Thinking of buying a quad bike to explore the backcountry? Think twice. Australian lawyer William Ray was killed on May 22 when he was thrown from his all-terrain quad bike in rural Victoria state and pinned underneath. Ray had made a name for himself in 2005 by representing Honda, the maker of the quad bike, when they fought the introduction of mandatory installation of anti-roll bars on quad bikes.
Most nature lovers had already decided to forgo a motorized vehicle for back country exploration, with the possible exception of snowmobilers when deep snowfall hinders hiking. Kind of hard to really experience the world with all your senses when an engine’s roaring in your ears. Or when you’re dead.
Image: Honda Four Trax Rancher
While I’m on the subject, kudos to the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky. While waiting for my Toyota to be serviced, I picked up Toyota Today, a magazine distributed solely in Toyota dealerships. The article I read was surely biased, but deserves praise nonetheless.
Have you ever driven past a mountainous landfill peppered with myriad pipes and thought, “What a waste!” (no pun intended) Toyota reports their partnership with Waste Services of the Bluegrass, generating power from landfill gas. The processed methane will provide enough annual power to produce 10,000 vehicles. Wells collect the gas, which is used to fuel generators and carry the electricity to Toyota’s manufacturing plant, a few miles from the landfill. The Toyota plant, which produces Camry Hybrid and Avalon Hybrid, has upped the ante for other green manufacturers.
Upon further research, I learned that virtually all landfill owners contract out gas extraction. This was encouraging, since venting and burning were the only methods of dealing with landfill methane this novice was aware of. Of the three typical ways of removing methane from landfills—venting, burning, and extraction—only later properly disposes of the potentially hazardous gas and offers the option of selling it as fuel. According to Jerry Soto, project manager for Houston-based Griffin Dewatering Corporation, over the last two decades, 594 U. S gas-to-energy sites have taken advantage of this benefit, generating 1,813 megawatts of electricity and lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 30%.
Methane extraction wells require expertise, as the process is dangerous. The gas is a naturally occurring byproduct of decomposing organic waste, posing two hazards. Although it’s in the air we breathe, high concentrations displace oxygen and pose a health hazard. It is highly flammable and potentially explosive.
Read how this precarious process takes place in Soto’s article for Public Works Magazine. The article is well written in terms easily understood by the layperson. It includes an optional slide show.
Photo credit: zero waste america.org
Ever thought about installing a solar panel for the roof? Or getting a hybrid or electric car to cut down on fuel? If you’re like me, you’re always looking for ways to lower your electric bill, and reduce fuel expenses for your car.
Ford Motor Company™ and SunPower™ have partnered to help you do both. The new program, Drive Green for Life™ combines the two and cuts down on electric and gas consumption. There are other hybrid and electric cars on the market, but at this time, only Ford’s Plug-in Hybrid vehicles Focus, Fusion and Energi qualify for the program, which allows you to charge your battery-electric or Plug-in Hybrid vehicle at home using the your clean-energy solar panel.
As part of the program, first-time Ford electric vehicle owners receive a $750 mail-in rebate with the purchase or lease of the solar system. For each solar system installed through the Drive Green for Life™ program, SunPower donates $500 to the Sierra Club to help support programs advocating clean energy, stronger carbon standards, and increased protection of public lands. An additional incentive: For every friend or family member you refer who purchases a solar panel from SunPower, you’ll receive a $500 gift card. But that’s not all! (Why am I feeling like a late night TV commercial?) Purchase of the solar panel qualifies for a 30% federal income tax credit.
I did install a solar panel on the roof when I lived in South Florida. Time to think about putting one on the current homestead. There is a considerable initial investment, but savings would definitely recoup the investment over time. And realtors tell me it would add to the resale value of my home. It would be nice to lower electric bills, reduce fuel expenses, drive nearly carbon-free and decrease my carbon footprint. http://us.sunpower.com/partnerships/ford-focus-electric-vehicle/#sthash.VoJVqyL5.dpuf