sell well or move some of the commercial gas hogs out of fleet measurements something to move the needle on overall fleet CAGE standard. You don’t have to drive far to see Cali loves them some gas guzzlers. I know I do.

    Interesting side note. When fuel consumption dropped through the recession and more hybrids etc……tax revenues fell a lot! I wouldn’t be surprised to see our fearless leaders make a big show for their benefactors and then roll over and just raise taxes on the offending vehicles.

  11. Many years ago I used to fly regularly in and out of London. Often the entire London area was shrouded in a yellow/brown mustard cloud of pollution. A recipe for lung disease!

    The consensus seems to be that California are wrong in enforcing limits on pollution. I think the opposite view should prevail – there is a very good argument for applying similar regulation to all US states, particularly where local topography, climate and population density increase pollution beyond acceptable limits..

    • CARB is an example of pollution regulations being set by lawyers and activists, not that the two are exclusive terms. CO2 is defined as “pollution”, and CARB sets ozone standards related to volatile organic compounds at such a level vegetation releases enough to fill the allowed standard.
      Terry, you are getting into the theme that opposing stupid regulations is somehow equivalent to opposing any regulations.

    • Terry, I am a survivor of the Great London Smog of late 1952, which was caused by a short but severe weather event (a temperature inversion that trapped SO2-laden smoke from household coal fires), not ‘climate change’. I agree that no one would want to live with that kind of air pollution (I had a severe bout of bronchitis around that time which I will never forget), but are we at all certain that the proposed CAFE MPG reductions will fix the current CA air pollution problem? The EPA is fixated on reducing CO2, but AFAIK, CO2 has nothing to do with smog.

    • Many years ago London used to have ‘pea soupers’ – incredibly thick fog generated by millions of people using coal to heat their houses. The authorities then mandated the use of ‘smokeless’ fuel which fixed the problem.

    • The smog of the ’70s in CA was long ago vanquished, and most of the ways that was accomplished has been implemented nationwide. California is trying to reach zero emissions, including CO2, which is impossible and ruinous to even attempt. It would be insane to prescribe that economic suicide to the rest of the country, but apparently you sympathize with the lemmings, based on your fifty-year-old traumatic experience. Sad!

      • The very picture at the top of the post shows LA and it looks pretty smoggy to me. I will agree with you about the CO2 but that is not the fault of government. That is the fault of scientists who insist that CO2 is ruining the planet. And the scientists have convinced the government that is the case. And I think it is good public policy for the government to take the advice of scientists, when most of the people in government are not scientists. If 97% of the scientists said we are going to get hit by asteroid in 2100 that will kill us all but that we can do something now to stop it, should the government disregard what the scientists say?

        Of course asteroids and CO2 are two different things. But in either case non scientists would not have the means or ability to test the conclusions of the scientists.

        The answer is to get the scientists to change their conclusions. The answer is not to have government disregard the conclusions of scientists.

      • In 1542, a tiny armada of two ships sailed up the California coast, flying the flag of Spain. On board were two-to-three-hundred men, including seamen, soldiers, merchants, and Indian and African slaves.

        The voyage, commanded by a onetime conquistador named Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, produced the first written observations of the Los Angeles area. They also bestowed on it one of the region’s first European names: Baya de los Fumos, or Bay of the Smoke.

      • Hmm, yeah, it looks hazy, but a metropolis with an ocean emitting VOCs on one side and mountains on another, also emitting VOCs, tell me, what would you expect? /rhetorica. I could take you to the Great Smoky Mountains, at the right time of the year, in the parts that have fewer than 10 people per square mile, and It’ll look just like that. Consider that the range got the name some 400 years ago.

      • Oh, lest I forget, I visited LA in the 1980s. The only differences that I saw then in the basin compared to my home location, was that, if conditions were favorable, the air did look brown from nitrogen dioxide and dinitrogen tetraoxide. That pic shows how much it has improved and that going further into the weeds of the land of diminishing returns is insane.

