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The Rebels who Saved the Golden Gate, By Callum Beals, Sierra Club

April 21, 2014 in Environment, EV News, San Francisco, Sustainable San Francisco

Rebels Poster (click to enlarge) Courtesy of Rebels Documentary

Rebels Poster (click to enlarge)
Courtesy of Rebels Documentary

The city of Marincello was to be built in the virtually untouched Marin Headlands. The area’s natural beauty and proximity to San Francisco made it a no-brainer for suburban developers of the time, who had hoped to establish a planned community of 30,000 people. The project city had everything going for it — the rise of suburbia, big corporate sponsorships, and immense natural beauty — that is until it ran up against a nascent environmental movement that would stop the project in its tracks, saving the Headlands forever from development.

Rebels with a Cause tells the story of how a group of conservationists, politicians, ranchers, farmers, and volunteers spearheaded a campaign to block development projects like Marincello. Today, the planned city lies within the boundaries of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, one of the most popular in the entire National Park Service. The recreation area’s existence is a direct result of the tireless work chronicled in Rebels with a Cause. Thanks to the efforts of those depicted in the film,  the only real remnant of Marincello is a mountain biking trail that follows what would have been the potential town’s main boulevard.

“They were working against some behemoths, the biggest of which was Gulf Oil,” said Kenji Yamamoto, the film’s editor and co-producer. Formerly owned by the US military, Gulf Oil helped purchase a vast swath of land in the Headlands for the development. They weren’t expecting a relentless effort to protect the land’s natural beauty. “The campaigners always knew that it seemed impossible to battle against [Gulf Oil], but they kept on plugging away.”

One of the most influential people in the fight against Marincello was Dr. Edgar Wayburn, a five-term president of the Sierra Club who was instrumental in the creation of Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore just to the north. Aside from the influence of Dr. Wayburn, the film also stresses the importance of local government in the fight against Marincello.

“With local government you can accomplish so much more of the groundwork,” said Yamamoto. “Local support is key to winning any battle. It could be against a Wal-Mart or any company that wants to come into your community.”

Yamamoto believes that the legacy of Golden Gate Recreation Area and the rebels’ fight has been felt far beyond the San Francisco Bay Area. The film received an especially warm reception recently at a screening in Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Created in 2000 and just 20 minutes from Cleveland, the park has a similar urban proximity, and Yamamoto believes its creation was directly inspired by the fight for Golden Gate Recreation Area.

And Yamamoto hopes that Rebels has a similarly enduring legacy. The film has received a grant from Marin County that gives every school in the county a copy of the film and an accompanying readers’ guide.

The film will be broadcast by American Public Television in tandem with Earth Week and Earth Month celebrations. Visit for more info on the film.

This article is a repost, credit: Callum Beals, Sierra Club. Video courtesy of Rebels Documentary (Facebook and Twitter pages:,

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Moving Cars in the Right Direction, By Michael Brune, Sierra Club

March 4, 2014 in Environment, EV News, Pollution

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune Photo courtesy of Sierra Club

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune
Photo courtesy of Sierra Club

Everybody knows that standing in front of a moving car is dangerous, but what about standing behind one? Currently, four out of ten Americans live in a place where the air is sometimes dangerous to breathe, thanks in part to smog from cars and trucks. Today, the Obama administration finalized cleaner tailpipe standards that will help us all breathe easier.

Beginning in 2017, these cleaner tailpipe standards will require that refiners produce cleaner-burning, lower-sulfur gasoline, and that automakers use advanced pollution control technology on new cars. Although the impact of cleaner new cars will be felt over time, the cleaner gasoline will be used by all cars, old and new, and reduce pollution almost immediately. In the first year alone, smog-forming NOx emissions will be reduced by 260,000 tons. That’s like taking 33 million cars off the road — nearly two out of every ten cars in the U.S.

Cleaner tailpipe standards mean cleaner air, and cleaner air has real health benefits. Smog pollution, or ground-level ozone, can cause asthma attacks, respiratory disease, and even premature death. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that by 2030 these cleaner tailpipe standards will prevent roughly 2,000 premature deaths a year, along with reducing hospital admissions and asthma attacks.

That’s good news for everyone, but it’s especially important for families who live near a major road. According to the American Lung Association, living or working near a major roadway results in a greater risk of health problems, especially for children and teenagers.

