Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Deeds Cries Fowl Over Double-Taxing Local Food

Nice move by State Sen. and gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds:

Deeds is introducing a bill to eliminate what he refers to as the double taxation of locally grown meat. Currently, Virginia farmers are charged a 5 percent sales tax when they take their sheep, cow, chicken or hog to the processor. The farmer is also charged a 2.5 percent sales tax when they sell their processed product at market. If Deeds' bill were approved, the farmer would pay just the 2.5 percent sales tax.

The bill is in response to concerns raised by Joel Salatin, who owns Polyface Farms in Augusta County. Salatin, an organic farmer, was featured in the New York Times bestseller Omnivores Dilemma.

"If we can get this bill passed this session, it will be a boon for Virginia's thriving local food movement," said Peter Jackson, a Deeds spokesman. "More Virginians will be able to enjoy healthy, safe, locally produced and processed meats."
This seems like a win-win for Virginia's farmers and consumers. Let's hope it passes the General Assembly in 2009!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Dirty Coal Takes Heavy Toll on Tennessee

The bad news just keeps coming in from central Tennessee, where a retaining pond failure unleashed a flood of more than a billion gallons of coal ash sludge. The Environmental Protection Agency now says two local rivers are showing dangerously high levels of arsenic and heavy metals.

UPDATE: Wikipedia now has a comprehensive page on the Tennessee coal sludge disaster.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Must-Read Climate Change Article

You might've missed this over the holidays -- yet more evidence climate change is happening faster than we'd thought.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Car Talk's Ray: "I Call on All Non-Wussy Politicians to Stand with Me!"

Our economy survived $4 a gallon gas. Now prices at the pump are below $2 a gallon. Economic incentive to buy fuel-efficient cars has faded while funding for transportation infrastructure continues to lag.

Ray Magliozzi, one of the hosts of NPR's Car Talk, says we can kill two birds with one stone by raising the federal tax on gasoline by 50 cents per gallon:
I think it's an idea whose time has come. I know most politicians have been too wussy to do it, but I think the logic of raising the gasoline tax right now is unassailable.

Gas is less than two bucks a gallon. There's never been a better time to do this. If we added a 50-cent national, gasoline tax right now, and gas cost $2.50 a gallon, would that be the end of the world? Hardly.

This new tax would generate between 50 and 100 billion dollars every year for the treasury. That money could be used to help rebuild our crumbling roads and bridges, and develop new technologies for more fuel-efficient cars... further decreasing demand for oil. This is a way for us to get on the wagon, and stop sending money to countries that don't like us. We could become energy independent.

The other thing that the gas tax revenue could fund is high-speed-train infrastructure between major cities. And who would build all of the new high-tech, high-speed trains we'd need? GM and Ford! We'd help them start a mass-transit division, convert some of those factories from building inefficient gas hogs to building high-speed trains.

I'm sick of people whining about a lousy 50-cent-a-gallon tax on gasoline! I think its time has come, and I call on all non-wussy politicians to stand with me, because our country needs us.
Politicians love to talk about energy independence, but generally refuse to do the things that would actually encourage us to consume less oil. And if, heaven forbid, someone does take a stand, there's always some pandering political opportunist or talking head ready to slam them for it.

If you want people to use less of something, the simplest, most direct, most efficient way to do it is to make that something more expensive. In this case, by raising the price of gas to encourage people to use less, we could simultaneously raise funds to invest in ways to lower our energy bills in the long-term and make us even more energy independent -- and by the way, start solving our worsening climate crisis. (One final note - the gas tax isn't nearly as regressive as most people seem to think.)

I'll stand with Ray. Who's with us?

Monday, December 22, 2008

McAuliffe Pushes Mandatory Clean Energy Standard

Last night, The Green Miles and some other Virginia bloggers were invited to dinner with Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman who's now exploring a run for Virginia governor.

McAuliffe brings seemingly boundless energy to the race. Even though he'd just spent over three hours in the car coming back from Virginia Beach, McAuliffe spent 90 minutes talking with us -- then ordered a double espresso and talked for another half an hour.

Terry told us he's running on his business experience, promising to grow the economy and create jobs. (He's also promised to raise massive sums of money to help Democrats take back the House of Delegates.)

He also threw out some bold ideas to change the status quo in Richmond. McAuliffe wants to eliminate the Dillon Rule, allowing local governments greater flexibility to act without asking Richmond's permission. He also wants to set a mandatory renewable electricity standard.

I'm waiting for the candidates to announce detailed plans on energy and the environment before I make any decisions about the primary. But I agree with Not Larry Sabato that McAuliffe's aggressive stands will push likely competitors Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran to keep up. Deeds' environment page recaps about what Creigh has done in the past, but doesn't yet lay out any ideas for the future. Moran stood out in September for his strong speech to the Virginia Sierra Club, but we're still waiting on details.

Whether he be Deeds, McAuliffe or Moran, we need a Democratic nominee for Virginia governor who'll advocate bold, specific solutions to lower energy bills and begin to address the climate crisis. Pushing for full implementation of recommendations from the Virginia Commission on Climate Change would be a good place to start.

Until then, when you see one of the candidates at a campaign stop, ask him about his plan for clean energy and climate action.

