Skip to main content

My challenge to you: make it your mission, that anyone you know who's planning to buy a new car in 2013, has at least seriously considered an EV or plug-in, and has taken at least one for a test drive.

Want to learn why and how? Please read on...

Before starting, I would like to express my gratitude to Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse and the #NOKXL blogathon organizers - for putting together this amazing blogathon. I am humbled to participate. This diary has been rolling around my brain for literally months, and I feel extremely fortunate to eventually present it as part of this high-profile campaign.

Looking for "Path 2" of the Movement

Most successful movements against destructive, entrenched power structures have required the simultaneous pursuit of (at least) two major paths to victory.

The first is the direct struggle to take down the targeted system. Its importance in the Keystone XL case is paramount - without those activists who had sounded the initial alarms, many getting arrested in the process, the pipeline might have been a done deal by now. But we also need the other path. This path represents the positive alternative, giving the public hope that the future after we take down the current system (which is usually associated in the public mind with identity, safety, comfort, etc.) - the future will actually be better. And - no less important - a chance to participate without sacrificing everything they hold dear.

To make this more tangible: in the Civil Rights movement, Path 1 consisted of actions such as the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education, Rosa Parks' arrest leading to the Montgomery bus boycott, and various other marches, direct-action campaigns, etc. - as well as pressure on Washington DC to move Civil Rights legislation forward.

The most prominent symbol of Path 2 is Jackie Robinson. Once Robinson came onto the field wearing Dodgers uniform in 1947, the public saw firsthand how sports, and society itself, is better off when integrated. Over time and with more such personal examples, millions of mental barriers were broken.

This second path enabled millions of Americans to play a part, no matter how small, in their society's desegregation. Whether by organizing a new integrated activity, participating in one, becoming a Dodgers fan, or just cheering black athletes from the stands when their team visited your town, or any other gesture - eventually the tide of positive change in hearts, minds and the public sphere, could not be overcome. That particular battle, for ethnic-racial equality, is far from over. But the time is gone when expressing a racial-equality sentiment was considered deluded or even offensive. Nowadays, in nearly all of America, the opposite is true.

The change in perception on LGBT rights is a more recent, and even more dramatic example. With LGBT rights there have been far fewer prominent "Path 1" milestones involved. IMHO, what we've witnessed these past couple of decades has been a predominantly "Path 2" development: as our LGBT siblings, children, friends and colleagues have come out and presented themselves as they are, the only natural and human reaction for us - those who know, love and respect them as persons - was to toss out all the prejudice and bigotry we had been raised on, like the toxic garbage that it always was. One thing that really helped, was that the societal price for accepting LGBT equality was not very high, and then has rapidly dropped to the point that even leading Republican figures are not afraid of embracing equality.

To be clear: I have nothing against "Path 1", to the contrary. On my most frequent blogging topic (Israel-Palestine) I'm a classic "Path 1" person (as I write this, I realize that perhaps what we're missing there is a winning Path 1/2 combination). But the power and beauty of "Path 2", is that the opposition's immense power, so heavily concentrated on booby-trapping "Path 1" - is reduced on "Path 2" mostly to dishing out ridicule and marginalization at you. Those can only go so far; once you overcome them, you can march in and literally pull the rug from under structures that only a moment ago seemed unbeatable.

Ok... long intro. The question is: do we have a winning "Path 2" avenue, one that can bypass the opposition from its blind side, enter and win over the mainstream, recruit millions into the cause without demanding huge individual sacrifices, and undo not just the specific Keystone XL initiative, but the very concepts underlying Tar Sands oil and the oil economy itself?

Yes. We. Do. It is called Electric Locomotion.

The oil economy literally moves our world. Oil has a stranglehold on our very concept of movement. Take that monopoly away, even just on ground travel - and the entire malignant oil-politico-economic complex that generates global warming, wars and instability in many parts of the world, direct environmental destruction in many others, and disgusting government corruption everywhere - might collapse.

Now, in 2013, the ability to defeat oil's monopoly is at our fingertips. We can do this. All that remains, is to spread this change by example and by word-of-mouth.

How do I know?  For the past 8 months we've been leasing an all-electric 2012 Nissan Leaf as our main vehicle.

We had a bit of money and looked to make an environmental consumer move (side note: we all commute by bus, and try to keep a small footprint otherwise). It was either install solar on our roof, or replace our aging 2001 Santa Fe SUV that does  <15 MPG in the city. Living in Seattle, the car idea made more sense.

The most radical "green car" move we could imagine was "buy a used Prius". Then my wife started looking, and was surprised to see EVs that "look like normal cars". We ended up signing the Leaf lease on a whim, with about as much preparation as when buying a pair of sunglasses at a mall stand.

One of the best decisions we've ever made. We paid $4600 down (could have paid $2k less for a lower model). The $99/month payment is almost fully covered by the gas savings, and we don't drive much. Had we driven more, the gas savings would have been well over those $99/month. Meanwhile, our old Santa Fe moves barely once a month, when we go on a mountain hike or have a particularly messy haul job.