      • davidgmillsatty,

        Looks can be deceiving. The haze in the photograph proves nothing. You don’t know when it was taken, nor do you know what the meteorological conditions were. That could be simple fog for all we know. Or natural haze having little to do with man-made emissions. The Great Smoky Mountains were named for natural haze caused by the forest there emitting volatile organic compounds. Also, a telephoto lens greatly accentuates any haze present in the air. What counts are the measurements of noxious gases and particles, and those have been reduced over 90% since the 1970s. I was in LA during a smog emergency in the ’70s, and you literally couldn’t see past a city block, and your eyes and throat burned. That simply never occurs in LA these days.

  12. Way-yuhl (wink), mebbe them Caleeforneeyuhns could do what an’ ol’ Kanntuhcky boah deed….
    an’ gayt a decent auto-MO-bile intuh their gay-rahj ….

    “One Piece at a Time.”
    (as told by Johnny Cash)

    (youtube)

    #(:))

  13. California would do better to outlaw all vehicles made before the year 2000. It doesn’t take too many junkers to foul the air.

    • “Cash for Clunkers” fan, eh Bruce? I wish you were here so I could kick your ass down the lane. I own a ’98 Tacoma 4wd that’s my lifeblood in the winter at 4500′ in Central Sierras. All my family drives vehicles your prissy Santa Monica mentality would outlaw. It’s what we choose and can afford. “Cash for Clunkers” raised the price of an affordable vehicle by a couple hundred dollars for no effects other than a political payoff for Obama’s union cronies. Obscene. My vehicles would all be outlawed by your suggestion. They all pass CA smog tests.

    • bruce: You don’t do much driving, do you. I do. I have seen many > 2000 cars spewing gray exhaust. While there is some correlation between model year and bad exhaust/catalytic converter, etc., the model year really isn’t a certain enough driver to completely ban them (to prevent bad exhaust). Waaay too tenuous a causation factor.

      Watch out! ;) These guys all heard you and they are headed your way, growling, “You tell ‘im. We’re on our way to back you up, Ed!”

      And, GO, INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE!

      • I agree, the emissions have more to do with maintenance than age. In the UK there is a telephone hotline on which you can report the overly smokey vehicles. The sad thing is that most are public buses.

    • I suggested a formula for car registration in CA when I lived there. Cars are generally subjected to a biennial smog check. It’s either pass or fail. If your car fails, you have a grace period to bring it into compliance or take it off the road. This requirement does not apply to older cars (20 years IIRC), and most actual pollution comes from older, poorly maintained cars. Yet the state allows that and continues to tighten requirements for new cars.

      I proposed that since the test results are linked real time to state computers, that the odometer reading should be multiplied by measured emissions to determine registration amount. That way, your beloved 1957 Chevy that only gets 100 miles per year would not be penalized, but the 21 year old clunker that gets 100 miles per day would either need to be repaired or taken off the road. In other words, tax actual pollution, not new cars. I never got very far with my proposal.

      • A sensible and rational suggestion, Dan.
        Alas, this is California where common sense isn’t.

      • You do realize that there’s a very large segment of society that can barely afford a 20+ year old vehicle, heck a recent survey found that 1/3 of the population can’t cough up 2 grand in an emergency. Just how do you expect them to afford to buy a newer car that pass smog standards? How do you expect them to accept having to junk their running car for a newer one just because of a standard?

        Laws like you just proposed always hit the poorest the hardest.

      • I have a better idea. Tax vehicles by their transmission systems. That means that automatic transmissions would get an extra 10% road tax. This is needed because of two things: automatic transmissions automatically add 10% fuel consumption because of the way they use the engine.

        As well, vehicles that had less than 5 gears speeds would also get a tax (in addition to the automagic tax). 4-speed = + 10%, 3-speed = +20%. This means that the typical 3-speed automagic would be taxed an extra 30%.

      • My mom passed her driving test in a stick shift with no power steering. One of the safest drivers you’d ever meet, with no major accidents on her record. 60 years later, she’s happy to drive an automatic with power steering.

      • Darrin: you make an excellent point, but this thread is about pollution from cars. If 95% of the pollution is from 5% of the cars, all of which are currently grandfathered in, then what sense does it make to require new cars to drop from 1% of their 1965 levels to 0.9%? I’m quite confident that the PRK (People’s Republic of Kalifornia) could come up with a socialist subsidy for the folks who can’t afford to fix their own cars.

