Saturday, October 10, 2009

California: ever wonder what life would be without diesel?

Robin's Commentary --

Lately, we've heard a lot about the new 2010 EPA standards and some of them I can see and others I think they're just being overly ridiculous. California for example, as we all know has a very strict EPA standards, especially when it comes to motor vehicles. In fact, it's a standard that Gov. Ted "tax-and-gouge-me" Kulongoski has proposed in the past to implement for Oregon at even higher standard.

However, really curious thing about California, is that it really has a thing about diesel. They hate it. They think it's evil, and they openly admit it.

Diesel itself, has come a long ways, especially in soot and emissions reduction. moreover, diesel as a fuel versus gasoline, partly because it is a slower burning fuel, is actually more efficient than gasoline. Which is one of the reasons why it is the fuel of choice in the bigger engines, especially for power and economy over gasoline.

as some of you may not be aware, 2010 incorporates new regulations that engine manufacturers will have to meet which require a dramatic decrease in hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides that are produced by diesel engines.

This has forced many trucking companies to scramble to meet the EPA 2010 requirements for California for both their tractors and their reefer units, costing companies thousands of dollars in upgrades, and equipment replacement costs, and forcing some of the smaller companies out of business.

One manufacture, Caterpillar, in my opinion one of the company that makes one of the more reliable commercial diesel engines, has decided to get out of the commercial vehicle business altogether, citing that it is just become too expensive to develop a reliable and economical modification to their engine designs to meet the new standards. In short, they basically said "screw it".

Okay, now I agree that we need to be concerned about engine pollutants, however, sometimes I think government just goes a little bit too far.

For example, a little article that I stumbled across from the Seattle Times, in particular noting a historical sail powered 112 foot rigor known as the Lady Washington, which was built in 1989 as a replica of the ship sailed by Robert Gray who explored the Washington coast and the Columbia River in 1792, and was commissioned by Disney as one of the pirate ships that was used in the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean."

The Lady Washington, normally spends its summers off the Washington coast, and then in California for the winter. Last year, she hosted more than 70,000 visitors and took more than 7000 Californians schoolkids sailing from the California ports.

So what does that have to do with my point?

Believe it or not, this historic ship was recently banned from California because despite its "green wind power" it is also powered by an older (and evil) Detroit diesel engine.

Gasp!

The engine itself is a 40-year-old Korean War era diesel, and is considered a "rock star" when it comes to reliability.
"Once you get it started, it will run forever." Says Les Bolton, executive director of the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority.

Bolton has launched a campaign to raise $100,000 which is needed to replace the engine. Personally, I would just say "screw California" and go somewhere where they are more welcomed.

In fact, I often wonder what would happen if other companies took on that same attitude. In other words, California... you don't like diesel, fine. Don't call us, we'll call you.

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