Archive for the transportation Category

Orion’s Xtracycle and Peapod Commercial

Posted in alternative fuel, clean energy, conservation, ethical consumerism, global warming, sustainability, transportation on February 13, 2010 by theseep


I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my Xtracycle over the last 3 years and it was time to figure out a mode of eco-friendly transport for Orion, so we opted to upgrade Laura’s commuter to an Xtracycle Radish model with the Peapod child carrier kit. They had a promotion that required us to make a video, submit a testimonial and some photos for almost $400 off the package!

At 7 months Orion is almost ready to take his first trip to Farmer’s Market on his new bike limousine! Of course, we’re still using biodiesel and vegetable oil for our vehicle transport, but cycling is still preferred when we can (you really pay attention to how much fuel you use when you make it yourself!).

The Mini-E: Finally We’re (Almost) Seeing A Consumer Electric Car!

Posted in ethical consumerism, green energy, sustainability, transportation on October 18, 2008 by theseep

The BMW group has announced that it will have 500 Mini E’s ready to deploy in California by the end of 2008!  This electric version of the cuddly yet sporty Mini will house a 150kw (204 hp) motor powered by Li-ion batteries that will go 0-62 in 8.5 seconds, rock an electronically limited top speed of 95 mph, go an estimated 150 miles to a charge, and will be repowered in 2.5 hours by a garage charger.  These vehicles unfortunately will only “initially be made available to select private and corporate customers as part of a pilot project in the US states of California, New York and New Jersey”, but it’s a start and I’m optimistically hoping that they’ll see great success and get to the consumer sometime in 2009-10.

We’ve known about climate change for decades, yet hardly any action has been taken until recently.  We’ve seen fuel prices rise and the threat of peak oil has loomed closer and closer, threatening a global energy and economic meltdown at any time.  Since the EV-1, subject of the film “Who Killed The Electric Car”, we have yet to see a consumer-oriented, highway-capable electric vehicle come out of any of the major auto manufacturers.  Sure, we’ve seen prototypes, concepts, and a flurry of promised vehicles from startups, and don’t forget the DIY movement, where an enterprising wannabe engineer can spend a few hundred hours and $10K or more on an EV hobby kit, but where have the electric cars been for the rest of us?  We want to go to the car lot, test drive a few, and slap down less than $25k for a nice, solid, reliable electric car with all of the bells and whistles.  The technology is there – the only stumbling block has been battery technology, which is advancing at a blinding speed.  Why hasn’t the industry gotten together to make a standard interchangeable battery pack that can be swapped out with better technology in 5-10 years when it’s ready?  I’ll take a car with a 100 mile range now with the prospect of a 300 mile range in a few years when batteries are better!

via Gas 2.0

BMW Press Club Release

Insulate Yourself Against Recession With Renewable Energy and Urban Farming

Posted in clean energy, conservation, ethical consumerism, green energy, politics, sustainability, transportation on October 18, 2008 by theseep

Like it or not, we’re in at least a recession and possibly heading for a depression.  The federal government can bail out banks and throw money into the system without having any real inkling as to whether it will actually work or not, but there’s no denying that we will all be affected.  Some will lose jobs, some will take a hit on retirement, some will lose their homes, and some might even have to sell their second yacht.  Regardless of where you stand, as we approach peak oil, energy, food, and transportation will continue to become more costly, and as finances become tighter, we will all have to take a good look at how we use our money and our resources.

How can you protect yourself against this downturn?   Become as self-sufficient as possible.  With the renewed and expanded tax credits, and more payment plans available, residential solar installations are now within reach of many Americans.  Solar hot water and solar ovens to cook your food will decrease your gas or electric bill.  Plant a garden for cheap, fresh vegetables and herbs and some free exercise instead of a gym membership.  Compost your kitchen waste for free fertilizer for your plants and garden.  Look into a commuter bike or an electric bike or scooter for fast, nearly free local transportation.  Find out what public transportation is available to you and take the bus or the train to work, or find other commuters to carpool with.  Perform an energy audit of your home and replace incandescents with CFL bulbs or even better, energy-sipping LEDs.  Turn off unused lights and electronics with power strips to combat phantom power loads.  If you’re upgrading or changing appliances, make sure that your new ones are Energy Star certified, particularly your computer, refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer.  Reinsulate your home and seal doors and windows against drafts.  Plant fruit trees and berry bushes around your property for year after year of seasonal food that can be canned for use later or given away as inexpensive but creative and sustainable gifts.  There are hundreds of other small changes that you can make that are not only rewarding and will decrease your impact on the planet, but will save significant amounts of money for you and your family as food and energy prices rise.  This is not only a conscientious thing to do, it’s fiscally responsible!

