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Posts Tagged ‘transportation

Oil-by-rail project gets derailed

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It’s tough to find good things to write about on the climate change front these days, especially with the abomination that is Scott Pruitt in charge of the EPA, and Trumpola still around…has it been only one year?

Anyway, something positive did happen recently when Washington Governor Jay Inslee rejected a permit that was required for Tesoro-Savage to build the Vancouver Energy oil-by-rail facility, the largest such project in the nation, at the Port of Vancouver. Inslee explained the basis of his decision, which followed a several years long process, in a letter to the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council:

“When weighing all of the factors considered against the need for and potential benefits of the facility at this location, I believe the record reflects substantial evidence that the project does not meet the broad public interest standard necessary for the Council to recommend site certification.”

Inslee’s action on 29 January followed the Vancouver Port Commissions’ action earlier that month when it voted to not renew the company’s lease if the project did not have all required permits and licenses by March 31. This move effectively ended the project.

According to DeSmog Blog, momentum for the vote “began in November when Don Orange joined the port commission after a resounding victory against a challenger who was heavily funded by the oil industry. Orange, on the other hand, promised to oppose Vancouver Energy’s planned construction of the largest oil-by-rail facility in the country.” Washington State’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council recommended in November that the governor should reject the proposed project.

“We will not become just another polluted oil town,” said Rebecca Ponzio, director of the Stand Up To Oil Campaign. “This should be a signal for communities across the country, the oil industry does not get to decide your future. Together, people are always more powerful than the money of oil companies.”

In a written statement issued 30 January, Vancouver Energy officials said Inslee’s endorsement of the council’s “faulty recommendation” sets an “impossible standard for permitting new energy facilities in the state.” In addition Inslee’s decision sends an “anti-development” message that will have far-reaching consequences for industries across the state, Vancouver Energy officials added.

It doesn’t ever have to be development versus the environment…

Image is from the Stand Up To Oil website.

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United Airlines’ biofuel initiative

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9461144263_590dedf9f5_zUnited Airlines has launched an initiative that will use biofuel to help power flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

And according to a Washington Post report, United eventually plans to expand its use of biofuels to all flights operating out of LAX. It’s a pretty big deal because while biofuel has been tested by several airlines, it’s the first time an American airline will begin using renewable fuel for regular commercial operations.

The renewable fuel used to power United’s aircraft is supplied by an LA refinery operated by AltAir Fuels, which is using the facility to produce both renewable jet fuel and diesel fuel using a technology developed by Honeywell UOP. In 2013, AltAir and United announced their partnership, in which United will purchase up to 15 million gallons of biofuel over a three-year period. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

14 March, 2016 at 6:00 am

Eat more stuff – we need the fuel

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And while we’re at it let’s get goats into the act.

But first, UCLA researchers are studying the use of the human feces as biofuels to power cars. David Wernick, graduate student of UCLA, notes that poop is an untapped resource that only gets flushed in toilets.

In the US, just counting animal manure, more than 1 billion tons of poop are produced yearly. But Wernick and his colleagues are also trying other materials to produce new kinds of biofuels such as sewage waste, plant matter, cellulosic matter and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, Gizmodo reported

The UCLA team plans to engineer the bacteria in human waste by breaking down the proteins in excrement and other waste rich in protein such as wastewater algae and byproducts from the fermentation of beer, ethanol and wine. Wernick believes that the re-engineered bacteria, when it uses the protein to produce poo-based biofuels, would result is the vehicle running without a need to adjust its automotive parts.

BBC recently reported that fungi found in goat and sheep stomachs can break down vegetation in a way that may be useful for biofuel production. Most biofuel in the United States comes from crops such as corn, but growing corn takes a lot of land, and using it for biofuels may drive up food prices. So the industry is increasingly looking toward nonfood sources of biomass like grass and wood. In a study published in Science, researchers show that fungi isolated from the feces of goats and sheep can break down wood better than the standard processes in place. Plus, these fungi can change which digestive enzymes they produce in response to what they are eating, making them more flexible than traditional methods.

Renewable energy is all about looking at everything in new ways, including our own poop…oh, and goats.