Best part, by far: in these 8 months, even though we've driven only 2750 miles in our Leaf, we've already removed nearly 5 barrels of gasoline from the Seattle oil demand column. Multiply this by thousands of consumers in every city - and believe me, the oil economy will feel it.

So let's go! Our goal is a not-too-distant future in which driving a petroleum-powered, internal-combustion-only vehicle will be looked upon as an outdated oddity - and using a car that spews emissions while not moving will be seen as downright offensive. Believe me, we are further along in this transition than people realize.

"Path 2" to Victory over Big Oil

Nowadays, Americans buy around 15 million new cars and trucks per year. We are now fast approaching a rate of 100,000 of these cars being EVs and plug-ins. Once we double or triple that, ridiculous projects such as Tar Sands will quickly become obsolete. It is not so much the direct 1-2% hit to oil sales from that year's models that matters, but the general direction and future outlook.

This is a true win-win. We are giving people an opportunity to hit oil companies on the chin, without giving up their cars. Almost no one likes the oil companies or the oil economy.

If the oil companies count on developing-world demand to hold the line, they're deluding only themselves. The rest of the world has always hated the oil-based society in the first place, because they need to pay for it with an arm and a leg. Global oil prices cater to the Western comfort zone, not that of poorer nations. If Americans hate paying $4/gallon, imagine the Chinese and Indian who pay 30-40% more, in absolute terms, on a salary that's a fraction of ours. The moment people in the developing world have affordable EV/plug-in options, they'll grab them off the shelves.

And the more EVs and plug-ins we buy here, the faster we accelerate the technology improvement and the price cuts that come with it - making them affordable to the rest of the world.

It's a classic "Path 2" to victory. Once a critical mass of EV/plug-in usage becomes mainstream and spreads around the world, all the oil companies will be able to do is sit and watch as their money and power dissipate.

All the Pieces are now in Place!

- The technology is there, and is still improving fast! (see below the fold)

- The production capacity is there! Nissan's new Leaf plant in Tennessee is ramping up to 100k vehicles per year, with 50k more produced in Japan and the UK. GM actually had to scale back Volt production last year due to disappointing demand, but it still sells at a rate of 20-30k/year and this should be picking up too. Toyota now produces plug-in Prius as a standard option, and of course their Prius production capacity dwarfs everyone else in the field. They've already sold >15,000 plug-in Priuses in the US.  

And then there's the Tesla Model S - for the 1%-ers among us (ok, maybe 10%-ers). Its sales are skyrocketing, and they are reportedly making and selling over 500 a week. I was actually shocked to see the numbers; thought they are much smaller. The Leaf and S are now neck-and-neck for #1 in sales of the EV/plug-in market. Contrary to all the crap coming out of right-wing media, this particular 2009 Stimulus investment is shaping up to be quite the "anti-Solyndra." Before this is over, GOPers might be sorry they gave all this tax-cut money to top-earners - and then many of these "backstabbers" turned around and helped fuel the EV revolution with it and turn a green Stimulus investment into a success story...

And that's not the end of your options. Mitsubishi has temporarily stopped sales of its EV due to a battery problem, but once it resolves this, it too can make 10,000s a year of its 4-seater "i" (MiEV), which incidentally is the first mass-produced consumer EV. While Honda and Ford are behind the curve on capacity, they too might catch up once the demand materializes. Ford in particular seems to be laying down a solid line of plug-ins.

- The prices of enough models are affordable! The new Leaf starts at $21,300 for the base option (after the IRS rebate) and under $20k in California. Not a bad price for a brand-new, hi-tech 5-seat midsize. In Washington and other states, EVs are sales-tax exempt. And the recommended purchase option with EVs - as we have done too - is a lease anyway. Who cannot afford a lease when at least half the monthly payment, and possibly over 100% of it, is covered by gas savings?

We are already closing in on 100k cumulative standard sales of EV/plug-in cars in the US, and the growth rate is rather consistently exponential. Last month was a record month for EVs and plug-ins, with over 7,600 sold in the US (>1% of the non-truck auto sales). Let's make a conscious, concentrated effort to accelerate it.

All that is seriously missing, the final piece to fall into place: awareness and that fickle beast known as "a consumer trend." This trend was predicted to kick in a couple of years ago. Maybe we weren't ready. Maybe the technology and marketing were not all there. Well, they sure are now.

I know all about awareness. I was clueless about EVs until getting one. Owning a Leaf means serving as a full-time ambassador. People are totally ignorant about it! Recently someone asked me "so... does this thing have enough power to reach reasonable speeds?" This was a Prius-owning Seattle progressive, so I can imagine what middle America thinks of EVs and plug-ins. (the truth is, the Leaf can beat a Mustang in acceleration from complete stop. The steering and driving experience is far smoother than any combustion car I've driven).

I don't want to sell you BS. There is a degree of sacrifice and work and limitations involved, especially with EVs. But oh boy, it is worth it. And nowadays there are no more excuses. These vehicles have become a viable option for everyone.

