Category Archives: energy efficiency

What to do about gas prices?

americansunitedforchange.org

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Americans United for Change has launched a campaign to Free Our Oil! While an interesting response to the Republican focus on lying to support drilling, I challenged this campaign, stating that this effort supports a quite dangerous framing of the problems and solutions.

If we make this just about gas prices, we are caught into a very dangerous framing. “Lowering” gas prices gets people thinking back to cheaper energy unit costs days. We need people, the nation thinking about enery as a system, as a “cost to own” rather than “cost to buy”. We (the nation) should foster upfront investment (help it) that will lower total “cost to own” by reducing wasteful use of polluting energy. While difficult in a robocall, every single message (I would argue) should avoid getting captured in messaging that fosters thinking that we can go back to days of cheaper gasoline. Over the long term (and likely short term), it isn’t going to happen.

In response, I was asked the following question:

Say, for example, you were on TV today as a representative of the Democratic Party. The interviewer asks, “A, what is the Democratic Party doing in Congress to help lower oil/gas costs for Americans who are hurting?” What’s your answer?

The GOP has an answer – gas tax holiday and drilling offshore. You and I know that these are two options that won’t do anything significant in the short-term, and we they do nothing to change the culture of oil that we live in. However, they are ideas and Americans want to hear ideas, be them good or bad.

What can the Dems do right now to bring down costs, without sacrificing their long-term message of changing the way we think about oil. OR, given our foreign policy and the world as it is today. is $4/5/6/gallon just the new reality and we need to suck it up?

For my off-the-top of the head (basically unedited) response, follow me after the fold.
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CtB vs CtO and greening taxi fleets

A brief discussion about the economic imperatives for greening the nation’s taxi fleets. But, first, acronym definition:

  • CtB:  Cost to Buy: acquisition price, how much to purchase something
  • CtO: Cost to Own: total ownership costs, from purchase through operating to disposal

Quite simply, moving our collective mindset from CtB to CtO is a societal imperative.

But, to question of greening taxi fleets:  When it comes to these issues, while the CtB is slightly higher, the CtO figures are overwhelming for moving taxi fleets (rapidly) toward hybrids or other high-fuel efficiency vehicles.  This is something that should be happening nearly everywhere in the country. Now!!!!

Yet, obstacles exist …

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Making Energy Cents: From the Home to the Globe, and back

 

Energy has become an ever-more central part of my life: personal, intellectual, and professional. This ranges from working with the Energize America team, to serving on the Board of The Energy Consensus (a non-profit working to change the discussion of energy in DC), being trained by The Climate Project, blogging, giving lectures, writing letters to the editor and OPEDs on energy/environmental issues, advising organizations as to energy options, to efforts to foster local initiatives re renewables and energy efficiency patterned on San Francisco’s Vote Solar to advising friends/neighbors re home energy efficiency, to spending a few minutes at the end of the day (especially before weekends) turning off lights and computers in many offices at the end of the work day, to working to change the energy patterns in my own home …

RE the home: a question from a Congressional staffer in an email discussion group helped me realize something about the implications of these efforts.

Greening the SchoolHouse

Last month, to far (FAR) less attention than it merited, the House of Representatives (facing an Administration veto threat) passed the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act with $20 billion for greening public schools across the nation.

Taking aggressive action to green schools is about one of the smartest steps the nation can take, action that should go beyond bipartisanship to true unity of action as it is a win-win-win-win strategy along so many paths:

  • Save money for communities and taxpayers
  • Create employment
  • Foster capacity for ‘greening’ the nation
  • Reduce pollution loads
  • Improve health
  • Improve student performance / achievement
  • And, well, other benefits. In the face of these benefits, “The White House threatened a veto, saying it was wrong for the federal government to launch a costly new school-building program.”
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    Send colleagues to Energy Smart Austin

     

    Austin, Texas, is a leader in the United States on paths toward a more energy smart future.  MSN called it the “Greenest City in America.”  IT has smart growth policies, has a focus on plug-in vehicles, wind power, and … well, many things.  

    Yearly Kos 1 was in a center of conspicious consumption: Las Vegas. YK2 in a leading city when it comes to green roofs which had the Cool GlobesCool Globes up when we were there.  Netroots Nation is going to an even greener pasture.  And you can send a friend there through the DFA Scholarship for Netroots Nation.

