AUDIO (9:55) | Feds revamp stance on idling after meeting with drive-thru group | Tim Hortons Greenwash

CBC AUDIO.

In case you missed it the first time.

We are sending this out as there are many new councillors across the country that have recently taken on this issue.

This strategy of “manufacturing scientific uncertainty” comes directly from the industry’s denialism playbook. The industry invests big money for public relations campaign to raise doubts about the increasingly definitive scientific evidence. They realize that if you could argue about the science, then you can stop municipalities from trying to address the problem. If the new ‘science’ which is bought and paid by industry doesn’t work, they fall back on the argument of ‘choice’ – whatever the risk to society, it the citizens right to do so. This is just another example of industry’s scientific consultants who specialize in product defense. Not unlike tobacco, oil and climate change. Corporate spin experts have recognized that manufacturing doubt works and if they do it well they can stop government legislation, or at least slow them down for years. This is a growing trend that disingenuously demands proof over precaution in the realm of public health.

AUDIO: Reporter Giacomo Panico discusses the details on CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning

http://cbc.ca/ottawa/media/audio/ottawamorning/20080811drive.ram

Feds revamp stance on idling after meeting with drive-thru group

Last Updated: Monday, August 11, 2008 | 11:35 AM ET

CBC News

A federal government website that highlights the negative health and environmental effects of idling your engine has revamped its message after meeting with a group representing drive-thru restaurants.

‘It’s gonna make it harder for every city politician to make the argument that we need to have restrictive legislation on idling.’— Ottawa Coun. Clive Doucet

The “Idle-Free Zone,” a website managed by Natural Resources Canada’s office of energy efficiency, was removed for review following a meeting with the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association. A revised version was posted five months later, on July 22, that:

  • Advises drivers to shut off their engines after 60 seconds of idling; the previous version advocated turning engines off after 10 seconds.
  • Does not refer to 5,000 premature deaths annually in Canada linked to air pollution, as the previous version did, and no longer includes posters bearing images such as a girl choking and slogans such as “Idling is killing our environment.”

The website says its purpose is to help communities and environmental groups stop engine idling.

Carol Buckley, director general of the office of energy efficiency, confirmed that the restaurant association met with Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn on Feb. 7.

According to Lunn’s spokeswoman, Louise Girouard, no one from the office of energy efficiency attended the meeting. Girouard confirmed that an e-mail was sent from Lunn’s office on Feb. 8 asking the site to be taken down.

Buckley said the site was temporarily removed because the office didn’t want to leave any misleading information online while it was being revised.

“We wanted to make sure that the website reflected all of the latest data and information that was available about this topic,” she said, adding that in the end the changes were “not really significant.”

The change to the recommended amount of idling time was made because of access to new research taking into account the wear and tear on a car’s battery and starter caused by shutting off and restarting the engine, she said. Previously, the site said such wear and tear was minimal.

The new site now also refers readers to Health Canada instead of detailing the health impacts of idling because Natural Resources felt that wasn’t really their jurisdiction and they wanted to focus on the effects on climate change, Buckley added.

“I think the emphasis in the earlier text was a little strong. Today’s vehicles are more efficient when it comes to smog emissions,” she said.

Site ‘lacks balance’: restaurant group

Joyce Reynolds, executive vice-president for government affairs for the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said the group corresponded with a number of government officials at various levels about the website, which was used by many municipalities to develop their own anti-idling bylaws.

‘What I would like to see is that Natural Resources Canada put the same amount of emphasis on these other driving behaviours that they do on idling.’— Joyce Reynolds, Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association

“Our concern is that municipal decision-making must be based on facts and scientific evidence,” she said. “And we were seeing some municipalities that were focusing on the health impacts of idling based on information that was incorrect and misleading.”

The association argues Natural Resources Canada didn’t put enough weight on pollution caused by a puff of contaminants produced when an engine is restarted after being shut down.

Reynolds said some of that misleading information on the “Idle-Free Zone” site has now been corrected, but the site still “lacks balance.”

In particular, she said, it doesn’t deal with other driving behaviours that cause greenhouse gas and pollution emissions, such as excessive speeding, rapid acceleration and poor vehicle maintenance.

“What I would like to see is that Natural Resources Canada put the same amount of emphasis on these other driving behaviours that they do on idling,” Reynolds said.

With regards to idling, the changes to the site will have an impact on municipalities, Ottawa city Coun. Clive Doucet said.

