NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Regulating Greenhouse Emissions

July 22, 2002

California will become the first state to regulate tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases when Gov. Gray Davis (D) signs a bill today allowing the state air quality board to mandate lower emissions levels for new cars sold there.

According to Kenneth Green, chief scientist at the Reason Foundation, restrictions on emissions of gases that may contribute to global warming -- but are not pollutants that contribute to smog formation -- is about limiting consumer choice, not global warming.

  • According to government emissions data, California motorists produce less than one quarter of 1 percent of the world's emissions of the gases theoretically linked to global warming.
  • Under the new law, the state government will mandate that auto manufacturers reduce carbon dioxide emissions from cars -- requiring technology to lighten and shrink cars or use "alternative fuel" technology such as natural gas and electric-powered cars.
  • This will expose people to more risks, deprive people of consumer choice, use up resources and increase bureaucratic waste, says Green.

The National Academy of Sciences has acknowledged that lighter and smaller cars are inherently more dangerous. And by raising the price of new, less-polluting cars, says Green, the government is creating disincentives for market-based pollution reduction.

Source: Kenneth Green (Reason Foundation), " 'Pavley's Ploy' May Carjack Motorists' Right to Choice; How Bad is the Auto Emissions Bill? ... Let Me Count the Ways," Los Angeles Times, July 5, 2002.


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