      • nothing that buying indulgences from the governor won’t fix, right?
        rename California to Pigovia.

      • “automatic transmissions automatically add 10% fuel consumption because of the way they use the engine.”

        Uh, no. Not even close.

        One of the reasons manual transmissions are disappearing is that modern automatics have a lower fuel consumption, and make CAFE easier to meet.

      • MarkG you are wrong. The torque converter is not as mechanically efficient as a solid shaft. The energy lost in the torque converter ends up as heat in the automatic transmission fluid. That is the reason that there is either an external cooling radiator for the transmission, or a loop that goes to the radiator for engine coolant to cool the transmission fluid.

      • “MarkG you are wrong. ”

        No, I’m right. Twenty years ago, you were right, but today you only have to look at fuel consumption measurements (not just government but real world) to see you’re wrong, at least for typical everyday vehicles.

        Just to give an obvious example, our new automatic likes to run at 1200rpm around town when the engine and transmission are warm. How many manual drivers do you know who do that with a four cylinder that’s redlined at 6.5k? It runs at 2k rpm on the highway, when the manual in top gear is at around 3.5k. And the torque converter locks up at 20km/h.

        If automatics were worse, the manufacturers would be pushing manuals, because it would save then a lot of money on CAFE.

      • “MarkG March 26, 2017 at 5:40 pm”

        The automagic gearbox, a Hungarian invention. There are many factors that affect an auto, valve pack, GCU etc, and I very much doubt the torque converter (TC) locks up at 20kph. You are right, modern autos are very good, especially the 6, 7 and 8 speed types. Typically, TC lockup occurs only in top gear where a valve closes and forces the oil to flow in the opposite direction, closing a clutch in the TC.

        In about 1994-ish, I did a conversion of a 1984 Land Rover 90 from 4 cyl, 5sp manual to V8, 4sp auto with TC lockup. I used an engine and a ZF 4HP22 gearbox from a Range Rover. Apart from engine mounts, everything fitted as if it was made that way right out of the factory. Oil cooler lines, engine harness, wiring. What surprised me was there was wiring in the wiring loom specifically to prevent you from starting the engine if the gearbox was not in “P” or “N”. I believe V8 auto Land Rovers went on sale in California at about the same time.

  14. A good use for some of those inefficient windmills would be to set them up in the LA bowl area where air pollution hangs around, reverse the power and blow out the valley of all that trapped stagnant air that is just hanging around.

  15. After all California is a sunshine state; ain’t it already cheaper going to work by a tuned used tractor.

  16. It would seem to me the Feds could set standards and under the commerce clause simply say all states would have to accept any auto that meets them. If a state wants to have better standards for autos made and sold in the state, so be it, let them do it!

  17. Lots of brown particulates from geoengineering in the NorCal sky today. Yet there is not a peep from CARB about this, a major source of pollution.

  18. Sometimes the best strategy is not to play when dealing with irrational people. Just don’t make cars that comply with the moonbat emissions standards.

  19. I lived in the Inland Empire of Southern California for 28 years. When I first arrived, I couldn’t see the terminal from the airplane through the dense smog (augmented by the Panorama Fires). When I left in 2008, the air was fairly pristine year-round. The biggest single change was with the closure of the Kaiser Steel coke ovens, but improving emission standards in cars also had a very large effect. The LA/Inland Empire basin is unique in its sensitivity to pollutants. It is really a tribute to AQMD that, despite a huge increase (perhaps quadrupling) of population in that region, air quality actually improved over the years. It poses a conundrum with respect to states’ rights (which I support) as to what restrictions states can impose. When I first moved to California, there was the “California Emissions Package” on a new car, which set it apart from all others. I think that is perfectly fine. And I think it’s perfectly fine for California to require residents to have such a package. But the whole shenanigan of the leaseback deal is questionable in my mind. I doubt if it would save anything over simply meeting CA emission standards. I’m willing to be persuaded, though.

