Tag Archives: transportation

The EPA is screwing up the discussion on global warming

The EPA is reporting the wrong information on global warming and I want them to get it right. The information they publish becomes the gold standard and is reported in the media, covered on TV, and published all across the web. It reaches the eyes and ears of a majority of Americans, and so why are they screwing it up?

The first problem is in using economic terms over plain language. The average person has a hard time understanding the meaning of ‘by economic sector’ or ‘end user emissions’. And nowhere in their mission statement does it say they should be communicating like college professors:

The mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment.

Neither does it say they should communicate clearly, but that’s covered in the Plain Writing Act of 2010.

Another problem they face is choosing what data to report. Again, they seem to be focusing on macroeconomic data sets instead of what will help the average person. Here is the data set spread out across 20 pages on the EPA website and reported many thousand times over in the press:

 

Emissions by Economic Sector

  • Electricity generation – 34%
  • Transportation – 27%
  • Industry – 21%
  • Agriculture – 7%
  • Commercial & Residential – 11%

 

Very helpful for the big picture and if you’re writing policy, but worthy of ignoring by the common person. What are they supposed to do about electricity, buy a wind turbine? For transportation, go out and buy a new car? What does industry even mean?

For those steeped in the economics of global warming this makes total sense. Our energy is slowly moving towards renewables, cars are becoming electric, homes and business can similarly electrify, and that would make 61-90% of our emissions from electricity. Yes, it is vital we pick up renewables.

But that stymies any discussion about what individuals can do. Here is another data set left to gather dust, buried 200 pages deep in the EPA’s most important report:

 

Emissions by End User

  • Manufacturing – 30%
  • Homes – 18%
  • Business – 17%
  • Personal Cars – 17%
  • Farming – 8%
  • Freight Trucks – 6%
  • Airplanes – 2%

 

End user is an economic term for you bought it you own it. Meaning the person who drives the car is responsible for the emissions, not General Motors. From this perspective the story changes entirely. Transportation moves down into a tie for third most important. The three ahead of it – manufacturing, homes, business – all represent places where the average person has a significant impact.

Individuals could buy less or switch to recycled products, in simple ways, like buying recycled toilet paper. At home they could lower the thermostat or send less to the landfill. At work they could accept normal temperatures for the A/C and support any green company policies.

It is strange that this data, which places the responsibility on individuals and can easily encourage a change in behavior, is buried in favor of the economic report. It would seem like the EPA is purposely avoiding the issue of responsibility, or letting the economists control the marketing. Either way it’s unacceptable and screwing up the discussion on global warming.

Come on EPA get your head in the game!

 

 

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Los Angeles updates zoning in Hollywood – moving towards metro-centric city

A plan that could dramatically remake the Hollywood skyline and form the blueprint for denser development around the city’s growing rail network has won unanimous approval from the Los Angeles City Council.

Revised zoning guidelines for Sunset Boulevard and surrounding streets will make it easier for developers to build bigger and taller buildings, especially around subway stations and along bus routes. Supporters say the plan is a visionary change that will allow Hollywood to complete a 20-year-transformation from a seedy haven for drug dealing and prostitution into a more vibrant, cosmopolitan center of residential towers, jobs, entertainment and public transportation.

“If we’re going to spend billions of dollars to build a rapid-transit system, it only makes sense to put development there,” he said.

Learn more – L.A. council OKs plan to concentrate growth in Hollywood

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Oil fact – 99% of U.S. electricity generation does NOT come from oil

Transportation, not electricity, is the source of oil’s importance: since the 1970s, the U.S. has weaned its power sector off of oil. Today only one percent of U.S. electricity is generated from oil and only one percent of U.S. oil demand is due to electricity generation. Thus expansion of electricity generation from solar, wind, nuclear, and other power sources will not serve to displace oil in any perceptible manner. Plug in an electric vehicle today and 99% of the electricity its battery is charged with will not be generated from oil.

via United States Energy Security Council

 

Thx to Steven Witt

 

Keep reading - California launches a statewide network of charging stations for electric vehicles

California launches a statewide network of charging stations for electric vehicles

Governor Brown joined with the California Public Utilities Commission today to announce a $120 million dollar settlement with NRG Energy Inc. that will fund the construction of a statewide network of charging stations for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), including at least 200 public fast-charging stations and another 10,000 plug-in units at 1,000 locations across the state. The settlement stems from California’s energy crisis.

