Man Without Qualities

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Bad Air Days In California

During the 2000 Presidential campaign and at many other times, Democrats, some self-annointed environmental activists and a good part of the liberal media have felt free to cite Texas' air pollution as evidence that Republicans and especially Geroge Bush are bad for the environment. Often, intimations of some form of "collusion" between the Republicans and "oil interests" or "energy interests" are implied.

So what does it say about Democratic and liberal environmental policies that the arch-liberal and arch-Democratic State of California consistently harbors the worst air pollution in the nation, with no fewer than four of the worst-offending cities? And will the liberal media be running articles suggesting "collusion" between some shadowy "energy interests" and the state's Democratic governor or the Democratic-controlled legislature?

Don't hold your breath.

Is there a connection between Democratic policies and bad air in California? Of course there is. A greatly disproportionate part of air pollution from automobiles is emitted by old cars and cars not properly maintained. Old cars and cars not properly maintained are, in turn, disproportionately owned and driven by people with less wealth - who tend to vote Democratic. If California air pollution laws required that all cars always be as non-polluting as new cars, air pollution in California would drop greatly and rapidly. But such a requirement would "disproportionately" burden core Democratic constituencies.

UPDATE: An astute reader writes:

[A] study for So Cal Edison on electric and hybrid cars and air quality... [examined] ... what percentage of large fleets should be required to be electric/hybrid in order to reach some required air quality level. The number turned out to be much higher than anyone ever expected it could be, and it would have been more expensive than buying everyone in LA who had a car built before 1982 a new Honda Civic, which would have achieved the air quality goal too.

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