Archive for the 'Car-less Society' Category

Dutch cyclists throw Smart cars in canals

December 21, 2009

Bike-friendly Holland is having a hard time adjusting to the new government policy promoting electric/fuel efficient cars — dozens of Smart cars have been tossed into Amsterdam canals this year.

Dutch cyclist Govert de With told Climatewire that,

It’s better if there are no cars.”

This time… a libertarian gets it right!

July 6, 2009

Phew… not all libertarians have lost their minds when it comes to Wall Street Journal op-eds on green topics.

In an op-ed today, Gabriel Roth of the Independence Institute recommends that states opt out of the federal Highway Trust Fund in order to destroy a mechanism that is being used by the federal government to coerce you out of your car:

To fight climate change, Washington wants you to take a bus.

Roth’s op-ed stands in stark contrast to last week’s embarrasing WSJ op-ed by Alan Reynolds of the Cato Institute in which Reynolds suggested that the feds hike gas taxes to coerce you out of the car of your choice.

Roth gets points not only for understanding that libertarianism is about individual liberty and limited government, but also for suggesting a means of dismantling the federal leviathan.

Obama wrecking GM…

July 6, 2009

GM CEO Barack Obama seems determined to wreck what’s left of the auto maker. Consider “Economics Wasn’t GM’s Only Criteria for New Plant” from today’s Wall Street Journal:

When it was deciding where to build its new compact car, General Motors Corp. made a point of saying it would push politics aside and use strictly commercial criteria.

So Tennessee’s three top officials were astonished last month, in a meeting with GM, when they were told the first two criteria were “community impact” and “carbon footprint” — or how the choice would affect unemployment rates and carbon-dioxide emissions.

“Those didn’t strike us as business criteria at all,” said Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who was joined in the meeting by fellow Republican Sen. Bob Corker and the state’s Democratic governor, Phil Bredesen. Those factors, Mr. Alexander said, “seemed odd for a company struggling to get back on its feet.”…

… The federal government’s outsize role in the new GM has already raised concerns about the mixing of politics and commerce. Lawmakers, such as Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, have squeezed GM to reject plant closures in their districts. Obama administration officials have prodded the car giant to develop smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.

The Obama administration is hoping for a public offering of stock in the new GM next year. LOL!

A libertarian for coercive energy policy?

July 2, 2009

Cato Institute senior fellow Alan Reynolds writes in today’s Wall Street Journal that federal fuel economy standards are killing GM — no argument there.

But Reynolds then offers a bizarre solution — even more so since Cato is a libertarian think tank.

Reynolds writes,

As a matter of practical politics, rescuing GM from strangulation by CAFE will require offering economically literate environmentalists a greener alternative, i.e., one that works. Luckily, the government has two policy tools that, with minor modifications, really could discourage people from buying the least fuel-efficient vehicles.

Where in the Constitution does it say that the government has the power to discourage legally made and sold transportation choices?

Cato supports your right to use recreational drugs but not your right to purchase the sort of car or truck you want without government interference?

Reynolds continued,

… One [policy tool] is the federal excise tax on “gas guzzlers,” which could take some fun out of the horsepower race except that it applies only to cars, not to SUVS, vans and trucks. Why not apply this tax to all types of gas guzzling vehicles? Owners of trucks used for business could deduct the tax in proportion to miles used for business, as they do with other vehicular expenses. Phase it in after 2011 to encourage buyers to snap up the unsold inventory of gas guzzling trucks quickly — a timely “stimulus plan.”

Last I checked, libertarians were for simple low, flat income taxes as opposed to punitive excise taxes that could be avoided by tax code shenanigans.

Reynolds continues,

Second, the federal fuel tax is highest on the most efficient fuel (diesel) and below zero on the least efficient fuel (ethanol). Cars get about 30% better mileage on diesel than on gasoline, and cars running mainly on gasoline get about 30% better mileage than they would using 85% ethanol.

To stop distorting consumer choices, simply apply the same 24-cent-a-gallon federal tax to gasoline and ethanol as we do to diesel. This would add funds to the depleted federal highway trust.

Yes, what could be more fair than punitive excise taxes on all fuels? Where is this concept in the Constitution?

As I understand libertarianism, it stands for individual liberty and limited government — not centrally-planned energy and transportation policy.

Reynolds is not the first or the most prominent libertarian to be confused by the green zeitgeist, but his article demonstrates how insidious it is — even the brightest, most well-intentioned among us are easily swept up and away by it.

Today’s “environmentalism” is entirely inconsistent with individual liberty and limited government. An irony is that, even if you forget about those two core principles, the green policies being advocated today — as they are based on junk science and worse economics — don’t even make for reasonable utilitarianism.

By-the-mile road tax

July 1, 2009

From the Kansas City Star:

The year is 2020 and the gasoline tax is history. In its place you get a monthly tax bill based on each mile you drove — tracked by a Global Positioning System device in your car and uploaded to a billing center…

The idea of shifting to a by-the-mile tax has been discussed for years, but it now appears to be getting more serious attention. A federal commission, after a two-year study, concluded earlier this year that the road tax was the “best path forward” to keep revenues flowing to highway and transportation projects, and could be an important new tool to help manage traffic and relieve congestion.

