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Posts Tagged ‘oil’

Willamette Week reports on a family on a low-car diet, courtesy of ZipCar.  They’re not totally car-free, but they’re not using their personal car — just bus, bike, feet, carpool, and the occasional ZipCar.  

This is really appealing to me.  I’d like to be car-free.  We don’t, however, have any ZipCars near us.  So far, ZipCar hasn’t seen any need to serve East County.  So I’m still hesitant to actually sell the car, as there probably will be times when we need/want one.  I will also have to convince my husband that we can do it.

Anyone have a car-free story to share?  Or a link to a good story?

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Non-Portlanders, bear with me — this is a local issue, but it’s probably the sort of thing that may come up in your area too (or perhaps it already has).

Summary of the situation:  I-5 crosses the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington.  The bridge there (actually two side-by-side spans) is in need of repair/replacement/expansion due to age and increased traffic. The current Locally Preferred proposal (so designated by six local partner agencies) would “replace the existing Interstate Bridges to carry I-5 traffic, light rail, pedestrians and bicyclists across the Columbia River. The new bridges will not have a bridge lift. They will carry three through-travel lanes and up to three auxiliary lanes for entering and exiting the highway in each direction. Like today, northbound and southbound traffic would be on separate bridges.”

Problem:  Naturally, not everyone agrees with this plan.  Some think it will just encourage more car traffic and urban sprawl.  Some think we shouldn’t bother with light rail, just cars.

Why am I thinking about this today? President Bush has just designated the I-5 bridge replacement as a high priority project, which will make it happen much faster.

What I think:  I’m strongly in favor of alternative transportation.  I think we need to get out of our cars — and yes, I need to do better with that, too.  However, we aren’t going to eliminate all car and truck traffic.  In fact, one of the main reasons for fixing the I-5 bridge problem is that I-5 is a major truck route, transporting goods up and down the west coast.

We also need to have a safe crossing for the cars, trucks and busses that are on the road.   We don’t need a bridge collapsing into the Columbia River.

So, I think we do need a new bridge, along with the promised pedestrian/bike/transit upgrades.  As far as preventing increased congestion and sprawl goes, I think that’s another matter entirely.  We do need major lifestyle changes — but we’ve got to convince people in some other way, not by bottlenecking traffic or by allowing a bridge to fall into disrepair.

However, the issue is even more complex than thatOther potential problems include contamination of Vancouver, Washington’s drinking water resulting from bridge construction, air and noise pollution affecting residents near the construction site (many of them low income), and possible effects on endangered species of fish in the Columbia River.

After reading all of that today, I’m still somewhat reluctantly in favor of the current proposal.  I think it best balances the needs of area residents.  I do think the project managers should be required to take all possible measures to protect the environment and area residents, though.

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This is really p*ssing me off.

Especially this quote:  “Now the ball is squarely in Congress’ court,” he added. “Democratic leaders can show that they have finally heard the frustrations of the American people by matching the action I have taken today.”

As I’ve said before, making new offshore oil leases available will accomplish exactly nothing — except to put more money in the oil companies’ pockets.

Members of Congress, Republican, Democrat, or Independent, can show us they care by taking action to make alternative forms of transportation and energy available to more people.  That won’t be easy, but it is necessary.

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So, Bush and McCain want to end the so-called ban on offshore oil drilling, in the name of lower gas prices and lessening our dependence on foreign oil.  There’s at least one problem with that idea, though.

They’re lying to you — or at least misleading you.

There’s plenty of offshore drilling going on. Seen Armageddon? People are using those offshore rigs — they’ve never been banned.  There are certain areas which have a moratorium on new drilling and new leases.  There are other areas where offshore oil rigs are still operating.  And according to the Associated Press, oil companies currently have 68 million acres in undeveloped oil leases outside the moratorium area, where they could still drill if they wanted to.

Under the moratorium, the government simply hasn’t been giving new leases to oil companies. That’s what Republicans want to give the oil companies — new offshore leases.

The oil companies don’t need them. They’re not fully using the leases they currently have! What the Republicans would do is give the oil companies additional “land” that they could then hold on to for the future. And in that future, when oil really has become scarce, they’ll be able to gouge us even more.

Speaking of gouging, ending the moratorium is highly unlikely to lower the price of gas at this time.  Factcheck.org says that according to a government report, opening additional offshore drilling opportunites wouldn’t have any impact on oil supply or on gas prices until 2030.  John McCain even recognized this in a speech on June 23.  “Even though it may take some years, the fact that we are exploiting those reserves would have psychological impact that I think is beneficial.”

Holy smokes.

The hard truth is that gas prices are not going to go down; at least not significantly.  The only way out of this is to CUT OUR OIL CONSUMPTION. We have to stop using the oil wherever we can.  We need to develop alternative energy sources, and we need to walk, bike, and use public transportation.

Some people aren’t currently in a situation where these methods are affordable or even possible.  Federal, state and local governments will need to act to make public/alternative transportation accessible and affordable for more people.

We need to face the facts and move forward, instead of holding on to an unsustainable way of life.

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