The Other Diesel Fatwa

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Everyone knows about the drawing and quartering of VW over the “cheat” software embedded in the inscrutable labyrinth of code, deep within the “affected” cars’ computers. The code tweaked the engines to pass the EPA’s certification tests – passage of which serves as a kind of permission slip to sell cars – by making them produce hair-splitting differences less oxides of nitrogen (NOx) while being tested, to get them through increasingly unreasonable regulatory rigmarole designed to prevent them from being sold. Because diesels – efficient, practical and inexpensive – pose a threat to the expensive, inefficient and impractical electric car agenda, which is really an anti-driving agenda.

But that’s another rant.

Out in the real world, unplugged from the government’s testing rigs, the “cheating” cars produced fractionally more NOx, in the interests of better mileage and drivability.

This “cheating” being harmless; the same thing as using a radar detector to avoid being pinched by a cop for doing 45 in a 40. 

 A rule (and the authority of rule-issuers) is affronted, that’s all.

Another rule affronted applies to heavy trucks, which are almost universally powered by diesel engines (unlike most passenger cars, which are mostly powered by gas engines).

The rule – a regulation, to be precise –  was passed during the Bush decidership, when it was decided – arbitrarily, by government bureaucrats in the EPA – that heavy truck diesels built after 2004 would be subject to a ratcheting up of whatever the prior arbitrary standard was.

But the new arbitrary standard, though arbitrarily higher, was objectively too expensive to comply with. It cost too much to make heavy-truck diesel engines “complaint,” in the patois of the bureaucracy – and these engines weren’t as fuel-efficient and cost more to operate than the older, “non-compliant” ones.

It is the reason why Caterpillar went John Galt, shrugged – and stopped making diesel engines for on-road use entirely. But Caterpillar could survive by making diesels for off-road heavy equipment.

Others can’t.

Including the truckers – particularly independent owner/operators, for whom margins are already tight. Planet-saving talk is lovely over a triple Machiatto in a San Francisco Starbucks, but at a Sheets off I-95 at two in the morning, its another thing.

Well, there’s an end-run.

Well, there was.

Instead of spending six-figures (literally) to buy a post-Decided and “compliant” diesel engine, take an older engine – a simpler, cheaper-to-operate engine – from a wrecked semi or a boneyard semi and install the thing in a newer rig.

These “gliders” – as they are styled – get around the current regs because the older engines don’t have to comply with the newer regs. It’s of a piece with what many car drivers – sick of the over-teched, over-nannied and Big Brothery stuff coming out of Detroit by way of Washington are doing: Taking older cars built before all the regulatory Kudzu and exempt from the worst of it, such as Claymores in the dashboard and data recorders  – and updating them with some of the worthwhile modern technology (such as fuel injection and overdrive transmissions) and driving them instead and the fatwas be damned.

No one’s harmed – but the government is very annoyed by this refusal to be nudged.

Obama’s government decided to take “action,” as it’s always styled – against the end-running, glider-driving truckers. It issued a fatwa in the closing days of its decidership which closed the “loophole” – the term of disparagement used to describe any attempt by the governed to avoid being governed. (Whatever happened to this business of “government by consent”? Did anyone consent to this fatwa? The other fatwas?).

Just as it fatwa’d that all new cars must achieve 50-something MPG by 2025.

Did anyone vote for that? In fact, “the people” voted for something very different by not voting for Obama’s anointed successor, the Thing from Chautauqua.

The 50-something MPG fatwa has just been dialed back by President Trump, to the accompaniment of anguished ululations emitted by those who can’t abide the idea that the people buying the cars ought to be the ones deciding how much gas the cars they buy use, not government bureaucrats.

And the other fatwa – which made it illegal to install an older, “non-compliant” diesel in a newer-bodied heavy truck – was rescinded outright, to the accompaniment of even higher-pitched ululations.

