Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Cities

Comments

Go Truck Yourself

Bush admin unveils weak new fuel-economy rules for light trucks The Bush administration surveyed the landscape -- gas prices rising, fears of oil dependence spreading -- and concluded that bold leadership was required. So it invaded an oil-rich country. Heh, well ... on to Plan B! Yesterday, the administration proposed a new set of auto fuel-economy rules. Tightening the standard for passenger cars? Uh, no, that would stay at an average of 27.5 miles per gallon. Finally imposing some requirements on mega-SUVs like the Hummer H2? Wrong again. Instead, most SUVs, pickups, and minivans would be divided into six categories …

Read more: Cities, Politics

Comments

It’s an electric bike

I don't know what this guy's hang-up is with Deuce Bigalow, but high gas prices and the following comment by Odograph on the cost of plug-in electric hybrids got me thinking again. In lieu of paying $3-6K more for a plug-in hybrid electric car: What if you drive a prius and plant $3-10K worth of trees? What if you skip the prius, buy an echo and plant $13-20K worth of trees? What if you spend $1k and ride a really nice bike? I especially liked his last idea. I jumped on the net to see what was new for electric …

Read more: Cities, Living

Comments

Replacing fossil fuels with biodiesel may do more harm than good

I remember when real environmentalists drove smoking VW vans with bumper stickers that said stuff like, "You can't call yourself an environmentalist if you eat meat." They didn't get the best gas mileage, but hey, you could do worse. They were replaced by the forest-green Subaru Outback (Eddy Bower edition if you were really cool), seen by the dozens in any REI parking lot. These are presently being eclipsed by the ubiquitous Prius. But, there is stiff competition from the diesel Jetta replete with biodiesel stickers all over the butt end. As we all know by now, biodiesel can be …

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy

Comments

Dispatches from a student-run clean-car campaign

The Road to Detroit campaign is run by 11 student organizers from around the U.S., one big, beautiful biodiesel and veggie-oil bus, and many friends and allies. Road to Detroit is a campaign of Energy Action, a student and youth clean-energy and global-warming coalition. Friday, 19 Aug 2005 DETROIT, Mich. We know you know about fuel-efficient cars. You may even own one. Peak oil, the rising price at the pump, and new car technology have made headlines from coast to coast and back again; you've probably even considered naming your first born "Prius." This summer, a group of student organizers …

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy

Comments

Miser Permanente

Americans get creative at saving gas as price per gallon soars Ever since dinosaurs walked the earth, died, and decayed under high subterranean pressures to become the fossil fuels we so depend upon today, Americans have carried on a brontosauric love affair with gasoline. But with prices climbing toward $3 a gallon, that may change. Well, at least a little. More folks seem to be telecommuting and participating in car- and vanpools. Car-sharing firm Flexcar has reported a recent uptick in inquiries; it's been able to control fuel costs by making heavy use of hybrids. Some drivers are being more …

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy

Comments

Umbra on biodiesel vs. straight veggie oil

Dear Umbra, I have the opportunity to convert a 1979 non-turbo Mercedes into a non-diesel. The question I have is: to which should I switch, biodiesel or vegetable oil? I can't seem to find out which one is best, just that these two are better than any petroleum-based fuels, which we already know (thanks for your earlier column on hybrids vs. veggie oil). Also, is it possible to switch from biodiesel to veggie oil, or vice versa, once a conversion is made? MargaretCincinnati, Ohio Dearest Margaret, I've noticed a lot of confusion about the distinction between straight veggie oil (SVO) …

Read more: Cities

Comments

For This Relief Much Tanks

Big SUVs likely to keep guzzling gas under forthcoming fuel-economy plan The Bush administration is said to be abandoning efforts to set fuel-economy standards for huge SUVs like the Hummer H2 and Ford Excursion, which fall outside the weight classes covered by current standards. Those concerned about the warming globe, skyrocketing gas prices, and foreign-oil dependence have long chafed at the loophole, but, well, Big Auto has more lobbyists than they do. American automakers say such standards would damage their shaky bottom lines. The administration is poised to release its new plan for auto fuel-economy standards later this month; it …

Comments

Rob Elam, biodiesel buff, answers questions

Rob Elam. What work do you do? I'm a cofounder of Propel Fuels, a biodiesel services and distribution firm. Biodiesel is a vegetable-oil based fuel for diesel engines. Using it significantly reduces greenhouse-gas and particulate-matter emissions. What does your organization do? Our mission is simple: fill tanks with biodiesel. We're approaching this in three ways: 1) helping retail station owners get biodiesel pumps up and running, 2) providing consulting services for businesses to help ease them into biodiesel use, and 3) offering design/build services on the production side. There's a lot of confusion and bad information when it comes to …

Read more: Cities

Comments

Umbra on true hybrids

Dear Umbra, I read the New York Times article that reported auto manufacturers are using hybrid technology to boost power rather than improve mileage. It specifically mentioned the Honda Accord, claiming that the mileage difference between the six-cylinder and the hybrid is minimal. What are the facts here? Is there a hybrid that really, actually, no-foolin'-around, gives really good mileage, represents a significant improvement over the regular version, is reasonably safe, and still drives well enough that one may venture onto the interstate without undue fear? JimKalamazoo, Mich. Dearest Jim, I'm glad you wrote. That article stirred some people up, …

Read more: Cities

Comments

Dense and Densibility

Densest U.S. cities aren't the ones you think Advocates of energy-saving urban density usually laud the towering buildings and subways of Manhattan, as contrasted with the car-heavy suburban sprawl of, say, Los Angeles. But the most dense city in the U.S., measured by people per square mile, is ... Los Angeles. In fact, despite its reputation for sprawl, the West contains 10 of the country's 15 most densely populated urban areas, among them San Francisco, Las Vegas, and San Jose. At work is not a miracle of urban planning but physical limitations: a pervasive lack of water, large mountain ranges, …

Read more: Cities