Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Nanny State Chronicles

I’m traveling out in the Pacific northwest this week, where people will be happy to know that the city of Portland, Oregon, has this week banned cigarette smoking at outdoor bus stops. They want to protect people from the hazard of second-hand smoke, naturally. Another reason for getting your smoke first-hand.

Discussions - 25 Comments

Yeah, Steven, I bet this is really gonna bother you the next time you’re at a public bus stop there - haha! But if you ever are in such a place, maybe you could get your fill of sweet, precious smoke by puckering up to the nearest Bush-stickered SUV idling in nearby traffic?? Or, if that’s not first-hand enough, try your own vehicle.

I guess the SUVs with Kerry stickers don’t have any emissions, right?

Sure they do. My guess was that Hayward wouldn’t want to have close contact with such a vehicle. But let me know if you ever want to put some money on which sticker, Bush or Kerry, was/is more likely to be found on SUVs. I recall a Post article that cited some research on that.

Chris L.’s point is well-taken and full of meaning. It reminds me of the time during the campaign when Kerry told an environmentalist group he had sold his two SUV’s when he learned of their oh-so-destructive emissions, and then later (that day or the next)told autoworkers how much he enjoyed driving his SUVs for leisure.


Also, for some reason I just can’t see how gas emissions would have the same flavor as a nice cigar; and, though I don’t mean to put words into Mr. Hayward’s mouth, I believe taste would be the reason for getting that smoke first-hand.

I have a video clip, which I can’t upload here, of a League of Conservation Voters sticker ("I Vote to Protect the Environment") on the back of a . . . Ford Explorer V-8. I guess this person only votes in the booth, and not with his consumer dollars.

Chris L obviously missed my long thread several weeks ago about auto emissions. The most salient point: since model year 2003, SUVs have the same emissions per mile as all other vehicles, because CAA standards are based on emissions per mile, not gas mileage. (SUV emissions were already converging with the rest of the auto fleet several years before the Tier II regs went into effect, for obvious reasons if you know anything about auto engineering and pollution control technology. I am guessing Chris L probably does not.) So it no longer makes any sense to pick on SUVs for air pollution.

Here’s a funny convergence of some of the things that have been brought up in this post. It’s from smokingpermitted.com, which claims to be "the internet’s voice for student smokers." They cite EPA stats that "a typical ’passenger car’ produces 0.8 pounds of emissions per mile, and a typical ’light truck or SUV’ produces 1.2 pounds of emissions per mile." These folks also hate the "smoke Nazis," but they seem to be willing to call a spade a spade when it comes to SUVs and pollution. I don’t know what Chris’s angle was exactly, but it also seems that SUVs may present other environmental issues, such as consumption of that finite resource, gasoline.

While on most political and social issues, I typically support conservative positions, on the issue of public smoking, I find that my allegiance ends.

As a nation, America struggles to balance the rights and protection of the individual with the rights and the protection of the state. But in regards to smoking, the exercise of one individual’s right to smoke so often impedes on the rights of other individuals who either (1) don’t want to breathe the same air in which a smoker exhales the exhaust of their habit or (2) fear that breathing the exhausted air can lead to serious disease against which the non-smokers have no way of protecting themselves.

And it’s a simple fact that anyone who smokes without regard to the fact that everyone - young and old, smoker and non-smoker - must breathe the same air displays a lack of consideration or concern for others. At its core, it is selfishness.

As a citizen of a city close to Portland, though living temporarily overseas, I am happy to know that they are enforcing these kinds of laws. You may think that it is the ’Nanny-State’ at work, but it is simply putting a protection in place for that portion of its citizens to be free from the effects of breathing any kind of smoke in public places where we must all share the same air. They have chosen to legislate what should be simple decent consideration on the part of smokers. You can argue whether or not they should, but my right to breathe air free of the toxins that are produced by cigarettes and smokers breath are just as valid as the smokers right to smoke. The law is not making smoking illegal, but simply determining in which public spaces it is acceptable.

I hear ya Steven and those students against the "Smoking Nazis’ are some clever kids. Just to make a point you should go sit at a public bus stop in Portland and smoke a big old Stogey!! I would love to see that and I would honk my aproval when I drive by - public transportation is too slow for me!

