wrdforwrd

green and sustainable business

Posts Tagged ‘transportation

Infographic: Do Hybrids Make Sense and Cents?

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As this infographic courtesy of AutoPawn indicates, maybe you can’t have everything—at least not yet.

Does Buying a Hybrid Car Make Sense?

Created by AutoPawn

Three weasels sell out for coal exports

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coal_fallsroadI practically spewed coffee and other detritus all over the front page of Tuesday’s Seattle Times when I saw this headline:
‘Green’ strategists now back coal trains

WTF? The Times subsequently backtracked on that egregiously misleading headline on its website:  ‘Green’ strategists hired by coal companies to push train proposals.

However it’s titled, the story has engendered a firestorm of controversy and push-back on the astounding sell-out of the three “green strategists” so politely quoted by the newspaper. Maybe in a different life they were green, but now they – Bruce Gryniewski, Lauri Hennessey and Roger Nyhus — are simply a clueless and pathetic group of feckless mercenary weasels sucking at coal’s black tit. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

February 28, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Supremos get in on clean trucks action

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LA_cleantruckThe Supreme Court will hear a trucking industry challenge to rules Los Angeles adopted five years ago that are designed to curb truck emissions at the nation’s busiest port.

The case (American Trucking Associations vs. City of Los Angeles) will determine the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Clean Truck Program at the Port of Los Angeles. Similar rules are also in force at the nearby Port of Long Beach. The question centers on whether cities and states have authority to limit pollution from trucks moving long-haul cargo.

The answer to that question would seem a no-brainer, especially in environmental circles, but the ATA contends that the local clean truck regulations run afoul of a federal law that deregulated motor carriers. So complications ensue. There is a provision in the law that preempts any state or local measure that is “related to the price, route or service of any motor carrier.” The purpose of that provision is to speed the free flow of trucks, buses and other shippers and to prevent local or state rules that would add to costs to those movements. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

February 5, 2013 at 11:23 am

Coal’s downward spiral in 2012

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It was a big year for Big Coal — in the sense of big losses and setbacks for the coal industry’s agenda, which made it a very good year indeed.

When thousands of people show up at the Seattle Convention Center for a technical “scoping” hearing to comment on and protest plans to export coal through Pacific Northwest terminals to Asian markets – Big Coal’s master export plan is in doubt. One coal plant each week was retired during 2012, which perhaps helps to explain why there is such zest on the part of the industry to ship the stuff overseas.

The Sierra Club‘s nationwide campaign—Beyond Coal—to phase out coal burning in the United States won victories from coast to coast, including the coal plant retirements and record investments in wind and solar. The coal industry experienced numerous setbacks in 2012 as its market share fell and stock prices tanked.

“With an overarching goal to move America off coal and slash carbon pollution, an unprecedented coalition including Sierra Club and more than a hundred local, regional and national organizations has helped to secure the largest drop in U.S. coal burning ever,” the club said in its year-ean review.

The campaign, which received major backing with a four-year $50 million commitment from Bloomberg Philanthropies in 2011, now includes legal and grassroots fights that target every stage of the coal lifecycle in more than 40 states. It has grown to become one of the largest and broadest grassroots environmental campaigns in the nation’s history, according to the club.

The following Sierra Club info-graphic tells the campaign tale of the tape:

Many investors lost big on coal, with numerous bankruptcies of coal mining companies and coal-burning utilities including Midwest Generation in Illinois, Patriot in West Virginia, and Dynegy in Texas. After declaring bankruptcy, Patriot – Appalachia’s third largest coal company – reached an agreement with the Sierra Club and its allies to end the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining and retire much of its large scale surface mining equipment. Coal’s poor economics were underscored news that the Great River Energy Spiritwood coal plant in North Dakota has sat idle since it was completed at a cost of $440 million earlier this year.

NRG Texas Energy announced this month that it will not proceed with plans to build the Limestone 3 coal unit in Jewett, Texas, 120 miles south of Dallas. NRG filed the initial applications to build the plant in 2006, when a handful of other Texas utilities were filing similar proposals to build more than a dozen new coal boilers in Texas. As of December 2012, the majority of these proposals have been cancelled, due to the changing economics of coal plants, the growth of wind energy in the state, and because of legal challenges and grassroots opposition.

Coal is on the run and battling on many fronts – 2012 may turn out to be a watershed year in its downward spiral, especially if 2013 sees the fall of Big Coal’s PNW export plans. That will be a great new year indeed.

Written by William DiBenedetto

December 28, 2012 at 2:07 am

Coal export alliance plays jobs card for PNW

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Say you’re watching Ed or Rachel for your daily dose of progressive news on MSNBC; they go to a commercial break and this 30-second ad pops up:

Just in time for the regulatory review and so-called scoping coal export proposal season here in the Northwest! It prompted me to take a look at the website that flashes briefly during the ad – the Alliance for Northwest Jobs & Exports.

One minor detail that gets brushed aside is that this is about selling cheap and dirty coal to international – mostly Asian – markets and hauling tens of millions of tons of it through heavily populated regions in the Pacific Northwest to new and/or upgraded export shipping terminals. Even the alliance’s name shuns the four-letter word. Jobs! Exports! Who can oppose that? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

December 3, 2012 at 2:00 am

Getting the Coal Train Blues

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“People get ready there’s a train a’coming…” Sixteen mile-and-a-half long coal trains a day through West Seattle, my town, to be exact. Or how about 62 coal trains rolling through Spokane every day?

