Spitting into the Wind (Part 1)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Cape Wind Commentary
by Michael Vickerman, RENEW Wisconsin
August 31, 2007

When the news of a proposed windpower project in the waters off Cape Cod broke six years ago, the last thing developer Jim Gordon expected to create was a political tempest of such ferocity that it became the nation’s No. 1 energy hot spot, displacing Alaska’s North Slope in the process.

Clearly, Gordon miscalculated, and the battle royal that ensued—and continues to this day—is chronicled in absorbing fashion in Cape Wind, a new and valuable book that sheds light on the most privileged, if not powerful, opposition group the world has ever seen.

To be fair to Gordon, nobody knew back in the fall of 2001 how Cape Cod’s bluebloods would react to the idea of a wind project located nearby. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, it was reasonable to assume that Americans of all socioeconomic stripes would support energy production from domestic renewable resources like wind. Then again, no one before Gordon had the audacity to propose erecting wind turbines, 170 in total, a mere five and one-half miles from their seaside Xanadus.

As Gordon soon found out, the Cape and Island elites weren’t about to let this interloper turn their pleasuring grounds into New England’s largest source of clean energy without a fight. Abandoning uppercrust restraint for the kind of overheated language one expects from enraged Muslim clerics, the bluebloods closed ranks and issued a fatwa of sorts against the Cape Wind project. Gordon’s vision was described as “a monster project” that if built would irreparably sully “the hallowed ground” that is Nantucket Sound.

To conceal the NIMBY nature of their objections, the more well-heeled among them created an organization called the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. But few were fooled by this transparent attempt to spin a grassroots movement out of old money. Anyone hearing the words “save our sound” knew right away that it was the view, not the environment, that needed saving.

Continue reading here.

Peak Oil Video Showing - A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash Thurs 9/6 6:30 Escape Java Joint

Thursday, August 30, 2007

From the Presented by the Green Action Network:

A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash, produced and directed by award-winning European journalists and filmmakers Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack, tells the story of how our civilization’s addiction to oil puts it on a collision course with geology. Compelling, intelligent, and highly entertaining, the film visits with the world’s top experts and comes to a startling, but logical conclusion – our industrial society, built on cheap and readily available oil, must be completely re-imagined and overhauled.

The film includes in-depth, thought-provoking interviews with Colin Campbell, Matt Simmons, Roscoe Bartlett, David Goodstein, Matt Savinar, Terry Lynn Karl, Fadhil Chalabi, Robert Ebel and many others. Shot on location at oil fields in Azerbaijan, Venezuela, the Middle East and Texas, with original music by Daniel Schnyder and Philip Glass, the film provides not only questions, but possible solutions to the most perplexing and important economic, environmental and public policy issue of our time.


For more info, email tntnbt@tds.net or call 332-1493.

Iraq's War without End: The Role of Oil

Candid Discussions on Critical Foreign Affairs Issues

The Madison Committee on Foreign Relations invites you
to our regular September 11 meeting, for a discussion with:

Dr. Robert D. Langenkamp
Director, National Energy-Environmental Law Policy Institute

Mr. Langenkamp’s topic will be:
"Iraq's War without End: The Role of Oil"

Professor Langenkamp is director of the National Energy-Environment Law and Policy Institute at the University of Tulsa. After 15 years as a trial lawyer, he left private practice to serve in the U.S. Department of Energy as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil, Natural Gas & Shale Resources (1977-1981) and as Deputy Assistant Secretary, Naval Petroleum and Oil Shale Reserves and Divestment (1997-1998). He lectures and writes in the areas of oil and gas, privatization and energy policy.

He is the recipient of numerous awards including among many others, the Patriotism in Energy Award from the International Society of Energy Advocates, the Silver Medal for Outstanding Service to the U.S. Department of Energy and the Fenell Award for Public Policy. His career has taken him to Ghana for the African Financial Summit in 1999, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Turkey as a consultant for USAID, Romania, where he headed a U.S. Energy delegation to Bucharest, and Venezuela to negotiate nationalization of petroleum assets owned by certain U.S. interests. He was a consultant for Hagler- Bailly (USAID) in Kazakhstan, Georgia, prior to returning to the TU College of Law faculty. Professor Langenkamp received his undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Stanford University and the JD from Harvard Law School.