Today at 2pm: Chap Petersen Live Blog at HR Sierra Club

Just a quick heads up that State Sen. Chap Petersen, one of the Virginia General Assembly's leading advocates of energy & environment reform, will be taking questions at the Hampton Roads Sierra Club's blog at 2pm today.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Video: Obama's Labor Secretary Pick Talks Green Jobs

Via SpotlightOnPoverty.org, here's a clip from back in the presidential campaign of Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), Barack Obama's choice for Secretary of Labor, talking about how green jobs have the power to help fight poverty:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sunday: "The World in 70 Acres" at Potomac Overlook

Here's a cool event coming up Sunday:
Potomac Overlook Regional Park will celebrate the winter solstice with a screening of “The World in 70 Acres,” a documentary about the park, on Sunday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m.

The video explores various aspects of the park - its human history, natural setting, programs and activities and also covers educational themes and topics such as energy and earth science. The video's script was written by the park's chief naturalist, Martin Ogle, and is narrated by Keith Tomlinson, manager at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. The documentary was produced and edited, largely as a volunteer effort, by local videographer David Schneider.

The video is short enough (25 minutes) to be accessible and enjoyable for children 6 and older. Refreshments will be served. Also featured will be live music by Jody Marshall, whose hammered dulcimer music can be heard in the documentary.

For reservations and more information, call (703) 528-5406.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Miles Grant Endorsed by Vote Energy Smart

The Vote Energy Smart, not Energy Dumb campaign has endorsed me for the Virginia House of Delegates. Please take a minute to read the full endorsement list at DailyKos and recommend the diary.

What makes me especially proud are these words from Energy Smart's A Siegel:
Let's be honest, anyone who tracks our interactions in the blogosphere will know that we don't always agree and actually had some pretty strong confrontations in regards to the Lieberman-Warner Coal Subsidy Act. But, this is disagreement between the passionate and knowledgeable, arguing over approaches to solving our problems -- not over whether there is a problem to be solved and not over desired end states. Miles would be a knowledgeable and passionable Energy Smart delegate ... in a state that needs a lot more Energy Smarts in its political leadership.
When someone who's had strong disagreements with you still respects you enough to endorse you, you know you're doing something right.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

If You Disagree with Massey CEO, You're Osama bin Laden

Via the Natural Resources Defense Council, here's the CEO of Richmond-based Massey Energy going off on a rant about how he thinks all the world's scientists are conspiring with the communists and the atheists to fool us about global warming.

As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up. Don Blankenship goes on to compare people who disagree with him to Osama bin Laden, which may call for a revision of Godwin's Law. NRDC breaks the video down and concludes:
Blankenship goes on with his bizarre theories about how mass transit will destroy American capitalism. Or, how dealing with global warming will cause the Chinese to take over and tell you where you have to go to church.

But you get the idea.

Next time you hear someone from the coal industry asking to be taken seriously about "clean coal" or the nonexistent "debate" about climate change, just remember the wit and wisdom of Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.
Did I mention Massey has given 97% of its contributions to Republicans?

Cross-posted from RK

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Monday: Campaign Kickoff & Farewell to RK

We're planning a big kickoff party on Monday for my campaign for the House of Delegates in the 47th district. And given that RaisingKaine.com is toast at the end of 2008, we thought it was about time for an in-person toast the people who made it possible.

Please join us as we say Farewell to RK and pay tribute to Lowell and Eric for their years of hard work helping turn Virginia blue:
  • Monday, December 15, 6-8pm
  • Piola Restaurant, 1550 Wilson Blvd, Arlington (near Rosslyn Metro)
  • Complimentary food and happy hour specials at private bar included with contribution
  • Reserve tickets now at ActBlue
The event will be hosted by Not Larry Sabato's Ben Tribbett and proceeds will go to Miles Grant for Delegate. Email us with any questions!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Why Wait Till June? Vote Miles Grant for Delegate Now.

Quick heads up, RK is taking a poll on whether to endorse The Green Miles in the House of Delegates race in the 47th district. If you're a registered RK user, please vote now! The poll is on the left side.

UN Accredits First Blog

Congrats to DeSmogBlog:
After two days of deliberations, the United Nations officials at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Poznan, Poland, agreed to give media accreditation to the DeSmogBlog, the first time in history that the UN has accredited a blog, according to UNFCCC Public Information and Media Assistant Carrie Assheuer.

"It was quite the ordeal," said DeSmogBlog Editor Richard Littlemore. "The UN system is set up to accommodate mainstream media and it's not an institution that's designed to be flexible or innovative."
What took them so long?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ask The Green Miles: Real Christmas Tree vs. Fake Tree?

I don't encourage getting a live tree with roots still attached and trying to re-plant it. Getting a tree to survive a transplant is hard enough, but the cold outdoors-warm house-cold outdoors shock is more than most evergreens can handle.

Some related links:
You can see more of my videos and subscribe at my YouTube page.

Note: Always call ahead to live Christmas tree farms, you never know when they'll take a year off from selling trees to let the young ones grow.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

CNN Lays Off 7 Staffers, Own Credibility

CNN has announced it's laying off its entire science and technology staff, eliminating seven positions. The staffers cut include Miles O'Brien, a pioneer in aggressive broadcast climate change reporting, and widely respected producer Peter Dykstra.

