Recently, I read the article “Obama clearing way for California emissions waiver” by Ken Bensinger and Jim Tankersley published January 26, 2009 in the Los Angeles Times. The article essentially summarizes how President Obama is asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow waivers from federal rules that would allow states to set their own (and in most cases, stricter) standards for car emissions. President Bush had previously denied California a waiver that it had applied for back in 2007. However, Governor Schwarzenegger decided to sue the federal government upon news of the denial. Congress also launched an investigation into the process of EPA decision making.
Even though I am in support of the government trying to become as environmentally friendly as possible, and therefore limiting our greenhouse emissions, I do not think that allowing states to set their own emissions guidelines is necessarily the right way to go about helping the environment. If California and 17 other interested states are successful in obtaining the waiver and passing even stricter emissions standards, I think that it could potentially be the last straw for the American car industry. If auto manufacturers are forced to comply with these new standards, it would cost the companies billions to research and develop new cars that meet the stricter standards. And, considering that the only way the auto industry is managing to keep afloat these days is with billions of dollars from the federal government, forcing them to manufacture new cars to meet these standards could downright kill these companies. I think that this decision should possibly wait a couple of years until the car industry can recover and properly attack the issue of meeting possible stricter requirements.
Also, if states impose stricter guidelines for emission, this means that it is going to exponentially harder to get inspection stickers for our cars. This means people will have to spend even more on auto repairs to upgrade their car’s emission systems to meet the new requirements. And, in this economy, people do not necessarily have money to pay for those upgrades/repairs. So either one of two things will most likely happen: one, people will simply not pay to repair their cars and drive around with expired inspection stickers or two, pay for the repairs and possibly go into even more debt. And, if states really want to enforce the inspection stickers, they will have to have cops devote more time to writing tickets and taking them away from actual protective duties.
In addition to burdening drivers with the inspection stickers, drivers will also pay more in gas prices (which as we saw last summer adversely affects almost everyone). California already has ridiculously high emission standards, and because of this they have to have specially blended gasoline that typically runs a dollar or two more a gallon than regular fuel. If other states raise their standards, more people would be subjected to using higher priced fuel to help meet these new standards. And, once again in this economy, I do not think that people can afford this right now.
Overall, I am not saying that I disagree with the waivers. I think that we should monitor our emissions so that we play our part in helping control pollution. However, with the state our economy is in presently, I think that the waivers would simply make things so, so much worse.