Wednesday, December 29, 2010

EPA Moves to Restore Chesapeake Bay

Juvenile blue crab, Poplar IslandSince the attempts of Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) to protect his big agriculture & tobacco donors the Chesapeake Bay were flunked, I'm glad to see President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency stepping in to provide a real plan:
Shawn M. Garvin, the agency's regional administrator for the mid-Atlantic, described the plan as "the largest water pollution strategy plan in the nation" and possibly "number one or number two" in the world. He noted that it will affect "basically every drop of water that gets to the bay" from as far north as Upstate New York.

The legally enforceable road map, which runs roughly 200 pages along with 800 pages of appendices, will help determine everything from how pig farms in West Virginia will dispose of waste to the way Pennsylvania copes with stormwater runoff. Environmentalists hailed it as the most promising plan the United States has ever adopted to revive an estuary plagued by low oxygen and struggling fish and oyster populations, while some critics warned it could be costly and hard to execute.
It's saving the Bay that could be costly? Damaging the Bay has cost the economies of Virginia, Maryland & DC more than $4 billion over the last 30 years. Hopefully the EPA's plan is the first step towards real leadership on restoration - something that's been lacking in a generation worth of elected officials from both political parties.

SUV Driver Tries To Destroy Rest Stop, Fails

It's not just that SUVs use more oil hurting our national security, are a terrible investment & make the roads less safe for all of us.

It's that the people who drive them tend to be giant douches.

I'm not saying you're automatically a giant douche if you drive an SUV. But the day you buy one, you are joining a club dominated by douches. The Green Miles was driving back from Christmas with family in Massachusetts this weekend & had not one but two encounters with members of that select club.

At a rest stop in Connecticut, I was about to help The Green Mom get across the slush into the passenger side of the car when a giant Canyonero pulled into the next parking spot about six inches away from my door - then gave me a look like, "Well, you should've known I was coming." I might've said something ("Nice minivan" came to mind) but he had kids with him, so I just backed up my car, mom got in & we were on our way.

Later we stopped for gas & an SUV driver decided he'd come up with a way to beat the long lines for gas for vehicles that fill up on the left side: He'd pull up to a right-filling pump & pull the hose around to the other side.  Brilliant! What could go wrong?

As I finished filling up my car & put the nozzle back, I looked up and there was gas literally gushing out of his tank as he obliviously stared at the price meter. The hose was stretched so far that apparently the nozzle didn't make it all the way into the tank & the auto shutoff hadn't registered. His brain wasn't much of a blowout preventer, either.

The SUV driver was unaware - serenely watching the numbers as his shoes, rear wheel & tailpipe were soaked in a fountain of gasoline - I wasn't even sure whether to yell at first. "Hey! Is that gasoline?" I said.

"Oh," he said as he finally realized what was going on, "Thanks." He made no effort to clean the gasoline off himself or his car, didn't alert the attendant and immediately hopped back into his SUV & drove off, still oblivious to the world. Douche.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Conservatives Make Their Own Reality: Clean Air Act Edition

It's incredible how many Republicans were rabidly behind the unitary executive wielding unlimited power two years ago & how many Republicans today rail about checks & balances. (To be fair, James Joyner is one of the few conservatives willing to call out Bush administration jackassery.)

An incredible 71 percent of Americans say the federal government should regulate carbon pollution. Polls show that support is remarkably deep - strong majorities support regulation even if it would cost them money.

In the face of that mandate, how do conservatives reconcile their continued opposition to action? James Joyner says let's play make believe!
Frustrated that it couldn’t achieve desired environmental legislation despite huge majorities in both Houses of Congress, the Obama administration has decided to govern by executive fiat. [...]

Presidents have, since the days of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, made unilateral decisions arguably outside the scope of their Constitutional power and dared Congress or the Courts to stop them. The practice has increased over time and been made easier by Congress having delegated much of its power to Executive agencies. The consequence is an administrative state where the elected representatives of the people have a mostly reactive role, acting to check these agencies, rather than making affirmative decisions on national policy.
Let's review all the realities Joyner must ignore to make his argument here:

  • The Obama administration is acting on the direction of Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, a decision from 2007's conservative Supreme Court. That decision found the Bush II administration's argument for why it shouldn't have to regulate carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act "inadequate."
  • The Clean Air Act was passed by a Democratic Congress & signed by a Republican president (Bush I).
  • Clean energy & climate legislation passed the House & had majority support in the Senate but failed to pass because Senate Republicans were willing to abuse the filibuster in historic numbers.
  • How many individual EPA regulations get an up or down vote before the full Congress? Just six months ago, the Senate confirmed its approval of carbon regulations under the Clean Air Act (the House did not vote but would certainly have overwhelmingly approved).

It's the classic move of a climate peacock for Joyner to claim his opposition to climate action is based on some sort of procedural grievance. Well, you know, I'm not some science-denying fossil fuel-shilling ignoramus like Sen. Jim Inhofe ... but but but ... what would Jefferson say?

What would Jefferson do about global warming? I think Jefferson would get off his ass & do something instead of sitting around conjuring whiny complaints about process. Don't you?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Arlington County's Green Jail

Congratulations to Arlington County's Courthouse & Detention Center for earning the Energy Star label. The improvements won't just cut energy use & carbon pollution - they'll pay for themselves within a little over a decade.

Hey, maybe that jail is where they'll throw The Green Miles after I get arrested for not using a plastic bag at the VA ABC store!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Possibility of Wind Farm to Ruin Christmas

The concerns of nearby residents are one of many things that need to be considered when deciding where to put a wind farm. But fears in Virginia's Tazewell County seem to be getting a little ... well, exaggerated. Here's a recent column from the local paper:
While Christmas stories fill the season with hope and love, there is always a story about the Grinch who stole Christmas. With Dominion Resources recent announcement that it is acquiring 100 percent ownership of a 2,600-acre tract of land on East River Mountain for the purpose of developing the proposed Bluestone River Wind Farm, the Grinch is back — at least in the opinion of area people who oppose the windmills for many reasons. 
Yeah, you remember the Grinch? And that Dr. Seuss story about how he tried to build a $200 million project in Whoville that would deliver $10 million in local tax revenue & $10 million in related development? THE NERVE.

"Many reasons" looks more like reason being completely replaced by the fear of something new. Residents say they worry about property value, but even the National Association of Realtors says wind farm impact on property values is minimal (if existent at all). Residents express concern about unsightliness, but take a look at how the windmills would look in these Dominion projections:
Tazewell Proposed Wind Turbines

I mean, really? Seeing these pictures, I could only be reminded of the melodramatic OH MY GOD of South Park's Randy Marsh. That's what you're protesting? The dots on the ridgeline?

It always strikes me as weird that people in places like Tazewell County suddenly act all protective of their land when all I had to do was a Google Map search of "Tazewell County, VA" to quickly find sites like this:

Massive open-pit mines? No problem! Windmills off in the distance? Christmas ruined. How does that work?