The discussion will be held:
Tuesday, September 11 at the Madison Club - 5 East Wilson Street
5:00 PM cash bar
5:30 Speaker presentation and discussion
6:30 Networking and H'ordurves

Cost: Sustaining members, no meeting fee
Attending members and spouses/partners of members - $20.00 at the door
One-time meeting guest - $20.00 at the door
One-time member prospect guests of members, complementary

RSVP planned attendance via E-mail to mcfr@tcgcorp.net by Friday, September 7.
The Madison Committee on Foreign Relations, Inc. is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to the open discussion of issues facing the United States and other nations. For more information, including membership information go to http://www.madison.com/communities/mcfr/.

Cieslewicz suggests rapid bus network

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

From an article by Matthew Defour in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said Friday he could see bus rapid transit as a precursor to Dane County commuter rail, a change from his previous position that focused more on Madison streetcars.

"I 've always been a rail supporter, " Cieslewicz said. "Sometimes rail has been juxtaposed with bus rapid transit as one or the other, and there was a time when I was there, too. But I don 't think about it that way (any more). "

A bus rapid transit system, such as the one proposed by Madison Area Bus Advocates, would cover an area similar to a commuter rail line, but with fewer stops than a normal bus route. Some rail opponents have promoted bus rapid transit as a cheaper mode of public transportation than trains.

'Alcohol Can Be a Gas'

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bio-fuel Workshop
Date: October 20, 2007
Organization: Center for Sustainable Community
Contact: Julie Larsen

Location: Retzer Nature Center is just outside Waukesha, 15 minutes from Milwaukee, one hour from Madison and just a few minutes off I-94.

Wouldn't it be great to pull up to the neighborhood pump and feel good about what you put in your vehicle.

Join bio-fuel expert and author David Blume to show you a way out of the gasoline trap by detailing an energy co-op model that can produce fuel for less than $1/gallon.

Learn an achievable plan for stopping, and ultimately reversing, atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions, eliminating all need for imported oil, and transforming industrial agriculture into a diversified, localized system that eliminates all waste effluents, provides more humane treatment of livestock, and produces plentiful organic food.

Workshop is all day 9-5.

Eco-tour by train, Madison to Spring Green, September 29

Monday, August 27, 2007

September 29, 2007

Autumn Train and Trail:an adventure celebrating Wisconsin culture and beauty
an eco-tour supporting local business and sustainable transportation

Tickets for the event cost $30.

All passengers must RSVP by visiting www.SustainDane.org or contacting Sustain Dane at (608) 819-0689 by September 21st.

Departing from Madison at 8:00am (boarding begins at 7:30am), passengers will visit the following Spring Green Cedar Grove Cheese. Local Choice Farm Market, Otter Creek Organic Farm, and Taliesin.

Using rail for freight solves many problems

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A letter to the editor of The Capital Times:
A career trucker who spoke on public radio during a call-in session said we could cut down on fuel by quitting the senseless practice of hauling nonperishables cross country by truck. He said the government needs to give us an adequate rail system to haul this type of commodity.

Some in Congress also think this is a good idea. A bipartisan group of legislators has introduced the Freight Rail Capacity Expansion Act of 2007. In today's world it makes sense. A freight train can take about 300 big trucks (the equivalent of 1,100 cars) off the highways. It can reduce highway congestion, which costs us $63 billion per year in wasted fuel and travel time, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Expanding the use of rails for freight would slow the need for more highways. It can cost over $10 million to add a lane to a mile of urban highway, compared to $1 million to $3 million to add a mile of rail.

Added incentive to move forward is the aggressive hiring by the industry of returning veterans. Our four largest railroads made the list of "top military-friendly employers" as determined by GI Jobs Magazine. These are jobs that can 't go overseas.

