Internal Combustion Combusted?

Twenty-three states are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over the EPA’s revocation of California’s right to set its own automobile emission standards. The federal government is also fighting California over the state’s agreement with four auto manufacturers for more efficient mileage standards than required by the current administration’s recently-rolled back standards. The Justice Department, though, has just dropped its purported anti-trust investigation. (It’s a core tenet of the Republican Party that the federal government should be limited in its oversight of matters that can be handled by state governments… except when the Republican Party doesn’t like what a state government is doing. Then they want feds to take control. The same applies in Republican-controlled states if the Republicans don’t like what local governments are doing.)

This may soon be just academic, however.

At present thirteen countries and about twenty cities around the world are considering banning the sale of passenger vehicles powered by fossil fuels. China and Japan propose prohibiting sales of gasoline-powered passenger vehicles by 2040. South Korea, Taiwan, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal also are planning the phase-out of fossil-fueled automobiles. The redoubtable Boris Johnson announced that gas-and-diesel vehicles, including hybrids, would no longer be sold in the Brexited United Kingdom as of 2035.

As if to taunt the current occupant of the White House, ten Washington-state legislators have introduced a bill to outlaw the sale or registration of new gas-powered passenger or light-duty trucks in the state, effective in 2030.

Almost half the car ads during the recent Super Bowl were for electric vehicles (EV), even one for an electric-powered Hummer. What the EPA can’t do, the marketplace will. What’s next – electric airplanes?

When gas-powered cars are gone, they will still be remembered. Bakersfield California, consistently in the top five of most-polluted cities in the U.S., is committed to fossil fuels and feels its unfairly treated. (The bad and the good: Bakersfield has given us Trump toady Kevin McCarthy and music legends Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.) But it also has presented the state with a massive cleanup problem.

Bakersfield California

Kern County, home to Bakersfield, has 35,000 oil wells sitting idle. Oil production is dropping, and operators of unprofitable or depleted wells, simply leave them, usually uncapped, releasing toxic emissions and flammable gases — benzene, formaldehyde and methane. The oil-drilling firms are required to post bonds for cleanup and they do, averaging a little over $200 each. The cost to cap and dismantle a well ranges from $40,000 to $150,000. You know who picks up the difference.

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