    • The leaseback deal is not feasible for most people. Most people won’t travel across town to buy an new car much less drive several hundred miles out of state. Then you have to license the vehicle in your own state and pay the taxes assessed by your own state. It is a pain in the butt. It probably happens to some degree already, but if you have done a couple (as have I, but not in California) you generally get tired of it after doing a couple.

      • You’d be surprised, maybe, but I wouldn’t. Remember this: if the price is right (including getting it and getting back home), people have and will go 1000s of miles to make a purchase.

  20. You can greatly reduce CO2 emissions by simply removing the catalytic converter. They were designed to turn toxic CO into harmless CO2. It was kind of a big deal at the time!

  21. Hello all,

    someone wrote ‘who wouldn’t want a car that does 50 mpg rather than 18 mpg, for the same performance’? I suggest that someone still believes in Santa Claus! Broadly speaking fuel consumption is inversely proportional to performance. The original 1959 Austin/Morris mini could get 50 mpg back then but it was a small utilitarian car. Drive it briskly (I won’t say quickly) it may get 30 mpg.

  22. I think California might have a problem with cars registered out of state being garaged in California. Most states have that problem.

    • Does it happen, Mike? Sure does. Done it myself. Is it a problem? Only for the bureaucrats and hyper-self-righteous-lawn-order types. In my case I had defacto (but not technically legally established) dual residence, I drove on those out of state plates when here, between trips to there, because it was just sensible. And then after returning full time, I ran on those plates until they expired. CHP at traffic stops were curious why I had a CA license and residence, but Arkansas plates and registration. The closest scrape I had was one CHP officer who didn’t like the situation he found me in, but couldn’t think of any better warning than to tell me that I ought to get right with the law because a judge might think I was running a scam on the DMV. It was hard to keep from laughing, but with a straight face I solemnly told him I’d never do a thing like that because DMV were some of my favorite folks. He let me go. I think he was late for donut call.

      • The ‘better’ way to do this is to lease the car from a company in the other state, preferably one without sales tax!. You just need a willing vendor/lessor.Even better, of course, is when you own that other company, or your cousin does! The car always wears the other state’s plates, and the registration is there too. You are just the leasee. If the CHP asks, you lived *there* when you first leased the car. You actually buy out the lease, immediately, for cash less a $1 per month. Only hassle is getting the plates renewed every 2 years of so. I know a guy who has done that for over 20 years. Alberta -> Ontario. 8% of a car invoice is a chunk worth saving.

  23. Would not California be better off paying attention to maintaining its clapped out, never properly designed and tested, dams?

  24. Whenever I read about the global warming fraud, “carbon” taxes, etc. I think of The Beatles song, “Taxman”.

  25. I have no wish to intrude on a private grief here but there is a story in the British press about a plan for California to be divided by Californians fed up with the LA elite and the state to have two separate electoral constituencies, one of which would likely be Republican and less urban. I have no idea if this is likely to happen but it certainly shows some people are very angry with the Moonbeam faction.
    Incidentally, it is not environmentally friendly to crush old cars which are often less polluting than many think if you are going to replace them with new cars which each require the industrial process of producing them (and built to last only a few years with inferior materials compared to the older vehicles).
    And I too remember the London smogs – it was caused by coal and wood burning smoke trapped by a temperature inversion in the air above London. Nothing much to do with cars. For air pollution today follow a badly tuned diesel vehicle. Can’t beat a pre emission control American muscle car for fun and fresh air.

    • You are very accurate in your assessment of California. It is at least two separate societies. The first is the ultra- liberal self described elites living in the urban areas. These Elois are anti agriculture, elitists who view those in the rest of the state, no matter how well educated, as Morlocks who could not survive without their oversight. Many or most of us in the interior would feel blessed to be rid of the Elois but lack the political power to secede. Endless propositions to leave California are voted down.]
      We are therefore stuck with their decisions to build a multi billion dollar trains8 to nowhere in a state rapidly going bankrupt and provide only 65% of a contractual water allotment to farmers during one of the wettest seasons [ o.oever, while huge amounts roll endlessly out to sea.
      The biggest argument to seccesion is that we would be the poorest state in the country. I respond that we would be no poorer than we are now but we would be a lot richer by charging a fee to use our water and making Hwys 99 and 5 toll roads.
      Let the left coast lefties live on hummus and brea. If they’d like a steak they can buy the beef from us, at our “special price” and if they want a swig (Morlock term) of water they can cross the border into the frontier and buy some from us aliens, cause we’ll have plenty of both.[

