THE BLOG
01/20/2012 03:03 pm ET | Updated Mar 21, 2012

Progressives: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is and Stop Buying Gasoline

Progressives love a petition. Support the Safe Chemicals Act, change Barbie's packaging, protect marriage equality in New Hampshire -- there's hardly a cause that a self-respecting leftist won't sign on to.

Yet every day, we pour millions of dollars into the pockets of the most egregious polluters and violators of environmental justice in the world: oil companies. You may pat yourself on the back for trading in for a Prius, but even at 50 MPG, if you're an average driver you're still effectively making a donation of hundreds of dollars a year to some of the world's dirtiest companies -- which will turn around a spend that money to lobby on the other side of whatever pro-environment email you just sent to your representative in Washington.

[Before I get charged with hypocrisy myself, full disclosure: present company is included here, to an extent. My family's two vehicles, which have 150,000 miles between them, get an average of just 17 MPG. On the other hand, between us my wife and I commute 2 days a week instead of the typical 10, and we pay thousands of dollars a year through climatefriendly.org to offset our driving; home heating and electricity; and air travel, nearly all of which is necessary for my job.]

It's time to get real about electric cars, biodiesel and telecommuting. Even if your electric company gets 40% of its power from coal, the NRDC has determined, there's still a large reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the average vehicle by switching to an electric car. Biodiesel is available in most major cities. And companies are increasingly finding the benefit in reduced overhead, productivity and loyalty from allowing employees to telecommute part-time; ask yours.

I saw a "Boycott Valero" bumper-sticker today, and I know people will drive past other brands' gas stations. But these companies pretty much all suck equally.

Valero tried to overturn California's groundbreaking greenhouse-gas legislation.

Chevron lobbied for an exemption to air-quality rules so it could use a dirtier kind of oil at its refinery in Richmond, CA (one of the poorest communities in northern California, it just so happens), and is fighting to keep from paying indigenous Amazonian communities to clean up the mess Texaco left before it was bought out.

76 (ConocoPhillips) fought all the way to the California Supreme Court (and lost) so it could exceed limits on toxic emissions at a Southern California refinery (also in a poor neighborhood).

Shell has spilled the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez spill every year for the past 50 years in the Niger River Delta.

Think about it, progressives: Is there an oil company you feel good about giving your hard-earned cash to?

Put your money where your electronic signature is, and get thee to a Nissan or Chevrolet dealership. Or get used to taking the bus. Or shut the hell up.

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