Disappointingly, the oil industry did everything it could to derail or delay these health-protecting standards. They failed in part because the standards will dramatically clean our air for less than a penny a gallon, all while creating jobs. A study by Navigant Economics found that these standards would create almost 5,400 permanent jobs in the operation and maintenance of new refinery equipment, as well as more than 24,000 new jobs during the three years it takes to install that equipment.

The economic and employment benefits of the standards explain the strong support for them from automakers, auto parts manufacturers, and the United Auto Workers.

These cleaner tailpipe standards mark the third time that President Obama has acted to make our cars and trucks cleaner and more efficient. In 2012, finalizing historic vehicle standards of 54.5 miles per gallon was the biggest single step any country had ever taken to reduce climate-disrupting pollution. Then, just two weeks ago, the president directed his administration to move forward with the next round of fuel-economy standards for tractor-trailers and delivery trucks.

Eventually, cars and trucks that run on gas will be found in museums instead of garages, and the smog and health problems they caused will only be bad memories. Until that day, though, we can be thankful for these standards, which will eliminate so much pollution for so little cost.

This article is a repost (3-3-14), credit: Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.

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Nissan Celebrates LEAF Sales Milestone on National Plug In Day

September 27, 2013 in Electric Vehicles, EV Campaigns, EV News, LEAF, Nissan

All-electric Nissan LEAF deliveries top 35,000 since Dec. 2010 launch
2013 Nissan LEAF Photo courtesy of Nissan

2013 Nissan LEAF
Photo courtesy of Nissan

NASHVILLE, Tenn. With cumulative U.S. sales passing 35,000, Nissan LEAF is bringing owners throughout the United States together to share their enthusiasm and experiences during National Plug In Day on Sept. 28 and 29. Nissan the global leader in electric vehicle sales is the first automaker to serve as a presenting sponsor of National Plug In Day.

Nissan LEAF sales in the United States are up 317 percent year-over-year since launching the 2013 model in March, and these sales are rapidly expanding to a new wave of markets such as Atlanta, St. Louis and Denver. Similarly, National Plug In Day has expanded to more than 80 events in cities across the United States and several in other countries. Thousands of EV advocates will take part in a variety of activities like EV parades, tailgates, ride-and-drives, live music and games.

Erik Gottfried, Nissan’s director of EV Marketing and Sales Strategy, said: “From the early adopters to the most recent buyers, our owners consistently tell us that Nissan LEAF quickly becomes the car of choice in their household, and they spread the word about LEAF to their family and friends. Nissan is sponsoring National Plug In Day to celebrate the growing presence of electric cars like Nissan LEAF and the role that our owners are playing in spurring the next round of EV buyers.”

“Plug-in car buyers are not just motivated by environmental concerns. We buy plug-ins because they cost much less to drive, and they are just better, quicker, more fun cars to drive,” said Plug In America spokesperson Zan Dubin Scott, who launched National Plug In Day. “National Plug In Day brings together thousands of people across the country who already see these benefits and want to share the word with others.”

National Plug In Day, organized by Plug In America, Sierra Club and the Electric Auto Association, is a nationwide celebration created to heighten awareness of and highlight the benefits of plug-in vehicles, such as Nissan LEAF. For more information on National Plug In Day, including information on local events, visit

About Nissan North America

In North America, Nissan’s operations include automotive styling, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. Nissan is dedicated to improving the environment under the Nissan Green Program and has been recognized as an ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. More information on Nissan in North America and the complete line of Nissan and Infiniti vehicles can be found online at and, or visit the Americas media sites and

About Nissan

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Japan’s second-largest automotive company, is headquartered in Yokohama, Japan, and is part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Operating with more than 236,000 employees globally, Nissan sold more than 4.9 million vehicles and generated revenue of 9.6 trillion yen (USD 116.16 billion) in fiscal 2012. Nissan delivers a comprehensive range of over 60 models under the Nissan and Infiniti brands. In 2010, Nissan introduced the Nissan LEAF, and continues to lead in zero-emission mobility. The LEAF, the first mass-market, pure-electric vehicle launched globally, is now the best-selling EV in history.

For more information on our products, services and commitment to sustainable mobility, visit our website at

This article is a repost, credit: Nissan.

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National Plug In Day: Free Electric Car Events in 90+ Cities Across U.S.

