Independent Democracy

Thought provoking commentary

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November 15, 2008 Posted by | Animals, Barack Obama, Books, Cult, Current Events, Election 2008, Entertainment, Environment, Florida, Fun Stuff, Health, Helpful Resources, Humor, Iraq, John McCain, Letters to the Editor, Magazines, Military & War, Money, Movies, Music, News, News of the Wierd, Newspaper, Politics, Radio, Random, Religion, Rhode Island, Sarah Palin, Shopping, Sirius, Sirius Radio, Sports, Tampa Tribune, Television, Uncategorized, Utah, Utne, XM, XM Radio | Leave a comment

McCain’s V.P. choice is dangerous for the nation

Yesterday was John McCain’s 72nd birthday. If elected, he’d be the oldest president ever inaugurated. And after months of slamming Barack Obama for “inexperience,” here’s who John McCain has chosen to be one heartbeat away from the presidency: a right-wing religious conservative with no foreign policy experience, who until recently was mayor of a town of 9,000 people.

Huh?

Who is Sarah Palin? Here’s some basic background:

* She was elected Alaska ‘s governor a little over a year and a half ago. Her previous office was mayor of Wasilla, a small town outside Anchorage. She has no foreign policy experience.1
* Palin is strongly anti-choice, opposing abortion even in the case of rape or incest.2
* She supported right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan for president in 2000. 3
* Palin thinks creationism should be taught in public schools.4
* She’s doesn’t think humans are the cause of climate change.5
* She’s solidly in line with John McCain’s “Big Oil first” energy policy. She’s pushed hard for more oil drilling and says renewables won’t be ready for years. She also sued the Bush administration for listing polar bears as an endangered species—she was worried it would interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.6
* How closely did John McCain vet this choice? He met Sarah Palin once at a meeting. They spoke a second time, last Sunday, when he called her about being vice-president. Then he offered her the position.7

This is information the American people need to see. Please take a moment to forward this email to your friends and family.

We also asked Alaska MoveOn members what the rest of us should know about their governor. The response was striking. Here’s a sample:

She is really just a mayor from a small town outside Anchorage who has been a governor for only 1.5 years, and has ZERO national and international experience. I shudder to think that she could be the person taking that 3AM call on the White House hotline, and the one who could potentially be charged with leading the US in the volatile international scene that exists today. —Rose M., Fairbanks, AK

She is VERY, VERY conservative, and far from perfect. She’s a hunter and fisherwoman, but votes against the environment again and again. She ran on ethics reform, but is currently under investigation for several charges involving hiring and firing of state officials. She has NO experience beyond Alaska. —Christine B., Denali Park, AK

As an Alaskan and a feminist, I am beyond words at this announcement. Palin is not a feminist, and she is not the reformer she claims to be. —Karen L., Anchorage, AK

Alaskans, collectively, are just as stunned as the rest of the nation. She is doing well running our State, but is totally inexperienced on the national level, and very much unequipped to run the nation, if it came to that. She is as far right as one can get, which has already been communicated on the news. In our office of thirty employees (dems, republicans, and nonpartisans), not one person feels she is ready for the V.P. position.—Sherry C., Anchorage, AK

She’s vehemently anti-choice and doesn’t care about protecting our natural resources, even though she has worked as a fisherman. McCain chose her to pick up the Hillary voters, but Palin is no Hillary. —Marina L., Juneau, AK

I think she’s far too inexperienced to be in this position. I’m all for a woman in the White House, but not one who hasn’t done anything to deserve it. There are far many other women who have worked their way up and have much more experience that would have been better choices. This is a patronizing decision on John McCain’s part- and insulting to females everywhere that he would assume he’ll get our vote by putting “A Woman” in that position.—Jennifer M., Anchorage, AK

So Governor Palin is a staunch anti-choice religious conservative. She’s a global warming denier who shares John McCain’s commitment to Big Oil. And she’s dramatically inexperienced.

In picking Sarah Palin, John McCain has made the religious right very happy. And he’s made a very dangerous decision for our country.

In the next few days, many Americans will be wondering what McCain’s vice-presidential choice means. Please pass this information along to your friends and family.

