February 18, 2010

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Washington Watch

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AAA Watch
Speed Limits Are So 20th Century!

AAA of California Blocks Bill to Stop the Increase of Speed Limits

We're Talking Residential Streets Here

Everyone likes to get where they're going safely, quickly, and with as little hassle as possible. In general, speed limits are set to protect the safety of people and their property while expediting traffic flows in accordance with reasonable driving patterns. And -- again in general -- the setting of speed limits near the speed of a majority of reasonable drivers (on a given stretch of road under normal conditions) would seem to be sufficient for those goals. Complete Story
In The News

Better World Club Offers Bicycle Roadside Assistance Coverage to RentaBikeNow Customers in 200 Cities
Complete Story

Read the RentaBikeNow Featured Partner Article from the last edition of Kicking Asphalt

Member Specials
Better World Club Members Receive 20% Off Purchases at ReBinder

ReBinder offers a full suite of recycled office and school supplies. Their binders, folders, journals, and CD/DVD cases are the most responsible you'll find. Better World Club members can take advantage of a 20% discount on ReBinder purchases by logging in to the member section of our website.

And get this! ReBinder is also offering a special promotion for Kicking Asphalt readers. Three very select readers will be chosen (at random) to receive a free Green Office Supply Sample Kit or a free Green School Supply Kit. Click here to see a list of ReBinder's products and be entered to win.

- Most Recent 'Kicking Asphalt: Member Payola Edition'
- Various Member Discounts
- Hotel and Car Rental Discounts
Member Alert
Access Hotel and Rental Car Discounts at BWC Member Site

Members Get Great Discounts Through Access Hotels (a Discount Program and a Confusing Double Entendre)

Need a place to stay on your family vacation? Renting a car for that wedding on the other coast? Flying last minute to Vegas in desperate hopes that you can re-pad your savings before your wife finds out what you spent it on? Better World Club members can access a wide range of lodging discounts through, well, Access. Complete Story
Top Story
Better World Insurance Now Quoting In Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, and South Carolina

Coverage Available in 39 States and the District of Columbia

(Note to members in Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Wisconsin: We're Still Waiting on Our Valentine's Day Chocolate)

It's true. We just made a similar announcement back in the December edition of Kicking Asphalt Insurance, but our associates at Gales Creek have been working around the clock since the beginning of the new year expanding our coverage offerings. (Plus, our members in Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, and South Carolina really came through on the Christmas gifts.) In any case, Better World Insurance is now accepting quote requests in 39 states* and the District of Columbia. A complete list of states is available here. Click here for a quote.

For those of you who didn't bother to click through to the December story, we'll take it once more from the top. (Ahem!) Better World is an independent insurance agent that works for you. In addition to discounts for air bags, anti-lock brakes, and other safety devices, we also discount our rates for members of the Better World Club in many states ( join now!). And we are the only insurance company providing a FREE carbon offset to cover the first 2,000 miles of greenhouse gas emissions generated by your automobile.

*You've all already caught it, so we might as well come clean. In December we announced expanding our insurance to a total of 37 states. Now we've expanded to four more states and are announcing a total of 39. Alaska went rogue and somehow sneaked its way onto our list. That still leaves us one off. Maybe it was that tricky DC... Anyway. We checked the list twice this time, but hope you'll let us know if we're off. Check the list here.

Complete Story

BWC Members Without our Insurance Can Be "Cool" And Offset Their Own Emissions...

Better World Club makes it easy to offset your greenhouse gas emissions from flying or driving for the year (for auto insurance customers, the remainder of your auto emissions). Just follow the simple instructions below:

1.) Precisely determine the carbon footprint of your air travel.
2.) Easily and precisely offset the greenhouse gas emissions of your automobile (or to offset the emissions beyond the first 2,000 miles of driving if you are a Better World Club insurance client).

Read Last Issue's Top Story:

- Better World Insurance Expands to Cover 18 New States!

Need To Get Out Of Town In A Hurry?

Try Our Spiffy Multi-Purpose Booking Engine


Southwest Conservation Corps

Better World Club is proud to support the efforts of the Southwest Conservation Corps. SSC employs and trains a diverse group of young women and men to complete conservation projects for the public benefit. With regional offices in Durango and Salida, CO, Acoma, NM, and Tucson, AZ, SCC has been completing conservation work throughout the Four Corners region since 1998. Most of SCC's Colorado and New Mexico based programs operate from March to October while the Arizona office runs programs year round. SCC operates a continuum of programs from community based initiatives for younger teens to residential camping crews for high school and college aged individuals to leadership programs for college graduates. Join or hire a crew at the SCC website.

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Washington Watch
Obama Administration Moves to Tighten Smog Standards...and Other Weird Tales of Washington

Next Thing You Know the Securities and Exchange Commission is Going to be Regulating Wall Street!

