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When I first read about this, I assumed it had to be a joke. But according to David Wiegel at Slate, the phenomenon of "rolling coal" is real.
For as little as $500, anyone with a diesel truck and a dream can install a smoke stack and the equipment that lets a driver “trick the engine” into needing more fuel. The result is a burst of black smoke that doubles as a political or cultural statement—a protest against the EPA, a ritual shaming of hybrid “rice burners,” and a stellar source of truck memes.
Yes, that's right. Conservatives are actively harming the environment, by wasting more fuel in their trucks and emitting black smoke. Just to piss off Obama, the EPA and liberals.

Some have even labeled their smokestacks "Prius repellent," and make it a sport to emit smoke whenever some weenie liberal is driving behind them with an energy-saving car.

Wiegel goes on to explain that this form of conservative protest is no different from the Open Carry Texas protesters who walk into restaurants with AK-47's.
The liberals seem a little surprised that conspicuous consumption—waste, even—could be a method of protest. They shouldn’t be. The motivation for political coal rolling is roughly the same one that gets people buying guns and ammo after mass shootings. The expectation, every time, is that liberals will capitalize on the shootings to ban guns, so it’s time to stock up.
I disagree. A gun owner, assuming they properly lock up and store their weapons, keep it away from unsuspecting children and the mentally ill, are theoretically not hurting anyone—it's the NRA's lobbying against any and all gun regulations whatsoever that is harmful.

Here, the coal rollers are actively polluting the environment—wasting fossil fuels that directly contribute to global warming, making the planet more painful for everyone. All to make a stupid political statement, because they hate that damn Kenyan Socialist in the White House.

Of course, they're also wasting their own money—and Wiegel reports on one "coal roller" who realized the folly of doing so.

“I talked to a guy today who was almost crying about it,” one seller told me. “He said, I only get 10-12 miles to a gallon now. Before the filter, I was getting 20 mpg, and a whole lot more horsepower.”
My only question here is, how can this be even legal? With all the environmental regulations in place to require cars to be more fuel-efficient, how can we allow car owners to get away with altering their vehicles to make them even more wasteful?

It's actively harming our planet, and it's an outrage. Maybe we can pressure the EPA to do something about it.

Conservatives do "coal-rolling" intentionally to piss off liberals. Well, mission accomplished: you pissed me off. And now I'm gonna do what I can to make this practice illegal.

UPDATE (Monday July 7th 3:50 P.M.): According to the EPA, reports Talking Points Memo, coal-rolling is illegal.

It is a violation of the [Clean Air Act] to manufacture, sell, or install a part for a motor vehicle that bypasses, defeats, or renders inoperative any emission control device. For example, computer software that alters diesel fuel injection timing is a defeat device. Defeat devices, which are often sold to enhance engine performance, work by disabling a vehicle's emission controls, causing air pollution. As a result of EPA enforcement, some of the largest manufacturers of defeat devices have agreed to pay penalties and stop the sale of defeat devices.
There's a lot more at the EPA website. Still not sure what the EPA is gonna do about it, though.
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