Few people realize the huge impact of our country’s transportation system on our overall quality of life – on air, health, housing patterns and land use. Americans’ growing dependence on the automobile has come at the expense of cleaner, healthier modes of transportation, like mass transit, walking or bicycling.
The websites below are great resources for learning about the problems of sprawl, and fuel efficiency, as well as presenting examples of alternative transportation and fuels.
Cars and trucks are one of the largest contributors to poor air quality (like smog and soot) in many major metropolitan areas. Emissions from road transportation are increasingly linked to cancer, childhood asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Over-reliance on private motor vehicles and poorly planned roadways also cause injuries and deaths from crashes, and are linked to obesity and impaired mental health. Badly designed transportation systems spur unsightly sprawl and induce housing to be built ever farther from urban centers, causing more traffic congestion and pollution. And greenhouse gas emissions from transportation sources continue to rise, bringing additional threats to our health and environment.
Department of Energy site on Fuel Economy
This is a very comprehensive and easy-to-use site. The vehicle database has all the cars, pick-ups, SUVs, and more sold in the US from 1985 to the present, no matter what fuel they use. It is set up so that you can easily compare vehicles of a particular size or type for their fuel economy, estimated cost of fuel for a year, EPA’s air pollution score, and greenhouse gas emissions. You can easily compare your present vehicle to a newer model. You can easily find all the vehicles that use something other than gasoline, or that are bi-fuel. You can click on each vehicle listed and get a full page of information including a photo, vehicle specifications etc. You can also learn about AFVs, flex-fuel vehicles, tax incentives, and the latest in fuel cell development. It is also connected to the EPA’s site if you want more detailed information about the environmental aspects of the vehicle. This site is maintained by the Department of Energy.
A Wealth of information about how to buy a greener car, and an extensive database of all current model year gasoline and other vehicles. It includes only the vehicles they feel are readily available at the dealer, so the number of alternative fuel vehicles is much less than at the “fuel economy” or “Buyers Guide” sites. It is unique, however, in that it gives an easy-to-understand “green rating” to all vehicles which is based on manufacture and use of the vehicle. The tables make it easy to compare vehicle emissions (California system used), highway and city mpg, and their green score. Maintained by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), it is based on their Green Book, which is published annually.
Green Vehicle Guide from the E.P.A.
This searchable database lets you easily draw up a list of vehicles of a particular size and compare them. All vehicles are given a “green rating” on a scale of 1 to 10, and EPA mpg ratings. What is unique about this site is that it includes a small map of the USA for each vehicle showing where the vehicle is for sale. Although the fuel type is listed, there is no way to search for a particular fuel or technology, and as of March 2003, it appears that only gasoline-powered vehicles are included. Maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Vehicle Buyers Guide for Consumers
This site is very comprehensive and user friendly with lots of photographs of the vehicles. If you click on what are your choices, you will find clear and concise information on various fuels, and even a link to help you find used alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs). If you click on product information, you will be taken to an extensive database. You can choose to look at vehicles by type, fuel type, etc. California emissions ratings are used, but not defined. LEV=low emission vehicle; ULEV=ultra low emission vehicle; SULEV=super ultra low emissions. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program maintains this site. You can also find listings of alternative fueled vehicles available only to fleet customers on this site.
Alternative Fuel Data Center
This is the main U.S. Department of Energy alternative fuel web site. In addition to the Buyer’s Guide mentioned above it has some unique information.
Alternative Fueling Station Listings
Searchable database that will produce a map and contact information for over 3,000 alternative fueling stations, including electric charging sites, nationwide. Indispensable if traveling. Call ahead to verify hours of operation etc.
A list of companies that will convert an existing vehicle to use natural gas, propane, or electricity. Maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy
Building a Better SUV
A great site about emerging technology which will allow SUVs to get the same fuel economy as a passenger car.