Appalachian Voices blog: Up and Running!!!

The new Appalachian Voices blogis shoving off today across the great Southern American blogosphere!



As we embark on this journey I invite you to join us for Mountain Oyesters and barbeque, sweet tea and moonshine, Smokey Mountains and Clean Smokestacks!


From Lookout to Kayford to Blair to Grandfather Mountain, we will be there protecting our environment, gaurding and celebrating our culture, and encouraging engagement in the politics of Appalachia.

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Trimming Around The Edges On Fuel Economy

Some rare good environmental news came out of the Bush administration on Wednesday. Well, "good" is probably an overstatement. But with Bush, it's all relative. The Department of Transportation announced new CAFE standards that require light trucks to meet a minimum of 24 miles per gallon and, for the first time, regulate the fuel efficiency of large SUVs like the Hummer. Of course, these aren't huge changes, but I'm personally shocked this administration is addressing CAFE standards at all.

Now, contrast this with the situation in Brazil. CBS News has an interesting story about the fact that the Brazilians are about to complete their transition from gasoline as an auto fuel to sugarcane ethanol. I'm not talking here about a pilot project, or ethanol becoming the dominant fuel. By the end of 2006, Brazil should be an all-ethanol nation. Mind you, this has been a long time in coming. Brazil ramped up publicly-funded studies of sugarcane ethanol in reaction to the oil crises of the 1970s. But they also started putting their academic work into practice, by requiring gas stations to also offer ethanol and requiring refiners to mix ethanol into gasoline. This in turn led to innovations like so-called flex vehicles, which run on either a gasoline/ethanol mix or pure ethanol, that are enabling the complete shift to ethanol that Brazil's undergoing today.

Unfortunately, the best the United States can seem to do is trim around the edges of our fossil fuel problem, raising CAFE standards to levels that easily could have been met decades ago. And of course, at the core of the problem here is politicians cowering before oil companies and auto manufacturers who liked the inefficient status quo. But it's not as if Brazil didn't have to deal with industrial opposition themselves. "Basically, the people who produce oil," one Brazilian official explains, "they don't like us ... because we are getting their markets. It's very simple."

If the United States is going to continue to subsidize corn ethanol for agribusiness, and if auto companies are going to engage in greenwash marketing about ethanol, why not use the power of government to actually make ethanol more widely available? Corn ethanol may not be as cost-effective as sugarcane ethanol, but what about biodiesel? More obviously, why not mandate a certain percentage of a manufacturer's fleet to use hybrid gas/electric technology? There are a number of options that are better than the current course. The point here is that there is an incredible lack of leadership in Republican-run America on energy policy and as a result, we're falling behind nations like Brazil. It's pathetic.

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Support Electric Drag Racing

If you think that going green in transportation is like doing acupuncture you’re wrong. If you think driving clean is like tasting nasty medicine you’re wrong again. If you think by going to an electric vehicle you can say good-bye to tinkering in your garage with your hot rod, you are wrong one more time. I bet you didn’t think you would ever be happy about being wrong about anything. Let me tell you, you’re going to be happy about being wrong about this. For the last 9 years the Electric Vehicle Association of Washington, DC, together with the National Electric Drag Racing Association have been putting together a show in Hagerstown, Maryland of what insaniac, electric gear heads, scientists and engineering departments can put together in their garages. <object width="445" height="364"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/HcwRKNM22LA&hl=en_US&fs=1&color1=0xe1600f&color2=0xfebd01&border=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/HcwRKNM22LA&hl=en_US&fs=1&color1=0xe1600f&color2=0xfebd01&border=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="445" height="364"></embed></object>

