July 19, 2003 - Baltimore Sun: Congo Kinshasa Mike Tidwell's Chesapeake Climate Action Network urges support for earth-friendly SUVs

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: July 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: July 19, 2003 - Baltimore Sun: Congo Kinshasa Mike Tidwell's Chesapeake Climate Action Network urges support for earth-friendly SUVs

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, July 21, 2003 - 5:51 pm: Edit Post

Congo Kinshasa RPCV Mike Tidwell's Chesapeake Climate Action Network urges support for earth-friendly SUVs

Read and comment on this story from the Baltimore Sun about Congo Kinshasa Mike Tidwell's Chesapeake Climate Action Network whose members are urging support for earth-friendly SUVs at:

'Ticket' urges support for earth-friendly SUVs*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

'Ticket' urges support for earth-friendly SUVs

Campaign asks owners to rebuke General Motors

By Howard Libit
Sun Staff

Originally published July 19, 2003

Thousands of Maryland sport utility vehicle owners will find bright yellow tickets stuck on their windshields this weekend.

But these tickets won't carry fines or penalties. Instead, they'll include postcards that urge General Motors to start producing more environmentally friendly SUVs.

"We simply want better, and we believe SUV owners want better, too," said Dawn Ratcliffe, assistant director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. "This campaign is not meant to shame SUV owners. This campaign is meant to shame automakers."

More than 150 volunteers plan to distribute the group's environmental tickets throughout the Baltimore and Washington areas. The organization describes its mission as "fighting global warming through clean energy" in Maryland, Virginia and the nation's capital.

The tickets urge SUV drivers to "Save Money and Fight Global Warming!" Arguing that SUVs produce more pollution and use more gas than average cars, they contend that automakers are ignoring existing technology that would be less harmful to the environment.

But Jason H. Vines, president of Sport Utility Vehicle Owners of America and a former auto executive, defended the popular vehicles, saying that automakers try to make the most cost-efficient SUVs possible. He said his 6,000-member organization is not connected with manufacturers' groups.

"If General Motors could come out with a Suburban that could get 32 miles to the gallon, didn't affect utility, didn't affect safety and was of a similar cost, they'd do it tomorrow because they could put Ford out of business," Vines said. "These companies are incredibly competitive, and if the technology were to be proven and affordable, they would jump at it."

Vines sharply criticized the environmental group's plans to "ticket" SUV owners, saying the action encourages "the real bad actors in this debate" to take such actions as "burning SUVs in dealerships and putting animal feces on people's SUVs."

He referred to groups such as the Earth Liberation Front, which claimed responsibility for a January firebombing at a Pennsylvania auto dealership that did almost $100,000 in damage to several pickup trucks and SUVs.

While conceding that such groups as the Chesapeake Climate Action Network don't actively support environmental terror groups, "they are encouraging them," Vines said. "And it has to stop."

Mike Tidwell, director of the action network, said his group's volunteers "are not in any way damaging anyone's vehicles."

"I think it's sad that there's an organization that would take a public-spirited, community-minded campaign involving a wide cross-section of Marylanders and misrepresent our intentions in such an irresponsible way," Tidwell said. "We are simply helping SUV drivers get the kinds of vehicles they want."

During a roadside news conference outside a Chevrolet dealership in Carney yesterday, volunteers said they're not seeking confrontations with SUV owners during their weekend ticket blitz.

"I'm very curious how people respond. I have no idea what they'll do," said Andrew Hunt, 22, who graduated from St. John's College in Annapolis this spring and will start a conservation ecology master's degree program at the University of Georgia.

"My mother who drives an SUV saw these tickets and was interested and supportive of it. I hope that other drivers react the same way," he said.

Half of the "ticket" includes a postcard addressed to General Motors Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner. "I currently drive an SUV and would consider purchasing more energy efficient SUVs if they were offered to me," the postcard says. "Please follow through on your commitment to offer a hybrid version of the Saturn Vue and implement cleaner technology in all of your SUVs immediately."

A spokeswoman for General Motors declined to comment and referred calls to the Sport Utility Vehicle Owners of America and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. The alliance did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Maryland's Motor Vehicle Administration doesn't know exactly how many SUVs are registered here. But there are 891,558 vehicles with Class M registrations - a category that includes SUVs, light trucks, minivans and motor homes. They account for about 20 percent of the state's 4.4 million vehicles.

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network argued that more energy-efficient and cleaner vehicles would improve residents' health, noting that the Baltimore and Washington areas are rated by the Environmental Protection Agency as having some of the nation's worst air quality. Leaders cited a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists stating that the average SUV generates "40 percent more global warming pollution" - or carbon dioxide - than the average car.

