Bike bailout

Auntie Ruth is green to the eco scene. Read up each week as she weeds through the dirt and unearths new gems of environmental knowledge.

Auntie Ruth recently read a column by SN&R’s Eco-Warrior Princess with tips for going green this holiday season. Ruth has more to offer after learning Californians will generate an extra three to 10 bags of trash per household this season: Send Evites for holiday parties to save paper. Don’t use disposable utensils or dishes for holiday dinner parties. Place recycling and compost containers in the kitchen so guests can easily recycle soda cans, bottles and paper products, and toss food scraps into compost bins. Wrap gifts in reusable bags or newspapers instead of wrapping paper. Travel efficiently on shopping excursions by taking public transportation or carpooling with friends or family.

Tucked inside the $700 billion bailout bill is a provision that could help bicyclists commute to work and motivate others to start biking. Beginning January 1, 2009, employees could receive up to a $20-per-month, nontaxable stipend for commuting by bike, and their companies would get a tax break. The provision is part of the renewable energy tax credit attached to the bailout bill. Employers don’t have to offer the benefit, but if they do, they set up a process for administering the stipend in either cash or as a pre-tax-deduction option, according to Employers decide how much a worker must commute by bicycle to receive the monthly stipend, which, ideally, would go toward bike maintenance and gear. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, half of American workers live within 5 miles of their workplace, and more than a quarter of commutes are 1 mile or less. Yet, less than 1 percent is done by bicycle.

Conservationists knocked the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas for its quota of next year’s catch. The 22,000 tons of bluefin allowed by the 46-member organization could lead to the collapse of the tuna-fishing industry in the Mediterranean, say the group’s own scientists, who had suggested a maximum limit of 15,000 tons. Officials from the World Wildlife Fund charge that the United States initially supported the lower quotas but caved under pressure from the European Commission. Mark Stevens, WWF’s senior fisheries officer, vowed the group would lobby for stringent trade controls that could be tied to the survival of the species. Others have called for a boycott on all dishes containing the fish, which is a popular ingredient in sushi and sashimi.