And in the big picture, for every windmill we don't build, we need to rely on that much more coal power, which annually kills thousands of people via air pollution & dozens more in mine disasters.

But it's hard to feel much sympathy for electric utilities in this case. They've stood by & watched for years as Republicans & Rush Limbaugh have trashed renewable energy as a socialist plot to leave your children shivering in the dark, because in the short term they were doing just fine making money off of coal power. I wonder if they regret it now.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Remembering BP's Many Smokescreens

Pulling Up Oiled Seaweed Off PensacolaI usually try to keep The Green Miles (my personal blog) separate from my work at the National Wildlife Federation. But I thought I'd share the link to a post I wrote at NWF's blog on the top 10 heroes of the Gulf oil disaster.

It was interesting to think about the first days of the disaster in light of what we know now. Can you believe BP claimed the gusher was only 200,000 gallons a day when it was closer to 200,000 gallons every few hours? Or that BP had live cameras of the gusher that it didn't make public for weeks? Or that the federal government didn't object in either case until conservation groups & members of Congress protested?

Here's a link to all my NWF posts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

And Now Your Moment of Wren

As soon as the weather got really cold, a bird that seems to be a Carolina wren started showing up on my back patio. I'm not exactly an expert on backyard birding, but clearly the birdseed I was throwing out wasn't cutting it. The wren just stomped around angrily:

Carolina Wren in Falls Church, VA

I mean, if it's possible for a bird to look mad ... that wren is pissed.

So I did some Googling, found out what wrens like to eat, ordered some truly gross suet studded with insects & hung it above the patio. Sure enough, the very first morning the new feeder was up, the wren found it:

Carolina Wren in Falls Church, VA

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What Energy Sources Do Your Tax Dollars Subsidize?

Via Good.is (click to enlarge):



Republicans squawk about incentives for renewable energy because those are new & need approval, while dirty energy sources locked in their subsidies long ago - like, say, the tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks Virginia gives to dirty coal companies every year.

Why not eliminate all subsidies & put a simple price on carbon pollution? That's what truly terrifies dirty energy companies (and the politicians they fund).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Coming Soon: Best. Cars. Ever.

Like most treehuggers, The Green Miles acts insufferably indifferent when it comes to cars. TheGreenMilesMobile is now in its 12th year of getting great gas mileage & with 124,000 miles on it, the next time it needs a costly repair I'll probably just sell it to scientific experiment.

But recently I needed a car for my drive to Danville to campaign for Rep. Tom Perriello & ended up with a new Ford Focus from the rental agency down the street. Much as I like to maintain my veneer of vehicular insouciance ... it was a flippin' sweet ride. Fun to drive AND incredible gas mileage.

And now it's poised to get even better. Next year, an electric Ford Focus that gets 100 miles to the charge will be available, ideal for DC drivers like me who make almost all of our trips within 25 miles. Ford is also literally stuffing it with greenness:
Ford vehicles continue to become more eco-friendly through the creative use of renewable and recycled materials. For instance, one of the clothing materials used in the next-generation Focus is post-consumer cotton that comes from recycled blue jeans.

"The good news is these jeans didn’t end up in a landfill, nor did we use the water, fertilizer and land to grow virgin cotton," Majeske said. "It’s an alternative that our customers can appreciate, it’s cost effective, and it’s better for our planet. These are the kinds of sustainable solutions we are looking for in all our vehicles."
Here's a look at that recycled blue jean material:

The electric Ford Focus is part of a new wave of cars designed to save you money at the gas pump (or eliminate your need for oil altogether):
I'm still planning to stick to a car-free diet once TheGreenMilesMobile has run down the curtain & joined the choir invisible. But if I do find myself needing new wheels, it's awfully nice to know that automakers are listening to our demand for greener cars.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Temperature Records Fall Out West

Given that we've had a colder-than-normal December here in the DC area, I'm surprised I haven't read more silly "how can there be global warming if it's warm here now" stories. Maybe it's because out west, they're in the grips of record-breaking warmth? For an area already facing threats to water supplies due to reduced snowpack, it's not a good way to start the winter.

UPDATE: My friend Jenn in Colorado reports, "Sandals for me today."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Time For Crosswalks To Go High-Tech?

Over at GreaterGreaterWashington.org, they track crashes between cars, bikes & pedestrians on a weekly basis. It's a stark reminder that while shootings & stabbings lead the 5pm news, as a society we've quietly decided that cars smooshing a certain amount of cyclists & walkers are the cost of getting those drivers to work on time.

If pedestrians are lucky, their interests will be taken into consideration when deciding whether to put a traffic signal at an intersection. If they don't have a signal, what safety do we offer pedestrians? Crosswalks, which are about as effective protection as crossing lion territory wielding a paper towel tube.

What percent of drivers actually stop when you're waiting in the crosswalk? Maybe 10%? I get that up to maybe 30% by taking a step into the crosswalk & looking like I might do the Matrix stomp on their hood. I don't think that's the best option though for, say, my mom.

But the "solution" of crosswalks fails to protect pedestrians a vast majority of the time - or even lulls them into a false sense of security - and we've just sorta shrugged & moved on. And drivers know we don't care about enforcement & act accordingly.

What if we attacked crosswalk enforcement with the same zeal for safety (and revenue) that lawmakers have with traffic red light cameras? What if there was a button you could push that signaled drivers to stop AND activated a small video camera that recorded what happened next, with steep tickets given out to drivers who didn't stop if they safely could have?

Given such a system might be relatively pricey to install, you could do it at just a few particularly busy intersections. The benefit could be widespread if it changed the wiring in drivers' brains by sending a clear signal with enforcement & penalties that we actually cared about getting them to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.

Bad idea? Good idea? Already being tried somewhere? Let me know & I may use your comments in a follow-up post.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Washington Post Rips Arlington's "Hounding" of Business

Arlington County's had quite a year for harassing local businesses, from  Screwtop & Bakeshop in Clarendon to Westover Market Beer Garden. Well now one business owner is fighting back: Kim Houghton of Wag More Dogs is taking the county to federal court over its ludicrous war on her dog mural.

Today, you can add the Washington Post to those who think Arlington County has gone too far:
Arlington officials argue that the mural promotes the canine boarding and grooming facility run by Ms. Houghton, a former ad executive for The Washington Post. It's only fair to other dog businesses, they say, that she conform to the rules. But the county undercut its own argument when it suggested Ms. Houghton add the wording, in 4-foot-high letters, "Welcome to Shirlington Park's Community Canine Area," which in effect would co-opt the mural into a sign for the county. Ms. Houghton balked at the estimated cost of $7,000; the mural had already cost her $4,000, and she had put another $150,000 into starting the business.

