About a third of the electric cars in the U.S. are spinning on California roads, but the state still has much work to do to build the charging infrastructure to support them.
There are about 1,000 public chargers in the state right now, and New Jersey-based NRG is poised to install 200 fast chargers and the wiring for 10,000 more regular chargers throughout the state by 2016. A fast charger can juice up a vehicle in as little as 15 minutes, while the regular kind can take hours. But building up the infrastructure isn't simple, as KQED reports:
Still, a multitude of challenges face NRG and other charging companies, like Bay Area-based ChargePoint andEcotality. Fast chargers produce very high voltage. They require complicated permitting. And they cost upward of $40,000 each.
Right now, the financials don’t add up says NRG’s Terry O’Day.
Reading the report, we couldn't help but wonder how those incentives -- a combination of tax breaks, zoning changes, and contributions -- broke down by industry. (Full disclosure: We have a bit of a chip on our shoulders about fossil fuels.) The report offers a teaser hint:
Far and away the most incentive money is spent on manufacturing, about $25.5 billion a year, followed by agriculture. The oil, gas and mining industries come in third, and the film business fourth. Technology is not far behind, as companies like Twitter and Facebook increasingly seek tax breaks and many localities bet on the industry’s long-term viability.
While we were celebrating Thanksgiving, Monsanto had much to be thankful for, too. Last month, the Department of Justice quietly scrapped an investigation begun in January 2010 into anticompetitive practices in the American seed market that Monsanto dominates like an extra-mean, extra-genetically-modified Hulk. Today, Hulk "pleased."
The DOJ didn't even see fit to mark the investigation's end with a press release. News of it emerged from a brief item Monsanto itself issued the Friday before Thanksgiving, declaring it had "received written notification" from the DOJ antitrust division that it had ended its investigation "without taking any enforcement action."
Climate Progress blogger Joe Romm is one of the best there is at breaking down climate science, which is to say that he is one of the best there is at dropping reams of data in your lap that he can demonstrate add up to the apocalypse. Yesterday, when you weren't looking, he dropped a ton of data in your lap in a post whose title ends in an exclamation point. So, you know. It's serious.
For a long time, climate scientists have been concerned about the effects of melting permafrost. By way of quick refresher, permafrost is the layer of frozen ground that is a hallmark of the Arctic. Since the region is usually below freezing, the soil stays frozen to varying depth, which has been a boon for development. Rock-solid soil makes it simple to build towns and roads. Until the permafrost starts to melt -- which it is -- causing some serious problems for those towns and roads.
That's actually the least troubling problem. Of far more concern is methane release. As layers of soil and vegetation that have been frozen solid for centuries thaw, they start to release methane that's been trapped. And, worse, that vegetation starts to decompose, releasing newly created methane. Methane, as we've noted, is far more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, creating a massive negative loop of warming and permafrost thaw and more warming and so on.
What's the U.N. going to do about the problem? Nothing. As Romm notes, a key U.N. report won't even acknowledge it exists.
It's not all about the painted lanes, folks. In an effort to make streets more bike-friendly, more than 16 U.S. cities have embraced traffic signals just for bike-riders.
The lights are standard in Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden, and over the last couple years have started gaining traction in America, according to a study commissioned by the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.
Bicyclists can be at risk when entering an intersection on a yellow light that allows enough time for cars to clear the intersection, but not for bikes, the study found. Even traditional green lights may not allow enough time for a bicyclist starting from a stopped position to make it across. Bicycle signals can also help prevent collisions when a motorist is turning right and a cyclist is going straight, by allowing the cyclist a few seconds head start.
And tomorrow the court will hear a case on Los Angeles' filthy storm water, which contains "high levels of aluminum, copper, cyanide, fecal coliform bacteria and zinc," the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said last year. That water flows into the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers and ultimately pollutes the area's beaches.
The fight over L.A.’s dirty water began back in 2008, when the Natural Resources Defense Council brought suit against the county flood control district, hoping to force stricter measures to prevent water pollution. But the county doesn’t acknowledge that the water is its responsibility. From the Los Angeles Times:
As of last year, Texas has a law that requires fracking companies to reveal the chemicals used in their fracking fluids. Unless that fracking fluid is considered a "trade secret" by the fracking company, which, surprise surprise, companies have claimed 19,000 times in the first eight months of this year.
A subsidiary of Nabors Industries Ltd. (NBR) pumped a mixture of chemicals identified only as “EXP- F0173-11” into a half-dozen oil wells in rural Karnes County, Texas, in July.
Few people outside Nabors, the largest onshore drilling contractor by revenue, know exactly what’s in that blend. This much is clear: One ingredient, an unidentified solvent, can cause damage to the kidney and liver, according to safety information about the product that Michigan state regulators have on file.
A year-old Texas law that requires drillers to disclose chemicals they pump underground during hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” was powerless to compel transparency for EXP- F0173-11. The solvent and several other ingredients in the product are considered a trade secret by Superior Well Services, the Nabors subsidiary.
While the ability of fracking companies to hide their ingredients is not a new problem, the Texas law demonstrates its extent. The specific makeup of fracking fluid is one of the innovations that led to the current shale gas boom; it's justifiable -- in the respect that fracking can be justified -- to claim that the combination of chemicals is proprietary information. The question that arises is how to balance that secrecy with public health. (A possible solution: Ban all fracking everywhere! This solution is unlikely to be adopted.)
The U.S. Energy Information Administration has what seems, at first blush, like bad news. Renewable energy consumption in the U.S. is expected to drop 2.6 percent this year. Here's a graph of the dip. (Note: Both the 2012 and 2013 values are estimates.)
But buried in the data is the explanation: The drop is only due to hydropower "[beginning] to return to its long-term average." Take out hydropower, and you have a 4.2 percent increase.
But there's another caveat. The estimates are based on two assumptions.
Well, it is December, everyone. It's the time of year when you just want to stay huddled up cozily inside, maybe with a roaring fire to provide comfort given the … unseasonably warm temperatures outside.
The projected high-temperature map for today looks like this:
Again, it is Dec. 3. Here in New York City, it is expected to reach 64 degrees today, 70 tomorrow. Normal high temperature for Dec. 4 in New York is 49.