"Look - it's a bird, it's a plane ... no, it's EcoGirl!"

Ask EcoGirl

A syndicated eco-advice column
Written by Patricia Dines

"Encouraging the eco-hero in everyone!"

"Making it easy to be green!"

This Month's Column:
Building the Electric Highway

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Building the Electric Highway

By Patricia Dines
Published in the Sonoma County Gazette
July 2012
(c) Patricia Dines, 2012. All rights reserved.

As we consider how to better align our activities with the planet's ways and our true shared best interests, one of the more vital but challenging questions is how we can avoid the harm caused by our petroleum-powered vehicles.

The negative impacts of our gas cars and trucks include: smog; acid rain; health problems such as asthma and cancer; greenhouse gases (GHG) that trap in too much heat and disrupt the world's weather systems; and damage to people and the planet from oil's extraction and transport.

Using gas also make us vulnerable to rising gas prices. These can occur when limited oil supplies lead us to drill in places difficult physically and politically. But we need to address that without sacrificing health or ecosystems!

A key part of the solution is for us all to reduce our petroleum use, at both the individual and community levels. (See www.patriciadines.info/EcoGirl3j.html.)

An Electric Opportunity

However, a more long-term solution is for us to avoid using fossil fuel in our vehicles at all. But it's been challenging to find an easy replacement fuel.

That's where electric vehicles (EVs) come in, including plug-in hybrids. These cars and trucks can avoid emissions and access more eco-friendly electric energy as it's implemented.

Thankfully, EVs are finally becoming more available to consumers. You can even rent them -- to support the technology, assess them for possible purchase, and impress your eco-friends!

However, the EV strategy does need a network of public charging stations, so that folks can "refuel" at work, or while traveling, visiting a winery, staying at a hotel, parked at the airport, etc.

Thus it's been exciting to see various folks helping to "jump start" EVs by installing this key infrastructure.

Sonoma County's "Electric Trail"

Valuable work in this arena has been happening locally. For instance, the County of Sonoma recently announced plans to install up to 100 EV charging stations, for use by county vehicles and the public. Funding comes from state and federal grants, plus local governments. The intention, says Supervisor Shirlee Zane, is to help "build our economy, maintain our quality of life, and protect our environment."

The City of Santa Rosa is also installing charging stations, funded by a federal grant and available to the public for $1 an hour. And free stations are available at businesses such as the Santa Rosa Plaza and Coddingtown mall.

Because of actions like these, our county has earned recognition as the Bay Area's most EV-ready community!

Building out our EV charging infrastructure offers us multiple benefits, including: helping us achieve our county's GHG reduction targets, supporting the EV industry and its jobs, improving our health and quality of life, and helping lower people's vehicle operating costs.

Plus it helps position us as an eco-tourism destination by serving EV drivers. Ah, that sweet spot where both our ecosystems and economy flourish!

"Low carbon" eco-transportation options might even be key to the survival of our tourism industry and economy, if price increases make gas-powered travel just too expensive for most folks.

California Is Supporting EVs

Governor Jerry Brown also recently announced that the state will have $100 million to fund over 10,000 EV charging stations, including in the Bay Area. This money is from a $120 million settlement with NRG Energy, to resolve claims from the energy crisis ten years ago. (The remaining $20 million will go towards reducing rates for utility customers.)

Brown has also signed an executive order setting specific targets for reducing our car-generated air pollution, with the goal that by 2050 virtually every vehicle on our roads will be emission-free.

It makes me so happy to see people tangibly acting for a better world. I encourage everyone to help support and create success stories like these.

Celebrating EcoGirl's Fifth Anniversary

On another note, I'm now celebrating five years writing this Ask EcoGirl column. Woo hoo! I invite you to peruse past columns at www.AskEcoGirl.info, and connect with my ongoing eco-info and actions at www.facebook.com/AskEcoGirl. See my other projects and services at www.patriciadines.info.

And, for more about the stories mentioned here, see www.patriciadines.info/EcoGirl6a.html.

 • • •

Ask EcoGirl is written by Patricia Dines, Author of The Organic Guides, and Editor and Lead Writer for The Next STEP newsletter. Email your questions about going green to <EcoGirl [at] AskEcoGirl.info> for possible inclusion in future columns. View past columns at <www.AskEcoGirl.info>.

You can also become a Facebook fan of "Ask EcoGirl", to show your support and stay in touch! Join at www.facebook.com/AskEcoGirl.

"EcoGirl: Encouraging the eco-hero in everyone."

© Copyright Patricia Dines, 2012. All rights reserved.


* For more about charging stations, as well as charging at home, see www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/fuels/electricity_infrastructure.html and www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charging_station.
* A summary of the resources for finding stations is at www.fastcoexist.com/1677926/how-to-find-electric-car-charging-stations-and-fast. Also see www.chargepoint.net.
* More about Sonoma County's EV stations is at www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20120123/ARTICLES/120129841 and www.sonoma-county.org/prmd/docs/misc/ev_prog_guidelines.pdf.
* Read about Santa Rosa's stations at www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20120501/ARTICLES/120509937/1350?Title=Santa-Rosa-readies-its-electric-vehicle-charging-stations
* For more on local eco-tourism and renting eco-cars, see my page www.healthyworld.org/EcoTourismLinks.html
* Read about the NRG settlement, the state's funding of EV installation, and Gov. Brown's executive order to support EVs at www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20120323/WIRE/120329735/1350?p=all&tc=pgall and www.gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=17463.
* Read more about Sonoma County as an eco-tourism destination, in my NorthBay biz article, "Green Getaways" at www.patriciadines.info/a_NBbGreenGetaways11.html.
* And email me if you want to get on my low-volume email list to receive email announcements when my various articles are available! (Email me at: ecogirl [at] askecogirl.info. Put "Request writing announcement list" in the Subject line.)


I'm delighted to offer you my Ask EcoGirl booklets, "Healthier Housecleaning" and "Detoxing Your Life." These unique, handy, and cheerful resources bring together key information you need to create a healthier home for your family and the planet. They make a great gift, and quantity discounts and wholesale prices are available. Plus all sales support my eco-healing community work. Tell a friend! Find out more at www.askecogirl.info/booklets.html.


For more information on this and related eco-topics, see my other Ask EcoGirl columns.


Ask EcoGirl is written by Patricia Dines, Author of The Organic Guides, and Editor and Lead Writer for The Next STEP newsletter, which gently educates readers about toxics and alternatives. For more information about my work for the planet, see www.patriciadines.info

Sign up for my low-volume writing announcement list (1-3 emails a month), to get emails when my new print articles are published, at www.patriciadines.info/EList.

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Explore and sign up for my blog at www.patriciadines.info/LTEblog.

I hope that you find this information useful. I welcome your throughts and feedback! (You can email me at info [at] askecogirl.info.)

Editors: Please contact me if you'd like to publish any of these articles in your periodical, or discuss an article that I might write for you.

This entire website is (c) Patricia Dines, 1998-2012. All rights reserved.
Page last updated 06/25/2012