The rapid growth of global economy and the rise of globalization in the past decade led to the increase in products consumption as well as the expansion of goods distribution streams worldwide. The outburst of the global economic development and manufacturing could not but have a robust impact on the natural environment, and global warming has become one of the most significant matters of concern resulting from the growing interdependence and interconnectedness of economic and manufacturing systems at the international level.
As shown in the recent statistics, more than 50% of greenhouse gas emission is caused by cross-national transportation, and the further expansion of the international trade will provoke even more significant increases (Abe, Hattori, & Kawagoshi, 2014). Such existing trends have brought governments and international organizations to a realization that they should take measures to deal with them or, at least, minimize the negative impact of international transportation on the natural environment.
One example of organizations monitoring cross-national traffic and offering ways to make them environmentally friendly is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that has a primary objective of establishing a program aimed at minimizing the emission of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and its impact on the natural environment.
The primary tool for reaching the mentioned objective is developing regulations that control the activities of the transport manufacturing companies and that they follow the rules of the environmental protection.
That said, the EPA regulations influence international traffic, and the goal of this paper is to define what is this impact that Environmental Protection Agency has on the transportation standards with the special attention to ethical and economic consequences of the EPA regulations on the transportation industry. It should be noted that the primary effect the EPA rules have on transportation standards is through monitoring the activities of vehicle manufacturers, so it is the dimension that will be studied in the paper.
The motivation of the EPA to design the transport regulations
Generally speaking, there are few reasons for the initial design of the Environmental Protection Agency regulations. First of all, its rules are the foundation for developing a science-based assessment for endangerment.
It means that the agency supports formulating the mechanism of defining the dangers caused by further increasing of emission of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants in the atmosphere and other potential risks deriving from failing to follow the environmental protection rules by traffic manufacturers and transport companies.
The primary objective is to make people understand that natural factors are not the only cause the leads to the global warming and other negative changes in the condition of the natural environment and that these are anthropogenic factors that are even more crucial.
The second reason for designing the EPA regulations is that they are aimed at improving fuel economy through applying the vehicle rule (Moreno & Zalzal, 2012). Because of the finite resources of raw material used in producing vehicle fuel, EPA finds it necessary to develop standards that automobile manufacturers will use to make engines that consume less fuel and transforming automobiles into environmentally friendly.
The Agency believes that it will have many positive effects because it will benefit the manufacturers by adding to the increase in their efficiency as their products will become better, the customers by helping them save money as the cars will consume less fuel, and the natural environment as the ruling will undoubtedly entail the decrease of greenhouse gas emission.
What is more, it will improve the state of energy security because manufacturing the cars using environmentally friendly technologies and less fuel will diminish the dependence on the imports of fuel.
The third motivation for the organization is that the regulations will bind the transportation companies and automobile manufacturers to follow the standards of the level of greenhouse gas emission into the atmosphere thus minimizing the negative impact on the natural environment.
So, in general, the motivation for the Environmental Protection Agency to design its regulations is to improve the overall state of the natural environment and make it safer or, at least, prevent worsening of the current situation thus guaranteeing public health and global well-being through reducing greenhouse gas emission and improving fuel efficiency.
By now, the Environmental Protection Agency together with the Department of transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers programs that will lead to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving fuel efficiency for both light- and medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2012; United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2011).
These regulations have both economic and ethical implications on the transportation industry, and they will be reviewed further in this paper.
Economic implications of the EPA regulations on the transportation standards
As it was already said, Environmental Protection Agency regulations have the primary objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving fuel efficiency. It is where the major economic implications of their implementation derive from. The general idea here is that the EPA regulations help reduce the costs and improve the efficiency and productivity of vehicle manufacturers.
One of the ways to reach this goal is through reducing fuel consumption either by increasing the efficiency of the used energy or achieving lower level of energy consumption for the same level of efficiency. But, in general, the EPA regulations propose transition towards “more efficient engines, improved aerodynamics, lower rolling resistance tires, and other vehicle technologies” (Goldberg, 2011, p. 2) that will make vehicle working better consuming less fuel.
