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Nice Package

UPS will test new hydraulic hybrid trucks If you thought the muscled deliveryfolk in tight brown shorts were hot, wait 'til you get a load of their trucks. UPS drivers in Detroit will be testing new hybrid delivery trucks developed by the U.S. EPA, which the agency claims will boost fuel efficiency up to 70 percent in stop-and-go traffic. The "hydraulic hybrid" trucks -- also intriguing to the Army and FedEx -- sport low-emission diesel engines and store braking energy not in a battery, but in a hydraulic system. A hydraulic hybrid will save about 1,000 gallons of fuel a …

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A conversation with the makers of Who Killed the Electric Car?

Chris Paine, the director of Who Killed the Electric Car?, looks a little embarrassed as he walks toward his waiting limo. "I should really have them drop us off a block away from the theater," he says, laughing uneasily. At least he's carpooling. Dean Devlin and Chris Paine at Sundance. Photo: Fred Hayes/WireImage. With him are Dean Devlin, one of the film's executive producers (whose other projects include Independence Day, Godzilla, and The Patriot); former electric-vehicle sales rep Chelsea Sexton, who appears in the film; and Sexton's husband, Bob, who helped launch Saturn before becoming the go-to technician for EV …

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Six in the city

Vancouver family does it up right.

Six kids, to be exact. The Vancouver Courier profiles the Spino family -- 2 parents and 6 kids who live in a 3-bedroom condo in downtown Vancouver. It's an interesting read, as well as a good reminder that, for some families, downtown living makes a lot of sense. Says the pater familias: "I don't see the need for having rooms in houses that you don't use. I don't see why you have two spare bedrooms for visitors that you just use to store boxes. I don't think that's efficient. I don't think that's a responsible way to live...You don't need …

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Move Thyself: “Kingdom of bicycles” experiencing identity crisis

So, in case you haven't heard, China's economy has been growing a wee bit. The boom has fueled growth in incomes and is largely responsible for the attendant explosive growth in auto sales and use. Huge growth. The number of cars has grown over 20 times since 1978 and is expected to balloon another five times still by 2020. Meanwhile, bicycle ridership has fallen at roughly the same rate as auto use has grown, and city planners and officials, eager to keep the boom booming, even at great public cost, have been planning to welcome the auto's continued growth and …

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How my father taught me to leave cars behind

When my husband and I moved back to Montana three years ago, I fantasized about living far from town. We'd settle outside the city boundaries, where the Milky Way sparkles clear as a river and red-tailed hawks bank over bunchgrass meadows. My (imaginary) dogs could run over our five acres, frolicking in the ponderosa pines. That was the plan. But we didn't do it. And it's my father's fault. He kept me on track. Photo: iStockphoto. Before he retired a few years ago, my father spent more than 30 years as an electrical engineer for Bay Area Rapid Transit, the …

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Why is green building still so hard?

Recently, Colorado Company magazine highlighted a developer who believes in nothing but "green" building. It was a wonderful article, but it gets at an underlying question: why is this still a story? The idea of green building has not spread like wildfire. The mass-market building sector is oblivious. Most of the structures in trade magazines like Architectural Digest aren't green. Last month, The New York Times ran an article in which Robert A.M. Stern, dean of Yale's architecture school, said, "I think the trouble with environmentalism is that at most architecture schools it's been confined to a dreary backwater of …

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Train of Thoughtless

Railroad from Beijing to Tibet tries to outmaneuver climate change A railroad connecting Beijing, China, to Lhasa, Tibet, has been completed, despite considerable political and environmental obstacles. The project, conceived over 40 years ago by Mao Zedong, is a symbol of Chinese domination and has faced opposition from proponents of Tibetan independence. The railroad runs through seismically active areas, climbs over a mountain pass that reaches 16,900 feet, and crosses permafrost that could move as much as 15 feet over time as it thaws and refreezes. To adapt, Chinese scientists pushed the project budget up nearly 50 percent, to roughly …

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That Thing Utah Do!

Bill to sell federal land in Utah could set off cascade of land sales In the American West, many of the fastest-growing regions contain the most federally owned land, which limits expansion. This puts developers, local officials, and the vacation-home set in conflict with the public interest, and ... well, we hardly need to finish that sentence, right? Some members of Congress from Western states are getting the itch to sell off public land to make more room for development, and a new bill proposed by a senator and rep from Utah is widely seen as a test of their …

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A commute point

Tomorrow is Commute Another Way Day! In Maine, at least (anyone know of this happening elsewhere?), this is an annual event to promote carpools, vanpools, public transit, biking, walking, pogo-sticking, and other eco-friendly alternatives to that long, lonely slog to and from the 9-to-5. According to the CAWD website: Last year, more than 500 employers and 5,000 commuters got involved statewide, helping to reduce traffic congestion and auto emissions by eliminating 6,000 auto trips; 62,000 auto miles; 1.65 tons of harmful pollution; and $32,000 in commuting costs ... all in a single day! And you know what else those commuters …

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Can we replace oil and maintain energy supply?

This piece on EnergyBulletin is brilliant, and by that I mean it makes arguments I like to make. Can we simply switch out oil for other fuels? No: The question is: can production from non-conventional sources such as the Alberta tar sands or synthetic fuels using coal-to-liquids (CTL) technology be ramped up to anything even approaching a supply deficit of 22 million barrels per day by 2015? The answer appears to be a clear no. Not by a long shot. So what's the answer? Rather than focusing only on what I see as futile and costly attempts to continue to …