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Category Archives: ‘Transportation’

21Jun/17Off

Judge upholds California’s low-carbon fuel standards

By Bob Egelko
June 20, 2017 Updated: June 20, 2017 3:33pm


Photo: Anne Cusack, MCT

Ethanol is pumped into a truck for transport as ethanol production is coming back and Pacific Ethanol, Inc., in Stockton, California, has weathered bankruptcy and is cashing in on the current boon. (Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

A federal judge has upheld most of California’s pioneering low-carbon fuel standard but allowed oil companies and other fuel suppliers to challenge rules that may favor California ethanol producers over their Midwest competitors.
The standard, part of a 2006 state law intended to reduce air pollution that causes global warming, requires suppliers of transportation fuel sold in California to achieve a 10 percent reduction by 2020 in the amount of carbon released from their products.

Ruling in lawsuits originally filed in 2009 by oil refiners and ethanol producers, U.S. District Judge Lawrence O’Neill of Fresno rejected their broadest arguments: that the California rules conflicted with milder federal clean-air laws and were an unconstitutional attempt to shield the state’s energy producers from competition.
Federal law expressly “preserves the right of the states to enact their own legislation that is more restrictive,” O’Neill said in a 48-page decision Thursday.
In 2011, O’Neill had blocked enforcement of the low-carbon standard, saying it appeared to establish a preference for California-produced biofuels. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco quickly allowed the state to resume enforcement of the rules and later overturned O’Neill’s decision, in language he quoted in his latest ruling.
“There was no protectionist purpose, no aim to insulate California from out-of-state competition,” he said, citing the appeals court’s findings.
But he said ethanol companies in the Midwest, where nearly all of the nation’s supplies of the fuel are produced, could proceed with their claim that the California rules, though neutral in purpose, had a discriminatory effect.
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Judge-upholds-California-s-low-carbon-fuel-11234257.php

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21Jun/17Off

BMW and PG&E Prove Electric Vehicles Can Be a Valuable Grid Resource


Nearly 100 plug-in cars and a stack of second-life EV batteries successfully responded to dozens of demand response calls.
by Julia Pyper
June 20, 2017
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The concept of using electric vehicles as a grid resource is no longer just theory. A pilot program recently conducted by BMW and Pacific Gas & Electric successfully demonstrated that electric vehicles can serve as reliable and flexible grid assets, which could eventually save money for both utilities and EV owners.
The BMW i ChargeForward Project is one of the best examples to date of a utility and an automaker working together to develop new technologies and use cases for electric vehicles (EVs) and their batteries.
“One of the things that we really wanted to test here was, how can we work closely with an automaker?” said David Almeida, electric vehicle program manager at PG&E. “We are an old company, and we're a large company. Automakers are old companies, and they're large companies. We both have our own internal bureaucracies. And so, one of the challenges I wanted to understand when we were setting this up was, how do we make those two independent entities work well together?”
“By and large, we didn't have any of those institutional challenges that I was [worried about],” he said. “We ended up working very closely, I think partially because we've got this common shared goal of increasing electric transportation.”
https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/bmw-and-pge-prove-electric-vehicles-can-be-a-valuable-grid-resource

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20Jun/17Off

Making cities more dense always sparks resistance. Here’s how to overcome it.

Urbanist Brent Toderian on how to deal with NIMBY [Not In My Backyard].
Updated by David Roberts@drvoxdavid@vox.com Jun 20, 2017, 9:10am EDT


Vancouver’s waterfront. (Brent Toderian)
Urban density, done well, has all kinds of benefits. On average, people who live in dense, walkable areas tend to be physically healthier, happier, and more productive. Local governments pay less in infrastructure costs to support urbanites than they to support suburbanites. Per-capita energy consumption is lower in dense areas, which is good for air pollution and climate change.