September 21, 2013 in Electric Vehicles, EV Campaigns, EV News

Focus of 3RD and Largest Annual Celebration: Introducing First-Timers to EVS   

Image courtesy of Plug In America

Image courtesy of Plug In America

WHAT: Tens of thousands of people in some 90 U.S. cities will rally to raise awareness of plug-in vehicles for the third annual National Plug In Day, with Mexico and Amsterdam taking part for the first time. The goal of events from West Palm Beach to Seattle to Reno will be to give consumer information and test-drives to more EV newcomers than ever. These gasoline-car drivers will be able to experience the quiet, clean thrill of plug-in vehicles first-hand while learning about their cost-savings, national security and clean-air benefits.

“Thanks to the continued drop in prices, plug-in vehicles are now within the reach of millions of Americans. Many are now driving ‘for free’ because their car payments are equal to or even less than they paid for gasoline,” said Plug In America president Richard Kelly. “Our aim is to raise awareness of this affordability and the many other benefits of EVs.”

National Plug In Day activities will vary by city. In addition to test drives, they will include rallies, tailgate parties, charging-infrastructure demos, EV-readiness awards, and more. Among the plug-in vehicles expected for public ride-n-drives:

Tesla Model S, Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt, Mitsubishi iMiEV, Plug-in Prius, Ford Focus EV, Honda Fit EV, BMW ActiveE, Zero and Brammo motorcycles and such earlier models as the Tesla Roadster, Fisker Karma, Coda and Toyota RAV4 EV.

WHEN: Saturday or Sunday, Sept. 28 or 29, 2013. Date and times will vary by city:

WHERE: Visit the National Plug In Day website for city-by-city locations and details (still being updated):

WHO: Plug In America, the Sierra Club and the Electric Auto Association are national organizers teaming up with local groups across the country and abroad to organize events. National sponsors include the Nissan LEAF and Schneider EVlink.

 EVs, onlookers gathered in Times Square; Tesla Model S & other EVs.

DAY-OF PHOTO OPPS: Test drives; consumer reaction.

About Plug In America

Plug In America is leading the nation’s plug-in vehicle movement. The nonprofit organization works to accelerate the shift to plug-in vehicles powered by clean, affordable, domestic electricity to reduce our nation’s dependence on petroleum and improve the global environment. We drive electric. You can, too.

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization with more than 2.3 million members and supporters and chapters in all 50 states.  The Sierra Club’s national electric vehicles campaign advocates for a switch to EVs as one important way to reduce emissions and cut our addiction to oil.

About the Electric Auto Association

The Electric Auto Association, formed in 1967, is a nonprofit educational organization with 75 chapters worldwide that promotes the advancement and widespread adoption of electric vehicles.

This article is a repost (release 9-5-13), credit: Plug In America.

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Tesla Motors Opens Assembly Plant in Tilburg, Netherlands

August 22, 2013 in Electric Vehicles, EV News, Model S, Tesla

First Model S leaves new  European Tesla assembly plant in Tilburg, Netherlands Photo courtesy of Tesla

First Model S leaves new European Tesla assembly plant in Tilburg, Netherlands
Photo courtesy of Tesla

TILBURG, Netherlands, August 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ –

Tilburg Assembly Plant scene of first Model S deliveries to Dutch, Belgian, French and German customers

Having begun the first European deliveries of Model S, Tesla Motors today opened its Tilburg Assembly Plant in the presence of the Vice Governor Economic and International Affairs of the Province of Brabant and Alderman Economic Affairs of the Municipality of Tilburg. The Tilburg facility will serve as the final assembly and distribution point for Model S vehicles sold in Europe as well as Tesla’s European service and parts headquarters. Some of the very first Dutch, Belgian, French and German Model S customers received their cars today at the brand new facility.

With a size of 18,900 square meters, this new state-of-the-art facility is well prepared to receive the brand new Model S which is shipped over from the US. Having crossed the ocean and reached Europe, Model S arrives at the Tilburg plant for final assembly before being delivered across the continent.

Being centrally located in Tilburg enables efficient, timely and cost effective operations throughout Europe. Parts can be distributed to anywhere across the continent within 12 hours. Tilburg is an ideal location considering its proximity to the port of Rotterdam and the high quality and availability of transportation infrastructure. An excellent rail and motorway network connects Tilburg to all major markets.

