April 2007


Frozen In Time

DOE's Implementation of Energy Efficiency Standards Moves at a Glacial Pace

In the wake of the 1970's energy crisis and in a rare showing of common sense, Congress decided that the US needed minimum energy efficiency standards for appliances. These standards, meant to lessen the US' energy consumption, were entrusted to the Department of Energy for creation and implementation. It's been thirty years now, and for the most part we're still waiting.

Most of the deadlines set by Congress are long past. For example, the mandated minimum efficiency standards for dishwashers and clothes dryers were supposed to have been met 12 years ago. The DOE also "just missed" (by ten years) deadlines for implementing minimum standards for kitchen ranges and ovens, as well as for room air conditioners. Nor does the DOE show any sign of enacting these standards any time soon.

This may not seem all that important, but it's actually a really big deal. Appliances make up almost one-third of US energy consumption. Generating electricity is a dirty business, creating greenhouse gases that add to global warming. The energy savings from updated standards could be equal to the electricity from 65 large power plants.

Our energy usage carries grave implications for environmental quality, economic stability, and national security. Help Drive Change and encourage the DOE to create energy efficiency standards for appliances. You can send Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman an email or a letter (which is more personal and carries more weight).

Good Job!

‘Driving Change' Readers Filled Out Over 1400 Postcards For Al Gore's Trip To DC

Mothers Everywhere Are Asking, "So, They Can Send Al Gore A Postcard, But They Can't Pick Up The Phone And Call Home Once In A While?"

Last month, Driving Change asked readers to support Al Gore's testimony before Congress by filling out an electronic postcard that would be delivered to Capitol Hill by Big Al himself. DC readers rose to the occasion and filled out over 1400 postcards.

Gore's trip to Washington ratcheted up the pressure on Congress and brought even more exposure to the global warming crisis. The former Veep brought roughly 520,000 postcards from concerned Americans, proving to lawmakers that the American people want action on global climate change.

Thanks again to all the readers who helped make Gore's testimony such a great success.

Haiku Activism!

The true spirit of Bushido calls for a balance between the art of war and just plain old art. Once you've signed a petition for the EPA, why not show your sensitive, artistic side by sending them a haiku? It's the honorable thing to do.

Leftover meatloaf
keeps cool and safe in my fridge,
but it heats the world*.

[*NOTE: The refrigerator heats the world, not the meatloaf]

- Erik N.
Portland, OR

Click here to read more BWC member haikus.

Simple Things You Can Do To Fight Global Warming

Because Cathy Demanded It:

Eat Local, Part II

Last month we ran a piece noting that people can reduce their eco-footprint by joining a CSA and eating locally-grown food. BWC Member and farmer's market stallholder Cathy King sent us an email to remind us that frequenting your local farmer's market is also a good way to eat local.

She's absolutely correct. So, without further ado, please check out these cool web resources that will help you find a farmer's market near you: Map of US Markets,

EPA Chief Stephen L. JohnsonEPA Chief: Bush Climate Policy Is Working!

Gee, Like the Katrina Rebuilding Effort Is Working, Like Alec Baldwin's Anger Management Therapy Is Working, Like Al Gore's Diet Is Working...

Wait! This Just In: Supreme Court Says EPA Must Consider Global Warming and EPA Chief Says that He's Thinking About It

...Like The Hunt for Bin Laden Is Working, Like...

On Monday, EPA Chief Stephen L. Johnson announced that total US greenhouse gas emissions for 2005 only increased 0.8 percent from 2004. He went on to note that, "the Bush administration's unparalleled financial, international and domestic commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions is delivering real results."

As we all know, its unlikely that a person who sets his own goals will set them too high. (That's why few people get to set their own goals). Environmentalists apparently believe that Johnson could be more ambitious: "Things have come to a pretty sad state of affairs when the EPA tries to spin increased greenhouse gas emissions as a victory," said Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, an environmental advocacy group.

Even the Department of Energy thought the EPA might set their goals a bit higher, noting in a separate report that, "The slow growth in emissions from 2004 to 2005 can be attributed mainly to higher energy prices that suppressed demand, low or negative growth in several energy-intensive industries, and weather-related disruptions."

