Plug In Day, 2012 Needs Organizers NOW!!!

National Plug In Day will be held on Sunday, September 23, 2012, and is an unprecedented nationwide observance drawing global attention to the environmental, economic and other benefits of plug-in electric vehicles through simultaneous events staged in cities nationwide.

Plug In America, the Sierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association are teaming up to plan for this effort, which will sound the bell through plug-in parades, tailpipe-free tailgate parties, test-drives and other grassroots activities.

The goal of National Plug In Day is to get owners of plug-in cars together with the general public. The general public can then talk to the owners of these vehicles and hear what the cars are like to live with in the real world. We are hoping that this will motivate more members of the public to consider a plug in vehicle for themselves the next time they are thinking of purchasing a new vehicle.

It is my hope that this year’s event move from being solely United States observance to being an event that includes many more cities in the U.S. and many international one as well. To make this happen we need organizers everywhere. The Sierra Club is offering assistance to what they call “City Captains.” City captains will be the point of contact for organizing the National Plug In Day event in a particular city.

Below the fold is an Email with contact information to get started.

 

 

There's more...

Plug In Day, 2012 Needs Organizers NOW!!!

National Plug In Day will be held on Sunday, September 23, 2012, and is an unprecedented nationwide observance drawing global attention to the environmental, economic and other benefits of plug-in electric vehicles through simultaneous events staged in cities nationwide.

Plug In America, the Sierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association are teaming up to plan for this effort, which will sound the bell through plug-in parades, tailpipe-free tailgate parties, test-drives and other grassroots activities.

The goal of National Plug In Day is to get owners of plug-in cars together with the general public. The general public can then talk to the owners of these vehicles and hear what the cars are like to live with in the real world. We are hoping that this will motivate more members of the public to consider a plug in vehicle for themselves the next time they are thinking of purchasing a new vehicle.

It is my hope that this year’s event move from being solely United States observance to being an event that includes many more cities in the U.S. and many international one as well. To make this happen we need organizers everywhere. The Sierra Club is offering assistance to what they call “City Captains.” City captains will be the point of contact for organizing the National Plug In Day event in a particular city.

Below the fold is an Email with contact information to get started.

 

 

There's more...

