Energy policy: What do you want?

What exactly do we want when it comes to an energy policy? A recent poll shows the public would rather seek new energy sources than significantly cut back on their usage. Are the polls correct?

That’s the question on the second hour (10 a.m.) of Midmorning today.

Carroll Doherty: associate director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press; Matt Wald, a reporter for the New York Times; and Frank Newport:, editor in chief of The Gallup Poll join Kerri Miller.

News Cut is live-blogging and providing your assessment. You can listen to the program and provide your commentary in the comments section below.


10:05 a.m. – We’re ready to go. You never know how these things are going to go. This topic should be interesting. Hopefully it’ll involve a minimum of self-righteousness.

10:09 a.m. – Here’s the Pew survey.


10:13 a.m. – Is $4 the “new normal?” Doherty asks. If so, how will this affect the spike in America’s attitudes toward drilling and exploration?

10:15 Caller “David,” who teaches science, says he’s disturbed by lack of framing question with “conversion” fossil fuels to alternative sources. Carroll Doherty says “that’s true, we just want to get a sense of where the public’s attitudes are.” Would’ve liked to do a fuller exploration of the public’s views, and says it’s notable that measures aimed at reducing consumption get overwhelming support. 90% say they favor higher CAFE standards and increased funding for mass transit. He says more and more Americans say expanded exploration have to be part of that mix.

Interesting — to me — is the comment of Todd below. He’s not buying that there isn’t some conspiracy behind all of this, what with the phony rolling blackouts in California and Enron’s shenanigans in the past.

10:22 a.m. – Matt Wald of the New York Times joins us and reacts to the point here on News Cut about trust. “I want to go back a step. I don’t think it matters whether you trust the oil companies or not.” Sigh. He says the supposition in the Pew poll is that the answer is going to affect the price. He doesn’t think it will because if you add supply, demand is still rising faster than supply. “We could find oil and we could find that the price went up anyway.”

10:26 a.m. – Interesting comment from Neil (which I may read on the air) in the comments section. If I read it correctly, we’re shoveling the living standards sand against the rising cost of energy tide.

10:29 a.m. – Beth calls to say the situation is a failure of environmental education, noting that the oceans and ANWR are under stress. The question I have, though, is whether people care to the degree, perhaps, they once did?

Matt Wald says the problem with polls is events move on. If you asked right after Katrina what’s our biggest problem, people would’ve said “global warming.” Now they’ve moved on to $4 gasoline. Polls don’t get oil wells dug. It’s companies deciding whether they can make money at it.

10:34 a.m. – During the news break, Kerri and I are chatting about the generation differences. Coincidentally, Jonna has jjust posted a comment say the young people have a sense of entitlement. “They don’t look at their consumption, they just want more.”

10:37 a.m. – We’re joined by Frank Newport of the Gallup Poll who says the issue has not surpassed Iraq as the chief concern in the country right now. He says people answering polls now are much more likely to respond to anything that “sounds like it might lower the price of gasoline.”

10:40 a.m. – The environmental aspect is still “the great divide” politically speaking, Newport says. He adds that it makes it more difficult for both McCain and Obama to move “toward the center” on the issue.

10:42 a.m. – Queried by Wald, Newport says Al Gore would be disappointed to learn that his climate change movie hasn’t changed peoples’ attitudes. Wald says the high price of natural gas may motivate more exploration.

10:47 a.m. – Just read Jonna’s comment on the air. Matt Wald responds, if the belief is we have a right to cheaper energy, we have a problem. If it’s that we can find alternative sources, then there’s hope. He says younger people are more likely to have the latter view than the former.

10:50 a.m. – Wald says he ‘runs for the exit’ when he hears the term energy independence. It’s not possible, he says.

10:51 a.m. — According to the poll above 93% of those surveyed favor conservation. According to the 93% of those passing me at 75 mph while I’m driving 55, there might be a high “you conserve, I’ll talk about you conserving” factor here.

10:53 a.m. – Wald says the next crisis may be electricity. Power lines aren’t being built, natural gas (which powers electric plants) are at a high price. “We’re going to feel it,” he says. Might want to go turn down the air conditioning.

