Category Archives: Uncategorized

Virgin launches Europe’s first bio-diesel train

Europe’s first train powered by bio-diesel went into service in London with Britain’s next prime minister Gordon Brown on board for its maiden journey.

Finance minister Brown travelled on the Virgin Voyager train which left London Euston station for Llandudno on the north Wales coast.

The train has been modified to run on a blended fuel which is 20 percent environmentally-friendly bio-diesel — fuel derived from sustainable and biological sources such as rapeseed, soyabean and palm oil — and produces less carbon dioxide emissions than diesel.

Virgin Trains hopes to convert its entire fleet to run on bio-diesel if a six-month trial proves successful.

Read the full article . . .

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Hot and Cold: New York Times Editorial April 8

The world’s scientists are telling us with increasing confidence that the costs of doing nothing to regulate greenhouse gas emissions will be far greater than the costs of acting now. Read full editorial.

High court to hear global warming case

 

Role of vehicle emissions in global warming take center stage in Supreme Court case:

A dozen states, large cities argue that emissions need to be regulated

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court hears arguments this week in a case that could determine whether the Bush administration must change course in how it deals with the threat of global warming.

A dozen states as well as environmental groups and large cities are trying to convince the court that the Environmental Protection Agency must regulate, as a matter of public health, the amount of carbon dioxide that comes from vehicles.

Carbon dioxide is produced when fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas are burned. It is the principal “greenhouse” gas that many scientists believe is flowing into the atmosphere at an unprecedented rate, leading to a warming of the earth and widespread ecological changes. One way to reduce those emissions is to have cleaner-burning cars.

The Bush administration intends to argue before the court on Wednesday that the EPA lacks the power under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. The agency contends that even if it did have such authority, it would have discretion under the law on how to address the problem without imposing emissions controls.

The states, led by Massachusetts, and more than a dozen environmental groups insist the 1970 law makes clear that carbon dioxide is a pollutant — much like lead and smog-causing chemicals — that is subject to regulation because its poses a threat to public health.

A sharply divided federal appeals court ruled in favor of the government in 2005. But last June, the Supreme Court decided to take up the case, plunging for the first time into the politically charged debate over global warming. The ruling next year is expected to be one of the court’s most important ever involving the environment.

“Global warming is the most pressing environmental issue of our time and the decision by the court on this case will make a deep and lasting impact for generations to come,” says Massachusetts’ attorney general, Thomas Reilly.

David Bookbinder, a lawyer for the Sierra Club, says a legal clarification of the EPA’s authority could determine whether the current administration must regulate carbon dioxide emissions and whether a future one will be able to demand such limits.

At issue for now is pollution from automobiles. But the ruling indirectly may affect how the agency deals with carbon dioxide that comes from electric power plants.

In a separate lawsuit, the EPA says the Clean Air Act also prevents it from regulating such emissions from those plants. That claim would be undercut, Bookbinder says, if the high court rules in the states’ favor in the auto emissions case.

President Bush has rejected calls to regulate carbon dioxide. He favors voluntary steps by industry and development of new technologies to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

“We still have very strong reservations about an overarching, one-size-fits-all mandate about carbon,” James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, recently told a group of reporters.

The administration says in court papers the EPA should not be required to “embark on the extraordinarily complex and scientifically uncertain task of addressing the global issue of greenhouse gas emissions” when other ways are available to tackle climate change.

The United States accounts for about one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The amount of carbon dioxide from U.S. motor vehicles, power plants and other industry has increased on average by about 1 percent a year since 1990.

Now that Democrats will control the House and Senate in January after their election victories this month, there is expected to be increased pressure in Congress for mandatory limits on carbon emissions.

The election results “have signaled a need to change direction” on dealing with global warming, three Democratic senators who will play leading roles on environmental issues recently wrote the president.

But whether there is such a shift actually may depend, in the end, on the Supreme Court.

Plaintiffs in the suit are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. They were joined by cities such as Baltimore, New York and the District of Columbia; the Pacific island of America Samoa; the Sierra Club; the Union of Concerned Scientists; Greenpeace; and Friends of the Earth.

The case is Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, 05-1120.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15909008/

Colorado towns get setious about energy and climate

The City of Boulder and the Town of Carbondale may be on opposite sides of Colorado’s Continental Divide, but they are on the same page when it comes to increasing the use of renewable energy and addressing climate change.
Voters in both communities approved tax and debt questions to implement their respective Community Energy Plans.

In Boulder, voters approved ( 59% to 41%) an “energy use tax” on electricity use by residential and business customers of Xcel Energy.

According to estimates, homeowners will pay an average of $33 a year, businesses $37 a year and industrial customers $2,832. The tax would raise$ 5.5 million over five years and pay for efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Boulder.

The city has voluntarily agreed to meet the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol, which would require cutting the city`s emissions by 24 percent by 2012.

In Carbondale, voters approved the issuance (by a 4 to 1) of up to $1.8 million in Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) to construct and operate two large-scale solar systems. The proposed systems would provide about 250 kilowatts (KW) of power. One of the systems would be the largest solar system in western Colorado.

“It’s great to have interest-free money at the municipal level, so we applied,” said Joani Matranga, an architect of the project and the ballot question, which takes advantage of a provision tucked into the federal Energy Policy Act that encourages renewable energy investment by rural electric cooperatives, cities and towns.

The Internal Revenue Service pays the interest with tax credits to buyers of the bonds. Xcel Energy, prodded by requirements of Amendment 37 (passed by Colorado voters in 2004), will help pay the principle on the bonds with incentives and rebates based on energy production.

Read the full article by Marilyn Gleason . . .

A Climate Repair Manual

Scientific American‘s August 21st edition is devoted to the issue of global warming and what it will take in energy technology and policy to avert this world wide challenge.

As Gary Stix writes, “Uncertainties about the extent and pace of warming will undoubtedly persist. But the consequences of inaction could be worse than the feared economic damage that has bred overcaution. If we wait for an ice cap to vanish, it will simply be too late.”

Read an overview online . . .

Commuter Rail for Missoula?

Although rail made the development of the Western US a possibility, it doesn’t get much respect in many transportation circles outside the major metro areas like Portland, Denver, San Franciso and Salt Lake. Opinions, however, are begining to change.

As Daniel Kemmis, a senior fellow for the Center for the Rocky Mountain West, notes, “Certain economic trends like population increase, business growth and urban development are now occuring in places like Missoula, cars are no longer the best or wisest means of transportation.”

“We’re finally beginning to evolve out of the automobile trend that’s been going on for over 100 years… we have a lot of thinking to do, and we have to be as smart and as wise as we can be,” he said.
Read the full article …

Welcome to Notes!

Notes on a New Century is a blog tracking transportation, planning and mobility issues and innovations that relate to challenges and opportunities facing the communities of the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valleys.  To learn more visit The New Century Transportation Foundation website.