Cities

California bill aims to curb sprawl

Hopes are high that a bill aimed at curbing California sprawl will pass the state legislature and be signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The bill, SB 375, would channel transportation funding toward projects that encourage smart growth. Each of California’s 17 metropolitan regions would create a “sustainable community strategy” to encourage compact development; projects included in the strategy would get first dibs on transportation funds. In order to meet California’s goal to cut greenhouse-gas emissions 25 percent by 2020, “our communities must change the way they grow,” says bill sponsor Darrell Steinberg (D). He adds, “You can’t meet …

Mayor has big clean-energy goals for NYC

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted clean energy Tuesday at, aptly, the National Clean Energy Summit. He said his city has issued a formal request to companies for ideas on how to source electricity from the wind, sun, and waves. “Perhaps companies will want to put wind farms atop our bridges and skyscrapers, or use the enormous potential of powerful offshore winds miles out in the Atlantic Ocean,” Bloomberg said, adding, “I think it would be a thing of beauty if, when Lady Liberty looks out on the horizon, she not only welcomes new immigrants but lights their way …

Anti-bike crusader halts San Francisco’s cycle-friendly plans

With a claim that bike lanes increase pollution, a San Francisco resident has managed to put the brakes on the city’s pro-biking plans. In 2004, San Francisco unveiled a proposal to create more bike lanes and bike parking, aiming to have 10 percent of city trips taken on two wheels by 2010. Enter Rob Anderson, who doesn’t own a car but is no fan of cyclists. “The behavior of the bike people on city streets is always annoying,” he says. “This ‘Get out of my way, I’m not burning fossil fuels.'” Anderson sued the city to make it do an …

Electric-car visionary would overhaul the way we get around

Could the global auto infrastructure be overhauled in a way that’s profitable for business, cheap for drivers, and easy on the planet? Meet Better Place‘s Shai Agassi and his plans for an electric-car future, featured in the latest issue of Wired. In Agassi’s vision, gas stations are replaced with omnipresent recharging spots for electric cars. Vehicles are cheap, perhaps even free; money is made off electricity, and renewable energy is incentivized. Drivers purchase electricity on subscription, paying for unlimited miles, a certain number of miles per month, or pay-as-you-go. No time to recharge? Head to your nearest battery exchange station …

Advocates push for return to 55-mph speed limit

Platform shoes and high-waisted pants came back into fashion — could the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit be the next ’70s trend to reemerge? Advocates point to potential money and fuel savings, noting that fuel efficiency drops significantly above 60 mph. The Drive 55 campaign calculates that taking a daily 30-mile trip at 55 mph instead of 80 mph saves $1,100 per year; Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), who has called for a study on the effects of a 60-mph limit, points out that the 55-mph limit reduced oil use by 167,000 barrels per day. But that may not be enough to make …

N.Y. wind rush brings corruption complaints, divides rural communities

Lured by generous state subsidies, the wind industry is having its day in the sun breeze in upstate New York. But the scramble for turbine-friendly land has led to complaints of corruption and caused schisms in rural communities. At least two wind companies are being investigated for shady dealings, and evidence of possible improper influence or conflicts of interest have emerged in at least 12 counties. Some residents decry what they say is a none-too-polite, get-out-of-my-way mentality by Big Wind, and say the turbines spoil views, ruin the quiet, threaten land and wildlife, and cause unnecessary conflict. “Is it worth …

Parking up, driving down

Drop in U.S. driving last eight months exceeds the 1970s’ total decline

June 2008 saw another sharp drop in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) according to the Federal Highway Administration’s monthly report on “Traffic Volume Trends.” Americans drove 4.7 percent less, or 12.2 billion miles fewer, in June 2008 than June 2007 — beating the record-setting drop of March. Since last November, Americans have driven 53.2 billion miles less than they did over the same period a year earlier — topping the 1970s’ total decline of 49.3 billion miles … The moving 12-month trend-line is startling and again makes clear $4 a gallon is the first (but not the last) genuine tipping point …

Americans drive less, use less gas, buy fewer cars

Americans are driving less, burning less gasoline, and buying fewer cars, and the feds have the stats to prove it. New numbers show that Americans drove 4.7 percent less in June 2008 than they did in June 2007, shaving off some 12.2 billion miles. For those keeping track at home, that makes a total 53.2 billion fewer miles driven between Nov. 2007 and June 2008 than in that eight-month period a year earlier. As would be expected, gasoline and diesel use have also fallen: In the first three months of 2008, Americans burned 400 million fewer gallons of gas than …

The (renewable) electron economy, part 5

More ideas for a post-oil society

This is the fifth in a series on how we can build an energy future based on our best science and no longer critically dependent upon exhaustible and polluting fossil fuels. Promoting battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles Governments can play a key role in promoting electric vehicles by buying electric vehicles en masse and helping develop battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric fleets and fleet systems. With current technology, battery electric trucks could already function as postal delivery trucks. Beyond the gasoline hybrid, government service vehicles should be mandated to be electric or PHEV/EREVs with few exceptions. As is …