Author discusses the dangers of gas engines

10/25/07 Robert Lorei
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"As Special Advisor to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former head of the California EPA, Terry Tamminen has been an architect of one of America's most progressive energy independence plans," according to his publicist.

In his book Lives Per Gallon, Tamminen contends dependence on oil-based car fuels is killing us.

Tamminen sets forth in "Lives Per Gallon" a creative, practical strategy to end our dependence on oil based on the successful lawsuits by state governments against tobacco companies.

Oil and automobile companies have conspired for decades to hide the harms to human health that are created by their products. States spend billions each year to deal with petroleum pollution, global warming impacts, and health care costs for oil related illnesses and deaths-money that can be recovered in court from oil and auto companies in the same way that states recovered health care costs related to tobacco. By forcing these corporate giants to pay the true cost of their business practices (and remember that Exxon/Mobil alone posted $10 billion in profits in the first quarter of 2006), the economics change in favor of more sustainable, healthier products.

Not content to simply point out the problem with petroleum, Tamminen presents a blueprint for the solution. He shows how we can evolve beyond oil to products that are far cleaner and truly sustainable-more fuel-efficient vehicles, biofuels, and hydrogen fuel and vehicles.

"Thousands of clean hydrogen powered cars, trucks, and buses are already in operation worldwide," he writes, "proving the technology and spurring development of a growing network of fueling stations."

Many of the chemicals found in petroleum products-and the air pollution caused by their manufacture, storage, distribution and combustion-are defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as "materials that cause death, disease, or birth defects in organisms that ingest or absorb them." In addition to the staggering health costs, there are the costs of acquiring and securing new reserves. We are at war right now to stabilize the oil rich Middle East but the cost has been huge in terms of lives lost and dollars spent-and the region is slipping into greater chaos.

"Competition for scarce oil resources may even foreshadow a new cold war as China strides the globe in search of energy to fuel its torrid economic growth while the United States seeks to checkmate those moves and guarantee supplies of its own to protect domestic prosperity," suggests Tamminen.

Lives Per Gallon tracks a single drop of oil from ground to gas tank to show the path of destruction it leaves in its wake-from drilling rigs and belching tankers to refineries and fueling stations. Not a single part of its journey is without peril and Tamminen makes the case that by following three steps we can be on the on the path to energy independence in less than 20 years: conserve by "squeezing out more of the energy resources we already have," increase fuel efficiency by purchasing the most energy efficient vehicles available, and evolve to greater use of biofuels and ultimately hydrogen fuel."

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