July 26, 2023
In the midst of a heated discussion on the environment fifteen years ago, my son asked a thought provoking question: “What if we saved the world and it really didn’t need saving?” I was reminded of the incident this morning as I waited for my twelve-year-old truck to go through mandatory emissions testing. All six test lanes had at least five cars waiting in line, and many of the drivers were probably irritated at the interruption of their daily routine just to get their vehicle tested. Playing out against the ongoing “climate change” debate, auto emission testing has gone from highly controversial to routine here in Chicagoland. We don’t read angry letters to the editor on the topic anymore and most people are happy the air is noticeably cleaner. Despite all the idling motors at the test site, there was no eye-burning haze present. The test equipment, made in the USA, completes a test in less than five minutes; the biggest delay I encountered was a summer helper employee needing further instructions on how to operate the VIN scanner. Once that bit of training was completed it took only seconds to read and enter the specific test parameters for my truck. First step was verifying the presence of the required sensors and making sure they still work. That completed, the exhaust gasses were measured and, in my case, a certificate of compliance was issued. The EPA rules and regulations have spawned many technological advances. Remember when we engineers supported NASA because its research spun off so many wonderful products? Shouldn’t we do the same for the EPA? A new car has better computers and sensors than the Space Shuttle, thanks to those pesky environmental laws. The only approved builder of test equipment is a U.S. company. The sensors have a strong U.S. heritage. A better environment has created many jobs at a cost the average car buyer can afford. And, as with NASA’s space program, that spin-off technology finds its way into our homes, factories, schools, and hospitals in exciting ways. I appreciate the fact that changing regulations disrupt established industries. If you believe in the free enterprise system you have to accept uncertainty and risk. Change involves risk and so does not changing. If you were a carburetor manufacturer forced to move into electronic fuel injection because of new regulations, what was the real harm to your business?