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Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting the future.

Well, not really, but it sure felt like it. I got to visit the Tesla Motors factory, in Fremont, California.

It was my first up close experience with the Tesla Model S -- the Motor Trend car of the year for 2013 that also happens to be a luxurious, high performance electric car with the largest range on the market -- and I have to say it was pretty amazing.

In fact, so amazing, that I tweeted this, towards the end of my day at the factory:



I’m no “car guy” by any means, but sitting in this car, you feel as though you can seriously see the future. The displays are brilliantly vibrant and informative (including showing the rapidly increasing network of super-charging stations that by 2015 should span every major highway in the country), the integration with mobile internet for maps and other functions is seamless, and even the way the door handles retract to be flush against the car as you walk away seems to be from a movie.

Oh, and that’s before you even turn it on. Get this thing out of the parking lot, and it just goes. Fast, and silent. Oh, and one more thing: it’s 100% electric. No gas allowed.

Even the temporary license plate on these cars coming out of the factory sends a pretty clear message: “Zero Emissions.”




The whole experience felt like stepping into the future.

Of course, there are caveats. Tesla's, with their hefty price tags, aren't accessible to most people even with the very impressive tax incentives being offered by state and federal governments. But there are increasingly other options out there, albeit coming on slowly...

But the thing is, a new era of cheap and affordable alternatives could be here now if we want it to be. The only thing standing in our way is the oil industry, intent on keeping us addicted to their dirty oil that is ruining our climate, and the politicians they buy off.

And that brings me to another thing I did this week, which feels more like something I wish were further in the past, but unfortunately is squarely in the present. Along with with my colleagues at Oil Change International, we launched our latest campaign, targeting Governor Brown to place a ban on fracking in California.

The campaign, entitled Big Oil Brown, highlights the ways in which Governor Brown and other California decision-makers are being influenced by the oil industry regarding issues like fracking. It asks the question: Will Jerry Brown turn into Big Oil Brown?

The fact is, the oil industry will do whatever they can to keep the status quo. Whether it’s buying off politicians through massive campaign contributions, unleashing battalions of lobbyists to protect their subsidies and beat back regulations, or manipulating public discourse with misleading advertising, Big Oil won’t back down quickly. They have profits to protect, afterall.

Unfortunately our communities and our climate simply can’t afford California to be fracked. We can’t afford the water and air to be poisoned by fracking chemicals and operations. We can’t afford more oil to be dug up and released into our atmosphere. And we simply can’t afford to be moving our economy further down the road of fossil-fueled climate disaster.

There must be a new direction, and fortunately what I saw in Fremont leads me to have hope that a new direction is out there. Californians are leading the way when it comes to electric cars, solar, and other renewable technologies. Now it's time for our politicians to put the regulations in place that will continue to propel us away from our dirty past and push the clean-tech revolution forward.

It’s time for Governor Brown to make a decision. He can be Big Oil Brown and move California down the road of fracking our communities and climate. Or he can say no to our dirty past, stop fracking, and move California towards a cleaner future. (And if that new future includes more Teslas, I know I won’t be complaining.)

Can you help us tell Governor Brown to stop fracking in California? Add your voice here.

Cross-posted from Oil Change International's blog.

Originally posted to dturnbull on Thu Dec 19, 2013 at 05:13 PM PST.

Also republished by Climate Hawks, DK GreenRoots, Climate Change SOS, Kitchen Table Kibitzing, Silicon Valley Kos, and California politics.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Are they fracking near the San Andreas fault yet? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader

    Fracking frackers..

    Please support The War on Christmas. Do it for the Reindeer Troops.

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Thu Dec 19, 2013 at 06:28:04 PM PST

  •  I'm somewhat torn on electric cars (10+ / 0-)

    while they are obviously better than gasoline-powered cars, they still require the same massive automobile-centric infrastructure that has got us into so much trouble. Also, how much fossil fuel goes into extracting the resources for, manufacturing, shipping, and building and maintaining infrastructure for 4000 pound boxes for individual use?