As the Columbia Journalism Review's Curtis Brainard writes, "the decision to eliminate the positions seems particularly misguided at a time when world events would seem to warrant expanding science and environmental staff."

The cuts are part of a broader trend in the news business -- cutting science reporting positions just as we reach a critical time in our relationship with the environment.

We're lucky we have websites and blogs to help fill the void. ClimateProgress.org, Grist.org, The Wonk Room and many others provide more comprehensive coverage than you could get from any broadcast news source.

But do those outlets have the resources to send staffers around the country and around the world to provide in-depth coverage? Unfortunately, no. Only the heavy hitters like CNN can do that. And while the network says it remains committed to its Planet in Peril series, the occasional special is no subsitute for continuing coverage.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tonight at 5pm: Climate Commission Member Live Blog

The Hampton Roads Sierra Club is hosting a live blog tonight at 5pm with Del. Joe Bouchard:
Delegate Bouchard serves on the Governor’s Climate Change Commission. He will be here on Dec. 1, 2008 starting at 5:00pm to take your questions regarding that work, its potential for legislation finding its way into the 2009 General Assembly session, and what he looks forward to seeing happen in Virginia with the Obama administration.
Post your questions at the Hampton Roads Sierra Club blog now!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Trees on Strike?

In ordinary autumn, acorns feature prominently at my home and office. Here in Ballston, my apartment is surrounded by big old trees that coat the ground in a crunchy carpet of acorns. And out at my office in Reston, the towering trees at neighboring Lake Fairfax Park deliver a steady bombardment of acorns plummeting through the canopy, then bouncing high off the paved paths (watching it makes you think twice about taking a walk without a helmet).

But this year, nothing. And I'm not the only one who's noticed:
Rachel Tolman, a naturalist at Long Branch, smeared a big glop of peanut butter on one of the nature center's trees. She grabbed handfuls of store-bought hazelnuts and placed them atop boxes to attract the tiny, nocturnal flying squirrels that tend to mass in the oaks every winter. Within seconds, the squirrels dive-bombed in from nearby trees, legs outstretched like fist-size silvery-gray sky divers. "They're so much more willing to be seen this year," Tolman said. "It's because they're so hungry."

Tolman was the first naturalist to notice that there were no acorns or hickory nuts this year. Each fall, starting in September, she takes daily walks through the forest to collect nuts and acorns to feed the flying squirrels and other animals at the center through the winter. This year, she found nothing. "I'm hoping this is just some weird anomaly," she said.

No wonder this little guy was so hungry! Naturalists often discourage directly feeding the critters in your backyard since it makes them dependent on people instead of foraging for themselves. This winter might be an exception.

The article doesn't draw conclusions about why acorns are so scarce this year. Seems that one year without acorns is unusual but not unheard of; however, if it happens again next year, it might be something to worry about.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Killer Fail

Looks like we have a wildlife theme this week. But considering this is the time of year a turkey makes a narrow escape at the White House, I thought this video was only appropriate. You can practically hear the orcas yelling, "Look, we don't want any trouble! Just give us the penguin!"

Thanks to Rosie for the link.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Looks Like Someone Didn't See "Anchorman"

I tried to get an interview, but they said, "You can't. He's a live bear. He will literally rip your face off." Hey! You're making me look stupid! Get out here! Panda jerk! -- Brian Fontana in Anchorman

Looks like
someone didn't have that one on his Netflix list:

BEIJING – A college student in southern China was bitten by a panda after he broke into the bear's enclosure hoping to get a hug, state media and a park employee said Saturday. [...]

"Yang Yang was so cute and I just wanted to cuddle him. I didn't expect he would attack," the 20-year-old student, surnamed Liu, said in a local hospital, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

The best line comes from a park employee:

He said it was not clear whether the facility would add more signs around the enclosure or put more fences up.

"We cannot make it like a prison. We already have signs up warning people not to climb in," he said. "There are no fences along roads but people know not to cross if there are cars. This is basic knowledge."

He leaves us with the impression that the question isn't whether the zoo is doing enough to protect the people from the pandas -- it's whether they're doing enough to protect the pandas from the people.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hey, Chevron: Hasn't Irony Already Suffered Enough?

Yesterday, the League of Conservation Voters rolled out a fantastic satire of Chevron's latest greenwashing campaign. The ads are everywhere, especially in DC's Metro system.

The most obnoxious of Chevron's actual ads: "I will take my golf clubs out of the trunk." Gee, thanks, Judge Smails. Now your Porsche 911 will get 16 miles per gallon instead of 15.9 miles per gallon. Consider the planet saved!

But my friend Melanie just passed along the most ridiculous Chevron ad yet:

Yes, that's an ad urging us to reuse more.

On the side of a single-use coffee cup sleeve.

Which ends up in a landfill after a single use 99 percent of the time.

Chevron, are you trying to put The Green Miles out of business??? You have now sunk to such depths of self-parody as to be beyond third-party parody.

How am I supposed to snark that which cannot be snarked? This is simply unsnarkable.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Loudoun County Facility to be a Green Hospital?

From the Loudoun Times:
The Broadlands Regional Medical Center, if approved by the county and built, will seek LEED Certification for Health Care.