"There are 20,000 kids with asthma in the Baltimore area and 150,000 adults with some lung or breathing ailments. These people don't deserve dirty air," said Dr. Cindy L. Parker of the Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health, who attended the news conference.

Vines countered that SUVs and light trucks have improved their fuel economy by almost 60 percent over the past 30 years. "Today's most popular SUVs are the midsize SUVs, and they meet the same standards as passenger cars," Vines said.

Copyright © 2003, The Baltimore Sun
May 15, 2003 - Protesters led by Congo Kinshasa RPCV Mike Tidwell dump One Ton of Coal on Capitol Lawn

Caption: Mike Tidwell begins the press conference denouncing the federal energy bill and the fossil fuel subsidies it contains

Read and comment on this Press Release from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network on the protest led by Congo Kinshasa RPCV Mike Tidwell to dump One Ton of coal on lawn of the Capital in Washington DC to protest the multi-billion dollar subsidies proposed for the fossil fuel industry under the national energy bill now before the U.S. Senate at:

Protesters Dump One Ton of Coal on Capitol Lawn to Denounce National Energy Bill's Funding of Global Warming*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Protesters Dump One Ton of Coal on Capitol Lawn to Denounce National Energy Bill's Funding of Global Warming

Protest Comes on Second Anniversary of Unveiling of Disastrous Cheney Energy Plan

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A coalition of leaders representing health, taxpayer, student, faith, and environmental groups dumped one ton of coal on the U.S. Capitol lawn May 15th to protest the multi-billion dollar subsidies proposed for the fossil fuel industry under the national energy bill now before the U.S. Senate.

The legislation would harm taxpayers, accelerate CCAN Director Mike Tidwell denounces the "dirty" national energy bill as a disaster for the global climate global warming, and worsen the federal budget deficit while doing absolutely nothing to promote national energy security, according to industry analysts and advocates speaking at a press conference in the "Upper Senate Park" just a few hundred feet from the Capitol dome. unwarranted and unaffordable giveaway that distorts energy markets and hurts consumers.

Mike Tidwell, director of CCAN, the sponsoring organization, pointed out that the Senate's "Energy Security Act of 2003," with at least $17.5 billion in corporate giveaways to the oil, coal, and natural gas industry, would incentivize fossil fuel consumption over conservation, thus asking taxpayers to spend money they don't have for the dirtier air and accelerated global warming nobody wants. The five-inch thick Senate bill, like its House counterpart, offers energy-sector giveaways ranging from nanotechnology research to a demonstration project to burn post-consumer carpeting in cement kilns.

The Senate bill would also provide $17.5 billion in new subsidies and tax breaks to the oil and gas industry. This includes government aid to begin training workers to build an extensive natural gas pipeline delivering Alaskan gas to the lower 48 states. Another proposal would go further, mandating a guaranteed price for all gas sold from the pipeline at a cost of up to $40 billion to taxpayers.

"Unfortunately, the Senate energy bill does everything that Americans do not want," said Erich Pica, senior policy analyst with Friends of the Earth. He continued, "The bill will give more than $4.5 billion to the coal industry, using the deceptive guise of 'clean coal' to allow more carbon dioxide and mercury into our air and water."

Such giveaways might be easier to stomach if they actually improved our economy and helped consumers. But even analysts within the oil and gas industry agree that this 768-page bill will do very little to reduce energy prices or increase domestic energy production.

By providing unwarranted incentives for more fossil fuel use, the Senate and House bills also contribute to what most climate scientists worldwide now view as the greatest environmental crisis of the 21st century: global climate change. Even the Bush administration, in a major report it delivered to the United Nations last June, explicitly acknowledged that global warming is real and will worsen in the near future, bringing potentially disastrous impacts to our economy and environment.

"So the last thing we need is for our tax dollars to accelerate and intensify these impacts," said Tidwell. "But by giving public money to fossil fuel companies, we make it harder for clean energy sources like solar and wind to compete in the marketplace, thus slowing any real solution to the climate crisis."

Given the negative impacts on the federal budget, on consumers, and on the environment, the Senate should immediately strip away every last dollar earmarked for the oil, coal, and gas industry, according to Tidwell. If such subsidies can't be removed, the legislation should be voted down for the simple reason that no bill is better than one that makes everything much, much worse.

The coal dump was officially permitted by the Capitol Hill police. There were no arrests or acts civil disobedience.

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