Thanks for all you do.

–Ilyse, Noah, Justin, Karin and the rest of the team

Sources:

1. “Sarah Palin,” Wikipedia, Accessed August 29, 2008
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Palin

2. “McCain Selects Anti-Choice Sarah Palin as Running Mate,” NARAL Pro-Choice America, August 29, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=17515&id=13661-4573078-E1zn.ex&t=1

3. “Sarah Palin, Buchananite,” The Nation, August 29, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=17736&id=13661-4573078-E1zn.ex&t=2

4. “‘Creation science’ enters the race,” Anchorage Daily News, October 27, 2006
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=17737&id=13661-4573078-E1zn.ex&t=3

5. “Palin buys climate denial PR spin—ignores science,” Huffington Post, August 29, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=17517&id=13661-4573078-E1zn.ex&t=4

6. “McCain VP Pick Completes Shift to Bush Energy Policy,” Sierra Club, August 29, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=17518&id=13661-4573078-E1zn.ex&t=5

“Choice of Palin Promises Failed Energy Policies of the Past,” League of Conservation Voters, August 29, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=17519&id=13661-4573078-E1zn.ex&t=6

“Protecting polar bears gets in way of drilling for oil, says governor,” The Times of London, May 23, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=17520&id=13661-4573078-E1zn.ex&t=7

7 “McCain met Palin once before yesterday,” MSNBC, August 29, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=21119&id=13661-4573078-E1zn.ex&t=8

August 30, 2008 Posted by | Current Events, Environment, John McCain, News, Politics, Religion, Sarah Palin | Leave a comment

There’s no such thing as “clean coal”

Don’t be deceived, there’s no such thing as ‘clean coal’
Cherise Udell
Salt Lake Tribune 5/4/08

Let’s be real: “Clean coal” is a marketing slogan not a technological reality. Coal does currently provide us with a reliable source of electricity but at an astronomical price that is hidden from us consumers.
Maybe you pay for it with your child’s asthma. Maybe you paid for it with your father’s heart attack or your grandmother’s stroke that took her speech away. Maybe you lost a baby to SIDS on a particularly bad air day.
Emissions from coal-fired power plants are a leading cause of smog, acid rain, global warming, air toxins – and premature deaths. The EPA estimates that over 30,000 Americans are dying prematurely each year due to emissions from power plants, the majority of which are coal-powered.
This doesn’t even address the high mortality rates associated with the mining process. Thus, coal kills more people annually than homicides (16,000 in 2000) or AIDS (14,000) and nearly as many as traffic accidents (42,000).

So when coal industry advocates like Joe Lucas, vice president of communications for the American Coalition for Clean Coal, and Bountiful resident Bruce Taylor, co-owner of the proposed coal plant in Sevier County, say “cleaner coal,” what exactly do they mean?

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a typical coal plant annually generates:

  • 3.7 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), the primary human cause of global warming
  • 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2)
  • 500 tons of small airborne particles, which can cause chronic bronchitis, aggravated asthma, and premature death
  • 10,200 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx), equal to what would be emitted by half a million late-model cars. NOx leads to formation of ozone (smog) which inflames the lungs
  • 720 tons of carbon monoxide (CO), which causes headaches and places additional stress on people with heart disease
  • 220 tons of hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds (VOC), which form ozone
  • 170 pounds of mercury, an extremely potent neurotoxin; just 1/70th of a teaspoon deposited on a 25-acre lake can make the fish unsafe for human consumption. The Great Salt Lake is already heavily contaminated with mercury
  • 225 pounds of arsenic, which will cause cancer in one out of 100 people who regularly drink water containing 50 parts per billion
  • 114 pounds of lead, 4 pounds of cadmium, other toxic heavy metals, and trace amounts of uranium

None of these numbers sounds “clean” to me. So, does coal advocate Lucas consider a “clean” coal plant to produce only 7,000 pounds of annual sulfur dioxide emissions instead of 10,000 pounds? Does he consider 2 million tons of carbon dioxide instead of 3.7 million tons to be “clean” or how about 120 pounds of mercury instead of 170 pounds? Does “clean” coal only cause 20,000 premature deaths annually as compared to 30,000?