The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – recognizes environmentally friendly design, construction and operation.

HCA Virginia, the project's parent company, said if certified, the Broadlands hospital will be the first in its nationwide chain of 166 hospitals to be so recognized.

LEED awards points for site development, water savings, energy efficiency, construction materials and indoor environmental quality. The Broadlands hospital has pledged to treat storm-water runoff to reduce phosphorous and the amount of light that escapes from the site, to use water-saving bath fixtures, to hire an energy management consultant, and to seek National Wildlife Federation designation as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

TGM on CleanSkies.TV: The Governator's Global Climate Summit

The Green Miles will be on CleanSkies.TV this morning at 9am talking about California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's bipartisan Global Climate Summit. You can watch it live at 9am or later by clicking on "Interactive Program Guide," then clicking on the 11/19/08 edition of "The Energy Report."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Great Little Idea: The ChicoBag

In my gift bag for buying VIP tickets to the Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment Hallowgreen 30th anniversary event, I found this little guy. It's called a ChicoBag (named after the city in California) and it's changed my standards for reusable bags.

Most of my reusable bags (like the canvas ACE bag seen next to the ChicoBag) are sturdy but bulky. Since I walk to the grocery store, I have to cram my bags into my pockets, which only works well if I'm wearing cargo shorts or baggy jeans. And forget about keeping one with me in case of unexpected bag needs.

But the ChicoBag is not only small enough to fit into any pocket, it's light enough that you don't even notice it. And it expands to hold just as many groceries as the sturdier ACE bag.

The containing pouch is sewn right into the side of the bag, so once you've unloaded your groceries, you can fold the bag right back inside. Oh, and they're only $5.

I suppose my only concern is whether the light bag will survive dozens of trips to Harris Teeter. I'll let you know how it holds up!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Will Richmond Accept Climate Commission's Challenge?

Governor Kaine's Commission on Climate Change has issued its final recommendations. Simply put, there's a lot to like:

Kaine had asked the commission to find ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions - mostly carbon dioxide from cars, power plants, factories, landfills, buildings and homes - by 30 percent of the projected levels in 2025.

But the commission voted during its last work session Thursday to go further and faster. It recommended that Virginia shoot for reductions of 25 percent below 1990 emission levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.

The goals mirror what President-elect Barack Obama has endorsed for a federal program to combat global warming and follow closely what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has embraced. That group shared a Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore last year for its scientific efforts.
People like Paul Ferguson and Skip Stiles deserve credit for fighting over the last year to make sure the commission delivered strong targets. It looks like they got much of what they wanted, even coming within a single vote of a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants until carbon-capturing technology is available.

Now it's up to Gov. Kaine and the General Assembly to put these recommendations into action. If Republicans in the General Assembly are thinking about reject the results of this bipartisan commission, they need to know they'll face voters in the fall who want climate action now.

Cross-posted from RK

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shoo It Away? Or Offer It a Long Spoon?

Looked out my back door the other day to find a squirrel helping itself to a Halloween pumpkin I'd had on my back step but never got around to carving:

It would climb inside, pull out a seed, then perch on top of the pumpkin to eat it:

You can learn more about the history of the DC area's squirrels (including where the black ones came from) in the Washington Post's recent article, Critter City.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Beating an Undead Trojan Horse

The state can't afford it. Arlington doesn't want it. So why does I66 expansion keep moving forward?

The Arlington Civic Federation, by a two-thirds margin, said no again this week to a wider I66. That's after a public hearing at Washington-Lee High School a couple of weeks back at which nearly everyone opposed expansion plans.

Pushed by Rep. Frank Wolf and Rep. Tom Davis, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) wants to make "spot improvements" to the westbound lanes of I66 in three spots in Arlington. "What’s proposed here is a gross waste of money," Arlington County Board Member Chris Zimmerman (D) said. "All you’re doing is moving the bottlenecks around."

Of course, the "spot improvements" are just a trojan horse to fully expand I66 through Arlington to three lanes. And that pesky media, not clued into the charade, keeps giving it away. One story back in October called plans to expand the road finalized. All this public comment is apparently just a charade.

With money for transportation projects so tight, funding for the $75 million "spot improvements" is being pieced together. Meanwhile, the federal government is reluctant to step in to help Metro with its current financing mess. Where are the priorities?

Wolf and Davis claim the widenings will help evacuations of DC in case of emergency. But if I66 is packed for a simple morning rush, how will a few extra stretches of pavement enable tens of thousands of cars to pile on at the same time? After all, even a full lane of highway moving at top speed can only handle something like 1,500 cars an hour.

But what do they care? The evacuation route argument is just another gimmick. The real goal is the same as it was when the road was first proposed in 1956 -- force the road on Arlington, and force Arlingtonians to breathe the pollution of vehicles from making their commutes from sprawling developments in Fairfax County, Loudoun County and beyond.

To learn more about the history of I66 and how to get involved, visit the Arlington Coalition for Sensible Transportation.