Plus, dense, walkable areas tend to be buzzy and culturally vibrant. There’s a reason they are often so expensive to live in — lots of people want to live there. Demand exceeds supply.
But creating a dense, walkable area almost always means increasing the density of a built environment that already exists. Especially in developed countries, they’re not building a lot of new cities. They’re working with existing ones. And cities built after the advent of the automobile were generally built around cars, which generally means low density.
Densifying can mean up-zoning to allow greater height in existing urbanized areas, or to allow duplexes, triplexes, or apartments in previously single-family areas. It can mean allowing for mother-in-law units (“accessory dwelling units,” or ADUs, in the lingo) or units along back lanes and alleys. It can mean extending transit to new areas.

But one way or another it means change. It means telling the residents of an area that a bunch more people are moving in. And that always generates resistance, sentiment that has taken on the name NIMBY [Not In My Backyard].

I asked urbanist Brent Toderian, who has worked with numerous cities on densification projects, how he thinks about, and deals with, NIMBYs. (More of our conversation here.)
David Roberts
My hometown of Seattle is full of purportedly progressive people who enjoy urban amenities like everyone else, but if you ask them to up-zone, it’s a revolution. Talk a little about NIMBYs.

Brent Toderian
I work all over the world, and there are NIMBYs everywhere. Density is never easy. Change is never easy. We have a bias towards the status quo and we tend to weigh loss more heavily than gain. That is human nature.
To me, NIMBY is not a pejorative. It means people are saying, “that thing — we don’t want it in our backyard, in our neighborhood.” There’s nothing inherently bad about that. Sometimes it’s a reasonable point! I don’t want an abattoir in my backyard. I don’t want a concrete-batching plant in my backyard. There are things we don’t want in our backyard, and when you combine that with human nature, almost anything in your backyard that you don’t currently have is going to be a challenge.
So I don’t begrudge NIMBYs. I value them. I listen carefully and I learn what they’re afraid of, why they say no. Often I will learn how to do yes better and address their fears, or at least mitigate them.

NIMBYs are not necessarily the problem. They are behaving normally for humans. The problem is politicians and other decision-makers who know better, who don’t do the right thing because of NIMBY fear. If you’ve had a long process, heard from thousands of people, investigated and understood the technical issues, know your aspirations as a city, and you let 10 or 15 individuals at the last minute show up at council and turn it down? I don’t blame those 15 individuals, I blame the leaders.

https://www.vox.com/2017/6/20/15815490/toderian-nimbys

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16Jun/17Off

Pedal-ins and car burials: what happened to America’s forgotten 1970s cycle boom?

‘Bicycle madness’ once saw US bike sales outstrip cars, and spawned ambitious plans for 100,000 miles of cycle paths. Then the music stopped

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Democrats and Republicans addressed a pro-bicycle rally at Denver Civic Center in October 1972. Photograph: John Sunderland/Denver Post via Getty Images

Friday 16 June 2017 02.00 EDT

“The bicycle’s biggest wave of popularity in its 154-year history,” gushed Time magazine in 1970 at the start of America’s five-year love affair with the bike. “Some 64 million fellow travellers are taking regularly to bikes these days, more than ever before,” the report continued, “and more than ever [they are] convinced that two wheels are better than four.”

US bicycle sales, which had been rolling along at 6 million a year, shot up to 9 million in 1971, 14 million in 1972 and 15.3 million the following year, according to a Bank of America report. While most pre-boom bikes had been sold for children, suddenly 60% were destined for adults.

Highly placed politicians – a few of whom were cyclists – told planners to get on and build miles and miles of urban bikeways. “Both national and local governments have recognised the phenomenal growth of bicycling,” reported Time, “and the Department of the Interior has plans for nearly 100,000 miles of bicycle paths to be constructed in the next 10 years.”

In 1973, 252 bicycle-oriented bills were introduced in 42 states. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of the same year provided $120m for bikeways over three years.

“Bikes are back,” claimed National Geographic writer Noel Grove in the magazine’s May 1973 edition. “Glutted roadways, ecological concern, the quest for healthful recreation, and the sophistication of geared machines have all contributed to a flood of cycling activity,” he explained, adding that “legislators are beginning to think bikeway as well as highway”. He concluded that “with bikeway construction and ecological concern marching hand in hand, America’s bicycling boom could harbinger a whole new era in transportation”. What went wrong?

