New Jersey wants to dump its car inspection system. So should every other state. Here's why

By Alan Caruba
web posted January 31, 2000

In the last twenty-five years of the 20th century, the petroleum industry had produced six progressively cleaner-burning fuels, from lead-free gasoline to today's new reformulated gasoline. Between 1995 and 1996, US refineries reduced their emissions of government-monitored chemicals by ten percent. Releases of those chemicals declined by 32 percent between 1988 and 1996.

In 1999, however, the Environmental Protection Agency let it be known it wanted to lower the tailpipe emissions of the fastest selling category of vehicles, SUV's, and reduce the level of sulfur in gasoline.

Five years earlier, in 1994, Congress got wind of an EPA memorandum that contained proposals to cut US emissions of so-called greenhouse gases. It took the House Commerce Committee two years to get its hands on the memorandum but in November 1996 they did. It contained no less than 39 different taxes and fees on energy that the Clinton Administration could impose under existing statutes, without having to get congressional approval. The only thing that kept the EPA from proceeding with this was a court decision in which the agency was reminded that the US Constitution does not permit Congress to delegate its law-making responsibilities to crazed bureaucrats.

"Stymied by two court rulings setting aside clean air standards, the Environmental Protection Agency said today that it had a new way to force power plants in 12 states to cut pollutants that contribute to smog in the Northeast," the New York Times reported in June 1999. In an editorial, the Times fumed that the new measures sent "a strong message that the Administration is not yet prepared to let two conservative Federal judges rewrite its clean air strategy." The Times only embraces the Constitution when it wants to protect its right to publish such nonsense.

The EPA's strategy from its inception has been to impose as many costs and restrictions on Americans using energy for any reason. A major component of this objective has been to make driving anywhere for any reason as unpleasant as possible. This is why they invented High Occupancy Vehicle lanes, why they advocated forced car-pooling programs, why they insist on inspection programs when they are technologically obsolete.

Do you see a pattern here?

To understand the problem New Jersey faced, you have to know that the EPA forced a new automobile inspection system upon Garden State residents by threatening to withhold a billion dollars of highway funds.

As recently as last week, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion editorial about the millions that automobile companies have spent to come up with ecologically acceptable cars that no one wants to own. "GM, for example, invested more than $350 million in its EV1 electric car before quietly announcing last week it would stop production for lack of consumer interest." The authors of the op ed asked, "Who wants a car that needs to be plugged into the wall every 50 miles for an eight-hour recharge?" Who, indeed? President Clinton wanted to give $3,000 to anyone stupid enough to buy one of these cars, but Congress rebuffed this idiotic, waste of taxpayer dollars.

Taking a moment from attacking gasoline, in April 1998 the EPA issued a report saying that the exhaust from diesel engines "probably causes cancer in humans." By December 1998, USA Today reported that "about 40 per cent of the nation's underground fuel tanks still haven't been upgraded to meet federal standards." The result was that, of the 182,600 gas stations in the nation, only about 20 per cent were in compliance. Many have since gone out of business, unable to come up with the thousands of dollars necessary to comply with the typically insane EPA standards. The inconvenience to millions of drivers, especially in sparsely populated areas with only a few stations, is incalculable.

It has taken years, but New Jerseyans are slowly awakening to the notion that they have been taken to the cleaners with a half-billion dollar car inspection system imposed by federal coercion.

Here are just three reasons why the inspection system is a very big, very bad joke. The New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway that run the length of the state are heavily traveled by out of state vehicles, all pumping emissions into the air as they move between Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New York to deliver goods and people to their destinations. New Jerseyans love their cars and 90 per cent use them to get to and from work each day. Simply stated, to live and work in New Jersey means you must drive. Then there are the natural wind currents that always have and always will blow in from all the states to the west carrying tons of so-called pollutants. One of those pollutants, according to the EPA, is "dust."

The system the state opted to install to replace the one initiated in 1938 uses "dynameter testing" that had been a failure in other states. In New Jersey, they discovered that, when it gets cold, the system doesn't work at all. As a lifelong resident, I can tell you it gets cold here, especially in the winter. Rain seems to have a bad effect on it as well. It rains in New Jersey too.

As the lone conservative columnist for the Star-Ledger, the state's largest circulation newspaper, pointed out, "Hand-held gardening devices alone, for example, produce about l percent of the air pollution in a typical state, three times as much as can be prevented by testing all of New Jersey's post-1996 cars."

In a recent editorial, The Star-Ledger noted "We were promised a sleek new system of computerized car inspections, operated by efficient professionals from the vaunted private sector. What we have instead are long lines, computer glitches, damaged cars-and a governor with the show-biz savvy to pretend she had nothing to do with it." To its credit, the newspaper never liked the idea.

Need it be said that the current $559 million car inspection system involved only one bidder, Parsons Infrastructure and Technology Group of Pasadena, California, who hired a close friend of the Governor to get the contract? The drumbeat of propaganda about the state's air quality, however, goes back to a previous Governor's administration led by a fanatical environmentalist. The voters could hardly wait to vote Jim Florio, a Democrat, out of office, replacing him with Christie Whitman.

In December 1993, the Star-Ledger reported "The state is running into problems in developing a new automobile inspection system that will comply with federal clean air mandates…" Surprise, surprise. There is no way to be in compliance because the EPA will always move the goal posts farther down the field. They have no intention of permitting any kind of rational clean air standards to exist.

The EPA has been waging a war on drivers since it came into being in 1970. Automobiles have been a major target for the Greens since the movement began. They hate the idea that people use cars, trucks and vans for any reason. Do you think it will get better if Al Gore, Jr. is elected? In his book, "Earth in the Balance", he writes, "We now know that their (automobiles) cumulative impact on the global environment is posing a mortal threat to the security of every nation more deadly than that of any military enemy what are ever again likely to confront." Al Gore is nuts!

It is time to stop testing cars for emissions or any other reason. In addition to cleaner gasoline, today's cars have computer systems to control emissions that are more complex than the one used by NASA's astronauts to land on the moon! The older cars on the nation's highways will soon fade away, kept only by those who love antique autos. Mine is only about five years away from that status and, guess what, it works just fine.

Excerpted from the January 28 edition of "Warning Signs" an Internet commentary by Alan Caruba, posted on the web site of The National Anxiety Center, a think tank devoted to debunking scare campaigns based on junk science.

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