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Archive for the ‘automotive’ Category

Well, that didn’t take long. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is lobbying President-elect Trump to reduce or eliminate fuel economy standards. They want to re-evaluate the Obama administration’s rules for GHG and electric vehicle mandates:

Greenhouse gas and mpg targets through model year 2021 are already on the books. A required midterm evaluation is underway to determine whether proposed mpg and greenhouse gas standards through 2022 are appropriate, or if they should be changed.

The next step in the evaluation comes in 2017, likely midyear, when the next EPA administrator will propose whether the standards are appropriate or should be changed, which would kick off a rulemaking process. A final determination is due by April 2018.

The Alliance argues that that proposed determination shouldn’t happen until Trump’s administration has had a chance to review the regulations, and can lead talks between regulators and automakers about the final years of the program, which currently aim for a fleet average of more than 50 mpg.

A Technical Assessment Report issued by the EPA about the 2025 rules found that automakers were on track to comply and adopting technologies to boost efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions faster than anticipated.

The Alliance believes that the report “over-projects” the benefits of certain technologies and fails to fully consider consumer acceptance and market factors.

The Alliance membership includes the Big-3, BMW, Mercedes, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Mazda, and Volkswagen (of course).

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If true, then Volkswagen USA seriously needs to lose its license to sell or import automobiles:

The newly discovered software was detected four months ago during laboratory tests by the California Air Resources Board, one of the people said. Neither Volkswagen nor U.S. regulators have publicly disclosed the discovery.

The discovery threatens fresh anger from officials, investors and car owners just as Volkswagen is wrapping up billions of dollars in settlements with states and owners of diesel-powered vehicles in the U.S. and a recall of nearly nine million tainted diesel vehicles in Europe.

Volkswagen’s previously disclosed “defeat device” software was used on Volkswagen and Audi diesel engines to make it appear that they complied with emission standards for nitrogen oxides during lab tests.

The newly discovered software, installed on Audis with both diesel and gasoline engines, did the same with CO2 emissions standards in the U.S. and Europe, according to the people familiar with the matter.

The CARB caught the emissions-cheating software through lessons learned from the earlier probe of Volkswagen diesel engines, according to Germany’s weekly Bild am Sonntag newspaper, which earlier reported the software’s discovery.

CARB technicians conducting lab tests on Audi’s vehicles made them react as if on a road by turning the steering wheel, the people said.

When the cars deviated from lab conditions, their CO2 emissions rose dramatically.

Note that this cheat also affects gasoline engines.

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The Washington Sate chapter of the Sierra Club has joined the oil and mining industry in opposing voter initiative 732. In case you haven’t heard of this measure, it would implement a revenue-neutral carbon tax.   Dr. James Hansen proposed such a scheme back in 2009 whereby revenues from the carbon tax are returned to families and individuals (in this case through a lower sales tax).

If you are wondering why on earth they would oppose, you can try to read their reasons here and here.  I’ve tried to make sense of it, but their reasoning is contradictory and incomprehensible. This is really a new low for the Sierra Club.

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Hillary Clinton’s web site boldly announces that the priority for the first 100 days of her administration would be to implement “biggest investment in American infrastructure in decades.” Funding for $275 billion program would come not from any new taxes but “corporate tax reform”. If you are thinking that means closing tax loopholes, it is in fact quite the opposite:

Clinton has said she would finance infrastructure spending through unspecified “business tax reform.” Incoming Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said on CNBC Oct. 18 that the money would come from a lower tax rate on profits stashed overseas by U.S. corporations. Other Democrats close to the Clinton camp said they anticipate she would adopt the Schumer approach. The lower tax rate would produce a one-time bonanza as companies brought home an estimated $2.5 trillion stockpiled abroad.

Profits earned overseas are supposed to be taxed at the same 35% rate as domestic profits. Those overseas taxes are only applied when the revenues are repatriated to the US. Large companies like Apple and Microsoft have been keeping their stash overseas, while lobbying Congress to lower the tax rate. (Technically, most of these funds are already in US banks, so this is all a kind of financial fiction.) The lower tax would indeed be a bonanza for companies, as they would get a windfall in the billions — money that was supposed to be paid to the US Treasury.

As most readers know, the nation’s infrastructure deficit is the result of declining gas tax revenues. For two decades, Congress has refused to adjust the gas tax for inflation. The only reasonable solution to this problem is to return the gas-tax back to normal levels — and not by giving away billions in corporate tax breaks.

tim_cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook testifying before Congress on his company’s tax avoidance

 

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Jokelahoma

No joke. The Governor of Oklahoma has declared October 13th as Oilfield Prayer Day.

oilfield_prayer_day

(click image to enlarge)

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Communist vs. Capitalist

What is the difference between communist and capitalist regimes when it comes to rationing a scarce resource? The answer (as everyone knows) is that capitalism uses market pricing to ration scarce resources, whereas communists will give them away at low cost, causing long queues to form.

Or is it the other way around?

Example from a capitalist country:

The scarcity of BART parking is the top gripe on Mr. Roadshow’s complaint line this year, making it the first time a highway has not held the top spot in the dozen years the “Dirty Dozen” list has been compiled.

BART has tried to ease the parking woes by offering monthly reserved parking permits. Permits guarantee riders a space in a designated reserved “Permit” area, as long as they arrive by 10 a.m. But of the 33 stations with reserved parking, all have waiting lists except for Millbrae and Daly City. That leaves many drivers vying for non-reserved spots, and those fill up early — in Fremont and West Oakland by 6:30 a.m.; at Walnut Creek and Fruitvale by 7 a.m.; at Castro Valley by 7:10 a.m.; and at Colma and South San Francisco by 7:30 a.m.

Example from a communist country:

A record number of bidders totaling 172,205 and a drop in nominal success rate to a historical low of 4.3 percent were seen at the monthly Shanghai car plate auction held today, which for the first time officially adopted a new bidding system promising improved experience.

A total of 7,441 car plates were up for grab among individual car buyers under a price ceiling of 75,200 yuan for the first-round bids, both the same as last month. The lowest winning bid went up 1,000 yuan to 80,000 yuan while the average price increased 921 yuan to 80,020 yuan.

A new bidding rule has been introduced to allow more room for price guessing in the second round. This change means one can bid with fewer restrains, which is believed to calm down the public outcry about not being guaranteed a bidding chance in the last minute when data transmission congestion often spikes and leads to glitches.

 

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A jury has just award $9.5 million in damages to the family of a man struck and killed in a crosswalk on El Camino:

Caltrans was aware of studies discouraging the marking of crosswalks in busy uncontrolled intersections and was aware of accidents elsewhere along El Camino. But Caltrans refuses to remedy any particular crosswalk until someone has been killed or injured in that location.

This was not the only lawsuit over the lack of pedestrian safety on El Camino. A court awarded $8 million to the family of Emily Liou, a 17-year-old who was struck in a crosswalk on El Camino in Millbrae.

El Camino is notorious for having a large number pedestrian fatalities and injuries. So if this keeps up, it is going to get prohibitively expensive for Caltrans to continue its inaction on ped safety.

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