Deliveries of Model S to European customers started in Norway earlier this month, and today, it was time for the first Dutch, Belgian, French and German customers to receive their cars at the brand new Tilburg facility.

Bryan Batista, Sales Director Europe, said: “It’s very exciting to see our cars arriving in Europe and being welcomed by their proud owners here in Tilburg. This location is pivotal to Tesla’s European operations, which are expanding rapidly over the coming months with openings of around 15 new stores and service centres.”

About Tesla

Tesla Motors’ (NASDAQ: TSLA) goal is to accelerate the world’s transition to electric mobility with a full range of increasingly affordable electric cars. California-based Tesla designs and manufactures EVs, as well as EV powertrain components for partners such as Toyota and Daimler. Tesla has delivered over 15,000 electric vehicles to customers in 31 countries. Deliveries of Model S in Europe started this summer.

About Model S

Model S is the world’s first premium sedan built from the ground up as an electric vehicle, meticulously designed and engineered to elevate the public’s expectations of what a car can be. At the heart of Model S is the proven Tesla powertrain, delivering both unprecedented range and a thrilling drive experience. With a rigid body structure, nearly 50/50 weight distribution and a remarkably low center of gravity, Model S offers the responsiveness and agility expected from world’s best sports cars while providing the ride quality of a premium sedan.

Setting the bar for electric driving range, Model S offers 60 kWh and 85 kWh battery options, delivering unprecedented range of up to 500 km (on the NEDC drive cycle) with the 85 kWh variant. Both batteries are contained within the same enclosure, integrating with the vehicle in the same way, providing structural, aerodynamic, and handling advantages. The batteries use automotive-grade lithium-ion cells arranged for optimum energy density, thermal management, and safety.

Without an internal combustion engine or transmission tunnel, the interior of Model S has more cargo space than any other sedan in its class and includes a second trunk under the hood. The interior features a 17″ in-dash touchscreen with Internet capabilities.

This article is a repost, credit: Tesla,

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Flaring Up in North Dakota, Natural Gas Emissions from Oil Production, By Lindsay Garten, Sierra Club

August 9, 2013 in Environment, EV News, Oil, Pollution

Photo credit Tim Evanson. Flaring of natural gas in McKenzie County, North Dakota. Courtesy of Sierra Club

Photo credit Tim Evanson. Flaring of natural gas in McKenzie County, North Dakota.
Courtesy of Sierra Club

While a great deal of attention has been paid to the dangers fracking poses to drinking water, oil and natural gas production are also major sources of air pollution. Flaring of natural gas is one of the many reasons that there are air pollution issues with oil and gas drilling. It is a major issue that contributes to climate disruption, puts public health at risk and is economically wasteful.

Oil production in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale formation has increased 40-fold between 2007 and mid-2013, from 18,500 to 760,000 barrels per day, according to a recent report by Ceres, a nonprofit organization focused on sustainability. In fact, flaring from the Bakken Shale is visible from space. Surpassing Alaska in May 2012, North Dakota became the second-largest oil producing state after Texas. This tremendous growth in oil production has led to the simultaneous increase in the production of natural gas. However, unlike in most other states, a significant portion of the gas that is co-produced with oil production in North Dakota doesn’t make it to the market.

What happens to the gas? Nearly 30 percent of the gas produced in the state is flared during oil production. This process, “flaring,” is the controlled burning of natural gas that commonly occurs during oil production. A flare system consists of a flare stack and pipes that feed gas to the stack. The absolute volume of flared gas in North Dakota has increased 2.5 times between May 2011 and May 2013. Sadly, this has propelled the United States to join Russia, Nigeria, and Iraq among the world’s top-10 flaring countries.

Although some might argue flaring doesn’t harm the environment as much as venting natural gas directly, flaring does significantly contribute to carbon pollution from the Bakken Formation. In fact, in 2012, natural gas flaring in North Dakota emitted 4.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of the emissions of 1 million cars! Flaring only partially combusts the natural gas, and it releases many other hazardous pollutants such as black carbon, a major component of soot, which poses many adverse health risks and also contributes significantly to climate disruption.

