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LETTERS : Clearing the air

November 16, 2009

Re " 'Cool cars' backfire," Editorial, Nov. 8

You mischaracterize the California Air Resources Board's (CARB) new standard to reduce air conditioning use in cars. The standard is performance-based and allows automakers to develop their own approach to meet the targets. Five automakers already offer "cool windows" technology as a standard feature without interfering with cellphone or GPS use. Pittsburgh Glass Works, Guardian Industries and 3M are already commercializing new products that comply with the 2012 target.

This common-sense, cost-effective approach continues California's leadership in air pollution policy. This leadership has led to the adoption of catalytic converters, hybrid cars and other clean technologies that automakers once said were impossible.

U.S. Department of Energy estimates show that vehicle air conditioners consume the equivalent of 10% of our oil imports. The cool cars standard will reduce this oil dependency, save drivers money at the pump and provide cleaner air.

Simon Mui

San Francisco

The writer is a clean vehicle and fuels scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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The Times makes a very insightful observation about the CARB regulation: "Don't mandate specific technologies, just set broad standards and let manufacturers or polluters figure out how to meet them."

What The Times misses is that this approach has been going on for years. As far back as 2005, CARB has affected international shipping by dictating specific technologies and fuels rather than limiting emissions. This approach creates a disincentive for innovation, a competitive disadvantage for the goods-movement industry in California and uncertainty for the industry. When the regulations dictate the specific technologies and fuels, the industry has no way to measure whether the emission reduction goals have been met. This raises the possibility that CARB will pass additional regulations whenever new technologies become available.

CARB needs to get back to what works: Tell the shipping industry what the emissions limits are and let industry find the best way to comply.

T.L. Garrett

Long Beach

The writer is vice president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Assn.

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