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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Electrifying Transportation

A major barrier to freeing our country from its gas addiction has been that it is prohibitively expensive to replace gas stations with a new refueling infrastructure. GO cars do not have that problem since the existing power grid means you're only a socket away from getting the juice you need to recharge. Plug-in hybrids make efficient use of the grid, since most of the refueling will be done at night, when there is the least demand for electricity.

Displacing oil as America's car fuel might seem to be the ultimate in tilting at windmills, but an electric- car future has become a realistic political possibility because of an uncommon confluence of forces. For economic, environmental, and national security reasons, a wide array of interests, ranging from local governments to the neocons, are backing the push for plug-ins.

(Even the new, improved, 'environmenatally aware' and awkwardly 'green' White House is giving voice in support of the plug-in hybrid, in what many cynics see as nothing more than a Rove inspired attempt to divert attention away from Bush's glaring unpopularity and incompetence to lead the country intelligently. See: Bush Urges Funding for Alternative Energy and President Participates in Energy Conservation & Efficiency Panel).

Yes, even such notable national security hawks as Robert McFarlane, Frank Gaffney, and James Woolsey have launched a drive they call "Set America Free" to get our country off oil. Citing shrinking supplies, rising demand, and higher costs of oil that mostly comes from regions of the world hostile to the U.S., the neocons are hot behind a four-year crash program to slash oil consumption drastically. The centerpiece of their plan is to provide governmental incentives and mandates for the mass marketing of flexiblefuel plug-in vehicles.

Both private utilities and public power plants are enthusiastic plugin hybrid backers (for the obvious reason that transportation would be a massive new market for their product). Add in NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and other environmental groups, state and local governments, renewable energy advocates, urban planners, entrepreneurs, health groups, and others—and the impossible becomes possible.

The City of Austin has been in the forefront of this burgeoning grassroots movement. Last September, the council okayed a "Gas Optional Vehicle Incentive Program." It will offer $1,000 rebates to the first 1,000 Austin buyers of plug-ins, promote such vehicles to local businesses, commit the city to purchasing plug-ins for its fleet, work with other cities with municipally owned utilities, and encourage America's 50 largest cities to adopt a similar incentive program.

"The road to a clean-car future will be bumpy, with plenty of false starts, roadblocks, wrong turns, and dead ends. It will be a longer, more circuitous journey than anyone cares to take. But the alternative is paralysis, to stay stuck where we are. And where we are today isn't anywhere we want to remain."

Two Steps Forward - Hybrids and Cleaner Vehicles: No Good Car Goes Unpunished

A City in Texas Starts Smart-Energy Driving - Hightower LowDown

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Oilcoholics - Time for a Major Oil Change?

America's dependence on fossil fuels and the impact of over consumption has never been more apparent than it is today.

The extent to which the world's largest and arguably most destructive, industry influences and dictates policy and politics--particularly in the United States today--is what is called PetroPolitics. Our collective addiction to oil is at the root of at least six fundamental issues facing our nation, and our planet, today: corporate-driven globalization, global warming, poverty, war, terrorism, and the undue influence of money on the political process.

"Addicted to Oil": How Can U.S. Fulfill Bush Pledge? - The U.S. imports approximately 60 percent of its oil, but relatively little comes from the Middle East. More from National Geographic News.

Bush Pushes for Alternative Energy - Good Morning America aired news on February 21, 2006 of Chairman Bush speaking about alternative energy, and additionally, 100 MPG plug-in hybrid electric cars. View this clip at (Requires latest version of Apple QuickTime) Download this file (4MB)

'Addiction to oil' cure has a long way to go - The real driver of change is cost, said California Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Alan Lloyd. The price of oil on the international market is way up and out of U.S. control. More at

Oil independence is possible, but does America want it bad enough? - President Bush's State of the Union pledge to end America's oil "addiction" and his tour of emerging energy technology centers have touched off a national debate on how to achieve energy independence. There are ways to break America's oil addiction, experts say, but it won't be easy. Cures include stricter conservation, higher fuel-economy standards, alternative fuels made from common crops and next-generation batteries for hybrid cars that could get more than 100 mpg. More at

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Austin Leads Charge for Plug-in Hybrids

Municipal leaders in Texas' capital city, Austin, announced the formation of a new coalition of city governments and electric utilities united to lobby automakers to step up production of a new breed of plug-in hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles. These new vehicles would allow drivers to charge up their batteries via wall sockets overnight and make their entire round trip commutes to work the next day using only electricity--and no gas whatsoever.
Go to this article
2006 - The Year of the Plug-In Hybrid? - The EAA (Electric Auto Association) honors four entrepreneurs for major contributions to the commercialization of plug-in hybrids and electric drive technology. This technology is an exciting prospect - to bring electric drive technology to a mass market. More here

Bush lacks energy on energy

The State of Energy: "President Bush devoted two minutes and 15 seconds of his State of the Union speech to energy independence. It was hardly the bold signal we've been waiting for through years of global warming and deadly struggles in the Middle East, where everything takes place in the context of what Mr. Bush rightly called our 'addiction' to imported oil.

Bush's remarks were woefully insufficient. The country's future economic and national security will depend on whether Americans can control their enormous appetite for fossil fuels. This is not a matter to be lumped in a laundry list of other initiatives during a once-a-year speech to Congress. It is the key to everything else.

If Mr. Bush wants his final years in office to mean more than a struggle to re-spin failed policies and cement bad initiatives into permanent law, this is the place where he needs to take his stand. And he must do it with far more force and passion than he did last night."

source: The State of Energy - New York Times

L.A. Times Editorial - The Cost of Silence

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