Oh, have I mentioned the sense of family pride that comes with driving an electric-powered car? Our kids now know that we're not just paying lip service on global warming and the oil-industrial complex. We are taking a stand (or rather: a drive) and putting our money where our mouth is.

Here (again) is my challenge to you: make it your mission, that anyone you know who's planning to buy a new car in 2013, has at least seriously considered an EV or plug-in, and has taken at least one for a test drive.

Below the fold are some nitty-gritty details about the EV ownership experience, and a run-down of the leading EV and plug-in options.

Life with an EV: Range and Charge

I am basing this on our Leaf experience, but as long as you don't have the extra dough for the Tesla S payments (>$1000/month it seems, less the gas savings), this is more-or-less what you'll experience regardless of which particular EV you obtain.

Your driving limitations are determined by the range and the charging time. An improvement with either one can make your life easier. The range is how long you can drive on a full battery. This is no different from a gas car! For example, our in-city range of our 2001 Santa Fe SUV is well under 200 miles. A more economic combustion car can have a range of 300-400 miles.

The difference is, with a combustion car once you exhaust your range, there's usually a gas station at every corner (or every town on the road), and within some 10 minutes you've got a full tank again. With an EV, charging takes time, which you might not afford to wait; and the quicker charging options are less widely available than gas stations. On the plus side, overnight charging at home is essentially "for free" in terms of time lost. And you don't need to go to a gas station, just hook up your car at home.

Ok, the range. There's good news and bad news. First the bad: the actual range is usually far less than the manufacturer's advertised range. The 2011-12 Leaf's ad range is 100 miles - nice and round. But this is under ideal conditions, using the 'Eco' mode that limits acceleration. The EPA range, taken under a more realistic mix of conditions, is about 73 miles. EV efficiency is the opposite of combustion cars: we do better in-city than on the highway, where the need to maintain acceleration of a relatively heavy vehicle drains the battery faster. And even the EPA estimate does not account for seasonality. If you need to operate the AC (and both in the summer and winter you do), that takes off an additional 15-20%. Real life is not a "mix": on a given day, either you need the AC or you don't.

Bottom line: if you drive a 2012 Leaf down a deserted country lane in perfect weather, at 40-50 MPH, a 100% charged battery might get you pretty close to 100 miles. But take the very same 2012 Leaf, use the full-acceleration 'D' mode, go on the highway at 70+ MPH while having the AC on high, and you might strand yourself after only 50 miles.

This is not all: for routine daily use, Nissan (and all EV makers) strongly recommend charging only to 80% to preserve battery life. Since we are in this for the "green" reasons, and also since we don't want to hear from Nissan come lease-return time that we needlessly hurt the battery and need to pay a (say) $5,000 fine, we try to follow this on most days. So take another 20% off the range, to reach your actual routine-use range.

Bottom line: if your routine needs require a daily drive of >50 miles (one-way or round-trip) without any chance to charge, then the 2011-2012 Leaf (and also the Focus EV and Mitsubishi i) cannot be your main car for meeting these needs, year-round.

Now the good news: first, the 2013 Leaf adds 15% (so some 7-8 miles) to this cutoff range. So you can plan on some 57-58 miles from 80% charge, without recharge, for routine usage under (almost) worst-case conditions.

Second, any opportunity to charge improves matters. If you work full-time at a (say) small suburban office, with guaranteed parking and access to a 110V/15A outlet (that's just a standard electrical outlet), then you can probably commute with the 2013 Leaf, up to 45 miles each way without worry. The morning drive (assuming you use the `Eco` mode nearly all the time, it works fine on the highway) will deplete you from 80% to 15-30%. Then 8-9 hours of trickle charge will give you some 50% back, enough to make it back home. Assuming you have at least 12 hours to trickle-charge back, you should be up at 80% again the next morning. On days with extra detours, just charge to 100% the night before. You would need to carry your trickle-charger to work and back. Or - more likely and more recommended if your needs are so demanding - upgrade your charger for around $300-400, enabling you much faster charging times.

If your workplace has an L2 charging port (or there is one available to you near work), then just 2-3 hours or so on that port will bring your 2013 Leaf (or Ford Focus Electric) back to 80% for the drive back - meaning you can commute even up to ~55 miles each way (50 miles with the Focus), year-round. (with the 2011-2012 Leaf or the lower-model 2013 Leaf, you'll need 4-5 hours). And also not worry about carrying your charging cable every day.

By the way, we've never needed to install that pricey L2 charging station at home, the station that most superficial online article would have you believe is a must. Even had we driven twice as much as we do, an L2 station would not be necessary. This is because we spend the night at home, so there's plenty of time to catch up... Charging from a regular 110V/15A outlet, using the 'trickle' cable that comes with the car, is fully sufficient for our needs. And with the new 2013 Leaf, that expensive station becomes completely redundant for perhaps 99% of buyers; at worst, one can put down a few hundred dollars and buy that cable-upgrade mentioned above.

