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Driving To A Cleaner Future

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Driving To A Cleaner Future

Cascadia Center “Jump Start” Conference Live-Blog Post #1
REDMOND, WA — Political and business leaders along with consumers are mobilizing to minimize man’s contribution to climate change and global warming. Even as mass transit spreads, personal vehicles will indisputably remain vital for many commuters, especially those with multi-stop “trip chains”. Cleaner fuels and cars are considered essential, and the popularity of the Toyota Prius electric-gas hybrid is a leading indicator. There are varied reasons why we need to wean our nation off foreign oil while embracing clean electric and renewable fuel sources, and plug-in hybrids which can double the excellent mileage of the Prius. National security and environmental protection rank high on the list, as Cascadia Center for Regional Development’s Director Bruce Agnew and Senior Fellow Steve Marshall explain in this Seattle Times op-ed.
With this in mind, Cascadia Center and co-sponsors today are staging the “Jump Start To A Secure, Clean Energy Future” conference from Microsoft’s campus. We’ve got a full house. In the opening hour, King County Executive Ron Sims said:

“The technologies that we see today, we’d like to see them mature…One of my sons once told me, you’re part of the problem not the solution. Your buses pollute. He was right. Now, King County has more than 140 hybrids in its fleet, and a soft order for 440 plug-in hybrid vehicles.”

Sims also outlined how King County biosolids will be used to fertilize Eastern Washington canola crops used to develop biodiesel.
Buzz Rodland’s Toyota dealership in Everett has been selling scads of Priuses, as the Everett Herald recently reported. Rodland, Snohomiish County board member of the Washington State Auto Dealer Association, told the audience:

“…it’s time to clean up our act, and hybrids have really started to help with that. Year-to-date in the Pacific Northwest, the Number One-selling car is the Toyota Prius. We think it will end up the Number One-selling car in the Northwest this year. The buyers” are forming clubs and advocating for the car, “when they fill up at gas stations, which isn’t very often.”

Bill Reinert is the National Manager for Toyota USA’s Advanced Technologies Group. Closing out this morning’s Auto Industry Update, he observed:

“We are developing plug-in hybrids, we are developing lithium ion batteries. We may not go as fast as some of you would like,” but we want to be sure we get it right.

Reinert said oil exploration success peaked in the 1960s; much current production is now in increasingly remote, or environmentally or politically problematic areas; the cost and carbon emissions are substantial. That leads us to a new era of conservation, Reinert said, and hybrid (electric and liquid fuel) cars currently have the smalllest carbon footprint.
But where the electricity comes from to power hybrids is crucial; it must be more and more from clean sources and less and less from traditional coal-powered generation, or the environmental advantages of hybrids become diminished, Reinert warned. Making clean-powered hybrid vehicles work in states like Michigan, Kentucky and Texas – which still rely heavily on coal-powered electricity – will be a key challenge, he added.
We’ll hear more this afternoon about the market landscape for cleaner cars in the panel discussion, “Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles: How Soon And What Impact?” Panelists are: Roger Duncan, Austin Energy/Plug-In Partners; Felix Kramer, founder, Caliifornia Cars Initiative; Greg Rock, Co-Founder, Green Car Company; Nicholas Zielinski, Vehicle Chief Engineer for the Volt, General Motors.
TECHNORATI TAGS: <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/RENEWABLE FUELS, PLUG-IN HYBRID VEHICLES, PHEV, TOYOTA PRIUS, BILL REINERT, NICK ZIELINSKI, CHEVY VOLT, RODLAND TOYOTA, GREG ROCK, GREEN CAR COMPANY, FELIX KRAMER, CALIFORNIA CARS INITIATIVE, ROGER DUNCAN, AUSTIN ENERGY, PLUG-IN PARTNERS"rel="tag"RENEWABLE FUELS, PLUG-IN HYBRID VEHICLES, PHEV, TOYOTA PRIUS, BILL REINERT, NICK ZIELINSKI, CHEVY VOLT, RODLAND TOYOTA, GREG ROCK, GREEN CAR COMPANY, FELIX KRAMER, CALIFORNIA CARS INITIATIVE, ROGER DUNCAN, AUSTIN ENERGY, PLUG-IN PARTNERS