    So I look at the electric car as the equivalent of the "recycling" in the "refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle" sequence. I know there will be cars in the foreseeable future, and the ones we need should be electric, hydrogen, or natural gas-run. But I think we have to be careful not to overhype the electric car as the savior of our emissions problem. Walkable and bikeable infrastructure should have a clear priority to electric cars, and as part of more human scale cities the types of individual transportation we're more in need of are electric golf cart type vehicles rather than fast and sporty Teslas.

    I simply don't see the City of Los Angeles with all Teslas instead of BMWs as the solution to our problems, so I think it's important to always encourage people to seek alternatives like walking, biking, public transit or car-sharing before going the electric route. In other words, refuse, reduce, and reuse before recycling.

    Ecology is the new Economy => Kosonomy

    by citisven on Thu Dec 19, 2013 at 06:28:30 PM PST

    •  I'm sure you are very concerned (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HeyMikey, wader

      The choice is not all Teslas instead of BMWs. Do you really want to see miserably slow golf cart type vehicles mixed into, and disrupting,  the LA commute traffic, instead of safe and fast electric cars capable of doing everything oil burning cars can do, except spew CO2 and other toxins into the air?

      Tesla is the stereotype breaker for electric cars. Tesla's are faster and better than your BMW, and they emit no noxious emssions as they do so. Once that reality becomes mainstream common knowledge, then the market will be ready for more affordable electric commute cars that don't slow traffic, don't look like golf carts, and don't cost a fortune like your BMW, or your Tesla does.

      Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now 400ppm. That is "Climate Cluster Chaos". (hat tip to JeffW for CCC)

      by Zinman on Thu Dec 19, 2013 at 09:25:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  EVs not "golf carts", even if they are not Tesla (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Zinman

        Most EVs on the market now are the opposite of "golf carts". Our Nissan Leaf can beat a Mustang out of the stop light, if we cared to do it (which I do occasionally :).
        The Tesla's main distinction (besides the luxury-car stuff described in the diary) is its range, and the dedicated Supercharger network.

        But EVs are not about vanity. They are about putting out there on the roads enough vehicles that don't use gas (or at least can run without gas for a substantial distance, i.e. the plug-in hybrids et al.).

        This, eventually, will do to the oil economy what has recently happened to the coal economy: it will become economically better - even for narrow-focus Wall Street types - to keep that oil in the ground and stop investing in its extraction.

        Tomorrow morning I have a diary out on EV technology, the last in my EV series.

    •  How do you break the car culture of LA? n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader, mimi

      If we really want to straighten out all this crap we really need to think about shit - Holy Shit.

      by John Crapper on Thu Dec 19, 2013 at 10:14:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  may be by dedicating one lane of LA's highways (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        John Crapper

        to chained-linked-together EV "golfcarts", building little trains out of EV "golfcarts" and giving them right of way on one lane ?

        In DC they mess up the whole innercity automobile traffic by dedicating one lane for bikes on already older narrower streets. I am sure it helps the bikers and in general I am all for it. But to build these changes in the innercity streets the huge amounts of cars passing through Washington DC's inner city to commute from suburban areas to their workplace, the commute doubles because of the narrowing and construction sites all over.

        So, when we can endure those changes in favor of bikers, I think we definitely could endure to have one lane less on the three-to-four lanes of the main highways and interstates leaving the innercities.

        You can use the existing highways and convert them to accomodate EV "golfcarts" and I have in mind like a chain of these vehicles with one lane dedicated for them, so that they don't have to engage in the frigging stop and go of the cars on other lanes.

        Yesterday evening I had a two and a half hour commute for distance I can make in 25 minutes on Sunday mornings.

        It's just ridiculous. And I would be glad to be allowed to drive with an EV "golfcart" on the highways to get home.

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