So you see, it's all about evaluating your needs vs. the range and charging options of the EV you consider. My numbers were Leaf-centric, but both the Focus EV and Mitubishi i are very similar to the 2012 Leaf (now the Leaf has a leg up).

Unfortunately, the Leaf and other "regular" EVs are not really road-trip cars. You can carry out a carefully planned day trip to a destination some 40-60 miles away (starting from 100% charge on the high end of this distance range), but you would need to know exactly where and how you charge at your destination. For "real" road-trips of the Hollywood-movie type, the main EV option is using fast-charge stations, which bring you back to 80% in under 30 minutes. With a 2011-2012 Leaf (or Focus, Mitsubishi, etc.) this means stopping every hour for a half-hour. We paid the extra $2k for a fast-charge port, and haven't used it yet. It's more of an emergency feature unless you routinely do highway road trips.

Of course, the 2013 Leaf again makes things better. For example, if we want to go to Vancouver BC, some 120-130 miles away, right now this would be just outside the "single fast-charge stop" range of our 2012 Leaf. With a 2013 Leaf, it falls comfortably inside the range (at least during reasonable weather). Stop for lunch in Bellingham while charging up, continue to Vancouver.  Another example: I probably won't dare taking our Leaf up to Snoqualmie Pass, a skiing and outdoors destination some 60+ miles away and 3,000 feet up from our home (even though I believe there's a fast-charge port there). But with a 100% charged 2013 Leaf this becomes less of a gamble, provided you can recharge there before the trip back.

For most long-range or adventure trips (hiking in the mountains, skiiing, etc.), you would likely need another car. Either keep a combustion vehcile as your 2nd car (as we do; most American families have 2 cars or more anyway) - trying to make the EV your main car for in-town and commute needs - or, if you embark on longer drives rather seldom, just rent a combustion car for each such trip, or subscribe to a Zipcar-type service.

But as EV ranges crawl up over the next few years, these dilemmas and choices will become easier and easier. How do I know? First, the Leaf has just added 15% after 2 years. It's a fairly new technology, and we humans are particularly good at tweaking and improving technology once it's out in the mass market.

Last but not least, the Tesla S with EPA-sanctioned ranges of 200 miles or more is our Exhibit A. If you're not an East Coast auto journalist (with some undisclosed combination of ignorance, arrogance and ill-will), then the S can safely take you on pretty much any road trip you'll dream up. And with its range, anyone's daily commute needs become laughably easy to meet. It's just that price tag... With all the cynicism towards "vanity EV for the rich" etc., I would much rather see those who have extra $$ put it into a mass-produced viable EV sedan (eventually pushing its price down), than into plastic surgery and yachts. Thanks in part to the Tesla S, affordable EVs will eventually get to routine-use year-round ranges of >100 miles on an 80% charge - sooner rather than later.

A brief one on Plug-in Hybrids

I have no personal experience with these, but it seems straightforward and the daily sacrifices far smaller. All your range anxieties are obviated. It just needs to meet your capacity needs, and you need to squeeze as much electric locomotion (rather than gas-powered) out of it, by 1. Selecting the right car, and 2. Trickle-charging it on a regular basis.

The flagship right now is still the Chevy Volt. For me its most serious drawback is being a 4-seater. A 4 seater is not an all-round family car, no matter what. As leading environmentalist Kossack A. Siegel commented on my first Leaf diary, he inquired directly with a GM executive about this, and got a smug/clueless response that "this is what their consumer research suggested" or something.

This is exactly why the Japanese keep dancing circles around the American companies. The latter think like the rest of Corporate America (e.g. the "infotainment" networks or major league sports): they see the consumer as this dumb, captive "Middle American" whom they can manipulate without worrying about our real needs and priorities. The Japanese companies are not saints, of course. But they need to come up with cars that sell and perform well in America, Europe, Japan, the Middle East and other markets. So they know they must figure out what we really want and need.

Long story short: now the Volt needs to compete with the plug-in version of the 5-seater, name-recognized and proven Prius. The Volt's only advantage is its larger electric-only range (35 miles vs. only 11, according to EPA). The Volt qualifies for the IRS rebate, but the Prius does not. Smart money would bet on Toyota improving their range. Meanwhile, Ford is stepping onto the stage with its C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi plug-ins.

The downsides of plug-ins are
 - They are some $5-10k pricier than equivalent EVs (the lease payments of the Volt are now $299/month, vs. $99-249/month for a Leaf)
 - They still require some gas, especially the shorter-range ones (i.e., everyone except the Volt). But that depends on your needs and behavior: If you typical daily commute is ~10 miles and you trickle-charge at every opportunity, you might not need to refill your plug-in Prius gas tank, except when going out of town.

...Ok, long enough. Go and take part in the electric-locomotion revolution. And thanks again to the #NOKXL blogathon organizers.

#NOKXL Blogathon: April 12 - April 22, 2013

860,000 Comments Submitted!
As of today, around 860,000 comments have been submitted so far and forwarded by our coalition partners to the United States Department of State.  Please help us reach and, even, exceed our goal of one million comments opposing this pipeline.

