I spent twelve years of my life biking to work nearly every day. Now, the fears and stress predominate when I ride. Will the poor pavement throw me from my bike? Will someone open a car door in front of me? Will a driver simply not see me and collide? (Yes, that’s all happened, though I almost always arrive to work or home unharmed.) So I often take the bus or occasionally walk the five miles. It feels much safer. My stress level is lower.
But as Seattle’s Jourdan Imani Keith reminds me in her essay “Homophobia’s Hidden Carbon Count,” using public transit can induce the same levels of fear and stress in some people as I feel riding my bike. That real fear makes us choose different travel modes, even when we’d prefer lower polluting options. So while there’s no doubt that we need to create better physical infrastructure in our cities to give us environmentally-friendlier commute choices, we also need to create safer cities, where people aren’t harassed for who they are.
This week, I’d like to draw attention to two key pieces of environmental legislation introduced last week by Congressman Jim McDermott of Seattle. The Managed Carbon Price Act of 2014 (H.R. 4754) sets carbon reduction targets, requires polluters to purchase permits, and returns 100 percent of the revenue to consumers. (The full bill is here; Sightline has written in detail about the “managed price” approach to reducing carbon here, here, and here.) A second bill, Investing to Modernize the Production of American Clean Energy and Technology Act of 2014 (H.R. 4753), amends the federal tax code to repeal a number of subsidies for the fossil fuels industry. (The full bill is here.)
I probably don’t even need to mention that neither of these bills is likely to see the light of day in the Republican-controlled US House. In fact, it’s unlikely that even watered-down versions of these ideas would pass muster in either chamber. And without devolving into a rant, I think that sort of shoulder-shrugging hopelessness I feel about these proposals is a telling indictment of how broken our political system is.
It’s great to get to dig into an office copy of Yes! Magazine on a regular basis, but my absolute favorite piece in a while has to be the magazine’s Editor-in-Chief and co-founder Sarah van Gelder’s interview of climate activist Tim DeChristopher. Remember him? He went to prison for bidding on (and winning) parcels of Utah’s red rock country in a BLM oil and gas leasing auction in late 2008. An excerpt (but the whole—short—piece is well worth a read):
I’ve met very few baby boomer liberals who understand what it means to be a young person facing the reality of climate change…. Certainly a lot of the blame falls on fossil fuel executives and politicians, but a lot of it falls on comfortable liberals who changed their light bulbs, bought organic, and sat back and patted themselves on the back. Young people don’t have the luxury of feeling like that’s enough—like they can go to their graves content that they drove a Prius and voted Democrat, so they don’t have to feel guilty about this catastrophe.
And this great video, with a shout-out to Portland’s Powell’s Books: Stephen Colbert and Sherman Alexie discuss Amazon’s growing monopoly on the publishing industry, and encourage you to buy elsewhere.