Fossil Fuel Free Concert Series: Ben Harper and Jack Johnson Shows in Santa Barbara

Posted in biodiesel, clean energy, conservation, ethical consumerism, global warming, green energy, sustainability, transportation on September 15, 2008 by theseep

Last month Laura and I were fortunate enough to make it to see two of our favorite artists, Ben Harper at the Santa Barbara Bowl on August 22nd, and Jack Johnson at UC Santa Barbara on August 27th. Each of these trips are about a 220 mile round trip and to save money and relieve our eco-guilt, we of course drove our biodiesel vehicles in another installment of Fossil Fuel Free roadtrips. For the Ben Harper show it was just me and Laura, so we took the 2003 Jetta TDI wagon which gets 37+ miles/gallon on our homemade biodiesel. The show was fantastic, Santa Barbara Bowl is a fantastic venue, and watching Harper rock out on his slide guitar will drop your jaw in amazement as he melts your face off with his ridiculous musical talent.

For the Jack Johnson show, we carpooled with some friends and took the Vegfalia for some straight used vegetable oil transport. The Jack show was fantastic as always and as a bonus, he has the “All At Once” initiative in full swing. His mellow musical stylings always get the crowd swaying and bouncing to the beat, listening to his honest and heartfelt lyrics.  The show was a bit festival-like, with the All-At-Once tent and a circle of tents housing various environmental groups as well. Impressively, the entire concert tour is striving to be carbon neutral, through biodiesel-powered tourbuses and generators and CO2 offsets. Also, there were water stations to refill your reusable bottles, discouraging bottled water, there were recycling bins next to every trash can, the concert T-shirts were organic cotton, and if you collected enough stamps from refilling your bottle, carpooling, and visiting the environmental non-profits there, you were entered to win a JJ skateboard or to get up on stage with Jack. Also, any donations to the non-profits were matched by the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation. Basically Jack Johnson is demonstrating by example that large events and tours can have minimal environmental impact and he it seems that he is successfully converting fans to be more mindful of their consumption.
Go Jack!

Continuing Right-Wing Shortsightedness on Oil: Drilling Won’t Bring Down Gas Prices!

Posted in conservation, ethical consumerism, global warming, politics, sustainability, transportation on August 19, 2008 by theseep


In the continuing media campaign to get Americans to want to drill offshore and in the National Arctic Wildlife Refuge, Hannity and Gingrich are shown here once again making fun of conservation techniques and attempting to discredit the real solution: DECREASE OIL CONSUMPTION AND TRANSITION TO ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCES. It’s really that simple. The “drill, drill, drill” philosophy might get us a little more oil in the relative short term (3-5 years before we start seeing any actual oil), but by staying with our current infrastructure, demand will continue to rise, and the future result will be the same – rising oil prices and the continued “addiction to oil”.

The alternative is to change how we use oil now by conserving, and continue to develop battery and alternative fuel technology so that in the next 1-5 years your next new car will be electric or fueled with cellulosic ethanol or algae-based biodiesel instead of oil. In the same time it would take to see anything from drilling new wells, we’ll be well on our way to kicking fossil fuels to the curb.

What kills me is the continued lack of professionalism and blatant skew put on this type of reporting from Fox News and many conservatives. They scoff at inflating your tires, where in fact, keeping your tires at proper pressure can improve mileage by as much as 3.3%, which is not bad for such an easy solution. Combine that with people using public transportation, riding bikes for local trips, carpooling, and other basic, money-saving conservation strategies, and a solid plan for renewable technology implementation, and we simply won’t need to drill.

We can only hope that our future and current leaders have the foresight and wisdom to guide us there rather than staying with the reactionary, short-sighted status quo.

video via treehugger.com

News Flash: Gas Prices Will Continue to Rise! Stop Whining and Start Acting!