The reality is coal is dirty and will likely remain so.
If the American Coalition for Clean Coal is determined to funnel much-needed tax monies away from the development of real energy solutions that are sustainable and life-giving rather than life-taking, then I want to know exactly what is meant by clean.
Please do not try to manipulate me with deceptive advertising, green-washing or in this case, clean-washing.
Lucas and others in the energy sector must choose between investing in antiquated pulverized coal technology, desperately trying to make it “cleaner” or investing in innovative, renewable and truly clean energy technologies that will position the United States as a leader in the new global economy of the 21st century.
You can guess which choice will be better in the long run for our pocketbook, our economy and our health.
For more information about the high costs of coal check out: http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/fossil_fuels/costs_of_coal.html

May 4, 2008 Posted by | Environment, Health, Newspaper, Utah | Leave a comment

The cost of the Iraq war – What can $611 billion buy?

Do you have any other ideas on how to spend $611 billion – or comparisons for what that money could have bought? Please leave your comments.

bush.jpg

If the Bush administration succeeds in its latest request for funding for the war in Iraq, the total cost would rise to $611.5 billion, according to the National Priorities Project, a nonprofit research group.

The amount got me wondering: What would $611 billion buy?

Nearly 4,000 Newton North High Schools
Tagged as the most expensive high school in Massachusetts, at $154.6 million, the construction design for the new Newton North High School could be replicated almost 4,000 times using the money spent on the war.

school.jpg

40 Big Digs

At almost $15 billion, Boston’s Central Artery project has been held up as the nation’s most expensive public works project. Now multiply that by 40 and you’re getting close to US taxpayers’ commitment to democracy in Iraq – so far.

bigdig.jpg

Almost 18 months’ worth of free gas for everyone
US drivers consume approximately 384.7 million gallons of gasoline a day. Retail prices averaged $3.00 a gallon in early November. Breaking it down, $611 billion could buy gasoline for everybody in the United States, for about 530 days.

gas.jpg

Many, many environment-friendly cars on the road

With $611 billion, you could convert all cars in America to run on ethanol nine times over.

TheBudgetGraph.com estimates that converting the 136,568,083 registered cars in the United States to ethanol (conversion kits at $500) would cost $68.2 billion.

eth.jpg

Nearly 14 million years’ worth of tuition, room, and board at Harvard
At published rates for this year, $611 billion translates into almost 14 million free rides for a year at Harvard University.

Tuition and fees at the University of Massachusetts-Boston could be paid for over 53 million years.

harvard.jpg

More than a year’s worth of Medicare benefits for everyone

In fiscal 2008, Medicare benefits will total $454 billion, according to a Heritage Foundation summary. The $611 billion in war costs is 17 times the amount vetoed by the president for a $35 billion health benefit program for poor children.

medicare.jpg

A looong contract for Dice-K

The Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka agreed on a six-year, $52 million contract. The war cost could be enough to have Dice-K mania for more than 70,000-some years at this year’s rate.

dice.jpg

A real war on poverty
According to World Bank estimates, $54 billion a year would eliminate starvation and malnutrition globally by 2015, while $30 billion would provide a year of primary education for every child on earth.

At the upper range of those estimates, the $611 billion cost of the war could have fed and educated the world’s poor for seven years.

poverty.jpg

 

November 12, 2007 Posted by | Current Events, Environment, Fun Stuff, Health, Humor, Iraq, Military & War, Money, News, Politics, Random, Sports | , | 3 Comments

Store and share your holiday photos online with Smugmug

I’ve tried trial versions of about a half-dozen photo sharing/storage sites and Smugmug is by far the best. There are numerous reasons why I love Smugmug which I’ve listed below. The age old saying is you get what you paid for. In the crowded field of online photo sharing services, Smugmug has been everything I’ve ever needed and then some.