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A 1970 anti-automobile cartoon by Richard Hedman. It originally appeared in Autokind V Mankind by Kenneth R Schneider. Photograph: Richard Hedman

Ecological concern was certainly one of the drivers of the boom. During the 1967 Summer of Love, the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco reeked of patchouli oil, weed and incense. With flowers in their hair, some of the area’s self-styled “freaks” protested not just against the Vietnam war but also against waste.

We’re at the final stages of the climax of the automobile era … We’ve gone as far as we can go

US interior secretary Stewart Udall in 1972

The automobile became a potent symbol of everything that was wrong with the “military–industrial complex”. In February 1970, 19 humanities students at the San Jose State College bought a brand new Ford Maverick and, with the blessing of their professor, buried it in a 12 ft-deep hole dug in front of the campus’ cafeteria. This crowdfunded destruction of the hated motor car made news around the world.

Chicago-based Edward Aramaic explicitly linked cycling with environmentalism when he founded the Bicycle Ecology group and organised a “pedal-in” in October 1970. This was the era of “-in” demos – which started in the 1960s with “sit-ins” protesting against racial segregation at American colleges and universities. Later, there were “teach-ins”, “love-ins” and, in 1969, the famous “bed-in” with Yoko Ono and John Lennon who espoused world peace from the presidential suite of Amsterdam’s Hilton Hotel, and who were gifted a White Bicycle by the city’s Provo anarchist group.

“Bicycle Ecology … want to ban trucks, buses and automobiles from [downtown] and replace them with bikes,” reported the Chicago Tribune. “1,500 to 2,000 enthusiastic riders of all ages … braved a stiff north wind and temperatures in the 40s to wheel down major arteries to the civic centre, where speeches extolled the bicycle as good for the individual and for the environment.”

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A Bicycle and Equestrian Day in Los Angeles in September 1971. Photograph: AP

New York urban planner David Gurin joined with other activists to form a Triple-A with a difference. An Action Against Automobiles demo in November 1972 called for an end to highway spending, and for cars to be barred from downtown Manhattan. Riders met in Central Park and rolled past the Greater New York Automobile Show, chanting “Cars must go! Cars must go!”

Speaking to a crowd of cyclists, Gurin applauded the radical bicycle activism of the Provo anarchists, and urged New Yorkers to adopt similar “eco-tactics”. One of the posters he designed to promote the AAA protest rides promised “massive demonstrations … until the streets are cleared of the auto gangrene.”

(In 1978 Gurin, who had been writing anti-car polemics in Village Voice since the mid-60s and was a friend of Jane Jacobs, became NYC’s deputy commissioner for transport, a post he held for 12 years. In the late 1980s the city banned not cars but bikes. Action Against Automobiles continues as Transportation Alternatives.)

Congressman Ed Koch – who would become New York’s mayor in 1977 – rode on some the early 1970s protest bike rides, and in 1971 he stressed: “The only way to ensure safety for the many thousands of New Yorkers who want to bicycle is to designate official and exclusive bike lanes.” Koch installed bikeways when he became mayor – but he also ripped them out again.

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Bike Boom is published by Island Press

In Portland, Oregon, the bike lanes stuck. Sam Oakland, a Portland State University professor who led a group known as the Bicycle Lobby, told the Associated Press in 1971: “We want to redesign Portland to make it a city for people … instead of what it now is: a giant, smelly parking garage for commuters.” His lobbying for funds worked and a bill was passed which set aside 1% of state transportation spending for bike-specific facilities – the first designated state funding for cycling in the US.

A citizen Bicycle Path Task Force was appointed to oversee the programme, and Oakland was appointed chair. The Task Force met with resistance from the city’s car-centric engineers who had little interest in the use of bicycles for transportation and instead wanted to use money from the highway pot to build recreational trails. “As long as the bicycle continues to be considered a toy for recreational use only, we’re not going to get anywhere with paths in the city,” complained Oakland. After many struggles with city officials, the Task Force was able to push through a plan in April 1973. By the following year, 60 miles of bikeways had been striped statewide, with another 50 miles under construction and 70 miles to be delivered. Mighty oaks from little acorns grow; Portland is now one of America’s most cycle-friendly cities.