Instead, she filed suit in federal court with the help of the Institute for Justice, a civil liberties law firm. The suit argues Ms. Houghton's First Amendment right to express herself through art is being abridged. And it notes that there would not have been a problem if the mural depicted flowers, dragons or ponies instead of dogs. The absurdity that reveals should cause Arlington residents to wonder about their government's grasp of common sense.
"We have to enforce our sign ordinance fairly," county spokesman Mary Curtius had told a Post reporter. Which I guess is is true -- lately, Arlington County has treated all businesses with equal absurdity.

Friday, December 10, 2010

This Is What Runaway Global Warming Looks Like

December 2009 to November 2010 was the hottest climate year on record & 2010 stands poised to become the hottest calendar year on record. Each of the last ten years features in the top 11 hottest years recorded & the 20 hottest years on record have all come since 1983.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Farmers Get Behind Plastic Bag Ban or Fee

The Virginian-Pilot today editorializes in support of a statewide plastic bag ban or fee:
Drive past a farm field in or near Hampton Roads these days, and you're likely to see a bumper crop of plastic shopping bags. The cotton, corn and soy are gone, but the seeds of our throwaway culture yield an unending harvest. [...]

The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, whose members are weary of damage to machinery and harm to livestock, is already on board.

As the Farm Bureau can attest, there's more than aesthetics - or mowing time - at stake here. In addition to helping livestock and harvests, a ban would benefit wildlife and marine life, particularly sea turtles, that eat or become entangled in the plastic.
So to recap, farmers will benefit. Our environment will benefit. Retail stores will benefit by spending less money on giving away bags & under Del. Adam Ebbin's plan, retaining 1 or 2 cents of the fee on each bag, depending whether they offer customers a carryout bag credit program for reusable bags. Virginia's budget will benefit not just from the revenue of the fee, but from saving money on picking up discarded bags (Maryland’s Department of Transportation spends $29 per bag of litter collected along the state’s highways & counties spend millions more).

Why not do it? Accusations of nanny statism? I mean, isn't the current state of affairs the definition of nannyism? If you carelessly discard a plastic bag, we all have to pay higher taxes to fund a worker to go pick it up. Isn't a bag fee a way to encourage personal responsibility?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bald Eagle Sighting in Arlington

OK, so this beats the brown creeper sighting. Today at noon, I was waiting at a red light at Wilson Boulevard & John Marshall Drive in Arlington near the Falls Church line. I spotted a bald eagle gliding high above the Madison Manor neighborhood:

That black dot between the power lines is the eagle. Apparently my own personal Murphy's law of bird-watching is that anytime I see a bald eagle, I don't have a high quality camera with me. I once saw a bald eagle swoop down over the Potomac & catch a huge fish with its talons - no camera with me.

Frank Wolf: Fraud Peacock

Dancing PeacockRep. Frank Wolf wants you to think he's taking a bold stand against fraud, loudly squawking for an independent auditor on the 2nd phase of the Metro to Dulles project, estimated to cost as much as $4 billion:
Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), whose district encompasses much of the route for the new Metrorail extension into Loudoun County, is requesting that the agency overseeing construction of the line bring in an outside auditor to monitor design and construction of the second phase of the project.
The project, of course, hasn't even begun taking bids yet. But reality has never stopped Rep. Wolf from trying to get attention! Why wait until the project has actually begun to issue ominous warnings about waste, fraud & abuse to divert attention from the fact that you're holding up tax cuts for everyone to get even bigger tax cuts for your wealthiest donors? Caw!

Strangely, I haven't heard the fraud peacock squawk about this billion-dollar transportation expenditure:
By the end of the December, the Virginia Department of Transportation will have advertised $1.1 billion in construction and maintenance projects since the fiscal year began on July 1, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) told the Dulles Area Transportation Association at a luncheon Monday. About $500 million of that figure will be advertised just this month.
Why no dire warnings from Rep. Wolf about waste, fraud & abuse on this project? Oh, right. Because this project is supported by Virginia's Republican governor. And Frank the fraud peacock is partisan above all else, only getting his feathers up about Democrats - never members of his own party.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Best Way To Make Positive Change: Ask.

Having grown up in Boston, one of my favorite shows is NPR's Car Talk. Nothing gets Tom & Ray madder than when people call with a critical problem that they've been driving around with for six months. "You've waited six months - and even then you don't take it to a mechanic, you call us? You're lucky you're not lying in a ditch somewhere after your wheel flew off!"

I have a similar issue when people relate their green problems to me. The first thing I say when people tell me about their problems is, "Have you asked your landlord/boss/whoever to address it?" Invariably, they haven't. (Also, I keep trying to get people to write their problems on the back of a $20 bill and send them to The Green Miles Plaza with no luck.)

Roosevelt Towers, my new apartment building in East Falls Church, had a trash bin but not a recycling bin in the mail room. Every day the trash bin would be overflowing with junk mail. So I emailed the leasing office to see if they'd consider adding a recycling bin, a small step that would keep hundreds of pounds of paper out of the landfill every month.

Roosevelt Towers wrote back right away:
Great suggestion. One has been placed in mailroom as of today.
And here it is:
From the apartment building's point of view, if a $2 plastic bin makes me that much more likely to keep paying five figures annually to live here, it's a slam dunk. I suspect that little blue basket won't be able to handle the days those big, annoying Washington Post advertising circulars hit our mailboxes. But partial solutions tend to lead to full solutions - if the recycling bin is overflowing, they'll replace it with a bigger one.

The best, most effective way to address environmental issues is through personal action. In the big picture, government intervention often becomes necessary, but it should be the last resort. Your landlord wants you to be happy with where you live. Your boss wants you to be happy with where you work. Your hotel wants you to come back & stay there again. If you don't think they're operating as sustainably as they could, ask nicely if they've considered changing. You might be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Can Qatar World Cup Be Green? (UPDATE: No.)

When I heard that the 2022 World Cup had been awarded to Qatar, my first thought was, "Least green World Cup ever?" (You can tell The Green Miles is not a soccer fan. I tend to agree with Homer Simpson's take.)

Temperatures in Qatar in June & July average 106 degrees. Won't huge amounts of energy be required to keep spectators & players cool? But Qatar claims its World Cup will be carbon-neutral:
We’re pioneering technologies that will allow for outdoor, air-conditioned stadiums that will be carbon neutral, benefitting the environment and creating ideal conditions for players and spectators. After the FIFA World Cup™, these stadiums will be partially deconstructed, allowing us to build 22 new stadiums in the developing world. The technologies we are developing to cool our stadiums will also be made available for use around the world.
I'm eager to hear details & learn whether Qatar's plan is viable or greenwashing. I'm sure we'll hear much more in the months & years ahead.

UPDATE: From Planet Forward's David Raish:
This air conditioning will be powered by solar panels on the stadiums themselves. It is a $50 billion project designed by a German firm, Büro Albert Speer & Partner. The air conditioning system will reduce temperatures inside the stadium to 27°C, which will be a much more bearable temperature for both fans and players.