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November 12, 2007 Posted by | Animals, Blogroll, Books, Current Events, Environment, Fun Stuff, Health, Helpful Resources, Humor, Iraq, Letters to the Editor, Military & War, Money, Movies, Music, News, News of the Wierd, Politics, Random, Religion, Rhode Island, Sports, Television, Utah | Leave a comment

Better World Club – Eco friendly alternative to AAA auto club

Better World Auto Club
http://www.betterworldclub.com

Better World Club, Inc. is dedicated to balancing economic goals with social and environmental responsibility. Better World Club supports a cleaner environment and alternative modes of transportation. They provide customers with high quality, good value and environmentally sensitive products and services:

– Emergency Roadside Assistance
– Travel Products and Services
– Insurance Products and Services

Importantly, they act as an advocate on behalf of the consumer and demonstrate our social and environmental commitment by donating an amount equal to 1% of our annual revenues toward environmental clean-up and advocacy and by providing unique eco-friendly travel alternatives.

Better World Club Provides Nationwide Roadside Assistance. They are the Nation’s Only environmentally friendly auto club. Membership Includes eco-travel Services, Discounts on hybrid cars, insurance Services, Free Maps, Auto Maintenance discounts and bicycle roadside assistance. They donate 1% of annual revenues toward environmental cleanup and advocacy.

Anyone who has competed with AAA has said, “we’re just like AAA.” Better World Club says “our roadside assistance mirrors AAA’s, but we’re nothing like them or other auto clubs. We have a unique policy agenda.”

  • They are not part of the Highway Lobby.
  • They support the McCain Lieberman Act to fight global warming.
  • They support California’s effort to regulate automobiles to fight global warming.
  • They support higher fuel economy standards.
  • They support the use of highway tax dollars for mass transit.
  • They believe that the government should establish a goal of getting us off Middle Eastern oil in 10 years.
  • They don’t fight bike paths.
  • They offer discounts on hybrid rental cars.
  • They offer discounts on eco-travel.
  • They help fight global warming by offering our members free carbon offsets when they purchase airline tickets through Better World Travel.
  • We enable you to register your car online.
  • You can find the policy agenda of major environmental and public interest organizations here.
  • You can file complaints on Airline Travel here
  • They donate 1% of revenues toward environmental cleanup and advocacy.
  • They have the nation’s only bicycle roadside assistance.

November 11, 2007 Posted by | Current Events, Environment, Health, Money, News | 1 Comment

Arctic Ice the Size (and shape) of Florida Gone in a Week

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Arctic Ice Continues Record Melting

Scientists report that arctic ice the size (and shape) of the state of Florida has melted in the last week.

arctic_ice_florida_070910_ms.jpg

Arctic Ice the size (and shape) of Florida gone in a week

By CLAYTON SANDELL

An area of Arctic sea ice the size of Florida has melted away in just the last six days as melting at the top of the planet continues at a record rate.

2007 has already broken the record for the lowest amount of sea ice ever recorded, say scientists, smashing the old record set in 2005.

Currently, there are about 1.63 million square miles of Arctic ice, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. That is well below the record of 2.05 million square miles set two summers ago and could drop even lower before the final numbers are in.

North Pole’s Ice Disappears

From September 3 to September 9, researchers say 69,000 square miles of Arctic ice disappeared, roughly the size of the Sunshine State.

Scientists say the rate of melting in 2007 has been unprecedented, and veteran ice researchers worry the Arctic is on track to be completely ice-free much earlier than previous research and climate models have suggested.

“If you had asked me a few years ago about how fast the Arctic would be ice free in summer, I would have said somewhere between about 2070 and the turn of the century,” said scientist Mark Serreze, polar ice expert at the NSIDC. “My view has changed. I think that an ice-free Arctic as early as 2030 is not unreasonable.”

Sea ice melt will likely reach the absolute minimum in the next few days as temperatures at the North Pole cool and refreezing begins.

Worldwide Climate Implications

Melting sea ice, unlike land-based glaciers like the ones in Greenland and elsewhere, does not raise sea level. But it does play a major role in regulating the planet’s climate by affecting air and ocean currents.

“It will shift some of the weather patterns in ways that we are just beginning to understand,” said Robert Correll, a scientist who chairs the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment and is also the climate change director at the Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment in Washington, D.C.

