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Archive for September, 2008

The Southeast is out of gas and Congress wants to drill

We are finally beginning to see a little national news coverage, but cities like Charlotte, Atlanta, Greenville, Birmingham– and all spaces in between– are eyebrow-deep in a two-week-old gas shortage that doesn’t seem to have an end, even though our elected officials continue to tell us gas is on the way.

Thursday, I drove an hour to find a gas station that had gasoline. I don’t mean I drove around in circles all over town, I mean I chose a highway and drove down that highway, passing numerous stations what were completely out of gasoline, for an hour until I found one station– way out in the country– that had gas. You know what else they had? Lines. Really long lines.

Click here for a Charlotte Observer photo gallery chronicling the Queen City’s gas shortage.

Watch a CNN video report on the shortage, filmed the Atlanta metropolitan area, where CNN is headquartered.

At the same time, Congress lifts a 26-year-old off-shore drilling ban, even though energy experts report it will take 10 years to even begin drilling, another 10-15 years to extract oil… oh, and that they’re working with 30-year-old studies.

Randa Fahmy Hudome, a lobbyist for Libia who is married to a McCain advisor and who just so happens to be an energy expert who served as associate deputy secretary of energy in the current Bush White House, said these very things in an interview with MSNBC Sunday. She thinks there is an argument to be made for the psychological affect the ban-lift will have.

Meaning: maybe the oil companies will feel so much better about the future of drilling, and sustaining their trillion dollar profits (no kidding), that they’ll drop prices. Right.

Why aren’t we focusing on alternative fuel? Congress knows lifting the off-shore drilling ban is bogus– oil companies already have access to plenty of places in America where they are free to drill as much as they please, yet they aren’t; they don’t have the refining capacity, so says Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) in a recent interview on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show.

Rep. Slaughter: “The biggest issue here that has gotten almost no currency at all is that every president since Bush 41 has extended the moratorium on offshore drilling except his son this year, George W., lifted it this summer, as you know, which means it expires on the 30th of September. And at that point, anybody can drill anywhere they want to, offshore for three miles. We are not going to – obviously can’t renew that moratorium. And so maybe we can next year.

“But right now, we want to make sure that there will be no drilling unless a state opts in. The state has to say by legislation that it will do it and it has to be 50 to 100 miles offshore. Now, let me tell you, I’m a crowd of one that believes this. I understand that. But I don’t believe anybody wants to drill anywhere. I can tell you that throughout this entire debate, I never heard from an oil company saying, “For heaven’s sake, let us drill.” I don’t think they’re going to do it.

“They claim they have no bits, they have no drills and we know we’re at refining capacity. I would bet you anything – if my husband would let me, I’d bet my house and lot that there will be no drilling. Even T. Boone Pickens says this is the silliest idea there was. And British Petroleum – God bless them – has been saying for over a year now that this is not the way to go.”

So, why the big deal about offshore drilling? Why is Congress lifting the ban? Votes. It’s all about politics, of course. The folks in Washington heard the “drill, baby, drill” mantra and took it to heart, or, well, took it to mean that if they didn’t vote for offshore drilling their voter base might chant something else, like “Vote for the other candidate!”

Meanwhile, gas lines are longer than ever here in Charlotte– assuming you can find a station with gas and the national media is largely ignoring the problem. But, we can drill offshore now. I wonder how long the lines will be in 25 years?

~ Rhi Bowman

WE on Green Jobs and taking action

Advocate for Green Jobs, you might need one (be sure to fill in your own information!): http://www.wecansolveit.org/page/s/greenjobs

Find out how you can take action: http://www.wecansolveit.org/content/action/

9/24 Earth Club Update Email

This email was sent on 9/24 at 11PM.

Hey Earth Clubbers,

Sorry this email is a bit later then usual.  We have been having some issues with the email list that we still haven’t completely figured out yet.  I am not able to add and remove people at this moment, so if you requested to be removed from the mailing list, I will do so once I am able to fix this problem.

Tomorrow, which is Thursday, September 25, we will be having Abigail Singer from the Asheville Rising Tide and the Rainforest Action Network coming by to talk about the Cliffside Coal Plant being built by Duke Energy and the campaign against Bank of America.  This event will be informative and educational regarding the fights against dirty energy in the south.  We will be meeting in the greenhouse (the same place where the meetings are) at 5 PM.  We hope to see you there.

Also, we have a date confirmed for the cleanup of Toby Creek, we will be meeting in the parking lot next to the tennis courts at 10 AM on Friday, October 3rd.  So be ready to get messy and have lots of fun helping Earth Club clean up Toby Creek.

On October 7th, we will be watching a vegetarian cooking demonstration hosted by Roger Lademann, the head chef of Chartwells, this will be an interesting demonstration of veggie cooking and will be a good start for future vegetarian dinners with Earth Club.

Thats all for now, if anyone has any questions about upcoming events, feel free to contact me, I hope everyone has a good week and weekend.

Chris Camerino
President-UNCC Earth Club

Family Conversations

The following is a recent email exchange I had with a family member who will not be named. It’s important to realize the influence that even small conversations carry. I forwarded to her the U.S. Oil Consumption Graph that I posted a few days ago, and this was my family member’s response:

“OK – isn’t the REAL point to be released from the bondage of the oil cartel in the Middle East – who seem to me to be controlling the world? We need this stuff – we are going to keep using this stuff no matter what – SO it may not be the ultimate answer to our crisis BUT at least we’re trying to take the focus away from the oil cartel in the mid-east by finding solutions ( however slim) on our own. And maybe, just maybe, we will learn to provide for ourselves -given enough time. THAT is the solution.
There is no quick fix to this – as you know – we have to start somewhere.
Love you”

Here’s my response:

“Crude Oil and Total Petroleum Imports Top 15 Countries

“Take a look at the bottom table, entitled “Total Imports of Petroleum (per day).” If you add up the contributions to our oil imports from Canada, Latin America, and the Middle East (I included Algeria) in June 2008, you’ll note that each provides the US with about one-third of the majority of our supply (82%). To say that we are under the bondage of the Middle East oil cartel is not entirely accurate, since Canada, Latin America, and the Middle East provide us with similar percentages of petroleum. For comparison purposes, the United States produced an average of about 5,125,000 barrels per day, which is about 1 million barrels per day less than the total Middle East and Latin American imports we received.

