EPA sucker punch of Detroit

Obama’s new global warming emission rules likely to put U.S. Automakers in deep Freeze

By —— Bio and Archives--June 17, 2009

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- Eric Peters

COPPER HILL, Va. — The usual rule in America — even in rough-and-tumble Washington, D.C. — is: “You don’t kick ‘em when they’re down.”

So why — with the American car industry practically on its death bed — is the Obama Administration stomping it hard with costly new emissions control mandates?

The new controls to limit so-called global warming gasses will cost GM, Ford and Chrysler additional billions of dollars — money that could be better spent on developing new, more fuel efficient cars and improving automotive safety.

Besides the new mandates will do nothing to stop global warming if, as the greens and their allies say, it really is caused by man-made fumes of carbon dioxide.

Many scientists already doubt that, and many more are becoming increasingly skeptical.  And for good reason!  NASA reports no increase in the earth’s core temperature over the past 5 years.  Other equally reputable experts have recorded a slight cooling.

The current squabble among western, industrialized countries means next-to-nothing to the world’s only 1-billion plus population nations, China and India.  Both will burn as much oil, coal and cow dung as they can get their hands on to sustain full-throttle economies with rates of growth that far surpass the U.S.  To do any less, would spur riots in the streets of Beijing and New Delhi.

Ironically, the emissions Obama’s car team wants to control are not carbon monoxide or unburned hydrocarbons or other harmful chemical compounds that make it hard to breath and clouds the skies with tawny-looking smog.

Those emissions are a non-problem — or very close to it.  After 40 years of work inventing and improving emissions control equipment such as catalytic converters and electronic fuel injection, a modern passenger car engine’s exhaust stream is better than 98 percent “clean.”  Only about two percent of what exits the pipe is other than harmless water vapor and carbon dioxide, an inert gas.

But there’s the rub.  The old school definition of “emission” is being broadened to include carbon dioxide, the very essence of life that allows humans, animals and plants to breathe and flourish.

The Obama Administration misguidedly wants to filter out the tiny amount of CO2 wafting into the atmosphere from automotive tailpipes and factory smokestacks.

It believes that CO2 — not the sun — is the cause of apocalyptic global warming, and it wants to raise tax-revenues and reward its friends by allowing businesses that emit little of it to sell carbon cap-and-trade credits to businesses that emit lots of it.  That includes every form of transportation, electric utilities and almost all manufacturers.

And unlike traditional exhaust emissions — which can be and have been lowered by making engines burn fuel more efficiently and by chemically scrubbing their exhaust —  the only currently known/practical way to reduce the amount of C02 produced by burning a gallon of gasoline is to burn less gasoline.

That, in turn, will mean that new cars will become smaller — whether that’s what consumers want or not.

Thus, America’s ailing automakers will be forced to junk billions of dollars in tooling as well as vehicle platforms and write-off an entire class of large vehicles like large sedans, minivans, SUVs and pick-ups.  Foreign competitors, who already specialize in smaller cars, will be given another government-ordered advantage over U.S. industry.

That, in turn, could be “it” for the U.S. car industry, which is in no condition to absorb another blind-sided punch to the kidneys by government. 

Mobility is the hallmark of American life — economic and culturally.  Kill the privately owned car, cram us all into busses and trains like the Soviet proletariat and what will we resemble? 

Most likely Emma Lazarus’ line about ‘huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”  Let’s hope it remains indelibly inscribed on the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal and — above all — provides daily guidance to our politicians.

Eric Peters is a veteran automotive columnist and the author of “Automotive Atrocities: Cars You Love To Hate.” His articles have appeared in major American newspapers and he currently is a regular contributor to AmericaOnline, The Car Connection, Bottom Line Personal Finance and The Army Times. Readers may write him at 721 Hummingbird Lane SE, Copper Hill, VA 24079.

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