MAINE VOICES: by Adam Lee
Adam Lee is president of Lee Auto Malls.
As a third-generation car dealer, it is safe to say that I have been in the car business my whole life. While not speaking for other car dealers or any other groups, I support the proposed global warming tailpipe emission standards for new cars in Maine.
Maine’s Board of Environmental Protection will vote on these new standards today.
With adoption of these standards, the gases in tailpipe emissions that cause global warming will be reduced by about 30 percent by the year 2016. Crucially, Maine people will benefit from improved fuel efficiency of these cleaner cars.
I remember as a child thinking it was funny when people started wearing seat belts. But, as time went on, we started wearing them and just accepted the fact that you had to wear them. Then shoulder belts were added, and we started wearing those.
Somewhere along the way airbags and anti-lock brakes were developed. Many of the manufacturers said that there was no way that they could afford to put air bags in their cars. Then passive restraints became mandated, once again improving driver and passenger safety.
Most of the manufacturers said the same thing of anti-lock brakes. They could not afford to put them in their cars. As time went on they realized that people really wanted this technology. It wasn’t just the result of a bunch of crazed, left-wing Nader supporters. So, the manufacturers responded.
We now have vehicle skid control, side air bags, cruise control that will shut off when it senses you are coming close to the car in front of you, and the list goes on. No one questions any of these technological advances. They are in the name of safety, and safety saves lives, and saving lives is hard to argue with.
However, many of these safety devices were shot down at one time or another by almost every automobile manufacturer. They all claimed that they were too expensive, that they couldn’t get the cost down enough and then they would quote absurd figures of what it would cost to put an air bag in a car.
At one time, a large American car company had it costing many thousands of dollars to put an air bag in a car. Of course, it doesn’t.
I am belaboring this point, because the automobile manufacturers have a long history of pleading financial ruin, or that their competition has an unfair advantage, or of trying to prove that some technology like catalytic converters and unleaded gas, really is not better for us.
Car manufacturers have a bad track record, which makes it hard to listen to their arguments.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will not prevent any car accidents. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will not save your life if you get into a front-end collision. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will not make your car handle better in the snow. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions will, in fact, save lives and improve the quality of life throughout the world.
People are lining up to buy hybrid cars that get between 45 and 60 miles per gallon and emit very little global warming pollution. Hybrids are more expensive, but their cost will continue to drop as volume increases. The demand is still very strong. Cleaner cars are a reality.
All car manufacturers have the ability to make cleaner cars with advanced technologies. In fact, many of the cars on the road today already use these technologies, which emit less greenhouse gas emissions. I think they need to try a little harder, and I don’t think they will try any harder until enough states force them to.
All of us can help pave the way for Maine people to be able buy and drive cleaner cars that emit less greenhouse gas emissions, such as hybrids, much the way you buckle your seat belt whenever you get in your car.
Join me in supporting global warming tailpipe emission standards. After all, car and truck exhaust is the leading source of global warming pollution generated in Maine. Let’s act now, before the damage done to our environment and our quality of life is irreversible.
– Special to the Press Herald