Going Green: 12 Simple Steps for 2012

Crossposted from the Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet. As we head into 2012, many of us will be resolving to lose those few extra pounds, save more money, or spend a few more hours with our families and friends. But there are also some resolutions we can make to make our lives a little greener. Each of us, especially in the United States, can make a commitment to reducing our environmental impacts. The United Nations has designated 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. Broadening access to sustainable energy is essential to solving many of the world’s challenges, including food production, security, and poverty. Hunger, poverty, and climate change are issues that we can all help address. Here are 12 simple steps to go green in 2012: (1) Recycle Recycling programs exist in cities and towns across the United States, helping to save energy and protect the environment. In 2009, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to require all homes and businesses to use recycling and composting collection programs. As a result, more than 75 percent of all material collected is being recycled, diverting 1.6 million tons from the landfills annually—double the weight of the Golden Gate Bridge. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for each pound of aluminum recovered, Americans save the energy resources necessary to generate roughly 7.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity—enough to power a city the size of Pittsburgh for six years! What you can do:
  • Put a separate container next to your trash can or printer, making it easier to recycle your bottles, cans, and paper.
(2) Turn off the lights On the last Saturday in March—March 31 in 2012—hundreds of people, businesses, and governments around the world turn off their lights for an hour as part of Earth Hour, a movement to address climate change. What you can do:
  • Earth Hour happens only once a year, but you can make an impact every day by turning off lights during bright daylight, or whenever you will be away for an extended period of time.
(3) Make the switch In 2007, Australia became the first country to “ban the bulb,” drastically reducing domestic usage of incandescent light bulbs. By late 2010, incandescent bulbs had been totally phased out, and, according to the country’s environment minister, this simple move has made a big difference, cutting an estimated 4 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2012. China also recently pledged to replace the 1 billion incandescent bulbs used in its government offices with more energy efficient models within five years. What you can do:
  • A bill in Congress to eliminate incandescent in the United States failed in 2011, but you can still make the switch at home. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) use only 20–30 percent of the energy required by incandescents to create the same amount of light, and LEDs use only 10 percent, helping reduce both electric bills and carbon emissions.
(4) Turn on the tap The bottled water industry sold 8.8 billion gallons of water in 2010, generating nearly $11 billion in profits. Yet plastic water bottles create huge environmental problems. The energy required to produce and transport these bottles could fuel an estimated 1.5 million cars for a year, yet approximately 75 percent of water bottles are not recycled—they end up in landfills, litter roadsides, and pollute waterways and oceans. And while public tap water is subject to strict safety regulations, the bottled water industry is not required to report testing results for its products. According to a study, 10 of the most popular brands of bottled water contain a wide range of pollutants, including pharmaceuticals, fertilizer residue, and arsenic. What you can do:
  • Fill up your glasses and reusable water bottles with water from the sink. The United States has more than 160,000 public water systems, and by eliminating bottled water you can help to keep nearly 1 million tons of bottles out of the landfill, as well as save money on water costs.
(5) Turn down the heat The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that consumers can save up to 15 percent on heating and cooling bills just by adjusting their thermostats. Turning down the heat by 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit for eight hours can result in savings of 5–15 percent on your home heating bill. What you can do:
  • Turn down your thermostat when you leave for work, or use a programmable thermostat to control your heating settings.
(6) Support food recovery programs Each year, roughly a third of all food produced for human consumption—approximately 1.3 billion tons—gets lost or wasted, including 34 million tons in the United States, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Grocery stores, bakeries, and other food providers throw away tons of food daily that is perfectly edible but is cosmetically imperfect or has passed its expiration date. In response, food recovery programs run by homeless shelters or food banks collect this food and use it to provide meals for the hungry, helping to divert food away from landfills and into the bellies of people who need it most. What you can do:
  • Encourage your local restaurants and grocery stores to partner with food rescue organizations, like City Harvest in New York City or Second Harvest Heartland in Minnesota.
  • Go through your cabinets and shelves and donate any non-perishable canned and dried foods that you won’t be using to your nearest food bank or shelter.
(7) Buy local “Small Business Saturday,” falling between “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday,” was established in 2010 as a way to support small businesses during the busiest shopping time of the year. Author and consumer advocate Michael Shuman argues that local small businesses are more sustainable because they are often more accountable for their actions, have smaller environmental footprints, and innovate to meet local conditions—providing models for others to learn from. What you can do:
  • Instead of relying exclusively on large supermarkets, consider farmers markets and local farms for your produce, eggs, dairy, and meat. Food from these sources is usually fresher and more flavorful, and your money will be going directly to these food producers.
(8) Get out and ride We all know that carpooling and using public transportation helps cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, as well as our gas bills. Now, cities across the country are investing in new mobility options that provide exercise and offer an alternative to being cramped in subways or buses. Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C. have major bike sharing programs that allow people to rent bikes for short-term use. Similar programs exist in other cities, and more are planned for places from Miami, Florida, to Madison, Wisconsin. What you can do:
  • If available, use your city’s bike share program to run short errands or commute to work. Memberships are generally inexpensive (only75 for the year in Washington, D.C.), and by eliminating transportation costs, as well as a gym membership, you can save quite a bit of money!
  • Even if without bike share programs, many cities and towns are incorporating bike lanes and trails, making it easier and safer to use your bike for transportation and recreation.
