Saturday, April 25, 2009

Rant about environment, and environmentalism

A diesel particulate filter (top left) in a Pe...Image via Wikipedia

When it comes to global warming, I'm somewhat ambivalent. I believe that it does exist, but I don't believe it's as severe as some people seems to think it is. And legislating changes *would* kill some business.

Just take the bus charter business for a while... CA already have one of the most stringent smog and particular emission standards. Smog for cars, particulate for diesels. However, CARB is considering forcing all diesel trucks and buses to convert to "clean diesel" in a few years.

Do you know how much a conversion is? I've checked. A particulate filter, "ballpark figure", is $12000 plus maintenance fees. Those filters needs periodic "cleaning".

Or I can buy a bus already equipped with such an engine, except this technology only came out in 2006, and since then CAT has gotten out of motorcoach engine business. And a new coach is 350,000 dollars. Yes, 350000. They haven't been on the market that long for used coaches to be discounted much.

Which brings me to the complaint about environmentalists... They are very active... as long as it doesn't cost them personally. While I agree it's nice to save the environment, have they consider the cost to the people? Especially in THIS economy? Sure it doesn't cost the people directly, but if it cost businesses money, and businesses have to get the money from either employees or the public.

Take the bus charter business for example... do you have any idea what I have to do when "clean diesel" are required "by law"?

I'll have to sell at least two of my buses in order to retrofit the rest with the filters. That means at least three (more like 5, my buses are old and aren't worth much) of my drivers will be laid off, and my business will SHRINK, which means LESS taxes for the government. Right?

But you're saying "but we're saving the planet!" Sorry, I don't buy that. Not when the times are bad. Especially not when the times are bad. When times are bad, government should not tax. Government should SPEND, and hope the dollars spend goes into people's pockets, which then encourages further spending, thus creating demand and jobs.

Sure requiring something increases demand... But not when retrofits are required. Airbags are now required, but that stuff is BUILT INTO CARS, and there are no rules to require older cars to be retrofitted with airbags that don't have them.

No, the problem is the spending plan. Such spending should be done in GOOD TIMES, and there should be plenty of incentives to encourage people to go along. Something like the hybrid or clean air car rebates. Except in nice and BIG amounts to companies. Heck, you're giving $2K to $4K tax credits to hybrids. Why NOT $10K to $20K tax credit toward clean diesel retrofits or new clean diesel purchases? A new hybrid is like what? $25K to $35K? (The new Honda Insight is $20K base, about $25K in CA trim w/ options and add sales tax and reg) Perfectly reasonable when a new bus is 300K to 350K (about 10 times cost of a vehicle). And we carry a lot more people than those equivalent cars.

I'll gladly help the environment if the conversion is free or low cost. But asking me to spend $12000 on each of my six buses is simply out of the question. Environment be ****ed (sorry for the blasphemy). A few thousand (say, maybe THREE) can be discussed. But TWELVE? Gimme a break.

Personally, I'd say the budget office should determine if the year is a "good" year, or a "bad" year. In a "good" year, part of the tax income should be dumped to a reserve fund. When year is bad, you pull frm the reserve fund. When reserve fund exceeds a certain number, you pull the excess and use it on "bonus" programs like this sort of incentives.

Forcing people to spend is a good way to get them to do something else instead. You need to ENTICE them instead. Remember, carrot AND a stick.

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