In March 1972, interior secretary Stewart Udall – one of the greenest US politicians of his generation – told the New York Times: “We’ve got to get away from the pretence that there is some easy painless way that we can save energy. We’re at the final stages of the climax of the automobile era … We’ve gone as far as we can go.” Give people a choice, he said, build more bikeways. “People cling to their cars because there is no alternative.”

Students, too, were keen on cycling. In 1972, University of Montana students could choose from geology, psychology, biology or – new for that year – bikeology, a combination of bikes and ecology.

And hundreds of articles in the mainstream press demonstrated that there was an alternative. If National Geographic was to publish a spread today similar to the one from 1973 it would likely have glossy adverts from the likes of Cannondale, Specialized and Trek, America’s leading homegrown bicycle brands. The three were founded during the boom years.

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A cyclist marks Earth Day 1970 on 5th Avenue in New York. Photograph: Bettmann Archive

In Washington DC, there was a young Post staff reporter called Carl Bernstein – later to become half of the Pulitzer Prize-winning pair – known as the “office hippie” and a “long-haired freak who rode a bicycle …”

“Many cyclists harbour fierce antipathy for what they regard as an automobile culture that is choking the nation with fumes, speed, noise and concrete,” he wrote in the Post in 1970. He went on to describe a “growing group of cyclists who regard pedalling as an almost political act and inevitably flash the two-finger peace symbol upon encountering another person on a bike”.

The facilities for DC cycle commuters had been poor, but improved by the early 70s, partly because of John A Volpe, President Nixon’s secretary of transportation. In 1969, Volpe – who routinely rode a fold-up bicycle to work – told the city council chairman to build bikeways for the growing number of cyclists who, like him, were not all long-haired hippies. As Bernstein wrote in the Post, bike-boom cyclists were just as likely to be “stockbrokers and congressmen, secretaries and lawyers, students and government clerks, librarians and teachers, youngsters and oldsters”.

At the first bike-in I burned someone’s driver’s licence on network TV. Heady times

Marchant Wentworth

Hundreds of cyclists staged a “bike-in” in 1971, demanding more space on the key commuter route of Beach Drive. “At the first bike-in I burned someone’s driver’s licence on network TV,” bicycle advocate Marchant Wentworth remembers. “Heady times.”

In 1974, DC cyclists started to take direct action to improve streets. Cary Shaw installed an asphalt bike-ramp where the city Highway Department had refused. When a container of asphalt appeared on his street for a road-mending task, he decided to “borrow” some, adding a big traffic stripe leading to the ramp. “When it was finished, I turned around and almost immediately someone was wheeling her baby carriage up the ramp,” recalled Shaw. “A couple of minutes after that someone whizzed along on a bicycle, saw the thing, zipped up on the ramp, and away he went.” The ramp Shaw built was later adopted by the city, and is still there. Direct action works – sometimes.

Blame it on the baby boomers

Shaw, like other cycle advocates, was a baby boomer. The post-second world war birth spike resulted in a glut of teens and 20-somethings at the beginning of the 1970s. Many had cash, were eager for novelty, wanted independent mobility, and were desperate to throw off the shackles of their elders.

These consumerist kids, who came of age at the end of the 1960s, kept on buying, and despite the bulge predicted in the 1950s, the bike industry was caught off guard when the demographic alighted on their products. It was a perfect storm, with drop-out baby boomers attracted to cycling for its anti-motoring environmentalism; suburban-conformist baby boomers latched on to cycling because it was healthy and “outdoorsy”; and pre-motoring teens upgraded to lightweight 10-speed bikes after having been attracted to cycling because of bikes like the Schwinn Stingray, the cycle that inspired Raleigh to make the iconic Chopper.

Thanks to the 45 million bicycles sold at the height of the US boom, cycle ownership was higher than ever. The US was on the cusp of building a whole bunch of bikeways, with high-level support from the US Department of Transportation.