What's not to like?

Nancy Duersten, Racine

Dane County, rail service make perfect couple

Saturday, August 25, 2007

From a guest column by Al Matano in The Capital Times:

Dane County is on the cusp of an exciting opportunity. Transport 2020 is a study that represents a progressive, regional vision of transportation improvements to strengthen our economy and our community.

The isthmus compresses transportation routes into a narrow corridor -- too narrow to fit a freeway. Commuter rail would transform it from a bottleneck to a transportation asset, allowing us to support a transit system that a much bigger city would normally support. Our land and neighborhoods are much too valuable to squander by paving them over.

Rail transit generates development and density. Plans to redevelop the Department of Transportation property are oriented toward a future rail stop, as is the redevelopment of the city of Sun Prairie's downtown.

In Washington, D.C., a new rail line transformed a sleepy area with ramshackle shops and restaurants into a highly developed corridor. The density created still more ridership. Washington's Metro suffers the enviable problem of overcrowded trains.

Regional bus service would bring people in outlying communities to the rail line, taking cars off the road and benefiting transit riders and automobile commuters alike.

Al Matano is a member of the Dane County Board and the Transport 2020 commission.

BP backpedals on increasing lake pollution

Friday, August 24, 2007

From an article by Dan Egan in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Company officials say public criticism has been so overwhelming they will not take advantage of a permit that would have allowed them to increase the amount of ammonia and "suspended solids" dumped daily into the lake. Illinois politicians were among the first to pounce after the State of Indiana gave the plan the green light in June, and the furor quickly spread to Congress. In July, the House passed a toothless resolution that called for "an end to dumping in the Great Lakes."

"This Congress will not simply stand by while our Great Lakes are treated like a dumping zone," proclaimed resolution co-sponsor Rahm Emanuel (D-Il).
More on BP's original plans here.

UW-Madison to offer degree in global environment issues

Thursday, August 23, 2007

From a press release issued by the UW-Madison:
MADISON - Graduate students intrigued by large-scale environmental challenges like climate change will have a new opportunity this fall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies will introduce a graduate-level Certificate on Humans and the Global Environment (CHANGE) that prepares students to tackle global environmental problems. The certificate program will be open to any graduate student at UW-Madison, regardless of major.

"Today's global environmental crises demand problem-solvers who can benefit from multiple perspectives on sustainable solutions," says CHANGE director Jonathan Patz, an associate professor in the Nelson Institute and the Department of Population Health Sciences. "Our students must be fully equipped with the leadership skills and transdisciplinary orientation needed to take on these concerns - CHANGE students will ultimately become change agents."

. . . CHANGE interweaves natural and social sciences and the humanities to explore the vulnerabilities and resilience of human communities facing complex environmental hazards. It draws on the university's strengths in fields such as atmospheric and oceanic sciences, conservation biology, environmental studies, geography, history, public health, sociology and veterinary medicine. . . .

The CHANGE program is closely tied to the Nelson Institute's Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, which conducts research and outreach on the same broad theme.
For more information on the CHANGE certificate and other Nelson Institute programs, visit the Nelson Institute.

Stop BP's Lake Michigan dumping scheme

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

From a guest editorial in the Green Bay Press Gazette by Dan Kohler, director of Wisconsin Environment, a statewide, nonprofit environmental advocacy organization:

And now, threatening to roll back years of effort to clean up the Great Lakes, BP's oil refinery in Whiting, Ind., wants to increase its toxic dumping into Lake Michigan. Under the new permit, issued in June by Indiana's Department of Environmental Management, BP will dump 1,500 pounds of ammonia and nearly 5,000 pounds of toxics containing solids (including mercury) daily into Lake Michigan.

Not only would BP's increased ammonia feed fish-killing algae blooms and increased dumping of lead and mercury put more children's health at risk, but their permit would set a terrible precedent for the entire Great Lakes. BP wants to create Lake Michigan's first "mixing zone," a dubious practice by which facilities discharge pollution in excess of safety limits, dilute it in lake water, and call it cleaned up.

