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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

How are we extending the life of our car?

Take a look at this statshot I dug up from The Onion:



It's funny but true. I'm always trying to live as car-lessly as possible but fuel efficiency matters. Emptying your trunk and vehicle of unnecessary clutter, especially seasonal items - or bowling balls anyone?- helps. How much useless stuff do you have piled up in there? Empty that trunk and don’t let your automobile become a storage facility with wheels! For every 50 pounds of junk you carry around, you lose about 1/4 miles per gallon.

As for putting more "oil in the oil hole," changing the oil will also help but be careful: One quart of oil leaked into groundwater can pollute 250,000 gallons of water.

300 years of fossil fuels in 300 seconds

 

The Post Carbon Institute produced this illustrated guide to how we have become so reliant on fossil fuels and how we could shake off that addiction. Here's the film description: Fossil fuels have been the driving force behind the industrialisation of much of the world over the past two centuries. But as we reach the end of the era of cheap coal and oil it is time to look towards a post-fossil fuel future. 

Don’t worry! Plenty of oil!

This short film from the Post Carbon Insitute addresses the false assertion that peak oil is a thing of the past due to innovations in fuel extraction in unconvential areas. Like, um, tar sands. Meanwhile, oil companies tell us "don't worry, drive on." What the frack does that mean?

PCI Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg asks in this clip, what's really new here? "What's new is high oil prices and … the economy hates high oil prices."

From the PCI blog: We can fall for the oil industry hype and keep ourselves chained to a resource that's depleting and comes with ever increasing economic and environmental costs, or we can recognize that the days of cheap and abundant oil (not to mention coal and natural gas) are over.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media and politicians on both sides of the aisle are parroting the hype, claiming — in Obama's case — that unconventional oil can play a key role in an "all of the above" energy strategy and — in Romney's — that increased production of tight oil and tar sands can make North America energy independent by the end of his second term.

Video after the jump.

“A Short History of Greenwashing the Tar Sands, Part 1”

Check this excerpt from Part One of an excellent three-part series on the political greenwashing of the tar sands in Canada, written by Jeff Gailus at Desmog Canada:

When I hatched the idea to write a book about the use of spin and propaganda in the battle over the tar sands, a close friend of mine suggested I avoid the term “tar sands.” His logic was simple: using this term, which has become a pejorative, would turn some people off, people who might benefit, he said, from reading my book.

His recommendation was meant to be helpful, but it speaks to the power of manipulating language to make people believe something appears to be something that it is not. “Greenwashing” refers to the strategy of intentionally exaggerating a product’s environmental credentials in order to sell it, and nowhere has greenwashing been more generously used than in the promotion of the tar sands and the new and bigger pipelines that proponents hope will carry it around the world.

Washington and Oregon gasoline consumption makes a decline

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There's a fascinating report from Sightline called "Shifting In Reverse" that says high prices are lessening the appetite for gasoline in Washington and Oregon as residents are indeed using less. However, it's not just the cost at the pump. Social and technological changes as well as shifts in driving behavior are behind the trend.

From the report:

-In 2011, per capita gasoline use in Oregon and Washington fell to its lowest level in nearly 50 years. Washington residents now consumer 7.3 gallons per week, while Oregonians use 7.1 gallons per week.

- Personal vehicle travel on state-owned roads has fallen 13 percent over the past decade—a real shift in our relationship with our cars. Young Americans saw the biggest decrease.

- Gains in vehicle efficiency played only a small role in the decline in gas consumption. Despite higher fuel economy standards, the real-world MPG of the US fleet has only risen risen slightly over the last ten years.

After the jump, check out a cool infographic from Sightline asking "Is the Northwest breaking its addiction to gasoline?"

Pic of cop car gas theft leads to arrest

JENKINS, Ky. (AP) — There it was on Facebook for all to see — Michael Baker with a gas can, a siphon hose stuck into a police cruiser in eastern Kentucky and a middle finger raised.

Among those who saw it were Jenkins police, who arrested 20-year-old Baker on Monday and charged him with theft by unlawful taking.

Baker told WYMT-TV ( http://bit.ly/HUTwfV ) in Hazard there wasn't much fuel in the car to siphon and the stunt on Friday was intended as a joke. Baker's girlfriend took the photo and posted it.