But the rescinder – Scott Pruitt, the now-former head of the EPA – has had his rescission countermanded by the new (acting) EPA decider, Andrew Wheeler. “I have concluded that the application of current regulations…” – i.e., the Obama fatwa – “… does not represent the kind of extremely unusual circumstances that support the EPA’s exercise of enforcement discretion.

Translated into comprehensible English, he means that Wheeler has re-decided that the Obama-era fatwa is swell – and that no “extremely unusual circumstances” justify (per Pruitt) any end-running or loopholing for truckers. Whence and how did Wheeler become the Decider? Who voted for this guy?

One step forward, two steps back.

As with the mileage fatwa, the heavy truck emissions fatwa is portrayed as a matter of life and death, even though no lives – much less deaths – can be objectively laid at the feet of “non-compliance” with either.

Well, not actual lives (or deaths). Hypothetical ones, on the other hand . . .  .

It is asserted that heavy-truck diesel engines built before the early 2000s produce “emissions 20-40 times as high” as current, “compliant” engines Sound familiar? The same charge – “up to 40 times” more than the maximum allowable NOx emissions! – was leveled at VW.

It sounds horrendous, because the base amount is never defined. People assume whole numbers of difference – big differences. But what if it’s “20-40 times” as much based on less than a whole number? That was the case in VW’s case. The “affected” – and “noncompliant” – diesels emitted fractionally more NOx, every now and then. It was – and is – a meaningless difference insofar as air quality or public health.

Which is why the government – abetted by shyster lawyers and despicably dishonest  “environmental” agitators, whose real purpose is to get rid of cars, not “emissions” – had to present studies rather than victims to justify the fatwa. No actual harmed persons could be found, so instead it was asserted that hypothetical victims might be harmed by the “cheating” VWs.

It’s a similar Show Trial per the practice in the old Soviet Union as regards the non-compliant “glider” trucks. Paul Billings, the Senior Vice President for Advocacy (read, the head lobbyist/nudger) at the American Lung Association claims that “between 350 and 1,600 premature deaths” would be prevented – in “2017 alone”! – by closing the “glider loophole.”

But not one actual death caused by the glider trucks’ emissions has been demonstrated. Instead, smear talk about “dirty” engines – in the words of Frank O’Donnell, who is the president of Clean Air Watch, a group that is to transportation policy what the Brady  Center is to gun policy.

The air can never be too clean, you see. Even if it’s not actually dirty.

If it were dirty – and made dirty by the “noncompliant” engines – it ought to be easy enough to prove it. To show some victims, even. And maybe more than “between 350 and 1,600” – the number asserted by the very concerned Mr. Billings. Which is a statistical irrelevance in a nation of 320 million people.

Unless, of course, “action” is also taken to deal with the 1,000-plus actual victims put six feet under by cops each year. Those are really dead, real people – not hypothesized ones.

Naturlich, the sellers of “compliant” diesels are all on board – happy that the new EPA decider has re-decided to let stand the Obama-era fatwa. Volvo, Cummins and Navistar jointly signed a public letter “voicing their concerns” about Pruitt’s decision to allow the glider loophole.

Naturlich, because there is geld to be had. If truckers cannot legally install the older, lower-cost engines in their rigs they are forced to buy the new, high-cost engines from Volvo, Cummins and Navistar. Who – like the major car companies – have decided it is better to embrace the nudge since it can be profitable for them to do so.

Particularly when their victims aren’t allowed to say no.

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42 COMMENTS

  1. Bloody hell this is getting depressing. At what point will the stupid people conclude they are being pushed into cities by a government that wants total control? The only way for that to happen is concentrate the populace. take away the ability (through prohibitive cost) to drive at your leisure and you have to move where transport it. Now you are well within the control of a few dozen people.

  2. And the rent seeking crony corporatists are what will provide the enforcement.

    Almost every long haul firm that hires independents requires a truck that is no less than X number of model years old and is fully “compliant”.

  3. The “somewhere between 350 and 1600 lives saved” is all based upon phony math.

    The advocates for such chicanery take the amount of increased whatever’s and multiply it by the number of vehicles involved and devolve into a phony number. They then take that number and divide it by the amount of excessive emissions that is required to reach the level of injury in one person, to end up with a number that they say would be the quantity of people affected by the supposedly bad air.