The deadline for submission of public comments is April 22, 2013.

You Can Make a Difference

On March 1, 2013, the United States State Department released a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Presidential Permit application for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.  The SEIS evaluates the potential environmental impacts. The purpose of this campaign is to obtain one million public comments in opposition to building this environmentally-destructive pipeline.  We hope that this blogathon will make submission of public comments easier.

This effort is being coordinated with Bill McKibben of and in coalition with the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oil Change International, and Bold Nebraska.

A victim of the recent tar sands oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, this bird says it all.  

Photograph being used with permission from Fast For The Earth.

We have an exciting line up of prominent lawmakers, environmental activists, and Daily Kos diarists.  Each one of them will be posting a diary in opposition to the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline. Some guests will be including a brief "sample comment" that readers can copy and submit at the State Department website.  The diaries and "sample comments" can be used as your comments! Readers who have specialized knowledge and skills relating to the pipeline, tar sands, climate change, or the petroleum industry may, of course, choose to create their own comments with additional details.  

Comments written by you are reviewed by our government with no media filter.  Three of our coalition partners will keep track of the number of comments submitted to the U.S. Department of State. Please submit your comments through one of the below links:
  • "A Million Comments Against Keystone XL" - will deliver your comments directly to the State Department and has a system set up so that you can customize your comment.
  • "Tell President Obama: Reject Keystone XL!" - Sierra Club has a sample public comment that allows you to personalize your message.
  • "Tell the State Department: #NoKXL" - Oil Change International has a very helpful template to formulate your comments.

Let your voice be heard.  Our Daily Kos community organizers are Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, boatsie, rb137, JekyllnHyde, Onomastic, citisven, peregrine kate, DWG, and John Crapper, with Meteor Blades as the group's adviser.

Diary Schedule - All Times Pacific

More helpful details are in this diary - DK Blogathon Hosts Eco Coalition in #NOKXL Public Comment Campaign by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse.  Use hashtag #NOKXL to tweet all diaries posted during this blogathon.

  • Friday, April 12

1:00 pm: #NOKXL Blogathon: Your voice on the Keystone XL pipeline matters by DWG.
  • Saturday, April 13

11:00 am: Keystone XL: a pipeline THROUGH the US, not to it by dturnbull, Campaigns Director of Oil Change International.
1:00 pm: #NOKXL: Dilbit in the Pipeline by Agathena.

  • Sunday, April 14

11:00 am: Keystone XL: Wildlife in the Crosshairs by Target Global Warming, Peter LaFontaine is the Energy Policy Advocate for the National Wildlife Federation.
1:00 pm: #NoKXL: The Future Is In Our Hands; Say No To The XL Pipeline Disaster by beach babe in fl.
3:00 pm: #NoKXL: Guess What's NOT in POTUS' Budget! (Rhymes with Shnipeline) by ericlewis0.

  • Monday, April 15

Note: All diaries for this day were rescheduled due to the Boston Marathon bombings.
  • Tuesday, April 16

8:00 am: KXL will carry as much carbon as all the cars on the West Coast, plus Michigan, NY, and Florida. by Bill McKibben, Founder of
12:00 pm: #NoKXL: InsideClimate News Wins Pulitzer for Coverage of Kalamazoo River Dilbit Spill in 2010 by peregrine kate.
2:00 pm: Reject Keystone XL; Our Focus Should Be on Investing in a Sustainable Energy Future by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA13), Member of the United States House of Representatives.
2:00 pm: #NoKXL: (un)Ethical Pipeline? by A Siegel.
3:00 pm: #NoKXL — The Pipeline To Oblivion: Memes From The Climate Letter Project by WarrenS.

  • Wednesday, April 17

11:00 am: My government doesn't believe in climate change by Tzeporah Berman, Canadian Environmentalist and Co-Founder of Forest Ethics.
3:00 pm: #NoKXL ?? The Keystone XL Pipeline, Deep Time, and the Nature of Humanity by gregladen.

  • Thursday, April 18

10:00 am: Keystone East: Doubling down? Or admitting KXL defeat? by Roger Fox.
2:00 pm: Watch it Now! Fantastic Live Hearing Opposing Keystone XL Pipeline from Nebraska by JekyllnHyde.
3:00 pm: #NOKXL: The Ill-Logic of Keystone XL by Kelly Rigg, Executive Director of the Global Call for Climate Action.

  • Friday, April 19

2:00 pm: #NOKXL - A Dispatch From The Committee To End The Future by joe shikspack.
3:00 pm: Collision With Reality by James Wells.