Police didn't laugh. Chief Allen Bormes says that if Baker would steal from police, he'd steal from "just about anybody."

Authorities say they plan to buy lockable gas caps.

Tip helps identify fuel theft suspects

Photos of two vehicles suspected in a series of fuel thefts led police to identify three suspects, officials said today.

Richard William Tennant, 24, (pictured) faces 17 felony charges for thefts in Spokane and Adams counties in which $5,000 in fuel was purchased using gas cards stolen from the Central Valley School District and a Spokane Valley company, according to police.
 
Surveillance photos were released last week showing a green Dodge pickup and a white Chevrolet or GMC Suburban prompted a citizen to report the pickup's location to Spokane police. 
 
Police say the truck's owner, Jacob Anthony Lorenzo, 38, tried to disguise the pickup by painting the silver door green and changing its wheels and tires. He faces a single count of first-degree trafficking stolen property, three counts of third-degree theft and one count of possession of stolen property.  
 
Suspect Sasha Stanton, 27, also faces three counts of first-degree trafficking stolen property, three counts of third-degree theft and one count of second-degree possession of stolen property. 
 
Police also located the white SUV, which was searched along with the truck and two homes. Police found evidence linking the suspects to the thefts and are asking for help locating Tennant, who faces four counts of first-degree trafficking stolen property, one count of first-degree theft, five counts of second-degree possession of stolen property, two counts of second-degree burglary and five counts of second-degree vehicle prowling. He also has a warrant in Idaho. Anyone with information on his location should call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
 
Neither Lorenzo or Stanton have been arrested, but their whereabouts are known. 
 
The case was investigated by Spokane County sheriff's Deputy Brian Hirzel.

Fuel card thieves rack up $5k+ in sales

Police are trying to identify two vehicles driven by thieves who have stolen thousands of dollars worth of fuel since May.

 Someone stole a fuel car from an Environment West vehicle in the 7500 block of North Argonne and paid for gas purchases worth more than $2,000, including one in Adams County, before the card was returned to the vehicle.

 On June 7, someone cut through security fencing at the Central Valley School District, 19300 E. Cataldo Ave., and stole fuel cards from several buses. 

"The thief, and presumably his friends, has racked up more that $5,000 in stolen fuel bills," Sgt. Dave Reagan said in a news release. "All of the gasoline was stolen from Pacific Pride fuel stations, and most was stolen at the Newman Lake site." 

Surveillance photos from gas stations show a mid-90s green standard cab Dodge pickup that is lifted and has a silver passenger door and after-market wheels.

Also pictured is a mid-to-late 90's white GMC or Chevrolet Tahoe (possibly a Suburban) that has a roof rack, white taillight covers and a pitbull sticker in the right rear window.

Anyone with information on the owners of the vehicles is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

2 men charged in series of fuel thefts

Two men have been charged with a series of fuel thefts that damaged Spokane-area businesses.

Richard Lee Trower, 38, (pictured) and David A. Sitton, 34, are accused of burglaries at industrial properties between October 2009 and January 2010 Trower is to be arraigned this week on five counts of second-degree burglary for alleged break-ins at Coast Crane, 3920 E. Boone Ave.; Crux, 16707 E. Euclid; Eljay Oil, 16009 E. Euclid; SMK Services, 3830 E. Boone; and Garco Construction, 4114 E. Broadway.

Sitton is charged with two counts of second-degree burglary for the Garco and SMK Services break ins. Both Trower and Sitton are charged with theft of a motor vehicle, second-degree theft and second-degree malicious mischief for allegedly stealing a truck from SMK Services on Oct. 12, 2009.

Trower faces an additional second-degree theft charge for allegedly stealing a fuel tank and 375 gallons of fuel from Coast Crane. Trower reportedly admitted to the burglaries in interviews with Spokane County sheriff's detectives last year.

Prosecutors filed charges this April, and Trower was arrested July 8. He remains in the Spokane County Jail. Sitton is wanted on a felony warrant after he didn't show up for a court hearing this month.

Trower also was arrested after a police chase last year.

How have gas prices affected you?