According to Al-Jazeera, “solar thermal collectors on the stadium roof will transfer and store energy which on match days will chill water, creating cold air that will be delivered into the stadium and on to the pitch through slots in the seats.” When the stadium is not in use, “The system will continuously export energy to the Qatar electric grid, enabling the stadiums to be carbon neutral.”
UPDATE #2: Fast Company is a bit skeptical of Qatar's ability to pull off all of its carbon-neutral promises.

UPDATE #3: If the stadiums can't be cooled down enough, will soccer's rules have to change for the 2022 World Cup? (For answer, see update #5.)

UPDATE #4: Qatar is canceling 4 of its 12 planned stadiums because it couldn't meet its budget unless it used slave labor. Not a great vote of confidence for surviving global warming with massive air conditioning schemes.

UPDATE #5: FIFA has moved the 2022 Qatar World Cup to winter to prevent athletes from dying in the heat and stripped Qatar of Confederations Cup hosting priviledges, a pre-World Cup series of friendlies that usually serves as a test run for the host.

Teh Crazy Lines Up Behind BP Apologist Barton

Rep. Joe Barton, John BoehnerRep. Joe Barton, best known for his groveling apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward at the height of the Gulf oil disaster, says the rules don't apply to him - he wants an exemption to committee chairmanship term limit rules so he can once again chair the House Energy & Commerce Committee in 2011.

His fight against Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) is looking increasingly quixotic. How bad is it? Just look at the members standing by him:
“I didn’t line up against anyone, but I did line up with Joe Barton,” said Rep. Steve King of Iowa, one of the Republican conference’s most conservative lawmakers. “I did that because I watched the job that he’s done, not only has he been a reliable conservative leader, he’s wanted to engage in the fight.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), another conservative favorite closely aligned with the tea party, said she would vote for Barton if he appealed the ruling of the GOP Conference.
Rep. Steve King is best known for ... where to start? He's had more controversies than I can count. If I had to pick his most insane moment, it would be saying that he wasn't sure if a 9/11-esque suicide plane attack on an IRS building that killed a federal worker was justified or not.

The best example of crazy from Rep. Bachmann? There are few issues on which The Green Miles & the National Electrical Manufacturers Association agree. One of them is that Rep. Bachmann's War on Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs is batshit insane.

If you were looking to make a list of the most unreasonable, most politically toxic members of Congress, you could save yourself a lot of time by just copying the roster of Camp Barton.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bob Ryan: DC Trending Towards Warmer Winters

TBD.com is hosting a Winter Weather Chat right now. WJLA's Bob Ryan has been a leading voice in asking his fellow meteorologists to examine global warming from a scientific - not a political - point of view. The question of climate change came up early in the chat:
Max Margolis: Is Global warming the reason why our winters are warmer?

Bob Ryan: Can't ascribe one winter to climate changes but the decadal trend is for milder winters
Bob also took a question from The Green Miles on another aspect of global warming's local impacts. To see his answer, check out the TBD Winter Weather Chat.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Soggy Bottom: New Model Shows Sea Level Rise Impact on DC

Over at TBD.com/weather, John Metcalfe takes a look at the University of Arizona's new interactive model of sea level rise. What would current estimates of 2 meters of sea level rise by 2100 mean for the DC area?
The Jefferson Memorial will not just be by the water, it may be underwater. The northeast part of Roosevelt Island will gain more marshland, as well as the bit of Rock Creek where it meets the Potomac, which should please the old-timers who hunt catfish there. It's hard to see the upside of Bolling Air Force Base becoming submerged, but the military has solid engineers – can't they build a bigger sea wall? And Old Navy's name will finally make a little sense as the creeping water moves inland over the Potomac Yard Shopping Center. I'm sure the chain's marketing whizzes can figure out something about shopping with gondolas.
If those were the worst effects of runaway global warming, that would be expensive to deal with, but not necessarily devastating. However, scientific modeling has seriously UNDERestimated sea level rise to this point -- seas are rising faster than scientists have predicted & so far they're not sure why. And just a few minutes of tinkering with the University of Arizona's model reveals just how much is at stake for the DC area if scientists have even slightly lowballed sea level rise.

What if it's 3 meters instead of 2? Bye bye, National Airport & Tidal Basin:
And what if scientists are dramatically underestimating sea level rise? There's a reason this model includes 6 meters of sea level rise by 2100 -- while it's unlikely, it's possible. And what would that mean? Might be time to relocate the nation's capital to higher ground:
The takeaway of all this -- especially for places like Hampton Roads where smaller degrees of sea level rise would be much more devastating -- is that so far, America is rolling the dice with the above scenarios. Congress has done nothing to address global warming, leaving our fate -- be it 2 meters, 3 meters or 6 meters  of sea level rise -- to chance.

Wouldn't it be better to gradually reduce our carbon pollution now & reduce our chances of a worst-case scenario? Isn't that the conservative thing to do? And the same solutions that protect our climate can also cut energy bills, strengthen our national security, and create millions of jobs.

Or hey, we could follow Jim Webb's lead & do nothing. Maybe there are big untapped economic opportunities I'm missing. Scuba diving expeditions through the underwater remains of Old Town Alexandria?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Something To Be Thankful For: No Need To Pre-Wash Dishes

dishwasher woesIf you're hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, here's a little tip to save you some time & effort. While you need to scrub caked-on chunks from pots & pans, the New York Times reports modern dishwashers don't require you to pre-wash or pre-rinse:
[R]emove baked on food and large chunks, but for the most part, everyone I spoke to said prerinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher was not only unnecessary, it wasted thousands of gallons of water and could actually result in dirtier dishes.
“The soap needs something to work against to get the dishes clean,” said Lou Manganiello, who owns Household Appliance Service in Hawthorne, N.Y., and has been doing repairs for 23 years.
And you can save some money on both dishwashing & laundry detergent by using only the small amount modern machines require:
Washing machines and dishwashers are made to use far less water now than older models and, therefore, need less soap. And detergents have also become increasingly concentrated. So a little goes a long way.
“Most people use 10 to 15 times the amount of soap they need, and they’re pouring money down the drain,” Mr. Schmidt said.
This Thanksgiving, be thankful that the greener cleanup options are ones that are faster, easier & save you money.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Obama Administration Moves to Streamline Atlantic Wind

A great step from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to help speed wind power development off the coast of Virginia & other Atlantic Coast states!

Falls Church Tops in Virginia Recycling Rates

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has issued its annual recycling report (PDF). Virginia had a 38.6% recycling rate statewide in calendar year 2009, just barely higher than the year before. But as the Roanoke Times points out, it marked a milestone as every jurisdiction in Virginia met its minimum "required" goal of 15% (considering the DEQ has never fined a locality for failing to meet the minimum, it's not much of a requirement).