  • Saturday, April 20

11:00 am: Nebraska Hearing: Pipeline Fighters Dominated by Jane Kleeb, Executive Director of Bold Nebraska
12:00 pm: Scientific American:"Keystone XL Oil Pipeline Exacerbates Climate Change"-Consultant's Bias EXPOSED by Lefty Coaster
1:00 pm:#NOKXL Blogathon - Keystone Principles and the Line in the Sand by John Crapper

3:00 pm:The 'Un'Silent' Spring by boatsie

  • Sunday, April 21

11:00 am: Keystone XL Pipeline: Can John Kerry’s State Department Finally Get it Right? by Ross Hammond, Friends of the Earth.
12:00 pm:#NOKXL From Alberta Tar Sands to Steele City, Nebraska by Agathena.
1:00 pm: Shouldn't We Know Whether Tar Sands Causing Cancer With First Nations Before XL Pipeline Decision? by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse.
3:00 pm: Assaf.

Please remember to republish these diaries to your Daily Kos Groups.  You can also follow all postings by clicking this link for the Climate Change SOS Blogathon Group. Then, click 'Follow' and that will make all postings show up in 'My Stream' of your Daily Kos page.

Originally posted to Climate Change SOS on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 03:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Holy $h*tters, Meatless Advocates Meetup, Climate Hawks, and DK GreenRoots.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  your car sounds great, and it is nice way to show (13+ / 0-)

    others who see you driving it of an attractive alternative. it's a message that goes where you go!

    thanks for your kind words. we have a great team. so glad you wanted to join us.

    "It is in the shelter of each other that people live." Irish Proverb

    by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 03:09:26 PM PDT

  •  You give an effective pitch, Assaf! (9+ / 0-)

    I'm not sure when I'll be in the market next for a car, though it won't be terribly far off; both of our cars are over 15 years old now. By that time, maybe a true plug-in's range will be great enough for at least one of us to consider it seriously. And the hybrids are tempting regardless.
    I also really like your framing of a Path 1 and Path 2 approach to big-time changes; very smart. Thanks for this intriguing diary.

    Some DKos series & groups worth your while: Black Kos, Native American Netroots, KosAbility, Monday Night Cancer Club. If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 03:12:38 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for this great post and the info (8+ / 0-)

    on the Leaf.  A good friend of mine bought one about 6 months ago.  They love it.  It rides like a charm.  

    Thanks so much for your participation in this blogathon.

    Just a little update from our friends at who are sponsoring a premier showing of a film outlining their work of late.    This is happening tonight!

    On the night of April 21st, people will gather in hundreds of living rooms and libraries across the country for the premiere of the movie. Meeting in person is the lifeblood of our movement, and we hope that gathering to watch this snazzy film can be an opportunity to connect with new people and grow the movement locally.

    I’ve already had a chance to preview the movie; it is an inspiring, beautiful, and fast-paced story that shows the power of the growing climate movement. It clocks in at 42-minutes -- and it packs a lot in: from the cross-country tour we did last year, to the latest dispatches from leaders in the fight to stop Keystone XL, to the campaign to divest from fossil fuels.

    You won’t want to miss it. Click here to watch the the trailer and join (or create!) an Earth Night gathering in your community.

    We also have a page that answers a lot of questions you might have about the movie -- check it out here:


    Anna for the whole team

    P.S. April 21st is one day before the end of the State Department's public comment period on the Keystone XL pipeline -- so we'll make sure folks can collect and submit comments at local events.

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

    by John Crapper on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 03:14:52 PM PDT

  •  Excellent Assaf, thank you for all your work (8+ / 0-)

    creating a very comprehensive diary. It's good to be up to date on alternatives to fossil fuel transportation.

    I would like to see more emphasis on public transportation and high speed rail. It can be done.

    Of course, it's not either or we can have both electric cars and high speed rail. There are people in rural areas who have to have their own vehicle.

  •  Ford CMAX ENERGI (8+ / 0-)

    nice and decent size, 25 Mile electric range.

  •  Excellent diary, Assaf. (6+ / 0-)

    My Honda Civic will be 20 years old next year, and it still gets over 35 mpg.

    You've given me a huge head start on researching for my next car. Thanks.

    "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

    by nomandates on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 03:19:53 PM PDT

  •  I saw an interesting transportation option (5+ / 0-)

    "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 03:32:44 PM PDT

  •  Does 2012 count for a test drive? (5+ / 0-)

    Calamity Jean had to replace her car last year after an accident, and one of the vehicles on her list was the Chevy Volt. She really wanted to like it, but she kept elbowing the salesperson. Spiify, but cramped.

    There is an outfit in Des Moines, Iowa that makes EV's that we've been intermittently keeping tags on, with the range to drive from our farm in Stephenson County, IL, to the Chicago area, and after an overnight charge, drive back. Further,  they have a dealer in eastern Iowa that is well within range of the farm. Stumbling block? Our new house isn't finished on the farm, nor do we have an easily-accessible charging station here.

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 04:05:52 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for this informative post! (5+ / 0-)

    I have a 2012 Leaf and I love it!  

    I'm tall, and thus have to try on cars, and the Leaf is very comfortable without being 'huge.'

     I am a retiree on a fixed income, and thus have to mind my budget, and a Leaf Lease worked well for me!  

    I am also happy not to be adding to the carbon emissions of gas-burning vehicles.