Unfortunately, under current North Dakota rules, companies get a free pass to flare natural gas for the first year of a well’s production, when a majority of natural gas is emitted. Producers can obtain yet another free pass to flare in the second year if they can show that capturing the natural gas doesn’t make sense economically. But given the significant environmental and public health impacts of flaring, like respiratory and cardiovascular disease, these rules are disastrous and should be overhauled.

Although North Dakota regulators have indicated that their ultimate goal is that only 5 to 10 percent of the state’s co-produced natural gas will be flared, they haven’t specified a date by which they will achieve this goal. However, steps are being taken to reduce flaring. The North Dakota legislature has passed new statutes that will offer tax incentives for producers to capture and use gas, instead of flaring it. Although many oil and gas companies have tried to reduce flaring, the amount of gas actually flared has increased by more than 50 percent between September 2011 and May 2013. It’s projected that the total percentage of flaring will decrease, but the total amount of flared gas will increase until 2020. In fact, in 2012 flaring amounted to a loss of $1 billion in fuel. Until clean energy replaces dirty fossil fuels, the industry should work to find best practices to curb flaring.

Fracking and natural gas production is harmful to communities and families and flaring is but one example of the dangerous effects of this dirty fossil fuel. Ultimately, the only way to ensure a safe, clean, and sustainable energy future is to invest in renewable sources of energy like wind and solar. The time has come to move beyond fossil fuels, save lives, and save the environment.

[Information from Ceres’ report, Flaring Up: North Dakota Natural Gas Flaring More Than Doubles in Two Years]

This article is a repost, credit: Lindsay Garten, Sierra Club Media Team Intern,

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Coal, Mortality, and Protests in China, By Vrinda Manglik, Sierra Club International Campaign

August 2, 2013 in China, Environment, EV News, Pollution

Photo credit: David Barrie Courtesy of Sierra Club

Photo credit: David Barrie
Courtesy of Sierra Club

Since 2001, when Beijing won the right to host the 2008 Olympic Games, China’s air quality has been the subject of significant international attention. Images of China’s thick, smog-filled skies were on every news station’s feature and every newspaper’s front page. Things looked especially bad in January 2013, when air pollution in Beijing exceeded the maximum level on the Air Quality Index’s scale of 0 to 500 — with a reading of 755. With more health reports emerging on the topic, the link between China’s air pollution and negative health consequences is more substantiated now than ever before.

Earlier this month, a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences connected higher levels of localized air pollution from coal in northern China to reduced life expectancy.

The study (Chen et al, 2013) used official Chinese data from 1981 to 2000 on air pollution and mortality in 90 cities to conclude that 500 million people living north of the Huai River have life expectancies that are 5.5 years lower than their counterparts south of the river. Several factors explain this phenomenon — and most of these explanations relate to coal. First, the northern part of the country is colder than the south, and more coal is burned there to provide needed heating. The practice of burning coal was even intensified through the “Huai River policy,” which was in effect from 1950 to 1980 and provided coal to those living north of the Huai River as a means of ensuring free winter heating. As a result of the coal-burning influenced by this policy, the researchers found that concentrations of total suspended particulates were 55 percent higher to the north of the Huai River than to the south.

China is facing huge pressure to address its air pollution, largely as a result of grassroots protests from its own people. Daniel Gardner, a scholar of East Asian studies, recently blogged about the rise of environmental protests in China against grievances including the construction of new coal-fired power plants. Global attention on China’s air pollution — headlines in international news outlets and comparisons to international air quality standards — has also made China feel pressure to improve air quality.

Fortunately, China has indeed been taking steps to address air pollution. Last month, China’s State Council adopted 10 measures addressing air quality. In addition to greater penalties for pollution violations and a call for better emergency preparedness, the measures require greater disclosure of environmental information from major polluters — including coal-fired power plants.

Contrary to a popular narrative, China’s demand for coal is peaking. This is a positive sign that China is taking concerns about the environment and air pollution seriously, and that we may expect improvements in air quality in the not-too-distant future. The Chinese government has indicated that it intends for coal to peak within the next five years, and investment in wind energy alone in China is already exceeding investment in new coal plants. These are indications that both grassroots and international pressure are leading to outcomes that are good for air quality.

Chen et al‘s study perhaps, then, simply provides more evidence to support why China should move away from coal.  Better late than never.

This article is a repost, credit: Vrinda Manglik, Sierra Club International Campaign Intern,