“It’s gonna make it harder for every city politician to make the argument that we need to have restrictive legislation on idling. It’s not good news for cities anywhere,” said Doucet, who pushed hard for an anti-idling bylaw in Ottawa.

A bylaw banning idling for more than three minutes in Ottawa went into effect on Jan. 1, 2008.

With the aim of reducing pollution from idling cars, a number of cities in Canada — including London, Ont., North Vancouver and Sarnia, Ont. — are thinking about making it tougher for restaurants to build new drive-thrus.

Gordon Taylor, an engineering consultant who has done air-quality studies for Natural Resources Canada, suggested that the restaurant association could be taking another approach to deal with criticism of drive-thrus.

“I think the restaurant association should have some kind of a pro-active campaign to say, ‘Hey, if there’s a big long lineup, consider walking in the door.’ ”

http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2008/08/11/ot-drivethru-080811.html

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It’s still not okay to idle | Published August 25, 2008 in the NB Telegraph Journal

It’s still not okay to idle

By Carl Duivenvoorden

Published August 25, 2008 in the NB Telegraph Journal

Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE) is our federal government’s official body for helping Canadians save energy and money. Its website, http://www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca, has a wealth of information about everything from buying better home appliances to designing better commercial buildings.

If you’re a frequent visitor to the site, you may have noticed that longstanding guidelines for idling reduction were modified recently. But there’s something just a bit suspicious about the changes.

Old rules and new rules

For years, the OEE’s idling reduction programs have been based on the ten second rule. Its message is simple: it’s better to turn a car or light truck engine off than to let it idle for more than 10 seconds.

It’s a general guideline, so as with any such rule there are exceptions. For example, it’s not recommended that engines be shut off at traffic stoplights – they don’t always start back up when you want them to, and that can create a traffic mess. As well, it doesn’t always make sense in cold winter conditions. But overall, the ten second rule has been a great guideline for Canadians, helping us save money, fuel and the environment.

But back in February, the ten second rule suddenly disappeared from OEE’s website. In its place was a message indicating that an update was coming soon.

Six months later, the long-awaited update has finally arrived, and now it seems that it’s okay to idle longer. Has the science behind the recommendation changed – or is something else at work? A recent CBC news story suggests there’s a bit more behind our federal government’s change of heart.

Real science or science of convenience?

You see, excessive idling is starting to become socially frowned upon. It’s about time, of course – Canadians waste literally millions of liters of fuel every day through unnecessary idling. If we are truly ready to believe that the environment is worth taking care of, minimizing our idling is one of the easiest things we can do.

Much of our preventable idling takes place in drive-throughs, so fast food restaurants and coffee shops are becoming concerned that a backlash against idling might put a damper on a part of their business that clearly makes mountains of cash. If that CBC story is correct, they have been very busy behind the scenes, working to sanitize the image of their drive-throughs. That sanitization campaign has included sponsoring a study that concludes that going through the coffee shop drive-through causes no more pollution than parking. It has included publicizing those results using questionable comparisons, such as comparing chain saws (whose 2-stroke engines pollute much more by design) to vehicles in drive-throughs. And it has included pulling political strings to help the study’s conclusions become part of the government’s new recommendations.

Could the story be true? Well, here are a few indisputable facts. RWDI Air, an Ontario engineering firm, recently conducted a study on behalf of Tim Horton’s that seems to vindicate drive-throughs. The study is being widely used to defend them, including by the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA), whose membership includes most drive-through operators in Canada.

Then last February, the CRFA met with Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn, who oversees the OEE – and the ten second rule disappeared from OEE’s website within 24 hours.

I hope the CBC story is wrong, of course, and that this is all just coincidence. Just like any other Canadian, I want to believe that my government bases its recommendations to Canadians on sound science exclusively. Just imagine if Health Canada took its directives from the pharmaceutical industry. But I have to admit I’m concerned that in this case real science may have been trumped by other interests.

In the meantime, since the ten second rule remains valid in other countries, I think it’s too early to give up on it here.If you believe our environment is worth preserving, it’s still a good idea to minimize idling and avoid drive-throughs.

Carl Duivenvoorden (www.changeyourcorner.com) is a speaker, writer and green consultant living in Upper Kingsclear. His column runs every other Monday.

Tim Hortons Continues to Lead in Denialism & Greenwash Tactics in Canada

Group raises doubts over drive-thru study

December 15, 2008


RECORD STAFF
KITCHENER

Tim Hortons stands by its study of pollution from idling vehicles in drive-thrus, despite a withering critique by the city’s environment committee.

