February 1, 2011


Change of Climate in the 112th Congress: House Moves to Limit Regulatory Power of EPA

Urge Your Representative to Publicly Support the EPA and Its Regulations of Greenhouse Gases Under the Clean Air Act

Seemingly no sooner had the Constitution been read at the opening of the new legislative session in the House of Representatives than members of that chamber introduced bills intended to thwart the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

In particular, HR 97, the so called Free Industry Act, aims, "to amend the Clean Air Act to provide that greenhouse gases are not subject to the Act." Oh yeah, "and for other purposes," too. (We cringe at the thought of what those other purposes might be.)

HR 153, the Ensuring Affordable Energy Act, would prohibit EPA funding from being used for implementation or enforcement of a cap and trade program for greenhouse gases.

With Congress having failed to pass a comprehensive climate and energy bill in its last session, the role of the EPA in regulating emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants is more important than ever. Taking its cue from an embattled White House, the EPA has already postponed the implementation of regulations to reduce smog and the pollution generated by industrial boilers. It is now imperative that Representatives make a strong stand in support of the EPA and its lawful regulatory power under the Clean Air Act. There should be no further delay in America's fight against climate change and our transition to a healthier and more vibrant clean energy economy.

We urge our readers to Drive Change by contacting their Representatives and insisting that they support the ability of the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. A sample letter is available here.

Once you've done that, we ask that you also forward this email to a friend.

Are you a businessperson? You can also sign on to this petition to Congress from the American Sustainable Business Council.

And then, you know, forward this email to a friend.

Better World Club joins Ben & Jerry's, Seventh Generation, Calvert Investments, and other Companies to Stop Unlimited Corporate Campaign Donations

US Supreme Court Says Money Is Speech

Congress Says Talk All You Want As Long As We Get the Money

BWC President Mitch Rofsky joined Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Wayne Silby of Calvert Investments, Jeff Holender, the founder of Seventh Generation, and a number of other corporate executives in Washington DC on the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.

In Citizens United, the Court struck down traditional restrictions on corporate political contributions with a 5-4 vote. Subsequently, legislation requiring "disclosure" of corporate contributions passed the House of Representatives, but Senators in support of the bill fell short of ending a filibuster against it.

Ben and Jerry started the event by declaring: "I'm Ben Cohen and I'm a person." "I'm Jerry Greenfield and I'm a person." "Together, we're Ben & Jerry's, which is not a person." In so doing, they were confronting the Court's ruling that corporations have the same Constitutional rights as individuals.

Mitch referred to his testimony before the House Administration Committee on Campaign Finance Reform in 1979: He proposed that corporations recognize that corporate contributions involve more than "buying influence." "There are two sides to the same coin: there may be bribery, but let's not forget that pressure can run both ways -- which means that extortion can be involved as well." He was recently told that corporations are expected to pay $25,000 for meetings with Senators.

Mitch asked the press to encourage retired Congresspeople to disclose just how much time they spent raising money (purportedly as much as half their time as elections approach) and how they were pressured by businesses. Using former Aetna executive Wendell Potter as an example, he also encouraged the press to identify retired corporate executives that would speak on the role of business on political fundraising. Potter has become an effective advocate for health insurance reform, and Rofsky suggested that there are many retired executives who might be willing to disclose how their corporations used money to influence policy.

Better World Club encourages all business leaders to get involved on this issue. They can start by going to Business for Democracy ( If you are not a business executive, check out Public Citizen's " Don't Get Rolled" campaign.)

More "Washington Watch" in Kicking Asphalt

- With the Senate Debating Filibuster Rules We're Wondering: Do We Need to Break up California to Fix Democracy?


Driving to the Future: Can China -- and the World -- Afford 2 Billion Cars?

China could have one billion cars by mid-century -- but what kind of vehicles will they be?

by David Biello, Scientific American

"China, India, can those countries do it better?" asks transportation expert Daniel Sperling of University of California, Davis. "Do they have to follow the model of the U.S. and Europe?"

In 2010, the world holds some 1.2 billion cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles, including roughly 200 million in China. But with China potentially heading towards a billion vehicles alone in the next few decades the question is: can China build the clean car of the future or will it remain stuck in the muck and mire of the past?

"The industry and the market are going to smaller, cheaper vehicles, not just China and India, but elsewhere as well," Sperling notes, and tax cuts on cars with less than 1.6 liter engines helped push sales of such vehicles to 70 percent of the Chinese market this year. But, even with cars moved by such fuel efficient engines, "if you think we have problems now with oil security and climate change, it's only going to get a lot worse unless we do something about the increasing number of vehicles."

Complete Story

Additional Ways to Get Where You're Going:

It slices! It dices! ...excess electricity generated by neighborhood solar cells, that is.

There's something nasty going around this winter: blindness to clean air and climate changes issues is contagious.
CFLs? Pfft. The future is LEDs.

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


A "Friendlier" Prius Might Mean a Cheaper One

"Prius Brand Now More 'Friendly' Than Cutting Edge"'

by Michael Graham Richard,

What is today "cutting edge" will tomorrow be something else. That's the way technological progress works, and that's what Toyota has found is happening with its Prius brand in Japan (and most likely elsewhere soon). "Because of its high sales volume, car buyers are now more likely to think of the Prius as a 'friendly' brand than a 'leading edge' one, according to a survey conducted by Fumikazu Kitagawa of Nomura's global automotive practice.

The research institute who conducted the survey about the Prius hybrid's brand concludes that the more the prius becomes a mass-market car, the more pressure there will be on Toyota to reduce pricing to keep it competitive with its perceived competitors.

Complete Story

‘Bio-based': Organic's Sketchy New Cousin

by Holly Richmond,

Thanks to the USDA and the 2002 farm bill, products made from least a quarter "renewable plant, animal, marine, or forestry materials" can get a special "bio-based" label. Supposedly it's like the organic or Energy Star labels, but for your glass cleaner and foamy hand soap made from renewable ingredients. The USDA's press release says the bio-based label will help make green shopping decisions easier.

Oh really, USDA? More like make greenwashing and confusion easier.

Complete Story


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