Sunday, August 30, 2009

Idling by-laws - an exercise in delusion, deceit and waste

Does your city have vehicle idling control by-laws? Many do, and if yours doesn’t now it may soon.

Either way, consider a recent Natural Resources Canada case study documenting the City of London, Ontario’s efforts towards passing its anti-idling by-law. The NRCan study is an earnest effort undertaken, in part, it says: "to share the City's experience with other communities that are considering implementing a similar by-law."

That sounds admirable. But a close reading of the case study leaves one feeling not admiration but, rather, disturbed. For all its righteous intentions (paved roads to Hell, etc) the City of London appears to have conducted an exercise based on green zeal that amounts to delusion, deceit and waste. If it isn’t fraud it comes perilously close.

In the NRCan study it is freely admitted that there was no evidence to support an idling control by-law but that there was evidence suggesting that such a by-law may actually do harm:

... an engineer with the City's Environmental Services Division raised concerns over vehicle "cold starts." He cited a scientific journal ... experts have argued that the first few minutes after starting a vehicle accounts for 80 percent of pollution from cars that are equipped with converters.

... The engineer was concerned that increasing the number of times that a car is turned on and off may actually increase the amount of emitted ozone precursors. He suggested that the City focus instead on other initiatives to improve air quality.

... [and, moreover] key problems originated outside the region (i.e., air contaminants from the Ohio Valley).

Among a list of "key facilitators" that had helped get the by-law passed was this gem:

"Credibility: Having a by-law gives the issue of excessive vehicle idling more credibility." [The existence of an idling by-law justifies the idling by-law. Brilliant!]

A list of "lessons learned" by the City included these mind-boggling "lessons":

- Develop a strategy for measuring the impact of the by-law. Even if empirical evidence is not available, develop indicators of success. As one Londoner stated, "Be ready for this question, as it will come up."

Emphasize the indirect benefits of an idling by-law. [BECAUSE!?] ... The direct impact of an idling by-law on overall air quality is not likely to be significant. [Wow! Just wow!]

Then, under cover of a scare generated by Health bureaucrats and the media:

... the weather put the idling by-law back in the forefront. During the spring and summer of 1999 there were three air-quality alerts .... the Health Unit ... again recommended that the by-law be passed. The Health Unit also indicated that it would be willing to enforce the by-law. ... It became law in November 1999 ...
And, the waste. The communications (propaganda) campaign to sell the by-law and "educate" the citizenry was funded out of healthcare resources and included:

... thirty second radio spots; ... communications with municipal staff; ... "no idling" signs; ... posters and literature to be distributed to key organizations, such as day-care centres; ... billboards. [Start the brainwashing early!]

Incredible! And it’s all seen as a good thing by our federal Natural Resources ministry as a way to make "... progress on the larger issue of environmental protection ...".
[Hmmm .. "progress on the larger issue" of what - selling more bogus environmentalism, perhaps? It seems to me that deceitfully justifying, passing, and enforcing dubious by-laws can only damage the credibility of legitimate environmental protection measures. Where are NRCan’s ethics?]

This whole sorry episode (and more) was expertly, comprehensively and entertainingly (un)covered by Robert Metz on his radio program Just Right* which aired on University of Western Ontario radio (CHRW) July 2, 2009. It can be heard in full here -> (wma audio file) - it's well worth listening to.

Credit for exposing the NRCan case study belongs to Robert Metz and Just Right* Media.

[*Note: This blog has no affiliation with the CHRW Just Right radio program, except in spirit.]


Anonymous said...

I'm getting a freakin ulcer from the stress of all this bull shyte enviro retardation spewing from the communist retards calling themselves environmentalists.
To think these idiots vote!

Anonymous said...

Idling bylaws are a joke. How do you prove length of time spent idling? What's the measurement/instrument that will be used to fine potential violators? Where is the proof? Will your neighbours become honourary members of the secret enviro police? Personally if I were cited, I would lie through my smiling teeth and say "Who me?". Who is going to challenge a grey headed grandmother who pays her taxes on time. I would do civil disobedience and go to jail with the murderers, sex offenders and thieves. That might prove exciting, I need a little focus in my life. Cheers. Fern StAlbert

Larry Sheldon said...

They are not a joke here.

If your lot is to drive a big truck--a vehicle you live in pretty much 24 X 7 X 52--the trucks engine (or an auxiliary) provides the power that refrigerates your food, warms or cools you living space, cooks your meals, and runs your meager means of entertainment.

It is almost never "idling" in the sense of "not doing useful work".

But the law says if the wheels are not moving and the engine is running, it is "idling".

I some states, if you have a pet, you can get around the no-idling laws because the lack of heat (when needed) or cooling (when needed) is "cruelty to dumb animals".

JR said...

Larry, You're right, truckers caught in this green stupidity have all the more reason to object. Though I think Fern meant "joke" as in bad or sick joke.

Idling by-laws are bad all round. Since there's no evidence they do any good they're founded on pop enviro-activism and delusional, deceitful (perhaps fraudulent) thinking and argument.