A meeting of the city’s environmental advisory committee on Thursday included a harsh analysis of the company’s study on vehicle emissions at drive-thrus.

“It is not a scientific study, it is a piece of marketing and public relations,” committee member Bob McColl said.

Tim Hortons Inc. retained Guelph-based RWDI to study pollution from vehicles waiting in drive-thru lines.

It concluded the emissions from vehicles waiting in drive-thru lines were less than from cars that had been turned off for a few minutes and then restarted.

But McColl said only five locations out of 3,000 were studied. The study also compared vehicle emissions to “everyday sources” such as a 16-horsepower snowblower and an 11-horsepower chainsaw.

McColl said such engines are rarely used, giving the comparison little relevance.

And a small sample size can have a high margin of error, McColl said.

“These are some of the shortcomings in the report. They are enough to foster skepticism in me,” McColl said.

Tim Hortons Inc. had the study done after learning that Kitchener had joined a growing list of cities that considered tighter restrictions or even outright bans on new drive-thrus.

Nick Javor, senior vice-president of corporate affairs for Tim Hortons Inc., said the RWDI study is absolutely a scientific study.

“The breadth of analysis and range of sensitivities studied deal with any concerns raised about the number of stores in the study. Also, high-volume locations at rush hours were studied,” Javor said in an e-mail.

He defended the comparisons of emissions from chainsaws and snowblowers.

“Readers need to understand the order of magnitude and scale,” Javor said. He noted the study was peer reviewed and is currently under consideration for publication in a scientific journal.

“This all suggests that the study is worthy of broader consideration,” Javor said.

The environment committee voted to pass along the RWDI study to city councillors as information.

The committee also supports changing the way drive-thrus are designed so that people do not have to walk through a line of waiting vehicles.

Tim Hortons and other quick-service restaurants will be encouraged to better promote the option of going inside rather than idling in a drive-thru.

A representative of the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel & Motel Association did not like that idea.

“Our windows at the front are how we draw customers in, so the recommendation is a little confusing,” Michelle Saunders, the association’s manager of government relations, said to the committee.

“I would simply say that drive-thrus are widely supported by the public,” Saunders said.

Alain Pinard, the interim director of planning, listened to the critique of the RWDI study, but noted that city staff do not have the expertise to wade into this field of scientific inquiry. That is best left to peer-reviewed journals, Pinard said.

City staff will watch for reactions after the study is published and exposed to more experts in the field.

Pinard called the RWDI study a good start, but said city staff need more information before public policy decisions are based on it.

“We are not experts,” Pinard said.

Some committee members were openly disappointed, having hoped for a crackdown on drive-thrus and a ban on new ones.

“We know cars pollute,” committee member Nirala Sonder said.

“We asked that there be no new drive-thrus and that has not been addressed,” Sonder said.

http://news.therecord.com/News/Local/article/458994

Opinion | Drive-thru study isn’t convincing | The Record | Kitchener

Drive-thru study isn’t convincing

December 16, 2008

Tim Hortons has become as much of an esteemed Canadian institution as any corporate entity, but the company’s environmental policy doesn’t have the same top-notch reputation.

The coffee shop chain is going to have to do better than present the type of report it released on drive-thrus if it expects both coffee drinkers and everyone else to take its commitment to the environment seriously.

Concerned about the possibility that Kitchener and other cities could set tough rules or ban drive-thrus at coffee shops, Tim Hortons commissioned a report that said if cars shift from using drive-thru lanes to parking lots they will create more, not less, pollution. The report was prepared by a consulting company, RWDI of Guelph.

At the very least, this result seems to be counter intuitive. Skeptics may feel the report’s conclusions sound like the reports issued by the tobacco industry a few decades ago that denied a link between tobacco and cancer.

Sure enough, Kitchener’s environmental committee treated the report with scathing skepticism.

“It is not a scientific study, it is a piece of marketing and public relations,” committee member Bob McColl said. He wondered not only about the small number of locations used in the study but also about some of the comparisons in the report.

It compared emissions at a drive-thru with emissions made by a 16-horsepower snowblower and an 11-horsepower chainsaw. This comparison just confuses the issue.

What snowblowers and chainsaws do or do not emit has nothing to do with the question: Does taking a vehicle through a drive-thru produce more emissions than a vehicle that stops and starts in a parking space?

Perhaps the answer depends on the length of time a vehicle spends in a drive-thru.