The decision by the 15-member National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission was unanimous, which surprised Robert Atkinson, the group’s chairman. But he said it became clear as the commission’s work progressed that a road tax on miles traveled was the best option.

“If you’re committed to the system being improved then it was a no-brainer,” he said.

A “no-brainer” indeed… 🙂

Waxman-Markey lays groundwork for electric vehicle mandate

July 1, 2009

The Waxman-Markey climate bill prepares America for an electric vehicle mandate.

Sec. 121 of the bill mandates that electric utilities develop plans…

… to support the use of plug-in electric drive vehicles, including heavy-duty hybrid electric vehicles.

“Support the use” means providing for the…

… deployment of electrical charging stations in public or private locations, including street parking, parking garages, parking lots, homes, gas stations, and highway rest stops.

The plans may also require…

… (i) battery exchange, fast charging infrastructure and other services; (ii) triggers for infrastructure deployment based upon market penetration of plug-in electric drive vehicles; and (iii) such other elements as the State determines necessary to support plug-in electric drive vehicles.

Who will pay for this? Waxman-Markey says that,

Each State regulatory authority (in the case of each electric utility for which it has ratemaking authority) and each utility (in the case of a nonregulated utility) shall consider whether, and to what extent, to allow cost recovery for plans and implementation of plans.

So state regulators and utilities will get to decide whether to pass the costs on to consumers as increased electricity prices or whether to directly stick property and business owners with the costs. To the extent tax credits/deductions are available, taxpayers will pick up the tab.

How much will this cost? How much money do you have?

While Coulomb Technologies’ sells its “Smartlet” for between $1,000-$2,000 per charging station, Toyota’s unit costs $4,600, Edison EV’s cost $5,000-$10,000 (indoor units) and $15,000-$20,000 (outdoor units), and solar-power stations cost as much as $85,000 for a six-station unit.

In addition to up-front unit costs, installation and maintenance add to the price and, perhaps most importantly, there’s the time-is-money factor. A full charge from a 120-volt outlet could take 10-12 hours. A full charge from a 240-volt outlet would take about half that time. Contrast that with the 5 minutes or so it takes to pump 20 gallons into an SUV. Not very convenient. Battery exchange? Who is going to want to schlep heavy batteries around at a filling station?

Without the Waxman-Markey mandate, it’s not likely that too much electric vehicle infrastructure would be installed. According to Diane Wittenberg, the president of Edison EV, a subsidiary of Edison International (NYSE: EIX):

“There’s no real financial incentive for anyone to operate a charging station at this point… There’s just no way you could sell someone into doing a recharging station (for profit).”

Your driving future courtesy of Waxman-Markey... woman not included.

Your driving future courtesy of Waxman-Markey... woman not included.

How green is a Prius?

June 22, 2009

Check out this Washington Post letter-to-the-editor (June 21):

The June 9 Business article “Toyota Wants New Prius to Be America’s Next Top Model” called the Prius an “eco-icon” and said that it has allowed Americans to “advertise their eco-correctness.” A Toyota spokesman was quoted as saying that many Prius buyers want to “make an environmental statement.”

The Prius’s reputation as a “green” car is completely undeserved. The culprit is its nickel metal hydride battery.

The nickel is mined in Sudbury, Ontario, and smelted nearby, doing damage to the local environment. The smelted nickel is shipped to Wales, where it is refined. Then it is sent to China to be made into nickel foam. Then it goes to Japan, where it is made into a battery. Then it goes into cars, some of which are shipped to the United States and some of which go to Europe. All of that seaborne transport consumes a lot of fossil fuel.

CNW Marketing rates cars on the combined energy needed “to plan, build, sell, drive and dispose of a vehicle from initial concept to scrappage.” A Prius costs $2.87 per lifetime mile. By comparison, an H3 Hummer costs $2.07 per lifetime mile. Then there will be the problem of disposing of the used batteries.

This is not a “green” car; it is a “brown” one.




Mass transit not so green

June 8, 2009

From AFP:

You worry a lot about the environment and do everything you can to reduce your carbon footprint — the emissions of greenhouse gases that drive dangerous climate change.

So you always prefer to take the train or the bus rather than a plane, and avoid using a car whenever you can, faithful to the belief that this inflicts less harm to the planet.

Well, there could be a nasty surprise in store for you, for taking public transport may not be as green as you automatically think, says a new US study…

Click here for the full article…

Norway considers ban on gasoline cars

April 28, 2009

Norway, the sixth largest producer of oil in the world, is considering a ban on all fossil fuel-powered cars starting in 2015.

WSJ columnist: Make pick-up trucks too costly to own

April 21, 2009

In his Wall Street Journal column today entitled, “Can Small Cars Overcome Crash Fears?“, Joseph B. White suggests pricing trucks out of the range of people who want to own for non-work reasons:

The government should also require large pickup trucks to be substantially more efficient, which would also likely make them more expensive, Mr. Wenzel says. People who could prove they need a truck for work could get a tax break to offset the added cost, but not people who want to use a truck as a personal commuter vehicle, he says.

“If people want to use trucks as cars,” he says, they should be considered “a luxury item.”

No thanks, Mr. White. Safety is not a luxury item.