Category Archives: Transportation

Happy birthday Gas Tax, it’s time to go!


Traffic congestion (right) won’t change until we give transit infrastructure (left) a better footing on which to compete.

Today’s apparently the birthday of the Yosemite National Park, NASA, and also the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax.

It’s time to go. Peter Rogoff, the administrator of the Federal Transit Administration said as much yesterday at the American Public Transportation Association annual meeting.

A meeting attendee asked Rogoff, during the Q&A session following his speech, about the insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund, where gas tax revenues go, and from which payments for road, transit, and bike projects are drawn. Rogoff replied,

We see a lot of governors taking this on. Wyoming raised its gas tax 15 cents. And on any given weekend there are more Democrats drinking beer in my backyard than in the entire Wyoming legislature. All options are being considered. Gas tax has diminishing returns. We can’t simultaneously lower independence on foreign oil and fund transportation systems dependent on the consumption of oil.

Here’s why the per-gallon gas tax is unsustainable: it loses purchasing power because of inflation. If it were sales tax based on the total cost of your fillup, this would be a completely different story, by decreasing driving instead of decreasing gas use (and yes, they are different because as cars become more fuel efficient, driving can remain the same or go up while gas use can remain the same or go down).

So “goodbye gas tax, hello mileage tax?”

Cross-posted to the Center for Permaculture and Appropriate Technology.

Finding where permaculture and appropriate technology is “done”

Screenshot of finding appA hackathon this weekend sponsored by the City of Chicago, Worldwide Wildlife Fund and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, inspired me to think about an app to promote permaculture and appropriate technology, the two themes for our project that won the nation’s first Living Building Challenge (for a hypothetical site).

The Wheels, Energy and Trash Hackathon is the second part of the Cleanweb Challenge. I spoke at an event on Earth Day about technology and the Chicago Sustainability 2015 Plan to precede the Cleanweb Challenge. I then participated as a judge in the first hackathon, invited by Deputy Sustainability Officer Aaron Joseph.

The Center for Permaculture and Appropriate Technology (C4PAT) proposal shares two of the three focus areas in Wheels, Energy and Trash: energy efficiency and using public transit. More specifically, C4PAT focused on creating the correct proportions of myriad transportation modes that favors non-polluting modes first and then more efficient modes like public transit.

I developed an app on Tuesday that shows users the nearest “doer” of permaculture or appropriate technology. I’ll be submitting it to the Cleanweb Challenge. The app will need the world’s help to create a database of these places. Start now by leaving a comment with the name and location of a place that teaches, uses, advocates, or “does” permaculture or appropriate technology.