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Davis

Davis, California

Friday, September 24, 2021

Column: Cut the CARB

The California Air Resources Board is responsible for maintaining and protecting California air quality. This sounds like a noble cause, doesn’t it? I certainly don’t want to gag on fumes all the time, and I am sure that most Californians want the air to be clean.

Unfortunately, this agency’s actions have had negative to disastrous consequences for me, you and anyone wanting to breathe the clean air of this beautiful state.

Since the CARB bureaucratic agency will soak up over $800 million this year I think it’s important to list some of its great “accomplishments.”

I think it is important that I explain these amazing accomplishments, because not doing so would deprive CARB of the attention it deserves.

The first, and perhaps most damaging, action taken by CARB was its advocacy to put MTBE in our gasoline. This chemical was included to reduce emissions, but it turned out that the chemical is highly destructive to ground water. Years of using MTBE has polluted large amounts of California’s water, which is both difficult and expensive to clean up. So instead of choking on toxic fumes, you will choke on poisonous water; what a wonderful solution.

Another big idea that CARB advocated was to force car companies to produce zero-emission vehicles. So this basically means that they wanted electric cars, and wanted them to comprise 10 percent of the total number of cars in California. How many electric car owners do you know? I don’t know any.

What about hybrid cars? Well CARB didn’t consider these to be zero-emission vehicles so they were not included in the program. CARB eventually came around to the idea, at the cost of years of development time.

Do you like food, clothes, video games, household appliances or anything else that is produced outside the area in which you live? If you do, then you pretty much depend on truckers to provide most of the material goods that you enjoy. Yes, you may get angry with them when their big, slow truck gets in front of you on the freeway, but consider how important their services are to you.

New diesel engine restrictions enacted by CARB will hurt the small-time truckers terribly. Truckers in California will have to update their trucks to fit the new, stringent regulations on carbon emissions. This will force out many small business truckers, who simply can’t afford to buy a new truck.

In addition to these major problems is perhaps one of the silliest examples of bureaucracy triumphing over reason. New “No-spill” gas cans are now the only type that you may buy, thanks to CARB laws.

At the No-spill gas can website, nospill.com/CARBcans.htm, you will find an advertisement that looks like the ones you see for a child’s action figure. It says hilarious things like, “Thumb-button control for precise pouring!” and “Specially treated body for low permeation!” I actually tried to use this thing, and the truth is that it is far worse and spills much more than the old gas cans.

The nozzle is poorly designed, and will almost certainly lead to spills for most people trying to use it. Removing the nozzle doesn’t solve the problem because the lack of a second air hole will make the liquid pour out very slowly. I guess there will just have to be a new black market for old gas cans.

Protecting the environment and stopping pollution are worthy goals, but they must be done responsibly and with other human interests in mind. If you wonder why there is so much skepticism over climate change, it is because of the misguided actions taken by agencies like CARB. Solutions that actually damage the environment or destroy the livelihood of many California citizens are the wrong way to go.

JARRETT STEPMAN wants to go on a no CARB diet. You may send him your comments at jstepman@ucdavis.edu.

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