Economic implications of adopting the Environmental Protection Agency regulations by vehicle manufacturers can be viewed in the short and the long run. In the near-term prospect, there is the need for increasing expenditures because the transition towards environmentally friendly manufacture is costy and requires vast amounts of investments aimed at making the manufacturing process progressive.
However, in the long run, it will reduce the costs mainly because of reducing energy consumption. Moreover, it will increase net sales because the level of green consciousness among the customers rises, and they are more willing to use the vehicles that do not have a negative influence on the natural environment and are safer for them as well.
What is more, implementing the EPA regulations to the production process can help increase the level of net income of the manufacturers. Bearing in mind what has been said about the green consciousness, the companies may raise the price for their vehicles, and the customers will still be willing to buy it. The only issue here is that it will only be possible in the long run once the company has moved to using new technologies, found sources of necessary investments, and put the process of manufacturing on the right track.
Finally, adopting standards-based on safe green technologies will also provide better conditions for employees. The point here is that it will lead to the increase in both production and sales of vehicles and, as the result, the industry will require additional labor (the United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2012).
Together with that, it will entail the growth of wages because working with new technologies requires additional knowledge (Goldberg, 2011). So, it can be said that it is the benefit for the employees but the additional article of expenditures for the manufacturers.
Ethical consequences of the Environmental Protection Agency regulations on the transportation industry
Speaking of the ethical consequences, they can be viewed through the prism of environmental and health impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency regulations. This issue will be investigated from two perspectives – natural environment and population in general.
As it was highlighted, the EPA regulations focus on reducing emission of various greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons), air pollutants (sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, nitrous oxide, etc.), and air toxics such as benzene, formaldehyde, acrolein and others into atmosphere (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2012). These compounds cause future climate changes.
That said, implementing the Environmental Protection Agency regulations in the transporting industry helps control the process of global warming with all its consequences. Of course, it is impossible to reverse the process and get to the starting point, but it is still possible to minimize its adverse effects by establishing the acceptable level of air pollutants and greenhouse gases emission, and these regulations are a useful tool for reaching this purpose.
Together with that, implementing the new standards based on the EPA regulations leads to better general state of health. The point here is that through monitoring vehicle manufacturers and regulating the further changes in the natural environment, especially reducing the number of air pollutants and greenhouse gases or, at least, establishing some allowable level of them in the atmosphere, people receive cleaner air.
It may not necessarily lead to improving health but, at least, it will help monitor the problem of pollution-related diseases because the people will breathe with better air.
In pursuit of facts: conducting interviews with the people working for the automobile manufacturer
The most obvious way to find out whether everything mentioned above is correct is to carry out interviews with the people working in the companies affected by the EPA regulations, i.e., with those hired by the automobile manufacturers. I am lucky enough to have a friend who works for one of the automobile manufacturers.
He promised to bring some of his colleagues to help me with the research. For the sake of anonymousness, I will keep their name as well as the name of the organization in secret. Even though we conducted informal interviews, all of us promised that nobody would ever know about them. So, I could just use the results for my research without names.
As I mentioned in the research proposal, I conducted the interviews with the small group of people. In fact, my friend managed to bring 9 colleagues with him, so, the number of respondents was 10. Because the group was small, I had an opportunity to have individual interviews with every respondent. They all worked in different departments – assembly lines, IT department, and accounting department.
That is why the range of their answers was wide. I decided to include three primary questions to the interviews – the background knowledge about the Environmental Protection Agency, its activities and regulations, economic implications of the EPA regulations, and the ethical consequences of the organization’s activities.
After the interviews, I decided to find the overall trends in the answers, even though it turned out to be harder than I thought due to the fact that respondents worked in different departments. However, I managed to get the answers to the questions that I was interested in.