Posted in clean energy, conservation, ethical consumerism, global warming, green energy, politics, sustainability, transportation on May 31, 2008 by theseep

We’re all tired of hearing everyone complain about gas prices. Besides the everyday complainers, we have truckers protesting, middle class families in suburbia going broke driving to work, and now McCain and Hillary are pushing a summertime “gas tax holiday”. Although it is unfortunate that so many people are being effected by the rising prices of fuel, the reality is that our days of cheap, government-subsidized cabon-based fuels are at an end. To put it in perspective, Germany just hit $8/gallon as the already expensive fuel prices throughout Europe continue to increase.
Peter Schwartz, PhD., a local Cal Poly Professor of sustainability calculated that the true cost of a gallon of gas, when you factor in extraction, refining, the environmental impacts, transport, associated human and health impacts, and every other estimatable cost, is around $12/gallon. As we approach this true cost, people will be forced to reconsider how they are utilizing energy resources.

Because we have manipulated the market for so long and fought wars for “energy security”, the U.S. has enjoyed falsely lowered fuel prices for half a century. This cheap gas market allowed the expansion of suburbia, the cheap transport of goods and services, the rise of the unparalleled American car culture, a booming vacation and travel market, and an incredible number of other unsustainable luxurious activities. It has also allowed us to waste an incredible amount of energy and resources because they have been so cheap. We have built grandiose, inefficient stick houses with poor insulation, installed energy-sucking appliances, and we drive down the street in our image-conscious, 12mpg SUVs, all choices based on what many people call the “free market”, but what is in reality a subsidized, racketeered, bastardized version of capitalism. The oil subsidies unto themselves are incredible, with an estimated $17.8 billion in tax subsidies and between $38 billion and $114.6 billion in government program subsidies, according to an article on treehugger.com.

Many conservative economists, would like us to “stay the course”, saying that this “free market” will direct where our money goes, ie: as consumer demand for renewable energy, efficient and electric cars, and sustainable business increases, we will see more of these products available. Although they are correct in basic theory, their entire paradigm of capitalism has been so twisted by political deals, unfair trade agreements, the aforementioned fuel subsidies, and a lack of accountability for the impacts of industrial production, that the basic tenets of the conceptual free market no longer apply. If not for these modifying factors falsely lowering the prices of certain goods and services, opening access to unsustainable development, as well as the effect of psychologically based marketing to sell us wasteful, often toxic products and foods, we would have likely been well on the way to being sustainable 30 years ago with the first energy crisis. If we had been paying European energy prices as we should have been, we would be living efficiently in closer communities, with less waste, public transportation, and more local food production, the very direction that we need to move in immediately if we are to decrease the looming effects of our self-induced climate change.

I recently saw a few minutes of Glenn Beck on a near-sighted, unthoughtful rant on why we should start drilling in Alaska to get us more cheap oil. This is the same lunacy that brings us the gas tax holiday and the “economic stimulus package”, maneuvers that don’t even prolong the inevitable, they don’t even actually help anyone, except that they make some of the more oblivious public feel like something is being done. For us to actually make any progress, each individual must first take responsibility for their energy use and carbon footprint: If you haven’t dumped your SUV yet, do it! Change your lightbulbs, install solar, bike more, compost, start your garden, stop buying things from China and overseas, buy local, organic foods, consume like you give a damn!

We also need to pass sweeping changes in legislation, here are a few examples:

1. Immediate moratorium on new coal-fired or nuclear power plants with required emissions-reducing equipment on all existing plants.

2. Home and industrial efficiency requirements to meet LEED certification on ALL new construction and a program to require and assist in efficiency retrofitting on existing homes and industrial buildings.

3. Increased support for renewable energy research and infrastructure with

4. Standardization in electric vehicle battery and/or charging units to allow for swappable battery packs and the deployment of universal charging stations.

5. Better subsidies for residential solar and electric/plug-in hybrid vehicles with significantly increased fees/taxes on non-industrial/non-farming vehicles getting less than 25mpg (this should quickly increase to 30+mpg)

6. Integrated waste management systems with greywater recycling, green waste reutilization for biomass digestion and composting, extensive recycling programs, and increased tariffs for waste and refuse.