The rising gas prices are affecting everybody with the Energy Information Administration estimating the average U.S. household will spend more than $4,300 on gas in 2011. Just last month gas prices in Washington state have jumped almost 40 cents a gallon. I have a one car family and I've been cutting back on little items to save up for trips. It's becoming a fun game to see how long we can go without filling up and we rely heavily on bike and public transit as alternative modes. 

I first came across this interesting notice on the SRTC blog, about a series on Smart Growth America. They simply want to know how gas prices have affected you and what tradeoffs you're making.

So far, they've received an overwhelming response but there's still time to tell your story.

We heard from people who are saving money by choosing alternatives to driving, including walking, buses, light rail, subways and biking. We heard from people who wish they had more choices for ways to get around and from people living in rural areas where a car is the only option. People sent stories about delaying vacations, spending less on groceries, trading in a gas guzzler for something with better mileage, skipping doctors appointments that are across town, commuting 20 miles on a bike, and more.

Driver loses 100 gals. of fuel in Valley

Police are looking for a driver who lost as much as 100 gallons of diesel fuel on a busy Spokane Valley road this morning.

Fuel began spilling from a vehicle in the southbound lanes of 2400 North Sullivan Road just before 9:25 a.m.

The trail of diesel continued south and into the left turn lane for Euclid Avenue, then about two blocks eastbound on Euclid.

Police believe the driver stopped there to fix the leak but did not report the spill to police "leaving a quarter-mile long mess for officers and firefighters to eliminate," Sgt. Dave Reagan said in a news release.

Lanes on Sullivan Road were closed while crews tried to clean up the mess.

Sgt. Dale Golman said he doesn't know if the culprit vehicle was a commercial truck or a jerry-rigged vehicle used to steal fuel from construction sites, which has occurred several times recently.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Discarded mail leads to fuel theft arrest

A suspected gas thief tipped off police by discarding her mail in the station trashcan and leaving her identification card with an employee.

Spokane Valley police tracked Lacey Nicole Trottier, 21, to her apartment in the 1800 block of North Hutchinson Road by checking the discarded mail.

She's suspected of stealing $60 in fuel from the Cenex Station, 15504 E. Fourth Ave., on Monday. When police arrived, the station employee said the same driver left her identification card behind while stealing $75 in fuel on Jan. 29.

Cpl. Darin Staley arrested Trottier on two new charges of second-degree theft, as well as driving with license suspended and possession of methamphetamine for a small quantity of meth found in her purse, according to a news release.

Trottier also was booked on a warrant for a 2009 second-degree theft case in which she's accused of stealing $400 from a cash register at TJ Maxx in the Valley mall, where she was employed.

Fuel theft sparks slush-filled police chase

A man suspected of stealing fuel from a Spokane gas station led police from two cities on a lengthy chase on slushy roads Wednesday before ramming a patrol car, officials said.

Police spotted Jacob S. Beck, 33, driving eastbound on Trent Avenue in a 1988 Mercury Cougar after reports of a driver stealing $54 in fuel from a station at 3030 E. Euclid Ave. about 3:40 p.m. Witnesses said Beck drove his car at a customer who tried to stop him, causing a gash on the man’s hand, which led to a robbery charge.

Beck ran a red light at Fancher and Broadway and turned eastbound at Sprague at speeds of 50 mph in the 35 mph zone, police say, then allegedly rammed a patrol car driven by Spokane Valley police Officer Hal Whapeles, causing minor damage.

Police called off the chase because of heavy traffic and dangerous road conditions but soon found the Cougar abandoned at Appleway Chevrolet near Sprague and Dishman Road after 911 received several reports of the car driving recklessly.

Officers found Beck in a vacant lot near Sprague and Vista and booked him into jail on robbery, assault and eluding police charges.

Beck is on probation in Washington and has a non-extraditable burglary warrant out of California. He was a Crime Stoppers fugitive last summer when he was wanted by the Department of Corrections for escape from community custody.

He has previous convictions for vehicle theft, drug possession, burglary, theft, driving while suspended, forgery, making false statements, unlawful possession of firearms, possession of stolen property and probation violations, according to Crime Stoppers.

Anyone with information about Wednesday's incident is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Cash Fry, 2 others arrested in gas theft

Three men suspected of trying to steal fuel from a commercial van were arrested early Tuesday.