10:54 a.m. – Wald responds to caller — and commenter — about the oil companies not drilling on land they already own. “The oil companies don’t seem convinced that $140 a barrel oil is here to stay.”

10:56 a.m. – Kerri says even if people are passing me at 75 mph, they might be conserving “in other ways.” Is that you. Let’s keep talking during the afternoon. I’ll meet you down in the comments section.

  • Tyler Suter

    It seems that people are confused about what the word sustainable truly entails. This sentiment expressed by the aforementioned poll was illustrated to me this weekend while I was up north on Cross Lake. While we were sitting on the patio of a restaurant, overlooking a busy channel of the lake, we saw countless huge, luxurious boats – mostly cigar boats – that undoubtedly sucked gas (my cousin estimated some of the bigger ones costing around $1,000 per tank of gas). If that was not enough, most of these boats would loop through the channel – to be seen of course – time and time again at idle speeds; keep in mind that these boats are of course designed for high speeds on large open bodies of water.

    Indeed it may be necessary to develop alternative fuels in order to sustain ourselves on this planet, but even when, and if, an alternative energy source is developed or discovered, we will have to take a look in the mirror in order to have a sustainable society. I must say though, at least people are willing to admit that changing personal habits is not an option.

  • Lawrence

    Our nation’s energy problem is a competitive one, not a supply one. Currently Big Oil faces very little competition, even among itself. If we find viable, less costly, alternative feuls, Big Oil will have no choice but to lower its rates. If we find more oil for them, however, they’re going keep charging us more money for the oil. Competitive balance is the only option for consumers.

  • Todd

    I don’t necessarily want to cry foul or sound like a conspiracy theorist but the whole Enron thing comes to mind with these energy prices. To my understanding, one company more or less, was the cause of the rolling blackouts in CA and they made a mint while it lasted. As a result, I don’t trust our energy companies or our energy policy for that matter. How can we know if this “crisis” is not some sort of sham? Is this just another Enron type manipulation of the markets to gain a desired outcome for the energy industries?

  • Katherine

    If this poll does represent the population as a whole, it is a strong indication that more education is needed.

    Conservation is easy, free, and immediate, and should be encouraged above all other energy measures. It is very unfortunate that the United States has not taken a leadership role in conservation of all natural resources, including oil and natural gas. I hope to see a change in policy beginning in January if not before.

  • Neil Bechtold

    I’m irritated with most peoples views on this matter. It is time for people to wake up and understand that the old way of life with oil & gas is in jeopardy, regardless of the drilling we do anywhere. We are going back to a simpler time that will require actual COMMUNITY ties & participation (not this insular experiment we have set up for ourselves).

    We completely underestimate the the toil (and as far as I’m concerned joy) of the years to come. I’ve had skepticism since I’ve watched Maple Grove erected. Was this sustainable?

    This statement from a Jenny Holzer plaque at the Walker’s sculpture garden says it all. It has been in the back of my mind since the end of college in 1995.

    “College bound students face the real prospect of downward mobility. Feelings of entitlement clash with the awareness if imminent scarcity. There is resentment of at growing up at the end of an era of plenty, coupled with the reassessment of conventional measures of success.”

  • Jim

    Why does it have to be an “either/or” question?

    Why can’t we do some drilling to ease the short term problem, while adding solar, wind, geothermal, etc along with conservation and the retirement of older objects that aren’t as efficient.?

  • Tyler Suter

    We can’t control what happens with big oil so we must conserve; it’s easy and each of us have total control over our own actions.

  • richard Schuster

    It’s hard for me to believe that people are saying that they want to focus less on conservation, when they are probably doing just that, by driving less, being watching the thermostat, buying more energy efficient appliences, etc. Is it possible that the people being asked don’t understand the question?