With significant conservation initiatives and continued development of existing renewable energy technologies, we can negate the need for new coal power plants, we can avoid drilling in the arctic, and we can decrease some of the effects of climate change. I doubt that any of our current legislators have the courage to make many of these changes, so it is up to us, the citizens, to first do our part, then support our leaders in taking the steps needed to protect our society, our people, and our environment.

Biofuels Comparison Study – Conclusion: Properly Planned Biofuel Is A Great Transition Fuel, Poorly Designed Is Superbad.

Posted in biodiesel, clean energy, conservation, ethical consumerism, global warming, green energy, politics, sustainability, transportation on May 11, 2008 by theseep

The results of a study by University of Washington and The Nature Conservancy are shown in the chart below, detailing the efficiency and impact of various biofuel production strategies.
Basically it shows what we already know about corn ethanol and soy biodiesel, and other “food-for-fuel” crops – they are extraordinarily inefficient, using large amounts of fossil fuels, water, pesticides, and fertilizer to produce, and directly detracting from food sources. Because of the recent food shortages, these biofuels are getting another look as a potential part of the problem. Unfortunately all biofuels are being vilified by this media hype, and even efficient processes like sugar cane and cellulosic ethanol or waste oil and algae-based biodiesel are getting a bad name as well.

One of our biggest problems is the lack of foresight – the U.S. government has been supporting corn ethanol extensively due to lobbying and special interests even though it is though it actually uses more resources than it produces. If we can put our resources toward developing technologies like cellulosic ethanol and algae biodiesel, we will have bridging biofuels that will allow us to continue to use existing combustion technology as we reach peak oil. This will be a critical phase for further development of the next generation of renewable energy production and infrastructure.

In 20 years, after peak oil has been reached and fossil fuel prices are ridiculously high, our combustion technology will be mostly obsolete and electric cars powered by next-gen battery technology. Once again, for this to happen smoothly, we need strong and wise leadership that will resist corporate and lobbyist influence and be able to encourage the most efficient and promising technologies.

via treehugger and Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Spark-EV Closed Down – A Torrid Tale of Broken Promises and Vaporware

Posted in clean energy, conservation, ethical consumerism, global warming, green energy, politics, sustainability, transportation on April 11, 2008 by theseep

Edit:  It seems that Spark-EV has shut it’s doors, the owner replacing the former website with a description of events that led to Spark’s downfall.  I’m sorry for posting without researching the company better, but the posted letter is interesting reading!

Previous Post:

I had thought that I was keeping up on the development of this generation of electric vehicles, being completely disappointed by the lack of commitment from American carmakers and the plethora of vaporware from the likes of Zap!, and anxiously awaiting a “new” EV1 that is affordable, practical, and has a decent range. While Tesla has finally started production of their legendary electric roadster, at 100,000 clams, this is still far out of reach of the average eco-conscious consumer. However, I recently came across Spark-EV, a U.S. company that supposedly already has 3 models in production and 2 more pending certification for 75+mph highway operation and over 100 miles to a charge. All that plus a few neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs), 2 electric scooters, and a futuristic 3 wheel EV in the works as well!