That’s nothing to sing about, unless it’s one of those “low-down dirty blues” songs. A small gathering met at Fauntleroy Church’s Fellowship Hall on Wednesday (Sept. 26) to hear about Big Coal’s noxious plans to ship coal from the Powder River Basin to the Pacific Northwest for export to markets in Asia. On hand were representatives from the Sierra Club, Climate Solutions and Earth Ministry to get out the word about those plans and to talk about the activities to derail the export schemes.

“Coal exports are a dirty business,” said Robin Everett, an associate regional representative for the Sierra Club and its Beyond Coal campaign. “It’s dirty every step of the way.”

I’ve written about these plans before on this and other sites, but now it’s getting personal, and it’s that way for anyone who happens to live in the vicinity of BN Railway’s tracks in the PNW. By the way, that’s millions of people who will be exposed to the harmful impacts of moving coal through the region in terms of health, safety, economic disruption, gridlock traffic congestion at rail crossings and infrastructure pressures. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

September 27, 2012 at 9:14 am

Seattle City Council: Thumbs down on PNW coal-export terminals

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Seattle’s City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing the development of coal-export terminals in Washington State, but what does it really mean? Actually not much – it’s a victory, sort of, for environmental activists that are fighting proposals to transport coal on 1.5 mile-long trains through the region for eventual export to China.

But the city council has no real say on what happens with this issue; it was an easy vote for the council members. But it is a clear message from a city and port that prides itself on its greenness. (Regarding the Port of Seattle: the port’s opposition to a new sports arena in the SoDo district for NBA-starved fans because of “traffic” is both heartless, tone deaf, short-sighted and incredibly lame – but I digress.) Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

June 20, 2012 at 2:32 am

RFK Jr. calls out the corrupting power of coal

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“Coal is a crime.” Succinctly put by the environmental lawyer and anti-coal advocate John F. Kennedy Jr. this week in Portland where hundreds rallied against proposals to bring mile-long coal trains from the Midwest to Pacific Northwest ports for export to Asia, mainly China.

Kennedy, president of the Waterkeeper Alliance and senior attorney for the National Resources Defense Council, said that the half-dozen or so pending proposals in the PNW will lead to political corruption and environmental damage, while the actual number of jobs created will be minimal. In addition King Coal’s influence would “seep” into the Oregon and Washington state legislatures, buying legislators who would otherwise vote against the proposal with campaign money and the promise of jobs.

“It’s going to end up leaving Portland with a legacy of pollution, poison and corruption,” Kennedy said.

Environmentalists say that the dust emitted from trains hauling tens of millions of tons of coal would pollute the proposed routes while opening the door to further environmental damage from its use in Asia.

Kennedy said the U.S. believes it can export the environmental problems from coal, but it will find that mercury from its use in Asia washes up on the Pacific shore while acidifying the ocean.

“Anybody who touches coal gets poisoned by it,” said Kennedy,”You don’t just get sick. It poisons democracy, it poisons communities, it poisons values.”

And that’s why coal is a crime that should not be exported overseas or allowed to pass through this region’s communities for the sake of a few jobs. “We’ve got lots of better sources for jobs,” Kennedy said. “If you were really interested in jobs, let’s build wind farms, let’s build solar plants. Let’s use the marketplace to incentivize good behavior.”

Thank you Robert Jr. – somewhere a proud father is smiling. The father who said: “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

[Image: coal trains in Kansas by colin_n via Flickr]

Written by William DiBenedetto

May 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Getting charged up for a $10K EV rebate

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If you are on the fence about that new Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt, how does taking $10,000 off sound? That’s right, those thinking about jumping into the EV market could pocket a nice new incentive in the form of a $10,000 rebate, which is part of President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget plan.

While lacking in specifics, the proposal is a boost and a change in approach – buyers of electric vehicles currently are eligible for a $7,500 tax credit for the tax-filing year in which the vehicle is purchased, while the new rebate program would allow consumers to slice $10,000 off the top of an EV at the time of purchase.

It’s a big incentive for potential buyers who are scared off by the pricing of EVs, which are still a bit beyond the comfort zone of what many consumers are prepared to pay, even though their yearly savings at the gas pump will be substantial. It should also boost sales for vehicles such as the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf. For example instead of making payments on a Volt, which lists at $41,000, a buyer would see that financing hit drop to $31,000. For the Leaf, the base price would drop to about $26,000 with the rebate.

It’s argued that the tax credit idea—a product of the Bush Administration—favors wealthy buyers who can more easily afford higher upfront payments in exchange for a lower tax rate in April. The Obama rebate makes EVs more accessible to the average American.

The rebate could also apply to natural gas vehicles and other high tech, green cars, according to reports.

Assuming Congress will go along with this, which is a major if given the parlous conditions there, it’s a great idea that’s a win-win-win for the makers, sellers and buyers of EVs. It’s also a big win for the environment, sustainability and energy independence. That’s a lot of wins.

It’s far from a done deal, but this could change a lot of minds about EVs, especially now that gas prices are spiking—again. For example under the rebate plan, a Leaf might be financed for about $300 a month, which is probably what many people have to scrape up each month for gasoline in their current driver.

Written by William DiBenedetto

February 27, 2012 at 2:00 am

Significant emissions reductions lacking across supply chains

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Companies have yet to post significant emissions reductions across their supply chains despite the opportunities those actions would mean for cost savings, according to the Carbon Disclosure Project and Accenture.

That disheartening conclusion from an environmental sustainability perspective was revealed in A New Era: Supplier Management in the Low-Carbon Economy, the CDP’s fourth annual global survey of the preparedness of company supply chains for climate change impacts. Read the rest of this entry »

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