Elsewhere locally, Fairfax City also ranked highly with a 49.9% recycling rate. Arlington came in at 40%, barely topping the state average. The Virginia General Assembly, aligning itself with waste haulers, has repeatedly blocked Arlington's efforts to toughen its recycling programs. Fairfax County was just behind with 39.4%, while Alexandria badly trails the state average at just 28.6%.

And if all that wasn't enough to get you excited about recycling, check out this Environmental Protection Agency video:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Time For Ken Cuccinelli To Mann Up & Apologize

Remember Edward Wegman, the George Mason University statistician whose climate denial was repeatedly cited by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli? The one who was under investigation on charges of plagiarism & inaccuracy?

The GMU investigation is still dragging on, but USA Today asked several scientists to review the allegations. Their analysis was damning:
The plagiarism experts queried by USA TODAY disagree after viewing the Wegman report:
  • "Actually fairly shocking," says Cornell physicist Paul Ginsparg by e-mail. "My own preliminary appraisal would be 'guilty as charged.'" 
  • "If I was a peer reviewer of this report and I was to observe the paragraphs they have taken, then I would be obligated to report them," says Garner of Virginia Tech, who heads a copying detection effort. "There are a lot of things in the report that rise to the level of inappropriate."  
  • "The plagiarism is fairly obvious when you compare things side-by-side," says Ohio State's Robert Coleman, who chairs OSU's misconduct committee.
If Ken Cuccinelli was a man, he'd apologize. To Michael Mann, the respected climate scientist whose work Cuccinelli has quixotically targeted. To Virginia taxpayers, for wasting their money on a political witch hunt. And to his own supporters for feeding them a steady stream of complete horseshit.

But Ken Cuccinelli doesn't have a shred of honor or dignity in his body. I expect him to continue to ignore reality & continue flaunting the truth.

For all of Republicans' ranting against fraud & abuse, Ken Cuccinelli has no problem using your tax dollars to campaign for Sarah Palin's affection on the 2012 Crazy Train Ticket.

Friday, November 19, 2010

How Few Jobs Will Wise Co. Coal Plant Create?

Dominion Virginia Power is spending $1.8 billion dollars worth of your electric bills to build a dirty coal-fired power plant in Wise County. How many jobs will that investment of our money deliver? Shockingly few, according to the Virginia Mining Association (PDF):
At the end of July, there were about 1,800 men and women employed in the construction of the 585-megawatt power station. The work force included about 600 people from the local area, accounting for 33.4 percent of total employment. The local area is defined as being within a 50-mile radius of the town of St. Paul, with Wise, Russell and Scott counties accounted for the majority of the local hires. Additionally, the staff that will operate the power station is being formed and trained. After Oct. 4 operations employment will stand at 34 with half of those hires coming from the local area.
Well hey, that's only $106 million of our money per permanent job for local residents. What a bargain!

Meanwhile, a Virginia State Corporation Commission analyst has testified (PDF) that, because the higher rates needed to pay for it, the plant will cost Virginia 1,474 jobs.

Now, apologists for this terrible deal will say, "But The Green Miles! They need every job they can get in Wise County!" By that rationale, why bother actually building the plant? As the Chesapeake Climate Action Network has pointed out, we could pay 75 Wise County residents $100,000 per year and give the county $6 million a year for the next 133 years with the $1.8 billion it will take to build the plant. And in that scenario, we wouldn't have to deal with the 5.4 million tons of carbon dioxide, thousands of tons of other air pollutants & dozens of pounds of mercury the plant will release.

All in all, a terrible deal for Virginia's economy & environment

Photo via Flickr's dmott9

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tony Hayward: What Should I Do?

South Park recently ran a series satirizing the BP oil disaster. Here they show former BP CEO Tony Hayward, joined by South Park characters Captain Hindsight (a media parody), Mysterion (Kenny) & The Coon (Cartman), doing his own version of the LeBron non-apology Nike ad:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Quick Tip: Adjust Ceiling Fans For Winter

Make sure your fan is set to run clockwise to spread heat evenly through your room. EnergyStar.gov explains proper ceiling fan use:
In the summer, use the ceiling fan in the counterclockwise direction. While standing directly under the ceiling fan you should feel a cool breeze. The airflow produced creates a wind-chill effect, making you "feel" cooler. In the winter, reverse the motor and operate the ceiling fan at low speed in the clockwise direction. This produces a gentle updraft, which forces warm air near the ceiling down into the occupied space. Remember to adjust your thermostat when using your ceiling fan — additional energy and dollar savings could be realized with this simple step!
Energy Star is a joint project of the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection Agency. Yes, when weirdos warn you about creeping big government trying to run your life, this is the stuff they're taking about - Big Brother trying to save you a few bucks on your winter heating bill. Be afraid! Be very afraid! Or maybe just ignore the weirdos & take a second to double-check that you're getting the most out of your fan.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Online vs. In-Person: Which Holiday Shopping Choice is Greener?

According to a 2009 study by Carnegie Mellon University, getting it done online cuts your shopping carbon footprint by 35%.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wall St. Journal Continues Political Attacks on Climate Science

Great post from Andrew Freedman at Capital Weather Gang. Wish more people who devoted their lives to science were willing to stand up & call out political attacks on scientific fact.

Simpson-Bowles Panel to Skip Low-Hanging Carbon Tax Fruit?

We currently give polluters permission to dump as much carbon pollution into our atmosphere as they want, free of charge. So if the deficit reduction commission led by Alan Simpson & Erskine Bowles was serious about cutting the deficit, asks Matt Yglesias, why not slap a fee on carbon pollution?
The mere fact that the conservative movement is currently engaged in a massive fit of pretending that greenhouse gas emissions aren’t a problem doesn’t change the fact that greenhouse gas emissions are, in fact, a problem. Taxing them would reduce the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions and help mitigate the problem. It also creates revenue.

If Alan Simpson’s reason for thinking a tax on greenhouse gas emissions is a bad idea is that Simpson is a nutcase who doesn’t believe that greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change, then Erskine Bowles should have made him write that on a piece of paper. Then we could look at the proposal and know it’s co-written by a nutcase. It wouldn’t surprise me. There are a lot of nutcases in Washington life. But it’s important to know these things.
Even a small tax on the carbon pollution of only the largest emitters like power plants & factories could bring in billions to reduce the deficit. And if the deficit was ever eliminated, you could refund the tax's revenues to all taxpayers equally. Doesn't that make more sense than slashing Social Security? Apparently, conservative Republicans & right-leaning Democrats agree it's more politically palatable to target the poor than to hold big polluters accountable.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

McMansion Misconceptions

Covering the arrest on corruption charges of Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson & his wife, WAMU Reporter David Schultz tweeted on Friday:
Far and away, weirdest thing to come out of today's Jack Johnson proceedings: Johnsons' home heating bill totals more than $1,000/ month ... Judge was going to prohibit Johnsons from making transactions >$1k. their lawyers objected, citing mortgage & pepco bills
I'm very thankful for my tiny apartment power bill as compared to friends with large suburban homes. I tweeted:
Friend in PA with a medium-sized (for this era) house says his highest power bill was $900, so it's definitely possible
David replied:
That's more than I pay in rent, srsly. Insulation folks, it's all abt the insulation.
I realized David was limited to 140 characters here, but when I hear things like this, I worry conservationists have oversold the potential of insulation & energy efficiency. I'm guessing Jack Johnson has an obscenely gigantic house that you could cover in the world's biggest Snuggie & it would still require huge amounts of energy & cash each month to heat.

