“Paper or plastic?” the attractive, young checkout girl asks her customer.

“Plastic,” he replies.

Out rush men in uniform. Busted by the police – the Green Police. “You picked the wrong day to mess with the ecosystem, Plastic Boy.”

The Audi advertisement that debuted during the Super Bowl was just getting started. The Green Police root through trash cans in a suburban neighborhood. “Battery!” calls an officer holding up a D-cell. “Let’s go. Take the house.”

The Green Police shine a searchlight in a kitchen window: Compost orange peels or else. They make an arrest for “possession of an incandescent light bulb” and pursue a Speedo-clad Austin Powers wannabe for keeping his hot tub at 105 degrees. Finally, a regular, run-of-the-mill policeman – you know, the sort that tracks down and arrests real criminals – gets nabbed for coffee in a foam cup.

Green Police? This is the Green Gestapo.

Oh, the car part. In the middle of a Green Police “Eco Roadblock” an officer notices an Audi A3 TDI® Clean Diesel. “You’re good to go, sir,” he says and the white (of course) Audi pulls out and cruises past the long line of gasoline-burning miscreants.

While the scenarios are – at least at this point – comical (the substitution of anteaters on leashes for German shepherds was a nice touch), at the same time the ad unintentionally raises two serious threats – threats that Texas has already figured out.

First, the ad reminds us that whoever controls the environmental rules controls the economy and our choices. The Heritage Foundation pointed out the far-reaching consequences of the Environmental Protection Agency’s claim that it should regulate greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide (CO2) as pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

Using the EPA’s findings, Nicholas Loris noted, “Schools, farms, restaurants, hospitals, apartment complexes, churches and anything with a motor – from motor vehicles to lawnmowers, jet skis and leaf blowers – could be subject to regulations.”

Small wonder Texas Governor Rick Perry has brought suit against the EPA over its CO2 grab. As a press release from Perry’s office noted:

The EPA declared carbon dioxide a public danger despite a lack of scientific evidence to support the ruling. In fact, EPA leadership has previously admitted that the job-killing, high-cost regulations associated with this declaration would neither lower worldwide carbon levels, nor affect global temperatures.

It will, however, give the EPA and thus the federal government unprecedented power over business, commerce, the economy and the American people. The Green Police may not end up rummaging through the trash at your house, but you can be sure that the dumpster at work will be fair game. As George Will noted, these are people who are “trying to stampede the world into a spasm of prophylactic statism,” and they show no sign of giving up.

While we need environmental regulations, we must always be careful how much power we cede to government agencies. And that goes double for the EPA, an agency anxious to grab all the power it can. We must be sure they are accountable to us (they’re not) and that the benefits outweigh the costs (they don’t).

Which brings me to the second unintended reminder from Audi: cost.

I’ve driven a gasoline A3, a nice little car. Yet despite its diminutive size, with Clean Diesel it lists at $30,000. The much larger Q7 Clean Diesel starts at $51,000. As they understand in Texas, avoiding the Green Police will cost you.

Texas calculates that EPA regulation of CO2 would cost every household $1,200 annually. This is consistent with a Wall Street Journal report that Britain’s Taxpayer Alliance estimates that in the U.K. households already pay upwards of $1,300 yearly for the carbon-cutting measures. All this as the case for carbon-driven climate change collapses.

To be honest, if I ran Audi, I would have approved the Green Police ad. It’s clever, memorable, and, after all, green is chic and hip. Why not cash in on what someone has called “the bandwagon of cheap virtue”?

Environmental policy, on the other hand, cannot be based on what is chic and hip, and the case for manmade global warming – while still chic and hip – is in such tatters that even the ever-so-green Washington Post admitted in a front page story:

The errors in the U.N. [IPCC] report – a document intended to be the last nail in the coffin of climate doubt – are a serious problem that could end up forcing environmentalists to focus more on the old question of proving that climate change is a threat, instead of the new question of how to stop it.

In light of this there is no question but that we need to stop the Green Police in the form of power-hungry bureaucrats and avoid outrageous benefit-free costs. In Texas they know that.


James Tonkowich is senior fellow of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

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