December 2007


U.S. Railway Funding Needs an Overhaul

Driving Change Readers Encouraged the Senate to Pass a Bill - Now it's Time for the House to Step Up

The Senate approved S. 294, the Rail Passenger Investment and Improvement Act, by a veto-proof margin of 70-22.

A companion bill in the House is still needed. This bill is important because it would, for the first time in US history, establish a federal funding formula for intercity passenger rail that is on par with other modes of transportation. Currently the federal government pays for 80-90% of the capital cost of road projects, 80% for airport projects, 30-50% for transit projects, but nothing for intercity passenger rail infrastructure outside of the money that goes to Amtrak to maintain the Northeast Corridor. States have been left to pick up the tab to pay for infrastructure upgrades for rail corridors like the Pacific Northwest corridor between Eugene, OR and Seattle, WA.

Driving Change readers have already helped convince the Senate to pass S. 294. We encourage our readers to Drive Change yet again and let the House know that you support the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act. Emails are great, but we also encourage readers to call and send letters as well.

Click here to contact the House of Representatives.

Haiku Activism!

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

I like my cars small
driving with wind in my hair
smelling the green grass

- Pat C.
Hampden, MA

Click here to read more BWC member haikus.

Simple Things You Can Do To Fight Global Warming

Set the default settings on your copy machine and printer to automatically print double-sided. You should also save and send materials electronically to reduce your printing needs as much as possible.

Energy Bill Passes Unanimously and Signed by President After All Provisions Are Removed

No...Wait...Correction: "Streamlined" Bill Passes 86-8 in Senate, 314-100 in the House, and Is Signed by the President

"The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007" Makes Such a Nice Title...Is It Just Picky To Want More?

After months of wrangling, Congress and the White House have finally agreed to a greatly reduced energy bill. President Bush signed the bill into law after Congressional Democrats meticulously eliminated all provisions that might possibly be objectionable to anyone anywhere at anytime: Congressional Republicans, the White House, oil companies, nuclear power companies, the President's relatives, your neighbor who drives a Cadillac, and other special interest groups.

Gone are the requirements for utilities to get 15 percent of their power from renewable sources and the elimination of $13.5 billion in tax breaks from the five largest oil companies. That money would have been put toward tax incentives for solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, wave energy, and other renewable energy sources. Consumers would have received a $3,000 tax credit for buying an electric plug-in hybrid and a tax credit of up to $4,000 for installing solar panels for their homes.

"This bill is lean and mean," enthused one of the Senators from Texas...we don't remember her name..the female one.., while relaxing in the "congressional hammock" set up in her Capitol Hill office. "We don't need a bunch of provisions cluttering up our bills. In fact, the less we actually change, the easier they are to pass. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to 'Guiding Light'. Oh, since you're up, could you hand me that pitcher of vodka and lemonade? Thanks." Complete Story

More 'Washington Watch' in 'Kicking Asphalt'

- Do-Over: Appeals Court Forces Bush Administration to Rewrite Auto Regs--Again!


Hybrids Still Lead on MPG, According to 2008 EPA Numbers

The most fuel efficient 2008-model cars available to consumers are hybrids, according to new fuel economy numbers issued by the EPA. The Toyota Prius, with a combined highway/city mileage of 46, and the Civic Hybrid with combined mpg of 42, are the only vehicles to break the 40-mpg mark. The rest of the top five most efficient vehicles are also hybrids: the Nissan Altima Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid, and two-wheel-drive Ford Escape Hybrid, the only SUV at the top of the list.

The 2008 fuel economy figures for hybrids are about 20 percent lower than last year's numbers, based on new testing procedures designed to better reflect real-world driving conditions, such as high-speed driving, use of air conditioning, and cold weather. Industry observers speculated that hybridscommonly criticized for having exaggerated official mpg numbers used on window labelswould tumble when the new testing system took effect. Despite the adjustments, hybrid gas-electric vehicles remain as leaders in fuel efficiency. Complete Story

Additional Ways to Get Where You're Going:

They paved Paradise, Indiana and put up a parkin' lot.

Okay, so they poached the word "Carma" from Better World Club ( "Improve Your Car-Ma" anyone?), but we still like this carbon-tracking website.

A mighty wind turbine generates electricity at 1,000 feet. Now, if they could just find a way to suspend a house at that height, my "Jetsons" fantasy would become a reality.

Did carbon save Earth from being frozen? (As opposed to carbonite, which actually did freeze Han Solo.)

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


Chevy SilveradoHuzzah! General Motors Corporation to Power Silverado with Bully New "Hybridized Electrical" Engine Late 2008

Eschewing internal combustion technology that has proudly powered engines since the 19th century, GM sallies forth into a new era of non-100-year-old technology with the 2009 Hybrid Chevy Silverado.

The Silverado Hybrid is based on the GM two-mode hybrid system, which uses GM's Electrically Variable Transmission (EVT) and nickel metal hydride Energy Storage System (ESS) paired with the GM 6.0-liter V8 gasoline engine. The truck's electrical engine will run the vehicle at speeds below 30 mph. Above 30, the gasoline engine engages. The hybrid engine is expected to improve the Silverado's fuel efficiency by 25%, with 19/21 mpg city/hwy.

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

- Holiday Gift Guide!


Nigh Given Card

#1 GoodSearch Result For "Nigh Given Card" - What is GoodSearch?

Tell a friend about Better World Club! •  Better World Club