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Davis, California – the American city which fell in love with the bicycle

Read more

David Rowlands, writing for Britain’s influential Design magazine, was impressed that the Department of Transportation organised a key 1974 conference, Bicycles USA. “What emerged from [this conference] was a far more comprehensive response to an expanding population of cyclists than any other country at present offers. Government assistance has been a major factor in this new awareness of the bike’s potential as a means of transportation in the developed world. It is an example that deserves much wider imitation.”

A report from the US Environmental Protection Agency, also published in 1974, came to the same conclusion. And the Department of Transportation published its first ever cycle infrastructure style guide, Bikeways: State of the Art 1974.

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/jun/16/pedal-ins-patchouli-bikeology-americas-forgotten-1970s-cycle-boom

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16Jun/17Off

Ignore the toxic myth about bike lanes and pollution – the facts utterly debunk it

Peter Walker

A series of articles in conservative media are pushing the bizarre argument that separated bike lanes worsen air quality. Here’s why it’s rubbish

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‘Separated cycle lanes are vital for modern cities’ ... a cycle superhighway on London’s Blackfriars Bridge. Photograph: Alamy


Friday 16 June 2017 07.00 EDT

Juliet Samuel is a regular columnist for the Telegraph, who opines authoritatively about politics, society and business. And yet last month she wrote something which was very obviously incorrect.

Something needed to be done, Samuel said, about the “epidemic of bike lanes taking over otherwise useable roads all across London”. She continued:

I cycle and drive, but these lanes go far beyond the measures needed to improve safety and instead just make it almost unbearable to get in a car. It takes a minimum of one hour to get out of town, half of which is spent churning out extra exhaust as you sit on clogged roads and roundabouts that were flowing perfectly well until now.

Even if you ignore the idea that London’s roads used to flow “perfectly well” (perhaps all Samuel’s previous London driving and cycling took place at 5am on Sundays), there is a very obvious error here.

It’s the peculiarly tenacious, if easily disproved myth that building separated cycle lanes causes greater traffic congestion, and thus more pollution.

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Can you guess the city from its bike lane maps?

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In Samuel’s very minor defence, she is merely repeating what she has probably read elsewhere. The previous month, James Salmon, the Daily Mail’s transport correspondent, wrote a hugely odd story noting that Cambridge and London had among the slowest average traffic speeds in the country.

The paper put this down largely to cycle lanes, despite the fact other places in the list included Wolverhampton and Hereford, neither of which are known for their Dutch-style levels of cycling infrastructure. (As if in unconscious acknowledgment of the article’s essential absurdity, the story was illustrated with a photo of a bike lane in Cambridge, Massachusetts.)

Unbowed, the Mail used a story last month about the College of Paramedics raising concerns about separated bike lanes (a story that, it is worth noting, misquoted the college’s views) in an editorial column:

Segregated cycle lanes have increased congestion and worsened pollution ... Isn’t it time to abandon this cycle ‘superhighway’ experiment and admit that it was a stupid mistake?

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London’s cycle superhighway along the Embankment. Just 3% of central London roads have any segregated cycle lanes. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian

There are two elements to unpick this statement: firstly to debunk the myth; and then to try to understand why it is so persistent.

To use London as a good example, there is zero evidence that separated bike lanes have worsened congestion. Quite the contrary. Transport for London statistics show that just two weeks after the capital’s two new cycle “superhighways” were open, both routes were carrying 5% per hour more people than previously, a figure set to rise as more cyclists use them. Having given 30% of the space to bikes, these now comprised 46% of people using the roads.

This makes sense when you realise that the standard traffic engineers’ rule of thumb is that a road that can carry 2,000 cars per hour on average can carry 14,000 bikes.

There is precisely zero evidence that separated bike lanes have worsened congestion

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/jun/16/myth-bike-lanes-congestion-pollution-debunked

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16Jun/17Off

Diesel Was Supposed to Be the Future

Is the highly efficient fuel doomed?

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On a smoggy day in Paris, police enforce an anti-pollution measure temporarily banning cars with even-numbered license plates.