(9) Share a car Car sharing programs spread from Europe to the United States nearly 13 years ago and are increasingly popular, with U.S. membership jumping 117 percent between 2007 and 2009. According to the University of California Transportation Center, each shared car replaces 15 personally owned vehicles, and roughly 80 percent of more than 6,000 car-sharing households surveyed across North America got rid of their cars after joining a sharing service. In 2009, car-sharing was credited with reducing U.S. carbon emissions by more than 482,000 tons. Innovative programs such as Chicago’s I-GO are even introducing solar-powered cars to their fleets, making the impact of these programs even more eco-friendly. What you can do:
  • Join a car share program! As of July 2011, there were 26 such programs in the U.S., with more than 560,000 people sharing over 10,000 vehicles. Even if you don’t want to get rid of your own car, using a shared car when traveling in a city can greatly reduce the challenges of finding parking (car share programs have their own designated spots), as well as your environmental impact as you run errands or commute to work.
(10) Plant a garden Whether you live in a studio loft or a suburban McMansion, growing your own vegetables is a simple way to bring fresh and nutritious food literally to your doorstep. Researchers at the FAO and the United Nations Development Programme estimate that 200 million city dwellers around the world are already growing and selling their own food, feeding some 800 million of their neighbors. Growing a garden doesn’t have to take up a lot of space, and in light of high food prices and recent food safety scares, even a small plot can make a big impact on your diet and wallet. What you can do:
  • Plant some lettuce in a window box. Lettuce seeds are cheap and easy to find, and when planted in full sun, one window box can provide enough to make several salads worth throughout a season.
(11) Compost And what better way to fertilize your garden than using your own composted organic waste. You will not only reduce costs by buying less fertilizer, but you will also help to cut down on food and other organic waste. What you can do:
  • If you are unsure about the right ways to compost, websites such as HowToCompost.org and organizations such as the U.S. Composting Council, provide easy steps to reuse your organic waste.
(12) Reduce your meat consumption Livestock production accounts for about 18 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and accounts for about 23 percent of all global water used in agriculture. Yet global meat production has experienced a 20 percent growth rate since 2000 to meet the per capita increase of meat consumption of about 42 kilograms. What you can do:
  • You don’t have to become a vegetarian or vegan, but by simply cutting down on the amount of meat you consume can go a long way. Consider substituting one meal day with a vegetarian option. And if you are unable to think of how to substitute your meat-heavy diet, websites such as Meatless Monday and Eating Well offer numerous vegetarian recipes that are healthy for you and the environment.
The most successful and lasting New Year’s resolutions are those that are practiced regularly and have an important goal. Watching the ball drop in Times Square happens only once a year, but for more and more people across the world, the impacts of hunger, poverty, and climate change are felt every day. Thankfully, simple practices, such as recycling or riding a bike, can have great impact. As we prepare to ring in the new year, let’s all resolve to make 2012 a healthier, happier, and greener year for all. Crossposted from the Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet. As we head into 2012, many of us will be resolving to lose those few extra pounds, save more money, or spend a few more hours with our families and friends. But there are also some resolutions we can make to make our lives a little greener. Each of us, especially in the United States, can make a commitment to reducing our environmental impacts. The United Nations has designated 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. Broadening access to sustainable energy is essential to solving many of the world’s challenges, including food production, security, and poverty. Hunger, poverty, and climate change are issues that we can all help address. Here are 12 simple steps to go green in 2012: (1) Recycle Recycling programs exist in cities and towns across the United States, helping to save energy and protect the environment. In 2009, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to require all homes and businesses to use recycling and composting collection programs. As a result, more than 75 percent of all material collected is being recycled, diverting 1.6 million tons from the landfills annually—double the weight of the Golden Gate Bridge. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for each pound of aluminum recovered, Americans save the energy resources necessary to generate roughly 7.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity—enough to power a city the size of Pittsburgh for six years! What you can do:
  • Put a separate container next to your trash can or printer, making it easier to recycle your bottles, cans, and paper.
(2) Turn off the lights On the last Saturday in March—March 31 in 2012—hundreds of people, businesses, and governments around the world turn off their lights for an hour as part of Earth Hour, a movement to address climate change. What you can do:
  • Earth Hour happens only once a year, but you can make an impact every day by turning off lights during bright daylight, or whenever you will be away for an extended period of time.
(3) Make the switch In 2007, Australia became the first country to “ban the bulb,” drastically reducing domestic usage of incandescent light bulbs. By late 2010, incandescent bulbs had been totally phased out, and, according to the country’s environment minister, this simple move has made a big difference, cutting an estimated 4 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2012. China also recently pledged to replace the 1 billion incandescent bulbs used in its government offices with more energy efficient models within five years. What you can do:
  • A bill in Congress to eliminate incandescent in the United States failed in 2011, but you can still make the switch at home. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) use only 20–30 percent of the energy required by incandescents to create the same amount of light, and LEDs use only 10 percent, helping reduce both electric bills and carbon emissions.
(4) Turn on the tap The bottled water industry sold 8.8 billion gallons of water in 2010, generating nearly $11 billion in profits. Yet plastic water bottles create huge environmental problems. The energy required to produce and transport these bottles could fuel an estimated 1.5 million cars for a year, yet approximately 75 percent of water bottles are not recycled—they end up in landfills, litter roadsides, and pollute waterways and oceans. And while public tap water is subject to strict safety regulations, the bottled water industry is not required to report testing results for its products. According to a study, 10 of the most popular brands of bottled water contain a wide range of pollutants, including pharmaceuticals, fertilizer residue, and arsenic. What you can do:
