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
Posts Tagged ‘nitrogen oxides’
The EPA has been charged with reducing the pollutants released into the environment, but they are meeting opposition from power companies, politicians, and people who want cheap energy, though other people’s health and the environment may suffer the consequences . The EPA is accepting comments on the issue through May 23, 2011. (1)
The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking a 95 percent reduction in emissions at three of Oklahoma’s coal-fired power plants owned by OG&E and AEP. (2) This has brought howls from the utility companies and from Oklahoma’s politicians. Utility companies claim that installing scrubbers or converting to natural gas will cost them billions of dollars and drive the rates for electricity up by 10 to 12%. The utility companies have defined the costs for the plant conversions or upgrades in the worst possible terms, without considering the long-term savings of conversion to natural gas or the impact on people’s health.
EPA. Stopping the EPA has been put forth as a Conservative and a Republican cause, but it really is neither. President Richard Nixon created the EPA to protect the environment as the United States developed industrially. The Clean Air Act was passed not only to reduce smog in our cities, but to ensure that the air was kept pure and clean in our national parks and wilderness areas. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA has the right to limit sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, organic compounds, and particulates to ensure the quality of the air in our region. Limiting regional haze would have the added benefit of improving the health of people, wildlife, and plants in the region. Sulfur and nitrogen oxides are known to damage plants and those, along with small particulates, cause respiratory problems in people. Also, the particulates emitted contain mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium, chromium, dioxins, and radioactive isotopes, which are all health hazards.
Regional problem. The emissions from Oklahoma plants do not remain in Oklahoma, and some of the haze in Oklahoma likely comes from surrounding states, particularly Texas, which has a large number of unregulated power plants. Emissions from a source may remain in the air for many weeks and travel for hundreds of miles. Although each state in the region might wish to address its own air pollution problems, it is a regional problem and must be addressed as such. Some of the states in the region are regulatory averse, and may lack the political will to act in the matter. For instance, a fly ash disposal plant at Bokoshe Oklahoma was allowed to operate for seven years while it violated Oklahoma statutes and apparently caused health problems and possibly deaths among Bokoshe residents.
Cost. The main objection to limiting emissions at the power plants is the cost. However, the power plants have operated for years without paying the true cost of energy production, which should include the cost of limiting their air pollution. It also appears that the companies have overstated the costs by as much as two or three times over the EPA estimates. AEP reported $1.2 billion in profit last year and OG&E $292 million, so they can apparently afford to address the problem without passing all the costs to customers.
Timetable. Three years would be a reasonable time for the power plants to come into compliance. It has been known for several decades that the emissions are damaging to the environment and health, yet the companies did not act. Also, the EPA had previously informed the companies that they were out of compliance, yet they have failed to come up with a satisfactory plan. They should have made a move toward compliance long ago, and further stalling should not be allowed.
Alternate plan. The alternate plan of converting the power plants to natural gas is certainly an acceptable plan. Methane produces about 2 1/2 times as much energy per unit of carbon dioxide as coal. And, switching to methane would also alleviate the problem of properly disposing of fly ash, bottom ash, and scrubber sludge. Those, and carbon emissions will necessarily be regulated in the future. Addressing the haze, the solid and liquid waste, and the carbon emissions piecemeal will certainly be less effective and more costly in the long run. If the companies should choose to convert the plants to methane, the added benefits would justify an increase in the timetable of up to five years.
(1) Comments may be submitted to email@example.com or at http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/oklahoma_coal_pollution/?r=7901&id=21282-3213732-Kunk_Zx
(c) 2011 J.C. Moore
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