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Government & Sierra Club Against 4x4 Trucks & SUVs - Low Rage

Posted in Project Vehicles on December 1, 2002
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Under Attack, Part 2
Last month I wrote about how we truck and SUV owners are under attack by government forces who want to take away our vehicles and, ultimately, the places in which we use them. Now, I'm sure some of you saw that column as the paranoid ranting of a guy who sees conspiracies everywhere he looks. Not true. I don't believe that there's a fleet of black helicopters spying on us. And there's no way the Air Force is hiding flying saucers or dead aliens in Area 51.

But I also don't think it's coincidence that reports about the death of the Ford Excursion started to show up just days after California governor Gray Davis signed a carbon dioxide emissions bill, also known as the "Anti-SUV Bill." And the Excursion news isn't just campfire gossip. The New York Times and a Detroit TV station said folks involved with Ford's product planning told them it'll be out of the line by 2004.

It didn't take long to rack up the attack's first casualty, did it?

Not that I'm a huge fan of the Excursion. Ford has made better trucks, and the new Suburban can run rings around the Big Ex. But if a vehicle is going to live or die, the free market should decide its fate, not some lame-brained legislation signed by a politician who's desperate to look "green" for the state's tree-hugging voters.

(For those who missed my tirade last month, I was against the bill because it was so vague. It gave the California Air Resources Board all kinds of clout to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but didn't specify how to do it. Leaving something like that in the hands of bureaucrats, not scientists, is kind of like leaving airport security in the hands of the minimum-wage x-ray screeners. But that's another rant.)

Speaking of tree huggers, our friends in the Sierra Club are celebrating the Excursion's death and have posted a bunch of other anti-SUV messages on the club's Web site. It shows up mostly in a report on global warming, which, frankly, I lump right in with black helicopters and alien autopsies. Anyway, in that report there's a link to a page called "The SUV Threat." There the Clubbers blame SUVs and their "outdated, gas-guzzling technology" for everything from forest fires to old people dropping dead in heat waves.

I guess I shouldn't let these people get under my skin. But I can't help it. They're so self-righteous about their causes, but so half-baked about many of the details. It makes me wonder how much of their propaganda is based on fact and how much of it comes from a skewed view of the world they get from being unclear on the concept.

Take the new automotive "Freedom Package" they've come up with. In their view, every vehicle on the road should get at least 40 miles per gallon, and the Club brain trust has come up with a list of "options" you should ask for on your next new car to reach that goal. What exactly is in the package? Stuff like variable valve-timing cylinder heads, continuously variable transmissions, and those starter/generators that let hybrid cars shut off when they're stopped in traffic, that's what.

OK, the Club is right in one respect: That stuff exists. But it doesn't exist the way they appear to think it does. It's not like you can choose those things alongside options like leather interior and a premium radio. If you want all that in one vehicle, buy a Honda or Toyota gas/electric car. But you're going to have a helluva time finding all of them in a truck. So why is the Club misleading people like that? And if they're misleading them about vehicle tech, what else is wrong about their message?

I know, I know. The wife tells me to just forget about it, to not visit that site anymore, or I'll have a stroke. But you know what? Ignoring stuff like this is how that carbon dioxide bill got passed in California. It ain't going to go away, folks. It's just going to get worse.

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