    The car is attractive, powerful, has great acceleration, and does well in local traffic too.

    It's especially easy for me to charge as I no longer have to commute to work -- it's my only car.

    I hope readers will consider a change to electric vehicles, as you suggest.  A friend of mine has already said that he plans for his next car to be an electric!  He's hoping by then the prices of Teslas will have come down!

    We long believed that importance came in two sizes: yours and mine.  The Earth now reminds us, again, that it comes in only one: ours.

  •  Doesn't make sense to me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Every kilowatt hour puts an average of 1 lb of CO2 in the atmosphere.  If you get your electricity from a coal fired plant, it's more like 2 lb/kWh.  It takes 37 kWh to charge a Chevy Volt to go 100 miles.  That's 37-74 lb of CO2.

    A fuel efficient gasoline powered car that gets 33 mpg can go 100 miles on three gallons of gas.  The combustion of one gallon of gasoline puts about 14lb of CO2 in the atmosphere. The 42 lb/100 miles.

    An electric car may be cheaper to operate and may be somewhat less polluting depending on where you live, but it's not a panacea, it seems to me.

    Light is seen through a small hole.

    by houyhnhnm on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 04:27:49 PM PDT

    •  Once I asked a question like that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and was treated to a nice chorus of contemptuous derision.

      I see you're just being ignored.  Lucky you.

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 05:43:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Union of Concerned Scientists EV Report. (0+ / 0-)

        Here (pdf)

        Bottom line (p. 11): at the time of the report, 45% of Americans lived in a place where EVs/plug-ins would be better than any hybrid in terms of overall footprint - equivalent to >50 MPG (needless to say, better than any standard combustion-only vehicle). And 83% live in places where it's at least 41 MPG-equivalent.

        Furthermore, as the map on p. 12 shows, the regions where EVs/plug-ins have the greatest market penetration potential in terms of needs and public opinion (West Coast and Northeast) are also among the best in terms of electricity-mix cleanliness.

        That report was a year ago, based on 2010 electricity mix. Since then both the EVs have improved (e.g., 2013 Leaf has 15% higher energy efficiency than the 2012 model), and the energy mix has become cleaner.

        And will continue to do so. So by the time this really makes a dent in say suburban Red State America, all the numbers (range, MPGe, electricity cleanliness) will look better there as well.

        But you are missing the point of the diary: oil's monopoly over locomotion exacerbates and accelerates the problem of global warming. Breaking this monopoly is a worthy goal on its own, even if the short-term effect was carbon-neutral. And it is not. It is positive.

        I wouldn't tell anyone to quit using transit and buy an EV instead. But a small bird told me that Americans still have cars and buy millions of cars every year. Let's make as many of those cars as we can, EVs and plug-ins.


        •  mass transit. bicycles. (0+ / 0-)

          Let's not forget that there are alternatives superior to EV cars.  

          Colorado Rockies foothills here; we're nearly 100% coal-based electricity.

          Anyway, you have your work cut out for you.  Who's going to be able to afford new cars in an economy that can hardly afford old ones?

          Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

          by corvo on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 06:26:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oof. 15 million new cars are being bought in US... (0+ / 0-)

            ...This year.

            I am all pro-transit. All five of us (wife, me, 3 kids) use transit for commute. As I wrote in the diary.

            Still, the more of these 15 million cars we get to be EV/plug-ins, the better for the planet.

            And the worse for anyone planning a Tar Sands like project.

            Can we be one team here? Try, at least?

            Thank you.

            •  300 million people in this country. (0+ / 0-)

              Lots of them can't afford cars; and when they can, it's only the cheap used ones that have miserable fuel efficiency.

              Now you'd think that a Democratic Party worth the name would at least be proposing incentives and subsidies . . . but that seems to be a thing of the past.  We seem to have settled for being slightly less bad consumers.

              Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

              by corvo on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 08:22:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    • The average is 1lb per kWh. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Assaf, houyhnhnm, JeffW

      That average includes coal at 2lb per kWh.

      So it would be a lot more like 17-74 lb of CO2 to fully charge the Volt.

      Remember also that the gasoline engine is much more polluting and less efficient for the first few minutes of operation, until it warms up.  The electric vehicle doesn't have that issue, if you're going six blocks to the store.

      And, of course, there's no cool solar panels on the roof option for the gasoline powered car in the long term.

      No one seems to be interested in the massive carbon cost  of the new vehicle though.

      During "cash for clunkers" I elderly people with beaters who drove as little as 1,000 miles a year trading cars getting 20 MPG for cars getting  34.

      Which is just the biggest WTF....

      I love you stupid fucking fucks. Now stop poking at the dead cat on the table and get back to the issues.

      by JesseCW on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 05:46:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent dairy- great compliment to other topics (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, John Crapper, cotterperson, Assaf


    .................expect us......................... FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 04:40:46 PM PDT

  •  Diary only discusses half the equation. Where does (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, 6412093, corvo

    ...electricity come from?

