Friday, April 27, 2012

EV + PV = 0: Green Transportation takes Center Stage on 2-Year Anniversary of Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson gives Congress an "F" on 2nd anniversary of BP gulf oil disaster.
On April 20, 2012, the 2-year anniversary of the BP gulf oil disaster was observed on Florida's central gulf coast by acknowledgment of the lack of progress made in Congress to make drilling safer, along with celebration of new forms of transportation developed in the past two years that no longer require oil.
Britten Cleveland, Conservation Organizer for the Florida Healthy Air campaign, went to the airwaves in Sarasota to talk about what the Sierra Club is doing to move our community beyond oil in an effort to reduce the likelihood that a disaster like the Deepwater Horizon occurs again.
Meanwhile, at a press conference organized by Gulf Restoration Network and Sierra Club in St. Petersburg, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson spoke on the failure of Congress to act to make oil and gas drilling in the gulf any safer than it was two years ago. "Noting that the members of the presidential oil spill commisson recently handed Congress a D grade for its failure to pass any new safety regulations, the Florida Democrat said, 'It shouldn't have been a D. It should have been an F.'"

EV + PV = 0 in the Sunshine City
As Sen. Nelson spoke,  a new Chevy Volt was getting fully charged nearby with free Florida sunshine. Sierra Club Florida Senior Organizing Manager Frank Jackalone demonstrated his new formula for clean air: EV + PV = 0. That is, driving an Electric Car (EV) charged with solar photovoltaic panels (PV) = 0 air pollution.

This isn't science fiction - it's new technology that's here now. Jackalone points the way to cleaner air and breaking our addiction to oil. In the past 2 years, industry and entrepreneurs have developed new choices that now allow us to drive cars without using any of BP's dirty, dangerous oil, and without creating any more smog - an important advance for Florida, where oil is as significant a source of air pollution as coal. The solution to pollution is free and abundant, especially in the Sunshine State.

Earlier that day, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster celebrated Earth Day by cutting the ribbon on the City’s 10 new electric vehicle charging stations. St. Petersburg City Councilman Karl Nurse said on this occasion: “We really believe that this is just one of many, many steps to move us to a greener, more sustainable community. It's encouraging to see the city at the front end of what we think will be the dramatic change of transportation in America." City Unveils 10 New Electric Car Charging Stations

At Sierra Club Florida, we think Councilman Nurse is right. At the press conference with Senator Nelson Sierra Club Healthy Air Campaign Regional Representative Phil Compton and Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch (above) called for the county to break its addiction to oil by investing in green transportation choices like light rail, expanded bus service and safer streets for bikes and pedestrians.
Florida ranks near the bottom when it comes to transportation alternatives like inter-city mass transit, light rail, rapid buses and safe walking/biking paths. The state's solution to congested roads has been to build more roads and widen existing ones. This does nothing to solve transportation problems - it only induces more traffic, increases vehicle miles traveled by the average driver and keeps our state vulnerable to high gas prices and the threat of offshore oil drilling. Due in part to Florida's expansive tourist industry, our reliance on oil is among the highest in the country.  This dangerous reliance has resulted in catastrophes like the BP oil disaster that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010.
Even after Tampa Bay and Sarasota residents finally get these choices that most Americans now enjoy, however, most people here will probably continue to drive their cars for most trips. That’s why making all cars more efficient is such an important way to improve Tampa Bay’s air quality. We’re now moving rapidly towards achieving the new 54.5 miles per gallon standard for vehicle efficiency by 2025, and new electric vehicles developed in just the past several years are a great new way to reduce or even totally eliminate one’s personal contribution to the air pollution that ruins so many spring days in Tampa Bay and Sarasota with dangerous smog.
With 100+ EV public charging stations installed in the past year ready to refuel electric cars anywhere in the Tampa Bay region, it’s now really possible for Florida Gulf Coast residents and visitors alike to move beyond the dependence on oil that now hammers our family budgets and is also the primary cause of our dangerously high ozone levels in the spring and fall.