Cutting regulations will harm the auto industry—and the general public—more than it helps.
automobiles Archives - State of the Planet
The market and government regulators are sending a message that is clear and ought not be misunderstood: people care about the environment and the quality of their air. If people did not support air pollution regulations they would not have cared about Volkswagen’s disregard of environmental law.
What protection can we fall back on when a giant, powerful, multinational corporation leads an effort to change the nature of reality itself and redefine scientific fact? The answer is of course, is the protection of other powerful institutions: research universities like the one I work for, the Congress, and, in this case, the New York State attorney general.
While it is true that many nations do not enforce their environmental and occupational health and safety rules, a quick study of economic history demonstrates that the trend is toward more enforcement rather than less enforcement. And even when the government ignores noncompliance with the law, NGOs and consumers notice it.
Let’s remember that America is part of a global economy, and if we are not aggressive about sustainability we may find ourselves left behind and noncompetitive in the new businesses that emerge in renewable energy and recycled materials.
The trade-off between regulating public behavior and free speech can be difficult, but must be taken on if we are to have public space in sustainable cities. Since we need more of these public spaces rather than fewer spaces, the behavior in Times Square is a challenge of governance that must be taken on by our mayor, city council, courts and police commissioner.
Our inability to predict policy outcomes was once again confirmed this week by the wildly popular Cash for Clunkers program. The program provides between $3,500 and $4,500 to anyone who trades in an older auto for a shiny new car that has better fuel efficiency. One billion dollars was originally allocated for the program, which… read more