Cross-posted from RK

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wednesday: Sierra Club Forum on Energy in Ballston

The Green Miles will be moderating a forum on energy and the environment tomorrow night in Ballston:
Town Hall Meeting -- Achieving an Energy Efficient Virginia
Wednesday, November 12, 7:30 pm
NRECA Building, 4301 Wilson Blvd, Arlington

Energy efficiency is the most cost effective, least polluting, and safest way to meet increasing electricity demand. Energy efficiency programs are an investment in a state's economy that encourages innovation, creates non-exportable jobs, and increases competitiveness. What's more, energy efficiency can meet new electricity demand for 50% of the cost of new generation. Unfortunately, Virginia has lagged behind other states in establishing and funding efficiency programs.

Speakers at the Town Hall meeting will review the methods for creating and managing electrical energy efficiency programs and recommend the best and most relevant ones to be used to craft a strong, viable program for Virginia.

The meeting will be held at the NRECA Building, 4301 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, which is within 5 minutes of the Ballston Metro. Parking is also free under the building from North Taylor Street.
The event is being organized by the Sierra Club's Mount Vernon Group. Scheduled speakers include current Arlington County Board Chair Walter Tejada and past chair Paul Ferguson. Hope to see you there!

TNRtv: What Obama Could Do for the Environment on Day One

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Global Warming Deniers' Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Election Day 2008 will be remembered for being a lousy day to be a global warming denier.Nowhere was this more apparent than right here in Virginia:
Jim Gilmore: Told the Virginian-Pilot, "We know the climate is changing, but we do not know for sure how much is caused by man and how much is part of a natural cycle change." Lost by 30 points.

Thelma Drake: Told the Virginian-Pilot, "There is tremendous disagreement about whether climate change is caused by human behavior or other natural forces." Despite final pre-election predictions she'd win by six points, Thelma instead lost by 4 points.

Virgil Goode: Told WSLS-TV global warming is "overly hyped" and holds a strong financial stake in Big Oil. Despite final pre-election predictions he'd win by eight points, Virgil is currently losing by 100 votes.
And look just east to Maryland's 1st Congressional district, which Republican Wayne Gilchrest had represented for 16 years before losing his primary to hardcore conservative Andy Harris. The moderate Gilchrest had cruised to re-election in the slightly red district, getting at least 61 percent of the vote in his last seven races.

But general election voters took one look at Harris' 9 percent lifetime voting record from Environment America record and turned their noses up. Democrat Frank Kratovil is currently beating Harris by just over 900 votes.

And look across the country. In the House, longtime clean energy opponents Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) went down, while Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) narrowly survived a surprisingly close race in a deep red district.

In the Senate, Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) and Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR), who each only found religion on climate action on their electoral deathbeds, lost their re-election bids. On the other hand, Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), a more vigorous supporter of clean energy and climate action, has so far been able to cling to a slim lead in his race against Al Franken.

The bottom line? If you expect to hold public office in America today, you better be on board with clean energy. It's about American jobs, it's about lowering energy bills for consumers, and yes, it's about curbing the worst effects of global warming. If you don't buy in, you better hope you're lucky enough to be in a district as conservative as Michele Bachmann's.

But hey, if you want to roll those dice like Andy Harris did, be my guest. Good luck with that recount, Andy! You'll need it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Nice Touch at the Polls from Arlington Democrats

UPDATE: Here's my review of the overall experience at Arlington Central Library this morning.

The Green Miles is volunteering for Arlington Democrats today, greeting voters at Arlington Central Library! I'm stationed at the front door of the still-closed library making sure voters find their way to the hour-long line snaking around from the library's back door. Most people seem to know the drill, but seem to appreciate having a friendly face to reassure them they're heading the right way.

In any case, it gave me an excuse to bust out the laptop and get this picture up:

Will recycling sample ballots save the planet? Of course not. But it shows they're thinking about the little things. And The Green Miles subscribes to a variation on the broken windows theory when it comes to environmentalism -- if you're not sweating the small stuff, it makes me wonder if you're getting the big stuff. Good to see Arlington Democrats paying attention to this detail.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Green Miles' Greatest Hits: Voting Green

With 24 hours until the polls open here in Virginia, here are some links to posts over the last year about voting on environmental issues:
Nov. 6, 2007: Think Green, Vote Blue

June 3, 2008: Remember in November: Senate Republicans Fight Climate Action

Sept. 29, 2008: Ask The Green Miles: McCain vs. Obama on the Environment

Saturday, November 1, 2008

From Trashable to Recyclable in 60 Seconds

Sometimes it only takes a few seconds to keep an item (or most of it) out of a landfill.

Just as I was about to toss an old dry erase board in the trash, I realized its core was cardboard, so I thought I'd see if I could salvage the recyclable part. Sure enough, it was easy to pry off the plastic frame and the plastic front wasn't even glued on.

Three cardboard pieces that made up the backing -- 95 percent of the weight of the board -- ready for the recycling bin ...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why "Clean" Coal is Like Dragons and Leprechauns

For more on "clean" coal and its devastating impacts on Appalachia, check out this great op-ed from Jeff Biggers.

Get more details on Joe Biden's "clean" coal comments at FactCheck.org.

To see previous videos and subscribe to future ones, visit
The Green Miles on YouTube.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Corey Feldman Releases "Green is the Colour"

My friend Lindsay at Campaign for America's Wilderness just pointed me to this new song from Corey Feldman. EcoRazzi.com reports, "According to the press release, the album was made with special 100% biodegradable materials including recyclable paper, soy ink, and even a corn plastic disc tray."