    Where I live, the State Energy Pan estimates that EVs may increase electricity demand by 30% which is huge.

    If you drive an EV in Seattle, you are doing good for the planet. If you drive an EV in Kentucky, you may be doing some good compared to gasoline but hardly as much, depending on the car and how many miles you drive.

    "This is NOT what I thought I'd be when I grew up."

    by itzik shpitzik on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 04:47:43 PM PDT

    •  Charging at night uses base load electricity (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JesseCW, Assaf, JeffW

      except on the coldest nights in cold parts of the country. Most of that fossil fuel for nightly recharge would have been burned no matter what.

      We do need to move away from fossil fuel power to stop adding GHGs.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

      by FishOutofWater on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 05:31:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No this is NOT how the grid works and a lot (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...of charging can't happen at night.

        Off peak power is cheaper, yes. When we say off peak load uses baseload, what that means is that it's using the capacity, the machinery that's already there. But if there is more demand, more fuel gets used! The same generators need to burn more

        An EV driven a typical owner's number of miles will use the same number of kwh as a house. On the rural back road I live on, each house becomes 3 houses from an electric demand perspective.

        I'm for EV development, but the idea that they're a panacea is a delusion.

        Not to mention the desired goal of lessening the total demand for baseload generation, which is fossil fuel and nuclear generation for most of us.

        "This is NOT what I thought I'd be when I grew up."

        by itzik shpitzik on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 06:10:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Itzik, please see my response to a similar thread (0+ / 0-)



        •  You're missing my point. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I agree that for most Americans, an EV creates a net benefit in terms of carbon and other emissions. But to post such a detaied diary about the wonders of EVs without once mentioning the critical issue of source of electricity is an omission that comes close to misinformation.

          What the study you cite does not appear to get into is the implications of future success in EV promotion without conversion of generation sources. A 30% increase in EVs in Vermont will help increase New England's increasing over-dependence on natural gas, which is largely made possible by fracking in Pennsylvania.

          "This is NOT what I thought I'd be when I grew up."

          by itzik shpitzik on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 06:30:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The diary was about breaking the oil monopoly. (0+ / 0-)

            You don't have to knee-jerk and tell me that using mass transit or cycling is even better for the planet. We all know that.

            Still, 15 million new cars and trucks are being bought this year in the US - whether you and I like it, or not. And they are not all bought by evil, stupid or anti-environmental people.

            So the more of these we get to be EV/plug-ins, the weaker the economic foundations for Tar Sands become. Even in the the narrow corporate mindset.

            And the easier it is for us to beat such monstrous projects in the future. If regular people see that they can use electricity to get around anyway, the whole "oil independence" schtick will go down the drain.

            Just like the gay-demonization went bust, once we realized that our sibling/friend/etc. is one of those supposed "demons".

  •  I'm really happy that some of us have the choice (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    anastasia p go electric or hybrid in auto dealer's showrooms.

    Unfortunately, I'd still waiting for the federal government to become an employer of last resort in this nightmare of a corrupt economy.

    We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both - Louis D. Brandeis

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 05:55:10 PM PDT

  •  No words about battery replacement and the (0+ / 0-)

    effect on resale value? And should we conclude trucks are out of the question for a while?

    One understands your emphasis on GHG mitigation, but downplaying the lifestyle/business alterations seems unhelpful.

  •  We recently bought a Volt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    John Crapper, Assaf

    ...which is, of course, a plug in hybrid.

    That said, my husband has put over 1,000 miles on it, mostly commuting, and to date has used 0.3 gallons of gas.

    The Volt is pricey (35K) but you get a $7500 tax credit (not a deduction -- a full credit).  

    Also GM has 0% financing on it right now.

    So for those who can come up with the down payment, it's great.

    Added bonus -- it's really sporty looking, and rides very smoothly.

    “Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.” -- FDR, 1936

    by SolarMom on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 08:18:37 PM PDT

    •  Wow, that's very impressive! Thx 4 sharing! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The way you use your new Volt, you too have essentially removed yourself from the oil economy.

      Any of your friends got inspired/envious and consider getting one?

      •  Well, not really removed... (0+ / 0-)

        ...I drive a Prius and also commute, and our daughter drives our old minivan 4 miles a day (to high school and back).

        But it's a step in the right direction anyway.

        We both work at EPA, so MANY of our friends are envious. (Commuting together works some, but not all, of the time due to kid issues).

        We're going to do a show and tell at work with the Volt soon. Lots of friends drive Prius's (Prii?), but no one else has sprung for a Volt yet, mostly because of the price.

        “Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.” -- FDR, 1936

        by SolarMom on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 10:01:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Also, I should add... (0+ / 0-)

          ...we live in North Carolina, and charge up the Volt off of Duke Energy (mostly coal and nukes, with some renewables) plus our home solar panels.  

          So the Volt still gets a chunk of its charge from coal-fired generation, which is less carbon overall than if it were burning gasoline, but is still less than perfect.

          “Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.” -- FDR, 1936

          by SolarMom on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 10:11:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site