The largest option currently available is the Qilin, a 5-seater mini-SUV akin to a Honda CRV with a range of 100+ miles/charge, top speed of 80mph, and a price tag of $27,950. Next is the Zotye (pictured) with a range of 110+ miles, top speed of 75mph, and goes for $24,900. The smallest current full-speed option is the Dragon, a compact similar to a VW Golf or Toyota Matrix with a range of 125+ miles, top speed of 80mph, and sells for $24,950. They also have a micro-compact dubbed the Panda, that is pending full-speed certification, but is a 2-seater similar to a SmartCar that will get you 80mph and 125+ miles per charge for $21,950. These all run on LiFePO4 batteries that charge fully in 10 hours, but can get 75% charge in 5 hours.
Let’s do some simple calculations: The average commuter drives 15,000 miles/year, estimate fuel efficiency at a generous 30mpg, and you’re using 500 gallons of fuel per year. Over the next 10 years, with fuel prices climbing, let’s estimate a lowball average cost of $5/gallon. If you add in solar panels for “free” charging at home (the solar installation will pay itself off in 10-15 years as well in savings), by this calculation, your fuel savings alone in the next 10 years will pay for the price of the entire car! If you’re still a skeptic, you can refer to The S.E.E.P.’s New Car Buyer’s Guide, which basically says – don’t buy a new car! Over the next 10 years peak oil, emissions restrictions, and rising fuel prices will force a significant change in our transportation infrastructure. Combine that with the upfront cost of a new vehicle and the incredibly fast depreciation, you’re much better off either buying a used vehicle, preferably one capable of using biofuels, so you can wait for the next generation of electrics and new technology, or buy an all-electric now, which will save you more and more money as fuel prices increase.  For the DIY’er, you can build your own EV with a kit from Electro-Auto, EV USA, or pick up kit plans from Riley Enterprises.  In addition, battery technology will continue to improve at a rapid pace, so by the time your new EV needs new batteries, it is probable that you’ll be able to extend your range by upgrading to an ultracapacitor, hydrogen, or other type of next-generation battery.
We need to stop fearing new technology and think outside of our fossil-fuel box. We still have a chance to change what we have set in motion and preserve much of the planet for our children, but we all need to make some sacrifices and take some risks.

New Renewable Oil Source: Bio-crude Could Be Big

Posted in alternative fuel, clean energy, global warming, green energy, politics, sustainability, transportation on February 18, 2008 by theseep

Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), along with Monash University have taken cellulosic ethanol to another level. Using agricultural waste, forest thinnings, waste paper, and anything else with lignocellulose, they are able to make bio-crude, similar to a renewable “light and sweet” crude petroleum which can then be further refined into ethanol, bioplastics, and other uses. They smartly propose local processing plants to use regional waste, thereby closing the loop on a good deal of what would otherwise go to landfill.

OK U.S.A., while we’re still half-ignoring the issue being the ONLY industrialized nation not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol (Australia and Iraq recently caved), other nations are using public funds to research and develop innovative, clean technologies to take them into the fossil fuel free, sustainable future. This is what we could be doing with the billions of dollars of subsidies going to the oil companies that are making record profits by exploiting us both as taxpayers and consumers. Write your congresspeople to kill oil subsidies and support renewable energy research!

via Treehugger

Major Auto Makers Ignore Automotive X-Prize

Posted in alternative fuel, ethical consumerism, global warming, green energy, transportation on February 4, 2008 by theseep

The X-Prize foundation, the same folks who organized the competition for consumer spaceflight technology, is ponying up another multi-million dollar prize for the team that can produce the best consumer car that gets more than 100mpg. Although this isn’t new news, it is interesting to see that every single major U.S. automaker, those with the most R & D money, the most to gain, and the most to lose, are conspicuously absent from the competition. Exciting startups like Aptera, with their 300+mpg plug-in hybrid, and both Tesla and Zap! Automotive, with their 250 miles per charge electric cars, have thrown their hats in the ring along with 30 or so other competitors. Not only do consumers want more efficient cars, but with peak oil just around the corner and the current state of climate change, we NEED more efficient modes of transportation that use minimal or no fossil fuels.

The U.S. carmakers have shown their loyalty to the oil companies time and time again by fighting improved efficiency standards and continuing to make cars bigger and less efficient. It is indeed sad that the once great American auto industry has fallen so far, but they have and continue to dig their own graves. We can only hope that our government and our people will have the foresight to support these burgeoning clean energy and clean vehicle industries. We can rebuild some of the lost American manufacturing empire, stimulate the economy, and keep jobs in our country.

via Engadget

Shell Oil CEO Informs Employees That Peak Oil is an Estimated 7 Years Out!

Posted in alternative fuel, biodiesel, clean energy, conservation, ethical consumerism, global warming, green energy, sustainability, transportation on January 28, 2008 by theseep

In a move that defies the stance of other petrochemical giants, the Shell CEO, Jeroen van der Veer, sent a letter to employees stating in no uncertain terms that peak oil is about 7 years out. (bold type for emphasis by treehugger)”Regardless of which route we choose, the world’s current predicament limits our maneuvering room. We are experiencing a step-change in the growth rate of energy demand due to population growth and economic development, and Shell estimates that after 2015 supplies of easy-to-access oil and gas will no longer keep up with demand.”

