Friday, June 29, 2007

Confusion Reigns at CARB

Gov Schwarzenegger has fired Chairman Sawyer and others at CARB and it is not immediately clear why. The LA Times reports on unprecedented administration interference in the agency, seeking the firing longtime staffers. The Governor has publicly chastised the board for delaying implementation of Central Valley clean air targets, but everyone seems confused.

According to the Michael Collier's Politics Blog on
Robert Sawyer, appointed by the governor in 2005, was one of three ''no'' votes last week when the board adopted three new policy changes to curb carbon dioxide and other emissions statewide. Sawyer, like several environmental groups, thought the board should have made more changes than the three that the governor sought.
Plug -in and electric car advocates felt they were getting a generally fairer shake from Sawyer than his much criticized predecessor Alan Lloyd, but recent ZEV mandate staff and board actions suggested no major changes in its implementation. Enviros and industry has been all over the map in their opinions about Sawyer's stewardship of the nation's most powerful clean air agency. The governor's appointment of a new Chair will help us understand whether it was Arnold's much ballyhooed concern for the environment or deep connections to industry that led him to fire Sawyer.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Tell Toyota to Get With the Program!

Rainforest Action Network is prodding Toyota to add plugs to their hybrids. Google is spending oodles doing it to their cars, but the rest of us need the carmakers to produce the plug-in hybrids and electric cars we want. Add your voice to the campaign by clicking here.

Of course, Toyota could do it today with larger NiMH battery packs. I'd wager there is more than one plug-in Prius hidden away at Toyota's skunkworks in Japan. Both GM and Toyota are disingenuously pushing the nonsensical notion that plug-ins need to wait for Lithium batteries to prove themselves. Of course they both already produced electric cars with over 100 mile range using the same NiMH chemistry in every hybrid , but they don't talk about that. Toyota's recent announcement postponing the switch from NiMH to Lithium batteries is meant to convince us we'll just have to wait. Tell them you won't buy a new car without a plug. A hybrid without a plug is just a gasoline car by another name.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Google Gets It - It's the Plug, Stupid

Finally an entity is stepping up and saying unambiguously it's about electricity. has launched A comprehensive vision of clean electricty, plug-in hybrid and electric cars, and vehicles as distributed energy storage devices for clean power. With Google's street cred (Wall Street and your street,) intellectual prowess and financial clout, electricity may at long last get a seat at the table. The investor class, self-interested corporations and the major environmental organization have fallen in love with biofuels and hydrogen and shoved the logic of electricity from discussions about solutions to global warming and petroleum dependency. Just as Toyota announces delays on the next-generation (read plug-in hybrid) Prius and Honda cancels its hybrid Accord, Google has thrown down the gauntlet.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Filling up a Prius vs. Plugging In a RAV4 EV

Prius: > $6 per 100 miles
RAV4 EV: 0 - $2.50 per 100 miles

Prius: Fill up at multi-national corporate outpost
RAV4 EV: Fill up at home with solar electricity or cheap, abundant, night-time power

Prius: Hang around toxic fumes while filling up
RAV4 EV: Margaritas all around

Hat tip to Darell at

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Trouble in Hydrogen Heaven

The World, a PRI/BBC radio collaboration, has a report on the problems bringing Iceland's hydrogen dream to fruition. Still only one filling station, now without any customers. The hydrogen busses have been retired to a museum. With abundant renewable electricity, if it can't happen there, it can't happen anywhere. Jori Lewis reports from Reykyavik. Have a listen.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Zero-Carbon Drive to Sacto Anti-Carbon Rally and Back

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) held a rally in Sacramento Thursday outside the lobbying offices of the Association of Automobile Manufacturers to protest their continuing lawsuit against California's greenhouse gas legislation. Dan Kalb of the Union of Concerned Scientists and Bonnie Holms-Gen of the Lung Association were there to lend their voices of protest against the auto industry's continuing legal assault on California. And I was there representing Plug In America.

What's most interesting, however, is how easy (and cheap) it is to do a carbon emission-free 200 mile day in a 100 mile range electric vehicle, my 5 year old Toyota RAV4 EV. (It's about 90 miles from my house in San Francisco to the Capitol in Sacramento.) Tom Gage of AC Propulsion was driving up in the eBox on the same day to see some folks at SMUD and CARB, so we met up for breakfast in Vacaville.

Plenty of public charging in what's come to be called Voltageville. We chose the solar-powered Park n Ride just off 80. About 55 miles from my place in San Francisco and 100 miles from Tom's on the Peninsula. After an hour or so of breakfast and conversation, we unplugged our respective vehicles and went off to our appointments in the Capitol. The EV chargers one-half block from the RAN rally at which I was to speak were charging other RAV4 EVs, so I drove to another parking garage 2 blocks away. Plenty of available chargers there.

The 11 am demonstration went off without a hitch. (See my remarks below.) Afterward, I paid a quick visit to Assemblywoman Fiona Ma's office and then unplugged at around 12.30 to begin my journey back to SF. Stopped in Vacaville on the return trip to eat lunch, charging while eating of course. Arrived back home around 3.15 with about 25% (at least 25 miles) still available in my battery after 197 miles.

Total cost: $6. Should have cost me nothing to do the trip, but I had to pay for parking in Sacramento. Sacto is meant to have free parking for ZEVs, but that parking lot didn't respect my ZEV parking decal. Zero Emission Vehicles don't pay bridge tolls during commute hours in California, so I saved about $5 each way zipping past the toll collectors. In a Prius or Civic Hybrid at 50mpg, the trip would have cost about $30 in gas, tolls and parking in Sacto.

Electric cars don't emit carbon (or anything else) as they drive, so there's one additional saving quite relevant to speaking at a rally decrying carbon emissions. At 20 lbs of carbon emissions per gallon of gasoline burned (US Energy Information Administration estimate), a Prius or Civic would have released about 80 lbs of carbon for this one round trip.

My comments at the rally:
We’re all here to demand that the auto makers stop suing California as we attempt to lower, and eventually eliminate, greenhouse gas emissions from tailpipes. We’ve seen this all before. The auto manufacturers have sued to stop progress before.

Our group, Plug In America, began as, to fight the destruction of the great electric cars produced to meet the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate of the 90s. The great zero-carbon emitting, zero-particulate emitting, zero-petroleum consuming electric cars. They sued back then, too. With our protests, we saved about 1000 Ford and Toyota electric cars, and I drove here today from San Francisco in one. If you’ve seen the film Who Killed the Electric Car?, you know what I’m talking about.

One of the great things about plug-in cars is that they offer us a pathway to true ZERO. Plugging into the California electric grid today would lower the carbon emission of cars tremendously. And due to all our efforts, the grid is getting even cleaner and more renewable. As consumers, we want to tap into that cleaner source of energy for our driving. Because plug-in cars actually get cleaner over time. We want to power our cars from non-polluting, zero carbon emitting electricity from wind and solar photovoltaic systems on our roofs. The best way to eliminate tailpipe carbon emissions is to eliminate the tailpipe.

Choice is what we want. The market for the cleanest possible cars is huge. Unfortunately, the offerings from the carmakers sparse. A few gasoline-dependent hybrids won’t placate us when we already know better alternatives with lower or zero-carbon emissions are proven and ready today –all-electric cars and plug-in hybrids that can plug into cleaner, cheaper, domestic electricity. When it comes to cars, it’s time to say No Plug? No Deal.

The automakers must stop blocking the will of California and the nation and make the zero-carbon emitting cars they’ve already proven they can build.