April 18 News: Higher Gasoline Prices Are Changing American Driving Habits

Our round-up of the latest news in climate and clean energy. Please post other links below.

As prices have neared and in some cases topped $4 a gallon, drivers have cut their consumption of gasoline to its lowest levels in a decade, driving less and buying cars that are more fuel-efficient. [Washington Post]

President Barack Obama will receive endorsements Wednesday from the Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Clean Water Action and Environment America, according to an environmental political operative and a House Democratic source. [Politico]

The White House on Tuesday said Obama would veto legislation before the U.S. House of Representatives that sought to force approval of the stalled Keystone XL oil pipeline as part of a new 90-day extension of federal transportation funding. [Reuters]

Members of the presidential panel that investigated the 2010 BP oil rig explosion and spill sharply criticized Congress on Tuesday for refusing to act on any of its recommendations and gave the Obama administration and the oil industry mixed marks. [New York Times]

To most consumers, the cloud is an abstract warehouse in the sky where we store our photos, documents and other key bits of information with a click of a button. But the technology that keeps the cloud running — data centers and mobile telecommunications networks, operating 24 hours a day — requires electricity, making it a target for environmentalists hoping to curb greenhouse gas emissions. [Washington Post]

One of the auto industry’s most closely guarded secrets—the enormous cost of batteries for electric cars—has spilled out. Speaking at a forum on green technology on Monday, Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Alan Mulally indicated battery packs for the company’s Focus electric car costs between $12,000 and $15,000 apiece. [Wall Street Journal]

India’s enormous solar potential has until now been seen mostly through the lens of a PV module. But this week’s news that Areva Solar is planning a 250-megawatt project in the country’s Rajasthan region is noteworthy for its size and its technology. [Renewable Energy World]

23 Responses to April 18 News: Higher Gasoline Prices Are Changing American Driving Habits

  1. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    My recent cycling to work had more to do with my expanding waist line than the expanding cost of fuel.


  2. Mike 22 says:

    Re electric car batteries, the WSJ has the story upside down as usual. Average EV battery prices are down 14% over last year to 689$/kwh (Reuters), the cost for the Ford battery is 590$/kwh, and the Nissan Leaf battery is reported to be 375$/kwh.

    How does this compare with 4$ gas, WSJ? In a 40 mpg car, one buck will get you ten miles. In an EV, with a 600$/kwh battery that gets 3000 cycles (a low number), the round trip kwh cost in and out of the battery is 20 cents/kwh. Figure the cost of green electricity at 20 cents also, and a buck will get you 2.5 kwhs, or enough to go about 11 miles.

    And don’t forget WSJ, the batteries are built in Michigan, and the electric is made here in the US, as opposed to the gasoline, which ain’t. And gas only gets more expensive, while batteries get cheaper. And we don’t have to buy our green electricity with American lives. And batteries recycle, gas just turns into CO2. And you don’t have to change the oil and filters on an electric motor. And the batteries are just as valuable on the grid as they are on the road.

    So, in short, WSJ, keep up the anti-American anti-Clean Economy news, as you are being paid to do.

  3. Tom King says:

    I’m perplexed why anyone would link to the WSJ as a news feed. The information is arranged to manipulate. The costs of batteries aren’t secret, aren’t enormous, and aren’t even accurate. I can buy a single lithium ion battery on ebay for well under $500 per kwh. I bet if I offered to buy tens of thousands of such batteries I would receive a sizable discount. My guess is that wholesale price is more like $250 per kwh.

  4. Steve says:

    Steve Lacey — Thanks for the link and your headline re Washington Post story. Speaks for itself. And quite, albeit not radically, encouraging.

    I spend my time in front of judges and juries who are inclined to discredit ALL of what you argue for, or of what any witness says, if there is a glaring, fundamental inconsistency in the points being made.

    I respectfully suggest that when Climate Progress joins the chorus of those bemoaning higher energy costs, especially gasoline prices in the US, because of resentment toward the presumed beneficiaries of that fact (oil industry or commodities traders), then you complicate and undercut your message and potentially sabotage your credibility on multiple fronts.

    You have sister blogs dealing with economic equality and politics where, I suppose, that topic is fair game, but here it is misplaced. You don’t have to affirmatively cheer increased gasoline prices (though you probably should), but you ought to at least remain mute on the topic.

    At one point, I thought keeping prices in check might be an “understandable” short-term political strategy to avoid a GOP blame-game and a GOP victory in the Fall. I think right now that the GOP is way behind in the game, and that gasoline prices are more likely to be blamed upon GOP allies than anyone else. So, let people worry a little and change their ways as a result.

    People making sustained changes to gasoline consumption patterns — reluctantly or otherwise — are not likely to fully return to their old ways. They might just use the extra money to listen to great music, for example, a carbon-free pursuit of happiness.

  5. I spend my time in front of judges and juries who are inclined to discredit ALL of what you argue for, or of what any witness says, if there is a glaring, fundamental inconsistency in the points being made.

    Fighting words from, um, someone who keeps excusing the deeds of powerful people by preaching “personal responsibility”?

    I agree with your points that oil prices should be higher, not lower. What I don’t agree is that somehow it’s the fault of the lower-downs, and that Obama and Congress are somehow blameless.

    — frank

  6. SecularAnimist says:

    IBM expects full commercial production of its lithium-air batteries within 8 years.

    IBM’s lithium-air batteries will be lighter and less expensive than the current generation of lithium-ion batteries and will have TEN TIMES the energy density, giving electric cars a range of 500 miles per charge.

