Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Victory of the Commons

Although I'm usually not a huge fan of UNC's newspaper, the Daily Tarheel, I have to give them credit for bringing this story to my attention.
"[North Carolina]'s General Assembly should replicate Maryland legislation that would raise registration fees for super-sized sport utility vehicles."
To be honest, the legislation was news to me. The AP reported the story a week ago. Apparently Maryland drivers already pay an extra $52 ($180 instead of $128) annually to renew registration on cars over 3,700 pounds, targeting larger, gas-guzzling SUV's. Rep. Bronrott's newly proposed legislature would impose an even greater tax on vehicles over 6,000 pounds -- such as the Lincoln Navigator, the Hummer 2, and the Cadillac Escalade ESV. He justifies the increase by saying that these behemoths "pose a highway safety hazard, and they disproportionately beat up our roads and bridges." He also cites the environmental effects of oversized SUV's:
"This bill is not about pickup trucks, vans or your standard SUV," Mr. Bronrott told fellow members of the House Environmental Matters Committee at a hearing yesterday. "It's about the largest, heaviest passenger vehicles that are the least fuel efficient and the most toxic to our air, land and water."
Criticism for the bill is strong from car companies, but I view the bill as an excellent idea. If the additional cost discourages Americans from purchasing enormous SUV's, then I count a small victory for the environment. Unfortunately, I doubt that a tax relatively small compared to the cost of such a vehicle would discourage many consumers. Still, the additional revenue would be welcome relief to the stalling state budget. Even though Bronrott "acknowledged that the bill as written may not survive in the legislature," I hope his idea will be picked up and used in other regions, resulting in a decline of the supersize culture of America.


At 6:07 PM, Blogger Chris said...

It wouldn't just be a victory for the environment. SUVs have consisently proven to be far more dangerous than their smaller-sized counterparts. Further amplifying the problem is the fact that SUVs are marketed (especially to younger and middle aged women) as "safer" due to their size and rough stylings. Unfortunately, a menacing grill guard only serves to increase the propensity for aggresive driving, and it does little to help you when you flip over just becuase you were driving on the highway. I won't bother linking them *again* here, but I highly recommend Gregg Easterbrook's in depth analyses of the problems SUVs create.


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