    Or something like that.

    It’s like reading where someone of the mental acuity of Paul Krugman comes to a conclusion after President Trump is elected that the United States is on the verge of entering a deep recession. It’s all phony, none of it supported by facts.

    The whole point is to reduce the number of choices available to the end-user. The government would prefer to limit the number of producers, and thus the number of products available, because it’s easier to deal with a few big ones that can easily be co-opted, than it is to deal with too many small ones.

    Government is always in favor of consolidation among producers, because it results in fewer people to stick with the cattle prod while forcing them into the Corral of Compliance.

  4. I don’t see many of them on the road any more, but back when I was driving big rigs there were quite a few old trucks on the road…. still pounding out the miles. Mine was twenty years old at the time, and still ran strong. I used to see lots of mid to late fifties Petes, KW’s, Macks, Western Stars…… fitted with newer stronger more fuel efficient angines, and stillworking hard. Some were a bit heavier than the then-new ones, but my old KW conventional twin-screw twin stick weighed in at a mere 15K. I well remember an old coot driving an antique old Pete probably about a 1951 or so, the Confederate Flag boldly displayed on the huge flat grille of that old thing, and he was always out there on the road…… short old geezer, hunched down behind that big old wheel (pre-power steering, about 14 turns lock to lock), a large wisp of grey hair poking out from under his Johnny reb billed leather cap, corn cob pipe sticking out of one corner of his mouth. Looked like he cane straight out of a cartoon strip, but he was real life. Met another younger man was driving an old Mack COE… chatted himup, it was a 1958, his Dad nad bought it new. At four million miles they had to fit a new clutch to it, so decided to do an in-frame overhaul. Truck was down for a few days. He said it was closing in on the eight million mile mark, and they were planning to do a re-run of the above. That truck has made so much money it would be stupid to get rid of it. Still nice and clean looking, original paint, gearbox never touched, nothing else but brake blocks, a few new air pots for some brakes,

    Can ANY of the new Volvos, Freightliners, rolling condos with their big block engines come anywhere close to that? That Mack had a 300 Thermodyne in it, five and four twin stick gears, Mack bogeys, and at eight million still had probably half its life ahead of it.

    Except that a lot of companies insist on trucks being newer than some number picked out of someone’s het….. sort of like Uber cars.

    If I were going to get back behind the big wheel again I’d look for a much older rig and replace the engine with a newer tech but still reliable version, go through all the suspension, brakes, power train, check springs, renew all the hoses, and probably grt better fuel mileage and less downtime than the new monsters, and at a fractioin of the price.

    • Tio, Bevell’s Hardware in Blackstone, Va has a newly restored early ’50s Mack similar to the one you described. It’s sitting on the lumberyard at the store and can be seen there. Restoration was mostly to the paint and interior, though it did spend a few days at my friend’s shop for a ring gear that had to be machined by a local shop.

  5. He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

    • Hi Alex,

      Every accusation leveled at King George III and Parliament applies several-fold to the people who govern the United States today. I use those words to convey what I think is an important truth: It is not “the government” – some entity, out there – which abuses us. Such a thing does not exist except as a rhetorical device. In fact, it is a relative handful of people who exercise control over the population. This is what must be undermined by pointing out its inherent moral illegitimacy.

      If I am not morally entitled to abuse my neighbor, why are other people – calling themselves by various titles but who are just other people – entitled to abuse him? Or me? Or anyone?

      • Hi Eric,
        I would love to be ruled (assuming we need to be “ruled” which we DON’T) by King George III. The rules and taxes imposed back then wouldn’t fill one chapter of Uncle’s rules for us, which of course don’t apply to him. Saddens me to observe that my predecessors staged the Boston Tea Partly protest over a measly 1% tax, while today always increasing fed, state, and property taxes come close to stealing half my never to increase retirement income.
        On the subject of “clean air” I bet any of the recent volcanic eruptions spew out more, and more deadly, pollution than a year’s worth of all the cars/trucks on the planet.