  • Ann

    It does appear that we need to face the reality that oil is a limited resource. Our earth does have a limit to what it can produce. Smart, forward thinking energy (ie. oil) companies will invest heartily into alternative energy sources (algae anyone? – http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22027663/)

    People in the oil industry will say that there is plenty of oil to be had, but the U.S. regulatory climate is such that it prohibits exploration in most of the places in the U.S. What about exploration off the Gulf Coast? Were you aware that China has explored for and found reserves off the Gulf coast? Oil that you think would be good for us to explore and sell to China. So, yes, I’m stradling the line, but I would agree with the caller that just spoke about we should be looking at sources closer to home in a less turbulent area (ie. let’s get out fo the Middle East and reliant on their sources)

  • Jared

    Wind, Solar, Hydroelectric, Biofuels(cellulostic – not edible plants), methane, geothermal, tidal, hydrogen.. can people add to this list of alternative technology? There are so many different options that can be used for power consumption, which can in turn be used to power a new generation of vehicles that don’t use fossil fuels. I wish there could be a mass change in what we do to solve our fuel problems. Don’t drill for more oil, lets do something else.

    In the 16th thru 19th centuries, oil was primarily from whales, which almost ceased to exist. We eventually moved from that to petroleum, and we are facing the same problems with that. Low supply, high prices. When will we move to something that is sustainable, like much of what i listed above?

  • Jonna

    It is interesting to see the large change in our young adults in this poll. Our young people in this country have a sense of entitlement. They are personally feeling this pinch now and like they have done their whole life, they do not look at their consumption, they just want more. So without having all the information about drilling ..etc. they are making a decision on the poll.

    Also I think our administration has done a wonderful job in creating a sense of fear around running out of oil, oh no!!!! How many men in our administration/government are personally affected by the oil industry?

  • Gary Miller

    The recent poll showing that Americans now support more drilling and less conservation is the ultimate victory for Bush, Cheney and Big Oil!

    Four-dollar-a gallon gas has people panicking so much that they’d support clubbling baby seals if that would result in more, chaeper gas!

    So now the oil companies will have carte blache to drill wherever they want, set even more profit records and get even more tax breaks. Mission accomplished!

  • Richard Fish

    I know that my opinions very often don’t match the majority. I feel that more exploration won’t solve the problem. The oil companies have exploited all of the “low hanging fruit.” The only reason future exploration and drilling feasible is that the price is up.

    We need to become more efficient and find renewable sources for energy. Those are the best ways to become energy self sufficient and reduce the pollution effects of our behavior. It seems that efficiency and conservation would have a more mediate affect on the price of fuel than more exploration.

    We need to protect what’s left of our wild places and protect what we have. Ask the people who went for more oil production if we could build on of the new refineries on their block.

  • Chris Wilson

    What about the “moral” aspect of driving the big SUVs all these years when predictions of the current fuel price “crisis” was clear more than 20 years ago. What have people been thinking would happen?

  • Ben

    Exploration is not a short term solution, it takes years to get a new field online and even then the supply produced will only be a small fraction of USA demand.

  • http://www.prairiecreek.org Michelle Martin

    My fourth and fifth grade students did a case study about ANWAR and discovered that the oil was a decade away from reaching the market and that the amount of oil was very small compared to what we are using currently. They decided that conservation was a better, more immediate solution. They were able to see a larger picture, even at their young age. But it takes a deeper level of education than the mantra, “Reduce, reuse and recycle” — we really have to know why we should conserve to help us make that decision when times are difficult.

  • Rex

    Where does the fact that oil companies are choosing not to drill in many (most?) of the areas on which they already have leases play into this discussion?

  • Christian

    Where do people think we are going to get this oil from. The best guess is we have 20billion barrels offshore, and like 100 or so million in ANWR. That is two years worth of oil for the US, not even counting the increase in demand over the ten years of exploration and development. We have made our bed and now we have to sleep in it. When Carter was in office he tried to get everyone off oil and make a switch to renewable energy but the country decided we would bomb the Middle East instead. Now we are nearly out of the oil that is easy to get at and the Majority of people in the U.S. don’t even know it because they have been listening to the right wing lye about how much oil we have.

    On Global Heating it is a self correcting problem, once all of the people are dead Global Heating will cease.

  • bsimon

    How about taxing fuel sources based on the real cost they impose on the economy? If a fuel is a pollutant, add a tax that charges the cost of cleanup to the user of the fuel. Our current system ignores such costs; i.e. coal burning power plants pay only the cost of mining & transporting the coal – once its burned, the emissions aren’t the problem of that facility. Instead, people downwind pay the price through increased rates of asthma & emphysema, possibly through the impact of acid rain, etc. While we can’t necessarily account for all the costs, perhaps we should at least start trying to do so – then let the market decide which fuels are most appropriate.