Re "Ashland Voter" comment #6: The EPA figures on a "typical" car and SUV emissions refers to the entire existing fleet of autos--not late model cars only. (In other words, those average figures include a lot of older, high polluting cars.) Under Tier II Clean Air Act regulations, which went into effect in 2003, all cars, including SUVs, must achieve the same emissions standards per mile, which are, if memory serves, about 0.1 lbs of NOx and VOCs per mile--way below the average figures now. This is why EPA computer models project a 90 percent decline in auto emissions over the next 20 years from auto and truck fleet turnover alone. This is why I say, and still offer $1,000 bets to any takers, that air pollution is going to continue to fall dramatically (2004 was the lowest air pollution year ever--this year, with its hot summer, is likely to be the second lowest year ever), and why all the liberal carping about Bush "gutting" the Clean Air Act is nonsense.

Finally, while older SUVs (late 1980s and early to mid-1990s models) polluted about one third more than passenger cars, their emissions began to converge with cars by about model year 2001, two years ahead of the Tier II regs. Data on this comes from Denver, Chicago, and Phoenix remote sensing experiments.

One problem is that you never read about any of this in any newspaper or major magazine articles, chiefly because even environmental beat reporters are too lazy or ignorant to learn about it (with a few partial exceptions, like Miguel Bustillo of the LA Times.)

Mr. Hayward, I think you’re trying to push your claim that "it no longer makes any sense to pick on SUVs for air pollution" by engaging in shameless and random wonkery. One needn’t be an expert in auto engineering or pollution control technology to know that, in general, big heavy vehicles with big powerful engines are likely to take in more fuel and spew more exhaust than small cars with engines designed for efficiency, not power, and the technology between the gas tank and the exhaust pipe can only ameliorate that to a limited extent.

Anyone interested in exploring this further should check out the EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide at this linked page. There are some small surprises to be found there, but in general, it bears out the common-sense perceptions. The guide not only lists the fuel economy of vehicles but also gives them separate scores for air pollution (air pollution score = APS) and greenhouse gas production (greenhouse gas score = GGS). Looking at the 2005 vehicle fleet (of vehicles available for purchase in the U.S.) one sees that these are the best-ranked vehicles in the 2 scores (vehicle, then APS, then GGS):

Toyota Prius 9.5 10


Honda Civic Hybrid 9.5 10


Ford Escape HEV 9.5 8


Nissan Sentra 9.5 8


Mazda 3 9.5 8


Ford Focus St. Wagon 9.5 7


Toyota Camry 9.5 7


Volkswagen Jetta 9.5 7

...and these vehicles are what you see at the bottom of the rankings (again, vehicle, APS, and GGS):

Chevrolet Silverado 1 3


Hummer H2 0 N/A


(Note - the Hummer’s air pollution score is actually a zero; only the greenhouse gas score is not available - there are vehicles with unavailable APSs)


Dodge Durango 1-3 1-3


(depending on specific model)



Ford Explorer 2 3


Lincoln Navigator 3 1


Forde Expedition 3 2


GMC Yukon 1 3


(automatic, 4WD, 8 Cyl)


Land Rover Range Rover 1 0


(WOW!)


Lexus LX 470 1 0


Mercedes-Benz G500 1 0


Toyota Land Cruiser 1 0

etc...

EPA’s air pollution score "reflects pollutants that cause health problems and smog. The score is from 0 to 10, where 10 is best." (click on "Air Pollution Score" for further details) The greenhouse gas score "The Greenhouse Gas Score reflects the exhaust emissions of carbon dioxide. The score is from 0 to 10, where 10 is best." (click similarly there for more info.)

I don’t think laziness or ignorance have anything to do with why more Americans haven’t heard your particular expert defense of the SUV.

I put gaps between those numbers, but they didn’t turn up when I hit "add," unfortunately. Still readable, if you look carefully, though. Apologies.

Um...yeah, I think those straightforward EPA figures put Hayward’s don’t-blame-SUVs argument to rest. (I suppose now we’ll have to hear about how somehow Bush’s EPA chair is actually a radical EarthFirster??)

In any case, my question is, if Mr. Schramm - a man recovering from a serious illness whose doctor advised him to quit smoking - were at a Portland bus stop, and Mr. Hayward joined him (I know, an insanely unlikely scenario!), would Mr. Hayward feel no hesitation at all in lighting up? And let’s keep in mind just how RARE it is for a smoker to inquire of those around him/her in a public place if they would mind lighting up.