We are a group of individuals that have been pushing for electric vehicles as a clean and green option to buying dirty combustion engine vehicles for decades. To fight the false rhetorical argument that electric vehicles were nothing but slow moving glorified golf carts we have been putting on a demonstration of electric vehicle raw power for 9 years near Washington, DC. Our constant pushing speed records has made for some wonderfully exciting vehicles. Vehicles that you will not see anywhere else but in electric drag racing. Vehicles such as an eight mini wheeled electric only dragster. A few years ago we added an electric autocross. An autocross is a timed race where one vehicle at a time goes through a course set up with traffic cones. Our course is set up by the Sports Car Club of America and is certified by them. Hybrids are allowed to enter the race. We invite everyone in the Mid-Atlantic region to come and see this spectacular event on our tenth anniversary. We call the racing event the Power of DC, PoDC for short, and it will be running June 5th and 6th. The autocross will be held on the morning of the 5th at the Valley Mall in Hagerstown, Maryland and the drag race will be held at Mason-Dixon Dragway. This year is our 10th anniversary! We are looking for sponsors and I hope you will consider helping us make this event a reality. Saturday is the Autocross event at the Valley Mall, run by the SCCA. Sunday is NEDRA drag racing at the Mason Dixon Dragway. Here are the levels of sponsorship: $150 Name/logo/url on back of T-shirt Link in website $250 Name/logo/url on back of T-shirt Link in website Logo on homepage Logo on banner $500 Name/logo/url on back of T-shirt Link in website Logo on homepage Logo on banner Portion of event named after company/organization like "ABC Electronics AutoCross" We have four opportunities for $500 sponsors (AutoCross, Drag Race, Show and Shine, Generator rental - logo/name on generator) $1000 Name/logo/url on back of T-shirt Link in website Logo on homepage Logo on banner Entire race named after sponsor All of this is outlined on the Power of DC Website at http://www.powerofdc.com/sponsorship.html Thank you, John Alder http://www.powerofdc.com

 


Support Electric Drag Racing

If you think that going green in transportation is like doing acupuncture you’re wrong. If you think driving clean is like tasting nasty medicine you’re wrong again. If you think by going to an electric vehicle you can say good-bye to tinkering in your garage with your hot rod, you are wrong one more time. I bet you didn’t think you would ever be happy about being wrong about anything. Let me tell you, you’re going to be happy about being wrong about this. For the last 9 years the Electric Vehicle Association of Washington, DC, together with the National Electric Drag Racing Association have been putting together a show in Hagerstown, Maryland of what insaniac, electric gear heads, scientists and engineering departments can put together in their garages.

 

We are a group of individuals that have been pushing for electric vehicles as a clean and green option to buying dirty combustion engine vehicles for decades. To fight the false rhetorical argument that electric vehicles were nothing but slow moving glorified golf carts we have been putting on a demonstration of electric vehicle raw power for 9 years near Washington, DC. Our constant pushing speed records has made for some wonderfully exciting vehicles. Vehicles that you will not see anywhere else but in electric drag racing. Vehicles such as an eight mini wheeled electric only dragster. A few years ago we added an electric autocross. An autocross is a timed race where one vehicle at a time goes through a course set up with traffic cones. Our course is set up by the Sports Car Club of America and is certified by them. Hybrids are allowed to enter the race. We invite everyone in the Mid-Atlantic region to come and see this spectacular event on our tenth anniversary. We call the racing event the Power of DC, PoDC for short, and it will be running June 5th and 6th. The autocross will be held on the morning of the 5th at the Valley Mall in Hagerstown, Maryland and the drag race will be held at Mason-Dixon Dragway. This year is our 10th anniversary! We are looking for sponsors and I hope you will consider helping us make this event a reality. Saturday is the Autocross event at the Valley Mall, run by the SCCA. Sunday is NEDRA drag racing at the Mason Dixon Dragway. Here are the levels of sponsorship: $150 Name/logo/url on back of T-shirt Link in website $250 Name/logo/url on back of T-shirt Link in website Logo on homepage Logo on banner $500 Name/logo/url on back of T-shirt Link in website Logo on homepage Logo on banner Portion of event named after company/organization like "ABC Electronics AutoCross" We have four opportunities for $500 sponsors (AutoCross, Drag Race, Show and Shine, Generator rental - logo/name on generator) $1000 Name/logo/url on back of T-shirt Link in website Logo on homepage Logo on banner Entire race named after sponsor All of this is outlined on the Power of DC Website at http://www.powerofdc.com/sponsorship.html Thank you, John Alder http://www.powerofdc.com

 


Weekly Mulch: White House Relents on Solar Panels; Why Congressional Inaction Hasn’t Stopped Green Building

by Rosie Powers, Media Consortium blogger

The Obama administration finally agreed to assemble solar panels on the roof of the White House. It’s encouraging news, considering that Congress was unable to pass climate change legislation this year.