Tim Hortons might even argue persuasively that the amount emitted at drive-thrus is small compared to all the emissions made by all vehicles, but its current strategy makes the company appear defensive. It would be wise to have an open mind and review its entire policy.

http://news.therecord.com/Opinions/article/459371

A New RWDI Report as Commissioned by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario

This was discovered while reading a new report on Ontario’s Undervalued Water: 2007/08 Annual Report – Getting to K(No)w

Here is a report (full report is attached) presented to Gord Miller, Ontario Environmental Commissioner:

“Predicting Air Quality at Street Level – A State-of-Science Review Study – 08 April 2008 Project # W08-5129A.”

eco-2008-2008-air-quality-at-street-level-in-ontario

Guess who was contracted to do the report?  RWDI.  The same consulting group that has been waving their paper all over Canada for the TDL group (Tim Hortons) in defence of idling in drive-thrus.

Is this not the greatest contradiction one has ever seen?  From the report:

Air Quality Monitoring and Reporting in Ontario – Fostering a False Sense of Security (p. 57)

In Ontario, air pollution is a public health crisis, with thousands of premature deaths attributed to air pollution each year. To help the public reduce or modify their exposure to poor air quality, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) monitors and provides regular updates on regional ambient air quality through its on-line Air Quality Index (AQI) (see http://www.airqualityontario.com). MOE’s 40 monitoring stations measure six key air pollutants known to be harmful to human health, including ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

Unfortunately, Ontarians who rely on the government’s AQI may be lulled into a false sense of security about the quality of the air they breathe. MOE’s monitoring stations are intentionally located away from local sources of pollutants in order to provide representative information about regional average exposure to air pollutants; while MOE’s data is useful for predicting air quality on a regional scale, it does not provide information about local – “street-level” – air quality at any given location.  Current reporting of air quality by MOE based on the AQI may lead Ontarians to believe that air quality on the streets is better than it actually is.

To illustrate this concern, in the summer of 2007 the ECO asked air quality experts to monitor the air quality at street-level at a variety of locations across Ontario. The results revealed that levels of particulate matter were consistently higher at street-level sampling locations than at MOE’s equivalent AQI monitoring stations. For example, while street-level samples collected in downtown Toronto recorded concentrations of particulate matter equivalent to the AQI’s “very poor” category, MOE’s Toronto downtown AQI station reported air quality to be “good” at that time.

The ECO sees a pressing need to overhaul Ontario’s outdated and inadequate air quality monitoring and reporting program to ensure that Ontarians have the information about air quality they need to make informed decisions.

From the report:
1. INTRODUCTION

Poor air quality can cause a number of adverse health effects in humans. As summarized by Toronto Public Health (TPH, 2004), short-term exposure to pollutants commonly found in urban air can cause increases in respiratory symptoms, infections, emergency room and hospital admissions, and even premature death in some cases. Long-term exposure to air pollution can cause chronic health diseases, reduce life expectancy, and increase the risk of lung cancer (TPH, 2004; Pope, 2004; and Halton Region, 2007).

For many years, both the Canadian Federal and Ontario Provincial governments have had programs in place to advise the public of air pollution episodes. These programs make use of both air quality measurements and computer-generated forecasts. For cost reasons, air quality measurement networks tend to be limited to a small number of monitoring stations in any urban area, all located away from major local emission sources, in places such as city parks. Measurements from these sites give information on the regional average exposure to air pollutants. Similarly, computer-generated forecasts are typically resolved at horizontal scales of several kilometres, because of limitations in computing power, and only provide information on regional average exposure.

These measurement and forecast systems have proven useful to advise the public about large scale smog events, but do not deal with public exposure to pollutants at a local or street level. Large numbers of people in urban centres are exposed, at least for parts of their day, to air pollution at street level where vehicle emissions may be trapped in the canyon created by large buildings on either side. As such, the exposure to pollutants at street level is typically very different from the regional average exposure measured at monitoring stations and predicted by computer models.

Due to the human, environmental and economic costs associated with poor air quality, the Environment Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) is interested in knowing how the current air quality forecasting programs in Ontario and the rest of Canada compare to those of other jurisdictions and to the state-of-the-science, in terms of representing the true air pollution exposure of urban populations. This information will allow the ECO to assess whether these programs are adequate for informing the public concerning exposure to poor air quality in Ontario.

To assist with this initiative, the ECO retained RWDI AIR Inc. to perform the following tasks.