Michael Euler / AP

  1. NICHOLAS CLAIRMONT 6:00 AM ET BUSINESS
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Once upon a time, diesel fuel was going to be the future. It was seen as more efficient, on a mileage-per-gallon basis, than other fossil fuels, and for that reason was also thought to be less polluting. About two decades ago, acting on those beliefs, policy makers in Europe—where high energy prices already made mileage a more-pressing issue than in the U.S.—made a number of rules that incentivized the growth of diesel over gasoline for use in passenger cars, moving past its traditional role in trucking and construction.

These policies were remarkably successful at meeting their goals, and diesel-powered cars soon accounted for half of the cars sold on the continent. Car companies poured resources into developing diesel-related technology. But the result of this success has been not greener, friendlier, cheaper motoring, but the creation of toxic clouds over major European cities. At the end of 2016, Paris was choked by its worst episode of smog in more than a decade, lasting longer than two weeks, according to the city’s pollution-watching agency Airparif, and prompting the city to enact emergency measures that included restricting car use. It was not the first time. During a March 2015 pollution event, Paris was briefly the most polluted city in the world, surpassing famously smoggy Beijing. London shared in the ignominy when it too beat out Beijing for the first time in January of this year.

Diesels have played the main role in this. Since the 1960s, advances in technology that treats and filters gasoline engines’ exhaust, like the widespread use of catalytic converters, have cut down on the amount of dirty, unhealthy, and smog-producing emissions these engines spew out into the surrounding environment. But while diesels get better mileage and so contribute less to global climate change, the local effects of diesel pollution are much worse than those of gasoline. Diesel is a less refined fuel, and so it contains more of the particulate matter that can have deadly health effects when spewed into the surrounding environment. And burning diesel produces, among other noxious gases, nitrogen dioxide, the main cause of smog.

In many cases the same regulatory bodies that were trying to get citizens into diesels only a few years ago are now working to get the engines off the road entirely, instituting additional, diesel-specific congestion-charging and other disincentives in cities, in recognition of the fact that their green-friendliness was mistaken. During particularly bad bouts of smog, several European cities have temporarily banned driving outright, or instituted restriction schemes where, for example, cars with odd and even number plates are allowed in on alternate days. The mayors of Athens, Mexico City, and Madrid have committed to ridding their cities of diesel cars altogether by 2025, and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said “there will be no diesel vehicles in Paris in 2020.” Other cities around the continent and world are implementing smaller-scale efforts to discourage diesel too.

But lately, the biggest story when it comes to diesel remains Volkswagen’s ongoing “Dieselgate” scandal, in which the company installed “defeat devices” that allowed its diesel cars to put out dramatically higher levels of toxic emissions on the road than show up during regulators’ lab tests. A year and a half after the cheating was discovered, the full results of the scandal are still uncertain: The U.S. has levied more than $22 billion in fines against the company, the world’s largest automaker, and more may still be coming. Meanwhile, millions of the deceptive VWs are still on roads around the world, with consequential EU action on the matter minimal.

Much worse for diesel at large, rumors that the offending practice was not limited to Volkswagen Group, which have been floating around since the scandal first broke, seem to be turning out to be true. The Environmental Protection Agency recently moved against the trans-Atlantic auto giant Fiat Chrysler for using similar devices, and General Motors is being sued in a class action for cheating in its diesel pickup trucks, which outnumber the offending VWs on American roads by several hundred thousand. The EU also started legal action against Italy for failing to meet its obligations as a member state to enforce regulations on Fiat Chrysler.

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/06/diesel-smog-pollution-europe/528990/

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14Jun/17Off

With Tesla founder’s help, Chinese automaker comes to Bay Area

By David R. Baker

June 13, 2017

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Photo: David Mcnew, AFP / Getty Images

An electric car is plugged into a charging station. While many U.S. consumers have shown little interest in electric vehicles, Californians have been an exception. By the end of last year, the state had about 270,000 electric cars and plug-in hybrids on its roads.

