Checking for Nitrogen Dioxide in Traffic

The EPA is at it again:

The Obama administration set stricter limits on the amount of nitrogen dioxide in the air for short periods of time along busy roads and is requiring states to install monitoring equipment in big urban areas in an effort to crack down on pollution during periods of high traffic.

Vehicles are a major source of nitrogen dioxide, which can cause respiratory problems.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued the new standard Monday, seven months after first proposing new short-term limits. Businesses said the new standard is too strict while environmentalists said it didn’t go far enough. The EPA set the acceptable amount of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere at 100 parts per billion over any hour-long period. The EPA last year proposed a limit of as little as 80 parts per billion.

It has been the long-term objective of the left to severely curtail the use of automobiles for commuting.  Unable to do the obvious (raise the petrol prices, as they do in Europe) they have resorted to other rather ham-handed and restrictive methods to achieve this: CAFE standards, emissions testing in “non-compliant” urban areas, and other things to make auto travel as much of an expensive pain as possible.

This simply adds to the roster.  Nitrogen dioxide emissions, as the article points out, have been regulated since the early 1970’s, and every auto sold in the U.S. has provisions to reduce these emissions.  To add this is simply a way to force cities to reduce commuting traffic during “rush hour.”  There are only two practical ways to make this stick: force people into hybrids (which cut the engine off when sitting) or make them stay at home.  (They could stagger people’s hours, but that’s an idea that hasn’t quite caught fire.)

It’s interesting to note that, when the EPA first started to regulate NOx emissions in the U.S., the first response of the auto makers was to cut down the compression ratio of car engines.  As anyone with a background in thermodynamics knows, doing that reduces the efficiency of the engine, which increases fuel consumption, which increases the emission of–you guessed it–carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas!

There’s no winning this game under the present rules of engagement.

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