        • “I bet any of the recent volcanic eruptions spew out more, and more deadly, pollution than a year’s worth of all the cars/trucks on the planet.”

          Mike, I don’t remember where I read it, but one article I read a few years back said that the Mt. St. Helens eruption put more ash, carbon monoxide, and other noxious gases into the atmosphere than all human activity combined since the 18th century explosion of Krakatoa. That earlier eruption was a bigger polluter than Mt. St. Helens, but nothing humans have put into the atmosphere in several hundred years of burning wood, coal, and petroleum can equal a volcanic eruption.

          I’m qualifying that with an IIRC, because I don’t even know if what I read was written by a scientist or not.

        • the REAL issue behind that “unfortunate incident” with Boston Harbour becomeing a teapot tonight was not the tax per se. No, that was a nuisance, and would have been easily got round.. except that the three privately owned ships that carried the tea were essentially being hald ransom for the tax.They could neither unload the tea nor leave Boston to try and bring it elsewhere. In other words, the ships were held captive by the tax demands. That meant the ships’ OWNERS were incurring daily expenses for wharfage, their crews standing idly by, and lost revenue from other cargoes they could not carry. In other words,, the private owners were being financially destryed by the rules imposed. WHY were the three ship’s owners being persecuted bu the government? Because government rhought they could get off with it. Three days of meetings in Boston, the third afternoon the cry rang out “Boston Harbour a teapot Tonight”, and the three rraiding parties left the hal,l, went home,prepared, and struc that night. Bu dawn, the three vessels were clear… no offending cargo aboard, no roe reason to be detained. No government officer was ever able to determine the identity of any of the operatives. And NOTHING but the offending tea was harmed. Oh, except for General Thomas W Gage’s pride….. but that NEEDED taken down a few pegs. A year and a half later it was taken down to almost nothing… but that’s yet another story.

  6. RE: ‘…Obama’s anointed successor, the Thing from Chautauqua.’

    I trust you intended ‘Chappaqua’ rather than the innocent ‘Chautauqua’

      • Ah good I’m HL and his famed definition of a “prude”.

        Mencken would probably define a “feminist” as a patently unattractive and embittered or other socially maladjusted female, who has an apoplectic fit that a man out there is enjoying the company of a decidedly more attractive and usually YOUNGER female and repeatedly fills her with his seed. I call name the cause of the angst of all those “pussy hat” wearing balrogs with one name of but seven letters: M-E-L-A-N-I-A !

  7. These fatwas have left to the fake left stack on the KWs and Petes. It’s non functional and strictly for show, like big silicon breasts on a woman or the United States Constitution.

  8. “The air can never be too clean, you see. Even if it’s not actually dirty.”

    More accurately, I would say, is that the air can never be clean enough for these zealots. They were howling that Pruitt was destroying the atmosphere and that he had to go. Trump immediately folded, asshole that he is.

    “Which is why the government – abetted by shyster lawyers and despicably dishonest “environmental” agitators, whose real purpose is to get rid of cars, not “emissions” ”

    These shyster lawyers, a category that includes most of Congress, would be relegated to the status of a tiny minority of rat turds with no influence if the original 13th Amendment were recognized:

    http://www.thelibertybeacon.com/missing-13th-amendment-found-no-lawyers-in-public-office/

    • Hi Ed,

      If the government were required to demonstrate actual harm caused prior to imposing punishment, most of this stuff would go away. I have emailed an old crony of mine from DC days who knows someone within the Trump orbit… and have asked him to convey to our new Decider some of the things I’ve written… not that I expect anything to happen, but you never know…

      • From what I’ve read about the current decider, he doesn’t read (except for tweets maybe), so let’s hope he starts reading. I would be hesitant to tell him anything if I knew him. No telling how he would react or what kind of shit he’d pull, given the kinds of nutjobbery I’d be likely to say to him.