After nearly a decade of inaction on air pollution, the Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration recently proposed stricter standards for smog-causing pollutants. Under the new proposals, the primary standard for smog would be tightened to between 0.060 and 0.070 parts per million, the strictest standard in E.P.A. history. The current standard (set by the Bush administration in 2008) is 0.075 parts per million, a figure that has been challenged by both environmental activists and public health advocates.

Smog, or ground-level ozone, forms when emissions from industrial facilities, power plants, landfills and motor vehicles react in the sun. Currently, only 15 of 675 cities that monitor smog levels would be in compliance with a 0.060 ppm standard. E.P.A. analysts expect that the stricter standard could prevent thousands of premature deaths a year from lung cancer and heart disease, as well as thousands of cases of bronchitis and asthma (a health care savings of up to $100 billion).

What?!? E.P.A. using it's regulatory power under the Clean Air Act to protect public health? "E.P.A. is stepping up to protect Americans from one of the most persistent and widespread pollutants we face," said bizzaro E.P.A. Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, "Smog in the air we breathe poses a very serious health threat, especially to children and individuals suffering from asthma and lung disease. It dirties our air, clouds our cities and drives up our health care costs across the country." We guess so. Maybe if you believe in science...

Even stranger: new proposals on smog regulation came on the heels of a December E.P.A. finding that greenhouse gases threaten public health.

What's next? The S.E.C. reigning in Wall Street? It won't be long until the F.D.A. is telling us what to eat!

Complete Story
TravelCool Website of the Month

Eat Local!

And we're not talking about Chinese takeout from the place on the corner. Unless, that is, they only source their ingredients from nearby sustainable producers. Local Harvest will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, co-op groceries, and restaurants where you can buy sustainable foods in your area (or any area in the United States where you might be traveling). You can also exchange information with other visitors at Local Harvest's discussion forums and track sustainable food events across the country. Or, survey different community supported agriculture (CSA) programs to find the one that's best for you. We promise you won't be hungry again an hour later.

If You Liked That...

Be sure to take a peek at our 'Bodacious Page of Travel Links and Resources'. Our travel links page sports a crazy HUGE number of links, so if you're planning some travel this is a great resource.

Do You Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is?
Buyer Interest In Prius Grows. Say What?

In our last edition of Driving Change we reported on the recall of 8 Toyota models for sticking gas pedals and gave members tips on what to do if they experience unintended acceleration in an affected vehicle. Toyota is now recalling certain 2010 Priuses for low speed braking problems over bumpy or icy surfaces. Better World Club was as unimpressed as the next socially responsible auto club by Toyota's slow response on the safety issues that led to both recalls. But, we do believe that Toyota is now doing its best to address each situation and restore consumers' faith. That said, we thought our readers might be interested in this article from CNN Money.

by Peter Valdes-Dapena

By now, you've heard that some 2010 Toyota Priuses have a braking problem blamed for several crashes. That sounds scary, but to some it sounds like a deal.

A recent analysis of online car shopping shows that more people are seriously looking at a Toyota Prius than before the problematic brake news was uncovered.

"When a car or automaker receives bad press, people sense an opportunity to pick up a bargain," noted Edmunds.com CEO Jeremy Anwyl. "We saw the same reaction from consumers when Chrysler and General Motors declared bankruptcy last year."

Complete Story

Will U.S. Government Crackdown on "Greenwashing"?

Gabriel Nelson, Scientific American

The Federal Trade Commission is expected to crack down on "greenwashing" when it updates its environmental marketing guidelines for the first time since 1998.

The agency's Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims, or Green Guides, define terms such as "recyclable" and "biodegradable" and explain how businesses should back up environmental assertions. Though FTC cannot force businesses to adopt greener practices, Section 5 of the FTC Act authorizes the agency to intervene when businesses are misrepresenting their practices to clients -- in other words, turning greenwashing into fraud. Complete Story

NBC's Today Show Offers Yesterday's Way to De-Ice Your Car: Oil Crisis Means Nothing to Them

Run Your Car to De-Ice? Gee, Why Not Take a Plane to the Supermarket?

It's early. It's cold. It's ok! NBC's Today Show is offering advice on how to care for your car during these winter months.

There's Matt Lauder and Ann Curry with a variety of specialists. "Here's my windshield covered in frost."

The "expert" then advises that you let your car idle for 15 minutes.

And not a word from anyone that perhaps this is a waste of gasoline. Let's see, 200 million snowbound Americans (owning roughly that many cars) confronting winter by letting their cars idle each day? Does this make sense? Hey, it's only 25 million or so gallons each morning, at an average of 8 oz. of gas every 15 minutes. (OK, less than that because of garages, but the 8 oz. could be low, so come on.)

Instead, plan ahead and de-ice the eco-friendly way. Combine one part water with two parts rubbing alcohol, apply to your windshield, and watch the ice peel away. Not only will you cut down on your greenhouse gas emissions, but your homemade de-icing solution is much greener than commonly sold chemical de-icers.


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