For years, no company has been allowed to increase dumping in the lake. And although a quarter-acre wastewater treatment plant could help stop the new pollution, BP testified that there's no room for one at its 1,700-acre refinery.

Unfortunately, so far, Indiana officials and the Bush administration's EPA are prepared to allow this to go on. The world's eighth-largest company does not need exemptions from laws that protect children and help restore our Great Lakes.

Borrow a portable energy meter; measure your energy costs

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

From MG&E's Web site:

Accurate and easy to use, these plug-in meters work on any standard 120-volt electric appliance. Use one to:

+ Measure voltage, electricity cost and electric consumption.
+ Find out the exact operating cost of various appliances, from refrigerators to lamps and computers.
+ Identify the potential causes of high energy use.
+ Predict your savings in reducing appliance use.
+ Calculate the payback for replacing older equipment.
+ Discover how much power some appliances draw even when switched "off;" i.e., "phantom power."
Borrow a portable energy meter at no cost from your local public library. MGE has donated many of these meters to area libraries. Usual checkout period is two to three weeks but varies with the host library. Because the meters are popular, you may want to reserve one ahead of time.
Get more details here.

Planning for Hard Times

Monday, August 20, 2007

From Community Solutions:

The Fourth U.S. Conference on Peak Oil and Community Solutions
October 26-28, Kelly Hall, Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio

Join us for the world's largest gathering of Peak Oil activists! We bring together top experts in Peak Oil and lifestyle solutions for three days of presentations, workshop sessions, and networking.

Come learn tactics for Peak Oil education and community organizing, strategies for reducing your personal energy use, and participate in visioning a viable post-peak future.

Keynotes: David Korten, author of The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community and When Corporations Rule the World; Dr. Thomas Princen, author of The Logic of Sufficiency; Richard Heinberg, author of The Party's Over and Powerdown

Other Speakers: Linda Wigington, founder, Affordable Comfort Institute; Judy Wicks, co-founder and chair, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE); Sharon Astyk, author, Depletion and Abundance: The New Home Front, Families and the Coming Ecological Crises; Pat Murphy and Megan Quinn of The Community Solution

At the conference you will:
• Learn new skills and strategies for reducing your personal energy use.
• Discuss ways to help your community plan for the future.
• Hear about viable economic alternatives like sufficiency and localization.
• Discover innovative solutions for food, housing, and transportation.
• Learn the latest information on Peak Oil and climate change and how it will affect our economy and lives.
• Strategize with fellow concerned citizens at the largest gathering of the Peak Oil movement in the country.
For more information, check the Web site of Community Solutions.

‘Green' cars seek go-ahead for area streets

Sunday, August 19, 2007

From an article by Hillary Woodruw in the Beloit Daily News:

Beloit, just let these cute cars in!

That's what the Thompson family, owners of Green Autos, is saying about the neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) they hope to sell. With the Janesville City Council not giving the go ahead yet, the Thompsons will be urging Beloit to pass an ordinance allowing the battery operated cars to be driven on the road.

After all, Stoughton and Monona are allowing them and Madison will open the roads to them in November. Wisconsin is the 46th state to allow the vehicles, but the state is requiring each municipality to pass an ordinance for the vehicles.

Because the Thompsons believe the cars are the first step towards freedom from the gas pump, they opened Green Autos on Aug. 1 in the former True Value Hardware complex on Milton Avenue. They have been trailering the NEVs over to the Sam's Club parking lot for test rides and have collected the signatures of more than 200 supporters via a tent at the Rock County Fair.

“The biggest misconception is that they are glorified golf carts,” Thompson said. “The Zenn and the Kurrent NV are four season vehicles with solid doors, glass, heating and air conditioning, power windows, door locks and CD players or satellite radio.”

