New rules in California may boost what we all pay for cars

New rules in California may boost what we all pay for cars

February 3rd, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

California virtually destroyed its once-large auto industry over the past couple of decades by imposing costly environmental regulations and too-high taxes.

A little over 20 years ago, California had eight automobile-manufacturing facilities. The last of those eight ended operations two years ago, however. Part of the reason for that is that California started requiring its utilities to generate a large percentage of their energy from wind, solar and other "green energy" that wasn't practical or economical. That forced up the price of electricity, helping to doom the energy-intensive auto industry in the "Golden State."

But now that it has practically no auto industry, California is trying to "spread the misery." Its air regulators have imposed vast new auto emission standards. The rules require, among other things, that by 2025, one in seven of the new cars sold in California be electric or other "zero-emission" vehicles -- even though the market for electric cars is extremely low despite massive federal subsidies for their manufacturing and purchase.

The new regulations are expected to raise the cost of cars -- by as much as $3,200! -- which ironically will prompt many drivers to keep their older, less energy-efficient cars on the roads longer.

Unfortunately, those problems will not be confined to California. Because that heavily populated state has a huge car market, automakers probably will have to adjust their production overall to meet California's new emission standards. Car makers simply cannot produce vehicles with significantly different emission standards for all 50 states, so they will cater to the biggest markets, such as California's. That -- plus excessive regulations also being developed at the federal level -- means harsh environmental rules will be imposed on us all, not only on California.

There are things to like and even admire about California. But its judgment on matters having to do with the auto industry is not one of them.