  • Fill up your glasses and reusable water bottles with water from the sink. The United States has more than 160,000 public water systems, and by eliminating bottled water you can help to keep nearly 1 million tons of bottles out of the landfill, as well as save money on water costs.
(5) Turn down the heat The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that consumers can save up to 15 percent on heating and cooling bills just by adjusting their thermostats. Turning down the heat by 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit for eight hours can result in savings of 5–15 percent on your home heating bill. What you can do:
  • Turn down your thermostat when you leave for work, or use a programmable thermostat to control your heating settings.
(6) Support food recovery programs Each year, roughly a third of all food produced for human consumption—approximately 1.3 billion tons—gets lost or wasted, including 34 million tons in the United States, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Grocery stores, bakeries, and other food providers throw away tons of food daily that is perfectly edible but is cosmetically imperfect or has passed its expiration date. In response, food recovery programs run by homeless shelters or food banks collect this food and use it to provide meals for the hungry, helping to divert food away from landfills and into the bellies of people who need it most. What you can do:
  • Encourage your local restaurants and grocery stores to partner with food rescue organizations, like City Harvest in New York City or Second Harvest Heartland in Minnesota.
  • Go through your cabinets and shelves and donate any non-perishable canned and dried foods that you won’t be using to your nearest food bank or shelter.
(7) Buy local “Small Business Saturday,” falling between “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday,” was established in 2010 as a way to support small businesses during the busiest shopping time of the year. Author and consumer advocate Michael Shuman argues that local small businesses are more sustainable because they are often more accountable for their actions, have smaller environmental footprints, and innovate to meet local conditions—providing models for others to learn from. What you can do:
  • Instead of relying exclusively on large supermarkets, consider farmers markets and local farms for your produce, eggs, dairy, and meat. Food from these sources is usually fresher and more flavorful, and your money will be going directly to these food producers.
(8) Get out and ride We all know that carpooling and using public transportation helps cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, as well as our gas bills. Now, cities across the country are investing in new mobility options that provide exercise and offer an alternative to being cramped in subways or buses. Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C. have major bike sharing programs that allow people to rent bikes for short-term use. Similar programs exist in other cities, and more are planned for places from Miami, Florida, to Madison, Wisconsin. What you can do:
  • If available, use your city’s bike share program to run short errands or commute to work. Memberships are generally inexpensive (only75 for the year in Washington, D.C.), and by eliminating transportation costs, as well as a gym membership, you can save quite a bit of money!
  • Even if without bike share programs, many cities and towns are incorporating bike lanes and trails, making it easier and safer to use your bike for transportation and recreation.
(9) Share a car Car sharing programs spread from Europe to the United States nearly 13 years ago and are increasingly popular, with U.S. membership jumping 117 percent between 2007 and 2009. According to the University of California Transportation Center, each shared car replaces 15 personally owned vehicles, and roughly 80 percent of more than 6,000 car-sharing households surveyed across North America got rid of their cars after joining a sharing service. In 2009, car-sharing was credited with reducing U.S. carbon emissions by more than 482,000 tons. Innovative programs such as Chicago’s I-GO are even introducing solar-powered cars to their fleets, making the impact of these programs even more eco-friendly. What you can do:
  • Join a car share program! As of July 2011, there were 26 such programs in the U.S., with more than 560,000 people sharing over 10,000 vehicles. Even if you don’t want to get rid of your own car, using a shared car when traveling in a city can greatly reduce the challenges of finding parking (car share programs have their own designated spots), as well as your environmental impact as you run errands or commute to work.
(10) Plant a garden Whether you live in a studio loft or a suburban McMansion, growing your own vegetables is a simple way to bring fresh and nutritious food literally to your doorstep. Researchers at the FAO and the United Nations Development Programme estimate that 200 million city dwellers around the world are already growing and selling their own food, feeding some 800 million of their neighbors. Growing a garden doesn’t have to take up a lot of space, and in light of high food prices and recent food safety scares, even a small plot can make a big impact on your diet and wallet. What you can do:
  • Plant some lettuce in a window box. Lettuce seeds are cheap and easy to find, and when planted in full sun, one window box can provide enough to make several salads worth throughout a season.
(11) Compost And what better way to fertilize your garden than using your own composted organic waste. You will not only reduce costs by buying less fertilizer, but you will also help to cut down on food and other organic waste. What you can do:
  • If you are unsure about the right ways to compost, websites such as HowToCompost.org and organizations such as the U.S. Composting Council, provide easy steps to reuse your organic waste.
(12) Reduce your meat consumption Livestock production accounts for about 18 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and accounts for about 23 percent of all global water used in agriculture. Yet global meat production has experienced a 20 percent growth rate since 2000 to meet the per capita increase of meat consumption of about 42 kilograms. What you can do:
  • You don’t have to become a vegetarian or vegan, but by simply cutting down on the amount of meat you consume can go a long way. Consider substituting one meal day with a vegetarian option. And if you are unable to think of how to substitute your meat-heavy diet, websites such as Meatless Monday and Eating Well offer numerous vegetarian recipes that are healthy for you and the environment.
The most successful and lasting New Year’s resolutions are those that are practiced regularly and have an important goal. Watching the ball drop in Times Square happens only once a year, but for more and more people across the world, the impacts of hunger, poverty, and climate change are felt every day. Thankfully, simple practices, such as recycling or riding a bike, can have great impact. As we prepare to ring in the new year, let’s all resolve to make 2012 a healthier, happier, and greener year for all.