  • Lois

    Most people do not realize that U.S. drilling has already exploded – since 2000, the number of wells drilled in this country increased 66%, the price at the pump in the same timeframe more than doubled – drilling more does not help consumers, only oil companies.

    Arctic Refuge drilling really won’t help – only changing the price of a barrel of oil by approx. 75 cents, when at peak production (est. 2027) which really only comes down to a few pennies per gallon – in 20 years…. again no help for us today.

    Plus the EIA new report shows that in the last three years, due to alternative technologies and conservation, the projected need to import oil between now and 2050 has dropped by 100 billion barrels – already we’ve done the needed work – reduced demand! We’ve saved more than 10x the oil than we would ever get from the Arctic Refuge.

    It is time to move to new energy technologies and away from the old sources (fossil fuels), drilling more is not the answer – we need to continue to protect America’s natural treasures like the Arctic Refuge.

  • Ross

    Those calling for new drilling should realize that there is a better way to increase fuel supplies: a flex fuel mandate combined with the elimination of import taxes on ethanol.

    Brazilian-sugar-cane ethanol is some eight times more efficient than ethanol made from corn. It’s also cheaper. Dropping the current import tax would spur Brazilian imports, lower the cost of ethanol-blended gas, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by displacing oil and corn-based ethanol. Demand from American drivers might also support ethanol imports from farmers in Africa and other poor equatorial nations, which receive more sunlight than the American Midwest.

    Finally, engineers who have studied the idea of a flex-fuel mandate agree that it would cost relatively little on a per-car basis. (The mandate is also supported by at least one of the two presumptive Presidential candidates.) Instead of more drilling, let’s talk about this low-cost option for low-carbon energy.

  • tony

    How about we make automobile transportation support itself? I get a kick out of NRA members in Coon Rapids complaining that they don’t want to pay for buses and light rail, when they are driving on the most subsidized system in the world; roads, bridges, and interstate highways all paid for by general fund tax dollars. How about shifting all the costs of driving cars to car drivers?

    Including buying public lands that roads and bridges use (50%+ of all land in the city limits) and contributing the lost tax revenue on those spaces. Also charge tab fees that are relative to the mpg of the vehicle being licensed, a scooter would be free, a 35mpg car would be 500$ a year, and a Ford Excursion or Hummer @ 8mpg would be 6000$ a year. People need to start paying the REAL costs of everything they consume. If we don’t start building the awesome train systems they have in London/Rome/Paris no one is going to want to live here in the future, and Minneapolis will be another Ohio or Michigan in another 10-20 years.

  • Joe Schaedler

    It’s about time we hit $4/gallon prices for oil, because that is the only way other than some sort of apocalyptic disaster that would drive people to alter their energy use practices.

    That said, off shore drilling appears to em to be a short-sighted short-term solution. For example, ANWAR has an estimated 10 billion barrels of oil total. The USA consumes 20 million barrels of oil every day. Do the math and see that all the oil in ANWAR, if it did indeed all wind up going to our domestic market, would only service 500 days of our oil use. That wold last us less time than has passed since the day Katrina hit New Orleans.

    Once opened, the price of oil would not decrease while we exhaust our last reserves we have left, and once exhausted, we would just be back in the same desparate condition we face today.

    We need something more permanent than an off-shore drilling band-aid, and it is incumbent on our people, politicians, and journalists to all become vigilant in searching for more lasting solutions to our present-day energy crisis fbefore it becomes a future-term energy catastrophe.

  • Andy Thompson

    It’s about time the environmental reality (oil is not sustainable) is reflected with an economic one (low gas prices are not sustainable). It’s irrelevant whether people change their driving habits out of personal environmental concern or because their pocketbook is hurting; I’m just glad it’s finally happening.

  • Bill

    Can you help me understand why the oil companies are not using the leases they already have and they are looking for more areas to explore. Are these areas already scheduled for developement and the new areas for 10 years out.

  • Jeremy Haugen

    I HATE when people try to point to our short term difficulties as a result of Global Warming.

    Particularly, the wildfires in California.