NEVs are much different than the electric cars of the past, which can range from $40,000 to $50,000. The Thompsons' NEVs, ranging from $9,800 to $17,000, are only two-seaters and go a top speed of 25 miles per hour. What's so special about them, aside from their cuteness, is that they don't use any gasoline and have no emissions.

BP makes a crude trade-off for the lake

Friday, August 17, 2007

From an article on the new BP refinery by David Steinkraus in the Racine Journal Times:

As the crow flies it’s 73 miles from Racine straight southeast across the lake to the BP refinery in Whiting, Ind., but to Sister Janet Weyker of Caledonia, it’s close enough for anyone concerned about the welfare of Lake Michigan.

She was one of 70,000 people who signed an online petition protesting a permit issued by the state of Indiana which allows the refinery to increase its discharge of ammonia and solids into the lake. That’s part of a plan for a $3 billion modernization of the refinery to handle crude oil from Canada, which, the company’s Web site says, will provide the Midwest with a stable supply of fuel.

However, the refinery waste discharge will increase to 1,500 pounds of ammonia and 5,000 pounds of suspended solids per day, increases of 54 percent and 35 percent respectively. That is within federal guidelines, the company says.

Residents don’t see it that way, and they have complained about the permit process used by Indiana. The Alliance for the Great Lakes on Wednesday filed a petition with the state asking for a review of that process. Some state and federal officials are interested, too, said Dan Kohler, director of Environment Wisconsin, which started the online petition. . . .

In the same way that coal-fired power plants affect the whole lake, so does this project, she said. The lake’s ecosystems need to be protected no matter where they are because everyone has a stake in the lake’s water. "Everybody adds a little bad stuff to the lake; it does make a difference."

That’s also the consensus of several scientists at the Great Lakes Water Institute of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. . . .

"The particulates," [Michael] Carvan, [an associate scientist at the Great Lakes Water Institute of the UW-Milwaukee] said, "the thing that’s worrying about the particulates is it’s going to contain a lot of toxic chemicals." There will be cadmium, mercury, all the heavy metals coming from the crude oil in those suspended solids. "It’s never good to put that into the lake."

BP permit spurs review of state policy

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

From an article by Mary Beth Schneider in the Indianapolis Star:

Facing intense criticism for the state's decision to let BP America increase discharges into Lake Michigan, Gov. Mitch Daniels on Monday ordered a review of the state's environmental permitting process.

Daniels appointed James Barnes, former dean of the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, to lead the review. . . .

Barnes, who teaches at IU, helped form the Environmental Protection Agency and now is chairman of the EPA's Environmental Finance Advisory Board. He is expected to begin his review next week, with his report to the governor due within six weeks.
Barnes was not available for comment Monday.

In June, the state Department of Environmental Management issued a new wastewater treatment permit to BP's Whiting refinery.

The new permit, plus a $3.8 billion expansion of the refinery, will allow BP to make an additional 620 million gallons of gasoline from Canadian crude oil. But the process will result in BP releasing 54 percent more ammonia and 35 percent more suspended solids into Lake Michigan, a major source of drinking water for Chicago and other cities.

Madison mayor ends push for street cars

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz released the following statement on August 13:

“There’s an old saying in politics: when you’ve dug yourself into a
hole, the first thing you do is drop the shovel. So I have decided that I will not continue to pursue the issue of streetcars in Madison. The issue is off the table.

“The Streetcar Study Committee will meet one more time to finalize its report, and will then be disbanded. I will not pursue streetcars as part of the Regional Transit Authority.

“Major public investments like streetcars should only be undertaken when there is broad consensus in the community, and that is clearly not the case with this issue. Ironically, I have not taken the time to build support for streetcars because I have been focused on more important priorities such as public safety, just the opposite of what has become a common misunderstanding.

“I continue to be concerned about the challenges that our regional transportation infrastructure faces in the years to come. I will work with community and regional leaders to develop answers to those challenges that have broad public support. Addressing this issue is vitally important to our region’s quality of life and economic development future.”

