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AAA Watch

AAA of Northern California: A Green Light in the Smog?

Credit Where Credit Is Due?

Hmm...A Response to Better World Club??? (We'd Like to Think So, Of Course.)

AAA created the highway lobby over 100 years ago--at a time when the highway lobby may have been necessary. But, as a whole, AAA's practices haven't changed much, despite the mounting urgency of global climate change and the need for transportation reform.

However, one AAA club has actually made some efforts to clean up its act: AAA of Northern California.

CSAA (the official acronym for the AAA club covering Northern California) is one of 80-plus AAA regions. In 2005, it launched a program that it calls the "Greenlight Initiative". Greenlight's stated purpose is to "build awareness of alternative fuels and vehicles". This program has actively promoted hybrid technology, most recently by teaming up with UC Davis to test the viability of plug-in hybrids with regular consumers.

As Better World Club was up and growing by 2005, we'd like to think that our competition helped spur AAA to support Greenlight. (We can't prove it, but you'll never hear it from AAA.)

In this spirit, we would like to encourage CSAA to become greener when it comes to policy as well, something that Greenlight doesn’t address. In fact, CSAA has remained quiet on California's ongoing request to receive a waiver from the EPA to set its own emissions standards, and on last year's Proposition 87, which proposed a royalty on oil drilling in California. While CSAA was silent, South California AAA actively opposed Proposition 87.

In contrast, Better World Club has actively advocated for progressive environmental legislation in both California and the rest of the country. BWC has actively advocated on behalf of California’s waiver request since 2002, and last year led a grass roots campaign aimed at EPA Chief Stephen L. Johnson.

Better World Club also campaigned on behalf of California Proposition 87, which, as noted above, CSAA ignored and AAA of Southern California (along with Big Oil) actively fought. Had Prop 87 passed, it would have provided $4 billion for alternative fuel research.

Better World Club appreciates CSAA's environmental efforts, but encourages it to go beyond environmental consumer research and actively engage in pro-environmental lobbying. We would also hope that it persuades the national AAA organization and other regional clubs to eventually follow suit.