Americans have been tricked into thinking that [offshore oil drilling] is a good decision by deceptive advertising and messaging. We should be trying to release ourselves from oil, period, no matter who controls it. We’ve had the technology available to do it since the 1990s, yet oil and auto executives made sure to pull the plug on plug-in electric vehicles (terrible pun, I know) in California before they were available to the public on a wider scale. They’ve also killed public transportation initiatives, which are integral to a more sustainable society. Conservation initiatives also need to be in the forefront of the government’s agenda, not tapping into our meager supply. We’ve been given a false dichotomy, which is that we drill and begin to move toward “energy independence” or we don’t drill and allow the terrorists to win. That is far from a realistic assessment of our energy crisis.

If we do drill, there is no guarantee that US citizens will even be able to use the oil, as the companies who are drilling are multinational corporations; the oil will be used by the global market. Our oil could possibly end up in Europe, Africa, or even the Middle East. Granted, transport costs and other considerations will dictate where the oil travels, but we can’t be so sure that it will end up in US cars; the market just doesn’t work that way.

Americans want lower gas prices, but we’re not going to have pre-2000 prices any time soon, even if we do drill. We have less than 3% of the world’s oil located in our offshore areas, which are quite sensitive, as there is no safe way to drill in the ocean. It is true that we won’t see the oil for years, nor will it have a substantive effect on gas prices. The only thing that will affect gas prices dramatically is if we lessen the demand, which is currently happening. US citizens drove 9.6 million less miles in May 2008 than in May ’07. If we stop using oil, gas prices will go down.

Basically, we can get off of oil. We have the technology, and pushing industries to produce electric vehicles at a larger scale will create more jobs, resulting in a more prosperous economy. We should focus on furthering non-carbon emitting fuels.  We also have to change our driving habits. Carpool when necessary, and take public transit if it’s available. Granted, Hendersonville’s rural landscape makes it difficult, but if you can cut down the number of trips you take, it will save gas and save money. Maybe you could arrange a carpooling schedule for Will in the mornings with some other parents. Well, I guess that’s technically what Will and Dad do in the mornings, which is great.

One more point: the Middle East is NOT controlling the world. We have to stop accepting that as appropriate justification for ridiculous government actions, like wiretapping, suspending habeas corpus, and worst of all, going to war in Iraq.

Love ya,


My unnamed relative had a final follow-up:

“Good arguments John. And just why aren’t YOU running for public office? We need more young men to take a stand for what’s right.
I stand corrected.
Love ya”

If you haven’t figured out who my unnamed family member is, then I’ve done a good job. I haven’t done a good job.

It was nice to see a shift in my relative’s opinion; I felt like I had accomplished something.

Every little victory counts.

Charlotte Green Initiative Meeting at 4PM on 9/25

Remember the student fee that you all voted for last year? Come be a part of putting it into action with the Charlotte Green Initiative, as the committee meets to discuss possible projects and plans for your money.

The next meeting is at 4PM on Thursday, 9/25 in Facilities Management 119.

The Nation on Power Vote

See what The Nation, a liberal news magazine, has to say about Power Vote here:


Lights. Camera. Action!

The yet-to-be-named sustainability project has begun. (Woo hoo.)

We have started gathering student comments on the project with a variety of sub-par electronic equipment. Hopefully this effort will help administrators understand how serious we are about our no-name sustainability documentary. Oh, and approve our budget so we can buy a good camera!

There are plenty of opportunities to help, so if you want to get involved let us know!

We’re not entirely sure what we’re doing, so we’re wide open for suggestions.

More updates as the project continues…

Project-name ideas anyone?

Roundtable Discussion on Clean Energy and Fuels on Oct. 14th

The Carolinas Clean Air Coalition is sponsoring a roundtable discussion on Clean Energy and Clean Fuels at UNC-Charlotte on Tuesday, October 7th from 7-9PM. The on-campus location has yet to be determined, but it would be an awesome event to attend after the Earth Club meeting!

The event will be the second in a 4-week series of roundtable discussions about climate change and North Carolina’s energy future sponsored by the Carolinas Clean Air Coalition.  All of the discussions are free and open to the public.

We’ll have an update available when the on-campus location is announced. See you there!

Voting Green?

Sierra Club’s October 22nd meeting will point you in the right direction
All Central Piedmont Sierra Club meetings take place the fourth Wednesday of the month (unless otherwise noted). Meetings begin at 7pm and are held in the Mahlon Adams Pavilion at Freedom Park, 1900 East Boulevard, Charlotte, NC.
For directions and more information, please click here.

Power Vote article on The Nation’s Web site

Since we’re trying to rock the Power Vote on our campus, thought you guys would like to read what some other folks think about the movement.


Whether you sign up for the Power Vote movement, or not (though we hope you do), be sure to do us all (including yourself) one favor: VOTE.

Early voting will begin on campus October 16. It’s unclear whether the voting booths will be in Atkins or Cone, so stay tuned!

Also in voting news, the Sierra Club’s October meeting will offer voting advice for those wishing to vote green. I’ll post more on that meeting in my next Earth Club blog post.

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