Rachel Crandell Earth Day, April 22, 2001 
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Some may say that switching all the gasoline tanks in all the gas stations in America is too big a task, but who uses typewriters anymore? We have made big switches when we found a better way to do business over and over in the past. How many blacksmiths do you know? And now we need to make this switch, too, from fossil fuels to alternative cleaner burning fuels, so that we can have a safer and cleaner future. With cleaner fuels, there will be less maintenance. In hybrid buses that switch back and forth between electric and gas, there's no transmission. The buses handle better, ride smoother. (Nucleus p.7) That not only means for mass transit, but for family cars. We need to vote for congressmen and women who will support clean energy. We also need to vote with our dollars by buying products that are energy efficient.

Did you know that not only do sport utility vehicles (SUVs) get abominable gas mileage, but also they are not regulated for emissions like cars? They are exempted from clean air rules and are allowed to get by with the poor standards that trucks are allowed. If you drive an SUV, you may want to think about it some more. It is quite possible to drive a car that gets 40 to 50 miles per gallon or better. I do. I have for the last 10 years. It's nothing new. And it can get a lot better if we would all vote with our dollars and buy cars that are energy efficient. We influence the market! California approved a measure ordering carmakers to offer thousands of electric and other advanced- technology vehicles beginning in 2003 with a requirement to surpass 50,000 over the next decade.

Energy news from the Farm: "Wind developers are installing large turbines on farms and ranches. By 2020, wind energy could provide farmers and rural landowners with $1.2 billion in new income and 80,000 new jobs," writes Eric Wesselman in the Union of Concerned Scientists recent issue of Nucleus. (p. 10) "A wind turbine uses only a quarter of an acre of land and can earn royalties up to $2000 a year. Iowa now requires 2% of electricity sales be from renewable resources." That is a start, but wide-open farmland in the Midwest could provide a lot more power from the wind. Some larger projects already pay 115 landowners $640,000 each year. They also add $2 million a year to the tax base." (Nucleus p.10) Since when is energy efficiency not good business? Did you realize that organic vegetables require less fertilizer (a product of oil), no pesticides or herbicides, and fewer trips around the field in a tractor that guzzles oil? Eat organic!

A farmers' co-op in Iowa planted 5,500 acres in switchgrass to be burned with coal in a large power plant. If successful, the project will increase ten times and plant 50,000 acres producing 200,000 tons of switchgrass each year supplying 5% of the plant's fuel. Tripling biomass use could provide $20 billion in new income for farmers and rural communities and reduce heat-trapping emissions causing global warming by the same amount as taking 70,000,000 cars off the road. Another farmer is generating power from cow manure. His digester heats the manure to 100 degrees F and the methane gas produced powers the turbine that generates enough electricity for his farm and 50 homes. The other good thing is that this process eliminates carbon and methane emissions, which are both greenhouse gases. Farmers also are using the sun to dry crops, heat buildings, power water pumps, making farms more economical and efficient. (Nucleus p. 10)

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