Bus advocates favor regional transit plan

Monday, August 13, 2007

Madison Area Bus Advocates favors legislation that would enable a Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) because transportation has become a regional issue best dealt with by a regional authority with a dedicated funding source. Madison has become a central city surrounded by other municipalities that are interdependent parts of a regional transportation system.

We encourage consistency between the service area of the RTA and the planning boundary of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). Buses are—and will continue to be—a major component of Madison’s transit and transportation networks and funding for transit should continue to reflect that. Rail transit may become part of the network, however, bus funding and service should not be cut to support it.

While the inherent preference for rail has perhaps been overstated in the Transportation 2020 process, we believe that a Regional Transportation Authority for Dane county and the city of Madison is the way forward, whether rail implementation proceeds or not. A sustainable funding source for mass transit could keep travel times down and ridership levels up, and we would like to see this new funding source
used for increased frequency of service with reduced wait times, better amenities for users, and longer service hours, as well as the enhancement of geographic coverage of the system.

While we support the agreement between the mayor and county in general, and tapping the sales tax is a good way to relieve dependence on the property tax, the primary goal is for transit to receive a larger portion of the state’s transportation budget. There is also the potential for a power shift with implementation of an RTA, moving control of funds, decision-making and service from Madison to the more
sparsely-supported suburbs, even though Madison has by far the most transit users and a denser urban fabric.

While Madison Area Bus Advocates supports expanding the geographic coverage of mass transit, this must not come at the expense of core service within Madison. In fact, we are expecting increased service for Madison and will oppose legislative proposals which are likely to reduce service within the city. New funding should primarily go to adding new service with an over-all larger budget, although some reduction in
reliance on the property tax would be acceptable. Finally, the governance structure of any RTA should be designed to be transparent and the method by which funds raised by an RTA would then be allocated should be clearly spelled out in any legislation.

Support regional transit authority

Friday, August 10, 2007

From Hans Noeldner:

Please telephone your Dane Co. Supervisor and ask him/her to vote in
favor of the Regional Transportation Authority resolution when the Dane
Co. Board meets next week. You can find your Supervisor's info here:


And here is a map of Dane Co. districts. You can zoom in on individual


Indiana's Toxic Sludge Is Wisconsin's Problem

Thursday, August 09, 2007

From an editorial in Milwaukee´s Shepard Express:

A British Petroleum (BP) oil refinery in Indiana will be allowed to increase the amount of toxic sludge it dumps in Lake Michigan. It's the first time in 30 years that a business has been permitted to add more pollution to the lake.

The permit allows BP to expand its refinery in Whiting, Ind., just across the border from Chicago. As part of the $3 billion expansion, BP can discharge 1,584 pounds of ammonia and 4,925 pounds of toxic "sludge" each day.

BP says the facility's expansion is necessary to increase output because domestic refineries are struggling to keep up with demand. It is also arguing that adding a better water treatment system would be an economic hardship.

The toxic dumping has been condemned by the U.S. House of Representatives with a 387-26 vote; the governor of Illinois, who is threatening to sue; mayors of Chicago, Milwaukee, Racine, Green Bay, Sheboygan and Superior; and thousands of Great Lakes states residents.

But the governor of Wisconsin doesn't appear to be bothered.

"It is an issue that is governed by the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] through the Clean Water Act," said Gov. Jim Doyle's spokesman, Matt Canter.

Madison Metro ridership up 5 percent

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

From a story on Channel3000.com:

Madison Metro has faced criticism in recent years for lagging ridership numbers, but officials say that is changing.

During a Long-Range Metro Transit Planning ad-hoc committee listening session on Monday, officials heard how the service is making large gains in riders. Metro officials said that it has seen a 5-percent increase in ridership in the past six months.

Last year, Metro recorded its largest number of riders in 25 years, WISC-TV reported.

The committee put together a midterm report about the service's financial issues and is seeking input on how people in the city use the service.

"Public transit is playing a more and more important role," said Metro general manager Chuck Kamp. "Ridership is going up, funding from many sources is going down and that is the problem."