The network of charging stations funded by the settlement will be installed in the San Francisco Bay Area, the San Joaquin Valley, the Los Angeles Basin and San Diego County.

“Through the settlement, EVs will become a viable transportation option for many Californians who do not have the option to have a charging station at their residence.”

The Executive Order issued today by the Governor sets the following targets:

  • By 2015, all major cities in California will have adequate infrastructure and be “zero-emission vehicle ready”;
  • By 2020, adequate infrastructure to support 1 million zero-emission vehicles in California;
  • By 2025, there will be 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road in California; and
  • By 2050, virtually all personal transportation in the State will be based on zero-emission vehicles.

via ca.gov

 

Just one question, not addressed in the announcement, is charging at the stations free?

What will be the cost for a full charge?

 

// photos via NCDOT Comms and gwyst

My Guide To The Sundance Film Festival


The first thing you need to know about Sundance is that it’s cheaper than you think. If you are like me then you imagined the event being all exclusive and haughty. On the contrary, the festival is low cost, lodging is plentiful, and the flights and car rentals are among the cheapest in America.

The only thing you will end up paying for is the skiing, but you get what you give. The slopes around Park City, Utah are top notch. As a former Winter Olympics site Park City has everything you will need.

The Sundance Film Festival

The Festival runs over two weekends with a slower tempo during the week, from January 20th-30th. Opening weekend is when the stars come out and the crowds reach their peak. By closing weekend the crowds have left and there is still a full range of events. Most people tend to favor one weekend over the other. While we have friends who favor the celebrity, “seen and be seen” vibe of opening weekend, we prefer the “down to the movies” vibe of closing weekend.

This is especially exciting for those of you movie buffs. Each screening has on hand an ensemble of cast members and crew, though it is most often the director and/or producer in attendance. After the movie “screening” is over they offer you a personal in-depth behind the scenes followed by a Q/A session. Considering the movie list this can range from topics about LGBT to terrorism to Rock n Roll and more. To me it represents an experience like no other and has forever turned me on the to idea of a movie festival.

Tickets to each show are $15. You can pre-buy or purchase the day-of. This part is probably the most confusing since it’s cold and your in a strange new town and the thought of waking up early to get a ticket is strange. Yet, that is what everybody does and it works this way because of the nature of the festival. All year Sundance accepts movies then in mid-December releases the one’s they will be showing at the festival. At this point they are still unknown, never-before-seen, pre-critic, and so on. This means that everyone has a blast guessing which ones will win Oscar nods and which ones will sit on a dusty shelf for a 1,000 years.

These guesses quickly culminate into a few sold out shows weeks before the festival and before anyone has seen the actual movie. These mostly gather around well known actor/director combos. As the festival draws nearer more clips are released, press segments done, and even a few pirated releases. Eventually culminating in the Festival where everyone, including the insiders and well-informed, are still unsure of the best movies. All are stuck buying tickets the day-of. At first I found this the most confusing but after attending the festival I found it enjoyable to get caught up in the mystery.

The thing is that all the films are personally selected to be amazing (something like 200 out of several thousand) so it’s hard to go wrong. Plus, each movie will be playing several times at several locations. Park City has movie theaters and screening locations all over (like the Library) so you won’t miss anything. I say give up on planning and just have some fun playing critic!

Park City Lodging

Finding a place to stay is the most challenging part of the trip. It’s not because places are hard to find but because there are so many options. Stay downtown and rely on the free public transportation. Choose a lodge next to a ski resort and get the benefit of easy skiing. Pick a spot outside of town next to the Whole Foods and get around by rental car.

