Monday, August 22, 2005

Lobbying for dirty air

I remember playing away the weekends when I was a kid growing up in Southern California. Sometimes, we would play hard, spending hours in the pool. I can remember having painful breathing at the end of some of these days. The pain was due to chemical burns on the lungs from the terrible smog we had at the time. We didn't know it then (nor did our parents), but we were developing permanent scar tissue. Since then, California has become the strictest state in America when it comes to vehicle and factory emissions. And it has worked, as the level of pollutants in the air there has declined steadily over the last thirty years.

As I read today about other states considering adopting the tough California vehicle emission standards, I am pleased - not only for addressing global warming issues, but also because I remember the burning lungs and wish for children to grow up without this. What is sickening to me is that the auto industry is using it's lobbying muscle to kill these proposals or severely limit their scope. And for what reason is the auto industry fighting to keep the air poisonous? (we know it's all about the profit margins, but here is how they are couching it:)

"Consumers ought to be able to make the choices of options they want on their vehicle, and not have those choices made for them," says Eron Shosteck of the
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a Washington, D.C.-based auto industry group (it takes additional equipment on the vehicle to reduce emissions of green house gases)

See they are just trying to look out for our freedom. If consumers want to pollute the air, that should be their choice seems to be the tack here. The people who breathe the air, well we aren't concerned about them (unless they buy one of our cars of course.)

And this leads me to the most disturbing realization of political reality. Those whose sole interest is profitablility wield a huge amount of influence in our political system. This is not new, and we aren't surprised, after all, a company answers to its profit-thirsty investors. But when I see a whole industry lobbying for Dirty Air, I remember those late summer afternoons with burning lungs and am filled with sadness/outrage at our values as a society. That the auto industry's rights to profits outweigh the need for children to grow up breathing clean air.


r said...

What are the emission standards in Canada?

I don't know why these standards haven't been enforced everywhere...but then again, like you said, big business is what runs the world.

Too bad. Why even fight it?

Just buy a Hummer, and go shopping in it. Help the economy, why don't you, instead of just sitting there whining.


Anonymous said...

Well, keep talking. Eventually people will listen. It might be after the ice age starts, but chiggers can't be boozers.