While Congress may not get it, citizens across the country have committed to building green using energy-efficient guidelines such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a rating system set out by the U.S. Green Building Council. Green buildings are no longer reserved for the wealthy or the province of distant countries. They are becoming a well-traveled path to a sustainable future.

Consideration of inward, rather than outward, urban development encourages major cities to be more self-contained and sustainable in the realms of energy and water usage. Inclusion of building features such as solar panels and energy-efficient window and wall insulation insure that energy is self-produced and not wasted.

The White House panels

Activist Bill McKibben and 350.org led the campaign to reinstall solar panels on the White House. McKibben and several college students began their road trip in Maine and delivered the panels on Sept. 10. The the solar panels were rejected at first because the administration did not want to “give the right another talking point comparing Obama to Jimmy Carter,” writes Salon. But the Obama administration changed its stance and accepted the two panels Oct. 5. Beth Buczynski of Care2 has the story.

Setbacks

Although the installation of the solar panels is encouraging, it doesn’t change the fact that Congress has not passed any substantial climate legislation this year. Furthermore, President Barack Obama faces an uphill battle with Congress regarding the regulation of carbon emissions, according to Agence France Presse in AlterNet.

At Grist, David Roberts claims that many senators have opposed climate legislation not only to align with their party, but because of ignorance. Roberts quotes a senate staffer:

“That fact is, he said, most senators, even the ones directly involved in the fight over climate policy, don’t know the rudimentary facts about climate change or clean energy. They understand very little about the policies in question or how those policies will affect their constituents.”

Green buildings

Yet sustainable development has gained momentum, despite a lack of congressional backing. Cities such as Portland and Seattle have championed self-sustaining, inward development, while Chicago is building its first pre-fab home this fall. LEED is a common, third-party evaluation of a building’s environmental sustainability. The rating system measures carbon emissions, water conservation,  energy efficiency and consciousness about materials and resources used for the project.

Additional building standards have also emerged. Architect Jason McLennan has created the “Living Building Challenge”, which requires new structures be self-sustaining in regards to energy and water usage. Jonathon Hiskes of Grist writes that although the rating system is more strict than LEED, around 70 buildings have striven to meet the challenge.

“The point of our whole movement is to create abundance of life, and a healthy ecosystem for all future generations,” McLennan told Hiskes. “We have a current industrial system where nobody knows what’s in our materials, and there’s no plan for where they go with those chemicals when their lifespan is over.”

The rise of the eco-city

Congressional members and ecologically concerned citizens should look abroad for the best examples of sustainable building initiatives. Tianjin, China, the country’s third largest industrial city, began construction of one of the country’s first eco-cities. The proposed city, which would be 11.6 square miles, would house a population of 350,000 and include contributions of sustainable building material from Japanese company Hitachi and Dutch company Philips.

Tianjin’s developers say the city “will serve as an ultra-efficient alternative to ill-planned and heavily polluting mega-cities not only elsewhere in the country, but around the world.”

Siben Linden, a well-known German eco-village, is composed of straw buildings that serve as multi-family homes for around 80 adults and 30 children, according to Athena and Bill Steen of Chelsea Green. The village is agriculturally self-sustaining and is powered by photovoltaic systems. As a result, the total carbon emissions equal about 10 percent of the average German energy usage.

The future may seem far away, but with regards to sustainable development, it’s closer than we think. Congress just needs to realize it.

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.

 

 

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