Update on lithium ion batteries:

Starting on April 1, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will ban shipments of lithium-ion batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft due safety concerns. According to Lloyd’s Loading List.com, the decision is “binding on all (191) ICAO Member States and therefore the airlines which operate in those States.”

This is the latest in a national and international efforts to restrict shipments of lithium-ion batteries as cargo. Last month I posted that the Federal Aviation Administration issued a “safety alert” urging U.S. and foreign commercial passenger and cargo airlines to conduct “a safety risk assessment to manage the risks associated with transporting lithium batteries as cargo.” The FAA also issued a guidance to its own inspectors to help them determine whether airlines have adequately assessed the risk of handling and carrying lithium batteries as cargo.

Written by William DiBenedetto

7 March, 2016 at 6:00 am

Airlines alerted to assess lithium battery risks

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batteries_bitslammerA few days after my most recent post on safe battery technology, Safe battery tech prevents “thermal runaway”, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a “safety alert” urging U.S. and foreign commercial passenger and cargo airlines to conduct “a safety risk assessment to manage the risks associated with transporting lithium batteries as cargo.”

The FAA also is issued a guidance to its own inspectors to help them determine whether airlines have adequately assessed the risk of handling and carrying lithium batteries as cargo.

FAA said in press release that battery fire testing has “highlighted the potential risk of a catastrophic aircraft loss due to damage resulting from a lithium battery fire or explosion. Current cargo fire suppression systems cannot effectively control a lithium battery fire. As a result of those tests, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus have advised airlines about the dangers associated with carrying lithium batteries as cargo and also have encouraged them to conduct safety risk assessments.”

The agency noted that hazardous materials rules currently ban passenger airlines from carrying lithium-metal batteries as cargo. Also, a number of large commercial passenger airlines voluntarily decided not to carry rechargeable, lithium-ion batteries.

“The safety risk assessment process is designed to identify and mitigate risks for the airlines that still carry lithium batteries and to help those that don’t carry them from inadvertently accepting them for transport,” FAA said.

The Safety Alert For Operators (SAFO) encourages airlines that previously conducted safety assessments to reevaluate them in light of new evidence from the agency’s recent lithium battery fire tests.

So…FAA, meet Stanford—and vice versa.

Image: batteries by bitslammer via Flickr


Written by William DiBenedetto

15 February, 2016 at 6:30 am

EPA takes big step to regulate aircraft GHGs

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Pulpolux_20secondsThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) intends to issue a scientific finding that greenhouse gases from aircraft pose a risk to human health, paving the way for regulating emissions from the U.S. aviation industry.

Touching off what is likely to be a long and contentious regulatory process, the EPA on Wednesday said it is “proposing to find under the Clean Air Act that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from commercial aircraft contribute to the pollution that causes climate change endangering the health and welfare of Americans.”

At the same time, the agency released information about the international process underway by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for developing carbon dioxide (CO2) standards for aircraft and EPA’s participation in that process. EPA is seeking public input to inform future steps by the agency. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

10 June, 2015 at 11:27 am

GAO on freight transport: focus on community congestion impact

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3501697246_da4c3fa9a2_zThe Government Accountability Office says developing a national freight strategy should pay attention to the impact of congestion on communities.

GAO’s report (GAO-14-740), released on 26 September, found that recent trends in freight flows, if they continue as anticipated, “may exacerbate congestion issues in communities, particularly along certain corridors.”

As of 2012, the latest year for which data is available, national freight rail and truck traffic had approached the levels reached in 2007, prior to the economic recession, the report continues. “Certain trends related to specific commodities have affected rail flows, including increases in domestic crude oil production. A key negative impact of increasing freight flows is congestion at highway-rail grade crossings, where road traffic must wait to cross the tracks when trains are passing.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by William DiBenedetto

6 October, 2014 at 5:05 am

Green truck standards aid business and the planet

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Kenworth_T680 Advantage Road Tour1_TruckPRA recent report from the Environmental Defense Fund and Ceres says that strong fuel efficiency and GHG emission standards for freight trucks could slash fuel consumption by as much as 40 percent compared to 2010 levels, resulting in significant environmental and economic benefits.

In fact the report suggests that American businesses could save more than $25 billion if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopt stringent fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards. The two agencies were tasked by President Obama to come up with proposed target standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks by March, 2015. Read the rest of this entry »

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