I favor the rental car option because it makes getting from the Salt Lake City airport to Park City easy. The cost of a shuttle is about $40 and the trip is about 40 minutes. Whereas the rental car is $40/day and split amongst 3-4 people it makes for some nice, warm rides to/from everything.

My favorite spot is with All Seasons Resorts which are these new townhouse resorts built for the Winter Olympics. They have every amenity you need and some even look like a Winter Cabin. They offer a 2-for-1 deal and so for 4 nights and 6 people it ends up costing us $200/person. A slick deal for a party cabin :)

The Sundance.org website offers many deals too but they all boil down to the three options presented above.  Closest to downtown is most expensive, ski resorts high to medium, and our just outside of town medium to low pricing. But, did I mention the last option is very close to a Whole Foods, can you tell I obsess about food..

Flights, Transportation, Other

The only place to fly into (unless you’re loaded) is Salt Lake City airport (SLC). Flight are reasonably priced since Salt Lake is a western hub for most airlines. The drive is about 40 minutes through snow filled mountains (possibly a favorite part of the trip). Getting around Park City is relatively easy. They have free shuttles running everywhere. The only hiccups are when rain/snow get involved which makes waiting outdoors for a ride a slushy cold event.

Parking a rental car can sometimes be a pain. There are limited spaces available and they do try to discourage everyone from driving. Still I never have any problems and usually find it more convenient (as long as I carpool!). Especially, considering that the theaters are not in one place and well, it’s cold out.

Other than the movies there are salons and parties. Downtown there are talks with experts and the like. On opening weekend is an opening party and closing weekend has the awards show and the closing party. All are fun but ticketed events (sometimes hard to find). If you’re interested in these events it is best to purchase a ticket package that includes these events.

Well, that is pretty much it. The only other recommendation I have is to try and visit the actual Sundance Resort. It’s about 30 mins away from downtown and exists as a ski lodge and artist retreat. It was rescued by Robert Redford decades ago and serves as the home and inspiration for the festival. The scenery is beautiful and the creative vibe is awesome!

photos from sundance.org and allseasonsresortlodging.com

Health, Wealth and Community: DC’s Deal on Wheels


If there are two things I love, it’s markets and technology and I’ve noticed both at work in the district when it comes to parking and driving enforcement. Ever since the housing and nightlife market exploded in DC, the city has been making a killing on parking and driving violations. In fiscal year 2009 alone, 2.4 million tickets were issued. To give perspective on the lucrativeness of this number, if all 2.4 million tickets issued were at the minimum fine of $15 and went uncontested and paid, the district had the potential to reap in $36 million dollars and since upping the fines in June 2010, the number is now much higher.

Much of DC’s enforcement boom has come in part of technology. Traffic cameras are recording those of us driving over the speed limit and running orange lights, parking meters now accept credit cards, and parking officials (25% more have been employed by the district this year) are armed with handheld systems with built-in cameras that record license tags and remember parking histories.

Which has happened to me on several occasions and is why I made the decision to temporarily give up my car. I got sick of spending time and money on having a car in the district and it’s is a perfect example of how markets are supposed to work. The demand for resources, in this case parking, goes up, so the price goes up. And then new markets emerge. In this case, biking. Kudos to former mayor Adrian Fenty for his efforts to promote and support this. But with Fenty gone, his initiatives like the Capital Bikeshare program and bike lane expansion pilot are a waste if not fully implemented. Any resources dedicated to biking without the infrastructure to support them are made in vain and the reality is biking lanes in the city are too sporadic to be impactful. It’s a shame because with over 30% of DC residents not owning a car, that leaves many opting for the bus or metro without gaining the health benefits of any physical exercise. Did I mention DC ranks #1 in the country for having the highest medical costs of obesity, per capita, in the country?

My experience of biking as my go-to transportation has been, in a word, awesome. I don’t have to wait to get on my bike (I can’t say the same for the metro, bus or cabs), I always find parking, literally steps away (or sometimes inside) of my destination, I never get ticketed, I have an easy excuse not to go to events not bikeable to me and I get places a lot faster than by cab, metro, car or walking. One of the best aspects of my pro-cycling life, however, has been the physical and mental benefits of getting a workout without thinking about it and not waiting in traffic or for an unpredictable metro car.