  26. Actually, the power SCOTUS has assumed under the Commerce Clause is almost unlimited. See landmark case of Wickard v Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942) (for non-lawyer, Wikipedia has a good summary at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wickard_v._Filburn ). There is a doctrine formulated by SCOTUS that once the Federals enter a area of law, there is no room for the States except by specific exception granted by the Feds.

    For automobiles, it’s very clear that Federal regulatory power is absolute. Even if CA banned all autos except those made out of Redwood trees ala the Fred Flintstone foot sedan, one cannot conceive how a new car does not “effect” commerce since most of the parts and assembly are done outside the state. And the list would just go on and on and on.

    • Exactly right, but I would disagree with the word assumed. It is a reality that interstate commerce is ubiquitous and that virtually everything we own or buy has some part made from some other state or country. The decision simply reflects reality. Anything opinion to the contrary would be a legal fiction.

      • It is my opinion that they improperly dragged in things that are not interstate commerce (egresiously so in the Fickard case) because they wanted power they could not have gotten otherwise. Interstate commerce is me going to another state to engage in trade or someone else from another state coming to me to engage in trade (remember that here in These United States, I am a citizen of both my state and the Union). The rationale behind that clause was the fact that the several states imposed tariffs designed to ‘protect’ locals. If my trade requires me to have stuff brought to me from out of state, my state has no business taxing me for such, directly or otherwise, and more especially so if the purpose is punitive.

  27. I wouldn’t worry about California. I understand more U.S. citizens are moving out of land of the fruit and nuts than moving in. In 20 years there will be two class of people, very rich and poor. The poor will not be able to afford to own a car. California will have to implement more hidden taxes on businesses. So on and so on until the only people left will be the very, very poor and the ultra rich to pay the taxes. Personally I hope southern Cal would exit the U.S. so I don’t have to pay for their stupidity.

  28. So if I may summarize the discussion so far: CA writing their own standards for auto emissions (equipment) was on legally defensible but probably reversible grounds, and was allowed to over-regulate for the last 40+ years. But now trying to classify CO2 as a pollutant may be a bridge too far, and cause the cancellation of their entire air pollution standard? Way past time. But could an end result be that CA can continue to write its own standards as long as they don’t try to regulate CO2? A result that I believe still unnecessarily drives up costs for all US consumers, and possibly global consumers.

    • One federal appeals court (if I recall correctly) ruled that CO2 is a pollutant. I don’t know if that case was overturned or not. But if it wasn’t, California can probably regulate CO2 as well.

      • Actually Scotus never said that. Scotus upheld the EPA’s *power* under the Clean Air Act, to make an ‘endangerment finding’ that CO2 is a pollutant. The finding was a PoS as a scientific examination, and may have been improperly issued.
        I think we can expect that Priutt will retract and revise that particular finding… which is the basis for ALL the rest of the ‘CO2-will-kill-us-all’ legal frenzy.

  29. Would it be feasible for the auto companies to produce vehicles to a uniform national emissions standard and offer a dealer installed option paid for by the customer to meet local emission requirements?

  30. I wouldn’t get too deep into the meaning of the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution because it now means whatever those in power want it to mean. The last time it was addressed was during the fight to institute Obama’s Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare”. It was used to argue in favor of the “individual mandate” that required everyone in the U. S. to purchase healthcare insurance or be fined. The lawyers argued that the Fed had a right to force people to buy health insurance, and fine them if they didn’t, under the interstate commerce clause even though health insurance can not be purchased from a state other than where you live or work by law, and people being fined for not buying health insurance can not be said to be engaging in commerce, interstate or otherwise.

    • The court did not rely on that argument to make its decision. That part of the opinion is what is called dicta. Since that argument did not decide the case, it technically has little if any precedence. The case was decided based on Congress’ right to levy taxes and Congress has the right to determine what income is that is subject to tax, what a tax deduction is, what a tax credit is and what a penalty is.

