Friday, July 13, 2012

How the EPA makes the environment worse, part 2

In Part 1 I discussed how regulations regarding sound levels on automobiles actually has a negative environmental impact for very little gain in sound pollution.  Part 2 of How the EPA makes the environment worse is again about sound regulations, this time regarding motorcycles.

First, allow me to say that history has show that you can't subvert human desires.  Sure, you can suppress them for a time with draconian authoritarianism, but in time human nature will triumph.  Especially when you look to a country like the United States where people take their freedoms to make their own choices in life very seriously, when you impose a law that flies in the face with this you're going to get non-compliance.

A great recent example of this is the Canadian Gun Registry.  A vastly unpopular law to register guns in Canada was passed and for the most part nobody complied.  The law was eventually repealed.  Rather than have a law that wasn't complied with it was removed.  If citizens start ignoring laws it can lead down a path bureaucrats don't like, so it was better to repeal it then let it stand.

We have an example in the US as well.  For decades we've had sound regulations regarding motorcycles, but millions of motorcycle riders, mostly Harley and sport bike riders (which is most of them), ignore these regulations and replace their standard noise reg compliant exhausts with louder components.  Some people do it just for noise, as there is a thought that adding a sound component to a motorcycle makes it more likely to be noticed by motorists.  Other people do it for performance, to get more power or efficiency out of their engines.  Some people do it for both reasons.

Now granted, these people that swap in louder and more performant exhausts are breaking the law.  But given a couple decades of anecdotal evidence, it seems like well more then half the motorcycles I see on the road do not have their original exhaust systems.  It's a systemic ignoring of the laws regulating this.  Sure, sometimes cops in uptight towns hand out tickets, but in general people go un-harassed for this transgression.

So how does this affect the environment?  Well, for every 100 motorcycles sold in the US I bet we're immediately discarding 50 or 60 of the exhaust systems.  On cruisers this is often 20lbs of steel and chrome tossed in the trash.  What a waste, especially considering the environmental impact of manufacturing that steel and chrome-plating it.

If instead the regulations were revised to allow mufflers on motorcycles that were not so restrictive people would be less interested in replacing brand new exhausts.  It would cut down on the waste.  It would possibly increase noise pollution, but at the advantage of less in landfills, less manufacturing waste from the companies making exhausts.  Chrome-plating is certainly a source of pollution, as it steel fabrication.  Why not take a step to reduce those things by acknowledging human desire instead of trying to control a section of the populace?  Wouldn't that make more sense?

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