The Spooky Truth About the 2007 Energy Bill — And How You Can Make a Difference

The energy bill under debate currently has the possibility to make some major changes in this countries environmental policy.

What’s in the 2007 Energy Bill?

The standards that are set up by the bill for fuel efficiency and renewable electricity standards are sufficiently aggressive to make a big difference in out planet’s future. Some of the major elements include a call for 15% renewable electricity standard by 2020 which would guarantee the growth of renewable, clean energy and increase the number of jobs in this environmentally friendly sector of the economy.

What about Gas Mileage Standards?

Another key factor in the bill is the Senate proposed 35 mpg fuel efficiency standard (also by 2020) which several lobbyists including the Auto Alliance are trying to curtail. These groups want to modify the bill to demand only a standard of only 23mpg fuel efficiency by 2022. This may seem like a paltry change but over time the numbers add up.

The Pew Campaign for Fuel Efficiency’s Halloween Campaign

The Pew Campaign for Fuel Efficiency is sending a wake up call to Congress this Halloween in the shape of trick or treat bags filled with “spooky facts”. One of these facts is that the amount of barrels of oil saved per day under the auto lobby proposal will be 500,000 whereas the Senate’s fuel economy compromise will save 1.2 million. (Other “spooky facts” as well as pictures of the Congressional Halloween Outreach packets are available here: http://smnr.us/thespookytruth/).

What YOU Can Do

Sign the petition!

The real fact is that this bill has a chance if Congress just stands firm in favor of the environment against the pressures of outside forces. I believe that the American people are growing more aware of the problems of climate change, and limited natural resources everyday and this country’s environmental policy should reflect this.

We can all do a little to help by making sure our representatives know how we feel. The petition to support this energy bill is available at: http://www.energybill2007.org. Please take a moment to help these standards get passed before enjoying the rest of your Halloween!

Dani Sevilla is a student activist working with a coalition to ensure that the 2007 energy bill represents a real change for the better in this country’s environmental future.

Next Actions:

Love to travel? Here’s how to offset your personal impact.

Love to travel? Now you can offset your carbon impact.

While it’s arguable that the best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to simply consume less, there are many things that people just don’t want to give up. The ability to travel is one of them.

But if you’re going to travel, how do you do so in the most sustainable way? One way is to purchase carbon credits to offset the amount of CO2 your trip generates.

Sustainable Travel International
can help you do this. Their carbon calculator will help you determine how much carbon your trip will generate, then they allow you to directly purchase carbon offsets to turn your tip into one that’s net carbon free.

For example, I used their calculator to determine that a round trip air flight between San Francisco to Boston generates almost 2 tons of carbon emissions for a single passenger (I had no way to verify this — maybe one of our readers can help out?). That was for airfare only, but the calculator lets you add hotel, auto travel and other activities as well.

The cost to offset just the airfare I calculated was about $29 USD.

If you work for a company, it may be appropriate to forward this post to the person in charge of travel at your company with the suggestion that the company consider offsetting the corporate travel it requires its employees to undertake. If your job is making you travel, it’s arguable that they should offer to offset the carbon impact of your trip.

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What is Government’s Role?

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A sign stating it is law to not allow your car motor to idle while stopped

This sign is from the city of Vancouver in British Columbia and it’s purpose is to inform motorists that letting their cars idle is against the law and punishable by a fine of $50 to $100.

Vancouver’s “Motor Vehicle Noise and Emission Abatement By-Law No. 9344″ [PDF] went into effect in Spring of this year after being adopted in July, 2006.

Here are some details:

“2.7 A person must not cause or permit a motor vehicle to idle:
(a) for more than three consecutive minutes in a 60 minute period; or
(b) while unattended and unlocked.

The City’s stated goals for the bylaw are to:

  • protect air quality
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • reduce urban noise
  • reduce vehicle theft
  • save money on fuel.



The website Trans-Talk has details on how it’s been going, along with some good reference information other towns in Canada (and even some in the US) that have similar laws.

What do you think? Should we push to change our laws to force behaviors that are good for the environment? Or should government stay off our backs and allow people to do what they want?

Next Actions:

Choices: Drive? or Bike?

This is the first post of an ongoing feature here at 21st Century Citizen. It’s called ‘Choices’ and it’s purpose is to present a simple, values-based choice and generate discussion.

It’s also intended to make you think a bit and examine the reasons why you make the choices you make. Here we go with our first installment.

[Note: I'm using pictures from flickr below -- clicking on them will take you to the image's page in Flickr.]

Choice: Drive? Or Bike?



Drive?



Or Bike?

This question may not be as simple as it seems.For example, if you have a long commute from your home and need to drive, well — you could use a bike if you changed jobs and worked closer to home.

So, then what if you could find a job close enough to home? Then would you use a bike?

If it seems impossible to get a job close to home, then how about a job where you work from home?

If you got a job where you worked from home, then you wouldn’t need to drive to commute. Then would you switch to using a bike?

I know it’s impossible for a lot of people to work from home — if you’re a Fireman or a Nurse, fires and sick people don’t usually come to you, so it’s impractical. But for many jobs, it would be possible. In fact, if gas were $10 a gallon, it might turn into a necessity — many people just wouldn’t be able to afford to drive to work and back.

Now what about buying groceries? Would you be willing to ride the bike to get food? Why not?

Again, for some it’s impractical — but maybe not as impractical as you’d think. For example, many people in large cities — like New York City — don’t own cars. They shop a little bit at a time or take a cab. You could do that on a bike in many towns.

In some cases, the roads may not be safe for bikes — for example, here in New Hampshire there aren’t bike lanes everywhere.

Also, for many of us the large grocery stores we shop at are too far to ride a bike.

But what if bike lanes were required by law on all busy roads? Would that make a difference? If so — then shouldn’t we be asking our local governments to adopt rules that require bike lanes? We don’t do this now because we’re used to driving cars.

And if more people road bikes, I’ll bet that local people would open stores up to serve them. Local stores used to be everywhere, in fact, until the big chains put them out of business. If there were local shoppers for them, they’d open back up. Probably pretty quickly too.

So — what do you choose here? Don’t mke the choice you think is ‘appropriate’, tell the truth. And tell us what would have to change to make you use a bike — maybe if we talk about the reasons why we don’t use bikes, it will give us ideas as to what we need to change so more people do.

And if you use a bike now, then tell us how you do it and how practical it is. What problems do you run into? What works well?

Feel free to comment. And thanks for reading!

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