The Other Diesel Fatwa

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. Gift Card i... Buy New $25.00 (as of 09:20 EDT - Details)

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. $25 Gift Ca... Buy New $25.00 (as of 05:45 EDT - Details)

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.

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