Correll said that white sea ice also acts as a mirror at the top of the planet, reflecting much of the sun’s energy back into space. As it melts, it reveals darker water that absorbs more energy from the sun — further warming the ocean in a process scientists call a “feedback.”

“If there is no ice, the ocean is going to continue to heat, and that is going to accelerate the global warming process,” said Correll.

In coastal villages throughout the Arctic, less sea ice also means less protection from wind and waves that erode the shoreline. It also means less habitat for animals like polar bears and other marine animals.

Last week, the United States Geological Survey issued a report that found if the ice continued to decline at the current rate, two-thirds of the world’s polar bear population will disappear by 2050.

“Our results do give me some concern,” said Steve Armstrup, a Polar Bear Project Leader with the USGS. “In Northern Alaska, where I’ve been working for these years, there may not be polar bears. So as Polar bears go, that probably reflects to a great extent a lot of things that are happening to other organisms in the Arctic system.”

Northwest Passage Opening

The melting ice continues to open up the fabled Northwest Passage, long-sought by explorers and shipping companies as a short cut between Europe and East Asia.

Historically, that debate has been largely theoretical because the passage has been frozen and impassable. But in August, satellite images showed the passage has now become more navigable than ever, fueling a hot debate between the United States and Canada over who should control it.

At a summit last month in Montebello, Canada, the leaders of the two nations expressed their disagreement.

“Canada’s position is that we intend to strengthen our sovereignty in the Arctic area, not only military, but economic, social, environmental and others,” said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“We believe it’s an international passageway,” President Bush countered a moment later.

The latest satellite image shows a clear, wide path running through the Arctic that has major implications for global commerce.

For example, ships that must currently go around South America’s Cape Horn because they are too big to traverse the Panama Canal could save about 10,000 miles out of their shipping route.

The passage also saves about 5,000 miles when shipping between Europe and Asia.

Canada, the United States and Denmark are also competing for resources as melting Arctic ice reveals potential deposits of oil and gas.

A mini-submarine placed a Russian flag at the North Pole last month in a symbolic claim to that country’s share of Arctic resources.

Environmental groups worry that increased traffic through the Arctic could put the natural resources in jeopardy if there is an oil spill or other disaster in the remote region.

September 10, 2007 Posted by | Current Events, Environment | 36 Comments

Smugmug coupon code – Save $5

I’ve tried trial versions of about a half-dozen photo sharing/storage sites and SMUGMUG is by far the best. There are numerous reasons why I LOVE SMUGMUG which I’ve listed below. The age old saying is you get what you paid for. In the crowded field of online photo sharing services, SMUGMUG has been everything I’ve ever needed and then some.

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August 9, 2007 Posted by | Animals, Current Events, Environment, Fun Stuff, Health, Humor, Iraq, Letters to the Editor, Military & War, Money, Music, News, News of the Wierd, Politics, Random, Religion, Rhode Island, Sports, Television, Utah | Leave a comment

Russia to sink flag in Arctic Ocean in oil, land grab at the North Pole

Thanks to global warming, the ice is thinning at the North Pole and Russia is moving in to “claim” all the oil and land for themselves. When I saw this story I wondered if this means the U.S. owns the moon since we were there first and planted a flag on the surface in 1969.

Apparently, Russia has used ice breaking ships to grind through the thinning arctic ice in a plan to drop some capsules with Russian flags inside. Their belief is Russia would then own the “rights” to the land and natural resources in the arctic. It’s estimated the arctic floor contains more than 10 billion tons of oil and gas deposits. The full article can be found here.

All I can say is thanks. Thanks to the Bush administration for not “believing” in science and ignoring all the evidence of global warming and our impact on planet earth.

August 1, 2007 Posted by | Current Events, Environment, News, Politics | 2 Comments

4 gas-saving myths

From cnnmoney.com

Think you’re stretching your gas dollars by killing the air conditioning or buying your gas on Wednesday? Think again.

Using a special additive or cutting off your A/C won’t really cut your gasoline consumption. But myths like these run rampant in the minds of American drivers.