    There have ALWAYS been wildfires in California… it has always been part of the ecology of that region. The mudslides that are a result of the wildfires are caused by the geology of that region.

    We create more ecological problems when we choose to live in areas that are not suited to human habitation. The wildfires and mudslides wouldn’t be a problem if people didn’t live there!

  • tony

    Hydrogen and Ethanol are complete political boon- doggles, both require far more energy and infrastructure to make and consume then they supply.

    Either one of these solutions is akin to powering the world by burning Futons. First you clear the land of trees, then you plan trees, then you harvest the trees, then you manufacture the trees into Futons, then you grind up the Futons into small pellets, and then finally burn then in a pellet stove. Sound silly, well it’s just as silly as ethanol and hydrogen, both are just low density ways of inefficient ways of storing carbon. Conservation, solar energy (voltaics, wind, bio), and a better battery are the near term answer.

  • Christian

    Hey Bob I ride the bike

  • Beth Jones

    When are we going to be asked to do something about energy conservation instead of complaining?

    It’s about time that this conversation is happening. The answer is not fossil fuels. Let’s put our brains together to figure out what is good for the planet.

    Also, why not restrict how fast cars can go?

    We need limits forced upon us. Remember when people didn’t want to wear their seat belts?

    Mass transit.

    Encourage living near where you work.

  • AJ

    I think we should add another gauge to our vehicles that can show the amount of money we are spending per mile. Perhaps a dollar figure tied to a more “in your face” measurement will help us slow down to conserve on a more individual basis.

  • Christian

    Tony-

    I tend to agree with you except Biology might have a way to make Hydrogen cheep and easy. I think the answer might be somewhere in Biology, although I know the science has an almost equal chance of killing us all.

  • Bob Collins

    Christian:

    The bike thing is fascinating. You have to be very altruistic to be a bike rider-commuter. As I noted recently, my attempt to save money recently got a slap of cold water when I spent more on Gatorade than gasoline.

  • Peter

    People are focusing to much on how much they are paying for gas. The problem is that a persons pocketbook will always come first and they feel its the governments responsibility to keep gas prices low.

    The government cannot control gas prices, but it can implement other regulations and projects that could create alternatives.

    Personally I’ve seen millions of dollars (maybe billions?) put into bigger roads (494 35W). The state will never be able to keep up with the traffic by building new roads. Instead of an extra lane on 35 they should have put in a train or lightrail along there.

    Right now mass transit in the metro seems mediocre at best. The bus system is generally well covered and well utilized, but it is still limited and not as frequent as some require.

    Granted these aren’t fast fixes which most people want. The Light Rail from Mpls to St. Paul alone is going to take to 2014 atleast. It still boggles my mind how there wasn’t some sort of train between the two cities already.

    People need to reduce their dependency on driving their cars in general. A social change is the only way anything positive will happen.

  • Christian

    Bob-

    It may have started out as altruistic but I have found I really like the chance to ride everyday and the reduction of my waist and increase in my wallet are nice features also. As for Gatorade, just go with water. Unless you are traveling a long distance on a hot day you are better off with water any way and no plastic bottle.

  • Brian

    Bob,

    I started riding my bike to work and it has been great. I think water could be a great alternative to gatorade if you want to save money (alternative bike riding energy) if you don’t buy bottled water.

    I would also like to address the general topic of our opinion on offshore drilling. I am scared about the future (30-40 years later) when our short term fix has run out and we are faced with the exact problem we have today, except we have no backup energy reserve. If we somehow lower the price of gas with offshore drilling (drilling apparently is unlikely to lower gas prices) then we go back to our complacency of cheap gas until the next crisis comes around. We need to actually become energy independent which means putting money into alternative energies and conservation.

  • tony

    Christian- Yes, I agree, the hydrogen creating algae idea I here about recently sounds much more promising than turning natural gas (which you could burn directly in a car with little modification) into hydrogen. As long as we’re not ‘repackaging’ one fossil fuel or food into another or trying disprove the laws of thermodynamics.

  • Brian

    I think that an important part of changing our dependence on fossil fuel based energy is due to our current infrastructure. The idea that our energy has to come from one source. For example, our electricity comes from excel’s power plants or our gas comes from Shell/BP/etc.