      But it would have been an insane decision to hold that health care is not interstate commerce as virtually everything about healthcare has an interstate component. It would have been a legal fiction of the highest order.

      • I don’t pretend to be a lawyer but, this was the first time in history I can think of where the right to levy taxes included taxing someone that wasn’t doing anything, like not buying health insurance. Imagine the government taxing you for not buying an electric car, or not putting solar on your roof, or anything else you are, or are not doing. It would be impossible to escape any tax and is equivalent to slavery to a degree because the government then has an unlimited power to take your money. The United States government was founded under the principle of a limited government. A government that can tax anything and everything and nothing to any extent is not a limited government.
        Also I did not state that getting health care is not interstate commerce, but specifically buying health insurance, which is not interstate commerce, which is the subject of the tax. If you think it is, then everything is and again we have an unliimited government. What’s the point of specifying in the Constitution that which is under the perview of the Federal government and what is under the states if everything can be argued such that it falls withing the powers of the federal government?
        But then maybe you are a lawyer and can argue any side of an argument equally well.

  31. In the mid 1960s in Nigeria they had an industry that would be popular in California today. I bought an Austin Gypsy (a bad substitute for a Landrover) and drove it a couple of hundred miles to the city of Jos to my job with the Geological Survey of Nigeria. I had go to the Motor Vehicle Office to get a driver’s licence and for a vehicle inspection.

    Later, I went to the market place to buy food and stuff and came upon a bustling business out in the open air that looked like an auto repair ‘shop’. There were rickety buses and trucks held together with bailing wire, rope, and all manner of jerry-built doors and panels. When I asked, I was informed that they rented out parts, tires, lights, windshield wipers… for the motor vehicle infections. You took your vehicle in and they did an inspection and then switched all the necessary parts for you. You paid plus a premium which you reclaimed when you returned. After the inspection, you returned to the stall and they switched all the parts back and away you went until the next inspection. That was my first experience with the entrepreneurial craftiness of these people. I’m not surprised that the Nigerian internet scam bears their name.

    • Ah come on now, the Gypsy wasn’t all that bad, I mean you could use all forward gears available in reverse. Talking of this, I know someone, or rather knew someone, who used to do the exact same thing with his car in South Australia. He’d fit standard parts, like wheels, tires, exhaust etc, for an inspection. When the inspection was over, he’d re-fit all the parts that would fail an inspection. I would not like to be involved in a crash with this person because all insurance he may have had would be null and void. Incidentally, he was one of the people who initiated the biggest, maybe the second biggest, IT disaster in Australia on July 26 2012.

  32. It seems simple enough to me: just rescind the California waiver to the Clean Air Act. According to SCOTUS, they must then adhere to the Federal rules, just like all the other states. In other words, they could not mandate stricter or more lenient rules.

    • They might rescind it, but California would likely appeal the decision. Tie it up in court for decades. One argument California could make is that the state has relied on this waiver for decades and it would cause substantial harm to the state to implement new rules. I am not saying this argument would necessarily work, but a claim of reliance on a permitted course of action is almost always a legitimate claim that could be litigated.

  33. I was in Los Angeles last May and I can’t see why California even bothers with emissions standards when there are so many cars bogged down in traffic on both the freeways and surface streets at all hours. What kind of fuel economy is the standard there under conditions where traffic is just crawling along even when the road surfaces are in ideal condition?

  34. California has had a smog problem in the past and more stringent regualtions have helped. But, CO2 is not the culprit. A clean burning engine converts fossil fuel and air into CO2, H2O, and energy. CO2 and H2O are not the cause of the smog problem. There is also no evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate and plenty of scientific rational to support the idea that the climate sensivity of CO2 is really zero.

  35. Caveat right off the bat: I’m actually a Rightist ….

    In any case … sooooooo … States’ rights are good when it’s a State taking a Right / conservative position vs Fed.gov, but when it’s a Lefty state taking a Lefty position vs Fed.gov it’s bad? ….

    ….. face palm ……

    ….. roll eyes ……

    If one is going to tout States’ rights, one must tout them no matter what.

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