Right now, the price of gasoline is again setting record highs. The average price for a gallon of regular hit $3.087 Tuesday, the third record in a row.

So before you attempt a half-baked scheme to stretch your gas dollars, here’s a look at what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to fuel economy:

Nothing but gimmicks
There have been additives, special magnets and even a pill that has promised to improve a car’s fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent in some cases.

While the promise of stretching your gas dollars seems awfully lucrative, especially when they cost under $20, most of these products provide a negligible, if any, improvement in fuel efficiency, said Rik Paul, the automotive editor for the publication Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports and the government’s Environmental Protection Agency, have tested dozens of these products finding that none of them offer any significant improvement in fuel economy.

“With all the pressure car companies are under, if one of these inexpensive devices dramatically did improve fuel economy, they (automakers) would be all over it,” said Paul.

Windows, air conditioning – does it matter?
There’s the old saw that leaving your windows rolled down creates an aerodynamic drag on your car, cutting down on your fuel efficiency. And there’s the notion that the fastest way to drain your gas tank is by running your air conditioning.

Neither one is exactly spot on.

Two separate studies conducted in 2005 by Consumer Reports and the automotive Web site Edmunds.com looked at how running the A/C and opening the windows affected the fuel economy of a sedan and an SUV traveling at highway speeds.

What they found was that running the air conditioner, while it did draw power from the vehicle’s engine, only reduced each vehicle’s fuel economy by about 1 mile per gallon. That’s not a big difference unless you drive an already gas-hungry SUV.

The Consumer Reports’ study revealed that, while opening the windows does increase the aerodynamic drag on a car, it does not have a measurable effect on the vehicle’s fuel economy even at highway speeds.

Bottom line? Do what’s most comfortable when driving on the highway since you’re not going to save a whole lot of gas either way, say experts.

If you’re driving around town on errands, you might save some gas rolling down the windows instead of using the A/C.

Don’t wait until Wednesday
Some drivers insist the best time to buy gasoline is on a Wednesday, when pump prices have cooled from the weekend run-up when oil companies typically raise prices.

That’s true to a point, says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service. Gas prices tend to be higher on the weekend, but there’s no ideal day of the week to purchase your gas.

Geoff Sundstrom of the motorist organization AAA notes that gas prices fluctuate from day to day and are determined by gas station owners who look at a variety of factors including wholesale gasoline prices, competitors’ prices and food and drink sales if they have an attached convenience store.

Drivers who want to bargain-hunt for inexpensive gas should instead check out Web sites like Gasbuddy.com, which allows consumers to find the cheapest gas in their area simply by entering their zip code.

Restart your engines
It’s probably a myth that goes back to the days when cars were equipped with carburetors, but many drivers believe that starting up and turning off your car repeatedly is a fast way to drain your gas tank.

But because of modern fuel-injection technology, drivers actually save gas by turning off their engine than letting their car needlessly idle, says Consumer Reports’ Paul.

Granted it’s probably not sensible shutting down the engine every time you get stuck in traffic, but if it looks like you might be at the drive-thru for more than 30 seconds to a minute, it’s worth turning off your car, says Paul.

Tips you can use

So what are some fuel-savings tips you can trust?

  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated for starters. Besides posing a safety hazard, underinflated tires can reduce your fuel economy slightly, based on Edmunds.com’s 2005 study.
  • Removing excess weight from your car can also help save you gas. The Department of Energy estimates that drivers can save anywhere between 3 and 6 cents a gallon (assuming gas prices of $2.97 a gallon) just by removing those golf clubs and other unnecessary weight from your trunk.
  • If your car comes equipped with cruise control, make sure you use it, especially on long trips. Edmunds.com’s study revealed that using cruise control at highway speeds offered an average fuel economy savings of 7 percent.
  • But the biggest fuel saver is driving the speed limit and driving sensibly. Rapid starts and stops and exceeding the speed limit will dent your pocketbook. Just by adhering to one of those, the Department of Energy estimates that drivers can save anywhere between 15 and 98 cents a gallon, again assuming pump prices are at $2.97 a gallon.

July 5, 2007 Posted by | Current Events, Environment, Random | Leave a comment