First of all, I asked the respondents whether they knew about the existence of the Environmental Protection Agency and its activities. It turned out that in most cases, they only knew that there were some new regulations that their company was obliged to follow, but did not know the name of the organization that has designed them.
Second, I inquired about the economic implications of the EPA regulations. The answer that I received was that what changed was the technological process because the details used for assembling cars were more innovative than before, and it was claimed that they consume less fuel and, as the result, the quantity of gas emission into the atmosphere is lower.
The employee from the IT department told that the organization started working with the newest technologies that helped achieve the growth of the volumes of production. From the person working in the accounting department I found out that since the EPA regulations to manufacturing were implemented, the sales increased because the customers are more willing to buy the vehicles that are environmentally friendly and consume less fuel.
Moreover, because the sales grew, what also increased was the volume of manufacturing. In addition to that, the company hired new people to all departments from manufacturing to sales and increased wages for those working with the latest technologies as the had to gain new knowledge and develop more skills. That means that producing environmentally friendly entailed the creation of new working places and the better financial well-being of the employees.
The most interesting part of the interviews was that concerning the ethical outcomes of the EPA regulations on the automobile manufacturers.
Most of the respondents could not give me the answer to this question because they could not draw the connection between the engines consuming less fuel and producing fewer emissions of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere with the fact that they have a positive affect on condition of the natural environment and the state of human health by helping monitor the problem of pollution-related diseases.
What I found interesting is that they assured me that the company indeed uses the green technologies that make their vehicles environmentally friendly and consuming less fuel. Telling me this, they wanted to say that their company is a responsible manufacturer and does not ignore the regulations, and the situations similar to the scandals with one of the manufacturers arising from its cheating in using environmentally friendly engines will never occur to their company.
So, conducting the interviews helped me to prove that the regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency have both economic and ethical impact on the automobile manufacturers, even though the economic outcomes are noticeable and considerable because they can be demonstrated through numbers and statistics while the ethical issues may seem almost invisible because most people simply ignore them.
Conclusion: the correlation between the EPA regulations and the transportation standards
The conclusion is based on the theoretical research and the results of the interviews conducted with people working for the company that felt the impact of the Environmental Protection Organization – the automobile manufacturer. It is obvious: there is a correlation between the regulations of the Environment Protection Agency and the transportation standards.
However, bearing in mind that the EPA rules mainly concern reducing greenhouse gases emission and improving fuel efficiency this relation is mediate, as the regulations have the influence on vehicle manufacturers. Of course, there are standards bounding transportation companies to use environmentally friendly vehicles, and they are very frequently met nowadays, so it is the only dimension where this correlation can be investigated.
That said, if it is the space that is taken into consideration, then economic and ethical implications of the EPA regulations on the transportation industry are significant. From the financial perspective, following these rules helps reduce the costs and improve efficiency as well as leads to the increase in the level of employment and sales. These rules are also beneficial for the transporting companies because they will be able to save money because their vehicles will consume less fuel.
As of the ethical consequences, the Environmental Protection Agency regulations are the key to controlling further climate change and monitoring its influence on human health and the condition of the natural environment. In addition to it, the focus can be made on the people working for the transportation company. If they drive environmentally-friendly vehicles, the organization shows them that it values their health and well-being, thus receiving dedicated employees.
Abe, K., Hattori, K., & Kawagoshi, Y. (2014). Trade liberalization and environmental regulation on international transportation. The Japanese Economic Review, 65(4), 468-482.
Moreno, R. B., & Zalzal, P. (2012). Greenhouse gas dissonance: The history of EPA’s regulations and the incongruity of recent legal challenges. UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, 30(1), 121-156.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2011). EPA and NHTSA adopt first-ever program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve fuel efficiency of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Web.
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2012). Regulatory impact analysis: Final rulemaking for 2017-2025 light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards and corporate average fuel economy standards. Web.