Editorial Comment: B.C. emissions plan: Retrofit redundancy?

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Remember when you were younger and you got caught doing something ridiculously childish? When you were caught red-handed by your mother and you knew not only were you caught, but also what you did was ridiculously stupid; and the only excuse you could conceive on the spot was to blame it on everybody else? And then the cliched scolding would begin: “If everybody else was jumping off a bridge would you do that too?”

Recently the environment has become the cause du jour for numerous lobby groups, companies, associations, government pundits and celebrities. Not that I’m against the betterment of the environment and preserving the planet for our children’s, children’s, children; but I’m skeptical at times if some decisions are made based on making a difference or because everybody else is doing it?

A recent regulation introduced in B.C. will have all on-highway heavy-duty diesel truck models 1989-1993 outfitted with a Diesel Oxidation Catalyst (DOC).

The regulation introduced by the province’s environment minister focuses primarily on the trucking industry as RVs, motor coaches, pick-up trucks, construction equipment and unlicensed off-road vehicles will not be affected.

At today’s numbers, an estimated 7,500 trucks in B.C. fall into the category and are currently emitting 6.8% of all particulate matter pollution in the province.

The DOC units will cost approximately $1,200 to $2,500, so if you’re keeping score at home the new regulation will come at a price of between $9 million and $18.75 million – approximately.

It seems like a hefty price tag to place on an industry, due to the relatively small percentage of particulate matter being tackled by the regulation, but maybe every little bit does count.

The B.C. Trucking Association is supporting the regulation, but is also petitioning the government for environmental regulations which would provide the trucking industry some cost savings, rather than costing money.

Now granted, the regulation will not go into effect until 2009, so the number of trucks falling into the four year time span could drop, reducing the cost to the industry.

As well, the legislation has yet to be developed and the provincial government will continue to work with industry during its development.

Basically, B.C. has formed a plan to tackle a pesky 6.8% of particulate matter in a couple of years, but exactly who it will effect and how it will be implemented is still a little unclear.

B.C. is also the only province to implement the new regulation, although California is expected to pass similar legislation, which would also coincidently take effect in 2009. The B.C. government has recently spent time aligning itself with the California government in relation to a number of environmental issues.

Personally, if I were seated across from Arnold Schwarzenegger every idea would seem like a good idea to me.

I would keep imagining any suggestion or contention met with an “hasta la vista,” followed by a blast from a shotgun that would propel me out the window of an 84-storey building where he is quietly taking over the world.

When it comes time for the retrofit regulation to be implemented in B.C. will it be because it’s best for the environment and the industry, or because somebody else is doing it?

Perhaps we should ask the minister’s mothers.

– Steven Macleod can be reached by phone at (403) 275-3160 or by e-mail at stmacleod@shaw.ca.

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