Public Utilities Reports

PUR Guide 2012 Fully Updated Version

Available NOW!
PUR Guide

This comprehensive self-study certification course is designed to teach the novice or pro everything they need to understand and succeed in every phase of the public utilities business.

Order Now

Perspective

We've been dumping the cost on utilities, but ground is shifting.
Fortnightly Magazine - June 15 2001

1990 Clean Air Act amendments, a gift from then-president George Bush to big business in his adopted state.

While California and other polluted states subject automobiles to strict tailpipe emission standards, the continued increase in the number of vehicles on the road and the number of miles driven each year offsets much of the gains made in reducing automobile pollution. And sport utility vehicles, which now account for half of new vehicle purchases in the United States, got out of complying with automobile emission standards through a loophole. While the EPA in 1999 finally enacted regulations covering them, those and other new vehicle and fuel regulations don't take effect until the latter part of this decade, and likely won't help clean the air for eight to 10 years.

Knowing these facts, it is time we come up with new ways that spread the burden more equitably. Responsibility for cleaning up pollution under clean air caps should be proportional to emissions.

Of course, everyone knows that lawmakers don't dare utter the words, "higher gasoline taxes," for fear of incurring voter wrath. And public opposition continues over such initiatives as employer-organized carpooling.

Still, there are other avenues for spreading the burden. We should increase air pollution abatement requirements for industries, such as petrochemicals, that have gotten off easy. We should increase education about, and enact subsidies and tax incentives for, "Green" building components like solar panels and energy-saving, double-paned windows. We can up our efforts at conservation in a variety of ways. We should aim to further reduce motor vehicle emissions by increasing funding for public transit, reducing subsidization of driving through, for example, free parking provided by employers, and change land use policies that encourage sprawl and dependence on autos.

In California-and the principle holds, to a somewhat lesser extent, for the rest of the country-we can reduce air pollution, and do so in ways that are more equitable.

 

Articles found on this page are available to Internet subscribers only. For more information about obtaining a username and password, please call our Customer Service Department at 1-800-368-5001.

Pages