Great Car Craze
Cinema Signal:
Driving Emissions to Zero:
Are the Benefits of California's Zero Emission Vehicle Program Worth the Costs?

. "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

The reason I didn't buy an electric car when they were first introduced in California was because I couldn't. The manufacturers were gaming California's mandate to produce 10% of their output as no-emission vehicles by 2003. To control a situation they never wanted to comply with, they made their EVs available only on a lease or loan basis, giving them the right to recall the entire fleet at will.

Recall them they did, just as soon as the political winds shifted in their favor. There wasn't so much lobbying going on since the tobacco wars. Instead of the smell of exhaust we were getting a putrid whiff of a rat in the organs of government, proving how closely allied and entangled our lawmakers are with the organs of big business. Absolutely nothing else can explain the total destruction of cars people were clamoring for.

A single specimen may have escaped the attempt to secretly, clandestinely tote the fleet to a car crusher/grinder plant in the Arizona desert while people were demonstrating to prevent it. The one vehicle that escaped the crusher/grinder silently sits in a car museum, gutted--nothing more than a shell and a nostalgic remembrance.

This documentary is fine tuned. It recalls and details the entire episode from the early 90s to 2003. It balances all the forces, with interview contributions from the auto industry, the energy lobby, environmentalists, activists, politicians and journalists. Both sides of the issue are included and the perspective balanced. All the more worthy of its condemnations and exposures. Given the current prices at the pump (substantially over $3 at the time of this writing), it's a good time to shine a spotlight on the covered up conspiracy that has kept us reliant on oil for so long. This is a snapshot of raw, blatant power governing our choices and the air we breathe.

This concentrated exposure of blatant manimpulation by the automotive and energy industries is enough to make me mad as hell. I'm not a conspiracy theorist but it's evident to me that the one to defeat progress is no longer theoretical, and it's been fouling progress for a very long time. Did the people who voted Republican in the last election sign on for this kind of self-interest and control? If the storied American auto industry disappears like so much ground up EV1's I'll be the last to mourn. The corporate paragons of greed and power don't deserve last rites, driven as they are by leeches, not leaders. And, if my support of Toyota over this country's cabal of automotive/political self-interests means I'm less patriotic because I drive a Prius, I'll take the hit. But, it isn't so.

Chris Paine's documentary goes beyond the occasional nit-pick by the usual suspects, and his examination encompasses all aspects of a technology big business has been conspiring to put down since the model-T. My hope is that it raises a stir on the scale of Katrina in the grass roots and halls (and balls) of Congress and that California will again lead the nation in re-writing its original mandate in a corruption-proof package.

Of course, the information here isn't new--it's just a very good compilation of historical evidence and observation of big brother's control. In an article some months ago, the L.A. Times reported on "quiet protections" of industry by various branches of the federal government. "The highway safely agency, a branch of the Dept. of Transportation," it reported, "is backing auto industry efforts to stop California and other states from regulating tailpipe emission they link to global warming. The agency said last summer ('05) that any such rule would be a back door attempt by states to encroach on federal authority to set mileage standards, and should be preempted."

Right.

What's helping to defeat this misuse of power is the progress being made outside the reach of Washington, Detroit and Texas. Toyota's next tier of Priuses is an example full of hope. As shown here, this excellent company is working on an upgraded model with plug-in recharging and a greater driving reliance on battery power than on fossil fuel. The goal is 90 mpg average. If the American manufacturers and energy suppliers won't, others who understand the concepts of progress and conservation better, will. Like water and gravity, consumers will seek their level of desire and reward the manufacturers who provide it while downsizing and punishing the shortsighted and manipulative.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  


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The corporations have stonewalled the competition since the Tuckermobile and, becoming more adept at the game, one had to kill its own baby sooner or later!

                                                           ~~ Kay A.



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