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Black is back for California drivers (actually, it never left)

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The Great California Black Car Crisis is over — for now at least.

The California Air Resources Board said Friday that it has no plans “at this time” to regulate car paint as part of a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — and never intended to outlaw black cars in the first place.

“We are by no means interested in banning or restricting car colors,” CARB spokesman Stanley Young said.

Reports that regulators were planning to banish black cars from the Golden State in an effort to reduce air pollution created a global uproar, perhaps best expressed in this headline from Rush Limbaugh’s website: “Tyrants Want to Ban Black Cars.”

The purported black car ban was said to be part of the “cool cars” initiative being cooked up by the air board, which is looking for ways to follow the legislature’s mandate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California. Greenhouse gases are a cause of global warming, and automotive tailpipe emissions are a major source.

One solution: lower the temperature inside parked cars, thereby reducing the amount of air conditioning — and engine power and gasoline — needed to keep the occupants cool and comfortable.

CARB looked at two possible ways to achieve this: mandating the use of reflective paints that reduce the amount of solar heat absorbed by a vehicle, and requiring manufacturers to install glass with reflective coatings to achieve the same purpose.

When word got out that CARB couldn’t find a reflective version of deep black paint that suited its needs, auto enthusiast blogs and conservative commentators smelled another “kooky California” story — or “out-of-control government” expose, take your pick — and jumped in with relish.

The fact that black is the second most popular color among car owners in the U.S. — behind white — helped stoke the outrage. The Truth About Cars, a blog that brings a smart sensibility to its automotive commentary, opined that “regulating car color comes across as nothing more than an exercise in bureaucratic power for its own sake.”

CARB ultimately decided to ditch the paint scheme and move ahead with just the reflective glass mandate (which is not window tinting, by the way; it’s a reflective clear coat).

The air board is now taking public comments on its proposed reflective glass rules, which it estimates will add $31-$50 to the cost of a new vehicle while saving Californians millions of gallons of fuel a year by 2020 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions significantly. (You can read the various iterations of the cool cars rules and get info on submitting a comment here.)

A final vote on the rules may come at the air board’s meeting in late June.

So, did the bureaucrats really intend to ban black cars, only to be foiled by an outraged citizenry? That’s hard to say. Young notes that it’s not unusual for CARB to get an earful over its proposed regs, and in this case, “it wasn’t exactly opposition” that killed the paint initiative. “It was an appraisal that the technology was not yet mature enough to deliver what we hoped to achieve.”

Moreover, the CARB PowerPoint presentation that got everyone’s fan belt in a twist never actually recommends that black cars be banned. It merely — “sinisterly,” Rush might say — notes that “jet black remains an issue.”

Still, the timing is interesting. Although the workshop at which the paint plan was discussed was held on March 12, the decision to drop the idea wasn’t made until this week, according to Young — the very same week, sinisterly enough, that Limbaugh referred to the CARB rule makers as tyrants.

Coincidence? We report, you decide.

-- Martin Zimmerman


Edited by empowah

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I'm gonna quote a post on AB:

1. Make stupid legal suggestion.

2. Huge public backlash.

3. Tell everyone, "Just kidding!"

4 Stupid organization lives to see another day.

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That about sums it up, DF.

How nice of C.A.R.B. to condescend not to ban dark cars "at this time".


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