Wichita: Doubling Down on Air Pollution
Yamaha Gas Golf Carts
Perhaps you can’t beat city hall. The plan to buy 120 Yamaha gasoline golf carts was dropped last Fall as a bad idea after citizens pointed out the high cost and the risk of increasing ozone pollution. Now, the city is planning to buy 240 Yamaha gas carts to replace their fleet of electric golf carts. That idea is twice as bad, but it is likely the city council may approve it, though the cost estimates are off and it conflicts with the ozone reduction goals of the Wichita Department of Public Works. They recommend cutting the use of small gas engines as much as possible.
Ozone is a problem as it corrodes metals, rots rubber, damages plant leaves and, most seriously, and destroys lung tissue – greatly affecting the health of people who suffer from heart and lung diseases. Ozone is created by the interaction of sunlight, oxygen, and hydrocarbons in the presence of nitrogen oxides. Automobiles and small gas engines are main sources of the hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides.
Last September, Wichita abandoned
plans to buy 120 used Yamaha gas golf carts over concerns about their costs and their contribution to ozone pollution. The city’s new plan is to buy 240 new Yamaha golf carts, saying it could save $300,000 over the next 10 years.
Wichita’s Public Works Department has been working with businesses city residents to reduce the city’s ozone levels. Through their efforts, Wichita has been able to reduce its ozone levels from 81 ppb to 69 ppb, slightly below the new standard of 70 ppb. Small gas engines are one of the main contributors to ozone levels. Yamaha claims its fuel injected engines reduce emissions by about 30%, meaning they still emit 70%.
A side by side comparison
of gas and electric golf carts found that electric carts have 85 percent lower fuel costs and produce one-quarter of the emissions. They are three times more fuel efficient, have reduced maintenance costs, and are greatly preferred by golfers. For those of you concerned about carbon emissions, the electric carts cut emissions by about half, even if charge from a coal-fired power plant.
The Wichita Eagle recently reported
that if Wichita fails to comply with air quality standards, particularly ozone levels, the city could be fined as much as $10 million a year. Is it wise to risk a possible $100 million in penalties to save a questionable $300,000? Replacing Wichita’s fleet of electric golf carts with gas ones is a step in the wrong direction.
Note On 3/08/ 2017: City Hall won. The vote was 5 to 2 to buy the gasoline golf carts, even though they will contribute to the Wichita’s air quality problem. Those who voted for buying the carts were much more concerned about the money, even though the savings from the gas carts was greatly inflated, than about the air quality.
When asked to see the proposal and the reasoning presented by the golf commission, I was told I would have to submit a FOIA request, even though they could’ve just handed it to me. I’m now requesting all the information and plan to write another article on how the decision was made, although there is little chance it can be rescinded.
(C) 2017 J.C. Moore
Tags: air pollution, carbon emissions, golf carts, nitrogen oxides, ozone pollution, Wichita Kansas