Ranum’s intelligent comment (#7) also shows just how limited the appeal is for smokers’ rights. When a person engaging in, basically, drug use for their own pleasure, insists that they have the right to make the air that another person is also breathing smoky, stinky and unhealthy, well, that’s problematic, particularly when the person needs to remain in a certain place to catch a bus. The "Nanny state" description seems way out of line. With too many "empowered" smokers asserting their "rights," it’s hardly a safe assumption that a simple request would result in getting the smoker to snuff their stick. I suppose it would be a better scenario if this situation would result in fisticuffs??

Finally, is that Fred Bills bashing Kerry again? Bashing the guy who he previously took a leadership role in campaigning for? (If so,) I have a small favor to ask - could you please work in a similar capacity for Republican candidates in ’06 and ’08?

Re: John Reis comment# 10: That EPA ranking of cars is highly misleading, because even a low-scoring car meets the EPA Tier II emission standards, which are 90% cleaner than the fleet average of just five years ago. In other words, even a low-ranking car on this chart is a clean car.

Longer answer to come in due course (esp. on the greenhouse gas side of the argument) along with the historical data: stay tuned.

Re: J Montgomery comment #11: You should ask Peter that question directly, but as a nonsmoker myself, I never minded when Peter lit up around me, and I’m guessing he’d reciprocate now if I took up the habit. That’s how free people in a free country bargain with each other.

RE: Comment 13 - Haha!! Now dirty = clean. Once again, it’s "The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations!" And I also notice that the "EPA computer models" that Mr. Hayward cites are, apparently, reliable, but the EPA stats that Reis cites are "misleading." I guess anything that might lead a reasonable person to believe something other than Mr. Hayward’s line that SUVs are green is necessarily misleading, then? I hate to use John Stossel’s probably-trademarked gimmick line, but please, Give me a break!

Looking at the EPA charts (spec. the legend for the enviro. pollution score) that Reis linked to, it’s clear to see that there is a substantial difference between the "expected amounts of emissions per mile" between the highest and the lowest scoring vehicles and the highest (for instance, a Range Rover vs. a Honda Civic or even a Subaru Legacy Wagon), which counters your claim that "SUVs have the same emissions per mile as all other vehicles."

Regarding the smoking issue, when I’m waiting at a bus stop I really don’t feel like striking a "bargain" with anyone who’s gonna blow smoke into my airspace. I don’t see what possible benefit I’ll get from it. Okay, maybe if they wanted to give me $50 compensation, but I really have no interest in living like that, with such ridiculous interactions with others. I’m happy to engage a stranger in small talk or even a substantive discussion, but breathing in smoke so someone else can get their fix, well, I’d just as soon have that be non-negotiable, thanks.

Correction - the 3rd and 4th lines of the 1st para. above that read "’amounts of emissions per mile’ between the highest and the lowest scoring vehicles and the highest" should not have the redundant "and the highest" at the end, of course.

Re: Martin Bramah comment #15 (and others): You’re right--I shouldn’t have said the EPA’s table was misleading. I should have said plainly that it is wrong. That table is based on the same FTP method (Federal Test Procedure) that yields the EPA gas mileage estimates that are on new car stickers. Ever noticed the fine print ("your actual mileage may vary"), or any of the countless news stories on how inaccurate those EPA estimates turn out to be in the real world? Same is true for tailpipe emissions. Real data from tests of hundreds of thousands of cars from smog check programs and remote sensing experiments show a convergence of SUV and regular auto emissions for VOCs starting around 1997, and NOx in 2001. See Figure 5b in this report.

Now you’re going off on gas mileage, too? Come on. Seven or eight years ago, my ’88 Honda Civic CRX HF was getting 45-52 MPG on the highway, and excellent numbers in the city, too. Despite the "actual mileage will vary" disclaimer, which I’m sure is true to a limited degree, I never considered that I could have had similar fuel economy from a Chevy Blazer or a Lincoln Town Car. I don’t doubt that SUVs pollute less now than they did years ago (gee, wonder if govt. regulations have helped?), but the EPA figures from Reis clearly show that there are substantial differences between SUVs and regular cars, on a number of scores. You also seem to keep hammering on the VOCs and the NOx, but what about CO, CO2, NMOG, PM and HCHO ? And now you’re just trying to sell us books.