Frank Millard Fry, 48; Cash L. Fry, 46; and Douglas Lee Curtis, 48, were jailed on theft charges after Spokane County sheriff’s Deputy Darin Powers drove past Twilight Bedding, 12013 E. Trent, about 2:40 a.m. and saw two sets of feet standing on the other side of a van. A white pickup truck was parked closed by.

Frank Fry pulled a garden hose from the van’s fuel nozzle and jumped in the truck with Curtis. Powers held both men at gunpoint until help arrived. Cash Fry, who was in the driver’s seat of the truck, also was arrested.

Deputies recovered the hose used to steal gas and also recovered two automotive batteries that been removed from a vehicle by cutting the cables, according to a news release.

Canada vs. America

Obama will make his first international visit as president to Canada, a critical moment for the future of clean energy as Prime Minister Stephen Harper plans to discuss the controversial tar sands oil development. Alberta alone represents the second-largest oil reserve in the world, after Saudi Arabia.

Tar sands production is literally the dirtiest oil in the planet, emitting three times the greenhouse gas emissions as conventional oil and gas production for low quality crude, turning green wilderness to massive pits and bubbling black goop. The impact is evident: By 2015, the tar sands could emit more greenhouse gases than Denmark.

It feels like virtually every environmental group in the country is taking action. Our inbox is flooded with petitions, and there is a coalition composed of fifteen organizations at the very informative Obama2Canada. Forest Ethics even had this extreme (maybe Sherwin Williams inspired) ad in USA Today pictured below.




It’s hard to play down the negative role of the tar sands. Harper describes it as “an enterprise of epic proportions, akin to the building of the pyramids or China’s Great Wall. Only bigger” and we wrote a pretty mean-spirited post a month ago titled “Crude Awakening.”

In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) from last night, Obama gave his thoughts on the tar sands and energy at large, citing technology as a solution to fuel tradeoffs. Part of the transcript after the jump:

 

 

2008 was a record fuel spending year in the Northwest

It’s hard to believe but the data is there: Last year Washington, Oregon, and Idaho combined to spend almost $30 billion on fossil fuel imports. According to Sightline, this was an increase of more than one-third in 2007, which was the highest record up to that point. The research institute breaks it down to under $2,500 per person in the region which upon first glance seems unfathomable but remember the key is we’re buying from somewhere else, straining our local economy, and spending it on gas for homes, business, power plants, and transportation.

Washington: $16.6 Billion.
Oregon: $9.4 Billion.
Idaho: $3.6 Billion.

 
























Thanks to Sightline for the graphic.

Crude awakening

How much do you know about Canada?

They’re our nice neighbors to the north yet the odds of Americans knowing who they re-elected in October as Prime Minister are unlikely, while Canadians cheered Barack Obama from the sidelines. But the more you learn about a certain controversial energy issue, the more convoluted its environmental policies become, tearing down assumptions of Canada as a progressive refuge.

 

 

Photo courtesy of onearth.org

So let’s go back to the Prime Minister question. If you answered Stephen Harper (or “Steve” as only Bush affectionately calls him) congratulations. He won with just 37 percent of the popular vote as 63% of Canadians chose four parties who all ran on platforms implementing climate change action. For his part, Harper has ignored the Kyoto Protocol since support stems from oil companies reaping the huge profits from what’s in the sands of Alberta. Echoing a widespread sentiment, Linda McQuaig, wrote in this month’s issue of Adbusters, “Canada is not just out of sync with much of the world. In many ways, it is out of sync with Canadians.” 

Take a Bow Hypermiling

But now good luck escaping the word paparazzi. Hypermiling – the act of maximizing one’s gas mileage, often exceeding EPA ratings for miles per gallon, by making fuel-conserving adjustments to one’s car and one’s driving techniques, has just been named 2008 “Word of the Year (WOTY) by the New Oxford American Dictionary. Joining other conservation and sustainable themed previous winners as, 2006’s “carbon neutral and 2007’s locavore. Hypermiling techniques range from the obvious - keeping your tires inflated, going the speed limit, using cruise control and unloading excess cargo, to the extreme - driving without shoes to increase the foot’s sensitivity on the pedals, to the dangerous – following close behind other cars to cut wind resistance, rolling through stop signs and cutting the engine on downhills and turns. Have a look for yourself: