Cheers, protests as German court lets cities ban diesel cars

Published: Tuesday, February 27, 2018 @ 11:45 AM
Updated: Tuesday, February 27, 2018 @ 11:44 AM

            An environment activist stands in front of the Federal Administrative Court prior to a trial in Leipzig, Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. The words read: 'Diesel emissions kill'. The German court ruled Tuesday that cities can impose driving bans on diesel cars to combat air pollution, a decision that could affect millions of drivers and the country's powerful auto industry. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)
An environment activist stands in front of the Federal Administrative Court prior to a trial in Leipzig, Germany, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. The words read: 'Diesel emissions kill'. The German court ruled Tuesday that cities can impose driving bans on diesel cars to combat air pollution, a decision that could affect millions of drivers and the country's powerful auto industry. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

Handing environmentalists a landmark victory, a German court ruled Tuesday that cities can ban diesel cars and trucks to combat air pollution, a decision with far-reaching and costly implications in the country where the diesel engine was invented in the 1890s.

The ruling by the Federal Administrative Court stirred fears from motorists, auto dealers and other businesses worried about the financial impact. And Chancellor Angela Merkel's government scrambled to reassure drivers it would seek to prevent such drastic measures by pushing other ways to reduce urban pollution.

Diesel automobiles are a popular alternative to gasoline-powered ones in Germany, with about 9 million diesel cars and several million trucks, buses and other vehicles affected by the ruling.

Overall, 1 in 3 passenger cars in Germany, home to such automakers as Daimler, Volkswagen and BMW, are diesel-powered, though the cleanest, most modern models would probably still be allowed even if cities decided on a ban.

"It's a great day for clean air in Germany," said Juergen Resch, head of the group Environmental Action Germany, which had sued dozens of German cities for failing to meet legally binding emissions limits.

While diesel cars produce less carbon dioxide and tend to get better mileage than gas-powered vehicles, they emit higher levels of nitrogen oxides, or NOx, contributing to respiratory illnesses and 6,000 deaths annually, according to government figures.

Two German states had appealed lower court decisions that suggested bans on particularly dirty diesel cars would be effective. Germany's highest administrative court rejected that appeal Tuesday, effectively instructing two cities at the center of the case — Stuttgart and Duesseldorf — to consider bans as part of their clean air plans.

What comes next is an open question.

It's not clear whether cities will actually move to ban diesels. And if they do so, it remains to be seen whether automakers will be forced to upgrade exhaust and software systems or buy back vehicles; if the government will offer consumers incentives; or if owners will be left on their own, forced to bear the costs.

The Leipzig-based administrative court said cities won't be required to compensate drivers for being unable to use their diesel cars.

Speaking on behalf of automakers, Matthias Wissmann, president of the German Association of the Automotive Industry, stressed that the government could ease the uncertainty by not leaving it to cities to decide on a case-by-case basis.

"We hope it comes to sensible national regulations," he said.

European cities considering diesel bans like Copenhagen and Paris will be watching how the situation plays out in Germany as they make their own decisions.

Jeff Schuster, an analyst with the consulting firm LMC Automotive near Detroit, said diesel bans could spread to other polluted European cities. But he said the market in Europe, China and elsewhere was already headed in that direction because of the big push toward electric vehicles and the damage done by the Volkswagen diesel-emissions cheating scandal.

Diesels make up a smaller part of the American auto market, and so any bans in Europe would have little effect on the U.S., Schuster said. For the past two years in the U.S., only 2.7 percent of registered vehicles were diesel, according to Kelley Blue Book.

New diesel car sales in Germany were already declining in anticipation of the decision, and also because of the VW scandal. Used-car dealers fretted about what the ruling will mean for the vehicles on their lots.

"The prices as well as the demand are going down rapidly," said Marcel del Arbol, owner of R&M used car dealership in Frankfurt. "What happened today will bring the prices down even more.

German car companies dipped on the stock market following the ruling but mostly recovered, with Volkswagen down 0.9 percent at the end of the day, BMW down 0.06 percent and Daimler up 0.2 percent.

Analysts said the ruling might actually prove to be a boon for the economy if drivers choose to upgrade their engines or buy new models.

Merkel sought to downplay the prospect of widespread diesel driving bans, suggesting that many of the 70 German cities that regularly exceed pollution limits might be able to cut harmful emissions with other measures such as software upgrades in vehicles and converting bus and taxi fleets to electric power.

Experts, however, questioned whether bans can be avoided and accused the German government of ignoring the health problems caused by diesel for too long.

Fritz Kuhn, the Green Party mayor of Stuttgart, home to automakers Daimler and Porsche, accused the government of leaving it to cities to clean up the mess by failing to provide a nationwide solution.

Political leaders stressed that diesel owners shouldn't have to shoulder the full burden of a ban.

"The auto industry that caused the harmful emissions has to upgrade diesel engines at its expense," said Kai Wegner, a lawmaker who speaks for Merkel's party on urban issues.

The ruling alarmed groups representing small and medium-size companies. Diesels — first developed by Rudolf Diesel in Augsburg over a century ago — are a mainstay of many company fleets and are widely used by taxi companies and delivery services.

Berlin's Chamber of Commerce said companies in the capital would have to spend 240 million euros ($295 million) to replace their fleets if diesel cars were banned — enough to drive many out of business.


Associated Press writers Kerstin Sopke in Leipzig, Christoph Noelting in Frankfurt and Tom Krisher in Detroit contributed to this report.

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Firefighters put out car fire in Dayton

Published: Sunday, March 18, 2018 @ 4:49 AM

Dayton police and fire responded to calls of a car fire in the parking lot of Dayton Supply and Tool Sunday.

The call came in around 3:40 a.m. at the location of 140 N. Keowee St. in Dayton.

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The driver of the vehicle was the only one involved and not injured.

The cause of the fire was not known.

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Powerball-winning ticket worth $457M sold in Pennsylvania

Published: Sunday, March 18, 2018 @ 6:56 AM

Tips on Winning the Lottery

Do you live in Pennsylvania? You might be $457 million richer.

According to the Powerball lottery, a single ticket sold in Pennsylvania matched all five numbers and the Powerball to win Saturday's massive jackpot, a $273.9 million cash value. 

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The winning numbers were 22-57-59-60-66 with Powerball 7.

If you missed out on Saturday's prize, you have another chance to win big in Tuesday's $377 million Mega Millions drawing.

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Multiple shots fired at MJs Fish and Chips in Dayton

Published: Sunday, March 18, 2018 @ 12:08 AM

The owner of MJ’s Fish and Chips arrived Saturday to find that someone fired multiple shots into the building.

Surveillance footage from the restaurant at 1600 W. Riverview Ave. showed that just after 1 a.m. a maroon small sport-utility vehicle, possibly a Kia Sportage, slowly drove south in the wrong direction of Paul Laurence Dunbar Avenue. The SUV briefly paused in front of the store before leaving the area.

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At 1:45 a.m., Dayton police officers are seen checking the area after someone reported hearing several shots fired.

Police discovered 11 bullet holes: six in the window to the west of the doorway; three in the sign above the door; and two in the door.

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Sunshine today, rain and snow later this week

Published: Sunday, March 18, 2018 @ 12:35 AM

Sunshine returns Sunday in the Dayton area, with the chance for rain and snow returning later in the week.

Mostly sunny skies are expected today, which will be a nice day with highs in the lower 50s, Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar said.

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  • Sunny and nice today
  • Rain returns Monday evening
  • Chance for snow Monday night/early Tuesday

>>Live Doppler 7 Interactive Radar


Tonight: A few more clouds are expected overnight as temperatures drop into the lower 30s.

Monday: Clouds will increase through the day with highs in the lower to middle 50s. The chance for rain returns in the evening, and with temperatures falling past sunset, a few wet flakes may mix in as well.

>>County-by-County Forecast 

Tuesday: A few lingering snow showers or a wintry mix will be possible early. Mostly cloudy skies are expected with highs in the lower to middle 40s.

Wednesday: The chance for any snow looks small, but can’t be ruled out. It’ll be a cold day with highs in the upper 30s.

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Thursday: Partly sunny skies are expected with highs in the lower 40s.

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