    Instead of a centralized ideology, it may be advantageous to spread out our energy production. Lets we want to start using hydrogen to power our cars and don’t want to use fossil fuels to create energy and store it in another form, hydrogen. What if we equipped each hydrogen fuel station with a large solar array that was dedicated only to electrolysis to create hydrogen. This would be much more efficient since there is no transportation of costs and no electricity degradation due to power lines. I am aware that solar panels will need to become more efficient to accomplish this but I feel that the decentralization of energy production is an important answer to our problems.

  • tony

    Funny, We had an amazing 24x7x365 heated street car system in place here you could take from Stillwater to Excelsior 50 years ago. It was bought up and dismantled by GM/Firestone/Standard Oil, after use trailed off in the late 50′s (when we were brainwashed into building this poorly designed highway system we have). You can still see the cobble stones and rails buried under the asphalt on 44th from SW Minneapolis through Edina. If you’re living on a old busy street with double set backs, chances are it was an old street car right of way. Sounds like an amazing system, all built back in the teens’ & twenties when the average person didn’t have a pot to piss in and the population was 10 times less than it is now. I think people secretly yearning for a leader to ask them to make some long term modest sacrifices and built a lasting infrastructure & community for the next century. To bad there isn’t anyone out there. I thought maybe Obama might inspire that, but he’s been backtracking some much lately it looks like more of the McSame.

  • steve

    The whole issue of more exploration for oil vs concern for the environment and climate change shows the incredible lack of leadership we have had in this country for 20 years. The last leader on the issue was Ronald Reagan and he took us in the wrong direction, which leaves us in the predicament that we are in today. If this is left to public opinion nothing will happen until the problems are so overwhelming that we may not be able to address them. Any new exploration will not do anything to change prices in the next few years. We need a commitment to alternative energy and major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions now, not decades from now.

  • Joe Schaedler

    A crucial potential for conservation would be the introduction of initiatives to encourage more Americans to use Mass Transit to reach their workplaces.

    If most people who work sedentary jobs out of static office spaces used a communal form of transit to go to/from their workplace, our overall oil consumption would be greatly reduced.

    I believe there was some sort of proposed federal legislation this year to increase subsidies for mass transit fares. That would be a carrot in the right direction towards this end. However, the proposal is probably too small to make any major difference.

  • tony

    Agreed, the remaining energy we do have in the ground will be needed to ‘get us over the hump’ while we’re building the future decentralized energy infrastructure, transport system, and economy. It should be kept high priced to decrease it’s usage, create incentive, and ensure it’s there to make the leap to new technologies. Unfortunately we’re still going to have to burn a lot of carbon to get off the liquid carbon teet. Simply finding a way to reduce the price per gallon is unsustainable folly. Just like the subprime medicine, someone’s going to have to take the hit and retire all these 6000lb single passenger vehicles, at least scrap iron is at record prices.

  • Scott Travis

    Thank you Bob and everyone for tuning in! I’ve noticed threads in the discussion here about developing a carbon tax and Al Gore’s leadership in the anti-global warming movement. So I’m reminded of Al Gore’s recent last-minute endorsement of Al Franken in our DFL Senate race over Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer. Franken promotes cap and trade for carbon mitigation, while Nelson-Pallmeyer promotes using a carbon tax as Al Gore himself has said is superior to the compromised cap and trade programs debated lately. Is Gore retreating to his old failed triangulating habits? I hate to think so since his work over the last few years has shined so much. When citizens, activists, and polling subjects detect or suspect dishonesty and intellectual breakdown in movement leaders they’ll lose faith in the movement and retreat to self-defense. Gallup’s new poll might be reflecting some of this self-defense. Moreso I’m afraid that the poll is mostly reflecting increased absorption of right-wing disinformation. As people get more scared their personal budgets and energy costs, think tanks reframe the “climate change” issue to “energy security” as in McCain’s campaign and to “energy independence” as in many campaigns in both major parties. Friends don’t let their friends’ minds get colonized!!

  • Katherine

    How am I, personally, conserving, since I preach the conservation mantra?

    My thermostat is set at 63 in winter, 82 in summer, on the rare days it is on. We dry our laundry outside in summer, inside in winter (where it humidifies the air).

    I make a conscious decision about whether driving needs to occur, every day.