White House raises specter of veto of US House energy bills

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Despite praise from renewable energy advocates, an article by Cathy Landry posted on Platts reports that Bush may veto the energy bill passed by the U.S. House:

US President George W. Bush's senior advisers will recommend he veto the US House energy bills to be debated on the floor later Friday if they are presented to the president in their current form, the Office of Management and Budget said in a State of Administration Policy released Friday.

"Because H.R. 2776 and H.R. 3221 fail to deliver American consumers or businesses more energy security, but rather would lead to less domestic oil and gas production, higher energy costs, and higher taxes, the president's senior advisers would recommend that he veto these bills," the statement said.

The House is to debate Friday two pieces of energy legislation--one a legislative bill designed to promote renewable energy and roll back a number of provisions in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and the second a tax piece that repeals $15.3 billion in oil and gas industry tax breaks included in the 2005 energy bill, redirecting the cost savings to new funding of incentives for renewable and alternative fuels.

The White House said it was particularly concerned about the repeal of oil and gas industry tax credits, saying they would lead to higher energy costs to US consumers and businesses.

Opponents unbowed after ethanol suit

From an article by Carla McCannin the Janesville Gazette:

MILTON-Leanne Glorvigen is proud that she and a handful of other residents opposed the construction of an ethanol plant in Milton and challenged city government's closed-door meetings on the matter.

"We did the right thing. We spoke up and proved our point …" Glorvigen said. "But as a citizen, I'm not proud we had to do what we did."

As a member of the Citizens for Responsible Development, Glorvigen sued the city, saying the council violated the state's open meetings law when it met in secret in 2004 and 2005 with United Ethanol officials.

The Fourth District Court of Appeals agreed, ruling March 8 that the city council violated the law while trying to convince the Beaver Dam company to build in the city's east-side industrial park.

"I've gained freedom" with Community Car

Monday, August 06, 2007

From an article by Alec Luhn in the Wisconsin State Journal:

One Saturday afternoon, Madison real estate agent Brent Sainsbury, 29, was called away from an open house for an unexpected meeting. But he couldn't find his car.

He didn't even know exactly what it looked like, since he had never actually seen it before.

Sainsbury eventually found the Community Car he was looking for and made it to his meeting 20 minutes late. He was upset, but finding a last-minute vehicle in a strange part of town can be one of the challenges of car sharing, he said.

Community Car is a 4-year-old car-sharing service in Madison that has been growing in popularity as environmental concerns have come to the forefront.

Sainsbury joined the Madison car-sharing service three months ago, and in June he "divorced" his childhood dream car, a BMW, at a ceremony sponsored by the program. Since he joined, Sainsbury has relied solely on Community Car's fleet of 13 vehicles for his car needs.

Although he's had to restructure his life, Sainsbury said he's leading a better life.

"It's the most rewarding decision I've made in a while, right up there with buying a puppy and a house that I love," he said.

He's healthier from biking more often, more organized and less stressed over his car, Sainsbury said. He estimated he'll save about $10,000 next year now that he's selling his BMW.

"Having a car is both a luxury and a curse," he said.

Sainsbury said he's seen benefits in his business and personal life from being less dependent on a car.

"Hands down, I've gained freedom," he said.

Waste Management sponsors vegetable-oil bus

Sunday, August 05, 2007

From an article on the Web site of American Recycler:

Thirteen Dartmouth College students are crossing the country in a bus powered primarily by waste vegetable oil. The bus will hit more than 45 cities between June and August, campaigning at America’s biggest concerts, conventions and rallies in its more than 10,000-mile odyssey.

Waste Management is a sponsor of the environmental bus. Waste Management was selected to become a sponsor because of the company’s commitment to alternative and renewable energy and recycling programs.

“It’s fitting with our company tag line of Think Green® that Waste Management is the gold sponsor of the Big Green Bus,” said David Aardsma, senior vice president, sales and marketing.

