The first politician with a TerraPass?

capitolIt’s perhaps telling that TerraPass counts among its customers students, university presidents, CEOs, venture capitalists, hybrid drivers, SUV drivers, fantastically wealthy individuals, fantastically dedicated individuals – but not a single U.S. politician (update: at the federal level).

This may change in the fall. John Binkowski, an Independent running for Congress in Minnesota, bought his TerraPass last week, and then kindly asked if he could promote us on his web site.

We’re not offering an endorsement of John’s campaign, both because candidate endorsements aren’t really our bag and because we’re awfully far away from Minnesota. But Minnesotans from the 6th Congressional District are invited to check out John’s thoughts on energy policy.

Among his intriguing proposals: raise the gas tax and use the funds to stabilize gas prices at a higher level. The reduced volatility might make more transparent to consumers the potential monetary savings from driving smaller cars. And the greater predictability may also help automakers running on seven-year design cycles plan more effectively.

Of course the scourge of gas taxes is that they aren’t terribly progressive. We, along with John, await feedback from the voters on this one.

(As an aside, we’ll be visiting Minnesota for the first time in a few months to get better acquainted with one of the projects we fund, the Haubenschild dairy farm. Minnesota has made large investments in renewable energy, and we’re excited to get an up-close look at how it’s being spent.)

UPDATE: This is an occasion in which we’re very happy to be proven wrong. The Hon. Mike Sellers, mayor of Cobleskill, NY is the proud owner of a TerraPass. Among its many charms, Cobleskill is home to a fine state university. This post has been amended to focus specifically on politicians at the federal level. Any other politicians out there we’ve missed?

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  1. Erica Gulseth - June 14, 2006

    John will not be the first politician with a Terrapass. My partner, Hon. Mike Sellers, mayor of Cobleskill, NY, and I have a Terrapass for the car we share. (

  2. Adam - June 14, 2006

    Cool! We’ll update the post with the word “federal”. Thanks for being a customer.

  3. James - June 14, 2006

    Are you kidding me!?!? You’ve invested in a project in Minnesota that no one has even bothered to check out in person? That gives me a real warm fuzzy (NOT).

  4. Adam - June 14, 2006

    James, we extensively vet our projects, and we develop personal relationships with project developers. But it’s generally not necessary for us to conduct site visits. We’re not engineers, and it isn’t that helpful for us to look at methane digesters or count wind turbines. There are many, many environmental assessment shops that can do this kind of thing for us very capably.

  5. veektor - June 14, 2006

    -In theory this sounds like a good thing for Terrapass. Have you received any responses to your information mailings to our elected officials? How about sending some information to executives at some corporations, and letting them know you will inform the public of their responses?
    -The total effects of regressively taxing lower-income people must be addressed with decency and independence. Everyone should benefit from stable energy prices and conservation, and this must not become an elitist issue. People on lower incomes obviously suffer from higher prices, but they also would seem to suffer more from the effects of pollution and oil dependence (in the form of increased medical bills and having to send a higher proportion of their children to fight for foreign oil). If the world were more fair the biggest consumers of energy might have to live nearest to the sources of pollution and energy generation — unlike now, where richer, more powerful “environmentalists” like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. can afford to keep a wind farm from blocking the view from his boat harbor and one of his homes.
    -One problem with suddenly increasing gas fees is the acute impact. Higher prices, as suggested by Mr. Binkowski, could be phased in gradually, say by 50 cents per year, so people could adjust.

  6. Andrew - June 14, 2006

    If John gets his wish for a gas tax, this may kill two birds with one stone. It may encourage a stronger push towards hydrogen, and then if Saudi Arabia cuts our “discount” on the gas markets to the U.S. out of anger over a strong hydrogen push, then the tax could simply be lifted to offset the increase in price rather than unexpectedly knocking our economy into the gutter. Bravo John.

  7. Lincoln - June 21, 2006

    I find the fact that only two politicians that we know of are willing to sacrifice a small amount of their bloated (federally at least) salaries for something they believe in very disturbing. Shouldn’t a politician be someone who has ideals they feel strongly about, so strong in fact that they live their lives according to those ideals? Let’s cut politicians salaries to an average Americans and see what kind of people we get then. I bet there would be a lot more signed up for TerraPass. You know what Adam? You need to get Al Gore signed up. With his movie coming out it could be great publicity for you.