CO2 is not regulated under the CAA or any other statute, and is irrelevant to smog. (So why does the EPA report on it?--ed Two guesses, and the first doesn’t count.) NMOG and HCHO are comprised in the VOC meaurements. No place--not one single place--in the U.S. has exceeded the CO standard for more than 15 years now. VOCs and NOx are 80 percent of the ball game for ozone (smog), and NOx is about 40 percent of the ball game for PM2.5. That’s why I and others focus on those numbers.

Finally: the report I referred to can be downloaded free, so J. Montgomery complaining that I’m trying to sell books just shows how little he pays attention.

CO2 might be irrelevant to smog, but the EPA cites it as a greenhouse gas. After your sniping at the EPA fuel economy stats, I’m starting to think you might not be part of the reality-based community!

I saw that the report could be downloaded free, but typically a direct link would be provided to the report itself, not the page where you can add the book to the shopping cart. I guess that can’t be done on the AEI site? Oh well - sorry.

I also saw the graph in the report you referred to. Good to see emissions coming down, but let’s not forget this gem, also provided by the EPA site: "The tailpipe emissions from cars and trucks account for almost a third of the air pollution in the United States."

Re: J. Montgomery’s last note that "EPA says that tailpipe emissions account for almost a third of the air pollution in the U.S." Yes--that’s exactly the point. (Actually, the EPA probably underestimates the proportion of air pollution from tailpipe emissions--it is probably half or more, not one third, and certainly is in some lightly industrialized urban areas.) But remember that this is for the entire existing auto fleet, which has a lot of older cars that emit much higher levels than late model cars. (Roughly 50% of total tailpipe emissions come from just 10% of the auto and truck fleet, according to voluminous remote sensing and I/M data.) And this is why EPA and CARB own models (even though they currently underestimate tailpipe emissions) project an 80-90% decline in tailpipe emissions over the next 20 years, and why I keep offering a $1,000 bet with any takers that air pollution will be lower at the end of Bush’s presidency than at the beginning. Care to wager, J. Montgomery?

Steven - Why should J Montgomery take you up on a bet on an issue that he/she’s never contested? I think you’re trying to shift the point of contention. It’s pretty clear from reading all of the comments that what John Reis and Montgomery called you on was your claim that "it no longer makes any sense to pick on SUVs for air pollution" and they (Reis, in particular) showed that yes, indeed, it does. While in relative terms nearly all vehicles pollute less today than the ones made 20 years ago, and they may be getting better all the time (great; and btw, I think Bush has little to nothing to do with that), that doesn’t necessarily make them "clean." Here’s a better bet - $1,000 says you wouldn’t sleep overnight in your idling car with your garage doors closed.

Mr Bramah:

In fact I might (if I owned a late model ULEV); there was a thread here several months ago (I doubt I can find it now) about my search for data on suicide-by-car-exhaust, which several research assistants I have assigned to the question have been unable to find, chiefly because we don’t keep very good suicide statistics for reasons that are obvious if you think about it. I concluded in that thread that it was not impossible to kill yourself with a car today, just much more difficult. And it wouldn’t be from CO as in years past; it would be from very high levels of CO2, which catalytic converters turn CO into (yes, that’s right--the technology used to reduce CAA air pollutants had the effect of increasing auto emissions of greenhouse gases.)

Yes indeed, Bush has nothing to do with the auto emissions trends (his dad did, however--it was the 1990 CAA, backed enthusiastically by Bush I, that set in motion the Tier II targets--how much credit did Bush I get from enviros for this? None), but it is equally true that environmentalist compplaints about how "air pollution will increase" because of Bush is wrong; that’s the purpose of the proposed bet. In repeated debates with environmentalists who claim this, the subject is quickly changed when I offer my challenge.

Oh boy, Steve, you’re at it again, I see. First, it’s SUVs can’t be picked on for air pollution, then there’s no big differences between the fuel economy of vehicles, now the EPA has it wrong and vehicles actually make about 50% of air pollution, even though all vehicles are so clean now. Let me guess, all those factories in my hometown - the ones with the flaming smokestacks - are actually just puffing out nothing more than harmless puffs of steam, right? Funny, the enviro whackos must have even fooled my uncle who works there, because that’s not what he tells me. I’m starting to think that you’ve actually been spending short periods of time in your garage with the car idling, preparing for a bet just like Bramah’s. And keep in mind, his bet stipulates YOUR car, not the hypothetical car that you’ve opted not to buy for whatever reason (maybe you just don’t want anyone to think you’re an environmentalist whacko?).

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