In its third year on the road, the Big Green Bus aims higher and reaches farther than ever before in its goal to put “green” on the mind of every citizen. The bus, recycled from a life as a school bus, has been retrofitted to run on waste vegetable oil collected from fast-food diners and Chinese restaurants. . . .

Connecting various events across the country, places where the students could stay and cities they want to visit, the students chose a route that began on the Dartmouth campus and heads southwest toward Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and over to New Orleans at the end of the month. In July, the bus travels toward Texas and then onto Colorado and Utah before spending the rest of the month in various California cities. In August, the bus travels to Washington and Oregon and the Glacier, Yellowstone and Badlands national parks. The journey then leads to Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio before final stops in Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston.

Events and information for the coming months

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Barbara Smith, an active participant in the Madison Peak Oil Group, provides these items that came up in the group discussion today:

World Car Free Day, Sept. 22nd
Sign up locally for the car-free challenge starting then:

International Energy Film Festival
Lausanne, Switzerland
[Short films up to about 30 minutes.]

Sign up on Wisconsin DNR’s list to get e-mail of high air pollution days:

Dane County Clean Air Coalition is county-staffed group to take voluntary actions so our county won’t be designated by EPA as a non-attainment area for ozone. This group decides when the county declares a “Clean Air Action Day” (because exceeding federal standards for ozone air quality is predicted). Today is the 4th such “Clean Air Action Day” of the summer. Madison Metro bus service has pledged to offer free rides on the first 5 days of the season.

Check Madison Metro bus site to confirm that rides are free today. While there, check out their input process for long-range planning. Public input meetings are scheduled on Aug. 6, 8, 9 and 14:

Governor’s Global Warming Task Force. Public input meeting for Madison on Aug. 6th:

“Getting Around Wisconsin without a Car” and other useful stuff at:

Get a “walkability” score for your neighborhood, from 1 to 100:

National Tour of Solar Homes and Businesses
Oct. 5-6. Wisconsin info:
The sites chosen for Wisconsin are already listed. A few sites I suggested are not on the list. Which shows there are plenty more than are listed here…

Change a Light, Change the World
National promotion starts around Oct. 1st every year
Many or most retailers will offer special deals on compact fluorescent bulbs. Log in today to sign the pledge:

Rideshare Week
First week in October
(I just heard about this today. Many local groups do something to promote carpooling and transit riding at this time.)
[Historically in the US, October has also been celebrated as “energy awareness month.”]

Greening the Heartland
Regional green building conference
Sept. 12-14
Monona Terrace Convention Center

State's global warming group wants citizen ideas

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

From the Public Service Commission:

MADISON – The Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming will hold its first round of public input sessions on August 6, 2007. The session is planned to be held simultaneously in Green Bay, Milwaukee, La Crosse and Madison and is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.

Governor Doyle created the Task Force on Global Warming in April of 2007. The public is encouraged to provide comments on global warming at this input session that are directly relevant to the mission of the Task Force. The Governor asked the Task Force to 1) identify specific short term and long term goals for Wisconsin greenhouse gas emission reductions; 2) present viable, actionable policy recommendations to the Governor to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Wisconsin; and 3) identify ongoing opportunities to address global warming locally while growing our state’s economy, creating new jobs, and utilizing an appropriate mix of fuels and technologies in Wisconsin’s energy and transportation portfolios. Public comments on these topics will be taken into consideration by the Task Force as it prepares its final recommendations for the Governor by the end of this calendar year. A second round of public input sessions will be held in the fall, prior to the issuance of the final recommendations. All Task Force and associated work group meetings are free and open to the public.

Citizens are encouraged to attend the public input sessions and provide written comments on global warming solutions to the Task Force. Whenever possible, citizens planning to attend are asked to pre-register by submitting their name and the location where they plan to provide their comments to ensure appropriate time allocation for public input at each satellite location. Pre-registration e-mail instructions can be found at the Task Force on Global Warming website at: http://dnr.wi.gov/environmentprotect/gtfgw/. While pre-registration is encouraged, walk-in public participation is welcome on August 6th.