Van der Veer goes on to briefly and reasonably discuss the shortfalls of current public energy policy and renewables. Do you think they meant for this to become general knowledge? It’s time to ramp up our battery/hydrogen/cellulosic ethanol/wind/solar research, according to Shell, we’ll see a sharp increase in oil prices ($500/barrel?) by 2015!

via treehugger

The Ethanol Scam: One of America’s Political Boondoggles, via Rolling Stone

Posted in alternative fuel, clean energy, ethical consumerism, global warming, green energy, politics, sustainability, transportation on January 23, 2008 by theseep
 Although this article came out last June in Rolling Stone magazine, it is an excellent discussion of the scam that is corn ethanol. As you know, I’m all for eco-friendliness, but through political manipulation, lobbying (ie: bribery), and as Rolling Stone puts it, boondoggling, corn ethanol has become the country’s fastest growing biofuel, while at the same time being the least efficient and most fossil-fuel intensive to produce. For every 1 gallon of fossil fuel you put in, you only get 1.3 gallons of ethanol out. Add in the chemical pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, and the fact that ethanol provides up to 20% less energy than petrol, ethanol efficiency drops into negative numbers. (previous seep post)

If the numbers for corn-based ethanol are so bad, why are we subsidizing this horrific waste of food when there are starving people around the world?  It’s an environmental and social catastrophe.  It seems that for many Americans, filling your SUV is more important than feeding a hungry family.  I know that may sound harsh and unreasonable, but when you lay it all out, that is really the choice that we’re making. 
Who has the political guts to stop allowing corporate interests to dictate national energy policy and start making rational, well-thought out decisions that will provide us with energy security into the next century?  Obama?  Hillary?
Nobody yet. 

EPA (aka Oil Cronies) Keeps 17 States From Setting Their Own MPG Standards

Posted in clean energy, conservation, ethical consumerism, global warming, green energy, politics, sustainability, transportation on December 26, 2007 by theseep
 So over the past few months we’ve seen both the House and the Senate pass weakened fuel economy standards and poor excuses for energy policies. After wasting hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars debating the standards, they passed a humiliatingly flaccid plan requiring manufacturers to meet a 35 mpg average by 2020. The original bill also contained minimum future requirements for renewable energy from power companies and various clean energy tax incentives, but these were all slashed when Bush threatened to veto. This unto itself shows the utter lack of power or fight in our legislators regarding the environment. The actions of the EPA, however, are even more disgusting, as Stephen L. Johnson, the EPA administrator (clearly a “loyal Bushie”), turned down California’s request to impose it’s own, more strict standards of approximately 43 mpg by 2016, a much more reasonable commitment considering the state of our planet. Oddly, the EPA has pretty much always allowed California to impose it’s own standards, but it is now balking. Now, when 16 other states, including NY, NJ, and CT, comprising over 50% of all U.S. vehicle sales, also want to pass tougher efficiency requirements. The debacle is discussed further in this NYTimes article, and thankfully the Governator is standing strong and, along with many of the other states in question and some environmental groups, they are vowing to sue the EPA and fight this judgement.

Nice work Arnold. Although I generally recommend buying locally and buying U.S. made products to help our own economy and rebuild our country’s production capability, when it comes to cars, we have to refuse to buy from the big American manufacturers until they give us the fuel-efficient and alternative energy cars and trucks that we need. They have fallen miserably behind the leaders, Toyota and Honda, and rather than actually stepping up and giving us an environmental option, they stoop to political shell games to keep selling their gas-guzzling monstrosities.

