The Dark Side of Cheap Gas

Inexpensive gas means more driving, more gas-guzzlers.


In case you hadn’t noticed, gas is a lot cheaper now than it was this time last year.  Starting last June, a glut in the international oil markets tipped oil prices into a sustained, seven-month decline. Falling oil price were quickly passed through to consumers, with fueling stations across the country regularly slashing gas prices to levels not seen since the depths of the Great Recession.

So now that gas is cheaper, are we driving more? The answer is both clear and unsurprising: yes, low gas prices have prodded Americans to drive more. Read more »


Cloud Peak Projects Major Coal Export Losses

Coal company projects substantial losses on exports.

Cloud Peak Energy—the third largest coal producer in the Powder River Basin, and one of the main proponents of coal export projects in Washington and Oregon—recently released its earnings statement for the fourth quarter of 2014. And as I read through the details of their earnings statement, I discovered that a prediction I made last fall was wrong.

I had anticipated that Cloud Peak would start reporting losses from its export division starting in 2015. But I was three months too late: Cloud  …  read more »


Weekend Reading 2/27/15

More zero-waste inspiration, the locavore's cocktail, and more.
Original illustration by Nina Montenegro of


After Meaghan’s weekend reading pick a couple of weeks ago, I went on another of my zero-waste reading and inspiration kicks—sort of an annual kick in the pants I need to keep on top of low-waste livin’. First stop: Bea Johnson (h/t L.S.), complete with recipes for everyday needs and a video introduction if you prefer.

Why are developers still building sprawl? Atlantic writer Alana Semuels takes a look at why we’re diving right back into the development patterns that contributed to the recession, the builders still trying to tell us we want ever more space, and the yet-to-be-determined influence of Millennial and new urbanist tastes on the market.


My top recommendation is this account of what it’s like to testify on a bill in Olympia, which is something I have occasion to do a few times each year. The bill, in this case, one that would support emotional development in school children—a worthy topic—but the lessons the author draws from her experience with the legislature are much broader and refreshingly positive. Read more »

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10 Key Takeaways from BC’s Polluters-Pay Model

Advice from northern Cascadia.

British Columbia has a world-class carbon tax. Its been working for almost 7 years, cutting pollution and pumping money into other parts of the economy, like the pockets of businesses and households who now pay lower taxes. Jealous decision-makers down here in Oregon and Washington might be asking “Yes, but how how did they start taxing pollution and helping businesses and residents? How did they do it?” Clean Energy Canada set out to answer your anguished questions by interviewing 13 of the architects of British Columbia’s carbon tax. Below are their 10 takeaways about a carbon tax, along with a little explanation and my take.

1.     A carbon tax and a thriving economy can co-exist.

True, that.

Every single interviewee agreed that the carbon tax has not harmed the economy. Some interviewees noted that carbon-funded corporate tax cuts have helped attract businesses to the province. Read more »


Grays Harbor Ship Traffic: the Impact of Oil Plans

Oil terminals could mean five-fold increase in major vessel traffic.

Weekend Reading 2/20/15

50 reasons to love Northwest rivers, Grays Harbor oil plans, money in politics, and more.

What’s Your Climate Change Elevator Pitch?

Katharine Hayhoe, PhD, says: Start with values. Say what you care about.

Advice on Rain Barrel Watering Now As a Pamphlet!

An easy way to share the news on using roof runoff to irrigate veggies.

VIDEO: The Pacific Northwest Can End the Free Lunch for Carbon Polluters

Beyond carbon in 60 seconds (part 1).

It’s Accountability Time for Seattle Port Commissioners

Port of Seattle: Gateway to Arctic Drilling?