The Electric Vehicle (R)evolution

Tesla Roadster

Tesla Roadster at the Democratic National Convention

Over the last few months, electric vehicles (EVs) have made rapid progress politically, technologically and –where it matters most — on the street. (Off the street, too, with the high performance dirt bike, the Zero MX). The EV evolution that’s been moving along for years suddenly became the EV revolution partly because of an infusion of government funds. (The “R” added to “evolution” making it a “revolution” does not stand for Republican…read on.)

Of course, tax-breaks have been around for several years. The problem was that they were relatively modest and varied from state-to-state. That changed dramatically on February 17 when President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, aka, the stimulus bill.

GEM_car_charging_2 If the act succeeds or fails, the credit or blame will likely be attached to the Obama administration and the Democratic Party. In the Senate, all Democrats voted for the stimulus bill (with Ted Kennedy not voting due to illness). Three lone Republicans voted “yes,” including Arlen Spector (PA) who is now a Democrat. The other two were Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine.
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EPA: Green house gases bad

EPA chief Lisa Jackson signs historic GHG finding

EPA chief Lisa Jackson signs historic GHG finding

File this one under “Ya Think?”

After decades of studies and nearly unanimous agreement of fact-based scientists around the planet, the Obama administration today announced that green house gases (GHGs) threaten the health of current Americans and future generations.

Obama’s action makes good on a campaign promise issued nine years ago. That promise was made by Texas Governor George W. Bush when he was running for the White House. Once in office, however, the promise was yanked — out from under then EPA Administrator Christie Whitman who learned about the policy shift at a press conference.

From reporters.

As John Stewart would say: “Emba-a-a-ra-a-a-sing!”

But as a former KGB agent once told me, “Osha, let us not talk about the bad things of the past.”

(We were in a crumbling Stalin-era apartment, miles from my hotel in Moscow. It was night. I thought his advice was prudent.)

Here’s the contents of an email Administrator Jackson sent to all EPA employers less than two hours ago:


Just minutes ago, I signed a proposed finding indicating that six greenhouse gases pose a threat to the health and welfare of current and future generations of Americans. This was an historic action, and the first formal recognition by the U.S. government of the threats posed by climate change.

Two years ago, the Supreme Court urged EPA scientists to speak on the question of greenhouse gas pollution and the threats it poses to our health and welfare. They recognized the seriousness of this matter and I’m proud of the work you’ve done to tackle this question head-on.

We release this proposal amid the President’s call to transition to a low-carbon economy, and strong Congressional leadership on clean energy and climate legislation. In the weeks and months ahead, we will work closely with all stakeholders to find the best solutions to the threats of climate change. I believe that the right answer will come through legislation that focuses on green jobs, clean energy, and new technologies.

This is an historic day for our country and our agency. As Earth Day approaches, today’s announcement should remind all Americans that change has come for the environment. Change has come to the EPA.

Many hands played a part in this effort. You all have my sincerest appreciation and respect. I know staff and managers in OAR, ORD and OGC played a crucial role in this document’s development. In particular, let me highlight the tireless work of Lisa Heinzerling, Dina Kruger, Ben DeAngelo, Rona Birnbaum, Carol Holmes and John Hannon. They, like all EPA employees, have given so much to advance our mission of protecting human health and the environment.

As always, I’m proud to serve with you. Thanks for your extraordinary work.


Lisa P. Jackson