Weekly Mulch: How to Avoid Fracking and Oil Spills in 2011

Editor’s Note: We’re posting the Weekly Mulch on Thursday this week because of the holidays. It’ll return to its regular Friday morning posting next week. Until then, Happy New Year!

by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger

2010 was a disappointing year for environmentalists.

This was the year Congress was supposed to pass climate change legislation, but each and every time Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seemed on the verge of pushing the bill forward, the effort fell short. In April, off the coast of Louisiana, the Deepwater Horizon explosion led to one of the worst environmental disasters in the country’s history, and in the aftermath, neither President Barack Obama nor Congress has pushed for the sort of strong regulations that would rein in the oil industry and the risk it poses to coastal ecosystems.

Meanwhile, a newly invigorated natural gas industry has been plowing forward with a controversial drilling technique called hydrofracking. Although the Environmental Protection Agency has committed to studying the environmental impacts of the practice, it’s unclear at this point how much leeway the industry will be given to use techniques that have contaminated water and air across the country. Author and environmental activist Bill McKibben had trouble convincing the president to take the small symbolic act of reinstalling a solar panel on the White House roof. And in November, the country elected a group of lawmakers who are skeptical that climate change even exists.

Hope springs eternal

But the news was not all bad, as Change.org’s Jess Leber reports. In California, green-minded voters defeated a proposition that would have rolled back the state’s ambitious climate law. Coal-fired power plants are closing in states like Oregon and Colorado, and mountaintop removal coal mining is losing its funding.  And cities like New York, Washington D.C., Denver and Minneapolis made it easier for their inhabitants to use bikes as a primary mode of transportation.

