Oil & Democracy: A Costly Mix
We are torn here in the US.
We need the oil, and we need to support democratizing movements in the world. And these days, for the right reasons, these two goals are once again at odds.
The precarious balance between the two is getting more so. It won’t get better.
In the last Presidential election the alarmingly high price of oil was framed as energy security, but it’s not about energy. We have plenty of energy in gas and coal. And nuclear and solar and wind. Plenty or energy.
Oil is special because we don’t have easy substitutes at the moment. Liquid fuel is what we run on today. It is technically possible to convert most transportation to alternates, notably natural gas, then electric. But that is happening glacially. (more…)
Happy Earth Day! Please feel free to visit my company’s store and shop for as many home energy efficiency products as your credit card can handle! Spend! Buy! And while my company doesn’t sell eco-rubbers we do sell stuff.
By god, we would like to make money doing it.
Lots, if possible.
Apparently I should feel bad about this.
In today’s New York Times, a front page article raises the specter of how business has crept in to Earth Day.
Earth Day Forged from Idealism and a Vision for the Future
In 1970 when Earth Day was started 40 years ago, there were lots of things that were bad, and pretty much everything in “the establishment” would have been included. (more…)
Funding for Federal and State highway maintenance mostly comes from gas taxes today. But this started posing a problem last summer when gas prices were high and fewer people were driving, and continues now when fewer people are driving because of other economic reasons. And the average fuel efficiency of vehicles used has improved.
The problem is that less gas purchased means less revenues to maintain roads.
So both states and federal agencies are considering a new way of raising revenues, based on miles driven. Some are even adding factors like the weight of the vehicle and where the vehicle is driven to the formula. (more…)
Friday, it appears that some additional congressional talking was done about CAFE standards, leading glacially towards a bill that seems to be more likely to pass, despite the car companies’ claims of how badly it would harm their businesses. My observation is that they seem to be more culpable themselves of harming their businesses than any past or present government actions have ever been. (more…)
A while back, I was dismayed by the incredibly lame increases in light “truck” corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards put forward by the Bush administration’s Environmental Plundering Agency (EPA). Later, Environmental Defense helped win a victory in California courts. Today, another big victory, this time lead by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NDRC).
Today, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected the Bush administration’s weak fuel economy standard for sport-utility vehicles and other light-duty trucks. The court upbraided the administration for setting zero value on reducing the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming when setting fuel economy standards. The court also faulted the administration for leaving a gaping loophole that has allowed auto manufacturers to classify passenger cars as trucks subject to weaker fuel economy standards.
Go NRDC and all the others that made this happen. In your face, EPA!
Well folks, no more hiding behind illusions. The EPA has updated the MPG estimates that all vehicles sold in the US are required to display on their sticker. The good news is that these estimates are more realistic, because they account for things like lower fuel economy in cold weather. They also account for things like air conditioner usage, higher speeds on roads (check it out: the site shows an image of an 80 MPH speed limit sign) and faster acceleration — things that have changed since the standards were introduced in, probably 1980 or so? (more…)
This US Government Fuel Economy site offers some interesting information about fuel economy, as well as overall emissions, which are not the same thing. While less fuel means less emissions, different engines burn more or less cleanly. Check it out.