In the last 40 years, we've seen major advances in insulation like double-paned windows. On top of that, appliances today don't need nearly as much juice as they did a generation ago. So why has per person residential energy use nearly doubled in the last 35 years?
The answer is simple -- we've wasted all those insulation & efficiency gains by building ever-larger houses. The rises in residential electricity use & home sizes have mirrored each other:

Don't get me wrong, efficiency & insulation are critical pieces of the bigger puzzle. But as long as our government policies continue to encourage larger homes, it's the equivalent of attacking the obesity epidemic by encouraging people to order a Diet Coke with their Super-Sized Extra Value Meal.

GOP Fighting to Kill Jobs, Keep Us Addicted to Oil

RoadblockRepublicansNational Public Radio reported last week on how newly-elected Republican governors are pledging to reject federal funding for high-speed rail. Rejecting rail doesn't just mean more congested roads, more reliance on foreign oil, and more polluted air. It means that in Wisconsin, Gov.-elect Scott Walker may kill jobs in his own state:
Caught in the middle of the backlash are workers for companies such as Talgo, a manufacturer of high-speed trains that just opened a new plant, bringing jobs to Milwaukee.

According to spokeswoman Nora Friend, Talgo will have 40 employees by the end of November, and it plans to hire up to 125 positions. Friend says the company is now faced with telling its workers they might be out of jobs when the trains they are making now are completed.

"If we don't have any more orders, then as a business entity, we have no choice but to shut down the facility," Friend says.
The story also highlights the DC media's nonsensical coverage of the national jobs picture. In this & other instances, Republicans are proactively working to block President Obama & Democrats in Congress from creating jobs. Yet all you hear from pundits is that Obama isn't doing enough to create jobs.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Small Nudge, Big Benefits: Arlington's Hybrid Taxis

As I was walking out of the East Falls Church Metro station in Arlington tonight, I noticed three of the four cabs at the taxi stand were hybrids.

If you just moved to Arlington, you might not think that was a big deal. But just three years ago, there were literally zero hybrid cabs in Arlington. Couldn't get one if you tried.

Then the Arlington County Board approved a small fleet of EnviroCab hybrid taxis. Arlington residents liked being able to cut the carbon pollution of their cab ride for the same price, while drivers liked cutting their fuel costs by nearly half.

Today, it's hard to find a taxi stand in Arlington without a hybrid waiting. And hybrids are clearly a marketing tool -- Red Top & Yellow Top hybrids have HYBRID TAXI written in huge letters on every side to make sure you don't pass them by for an EnviroCab.

Amazing that such a relatively small nudge (85 cabs in a fleet of over 700) delivered such huge benefits -- more profits for drivers, more satisfied customers, cleaner air & reduced oil use. After all, we're always hearing from conservatives that the free market is perfect & that if there was any demand for something, the invisible hand would deliver it. Have the demands of the market completely flipped in just three years? In this case, the market was failing to meet demand until it got a nudge from regulation.

Reality doesn't always fit with purist free market theory. The market is run by people, who may be resistant to change.

Look at Virginia's smoking ban in bars & restaurants. In the "free market" world, a lot of people were unhappy & forced to accept the unwanted cost of dirty air. The smoking ban took years to pass over opposition from business & free market conservatives who screamed nanny state & predicted economic ruin. Then it took effect & you never heard another word about it -- a lot more people are happier & healthier at an extremely low (if any) cost.

So when conservatives say we shouldn't provide nudges on things ranging from clean energy, efficient technologies because if they were worth doing the free market would already be doing them ... I have to wonder if their purist theory is supported by reality. And that's before you consider that new environmental regulations almost always cost less than predicted.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Big Govt. in Richmond Keeping Arlington Dirtier Than It Should Be

2006 ACE Four Mile Run CleanupAnyone who's taken part in a stream or park cleanup with Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment knows what a pervasive problem plastic bags are. They get tangled up in the branches of bushes & trees or among the rocks & sticks in a stream bed and can stay there for months or years until someone comes to remove them, one by one. If the bag washes out to the Potomac River, it ends up in the open ocean, degrading into smaller & smaller pieces of plastic that work their way into the food chain.

A small incentive to use reusable bags could go a long way towards keeping Arlington cleaner AND bring in some much-needed revenue. So what's the holdup? Under Virginia's antiquated Dillon Rule system, Arlington has to ask Virginia's General Assembly for permission first:
County Board members will again next year ask the General Assembly for permission to either ban single-use plastic bags at retail outlets, like supermarkets and convenience stores, or to be given the authority to tax them.
You'd think Democrats & Republicans would be able to come together on giving communities a greater degree of home rule -- what does a Republican from Botetourt County care if Arlington wants to get rid of plastic bags?

But this is less an issue of politics than it is of power. General Assembly members like being able to tell communities what they can & can't do. After all, why would they want to give up their ability to pass along unfunded mandates to communities? They can take credit for making something happen without having to take the blame of raising taxes to pay for it. Sounds like a win-win! For 140 politicians in Richmond, anyway.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Remember That Whole Global Warming Thing?

Despite the best efforts of our elected officials to move on to more easily-demagogued issues, as The Onion reports, apparently global warming is still a problem.

Blocking Climate Action: Republican, But Not Conservative

Bracken Hendricks of the Center for American Progress says that when it comes to the climate crisis, Republicans are putting big money politics ahead of principles:
[F]ar from being conservative, the Republican stance on global warming shows a stunning appetite for risk. When faced with uncertainty and the possibility of costly outcomes, smart businessmen buy insurance, reduce their downside exposure and protect their assets. When confronted with a disease outbreak of unknown proportions, front-line public health workers get busy producing vaccines, pre-positioning supplies and tracking pathogens. And when military planners assess an enemy, they get ready for a worst-case encounter.

When it comes to climate change, conservatives are doing none of this. Instead, they are recklessly betting the farm on a single, best-case scenario: That the scientific consensus about global warming will turn out to be wrong. This is bad risk management and an irresponsible way to run anything, whether a business, an economy or a planet. [...]

