We have a couple key items today about oil and climate change. I’m not very comfortable vilifying Big Oil, mostly because many of us — including yours truly — have gasoline-powered cars and purchase gas from Big Oil. So there is an element of personal responsibility here.
Of course, many people will continue to drive for all sorts of reasons, many of them very good ones. One of the things that I like most about working for Metro is that the L.A. area’s achilles heel in recent decades is that there hasn’t been a great alternative to driving. Like many others, I’m excited to see a transit network be put in place so area residents don’t feel they always have to drive everywhere.
As I’ve written many times before, generally speaking taking transit instead of driving alone is a way to reduce your carbon emissions. Global warming and climate change remain very complex subjects and predicting the future is never easy. But I think the possible impacts of global warming are serious enough and dangerous enough that, at the least, they merit action.
Below are some suggestions to help everyone reduce their own carbon footprint — in addition to taking transit sometimes, walking and biking remain zero emission alternatives!
Click here to visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon footprint calculator — that’s a screen grab below.
Also, the following are from the Carbonfund.org website and I think they’re pretty reasonable and do-able:
Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your Car
Drive better – Studies have shown up to 30% of the difference in miles per gallon (MPG) is due to driving habits alone. You could save more than a ton of CO2 per year by:
– Accelerating slowly and smoothly
– Driving the speed limit
– Maintaining a steady speed
– Anticipating your stops and starts
Maintenance – Keep your car tuned up and running efficiently.
More Maintenance – Replace your air, oil and fuel filters according to schedule.
Tires – Keep your tires properly inflated (just this can save 400-700 pounds of CO2 per year).
Make your next vehicle a fuel-efficient one – Check out EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide for info on miles per gallon as well as EPA SmartWay® certified vehicles, meeting rigorous air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions standards.
Household fuel efficiency – If your household has two cars and one is used mostly for commuting, make the commuting car a real gas sipper if you can’t for both.
Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your Travel
A lot of our emissions come from just being inefficient or not deliberate with our daily decisions. Every day think about how you could reduce the miles you drive and pretty soon you’ll start identifying lots of opportunities:
Combine your trip with another.
Carpool – Just once a week saves 20%.
Check out your transit options – It may not work for you every time, but use it when it does.
What about your bike? – Get in shape, too!
Only a mile? – Walk.
Think it through – Do you need to take this trip at all?
Get it on the Internet.
Optimize – Save this trip for later and combine with another.
Telecommute – Work from home occasionally.
A media event was held Thursday to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the busway in the San Fernando Valley. The Daily News reports that several officials used the event to promote a potential ballot measure in 2016 that could raise the countywide sales tax by a half cent while extending the Measure R half-cent sales tax from 2039 until 2057.
With the Orange Line full, the 405 and 101 freeways clogged and Valley buses failing to serve most residents, they rallied for a 1-cent transit sales tax — with a “fair share” of billions for rail lines and transit upgrades for the Valley.
And what about the Orange Line? Some San Fernando Valley officials are calling for a conversion to rail, which early estimates say would cost $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion. Metro is also looking at possibly running longer buses and working with the city of Los Angeles to better time traffic signals — the trip between NoHo and Warner Center often takes 45 minutes because the bus often has to stop for red lights.
Here’s the latest Metro staff report on the agency’s long-range plan update and the potential ballot measure. If you look at appendix D, you’ll see that on the draft wish list for transportation projects, the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments has asked for funds for Orange Line improvements and for an Orange Line conversion.
Those lists will be refined in the coming weeks and Metro is expected to release an expenditure plan for the ballot measure in March with the agency’s Board of Directions deciding in late spring or early summer whether to put the ballot measure before voters. There are other projects competing with the Orange Line for funding, including a light rail line along Van Nuys Boulevard and a project to possibly build a rail line under the Sepulveda Pass to connect the Valley and Westside.
Stay tuned and please follow the process. Some big decisions will need to be made.
The move comes ahead of an international climate conference next month; the pipeline would have helped transported 800,000 gallons of petroleum a day between the tar sands fields in Canada and the Gulf Coast. The NYT characterizes the move as ‘symbolic,’ writing “The rejection of a single oil infrastructure project would have little impact on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.”
Yet, many conservation groups are very pleased with the news. The Natural Resources Defense Council, for example, says that approving the pipeline would have undercut the U.S.’s leadership on battling climate change and that it would promote a particularly dirty form of oil and oil extraction.
The probe is apparently centering on whether Exxon Mobil lied to investors about the dangers that climate change poses to its business model. As we posted yesterday, a recent series of stories in Inside Climate News and the LAT that alleged that Exxon Mobil tried to undermine research on global warming even as its own scientists were documenting its existence.
The editorial doesn’t like much about the six year spending bill that the House passed on Wednesday that failed to raise the federal gas tax, which has been holding steady at 18 cents since 1993. Excerpt:
Aside from providing more help to public-private partnerships, they make little or no effort to promote congestion pricing, driverless vehicles or other innovative solutions to the gridlock that plagues the largest American cities. And by holding transportation funding essentially flat, the proposals ignore the huge and growing backlog of maintenance work needed on roads, highways and bridges.
The House and Senate versions of the bill still must be reconciled and signed by President Obama to become law. Here’s Metro’s response to the House bill — a response that, like the LAT, notes that the bill is not fully funded and transit would get more money in the Senate version of the bill.
As for raising the federal gas tax, my calendar tells me that there’s a big election about 362 days from now in which every House seat, one-third of the Senate seats and the big chair in the Oval Office are up for grabs. In other words, a tax increase enjoyed the same chance as the Detroit Lions do of winning this season’s Super Bowl.
Weekendy and transportationy things to watch/listen to whilst on transit about for those with good internet connections:
Recent How We Rolls:
Nov. 5: Exxon Mobile and climate change research, 1965’s climate change warning and a pricey Boston parking space.
Nov. 3: why Supergirl should save trains or buses next, train signage issues at 7th/Metro, L.A. weighs slashing parking fines, how officials estimate ridership on future projects
Oct. 30: is The Force with mass transit?, a transit advocate — consumed by guilt — nonetheless buys a car, a commentary on the draft framework for Metro’s potential ballot measure.
Oct. 29: McDonald’s and the driving habits of Americans, to convert or not convert the Orange Line to rail and a great podcast on what keeps bridges from not falling down.
Oct. 28: bullet train officials say the project is on budget and on time, why transit is a tough sell in smaller cities, a really smart new bike.
Categories: Transportation Headlines