Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Virginia Needs to Adopt California Fuel Economy Goals

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Virginia Needs to Adopt California Fuel Economy Goals

In response to Governor McAuliffe’s directive to Virginia's DEQ to cut carbon pollution, Virginia should adopt Obama’s and California’s fuel economy goals: 54.5 mpg by 2025. Do climate-change dismissives — especially those who drive gas-guzzlers — ever go outside? Do they ever run, walk, or ride a bike beside a road so that they have to breathe in car exhaust?

I loathe walking beside roads, and when I’ve gone on long bike rides, I’ve noticed that “yahoos” in pickup trucks — especially the diesel models, like to “floor it” when they pass a group of bike riders, so that we are forced to get a lungful of carbon monoxide, methane, sulfur and nitrous oxides, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and heavy metals. I’d like to see if they could get out of their three-ton “exhaust sprayers” and pedal up a two-mile grade.

Have they ever hiked in the mountains, away from traffic noise (which I despise), and breathed in pure, oxygen-rich air? My grandfather, a doctor from Marion, N.C., used to take a bicycle inner tube filled with mountain air when he went to the city, so that he could breathe the air from that tube with his car windows rolled up. To him (even with the rubber smell), that air was better than the exhaust-filled city air.

To Trump, those bike-riders and hikers are losers, especially compared to selfish status-seekers who can afford a Cadillac Escalade, Lexus LX 570, Dodge Viper, or other ridiculously heavy and/or powerful gas hog. And who cares about wildlife, the hapless victims of our pollution? I do, for one! Shouldn’t everyone be outraged to learn that:

  • 25 percent of cars are causing 90 percent of the air pollution we breathe;

  • in 2016, about 76 different models of vehicles weighed at least 6,000 lbs. (which are exempt from annual depreciation caps);

  • eight of the most expensive luxury cars get the worst gas mileage (e.g., 14 miles per gallon or less overall).

With the strong evidence correlating dementia, Alzheimer’s, and cancer with breathing car exhaust, Trump and the GOP plan to roll back national car emission standards. (My very health-conscious wife was just diagnosed with cancer, and with all the walking we do, breathing exhaust likely contributed to its onset.) Why doesn’t Virginia join California to adopt the 54.5 mpg-by-2025 goal? It’s the very least we should do!

John H. Fringer, III, P.E.