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    Making Climate Policy Economically Profitable

    Reality deniers are hard at work, with $100s of millions supporting them, arguing that doing something about global warming would be disastrous for the economy. Let us be clear: THIS IS FALSE! Smart climate policy will, even within traditional economic definitions, pay off for the economy. But, in fact, there are a multitude of payoffs here:

  • Insurance: Reducing emissions (even going to carbon negative) is an insurance policy against potential impacts of catastrophic climate change. There will be impacts but we have, hopefully, the chance to control how bad they will be.
  • Security: Reducing Global Warming impacts will improve national security (by reducing risks), but a key path will also mean reduced oil imports which might lead to lower global tensions and fewer drives for deployments of military forces into conflict situations.
  • Economics: Well, the economic payoffs are enormous, from reduced health care costs from lowered pollution, to improved balance of payments due to lowered oil imports and increased exports of green technologies, to green jobs, to …
  • As for the last, let’s take two great examples from the Sightline Institute that each highlight the payoff potential, along with innovative thoughts on how to accelerate and improve the payoffs.

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    Republicans: Do Nothing … unless it is Drill and Kill …

    Just a short post to highlight something that is going on right now that merits attention. Courtesy of CSPAN Radio, I (and others) have the opportunity to be listening to the ongoing proceedings of the US Senate. Why? Because I wanted to be listening to the debates and discussions on the Senate floor related to the Lieberman-Warner Climate inSecurity Act (CiSA). As with so much of what has been going on in the House of Representatives, the Drill and Kill Republicans, engaged in a coordinated truthiness effort to falsely make it seem too expensive to do anything about Global Warming, are willing to be abusive of the Senate to disrupt legitimate and meaningful discussion of climate change and climate change legislation. What did they do today? Refused to grant unanimous consent to waive the reading of the bill. Thus, the poor clerk is reading the entire bill. A long … long … long bill. I am striving to listen, at least a little, so that she is not simply speaking into a void as it is hard to believe that a single Republican Senator is actually listening and paying attention to the reading of the bill. The refusal to accept waiving of the bill has nothing to do with good governance, has nothing to do with enabling meaningful discussion and debate about issues critical to the nation, but everything to do with disruptive political activities.

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    Waving a white flag … Samuelson and Global Warming

    Robert J. Samuelson simply doesn’t believe in America, in American ingenuity, in Americans ability to rise to challenges and solve problems.

    From an acquaintance,

    This week’s Newsweek magazine carries a column by Robert Samuelson, titled Just-Call It Cap-and-Tax. Samuelson likes to say he’s not an economist. In this column, he certainly showed that to be the case.

    Join me after a fold for a stroll through some of Samuelson’s reckless truthiness.

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    Ask Velshi …

    This morning, CNN will be running Ask Velshi.

    CNN Senior Business Correspondent Ali Velshi hosts a live radio broadcast today at 10 a.m. (ET) on CNNRadio and CNN.com Live. “It’s Not Just Gas” takes an in-depth look at why oil is bought and sold on speculation, how the oil market is different or not from the housing and stock market and what’s the real long-term projection for oil and gas prices.

    Notice the focus here: “speculation” … “market …” before we get to the fundamental issue, “the real long-term projection …”
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    Energy COOL: PHEBs proving out …

    Okay, I am a big (BIG) fan of PHESBs: Plug-in Hybrid Electric School Buses. With all the (welcome) focus on PHECs (Plug-In Electric Cars) like the Volt, Prius, and others, the real potential for some gamechanging through fleets of large fleets seem to be falling by the wayside. In fact, school buses offer some quite serious opportunities for breakthrough benefits and merit serious attention. Happily, we are seeing some serious news advancing the possibility of actually seizing these benefits.

    Recent test results show that the IC Bus PHEBs, using hybrid-drive systems from Enova Systems, “can improve fuel efficiency by more than 70 percent compared to standard diesel-powered school buses.” In addition to the fuel economy savings, other benefits include:

  • Over 40% reduction in CO2
  • Over 30% reduction in Particulate Matter
  • Over 20% reduction in NOx
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