Category Archives: Energy

Sustainable and green energy sources

Lawmakers propose disastrous, job-killing, backwards-looking transportation plan

In a July 5 article called “How the Great Reset has Already Changed America,” for the Atlantic, Richard Florida describes how our elected leaders are lagging behind and even moving in directions that suggest a disconnection from our current reality. He writes, “… our political and business leaders continue to look backwards, wasting precious time and resources on futile attempts to resuscitate the same dysfunctional system of banks, sprawl, and inefficient and energy-wasting ways of life that brought about the crisis in the first place.”

It’s hard to imagine a better example of backwards-looking ideas than House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica’s proposed transportation reauthorization bill, which he announced yesterday. It will eliminate dedicated federal funding for bicycling and walking. Mica apparently deems spending in these areas to be “not in the federal interest.” Meanwhile Sen. James Inhofe, the lead Republican negotiator on the transportation bill in the Senate, has stated one of his top three priorities is to eliminate “frivolous spending” on bicycle facilities, according to the League of American Bicyclists.

These merciless cuts are not aimed at reducing the deficit, reviving the economy, creating jobs, improving transportation choices or serving the American people.

It’s clear they did not.

 

Savannah Earth Day Festival assembled of popular components


Forsyth Park will be home to the City of Savannah’s annual Earth Day Festival again on Saturday, April 23. The long-running features individual events and programs that have become immensely popular. The Savannah Bicycle Campaign’s Earth Day Wheelie Bike ride, which attracts hundreds of cyclists, departs from the park at 4 p.m. Earlier in the day, the RecycleRama begins at 8 a.m. and offers drop off service for folks who want to recycle paint, batteries, cooking grease and other materials. Last year’s RecycleRama collected 8,500 pounds of paint and 1,000 tires. It ends at 11 a.m. on the dot. More than 100 exhibitors will offer information on topics from beekeeping to bicycling to green roofs. More information is available on the festival website.

Connect Savannah story looks at local geothermal projects

“Energy Underground” in the Dec. 7 issue of Connect Savannah surveys geothermal efforts underway in the area, including one particularly interesting project:

The recent, and under-reported, symbolic groundbreaking of what will be the Savannah Gardens neighborhood redevelopment of Strathmore Estates, unearthed the city’s game plan to provide geothermal energy to 150 single family homes. According to Martin Fretty, city director of housing, “We’re trying to find ways to put in both Smart Meters and geothermal.” If the city succeeds in this Eastside development, it will be the largest residential use of geothermal in the region.

The recent, and under-reported, symbolic groundbreaking of what will be the Savannah Gardens neighborhood redevelopment of Strathmore Estates, unearthed the city’s game plan to provide geothermal energy to 150 single family homes. According to Martin Fretty, city director of housing, “We’re trying to find ways to put in both Smart Meters and geothermal.” If the city succeeds in this Eastside development, it will be the largest residential use of geothermal in the region.

Read more here.

On being blissfully unaware of rising gasoline prices

Picture 7When it came down the Twitter-wire from WTOC-TV last week, I just scratched my head. What is with with gas prices?” Seriously. I had no idea. The photo that accompanied the Twitter question showed an Enmark gas station sign advertising regular unleaded gasoline for sale at $2.88 per gallon (takeout only). Is that a lot these days? I really don”t know. It’s not because I don’t care about money. I just don’t buy much of the stuff.

WTOC revealed what, indeed, was up in subsequent stories and it turns out that gasoline prices are rising. WSAV-TV was on the case, too, with Savannahians Speaking Out on Gas Price Spike.

We appear to entering yet another period in which the news media dusts off one of the most overused cliches in the business: “Pain at the Pump.” Soon people will begin suggesting all sorts of ways to suppress prices, from military campaigns in exotic locales and potentially disastrous schemes for getting at oil that some folks are certain is sloshing around right under our feet. And why not? After all, we recently learned we needn’t worry about climate change.

There are simpler ways to ease worries over gasoline price fluctuations. One is an inexpensive invention that I’ve been using for quite some time.  I’m convinced that it would allow many of my fellow citizens to reduce the amount of gasoline they use. And here’s the kicker: Most of them already own this device. The secret is to use the device in a special way that prevents the need to visit gas stations on a regular basis.

Now, to be clear, it won’t completely shield a person from the effects of rising gas prices, even if they use it exclusively every single day. Fuel prices are reflected in the cost of every good and service we purchase. And, as mentioned above, rising fuel prices can ignite support for some pretty terrible ideas that—if they gain traction—will have negative consequences for everyone. Still, it’s pretty satisfying when you have to struggle to recall the last time you stood at a gas pump and poured money into a hole on the side of your car.

Do you own one of the useful devices I’m describing? Have you discovered how to use it in a way that reduces your gasoline consumption? Are you, like me, smugly disconnected from the daily changes in digits on gas station signs? Should we reveal the secret?

Would oil off our coast cause us to change our ways?

oilspillstoppedIn the early days of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, some local media reported the Gulf Coast’s loss could be the Atlantic Coast’s gain, in the form of tourists reconfiguring their summer vacation destinations. These stories usually included mandatory expressions of sympathy for the region dealing with the environmental catastrophe. Still, the disaster was down there. The major consequence for us would be more difficulty finding space to plant our chairs and umbrellas on the more crowded beaches of Tybee Island, right? Interviews were conducted just to make sure we were in the clear. But now the story may be changing. Yesterday, the New York Times’ Dot Earth blog published a horrifying animation that illustrates where the oil might eventually go if the damaged well continues to flow.

Oil AnimationWill the realization that it could come here lead to any action besides the emotionally satisfying, but ultimately useless, railing against BP and the government that has been our only response to the spill? Will the possibility of oil slicks from Miami to Maine cause us to comprehend our role in this cataclysm? Will it help us to finally understand that it’s our unrelenting demand for cheap oil that made deep water drilling a viable business proposition? Will it prompt us to take a hard look at how we have built our communities and the way we choose to travel in our daily lives?

Here’s an excellent list of 10 ways cities and towns can kick the offshore-oil habit. How many of these are we doing locally? Aside from the wonderful expansion of on-street bicycle parking, spearheaded by Sean Brandon of the City of Savannah’s Parking and Mobility Services department, the sad answer is not much. In fact, some of the ideas mentioned in the list, including increased density and reduced automobile parking, are fighting words around here! Having been shown the consequences of our oil dependency via television coverage from the Gulf of Mexico, can we now talk seriously about our problems and begin to make responsible decisions about how to make our communities sustainable and livable? Or will it take oil drifting into Wassaw Sound to get our attention?