“All over the world, activists are fighting in their states, towns and cities to do right by the environment,” Leber writes. “They are also moving to pressure the corporate world. So while, given the results of Election Day in the U.S., progress in Congress will be an uphill battle, I’m confident there will be even more victories to report this time next year.”

A year can be a long time. Consider, for instance, Steph Larsen’s reflections on her farm’s first year. “I feel like I’ve lived a decade in the last 12 months,” Larsen writes in Grist. Last year, her pasture did not exist, and the farm buildings on her land had sat unused for years. But in the past 12 months, she’s grown cherries and tomatoes and squash, kept chickens and hunted for their eggs, and raised livestock that later became her dinner.

Larsen’s goals for her farm are modest: “to grow food for her household and community.” It can be hard sometimes to see how individual choices like hers can make a difference while global leaders cannot agree on how to reduce carbon emissions and industry continues to exploit and pollute the environment. But as Winslow Myers, the author of Living Beyond War, writes at Truthout, “the cause-and-effect relationship between what I do personally in my daily life and those planet-wide challenges has become infinitely clearer” over the past 50 years:

Now we can see how the two are connected – between my diet and the effect of industrial agriculture on the land, between my energy consumption and global climate change, between the chemicals in my laundry detergent and the health of the oceans – and between my political commitments and the world-destroying weapons built with my tax dollars….the reality is that I am so deeply connected to the whole entity that I am responsible for it, answerable to it.

Local leaders step into the breach

It’s true that individual decisions to turn down the heat, or eat local food, or bike instead of drive cannot turn back global warming. But in aggregate, they do make an impact. And although nationally and internationally, politicians are finding it difficult to create strong policies on climate change, that would reduce emissions, not all lawmakers are avoiding the issues. Franke James’ visual essay on climate change at Yes! Magazine puts it like this: “Don’t be fooled by the global leaders loafing. Local leaders and cities are making plans to adapt to climate change (because it’s affecting them NOW!) “

And ultimately, these sorts of decisions on local and individual levels do send a signal to leaders that their constituents care about keeping the planet healthy, care about preserving our environmental resources. To that end, check out these ideas for individual action from the staff and readers of Mother Jones.

And next year? Leaders like Bill McKibben are working to create a global movement around climate change, a people-driven movement that will convince legislators and negotiators that it is incumbent upon them to act. Look for them to start making lots of noise in 2011.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Revenge of the Electric Car Facebook Needs Likes

I want to be able to see the trailer for “Revenge of the Electric Car,” but I can’t see it until there are 10,000 hits of the Face Book page for the movie. So I need your help. Please click on the linkhttp://www.facebook.com/revengeoftheelectriccar  go to the top of the page and click that you like the page. If a mere 3,000 something of you do that I can see the trailer.

There are very few things that I can point to that I can say influenced my way of thinking. There are even less things that I can point to that I can say that through their influence they changed my life. Looking back at the last 10 years of my life I can see that being involved, in the most cursory of ways, with the movement s of the EV1 electric car club in California was one of those pivotal moments in my life that ended up changing my life for the better. I went from simply wanting a product that didn’t use petroleum as its fuel, to actively working to give everyone in the world the choice of traveling personally using fuels that didn’t use petroleum as a fuel. In the course of this experience I found that my politics had changed and my view of the world had changed. What could have made such a profound change in my way of thinking? It was a simple mistake of being aware of the possibility of something and then having that something taken away. 

 

The first related influence that occurred in my life which was later to affect and profoundly change my life was that I lived through the two oil crises of the 1970s. Those events influenced my way of thinking towards alternative fuel and energy. During that period was when I first learned about electric cars as well as ethanol and other alternative fuels. I learned that we could make the change then to alternative fuel because I actually saw those changes happening in my neighborhood. A few families in my hood had purchased Sebring Vanguard Citicar electric vehicles.  Our family participated by getting Gasohol, which was a mixture of 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol available from distributors like the American Eagle Gasohol stations that sprang up around America. 

