The bad news even invaded my tranquil weekend camping with about 50 fellow riders in North Dakota- The EPA has accused VW of programming their diesel cars to perform better at the expense of possibly increased exhaust emissions.

Lets go through this story chronologically, it’s more understandable that way. VW has been the world leader in diesel cars since the 1970s, using the acknowledged world leader, Bosch’s, engine management system. The EPA is a giant federal government bureaucracy that has set standards for vehicle exhaust emissions among other things since the 1960s. It’s regulations have the force of law but are written by unelected civil servants, whose skills vary from world class to barely able to meet the minimum standards for hiring, never mind job performance. Thus the EPA has gone from being a world leader in the field early on to demanding tighter and tighter standards, practicality and drivability be damned. By the turn of the 21st century the EPA standards resulted in diesels that you couldn’t make smoke if you tried, none the less the EPA required further reductions in diesel emissions in 2004, 2007, and 2010 that reduced diesel soot to one hundredth of what was allowed before 1984. No surprise that EPA has lost it’s leadership role to the Euro standards created by the European Community which have been adopted by almost every nation EXCEPT the US and Canada.

So we have an american regulatory agency of questionable ability going it’s own way, writing regulations for but 5% of the worlds population. Then throw in pressure to protect ‘Merican manufacturers from foreign competition and hybrid and electric car promoters, and I’m amazed that VW even tries to drive it’s diesel cars through the EPA certification maze for a mere couple percent of the world’s diesel car market and VW’s diesel production. None the less, after EPA didn’t like the way VW met the EPA 2007 standards and blocked VW’s diesels for the 2007 and 2008 model years, VW came back and met all the standards for the 2009 through 2016 models years.

That should have settled the matter, but a pro electric car group called the International Council on Clean Transportation with a grudge against diesels tried to second guess the EPA and EC. The electric car clown club has long been hating diesels, they can compete with gas engines in some environments (think short range city cars) but for economy and sustainability the diesel with it’s engine life typically twice or more that of an electric’s batteries is hard to beat. So no surprise that this well funded “green” advocacy group would fund on road emissions testing of dozens of diesel cars in hopes they’d fail. And low and behold, their “testing” showed many diesel cars “failed” to meet the emission standards…

‘Cept they were using the wrong test- The actual emissions tests are done with the car on a chassis dynamometer with the car driven through a simulated typical driving course. That’s the only test that counts both in the USA and in the EC and other nations that have adopted the Euro standards, and VW has passed every one of those tests. VW uses the same engine management software and hardware as most of the worlds diesel car makers, whom the EPA has left unchallenged… Perhaps because they’re largely ‘Merican based and in some cases even recent recipients of government bailouts?

Now one would think if all these VW diesels were failing to meet emission standards they’d be throwing codes faster than a VagCom diagnostic tool can read them and flunking state emission tests left and right… But I’ve heard little mention of such occurrences on the VW diesel fan boards. After testing in service VW diesels the fussiest of the world’s tailpipe sniffers, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), had some concerns. But those were resolved with a minor software update.

But the EPA caved to the environmental extremists, and now stands poised to kill one of the most workable solutions we have to global warming, diesel power. In a country like the U.S. that literally runs on diesel, converting trains and trucks from diesel to gas would as much as double greenhouse gas emissions while driving up maintenance costs. That’d put the american economy and products at even further disadvantage on world markets, with the EPA’s protectionist emissions standards actually killing american jobs. But the environmental extremists will happily celebrate the death of the diesel with fine wines, while laid off workers pinch pennies for a beer…

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