The investment needed to slow carbon pollution might total from 1 to 2 percent of global GDP each year for several decades, according to a 2006 study by the British government. This spending would pay for advanced technology, better land use and modern infrastructure. The same study put the cost of inaction - including economic harm from property damage and lost crops - at 5 to 20 percent of global GDP, lasting in perpetuity, with the risk of vastly higher catastrophic damage. You tell me which option is more fiscally responsible.
This new video from the Post Carbon Institute illustrates the choices we face:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

RIP, "Clean" Coal

Rest in peace, "clean" coal. Such a tragic death -- killed by the people who claimed to love it. With "clean" coal's best interests at heart, they blocked the only thing that could've kept it alive: A comprehensive climate & energy bill.

"Clean" coal's death came late Tuesday night when the usual midterm party pendulum swing pushed a group of Tea Party Republicans into power & installed several new self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives in the Senate. They're talking about cutting the budget -- a death knell for the absolutely enormous sums of money "clean" coal needs to escape from Imaginationland.

The American Clean Energy & Security (ACES) Act that passed the House had an estimated $177 billion dollars for carbon capture & storage (CCS) research & development and implementation, negotiated in large part by ... Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), who was defeated last week. The moment for a big climate & energy bill - when George Voinovich would go along with it because it had "clean" coal subsidies & Bernie Sanders would go along because it had a carbon cap - is gone.

President Obama has pledged to keep pursuing energy goals in smaller pieces. Energy efficiency, nuclear loan guarantees, natural gas and even a renewable energy standard all stand a chance by being able to claim (rightly or wrongly) that they won't add to the deficit. But CCS needs tens of billlions of dollars in research & development -- plus tens of billions more to subsidize its high cost. If "clean" coal has to stand alone, it faces a much steeper hill to climb to get even a fraction of the support it could've gotten under a climate bill.

What's the biggest sign "clean" coal's moment has passed? Big Coal's allies are panicking. Look at newly-elected Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). He hasn't even been sworn in yet and he's reportedly threatening to switch parties unless Democrats will seat him on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee (where he'd be able to most directly shill for coal) and support a pet project to convert coal to diesel fuel.

It's not like Big Coal wasn't warned. When the Senate punted on a climate & energy bill this summer, Grist's David Roberts predicted the coal industry would regret it:
Big Coal will be back begging for cap-and-trade: No, really. Right now there are EPA rules in the pipeline that are going to shut down a third or more of the existing coal fleet. No new coal plants are going to get built -- they're not cost-competitive with natural gas or wind, and every one runs into a buzzsaw of grassroots opposition. In other words, carbon caps or no carbon caps, Big Coal is in trouble. Sooner or later, the industry will realize that the funding it can get from cap-and-trade, to support carbon capture and sequestration, is its only path to survival. Robert Byrd tried to tell the industry the truth before he died. Byron Dorgan tried to tell it the truth just the other day. By 2012, certainly by 2015 when many of the rules kick in, the industry will be forced to acknowledge this basic truth. And they'll come begging Congress for cap-and-trade.
Note that the threat isn't just that coal won't be "clean" - it's that without comprehensive legislation that carves out a place for coal, the industry may not survive at all. Dorgan told Politico, "The reason I have reached out to the coal industry is that they’ve been on the defensive position, not negotiating with anyone, and they’re going to lose under that. With or without carbon regulations, there will be a substantial conversion to natural gas, and coal will lose."

Sure enough, while Big Coal was pouring millions of dollars into obstructing a comprehensive climate & energy bill, the price of natural gas was dropping. As Fortune.com's Shelley DuBois asked after the Senate bill died, "if natural gas is accessible, cheap, clean, and getting cleaner, should the government keep spending billions on clean coal?"

Great question -- but one the coal industry didn't consider until after "clean" coal had gasped its dying breath.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Scott Wipes Away Cardboard Waste

Scott is eliminating the cardboard tubes in its Naturals line of toilet paper. Why might this be the start of something big? I was going to write it up, but Under One Roof beat me to it & did a great job, so check out their post.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Green Miles Gets Parodied

I actually have no idea if this is parody or just coincidence, but it was fun to see my name in an article from Brown University's student satirical newspaper, The Brown Noser, Students Outraged Over Murderer's Use of Non-Biodegradable Bags to Store Victims' Limbs:
Police first received word of Partridge's criminal act from one of his neighbors, Miles Grant, who discovered Partridge's grisly handiwork on a routine trip to the neighborhood compost bin.

"It was the most terrible thing I ever saw," says Grant. "I'm taking my petunias to the compost bin and I see something sort of reflective poking out of the leaves. I brush the area off and then blam, I see 'em. Bags and bags of bloody body parts. I mean, did he really think people wouldn't notice that there were plastic bags in the compost bin?"
UNACCEPTABLE. Besides, as everyone knows, only plant matter goes in the compost bin. Can't have raccoons dragging your victim's leg across the street. I mean, that's just green psychopathy 101.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

How I Feel On Days Like This

When you work for a conservation group, the most common icebreaker at meetings is, "If you were an animal, which one would you be?" On cold, rainy days like today, I have to go with gorilla. Why? I hate schlepping through the cold rain & sitting at my desk all day with wet pant cuffs & wet shoes.

Ever see a gorilla in the rain? God, do they look miserable. Gorillas have a combination of the ability to physically express their emotion & no concern about suppressing it. That leads to photos like this, in which the gorilla looks like he's plotting murder.

And gorillas live in the RAIN FOREST. Not ideal planning. 

Photo via the National Geographic Print Store

Will the New Safeway Steal My Business from Harris Teeter?

The Green Miles just returned from Virginia's 5th Congressional district, where Rep. Tom Perriello wasn't able to swim against the GOP tide. But our efforts did help make it closer than anyone expected, with Tom losing by just 3 points. In the words of Tom's consolation email to supporters, "I can see last night as a victory for conviction and hard work for the idea that when you fight for the people, the people win."

Upon returning home, the first thing I had to do was ... buy the new NBA Jam for Wii since I spent hundreds of quarters on that game as a kid & needed something to take my mind off politics. But the SECOND thing I had to do was go grocery shopping since I hadn't done that in about a month.

Since I could acquire the coveted Jam at the Target on Route 50 in Falls Church & there's a newly-remodeled Safeway next door, I decided consolidate trips & skip the drive into Ballston to my usual Harris Teeter. My quick green review:
  • Many of the Safeway store-brand organic line seem a bit cheaper than their HT counterparts
  • Overall organic selection is more limited in scope & in quality than HT (Safeway seemed to have far fewer name-brand organics) 
  • Very disappointing that Safeway's small checkout lanes made reusable bags awkward to use. What's the point of remodeling if you're not accommodating modern needs?
  • Several items listed as on sale in the aisle didn't ring up at the correct price. Not an environmental thing, I know. But I treat saving money at the grocery store as a competition.

The bottom line: I'll hit Safeway for quick needs, but will stick with Harris Teeter for my main grocery shopping trips.

Oh, and the third thing I did? Sleep for 11 hours.

UPDATE 3/12/2011: Over at GreaterGreaterWashington.org, Steve Offutt points out the Safeway sidewalk's shortcomings.

