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January 25th, 2012

GET MOVING

Plan to Increase Fuel Efficiency Standards Unites EPA, Automakers, Democrats, Republicans

In Related News, Hell Reports Record Low Temperatures, While Farmers Struggle to Tether Flying Pigs

In July of 2011 President Obama emerged from talks with major US automakers with a plan for doubling fuel economy standards from 27 to 54 mpg for vehicles manufactured between 2017 and 2025. The US Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency recently released an official joint proposal for the plan. A press release by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that,

"this proposal will save Americans over $1.7 trillion at the pump, more than $8,000 per vehicle by 2025. These combined actions also will reduce America's dependence on oil by an estimated 12 billion barrels, and, by 2025, reduce oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels per day enough to offset almost a quarter of the current level of our foreign oil imports. Taken together, these actions will also slash 6 billion metric tons in greenhouse gas emissions over the life of the programs."

The plan offers incentives to carmakers for early adoption of stricter standards, and helps to unify a patchwork of state regulations that have in the past caused problems for manufacturers. A survey by the Consumer Federation of America showed that a majority of both Republicans and Democrats support the increase in fuel efficiency standards; the plan is also widely supported by car manufacturers themselves.

The plan is scheduled to be finalized in the summer of 2012. NHTSA and the EPA have extended the public comment period, which will now end on February 13, 2012. You can make public-record comments online here.

You can also sign a petition in support of the new standards: change.org has one here.




WASHINGTON WATCH
Proposed Restriction Would Keep Bikes off Federal Roads

Cyclists Relegated to Poorly-Maintained Paths Will Begin Carrying Axes to Clear Fallen Logs

Andy Clarke of the League of American Bicyclists states that "the draft of the Senate's transportation authorization (S. 1813 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act) has been a bit of a disappointment for cyclists. It reduces funding for dedicated bicycling programs and allows state departments of transportation an opt-out for spending it."

Cyclists' main concern, however, is with the authorization's treatment of bicycle safety on federal land.

Section 203 (d) BICYCLE SAFETY.The Secretary of the appropriate Federal land management agency shall prohibit the use of bicycles on each federally owned road that has a speed limit of 30 miles per hour or greater and an adjacent paved path for use by bicycles within 100 yards of the road.

Clark believes that the proposed law would force cyclists off roads and onto paths, regardless of the paths' condition. He explains that a sidepath law is "a provision that used to be found in a lot of state vehicle codes that says that when a sidepath (bike path, trail) is provided for cyclists, they have to use it and can't ride on the parallel roadway. Over the past 20 years, the number of states with this law still on their books has dwindled to just a handful. The problem with the provision is that the restriction applies regardless of the quality, safety, and utility of the path provided; it disregards the needs of cyclists to be on the roadway to access shops, services etc.; and ignores our fundamental right to the road."

While advocates for cyclists' rights agree that increasing equality of access should be the goal of both state and national legislation, many disagree about whether greater access should include increased cyclist presence on high-speed roads, or whether greater focus should be put on improving and expanding sidepaths to provide a safer alternative. Unfortunately, S. 1813 does neither. It restricts bike access to roads without making any commitment to maintain or improve sidepaths - even though poor path conditions are a regular reason for cyclist's use of relatively more dangerous roadways. Instead of offering solutions, the authorization addresses the problem of cyclists on roadways by criminalizing them.

You can sign the petition to tell the Senate to remove this clause.




More "Washington Watch" in Kicking Asphalt

- BWC President Mitch Rofsky Joins Other Business Leaders to Oppose Keystone Pipeline



Additional Ways to Get Where You're Going:

Horizontally: Urban Spelunkers Mourn as Bioswales Replace Storm Drains

Vertically: Grow Lettuce in Your Living Room!
Upside-down: Cucumbers Have Always Dreamed of Flight
And Even In Little Verdant Patches on Your Bathroom Floor

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

DO YOU PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS?

BP Axes Solar Power Business

by Terry Macalister, guardian.co.uk

BP has taken the axe to its solar power business, saying it "can't make any money" from selling panels at a time when it continues to spend $20bn annually on oil and gas developments.
The energy group, which once promised to move "beyond petroleum", was an important player in solar but has over the last three years gradually closed its panel factories and made around 1,750 workers redundant.
At the same time, the company has gradually retreated from other areas such as carbon capture and storage and shut down its separate London headquarters for BP Alternative Energy.

Complete Story


Ford C-MAX Hybrid

by Larry E. Hall, hybridcars.com

In a move to chip away at Toyota's market dominance of hybrid cars, Ford will roll out two new hybrid models in 2012. The no-plug C-Max Hybrid and plug-in C-Max Energi are based on the five-passenger C-Max sold in Europe. In an announcement in June to expand production of the two C-Max hybrids, Ford said it had changed its mind about the seven-passenger gasoline-only version of the Grand C-Max in the U.S and the C-Max will be a dedicated hybrid vehicle. The C-Max Hybrid will arrive in the first half of 2012 followed by the C-Max Energi. "This is our Prius fighter," said Ford's head of global marketing, Jim Farley, during a recent press announcement.

Complete Story

US Looks Ahead After Ethanol Subsidy Expires

by Rob Lever (AFP)

After a series of bitter political fights, the US Congress allowed a subsidy for ethanol fuel to expire at the end of 2011, ending a program harshly criticized by environmentalists and others.

By taking no action, US lawmakers ended the credit of 45 cents per gallon refiners get for blending ethanol, which in the US market is made mostly from corn, into gasoline. Also terminated was a tariff on imports of 54 cents per gallon which was criticized by Brazil, a producer of sugar cane-based ethanol.

The programs were in place since the 1980s as a means of curbing US use of imported petroleum.

But over time, criticism grew that growing ethanol use diverted too much corn from food to fuel, and led to environmental and land use problems, by adding to incentives to plant more corn. The program also cost taxpayers some $6 billion annually.

Complete Story

'DRIVING CHANGE' ANAGRAM OF THE MONTH

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