 

The last of the oil crises seemed to end with Ronald Reagan in 1980. However, my fascination with alternative energy and fuels didn’t end. I spent a good deal of time thinking about alternative fuels and energy. I speculated in my mind about all the things I heard and combined them in my head. I found myself asking questions like, “Why couldn’t we join solar power with electric vehicles and power them that way?” Crazy as that might seem, I wasn’t the only one who thought that way and five years after Ronald Reagan was elected into office the first Tour de Sol was born in Switzerland. The Tour de Sol was a race of vehicles powered by converting the sun’s rays into electricity with solar panels on the actual vehicle and using that electricity to power the car. The idea caught on all over the world and lead to the creation of the World Solar Challenge. The World Solar Challenge was different from the other Tour de Sol races. It was like the Super Bowl of solar car racing. In order to enter the race you had to have at least won or nearly won a previous solar vehicle race.

 

The World Solar Challenge caught the eyes of the executives of GM who were struggling with unimproved and poorly made product lines that were loosing out to the Japanese. GM seemed in every way to be yesterday’s company, a dinosaur, big and lumbering and incapable of innovation or quality. The leadership of GM decided that they were going to enter this contest and show the world that its engineers were world class and that the company wasn’t just capable of coming up with something new, but able to push hard the very edges of what was possible. Of course GM was an old, lumbering dinosaur in reality so they had to hire an innovative firm to do this for them. They hired AeroVironment, a company headed by Dr. Paul McCready the creator of the Gossamer Albatross, the first human powered airplane to fly over the English Channel. AeroVironment made for GM the Sunraycer solar powered vehicle that averaged 65 miles an hour over the course from Darwin to Adelaide, Australia, and won the race a full two days ahead of second place vehicle. With a relatively small investment GM went from being seen as the “has been” of the automotive industry to the leading edge.

 

GM’s executives decided that they needed to keep these geniuses on the GM payroll and challenged them to make a marketable electric vehicle prototype to be used in the real world. AeroVironment did just that by coming up with the Impact, a two-seat car that offered sports car performance and nearly 100 miles range using lead acid batteries. The Impact concept car was introduced to the world at the 1990 LA auto show. It was a true sensation. Again, GM, the company left for dead on the side of the road during the 1980s, suddenly looked new, vibrant and innovative.  Between the LA auto show in January to mid-April of the same year the press could do nothing in the automotive world but talk about the possibilities of an electric car and GM’s overwhelming lead in to the market if they should decide to produce the Impact as a product for consumers. Seeing how the electric car prototype had influenced everything in a positive manner for GM and not wanting to return to the bad old days of the 1980s GM’s CEO, Roger Smith announced on April 18, 1990 that the electric car would go into production.

 

Every event that happened along the way I was keenly aware of. Suddenly, something that I was hoping would happen as a kid going through the 1970s oil crises seemed to be happening in earnest. The California Air Resources Board locked in the reality of electric cars pushing through legislation requiring that electric cars be a big part of the vehicles sold in California with what became known as the “Zero Emissions Vehicle Mandate.” I was so excited. I began saving my pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and dollars for the day that I would be able to buy an electric car. Little by little the cars were released in drips and drabs a decade later to the good people of California. Not only was there the Impact, which was renamed the GM EV1, but there were other electric vehicles choices too. There was the Honda, EV+, the Toyota Rav4 EV, the Nissan Altra, the Ford Th!nk and more. Oddly all were only available through lease. Toyota under pressure from the public eventually changed its policy over what to do at the leases end and some 300 Rav4 EVs were sold to the public. These other electric vehicles came into existence because of the power of the Zero Emissions Mandate. I waited patiently for the cars to become available to the rest of the country with my money accumulated in an account ready to be used as soon as the vehicles became available.