Monday, November 1, 2010

OK, Robert Hurt: Let's Talk About Your Support for Uranium Mining

I did not wake up this morning planning to write a post about Robert Hurt's support for risky uranium mining here in Virginia that would profits in the hands of a few while putting all Virginians at risk. But Robert Hurt wants to talk about his support for risky uranium mining, so let's talk about it.

You see, Robert Hurt has just filed a lawsuit against conservation groups & TV stations over an ad about Hurt's uranium connections:
The ads, produced and paid for by the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters, say Hurt’s father “has a financial interest in uranium mining” and has received campaign contributions from the uranium mining industry.

Hurt’s lawsuit notes that the Committee on Rules of the Senate of Virginia determined that Hurt “does not have a personal interest in the consideration of Senate Bill 525 and that his obligation to vote on matters before the Senate should be honored.”
Well, I can't think of any better group to determine if a Virginia state senator has a conflict of interest than a panel of Virginia state senators, can you? Politicians would never protect other politicians ... right?

You'd think if there's anything Robert Hurt wouldn't want to talk about the day before the most important election of his life, it's his support for uranium mining.

Why? I've been here in Virginia's 5th Congressional district for most of the last week & voters know uranium mining in Virginia is about socializing risks & privatizing profits. Uranium mining has never been done east of the Mississippi & could pose risks to Virginia's drinking water supply. Hurt's position favors a handful of wealthy donors at the expense of 5th district voters. That's what he wants to focus on?

Tom Perriello, on the other hand, supports objective analysis of the risks & rewards and doing what's best for Virginians as a whole.

Politifact Virginia called the ad in question barely true, but that's not even the standard Hurt's lawsuit needs to achieve. Hurt needs to prove the ad is completely false AND that the conservation groups & TV stations KNEW it was false and aired it anyway.

Extremely strange that Hurt would put so much at risk by spotlighting this issue when it looks like he has such a steep hill to climb. I'm sure Tom Perriello's campaign is thrilled to have yet another opportunity to talk about Robert Hurt's connections to special interests.

Help Support Perriello's Volunteer Surge

UPDATE 2:35pm: Over $600 in contributions from 14 individuals - thanks for your support!

A look at @VotePerriello's Danville office (many more vo... on TwitpicI was in Rep. Tom Perriello's Danville campaign office last night when his regional field director said that while he was thrilled with the unexpectedly huge flood of volunteers the campaign is seeing, he'd love to have more cars & vans to get them from the office to voters in far-flung areas. Well, I said ... I know some blue Virginians who might be able to chip in to help out.

While not all of us can get to the 5th Congressional district, this is a great chance to support Tom's volunteers. Can you spare $25 or more to help Tom's volunteers be supplied with the resources they need to get out the vote?

I'm working out of Rep. Tom Perriello's Danville office through the election on behalf of the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund, which has endorsed Tom. I can't overstate how much energy there is for Tom here in Danville. Tom's office has been flooded with so many volunteers, they've expanded into additional office space across Main Street -- phone banks on the south side of the street, canvasses launching on the north side. In just the short drive to my canvass location tonight, I passed two other Perriello volunteers. Yard signs density in some neighborhoods is greater than I've ever seen for any candidate.

Most importantly, voters who came out to cast ballots for Obama/Warner/Perriello in '08 are closely engaged in this race. In my talks with voters last week, I had to do very little persuasion -- voters were already committed to coming out for Tom.

Swing voters told me they'd been turned off by Hurt's inactivity. "Hurt's been in Richmond for 10 years -- what's he done?" one asked me. "Why won't Hurt defend himself? Why's he dodging all these debates?" another wondered, noting that Hurt turned his nose up at a recent public forum to instead hobnob with donors & Gov. McDonnell.

Perriello Volunteers Move to Basement During Tornado WarningLast week, even a tornado warning didn't slow down a late evening phone bank -- as seen here, the crew in Tom's Danville campaign office just brought laptops & cell phones to the basement, being sure to call only homes outside the warning zone.

Meanwhile, I've yet to see any evidence of an active Hurt campaign. I just asked a volunteer if Hurt had a Danville office. She said, "It's on Piney Forest Road" -- the same road I'd just driven on my canvass. Turns out I've already driven past Hurt's office at least four times over the last week & have never even noticed it.

Losses in tomorrow's election are inevitable. The Democratic tide in 2008 washed some candidates into office in districts that just aren't hospitable to progressives in the long run. But Rep. Tom Perriello has the right combination of values, integrity & work ethic to last. And Robert Hurt? Do we really need more blow-dried, unresponsive, valueless, daddy's-little-rich-boys in Washington?

This race is our chance to take a stand -- whoever else goes down, we're all in for Tom. If you can spare $25 or more, don't put this off until later -- the polls open in less than 24 hours and there's no time to waste. Please show your support Tom right now. Thanks in advance!

Tom Perriello (VA-05) $



Last-Minute Request to Help a Clean Energy Champion

Please read this. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Perriello's Clean Energy Jobs Push Paying Off

The Green Miles is in Danville, VA this week, working on the campaign of Rep. Tom Perriello on behalf of the National Wildlife Federation Action Fund, which has endorsed Rep. Perriello for re-election. Why is Rep. Perriello's push for clean energy so critical for places like Danville? Watch:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

2010 Seeing Abundance of Acorns

Hungry SquirrelA couple of years back, the DC area's wildlife struggled through an acorn shortage, leading to an odd sight on my stoop. But TBD.com reports this year, acorns are mounting a record-breaking comeback:
[T]he number of acorns falling on car hoods and driveways is at an all-time high in Allegany County, MD, which is located in the far western Maryland panhandle. There are an average of 25.65 acorns per oak branch. How is this fact known? Well, the Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service keeps track of acorns on branches; this has been done every year since the 1970s.

The article I read said that lack of a major frost in the spring coupled with a dry summer helped the acorn crop breed furiously this year.  Of course, this makes it difficult to walk outside to get the morning paper and even maintain the lawn. Wildlife likes the acorns, however, so food is plentiful for them.
Watch National Wildlife Federation Naturalist David Mizejewski explain why acorns are so critical for wildlife.

Monday, October 25, 2010

If They Vote & You Don't, Virginia Edition

The Green Miles is spending the week in Danville, VA. The National Wildlife Federation Action Fund sent me down to work on the campaign of Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA), one of America's most vocal advocates of clean energy & climate action.

Must-see crazy parked across st from @VotePerriello office (y... on TwitpicI spent the day knocking on doors in a predominantly African American neighborhood. Contrary to the polls I've read, most of them were very excited to vote for Tom on November 2nd.

As for the ones who weren't? I told them about this truck, parked outside Rep. Perriello's Danville office. I told them that guy is going to vote. I told them if that guy votes, and we don't, everyone loses.

Friday, October 22, 2010