Things got even worse the next day, when Johnson testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The Senators asked the EPA Chief repeatedly when he would respond to a Supreme Court ruling that obliges the EPA to determine whether vehicle emissions were harmful to humans. If so, the agency would then be required to regulate the gases under the federal Clean Air Act. Complete Story

More 'Washington Watch' in 'Kicking Asphalt'

- BWC Members Support Al Gore As He Testifies Before Congress
- The Dirty Secret About Clean Cars
- Will Last Week's Positive Supreme Court Decision Ultimately Lead To an Ironic Result?


Wall Street Journal Columnist Agrees with Better World Club:

How an Open Market Might Save the Planet

By Alan Murray
Wall Street Journal Online

A tip for the big auto companies: Do what Al Gore does.

The chief executives of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler group have been dragged to Washington twice in the past two weeks as politicians compete in a sudden stampede to stop the warming of the planet. The chiefs were grilled about their plans to burn biofuels, build hybrid cars and develop hydrogen cells.

There may be an easier way. Just ask the former vice president, who once was a loner in the Capitol but now has rock-star status. Mr. Gore is a prodigious consumer of energy. The Associated Press reported last month that his 10,000-square-foot Nashville, Tenn., home used 191,000 kilowatt hours last year -- more than 10 times the Nashville average. But he made up for that by buying carbon "offsets" -- credits sold by companies that plant trees, invest in wind farms or take other action to counter carbon emissions.

As a result, Mr. Gore says, he is "carbon neutral."

Why shouldn't the auto companies do the same? Complete Story.

Additional Ways to Get Where You're Going:

Can't Wake Forest for the trees: University scientists develop nanoscale "trees" to improve the efficiency of organic solar cells.

Tyson Foods and ConocoPhillips are joining forces to create renewable diesel from animal fat waste. Running your car on a chicken fat blend is fine, but we draw the line at "Soylent Diesel" (unless, of course, it costs less than $2 a gallon).

More good news for people who love bad news: Ethanol usage may pose a greater public health risk than gasoline.

The National Biodiesel Board addresses Congress, and they don't like ‘Soylent Diesel'.

If you would like to contribute your opinion to Driving Change's Giving Directions please email it to us at


Great News For Biodiesel Fans:

Nissan to Offer a Diesel Version of the Maxima in North America by 2010

Was it all those cute notes we sent to Nissan composed with letters cut out from magazines? Maybe it was the can of dog food we left in Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn's bed as a warning*. Whatever the reason, we're pleased as punch that Nissan is going to be offering a diesel sedan here in the USA.

Referencing the move to offer diesels in the US, Nissan USA CEO Carlos Ghosn said, "Nissan is fully engaged in reducing emissions and improving fuel economy and efficiency." Ghosn, a long-time hybrid skeptic recently bowed to the inevitable and has also launched a hybrid version of the Altima. Better World Club wrote a review of the hybrid Altima in the April 18th issue of ‘Kicking Asphalt'.

New diesel engine technology and the push for more fuel alternatives (i.e., biodiesel) are setting the stage for a diesel renaissance here in the US. Audi, BMW, Subaru, Mitsubishi, and Honda are all promising to bring diesel models to the US by the end of 2010.

[*We thought about leaving a severed horse's head, but ultimately decided that was too cruel (and gross, too!). We figured canned dog food was the next closest thing.]

Related Links

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- If only we had known about this pillow...

'Big Orange' Goes Green

Home Depot to Display an Environmental Label

By Michael Barbaro
The New York Times

After squabbling over prices for decades, the nation's big-box retail chains are ready to battle in a new arena: the environment.

Home Depot today will introduce a label for nearly 3,000 products, like fluorescent light bulbs that conserve electricity and natural insect killers, that promote energy conservation, sustainable forestry and clean water.

The initiative which is expected to include 6,000 products by 2009, representing 12 percent of the chain's sales would become the largest green labeling program in American retailing and could persuade competitors to speed up their own plans. Complete Story

Related Links

- News about Home Depot Inc., as compiled by the New York Times
- Home Depot's website

More 'Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is' in 'Kicking Asphalt':

- Chrysler To Unveil Economical SUV

- Ethanol Fuels Huge Corn Planting

- San Francisco Bars Plastic Bags to Support the Environment--And Energy Independence

- Exxon Marks 18th Anniversary of Oil Spill--Or Is It 17th Anniversary of Litigation?


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