 

Then something completely unexpected happened. The Zero Emissions Mandate was changed and the requirements of producing electric vehicles were removed. Almost instantly the vehicles that had mostly been leased were being recalled. I didn’t understand what was happening. I went online to try to find out what was happening and I could see that the former leaseholders of the GM built EV1 had organized. I remember when Chris Paine began talking about wanting to make a documentary of what was happening. He set up a website for the documentary that was to be called “EV Confidential,” and on that website he posted pictures of crushed EV1s in the Arizona desert. Seeing those vehicles my psyche changed. I was angry. I learned that GM wasn’t the only company collecting up its vehicles and making them disappear. Honda had taken its EV+ vehicles from the dealerships and made them vanish. I later learned that they were shredded at a certified destruction facility. Nissan’s EVs disappeared. The EV1 Club quickly morphed into Don’t Crush, and the organization set its focus on saving the last remaining EVs from the fate that many of the EV1s, all of the Honda EV+’s and the Nissan EVs had experienced. They organized demonstrations to save the Ford Th!nk, which were eventually sent back to Norway where they came from. They saved the Ford Ranger EV, and they found 70 EV1s waiting to be crushed in a back parking lot of GM’s Burbank, California facility.  What to do?

 

Together with the Rainforest Action Network the former EV1 Club now organized into Don’t Crush set up a vigil in front of the GM facility to stop them from crushing the last of these vehicles.  Although I couldn’t be there with them I followed them into a website where they posted the actions and activities of their days protesting the crushing of these all-important vehicles.  All the while Chris Paine managed to capture all that was going on with his camera. The organization to save the electric vehicle battled as hard as a non-violent protest can battle. They captured national attention in both the print media as well as television. I followed their daily moves through the website genuinely angry about what was going on. When their story hit the cover of the Washington Post I knew that the movement in California that had started so small now had a national reach. A small band of really pissed off citizens had managed to get the attention of millions. But who was going to know their story? A newspaper front page might be great but it is only good for wrapping fish a day later. How do we keep up the push to change not just California’s thinking but also the nation and perhaps the world’s? Chris Paine went on to gather the support for his documentary “EV Confidential” whose name was now to be “Who Killed the Electric Car?” attracting Dean Devlin of Stargate fame as the executive producer and Martin Sheen as the narrator. The vigil was over and all the cars that could be crushed were crushed so Don’t Crush became Plug-In America and changed its focus from saving existing electric vehicles to looking for ways to bring back the electric car.

 

In the end the movie “Who Killed the Electric Car?” I believe had the greatest amount of influence on the general public, companies and Washington. There in one sitting a person who knew nothing about electric cars and the struggle to keep them as a choice for the American people could get a large part of the story. From its very beginnings 100 years ago to the breakthrough innovations in the Impact, from the California’s Air Resources Board’s Zero Emissions Mandate to the crushing of the vehicles. The movie gives you it all.

 

However, that isn’t the end. I hope you all know that in the intervening years GM has realized the error of its ways and is bringing an electric vehicle with a range extender call the Chevy Volt, that Nissan has reversed itself and is delivering the all electric Nissan Leaf, and that every major automaker on the planet has an electric vehicle program set to bring electric vehicles to market. It seems that what GM and the other automakers wanted to die didn’t die. None of the companies who were preparing parts and innovations for the Zero Emissions Vehicle Mandate’s new reality got the memo that the electric car was killed and therefore dead. They kept going and innovating. Alen Cocconi left the AeroVironment and formed a company that produced a 300 mile per charge sports car called the tZero. This car directly lead to the creation of the Tesla Motor Company’s roadster and the Venturi, Fetish, cars with 200+ mile ranges, dragster like acceleration and superior sports car handling. Though NiMH batteries that powered the EV1 came under control of the Chevron Oil Company, the development of the Lithium ion battery has continued to develop offering a much greater energy density than NiMH, which in turn provides either greater range or less space occupied. Time marches on and improvements continue to be made in batteries, motors and more, and again Chris Paine has managed to chronicle the rise of the electric vehicle phoenix from the ashes of demise in his new film “Revenge of the Electric Car.”

 

I want to be able to see the trailer for “Revenge of the Electric Car,” but I can’t see it until there are 10,000 hits of the Face Book page for the movie. So I need your help. Please click on the link http://www.facebook.com/revengeoftheelectriccar  go to the top of the page and click that you like the page. If a mere 3,000 something of you do that I can see the trailer. Thanks. 

 

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