Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Friday, December 09, 2005

Open letter to Oregon governor Ted Kulongoski

Dear Gov. Kulongoski and members of the Environmental Quality Commission,

Thank you for protecting the Oregon we love.

I applaud your efforts to bring Clean Cars to Oregon and make our state a leader in curbing global warming.

The auto industry is laying off thousand of workers now, and may be heading into a slump. Why? Because they are out of touch with consumers. Rather than build fuel-efficient cars using hybrid technology and other available methods, they have over-focused on speed, power and size, with the result that most of the available vehicle lineup gets poor gas mileage and is thus not very palatable to a large segment of the consuming marketplace. There are no waiting lists for any of the large American-made SUVs currently for sale; in fact, most American-made cars would not sell at all without huge incentive programs on the part of the auto companies. However, the hybrid vehicles in the market all have waiting lists. Why? Because the industry is out of touch with the market. When the industry sues Oregon or otherwise seeks to block the will of the people, it only alienates itself from the customer base even further. I expect that most American auto companies will either file for bankruptcy, be acquired by other auto companies or adopt a policy to make fuel-efficiency and alternative fuels their first priority within a fairly short timeframe, due to the current market forces.

I applaud you in your effort to try to force these companies to wake up to reality. They don't get it. You do. Thanks.

Garlynn G. Woodsong


The Clean Cars program will fight global warming by requiring automakers to use existing technology to reduce emissions from new cars and light trucks. By adopting the program, Oregon will continue its tradition of environmental leadership.

The Governor has pledged his support, and his Department of Environmental Quality has put forward a formal proposal to adopt the Clean Cars program. Oregon's Environmental Quality Commission will vote on the program on December 22.

But the auto industry is pulling out all the stops, including suing Oregon, to prevent the state from adopting the Clean Cars program. The auto industry lawsuit is likely to fail, but industry lobbyists have said that they "will use every arrow in our quiver to try to stop Oregon from adopting standards we disagree with."

While some in the auto industry opposes this effective program to clean up global warming pollution from cars and light trucks, Oregonians across the state support it. In just the last couple of months, more than 4,000 people have put their names on thank-you cards to the Governor, over 1,200 people sent in comments to the governor's task force on clean cars in support of the program, and over 3,000 people sent emails to auto dealerships and held rallies around Oregon urging dealerships to drop the lawsuit and instead support clean cars.

The December 22nd vote by the Environmental Quality Commission on rules proposed by Gov. Kulongoski's Department of Environmental Quality for the adoption of the Clean Cars program in Oregon is fast approaching.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A New Vision for American Development

THE BEST NEW IDEA SINCE SLICED BREAD the title of a contest being held by the SEIU, in an attempt to engage the citizenry in a national dialogue about how to rebuild the competitiveness of this country.

I've submitted an entry, which can be found at:

Other people have submitted ideas like teaching peace, not war, to the nation's children. This is a great idea. But what about all those people who drive around... with peace sign stickers on their bumpers? That is, consuming oil that has a good chance of coming from a foreign country where we go fight wars to ensure our access to the oil, all the while claiming that the solution is to embrace peace, not war.

Another idea is to use mass drivers to shoot our nuclear waste into space in sealed cartridges, presumably en route to the sun. I'm not sure this is such a good idea -- except that the mass driver might turn out to be the best way to get *anything* into space, except perhaps humans, depending on how the g-forces are calibrated for lift-off.

However, what about the country below? I would say that we need to rebuild the national public transportation system to include high-speed rail connecting the major regions, with fast, efficient, high-quality transit connecting all population centers of 1,000 people or more. New development of homes and jobs needs to be concentrated around this network, and business incubation/workforce training centers distributed near most of the hubs (stations) on the system. The idea is that most Americans who live in towns or cities would be able to walk/bike to the corner store and the transit station, and some of them even to work.

Job training centers could include union co-ops, which would make great additions to communities where jobs and housing are clustered around stations that act as hubs on an upgraded national public transportation system, one that is high-quality, high-speed, efficient and accessible to most Americans living in towns of 1,000 or more people.

Peace is just part of the picture. We can only have peace once we no longer have the internal demand within our country for oil that is externally produced. I think the big picture is to rebuild our national infrastructure so that jobs and housing can be concentrated mostly within walking distance of an upgraded national high-speed, high-quality public transportation system.

Development of homes and jobs should be concentrated around this upgraded national public transportation system, so that people can easily walk/bike from home to work to the corner store to the pub... without needing their cars. Also, workforce development and business incubation centers should be located near the hubs on this system, to further help kick-start the local economies.

We can find new transportation technologies, or use existing ones, but integrate them into a comprehensive national system, around which most new development of jobs and housing must be concentrated. I'm talking about a fast (high-speed in most cases), high-quality, efficient public transportation system that serves most towns and cities over 1,000 people in population. It would be built by union labor, but the Transit Oreinted Developments around it would incubate business and train workers for both union and non-union positions (it's hard to unionize people that work for themselves or in an extremely small/start-up business). I call this the new vision for American development, and it's expanded here:

What do you think?