If DC truly wants to be a world leader, it will help move us off our addiction of cars, which are an archaic and inefficient technology and unilaterally decrease the value and experience of the city. Everyone can agree that DC already has a bad enough climate in the summer with its ungodly heat and humidity; the last thing it needs is a growing exhaust-producing automotive population adding to the agony.

The bottom line and what Fenty recognized is a bike-friendly culture improves the quality of life for inhabitants of all economics means, it encourages more people to spend their dollars here (both residents and tourists), and it fosters a sense of community that’s virtually impossible to achieve in an automobile-based society.

Until transporters become a reality, biking has my vote for the best way to get around the city. If you agree, you can let the district know by voting at the OneCity Forum (an innovative campaign by iStrategyLabs to enable collaborative approaches to addressing the city’s greatest challenges).

Health, Wealth and Community: DC's Deal on Wheels


If there are two things I love, it’s markets and technology and I’ve noticed both at work in the district when it comes to parking and driving enforcement. Ever since the housing and nightlife market exploded in DC, the city has been making a killing on parking and driving violations. In fiscal year 2009 alone, 2.4 million tickets were issued. To give perspective on the lucrativeness of this number, if all 2.4 million tickets issued were at the minimum fine of $15 and went uncontested and paid, the district had the potential to reap in $36 million dollars and since upping the fines in June 2010, the number is now much higher.

Much of DC’s enforcement boom has come in part of technology. Traffic cameras are recording those of us driving over the speed limit and running orange lights, parking meters now accept credit cards, and parking officials (25% more have been employed by the district this year) are armed with handheld systems with built-in cameras that record license tags and remember parking histories.

Which has happened to me on several occasions and is why I made the decision to temporarily give up my car. I got sick of spending time and money on having a car in the district and it’s is a perfect example of how markets are supposed to work. The demand for resources, in this case parking, goes up, so the price goes up. And then new markets emerge. In this case, biking. Kudos to former mayor Adrian Fenty for his efforts to promote and support this. But with Fenty gone, his initiatives like the Capital Bikeshare program and bike lane expansion pilot are a waste if not fully implemented. Any resources dedicated to biking without the infrastructure to support them are made in vain and the reality is biking lanes in the city are too sporadic to be impactful. It’s a shame because with over 30% of DC residents not owning a car, that leaves many opting for the bus or metro without gaining the health benefits of any physical exercise. Did I mention DC ranks #1 in the country for having the highest medical costs of obesity, per capita, in the country?

My experience of biking as my go-to transportation has been, in a word, awesome. I don’t have to wait to get on my bike (I can’t say the same for the metro, bus or cabs), I always find parking, literally steps away (or sometimes inside) of my destination, I never get ticketed, I have an easy excuse not to go to events not bikeable to me and I get places a lot faster than by cab, metro, car or walking. One of the best aspects of my pro-cycling life, however, has been the physical and mental benefits of getting a workout without thinking about it and not waiting in traffic or for an unpredictable metro car.

If DC truly wants to be a world leader, it will help move us off our addiction of cars, which are an archaic and inefficient technology and unilaterally decrease the value and experience of the city. Everyone can agree that DC already has a bad enough climate in the summer with its ungodly heat and humidity; the last thing it needs is a growing exhaust-producing automotive population adding to the agony.

The bottom line and what Fenty recognized is a bike-friendly culture improves the quality of life for inhabitants of all economics means, it encourages more people to spend their dollars here (both residents and tourists), and it fosters a sense of community that’s virtually impossible to achieve in an automobile-based society.

Until transporters become a reality, biking has my vote for the best way to get around the city. If you agree, you can let the district know by voting at the OneCity Forum (an innovative campaign by iStrategyLabs to enable collaborative approaches to addressing the city’s greatest challenges).