    I make many things at home so that they are not purchased in plastic after being transported many miles. I buy no convenience foods, bake our bread, etc.

    We use non-petroleum based and recycled products wherever possible, for instance vegetable-based dish detergent and 100% recycled toilet paper. We don’t use disposable products other than TP.

    We don’t get bags at stores. We bring our own, to any store we visit.

    We don’t water our lawn. Grass is very difficult to kill, and leaving it a bit longer to withstand drought, not using chemical fertilizers (grass clippings are sufficient) or pesticides, and not watering it add up to a great system. It’s safe for everyone, and we don’t have to mow it in the hottest weather (with our non-gas mower). I’m also working on replacing grass with easier-care plants over time, to reduce our work more.

    We compost. Why not put all those vitamins back into our own garden? Plus, it significantly reduces the weight of the garbage that trucks haul away from our house.

    I could go on but I’ll stop now. My point is that all of these things are easy to do, in many cases requiring less human activity than the “standard” alternative. I think more people would conserve – and reduce, reuse, recycle – if they were aware of how oil finds its way into every product that is out there.

  • c

    I have an idea. It might be illegal but unless they catch you it’s not.

    If you are looking to car pool to work and do not know anyone who works in the same area and really do not care for using the MTC, I suggest you write up a sign. The sign would be sort of like those “will work for food signs” only yours would say “looking to rideshare to (insert destination here) for 1 dollar or whatever you are willing to contribute to the driver. You stand at the metered lights on the onramps to the freeway to your destination and slowly solicitate your needs to the on coming drivers proceeding to the freeway. This way you are not blocking traffic because the cars are driving slow enough not to cause any problems. I think that this is a good use of those metered lights for the freeway.

  • c

    OOOOOOOR

    Lets say you live in Woodbury. All you need to do is drive your whoppin’- monster- sized-gas-guzzlin’- pain -in -the- economy-BURDEN-to -society- SUV that fits 10 people. Drive over to the Woodbury movie theater behind Target where the MTC’rs wait for the bus. They’re all going to Minneapolis so there’s at least a quick 10 bucks for gas right there.

    you could even put a sign on your car saying “Minneapolis or Bust”

  • John

    Have you taken a flight at night recently? Why are there so many road lights on at 2 and 3 in the morning? In empty public buildings? Empty parking lots? Could our local governments not lead by example and shut street lights down nationwide at 2 or 3 in the morning? (half of them?) I have driven many places without street lights and guess what? My car was able to light the way just fine!

    Why do we constantly hear that we should convert our bulbs to the low wattage type when our leadership can’t see they left the lights on outside all night long… How much would we save in energy costs by just limiting late night / early morning lighting that is probably not doing anyone any good?

  • c

    night lights are a safety issue.

  • John

    On driving 55.

    I want to drive 55. I try to remember driving 55, but I don’t. I know I will save gas, yet like most Americans, I need to get there NOW. Also, driving 55 feels dangerous when everyone behind you is going 70 and upset at your low rate of speed.

    What I crave is real leadership on this issue. Make it the law drive 55 again like we did in the 1970′s.

    Someone needs to stand up and say, “Our mandate now as Americans is to conserve” Make conservation as American a process as the space race. A real leader can spin the message in such a way that we will drink the medicine and feel good about it.

  • Bob Collins

    //OOOOOOOR

    Lets say you live in Woodbury. All you need to do is drive your whoppin’- monster- sized-gas-guzzlin’- pain -in -the- economy-BURDEN-to -society- SUV that fits 10 people. Drive over to the Woodbury movie theater behind Target where the MTC’rs wait for the bus.

    I live in Woodbury. I drive a Chevy Cavalier.

    And in your attempt to castigate the people of Woodbury, you fail to point out that the buses that leave there are packed to the gills every day, and have been since the day service was inaugurated.

    There are people who are working hard to be efficient and the danger in coming up with a working policy is avoiding class warfare in the process.

  • c

    /There are people who are working hard to be efficient and the danger in coming up with a working policy is avoiding class warfare in the process./

    please elaborate.

    what is wrong with the idea of car pooling especially if the buses are ‘packed to the gills’

    I personally prefer not to travel like a sardine.