• Review and summarize current air quality forecasting and ambient monitoring initiatives being implemented by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Environment Canada. Also, research and briefly summarize operational air quality forecasting and ambient monitoring initiatives used in other national and international jurisdictions.

• Review and summarize the current state-of-the-science for systems designed to predict air pollutant concentrations at street level, to gain an appreciation for what is currently possible and where the science is headed in the future. Predicting Air Quality at Street Level – A State-of-Science Review Study – 08 April 2008 Page 2 Project # W08-5129A

• Prepare a ‘Lay Language’ report (this report). Although the report contains some technical content, the focus is on presenting the information in brief and general terms.

• At a workshop with the ECO, present the findings from this study and explore the approaches being used in Ontario (and Canada as a whole) in light of operational modelling and monitoring initiatives in other jurisdictions and the current state-of-the science. Incorporate into a final report the key issues discussed during the workshop and a list of recommendations for “next steps’.

http://www.eco.on.ca/eng/index.php/pubs/eco-publications/2007-08-AR.php

The infamous Tim Hortons as featured in the RWDI report | A picture is most definetly worth a thousand words

Here we have it:  Indisputable proof that the Tim Horton’s on Bank Street in Ottawa that does not have a drive-thru will emit less GHG emissions per vehicle visit than a restaurant with an active drive-thru. What better proof that we don’t need drive thrus (more seriously, the photos just demonstrate the importance of doing a full temporal and seasonal assessment of restaurant use). Imagine the statistical evidence if the RWDI study looked at emissions on weekends late afternoon. We also noticed that Bank has street parking from 7:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. (or 3:00 p.m.) which pretty well restricts traffic to two lanes (one lane each way). Imagine if you are waiting 8 minutes trying to get into the crowded parking lot, holding up traffic in Ottawa South. While Tim Hortons may suggest that this just provides further evidence that drive-thrus are ‘good for climate change’, we counter with the view that a car dependent culture is the root cause of the problem, and that we need more parking or improved access by more sustainable alternatives to the Single Occupant Vehicle when locating Tim Horton restaurants.

Taken on July 19th, 2008 at 5:30 p.m.

Greenwash makes its way to green Guelph …

http://greenguelph.wordpress.com/2008/06/11/to-idle-or-not-to-idle-that-it-the-question/

A few months ago I blogged about drive through’s here in Guelph. It was one of the most looked at blogs on my site for some time. Our mayor has also started to discuss this. It’s an interesting topic for debate.

As I said in my previuos blog, I use them only if I feel I have to. I have the kids in my car, I can see that I’m the only one in line etc…

Environmentalists are usually very quick to denounce these drive throughs and to quickly judge those that use them.

I will admit that I have curbed the use of them myself over the last year.

Anyways, check out these findings to help launch us into another debate about those drive through’s!

Every day, millions of Canadians enjoy the convenience and safety of drive-through restaurant service.  Parents with infants, people with mobility challenges, seniors…for these groups the drive-through is a vital service.  It’s also a safe option for anyone traveling at night or in bad weather.

Some people are concerned about the environmental impact of drive-throughs and want to see them banned or restricted.  But the facts tell a very different – and perhaps surprising – story:  Drive throughs are an environmentally responsible option for restaurant customers.

Five Facts About Drive-throughs

  1. A restaurant with a drive-through creates fewer smog pollutants and greenhouse gases than a comparable restaurant with a parking lot and no drive through.  (Source:  RWDI Air Inc.)
  2. When cars idle for 10 seconds to 10 minutes they create the same or fewer emissions compared to shutting down the engine and restarting it.  (Source:  GW Taylor Consulting for Natural Resources Canada)
  3. Emissions created at drive-throughs are very small in relation to other common emissions sources.  During a peak hour, smog pollutant emissions from vehicles using a busy drive-through are about the same as a single chain saw operating for one hour.  (Source:  RWDI Air Inc.)
  4. Drive-throughs generate little in the way of new traffic.  Most people use drive-throughs as a stop-off on trips they’re already taking.
  5. With today’s modern engines, drivers are better off idling their engines at the drive-through than turning the engine off and on again.  (Source:  Automotive expert Doug Bethune)

Restaurant operators work closely with municipalities across the country to design and run drive-throughs that respect and meet the needs of each community.  They continually strive to reduce service times and improve drive-through locations.

