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Americans support a gas tax if revenues go toward energy independence

A new New York Times/CBS poll contains extremely interesting results with regard to a gas tax. Unfortunately, the write-up in the NYT is rather garbled. Best to go look at the poll itself (PDF). If you ask people straight out, "do you favor a gas tax," the answers is overwhelmingly (85%) No. Even if you promise to reduce other taxes --payroll and income -- by the same amount, the answer is still (63%) No. But if the question is, "would you support a gas tax if it reduced U.S. dependence on foreign oil" or "would you support a gas tax if it cut down on energy consumption and reduced global warming," the results reverse pretty dramatically. The "foreign oil" question gets 55% in favor and the "energy consumption and global warming" question gets 59% in favor. (Even more intriguing: When the question is, "would you support a gas tax if the proceeds were used to fight the war on terror," 71% still oppose.) Take-home message: U.S. citizens want to reduce oil use, energy consumption, and global warming. And they're willing to pay for it. For chrissake, if we have any politicians left with a pair and the sense God gave a turkey, they would jump on this. Americans crave it. They want to be asked to sacrifice. They want to be involved. They just need an opportunity.

Move Thyself: Birth of a semi-regular column

Bush bails on his bike, but unlike Critical Mass riders, gets away scot free

The British press is all atwitter today about what's likely the top story in cycling news. Remember back in July at the G8 summit in Scotland when President Bush, struggling to ride a bike, wave, and speak at the same time, ended up crashing into and injuring a police officer in full riot gear? Details of the incident were sketchy until now, as Bush and the ever-faithful Scott McClellan attempted to skirt embarrassment, but the official police report of the incident has just been released and, among other things, it describes Bush, amusingly, as a "falling object." What a lovely mental image. As the president passed the junction at speed he raised his left arm from the handlebars to wave to the police officers present while shouting "thanks, you guys, for coming." As he did this he lost control of the cycle, falling to the ground, causing both himself and his bicycle to strike [the officer] on the lower legs. [The officer] fell to the ground, striking his head. The president continued along the ground for approximately five meters, causing himself a number of abrasions. This story's got just about everything a progressive cyclist could want: heads of state crashing to the ground, sweet, sweet schadenfreude, a riot-gear-clad protest-quashing cop being felled by a human-powered vehicle, and a touch of public embarrassment.

Rumblings in the Bronx

A virtual walking tour of the South Bronx

New York's South Bronx was once a getaway for the rich; now the defining landmarks of the community are power plants, landfills, and parking lots. Where some might see hopelessness, though, resident Omar Freilla sees opportunity. Freilla founded Green Worker Cooperatives to salvage reusable materials from trash and demolition waste, creating a neighborhood that is healthier both environmentally and economically. In a virtual walking tour of his community, Freilla discusses his vision of creating hundreds of jobs out of the abundance of "things that nobody else wants." new in Main Dish: Rumblings in the Bronx intro to week three of Poverty & the Environment series: Consumption

Work in Progress

Alan Hipólito, creator of green jobs for low-income folks, InterActivates

Alan Hipólito is putting low-income residents of Portland, Ore., to work restoring ecosystems with native plants. He is director of Verde, a new nonprofit that trains residents of affordable housing for new eco-friendly jobs and careers. As this week's InterActivist, Hipólito chats about his aversion to authority, his plan for livening up your city council meetings, and his desire to see everyone benefit economically from environmental protection. Send him a question of your own by noon PST on Wednesday; we'll publish his answers to selected questions on Friday. new in InterActivist: Work in Progress

There's coal in them plains!

Montana Governor wants to turn coal into a liquid diesel fuel

Anyone channel surfing last night that happened upon 60 Minutes might have recognized a familiar face: Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. Last month, Grist published a story about Schweitzer, who is now promoting his latest big idea: turning Montana coal into a liquid diesel fuel. It's not enough to completely break our addiction to foreign oil, but a start. Most coal today is used for electricity but the governor's plan is to turn Montana's billions of tons of untapped coal into a liquid diesel fuel for our cars.Schweitzer wants to take coal that's been pressurized into a gas, and then use something called the Fischer-Tropsch process to convert that gas into a clean diesel fuel, similar to what is made at a demonstration plant in Oklahoma.The governor handed Stahl a jar of this synthetic fuel, which looked and smelled clean. "Chanel No. 37," Schweitzer said, laughing. "It is diesel. You can pour that in your diesel car or truck right now." Lesley Stahl also interviewed Dr. Robert Williams, a senior energy scientist at Princeton, who informed viewers that this fuel would be cleaner than conventional diesel since pollutants aren't being emitted into the atmosphere, but a lot of carbon dioxide would be released -- "twice as much carbon dioxide than traditional petroleum." So what is Schweitzer's plan for dealing with the CO2? "This spent carbon dioxide, we have a home for it. Right back into the earth, 5,000 feet deep," the governor explains.He plans to sell that carbon dioxide to oil companies that use it to boost the amount of oil they can pump. "It's called enhanced oil recovery. It's worth money to the oil business," Schweitzer said. Read more about the segment and watch a clip at CBSNews.com.

Is This the “Safe, Clean” Nuclear Power We Hear So Much About?

Illinois nuke-power operator criticized for leaks and “incidents” Quantity doesn’t equal quality with Chicago-based Exelon Corp., which runs all six nuclear plants and 11 nuclear reactors in Illinois. There were at least four “incidents” at Exelon plants last week, including a false alarm at one generating station that initiated the first “site-area emergency” at a U.S. nuclear plant in 15 years. These came on the heels of disclosures that there were eight radioactive leaks and spills at Exelon plants since 1996 that went unreported to the public. One spill of roughly 3 million gallons of tritium-laced water in 1998 wasn’t …

Rumblings in the Bronx

A virtual walking tour of the South Bronx New York’s South Bronx was once a getaway for the rich; now the defining landmarks of the community are power plants, landfills, and parking lots. Where some might see hopelessness, though, resident Omar Freilla sees opportunity. Freilla founded Green Worker Cooperatives to salvage reusable materials from trash and demolition waste, creating a neighborhood that is healthier both environmentally and economically. In a virtual walking tour of his community, Freilla discusses his vision of creating hundreds of jobs out of the abundance of “things that nobody else wants.”

Jurassic beavers and hairless skunks.

So, how do you tie a story about a Jurassic beaver in with one about a hairless skunk? Looks more like a shaved weasel to me, by the way (maybe that's because skunks are in the weasel family). Random genetic mutations like that seen in the skunk are what drive evolution. Given enough global warming, we may start to see more of them. The same mutation imparted an evolutionary advantage to naked mole rats. In fact, a similar mutation happened in our past, which eventually lead to the evolution of clothing (via a December post on Biopolitical). Which brings me to an analogy. Periods of rapid change in an environment spark bursts of evolution where new designs are tested out; similarly, global warming, combined with peak oil, is creating a frenzy of new technology designs in human cultures, all being tested in the crucible of the free market. It will be interesting to see what shakes out.

A virtual walking tour of the South Bronx with Omar Freilla of Green Worker Cooperatives

New York’s South Bronx was once a getaway for the rich; now the defining landmarks of the community are power plants, landfills, and parking lots. Where some might see hopelessness, though, resident Omar Freilla sees opportunity. Freilla founded Green Worker Cooperatives to salvage reusable materials from trash and demolition waste, creating a neighborhood that is healthier both environmentally and economically. In this virtual walking tour of his community, Freilla discusses his vision of creating hundreds of jobs out of the abundance of “things that nobody else wants.”