How can I put this nicely? I don't question Feldman's passion for preserving our planet. I do question his musical talent.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sarah Palin, Global Warming Denier Cover Girl

Don't believe any administration could be worse for wildlife and our climate than Bush-Cheney?

Check out the latest edition of "Environment & Climate News" from the Heartland Institute, a leading oil industry front group for global warming denial. There's a smiling Sarah Palin on the cover, superimposed over a pair of threatened polar bears.

With the backing of Big Oil and its allies, Palin has led Alaska's fight against protecting the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act. Remarkably, Palin thinks the Bush administration has been too liberal in recognizing the threat of global warming and acting to protect the bears.

As the Center for Biological Diversity's Kassie Siegel has said, "The amazing thing about this litigation is that the governor of Alaska is so anti-environmental that she is suing the Bush administration over a claimed overabundance of protections for the polar bear. It's just amazing."

The next time someone tries to tell you McCain and Obama are nearly the same on environmental issues, here's all the evidence you need to prove them wrong: Global warming deniers can't wait to have Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from the presidency. The people
at the Heartland Institute who've dedicated their lives to fighting science know their gal when they see her.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Wednesday: Al Gore Webcast on PowerVote.org

UPDATE: The webcast has been moved to 8:30pm

It's supposed to be freezing on Wednesday night, so you have no excuse not to stay inside and watch this:

Join Al Gore for a Live Webcast: 8:30pm Eastern, Oct 29

Get Out the (Power) Vote Oct 29 - Nov 4!

On October 29, Power Vote is kicking off 6 days of hard core Get Out the (Power) Vote events with a live webcast featuring Nobel Peace Laureate Al Gore!

Plan a Gore-Cast viewing party for the night of the 29th and then strategize with your friends about what other events your campus will do in the days that follow to Get Out the Vote.

Plan a dorm raid, a street canvassing, a phone banking ...anything that can rally the (Power) Votes near you!
Visit Events.PowerVote.org to find a watch party near you.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tonight: ACE's "Hallowgreen" 30th Anniversary Gala

The Green Miles will be heading to the Hilton Arlington in Ballston tonight for Hallowgreen! It's the 30th anniversary gala for Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Program highlighting ACE’s 30 years
  • Live music by The Walkaways
  • Costume contest with cash prizes for:
    • Best Environmental Costume
    • Best Costume from Reused Materials
    • Best Student Costume
  • Eco-Horror displays
  • Silent auction
  • Stewardship awards
  • Cash bar
  • Refreshments (highlighting local and organic produce) catered by the Hilton Arlington
I'll be entering the "best environmental costume" contest but expect to be beaten soundly by someone much more creative than me. And if you're thinking about outbidding me for the autographed copy of An Inconvenient Truth, you'd better bring your checkbook.

Tickets will be available at the door:

- Single: $75
- Couple: $140
- Students (under 21): $10
- VIP: Single: $175 / Couple: $300

A major shout out to the sponsors of Hallowgreen: The Nature Conservancy, The Hilton Arlington, Ecoprint, Arbour Realty, The Cadmus Group, and Wild Birds Unlimited.

As much credit as the sponsors deserve, it's kind of surprising to see some big green businesses missing from that list. Where's EnviroCAB (EDIT: Envirocab was not a major sponsor but donated lots of gift certificates)? Where are those Fresh AIRE business champions?

Arlington Celebrates Green Businesses

Arlington County has announced its Fresh AIRE champions and recycling award winners! Here are the Fresh AIRE champions:

  • Vornado/Charles E. Smith for earning the ENERGY STAR at:
  • 2231 Crystal Dr.
  • 2345 Crystal Dr.
  • 2451 Crystal Dr.
  • 2300 Clarendon Blvd.
  • 2200 Clarendon Blvd.
  • FAP Arlington Square LLC for earning the ENERGY STAR at 4401 North Fairfax Dr.
  • Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc. for
  • TIAA CREF for earning the ENERGY STAR at 4350 North Fairfax Dr.
  • Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, LLC for earning LEED for Existing Buildings Gold Certification at One Potomac Yard
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for earning LEED for Existing Buildings Gold Certification at One Potomac Yard
  • Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority for the provision of outstanding commuter benefits to employees at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Virginia's "Confederate States of America"-Era Energy System

A must-read post over at Gristmill from Chesapeake Climate Action Network Executive Director Mike Tidwell:
[A]s the election approaches, here's the surprising question for every Northern Virginia voter: Why is this high-tech region, so dedicated to a "knowledge-based" economy, utterly dependent on an energy system as old as the Confederate States of America? Northern Virginia gets the lion's share of its electric power not from wind turbines or solar farms, but from coal. A shocking 1,180,400 tons of raw coal each year, nearly half of the area's total load. And it's not "clean coal" or "high-tech" coal. Just black, sooty, rip-it-from-the-ground-and-set-it-on-fire coal.

You'd think it would be different. You'd think Northern Virginia would be a leader in developing clean, sustainable energy at a level equal to its high-tech, high-education status.

You'd think. But two roadblocks stand in the way: Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) and mega-utility Dominion Power.
Tidwell concludes with a call for investments in efficiency to cut power bills, saying Virginians "use more electricity every day than 75 percent of the rest of America. Surely we could do much, much better." But Virginia's current system allows Dominion to reap the most profits by selling us the most power.

