California To Allow Giant SUV’s To Buy HOV Lane Stickers?


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In what could possibly be the dumbest thing I have ever heard or read, a certain Senator Jim Battin (R- La Quinta) has introduced a bill that would allow drivers of the biggest and most polluting cars on the road to buy their way into the HOV Lane. In California, if you own a hybrid, you could have gotten a sticker allowing you to drive by yourself in the carpool lane. I thought it was a great idea, until they decided not to give out any more stickers. Now there is an incentive! Thanks to a post at the Liberal OC that referenced my old post about California running out of the HOV stickers, I got to read about this asinine bill.

SACRAMENTO – Senator Jim Battin (R- La Quinta) announced today legislation that would encourage every owner of a polluting, flashy, fuel sucking car to buy their way into an environmentally conscious carbon neutral lifestyle. SB 1374 would allow auto owners who purchase carbon credits that offset the carbon dioxide emissions of their vehicles to participate in the Clean Air – High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) decal program, allowing the driver to use an HOV lane.

Are you kidding me? I wonder just how much money went into his pocket from the auto manufacturers to even try to present this bill. How about we just make more stickers available to either hybrid owners and/or small car drivers, and force people to drive smaller cars? I know the bill has no chance of passing, but still – Hummers in the HOV lane? Please…

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  1. Nate, do you live in California? If you do, you already know how congested the roads are even at 2 in the morning. Giving stickers to hybrid drivers makes it an incentive to buy one so you don’t have to sit in traffic.

    Allowing SUV drivers the ability to buy credits and drive in the HOV lane both takes away incentive to buy a hybrid, and just fills up the HOV lane with more cars, thus effectively eliminating the HOV. Who is next, the 4 door sedan driver? Station wagons?

    As for the cap and trade, yes, it’s a load of crap that doesn’t do anything. The only way to reduce the CO2 is to force companies to clean up their act.

  2. Nate, I don’t own a hybrid, so I cannot use the HOV lane. So that part of the conversation is null and void.

    Again, just because you choose to buy an SUV does not mean you should be able to buy your way into the HOV lane. Like I said, does that mean that a guy in an Accord or a Malibu should be able to buy his way in too? If that’s the case, we are taking away 1. incentive to buy a more fuel efficient car and 2. the motivation to car-pool. It benefits no one but the SUV driver, and if you are going to give them an offer, you have to provide it to everyone. And then the HOV lane goes away.

    No one is forcing anyone to buy anything; but the law was set up to reward those people who choose to buy a car that does not pollute that much and get better MPG. If you want to drive in the HOV lane, either buy a hybrid or car-pool, it’s a fair law.

    Cap and trade does nothing to reduce pollution. It keeps it the same. Company A pollutes less, Company B can pollute more but it’s ok cause they can pay for it. It’s faulty logic on behalf of our elected officials. It’s like making MPG standards higher…but in 12 years instead of in a few.

    If someone wants to buy an SUV, go right ahead. I personally think it is dumb unless you actually use the 4wd or have to haul a family of 8 around, but it’s your choice. But that doesn’t mean you should be able to assuage your guilt about it by buying offsets, which I think is a “get out of guilt” free system that probably does no good.

    Thanks for the comments, appreciate them.

  3. What’s the difference here between a cap and trade scheme that the dems are proposing to deal with business carbon emissions? Some companies will find it easier to fund another company’s transition to reduced carbon output than overhaul their own process, and the net effect is the same: reduced carbon output.

    If someone with an SUV has the money to pay for carbon credits (or, ideally, R&D on new technology or new/improved mass transit), isn’t the net effect the same? If there’s room in the HOV lanes, shouldn’t we be glad to take money for good causes, especially considering the SUV is going to be on the road *anyway*?

    And what do you propose we do with the millions of SUVs already produced? The environmental cost of producing a new car is high enough that the best option for these vehicles is to continue driving them until they die — and THEN buy a hybrid or a bike. But to “force people to buy smaller cars” when your old one is perfectly usable seems almost worse.

    The fact is, these vehicles are on the roads. If you sell one so you can “upgrade”, it’s still going to be out there polluting. I wish today was the last day they were being manufactured, but the ones that are out there need to find a way to help lessen their impact — it seems like paying what amounts to a carbon tax is actually a good step in that direction.

  4. I appreciate the vigor of your arguments, but your two overriding themes: “force people to buy smaller cars” and “force companies to clean up their act” are (to me) the sort of aggressive “green-mongering” that turns people off to the movement.

    Along with concrete reduction timelines, cap and trade is a perfectly valid system. It’s essentially the same as a pollution tax: a company that can’t (or won’t) reduce it’s output pays for another company to reduce theirs. Net result? Less pollution.

    In this case, since an already-purchased SUV certainly can’t reduce it’s pollution footprint, why not let them pay to reduce pollution on some other front?

    It sounds like your real argument is less to do with saving the earth, and more to do with keeping people out of your HOV lane.

    We can’t build our way out of gridlock, and we certainly can’t “greener than thou” our way out of it.

  5. I think we agree on the following: essentially no one should be buying new SUVs. 🙂

    But to break it down a different way, let’s look at it financially. The hybrid driver paid extra to be allowed to use the HOV lanes without carpooling, why shouldn’t a SUV driver be given the same chance? The hybrid driver is lessening their impact by reducing emissions, the SUV driver is lessening their impact by paying for someone else to reduce emissions because they *can’t* reduce theirs. True, though, the bill should open this up to all classes of cars. Just SUVs is dumb.

    Cap & trade only does nothing to reduce pollution IF the cap is left where it is. You’re right, in that scenario, no amount of trading will lower overall pollution. But if the cap is lowered – and it can be done more aggressively than 12 years – then companies will adapt at the rate they can afford.

    The first year Company A has a good solution to lowering their emissions so they do it and sell the credits to Company B, who can afford the credits but not an actual upgrade. Next year Company C has the best solution (for twice as much), and company B still finds it cheaper to buy those credits. Finally it’s more expensive for Company B to buy credits (or no one’s selling) than actually upgrade, so they do it. Done. Less pollution every year, as long as the cap keeps shrinking.

  6. Everyone seems to forget what HOV stands for (High Occupancy Vehicle). there is no way a Toyota Prius or any other small Hybrid vehicle can be classed as a High Occupancy Vehicle. People driving those cars should be commended for their participation in contributing to a cleaner environment, but should not be allowed to drive in HOV lanes just because they decided to make the sacrifice. By the very name of the lane, it should be reserved for vehicles that do in fact have high occupancy. Not those that supposedly give off less pollutants. Lets get real folks and do the right thing….People driving large SUV’s etc. should be allowed to move along quicker in an HOV lane which would in turn give off less emissions (less time on the road transporting more people at once).

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