New study finds that plug-in hybrids rule in all possible futures


If you haven’t already heard, yesterday saw the release of an important new report: In the most comprehensive environmental assessment of electric transportation to date, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) are examining the greenhouse gas emissions and air quality impacts of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). The purpose of the program is to evaluate the nationwide environmental impacts of potentially large numbers of PHEVs over a time period of 2000 to 2050. The year 2000 is assumed to be the first year PHEVs would become available in the U.S. market, while 2050 …

Loan star

Making energy efficiency possible for cheapskate homeowners

Apropos of my recent realization that if I had bought a new furnace on credit rather than waiting to save up the cash I'd have saved a bundle of money over the last 5 years, here's something I've been meaning to write about for months: a Vancouver developer that came up with a smart -- I mean, diabolically smart -- financing scheme to build a super-efficient condo complex. (Proving, I suppose, biodiversivist's point that spreadsheets are, in fact, wonderful things.)

15 Green Cities

These metropolises aren’t literally the greenest places on earth — they’re not necessarily dense with foliage, for one, and some still have a long way to go down the path to sustainability. But all of the cities on this list deserve recognition for making impressive strides toward eco-friendliness, helping their many millions of residents live better, greener lives. If your favorite green city didn’t make the list, tell us why it deserves recognition in the comments section at the bottom of the page. Photo: iStockphoto Reykjavik, Iceland Remember the grade-school memory device “Greenland is icy and Iceland is green”? It’s …

Your mileage may vary

Why bicycling is 25 percent better than you thought

Your car's greenhouse-gas emissions are about 25 percent worse than you think. How so? Well, for each gallon of gas you burn in your engine, there's the climate equivalent of another quarter-gallon or so embedded in your consumption. What that means is this: the gasoline you use didn't just magically appear in your tank -- it was extracted, refined, and transported to your local station. And all that activity released emissions. It's a curiosity of our energy system (and other systems too, such as our food system), but it's a curiosity that bears closely on our thinking about how to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Stay with me for a moment. It's usually assumed that each gallon of gas releases about 19.5 pounds of CO2 into the sky. (Some quibble, and argue that it's 19.4 or 19.6. But whatever.) Basic physics dictates that a gallon of gasoline combusted will release a more-or-less fixed amount of CO2. But from a public policy perspective, physics isn't the whole story.

Does the rest of the dinosaur know about this?

A car company takes a step in the right direction — and it’s GM!

It's a pretty short step from here to letting OnStar drivers pay for auto insurance by the mile; that's a plus everywhere, but especially in states like Michigan, where it would help turn what had been very high fixed costs into proconservation variable ones. Now if only the state would stop charging all drivers the same flat fee (about $125/yr) for the catastrophic claims fund -- put it into the price of gas or something. GM's inspiration was to realize that OnStar's global positioning satellite technology gave GMAC a reliable, low-cost way to measure the actual mileage of GMAC policyholders, allowing those who drive less to share in GMAC's reduced underwriting costs. If this cooperative undertaking leads more people to subscribe to OnStar and purchase GMAC auto policies, well, that's just a chance GM will have to take.

On the Ball: Get trashed fast

Or should that be get fast trashed?

In college I wrote my honors thesis on the connection between running and spirituality. And I like the idea of eco-running as a combining-of-passions sort of idea. Except I’m not really into combining my passions a la eco-runner Samuel, by picking up trash while I run. Because I’m training for a marathon, and I live in the city, and if I picked up every bit of trash on my long runs, I’d probably never finish. Also, I’ve never been a fan of running while carrying things. Also, I’m way too time- and goal-oriented to take all those breaks. But good …

Jam Plan Is Toast

NYC mayor’s traffic-reducing proposal shot down, for now New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s congestion-fee proposal, reportedly down to the wire on Monday, is now just down, period. The plan would have charged a fee for Manhattan-bound vehicles during peak hours, but the state Senate adjourned without voting on the measure after Democrats made it clear that they would vote as a bloc against it — arguably just as much out of distaste for Bloomberg as opposition to the fee. Is NYC congestion pricing dead? Said one senator supportive of the plan, “It doesn’t sound like it’s alive, that’s for …

Bloomberg's congestion fee plan ...


… killed by lawmakers in Albany.

Post-vacation links

Stuff I missed

There are a gazillion things I missed over vacation, or meant to post about before vacation, that I’ll never have time to return to. Thus: a link post! I missed the MoveOn town hall on climate and energy. You can watch the candidate presentations here. Bill Scher has a pretty good rundown of who said what, here. Our guide to the candidates on these issues is here. FYI, MoveOn members voted John Edwards the winner. I doubt I’ll have a chance to read Chris Mooney’s new book Storm World any time soon (and — sssshhh — I must confess that …

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