Of course, while Kaine and Dominion are the biggest roadlocks, General Assembly Republicans have shown no interest in cutting consumers' power bills or easing our dependence on dirty, expensive energy sources. And many General Assembly Democrats are, at best, speed bumps, reluctant to challenge Richmond's status quo.

Cross-posted from RK

Monday, October 20, 2008

TGM Hits 50K

Considering that when I started this blog in June 2006, I was thrilled to get 20 hits in a day, it's pretty amazing to be getting 20 hits an hour now:

If you enjoy the blog, you can subscribe to my feed or add me on Digg and I'll shout you the best of the best. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Video: Local/Organic Grocery Store Coming to Columbia Heights

Ellwood Thompson's plans to open a new location in Columbia Heights in late 2009. I'm jealous they're not coming to Arlington, but I know DC has a much greater need for grocery stores than we do. Are any neighborhoods in Arlington in need of an Ellwood Thompson's? Maybe Columbia Pike? Courthouse?

Ellwood Thompsons // At A Glance from Ellwood Thompson's on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Thelma Drake on Global Warming: Ignorant or Lying?

At what point do we accuse global warming deniers of deliberately lying to mislead the public about the reality of climate change? I mean, it's been nearly two years since the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declared definitively that the climate is warming and that man-made emissions are to blame. Is ignorance still an acceptable excuse?

Which brings us to this voter guide for Virginia's 2nd Congressional district:
Where do you stand on global warming and climate change?

: There is tremendous disagreement about whether climate change is caused by human behavior or other natural forces. What I support are clean air and clean water laws for a healthy environment. We must lead the world in good environmental policy and encourage other nations to follow suit.

: I believe that global warming is an issue of dire consequence to our nation and world. I support moving America towards a position of global leadership on alternative energy solutions that will help combat global warming and build good jobs in America.
This is all you need to know about about the broad, deep scientific agreement on climate change: Even the Bush administration agrees global warming his happening and we're to blame. To Thelma Drake, apparently President Bush is too liberal on this issue.

If you have any doubts or questions on climate, please check out Grist's How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic guide. After reviewing the dozens of scientific organizations and agencies from around the world that agree on the cause of global warming, Grist concludes, "If this is not scientific consensus, what in the world would a consensus look like?"

Let's elect candidates who have a solid grip on science and reality. I just gave $20 each on ActBlue to Glenn Nye, Tom Perriello, and Judy Feder. Will you do the same for three Virginia House candidates of your choice right now?

Cross-posted from RK

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Monday: Van Jones Book Signing in DC

Van Jones is speaking on his book, The Green Collar Economy, on Monday, October 20th, at 6:30 PM at the 5th & K Busboys and Poets location:
Few people have been able to inspire the kind of critical thinking and political action considered a necessary component of success in the modern environmental movement. But if you were to make a list of those few, Van Jones would definitely be on it. Van Jones will discuss and sign his new book, The Green Collar Economy—published by Harper One.

This event is free and open to the public.
I'm reading The Green Collar Economy now. Fascinating and a quick read so far. Hopefully I'll have a review up next week!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Kaine & Allen to Debate Energy & Enviroment

UPDATE 8:57am: You can see the live blog here.

The Green Miles is awake early and getting hopped up on Starbucks Organic Sumatra-Peru coffee, preparing to live blog
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and former governor and senator George Allen (R) will represent the two presidential candidates in a debate about energy and the environment [Wednesday] morning in Northern Virginia. [...]

The debate, sponsored by the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce, will be held at the Washington Dulles Airport Marriott. The debate begins at 8 a.m. and will be moderated by Norah O'Donnell, MSNBC chief Washington correspondent.

"Energy and the environment are going to be huge issues facing the next president," said Peter Ryus, chairman of the chamber's environmental committee. "Virginia is an important setting for this debate because of its swing electoral votes, its demographics and its strategic proximity to Washington."
And of course the event is sponsored by ... wait for it ...
Sponsors: Platinum: Dominion
Almost time to hit the road, but live blogging should begin over at RK just before 8am.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Snap Back to Reality from Indian Summer

It's been so warm the last few days, it's felt like June. But even on a 78-degree day, a sudden change of colors can remind you it's still October:

Most of the trees are still green, but these two near the corner of Wilson and Piedmont decided to flip early.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Zero Carbon Coffee?

We may have a new heavyweight champion for most tree-huggiest company of all time.

Grounds for Change already sells organic, fair-trade, shade-grown coffee roasted using 100 percent renewable electricity. They also donate one percent of sales to environmental organizations.

And now they're offsetting 100 percent of their emissions with CarbonFund.org. I mean, I don't think it could be any greener if each bean was hand-raised by Al Gore.