  9. Draconian anti-pollution bunk from the greatest polluter of all: Uncle Sam, with his Iraq open burning pits, belching diesels and turbine-powered military hardware, fuel-gulping aircraft, and hopelessly defiled lands where he had military bases that couldn’t be bothered to dispose of their toxic waste properly.

    • Morning, Ross!

      I am going to try to quantify how much gas is burned (and “greenhouse gasses” produced) by the continental fleet of Tahoes and Chargers driven all day long by armed government workers as they harass and collect.

  10. A three-legged milking stool is the cheapest free-standing piece of furniture you can construct, and also the most unstable.

  11. What will always be is the fact that every administration refuses to undo the dumb-fuckery of the previous one. Doing so would also be a blatant acknowledgment of the fact that they are all tyrants, regardless of party, age, or gender! If there is one thing that can be relied upon, those at the top will have farther to fall after they have undermined society to the breaking point. Look at how nasty and despicable Stalin, Komehni, and Romanian Dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu met their end! We may not be in a position to put a stop to this idiotic control-freak crap that is destroying our economy, and maybe not even our children, but it will end, and very badly for those sitting at the top of the pyramid ruling from on high! Our system of “democratic despotism” is as destructive as the “democratic socialism” that has been inflicted upon other nations elsewhere. If there is anything left a Republic anywhere I’d like to see it. The auto industry usually becomes a mirror which reflects the homogenization and sterilization of just about any society of the 20th and 21st centuries, or an indicator of it’s practical liberties. “We are what we drive”, someone once told me when I was teenager. Even then you only had to look what people were driving elsewhere in the world to see how true that was. The Lada, and the Trabant are two outstanding example of socialist stagnation and despotism. Look at what Americans were driving during the 70’s…..everything and anything they wanted to buy, pretty much.
    Our current transportation choices are now being directly dictated by “benevolent despotism”, but it just means our cookie cutter 4-wheel cages our more nicely gilded. Our “Ladas and Trabants” are also full of endless surveillance and control devices as well, something the Eastern Block countries could never afford, but don’t think they didn’t want to! All this high-tech Nannyism is going to collapse eventually, it may just take less time than the “old ways” employed by the Soviets. Any infrastructure built as hastily as this one is being done, is going to fail with just the pull of a plug!

    • Nicolae Ceausecu was never a dictator as the fake news propaganda and manipulation( rumors and urban legends spread by the Securitatea) has made it for the purpose to have free to do what they want and to pledge the worst robbery in that country called Romania.
      He was “dictator “because he asked/imposed the population to work, creating more than 12 millions work places and that time Romania was maybe one of the most industrialized country in the world( like China today) and that with a foreign credit of 16 billions which was paid back to the last cent.
      Today the Romanian debt( the real one not the statistical one=lies !) is about 160 billions and at least 5 millions people ( working age) have left the country to work far away from home and the main industry of Romania has become the prostitution and the gypsy robbery all over Europe !
      They killed him because they have had and were bout to rob almost 70 billions dollars from the Romanian people.
      I was there and I know precisely as Peter knows about the cars .
      Yes the system ( now called democratic) killed him just to be able to continuously rob the country without any punishment !
      Please never what your media tells you !

          • Yes, that’s what I remember reading at the time. I was asking aleks because he said don’t trust what I’ve heard about it. It was another one of my patented smartass remarks that wasn’t all that funny.

  12. The value of a human life: $129,000 (first hit on Bing search)
    http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1808049,00.html

    Using the high end of that “statistic,” that works out to about $206.4 million. Total.

    The VW scandal has cost the company $30 BILLION as of fall 2017:
    https://money.cnn.com/2017/09/29/investing/volkswagen-diesel-cost-30-billion/index.html

    Why not take that money, find all the people who died prematurely due to diesel emissions and cut ’em a check for a million bucks or so? Surely $30 billion would help fund a lot of private investigators. Assuming there are any actual, verifiable premature deaths of course.

