If you’ve ever been stopped at a red light behind or beside a big truck, you know well the scramble to roll up the windows when that behemoth starts rolling and exhaust comes spewing from its stacks. If, like me, you are not given to fits of road rage, you figure this is an innocent side effect of driving a diesel truck, and no reason to get your blood pressure up. Just pass the guy and get back to relatively clean air.
But what if you found out that this guy was deliberately spewing more smoke into the air, and into the faces of you and your family, than he needed to? What if you found out that he had, in fact, deliberately altered his vehicle just to get laughs at you choking on his smoke?
That’s some douchebaggery, by definition. Would it matter to you if the guy told you that he had a political point to make, an axe to grind with environmentalists?
But that is exactly what passes for “activism” in some of the less-enlightened parts of our Republic. While some people laugh about liberal environmentalists chaining themselves to trees to stall logging activities, or marching against mountaintop clearing, some think that “rolling coal”, the practice of modifying one’s injection pump on a diesel engine so that it spews even more smoke, is a valid form of free speech.
Some of these paragons of higher learning seek out hybrid cars to dish out their free speech on.
Well, the EPA says belching out poison gases is not protected free speech. According to the EPA website:
It is a violation of the [Clean Air Act] to manufacture, sell, or install a part for a motor vehicle that bypasses, defeats, or renders inoperative any emission control device. For example, computer software that alters diesel fuel injection timing is a defeat device. Defeat devices, which are often sold to enhance engine performance, work by disabling a vehicle’s emission controls, causing air pollution. As a result of EPA enforcement, some of the largest manufacturers of defeat devices have agreed to pay penalties and stop the sale of defeat devices.
The CAA prohibits anyone from tampering with an emission control device on a motor vehicle by removing it or making it inoperable prior to or after the sale or delivery to the buyer. A vehicle’s emission control system is designed to limit emissions of harmful pollutants from vehicles or engines. EPA works with manufacturers to ensure that they design their components with tamper-proofing, addresses trade groups to educate mechanics about the importance of maintaining the emission control systems, and prosecutes cases where significant or imminent harm is occurring.
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