July 2008


BWC to EPA: Get the Lead Out! (Of the Air We Breathe)

A Decades-Old Standard is Going to be Updated, and the EPA is Waffling


Ah, 1978. The Bee Gees were playing on the radio, people tuned in for Little House on the Prairie every week, and Grease was the word on the big screen. 1978 is also the year the EPA last set national pollution standards for lead.

A lot has changed in the last 30 years, but at least one thing hasn't: lead is still a public health hazard. Lead can cause learning disabilities and decreased growth in children. It can also cause severe damage to the blood-forming, nervous, urinary, and reproductive systems in adults.

Despite these health consequences, the EPA has not improved its thirty-year-old standard despite laws requiring it to review that standard every five years. Because of this blatant disregard of its duties, the agency was ordered to review the lead standard by a federal court in 2005.

The EPA's own scientists and advisers have concluded that the agency should beef up the current airborne lead standard of 1.5 micrograms per cubic meter to a level below 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter. As usual, EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson is ignoring his scientists and is pushing for a range of standards between 0.1 and 0.3 micrograms per cubic meter. The EPA's own science shows that the high end of this proposed range is not safe.

The EPA is accepting public comments on its proposed new standards through July 21st.

We urge our readers to Drive Change by contacting the EPA before the July 21st deadline and letting them know you support strong controls on lead pollution.

World Wildlife Fund Releases Environmental Scorecards for G8 Nations. Guess What Grade the US Got?

Italy Can't Maintain a Government Coalition for More than 3 Months at a Time, but They Still Got Better Marks than the US

(Along with the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, and Canada)

The WWF report ranks the G8 countries on emissions trends and progress toward each country's emissions target under the Kyoto Protocol. The report also rates each country's performance in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and development of carbon markets.

As has been the norm in the past few (7.5) years, the US received the worst grade of all eight nations. This quote from the WWF press release says it all:

"The U.S. is the largest emitter among the G8 countries and has the highest per capita emissions rate of any nation. Its total emissions are rising, due to the country's heavy reliance on coal and oil."

Sure, it's easy for the WWF to sit back in their ergonomically correct Swedish kneeling chairs and criticize US environmental policy, but we're working hard on the whole "global climate change thing". In fact, President Bush has been pushing to reduce our dependence on oil by drilling for more oilů

Okay, never mind.

- Click Here to Read the WWF's Press Release
- Click Here to Watch an Interview with WWF Spokesman Ric Flair

Cheney's Office Pushed Purge Of Climate Change Testimony

Complete Story

More 'Washington Watch' in 'Kicking Asphalt'



The author of this piece, Sunil Somalwar, is a friend of a member of Better World Club and a Professor of Physics at Rutgers University. We at BWC agree with Mr. Somalwar that coal is a dirty form of fuel that needs to be replaced with more sustainable options, but we disagree with the notion that electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles should not be used until our electric grid is powered without coal.

BWC members, we ask you to read Mr. Somalwar's article and let us know what you think.

Cleaner than electric?Prius and Prejudice: A Case against the Electric Car

by Sunil Somalwar

To paraphrase Jane Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single-minded environmentalist in possession of a good fortune must be in want of an electric car. Indeed, it is a common prejudice that since the Prius hybrid is efficient because it uses gasoline to generate electricity on board, an electric car that plugs into a wall socket must be equally good for the environment. Luckily, the numbers needed to address this prejudice are simple enough that one need not rely on somebody else's opinion. Complete Story

Additional Ways to Get Where You're Going:

"Daddy, where do greenhouse gases come from?"
"Well, when two oxygen atoms and one carbon atom love each other very much, they bond and then float up into the atmosphere. Then they change weather patterns and kill polar bears."

A company in India has built a car that runs on compressed air. Too bad it doesn't run on hot air. That would be a hit in Washington DC! (Mmmm, that's good satire!)

Walking is Still Better for the Environment than Driving. In other shocking news: Free Candy is Still Better than a Kick to the Groin, and Winning the Lottery is Still Better than Being Shot in the Face by Dick Cheney.

Jean-Paul Sartre once said, "Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness, and dies by chance." Wow. On a less depressing note: Paris plans help-yourself electric car program.

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


Next-Gen Prius: What Will a Little Sunshine Get You?

By Chris Maxcer

The Toyota Prius will reportedly soon sport solar panels to feed the hybrid vehicle's power supply. While solar energy is free and clean, it's only enough to help out a little with the car's AC system, not power its engine. Critics say Toyota might be wiser to direct its research and development toward plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Complete Story

Felix Kramer's Plug-in Electric Vehicle Progress Report For General Motors,Toyota, Honda and Ford

No better person to ask for a progress report on the world's leading automakers as they move toward manufacturing plug-in electric hybrid vehicles than plug-ins' foremost proponent, Felix Kramer of advocacy group, the man who regularly meets with major car companies. Complete Story

Toyota: Green but Abusive to Workers?

Car Company's First Response to Labor, Trafficking Charges

by Jim Motavalli
The Daily Green

I've just been on the highway to the future, and it felt great! This very green roadway was inside a big blue trailer-tractor parked by Toyota on the New Haven, Connecticut green during its big International Arts & Ideas festival. Complete Story

More 'Do You Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is?' in 'Kicking Asphalt':
- The Ethanol Cure's Side Effects
- WSJ Wonders Whether GM Is Producing the Plug-In Hybrid Chevy Volt For Less-Than-Environmental Reasons
- Loaded for Bear


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