  13. Government vehicles are exempt- that’s why I have one. There is no emissions control. There’s a sticker under the hood that says it is exempt for national security. Also makes 10 more hp and 30 more lbft of torque than the civilian version

    • The marching morons would riot. See before the EPA the world was a toxic stew of death. Just ask anyone. Oh wait, they’re all dead right? Nope, even during the horrific air quality of the 1970s people continued to live longer.

      And good luck trying to explain to someone the fact that the EPA came after most of the pollution was already cleaned up, or that the only reason the environmental movement got started in the 1960s was because of the incredible economy at the time. Or that some of the most toxic places on Earth are owned by the US government (https://www.hanford.gov/page.cfm/AboutHanfordCleanup)

      • So let them riot, they are going to anyway, doesn’t matter the reason. That is why I buy older vehicles and will not buy new. Until “they” outlaw vehicles older then 10 years old I will continue using old vehicles. Rue the day the epa bans older vehicles… then I think a future president would have to disband that agency.

    • Hi Cederq,

      He could – but as RK says, there would be riots. But, he could also do something else. He could require cost-benefit analysis of every proposed reg and demonstration of harm caused before “action” is taken. That position is defensible and would expose the fatuity of most of what the EPA does.

  14. The thing that really frosts me is that the government’s diesel fatwas do not apply to itself. I wonder if the Diesel engines in Humvees, APCs, tanks, and battleships have to meet emissions standards…or if the Diesel engines in our Dear Leaders’ ZILs have to.

    Methinks the answer is no.

    • Hi Bryce,

      Of course it’s no. Uncle and his minions are exempt… from everything. I just posted yet another video of law enforcers – Uncle’s minions – hassling a guy who broke no law. In other words, abusing the law – and not being held accountable to the law.

      And then there’s Obama – whose concern over people’s “carbon footprint” does not extend to his own footprint – viz, the footprint of his enormous McMansion and the “emissions” spewing from the fleet of armored vehicles that shuttle him and his cronies around.

      They have guns, too. Fully automatic ones.

  15. “It’s a similar Show Trail as regards the non-compliant ‘glider’ trucks.”

    Shouldn’t that be “Show Trial”? Also, thank you for writing this article. I didn’t know about the decree that affects truck engines and now I’ve learned something new.

    • Hi Dmitry,

      Yes – and thanks for the copy edit! I’m a one-man show. I would love to have a copy editor… and a computer guy. But that takes funds I lack at present, unfortunately. So I do my best with the tools at hand!

  16. 3rd attempt to post this:

    Big corporations are joined at the hip to big government.
    Won’t be surprised if Wheeler has been offered a directorship at one or more of these engine manufacturers after he leaves the EPA.

      • eric, good morning. I have to wade in here.

        About 15 years ago an old college buddy much more the statist than myself, reminded me of a good way to view the world and that was by knowing your enemy.

        I took it to heart and am now, as far as “they” know, a dyed in the wool Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, whale saving tree hugger.

        I get the inside skinny on nearly any national subject from at least 4 competing groups.

        I don’t even need to send money any longer they’re all so eager for my approval.

        It gives me a leg up on whatever egregious plan and ploy they have.

        So I got an email last week crowing about “Their”, and hence my, big victory getting the largest polluters off the road via banning glider kits. It seems they exist only to keep dirty trucks on the road.

        And here I always thought they existed, before I ever drove a truck, and that’s been well over 50 years, so a wrecked or worn out body could be replaced on good running gear.

        I’ve driven some rigs that had been kitted long before emissions was a word used in every day life.

        Large fleets commonly have a truck being kitted after a wreck. It saves a ton of money.

        I know plenty owner /operators who kitted their trucks after one too many things went wrong. Just wiring harnesses cost thousands of dollars. I guess people didn’t realize their ulterior motives for using a glider kit.

        As for “clean”, new diesels, you should be right behind one when the computer goes into its scrub mode to empty the particulate trap.

        I guess saving all the particulates for a 10 mile stretch is really cleaning the air.

        The truth is, newer diesels use more fuel…..but let’s don’t let facts cloud our argument.

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