photo from fuh2.com

via Gavin

Low-Carbon Holidays Through Skype

Posted in clean energy, conservation, ethical consumerism, sustainability, transportation on December 25, 2007 by theseep
 My wife Laura and I are in the same holiday predicament as many – how can we visit all of our extended family in one short holiday season when everyone lives so far away? We could fly here and there, spend a thousand dollars on airfare and blow a few thousand extra tons of carbon into the atmosphere, or we could use free technology to have a “virtual x-mas.” Since Laura’s dad lives in Salt Lake and she has other family in Ft. Collins, CO, we decided to attempt a winter-time Fossil-Fuel-Free-Roadtrip in the Vegfalia. My parents and grandmother, however, live in Maryland and we can’t make it out there for x-mas, so we set up our Skype video call for 9am Mountain Time. Some sound issues aside, we were able to open presents from each other across the country using this fantastic free technology. My sister and her husband came up from Mexico to see my parents as well and although we couldn’t give holiday hugs, but we were able to laugh and talk and appreciate being “together” as best we could.  We managed to see more family, save time, money, and CO2 – it was certainly a special holiday despite the distance.
Although a full report will be coming for the Vegfalia trip itself, I winterized the biodiesel system with a 110V fuel filter heater and a magnetic block heater, plumbed up our Roadside Filtration System to filter WVO on the fly, and headed out with 2 full tanks and an extra 30 gallons of filtered oil. Unfortunately along the way, we’ve run into cold weather issues with the lower quality oil, and although we found B20 at the pump in Ft. Collins and SLC, the Cardwell Distributing’s B100/B50 pumps were gelled up and not functioning at all. The Roadside Filtration System we’ve discovered is also not able to filter at these temps. So, we’ve been using what fuel we brought, a little petrol diesel, mostly B20, and we hope to fill up with B100 and some virgin VO from Costco before we leave SLC. Not as fossil-fuel-free as we’d hoped, but still better than flying or driving on all petrol, plus we got to bring our dog Marley and our eco-friendly presents for the families.

Peace and goodwill to all!

BP Goes For Canadian Tar Sands, Turns More Evil.

Posted in clean energy, conservation, ethical consumerism, global warming, green energy, politics, sustainability, transportation on December 11, 2007 by theseep

 BP, aka British Petroleum, aka “Beyond Petroleum”, had been doing fairly well in the eyes of environmentalists, seeming to make commitments to alternative energies, trying to live up to their new name. Now, however, they have made moves that put them up with the highest echelons of environmental criminals. According to The Independent, in a joint venture with Husky Energy, BP has ponied up 3 billion dollars to develop a facility in Alberta, Canada to begin extracting oil from the controversial tar sands.

This 54,000 square mile area, covered with virgin forest and wildlife, has an estimated 175 billion barrels of recoverable oil. This recovery, however, is much more resource intensive and damaging that extracting a barrel of oil from a typical well. One way to get at these sands is basically a strip mining process, but BP is planning a slightly more environmentally friendly option which involves injecting water heated with natural gas to liquefy the oil for extraction. This will require 350 million cubic meters (92.4 trillion gallons) of water from the Athabasca river per year, which will then be contaminated and stored in a 20 square mile system of artifical ponds rather than being returned to the local ecosystem. In addition, it will require 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas to produce one barrel of unrefinded bitumen (tar sand oil), which is the same volume needed to heat a typical British home for 5.5 days.
“It takes about 29kg of CO2 to produce a barrel of oil conventionally. That figure can be as much 125kg for tar sands oil. It also has the potential to kill off or damage the vast forest wilderness, greater than the size of England and Wales, which forms part of the world’s biggest carbon sinks. For BP to be involved in this trade not only flies in the face of their rhetoric but in the era of climate change it should not be being developed at all. You cannot call yourself ‘Beyond Petroleum’ and involve yourself in tar sands extraction,” stated Mike Hudema of Greenpeace. According to Hudema, the organization is planning direct action to stop the project.

With this action, BP has completely destroyed any eco-credibility they have garnered thus far, and seem to have no problem commiting what is being described as “the biggest environmental crime in history.” In a previous post, I presented the Sierra Club’s ranking of the oil companies relative harm, with Exxon-Mobile and ConocoPhillips the worst at the “bottom of the barrel”, and BP and Sunoco at the top. This horrifically irresponsible move will no doubt rocket BP to the bottom of the list environmentally. BP is not the only one to blame, by allowing this travesty, the Canadian government is demonstrating a distinct lack of commitment to the environment.

I suppose we’ll be adding BP to the list of companies that will not receive any more of our business! Time to boycott and BP as well as Exxon-Mobil!

via Gavin/infoshop news