  • c

    /I live in Woodbury. I drive a Chevy Cavalier. /

    watergate…castigate….I think that you have misunderstood me.

    I was only pointing out that those who live in Woodbury and drive a SUV could maximize gas usage by pooling some bussers and cutting their own gas costs. No castigation intended.

  • tony

    A great bunch of articles on the topic.

    http://www.motherjones.com/toc/2008/05/index.html

  • Cal

    1. If you ask about Katrina today, maybe many of us think it was NOT due to global warming, but that a city that is below sea level, that should never have been built in the first place, was hit by a hurricane that was well within the realm of statistical probability. Is every naturally occurring event due to global warming? I heard a lot of dire predictions about hurricane seasons becoming much worse – it hasn’t happened.

    2. Hasn’t anyone taken economics? I think that CAFE should be improved, but it just may be that supply and demand has a bigger influence our buying decisions. Big SUVs are a hard sell with the price of gas. Does the government have to influence every decision I make with another tax, policy or restrictions on drilling? If we didn’t have the artificial shortages imposed by government, I would benefit with lower energy prices and you would too.

    3. ANWR consists of 19.6 million acres. 1.5 million acres can be explored. Only 2000 acres can be developed. That’s 0.01%. Considering how barren this land is, how will development affect anything? Have you planned your ANWR vacation yet?

    4. I do see a lot more people riding scooters to save money. Too bad EVERY ONE I have seen is a two stroke and pollutes in ways that are very measurable and they stink too. Four stroke models are better, but economics forces the choice for the inexpensive two stroke polluter. They would contribute less real pollution by driving a car. Too bad government policies make fuel so expensive.

    5. I loved the comment at the end about how someone else should conserve. That kinda reminds me of Al Gore. Just how big is his house again? How much energy does it use? It’s time to start questioning the preacher about his sermon, and whether he lives it.

  • http://www.cleanairchoice.org Bob Moffitt

    What do I want? I want to see that Marlboro sign on your graphic replaced with an E85 price sign.

    But that’s just how I roll.

  • C

    /I loved the comment at the end about how someone else should conserve. /

    CAL-

    I am HAPPY you liked my comment. I am not Al Gore so I can’t speak for him. I would think that he does THINK about his daily intake planet consumption.

    My point about the monster trucks is only a suggestion, an answer to putting them to good use-getting more bang for their buck so to speak. (Wingers love this).

    I see from your comment that you are one of the many with their heads still in the sand on Global Warming. We truly are in a planetary shift, with the earth healing itself through cleansing. I live up the cliff from the Mississippi and I plan that before I pass I will have beach front and palm trees for my front yard. It will be on the shoreline of the Gulf of Misssissippi

  • http://www.toddsuomela.com/ecec/ Todd Suomela

    I just wanted to add some information on the question of night lights. The truth is that night lights have very little to do with safety. A group called Civil Twilight has been doing some very interesting research on the history of street lighting and how to change the system to conserve more energy.

    According to their research street lighting accounts for 38 percent of the electricity used for lighting in the U.S. Moreover the current standards for street lighting were set in the 1930s when lighting was used to manage electric demand not provide safety.

    Quote:

    Perhaps the most fascinating fact that the collective’s research revealed, however, is a little-known detail about the history of electricity: in the 1930s, with the spread of electrification and the consolidation of utilities, streetlights became a convenient way to off-load excess energy from the grid at night, when power demands dropped significantly. This intentionally inefficient system determined the norm for nighttime outdoor lighting levels, a standard that has not been revised since, even though the need for off-loading ended in the 1970s. What we now assume is a safety measure is in fact the forgotten remnant of an obsolete energy practice.

    The above quote is from a longer story at Metropolis Magazine.

  • c

    Metropolis Magazine.

    Oh yeah…I’ve heard of that one. Todd I am not buying your schpeal on the lighting. and there are alot of crap magazines out there full of opinions, not facts.

    Lets take a real life situation. Have you ever driven out in the country where there is no lighting?….I would guess if you are a responsible driver you need to slow down lotsa. Even if you are driving on a length of freeway where the lights are out, driving gets difficult.

    Go ahead and putthe lights out to save a couple bucks but I would expect quite a few more accidents.