    Once electric cars with a range of 500 miles per charge, and near-zero maintenance costs, are available — who will want anything else?

  7. John Tucker says:

    I think reducing carbon footprint always makes sense.

    But I think also there needs to be a higher energy pathway in the perpetually floundering clean energy movement.

    One where we far out perform current levels of energy production and even install new higher energy technology.

    One that also incorporates a vast expansion of the space program and a crossover of technology from and to it from clean energy technology.

  8. John Tucker says:

    Linking the two is not so strange an association.

    We are in a situation where interaction and interference threatens to destroy or greatly diminish a complex living, interdependent system that took millions of years to evolve and stabilize.

    We are damaging this global habitat because of our unquenchable need for raw materials, space and energy, and will continue to do so until we are it are exhausted.

    Meanwhile we are surrounded by a lifeless void composed of empty space, vast chunks of natural resources and energy.

    It may be time to seriously consider some course corrections. Or at least fine tuning:

    Is humanity quietly abandoning a future in space? ( )

  9. Steve says:

    “Fighting words”? Really. What you quote from my comment is actually a fundamental principle of advocacy and, believe it or not, a roughly-paraphrased jury instruction on evaluating the credibility of witnesses.

  10. Steve says:

    If you are concerned about perceived misfeasance of powerful people, then get a law degree and be a prosecutor or securities class action attorney.

    All I am saying is that IF business as usual means climate disaster for all, then per capita GHG emissions need to come down, and, yes, that is a collective personal responsibility. If the one percent cease all their emissions and the 99% continue business as usual, no, nothing will meaningfully change in the CO2 headcount.

  11. prokaryotes says:

    Here another slam on “renewables” + “CO2 Tax” from the “Australian”

    URL is masked to not give them SEO with this “backlink”

  12. prokaryotes says:

    Website error:

    When on frontpage view, the middle teaser image, featuring the man himself “Trump”, link is broken..

  13. prokaryotes says:

    There is a serious bad development with the renewable energy industry…

    Go to this link and click on the 5J view within the small index graphic:

    2 weeks ago the RENIXX Index for the first time went below 200 counts. For the time it is slightly up, but for how long? This is only because China will likely overtake the biggest wind turbine maker in the world, Vestas!

    The western nations are sleepwalking and risk another recession! The world needs this index to grow for 2 main reasons 1.) Tp push the economy – which can not be done in the same manner with limited energies and 2.) Because of the growth rates of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere!

    This is utmost importance and nobody seems aware!

  14. prokaryotes says:

    I bet that the chinese startegist set down when creating their energy doctrine and especially decided to target this index!

    The USA needs to size something from this cake!!!!!!

  15. prokaryotes says:

    Follow my new energy financing project on facebook

    Looking for sponsors and investors

  16. prokaryotes says:

    Convenient Action with Concern for Future

    On 19th April 2012 – all conference delegates are invited to the Charanka Solar Park – to witness the worlds first of its kind, largest, multi-developer, multi-facility and multi-beneficiary solar park. The park has more than 200 MW of installed solar power capacity.

  17. prokaryotes says:

    Colorado Solar Energy Leader to be Recognized by the White House
    Zam Energy honored as part of President Obama’s “Winning the Future” Initiative

  18. prokaryotes says:

    Imagine transforming every parking lot in the United States into a clean energy plant. Recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change for Innovations for Renewable Energy, Erin Geegan, CEO of Zam Energy, aims to revolutionize parking facilities by installing solar energy carports to create energy and charge electric vehicles.

    Geegan, a resident of Boulder, Colo., will be honored on April 19 as part of President Obama’s “Winning the Future” initiative that recognizes American leaders for advancing new ideas that support a sustainable future.

    To watch the event live, visit at 12:30pm ET on April 19th.

    “The goal of our work is to empower the American people by making it a reality to efficiently fuel their own vehicles with home grown energy,” Geegan said. “It’s an opportunity to support the American economy while bringing hope to future generations and the state of the planet.”

  19. prokaryotes says:

    Lightning crackles around a mile-high ash plume above Chile’s Puyehue volcano.

    Scientists don’t know exactly how lightning is created in an ash cloud, however. But they expect it’s a result of particles rubbing together, generating friction and electrical charges.

    Volcano lightning may be generated in a similar way to that in normal thunderstorms in a process scientists have dubbed “dirty thunderstorms.” In a normal thunderstorm, ice particles rub together to generate an electrical charge; in the case of a volcano, rock fragments, ash and ice may all rub together to produce this charge.

    When particles become charged during an eruption isn’t known though, and scientists are just beginning to get a good look inside the plumes that generate the lightning — an unfriendly environment to be sure.

    (Credit: New Scientist)

  20. If you are concerned about perceived misfeasance of powerful people,

    So it looks like malfeasance of powerful people isn’t a concern to you. You advocate “personal responsibility”, but only for the little guys. I wonder why?

    If the one percent cease all their emissions

    …and stop spreading nonsense, and enact the right policies, then the US can well be on track to a cleaner energy future.

    But you seem more concerned with making up specious arguments to defend the rich and powerful.

    — frank

  21. David B. Benson says:

    Current LCOE figures:
    wind (MI) — US$62/MWh [from link below]
    NPP (VC Summer est.) — US$76/MWh [from memory]
    new coal burner (MI est.) — US$133/MWh [from link below]

  22. ozajh says:

    I note that the WSJ and The Australian both happen to be published by News Corporation.

    Of course it COULD be just coincidence . . .