Check out their "comprehensive 'crop to cup' analysis" of their carbon footprint:
  1. Organic cultivation of coffee plant
  2. Non-mechanized harvest of coffee cherries
  3. Pulping and washing of cherries (to extract beans)
  4. Sun drying of coffee beans
  5. Transport of beans to dry mill for hulling
  6. Burlap bags used to contain finished green coffee
  7. Transport to port city in country of origin
  8. Ocean transport from origin to US west coast ports
  9. Warehousing in US port cities
  10. Transport to Grounds for Change roastery
  11. All energy used in roasting processes
  12. All energy used in operations and business travel
  13. Coffee packaging materials, labels and shipping boxes
  14. Transport of finished coffee to customer
  15. Customer disposal of empty coffee bag
What, they're not offsetting my half and half too? Greenwashers! (I kid.)

Grounds for Change also offers blends from Cafe Femenino Mexico, which "is a new origin for this special project that empowers women coffee farmers by involving them in every step of the coffee production process."

The Green Miles ordered a pound of the Sumatran and a pound of the El Salvador. The shipping is a bit steep, starting at $6.20. But the pound bags are $1.50 off right now, so that makes up for it nicely.

My current favorite coffees are the Starbucks Organic Sumatra-Peru Blend and the Sulawesi from Central Coffee Roasters. I'll let you know how the Grounds for Change coffees stack up!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Green Miles Analyzes the Presidential Debate on CleanSkies.TV

The Green Miles was on CleanSkies.TV this morning talking about energy issues in last night's presidential debate. To watch, go to CleanSkies.TV, click on "Energy News Center" and click on "10/8/08 - The Morning Report." I'll write up more thoughts on the debate a little later.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

Reminder: Last Day to Register to Vote in Virginia!

Just a quick reminder that if you want to vote in Virginia in November's election, your application needs to be dropped off or postmarked today! All the details are at the State Board of Elections website.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Colbert Report: Prescott Oil Loves the Earth

Request for Green Costume Ideas

The Green Miles is going to the Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment Hallowgreen 30th anniversary gala on October 23rd. They're having an environmental costume contest. What should I go as? Only constraints - must cost less than $100 total, must not require buying lots of junk I'd never use again, must take one hour or less of work to put together. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Carbon Emissions Soar. Will Bush Take Responsibility Again?

Take a few days off and the whole world goes to hell. In this case, literally. No, I don't mean the financial crisis, though I have no interest in looking at my 401(k) balance right now.

I'm talking about the new global carbon emissions figures released last week, which show a shockingly steep rise:
The new numbers, called "scary" by some, were a surprise because scientists thought an economic downturn would slow energy use. Instead, carbon dioxide output jumped 3 percent from 2006 to 2007. That's an amount that exceeds the most dire outlook for emissions from burning coal and oil and related activities as projected by a Nobel Prize-winning group of international scientists in 2007.

Meanwhile, forests and oceans, which suck up carbon dioxide, are doing so at lower rates than in the 20th century, scientists said. If those trends continue, it puts the world on track for the highest predicted rises in temperature and sea level.

The pollution leader was China, followed by the United States,
which past data show is the leader in emissions per person in carbon dioxide output. And while several developed countries slightly cut their CO2 output in 2007, the United States churned out more. [...]

Emissions in the United States rose nearly 2 percent in 2007, after declining the previous year. The U.S. produced 1.75 billion tons of carbon (1.58 billion metric tons).
As soon as we learned US emissions fell slightly last year, President Bush immediately held a news conference and issued a gloating statement taking credit for the fall. I'm still waiting for the news conference and statement admitting he was wrong.

Scientists say we need to be cutting carbon emissions two percent a year. Instead, they rose three percent globally and two percent here in the US.

The richest country in the world that should be taking the lead on energy-efficient technology. Instead, we're leading the way in race to the bottom, and the Bush administration and its Republican allies are leading the way.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ask The Green Miles: McCain vs. Obama on the Environment

You can subscribe to my videos here.

The Green Miles Talks Energy Legislation on CleanSkies.TV

The Green Miles' appearance on CleanSkies.TV aired on Sunday morning on WJLA-TV/ABC7 here in DC. You can watch it online by going to this page, clicking on "Clean Skies Sunday," then clicking on "Policy & Its Effect" (I wish there was a direct link but that seems to be the only way). My segment starts at 15:57. Let me know what you think!

UPDATE 7/15/2009: CleanSkies.com has launched and the video is now embeddable:

Simple Tips for Cutting Your Car's Carbon Footprint

So I was planning to do a big post to compile in one simple, easy to read list all the tips to improve your gas mileage (and by extension reduce your carbon footprint). But it turns out someone already did it. Should I be happy or jealous?

In any case, check out EcoDrivingUSA.com. Particularly valuable are the eco-driving tips and maintenance practices. My favorite so far is eco-driving tip #5, which answers the AC vs. open windows debate in the most interesting way I've seen yet:

Use Air Conditioning at Higher Speeds

Tip #5Air conditioning can reduce mileage significantly, by as much as 20%. In fact, your air conditioner can consume up to one gallon of gas per tank to cool the vehicle. But driving with your windows open can produce aerodynamic drag, which reduces fuel economy. What's a driver to do? When driving at slower speeds (less than 40 mph), such as driving in urban areas, open windows are better. At higher speeds (over 40 mph), open windows use more fuel than the air conditioner, so close the windows and turn on the air conditioner. Another good idea is to take advantage of the "recycle inside air" feature. The air that is already cooled in the car is reused by the air conditioning system, instead of drawing hot air from the outside to be cooled.

Are there any tips they miss?