Related Information

There are several scientific studies and expert commentary on the issues of idling and  drive-throughs.  The findings may surprise you:

1. Is it better to shut off my engine and restart it, or idle the car for a few minutes? This study for Natural Resources Canada finds that idling for anywhere from 10 seconds to 10 minutes creates the same or slightly lower emissions than stopping and restarting your car engine:

Research Report — Review of the Incidence, Energy Use and Costs of Passenger Vehicle Idling, Final Report (March 2003).  Prepared for Office of Energy Efficiency, Natural Resources Canada.  Prepared by GW Taylor Consulting, Woodlawn, ON
Download PDF

2. Are anti-idling laws really better for the environment? This expert warns of the unintended consequences:

CBC Radio Interview – Shelagh Rogers speaks with automotive expert Doug Bethune about idling cars.
Read transcript (PDF)

3. What is the environmental impact of drive-through bans? This 1997 report from Sierra Research found that drive-through bans for air quality purposes are counterproductive and may actually result in higher emissions.

Research Summary — An Analysis of the Effect on Emissions of Allowing Drive-Thru Service Lanes (Nov. 1997). Conducted by Sierra Research, Sacramento, CA, for the California Business Properties Association.

Response to the drive through’s – What do you think?

Scott said,

June 26, 2008 @ 8:32 pm

You really should disclose the fact that your source for this information is the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association. In fact, you appear to have copied verbatim an entire page from CRFA’s web site: http://www.crfa.ca/news/bytopic/drivethroughs.asp.

I hardly think CRFA is an honest broker in this debate. I think you do your readers a disservice by not disclosing the source and by not pointing out that CRFA has an obvious self-interest in this issue.

June 19, 2008 · Filed under Green Guelph

Hi. I came across your posting below; may I try to shed a bit more light on the issue of drive throughs and emissions?

Re the five facts, I think there’s more to the story. Here are a few thoughts:
1. There is a difference between smog forming and greenhouse gas emissions. Most people don’t know that, or that cars produce both. Modern cars produce very low levels of smog forming emissions thanks to their catalytic converters. However, greenhouse gas production is directly proportional to fuel burned. If you burn 1 litre of fuel, you produce 2.4 KG carbon dioxide, period. So an engine that is running is always producing greenhouse gas emissions, and one that is shut off is not. To the point raised in #1: I’m guessing that the study is misquoted, and that only the smog forming emissions are equal whether you park and shut off an engine or use a drive through (again, mainly because smog forming emissions are such a controllable part of the emissions of a new car). It’s worth noting that the RWDI Air study was commissioned by Tim Horton’s, and isn’t public. I don’t know about you, but I’m always uneasy about that type of research scenario.

2. This is clearly a reference to smog forming emissions, not greenhouse gas emissions, but it doesn’t indicate that.

3. I think the logic of the first sentence is shaky: since so much fuel is used in regular traffic, it’s okay to burn a bit more in drive throughs? Would that mean because a ship spilled a million gallons of oil in the ocean, it’s okay for me to dump a hundred gallons in? As to the second statement, a chain saw is hardly a fair comparison to a modern car. Chain saws have 2 stroke engines that have oil mixed into their gas, which then burns with the gas producing a lot of smog forming emissions. They are, unfortunately, stinky polluters by design. Cars, with their catalytic converters, have virtually no smog forming emissions. The good thing, is that this statement does specify it’s referring to smog forming emissions. The bad thing is that it doesn’t consider greenhouse gas emissions.

4. I expect this is true, except maybe on weekends. But an engine that is running in a drive through always produces more greenhouse gases than an engine that is shut off in the parking lot.

5. I expect it’s true that if one makes the choice to go through a drive through, it’s probably not good for the engine to be shut off and started every time the line advances. That could add up to a lot of starts really quickly, and I’m thinking intuitively that’s probably not a good policy. But I’d suggest that, rather than choosing between idling through the drive through or starting and stopping the engine through the drive through, the more important choice is to not take the drive through in the first place.

It’s also interesting to note that most of the text in this blog post is copied verbatim from the website of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association – the group that represents all those drive through restaurants. Again, I think a rational person needs to wonder about the credibility of information that comes from a source with a clear vested interest. Try Googling “An Analysis of the Effect on Emissions of Allowing Drive-Thru Service Lanes” (in quotation marks), the title of one of the studies cited, and see how many hits you get.

I hope these thoughts are helpful in getting to the bottom of the drive through issue. Unfortunately, because drive throughs are such a formidable revenue stream for restaurants, they are fiercely defended.

Best regards,

Carl