Another Chinese automaker aims to break into California’s growing electric vehicle industry, with a little help from one of Tesla’s founders.

Sokon Industry Group has opened its U.S. headquarters in Santa Clara, the company reported Tuesday. It has also established a research center in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Formerly known as Chongqing Sokon Auto Industry Group, the company last year created a U.S. subsidiary called SF Motors and announced that it had lined up Tesla co-founder and former CEO Martin Eberhard as a consultant.

“As we expand our operations and R&D efforts, we hope to partner with like-minded corporations and recruit the top automotive and tech talent to ensure attainable, clean mobility for future generations,” said John Zhang, CEO of SF Motors.

The Santa Clara office, which will focus on business operations and product planning, employs about 50 people and should have 150 by the year’s end, according to the company.

California has seen a recent influx of electric vehicle companies either from China or backed by Chinese investors. The roster includes Faraday Future, LeEco, Lucid Motors and NextEV.

None of those companies, however, has succeeded so far in bringing an electric car to market.

http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/With-Tesla-founder-s-help-Chinese-automaker-11214190.php

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13Jun/17Off

Brown: ‘Grossly Hypocritical’ To Oppose Oil Production In California


Monday, June 12, 2017 | Sacramento, CA | Permalink

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Gov. Brown Press Office / Twitter

http://www.capradio.org/96869

Jerry Brown’s trip to China earned him wall-to-wall media coverage — internationally and here at home.

Much less covered was another environmental visit the California governor took just weeks earlier: to Bell Gardens in Los Angeles County, a transportation corridor with some of the worst air quality in the state.

“It is a little surprising to actually be there (in Bell Gardens) and witness first-hand the amount of cement, the number of cars and trucks and trains, and the proximity of parks and basketball courts,“ Brown told Capital Public Radio's Ben Bradford in an interview last week during a car ride through Beijing. “But that’s the reality. California has 33 million vehicles and 39 million people. So they have to be somewhere.“

Those two trips highlight competing tensions as Brown seeks to shape climate change policies in California and around the world.

Click on the audio player above to listen to part of Brown's interview with Capital Public Radio's Ben Bradford last week in Beijing. The clip begins with the governor answering a question about whether he was surprised by what he saw in Bell Gardens.

Despite Brown’s ascension to the global stage in the fight against climate change, as evidenced in his journey across China last week, he’s far from universally admired by environmentalists here at home.

Many of them believe the governor sides too often with oil companies on issues like fracking and isn’t doing enough to force cuts in air pollution in parts of the state with poor air quality.

Take, for example, Americans Against Fracking co-founder David Braun of Oakland, who wrote in an email: “I'm wondering if you might ask Brown to reconcile the millions of dollars he has taken for himself and his projects from the oil industry, along with firing regulators at the industry's request, with his position on climate change. I'm curious as to how one can do the bidding of the same industry that is the worst polluter as far as climate change is concerned, and how he reconciles that within himself.“

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13Jun/17Off

Uber, Lyft cars have heavy impact on SF streets, study finds

By Carolyn Said

June 13, 2017 Updated: June 13, 2017 12:05am

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Photo: Nicole Boliaux, The Chronicle

Ride-hailing cars like this Uber vehicle make more than 170,000 trips within San Francisco every weekday, according to a report released by the County Transportation Authority.

Uber and Lyft vehicles rack up over half a million miles every day on San Francisco streets, according to a report being released Tuesday by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, which manages local congestion.

Ride-hailing cars make more than 170,000 trips within the city every weekday, while putting in some 570,000 vehicle miles, the report said. That figure is 6.5 percent of total weekday vehicle miles in the city. When only considering trips that start or end within the city — the focus of the authority’s study — ride-hail vehicles amount to a fifth of all vehicle miles.

“The perception that there are a tremendous number of (Uber and Lyft) vehicles out on the streets today is, in fact, true,” said Joe Castiglione, the authority’s deputy director for technology, data and analysis. “We see huge numbers of trips across all days of the week, primarily concentrated in the most congested parts of the city and at the most congested times of day.”

Some 5,700 Uber and Lyft cars roam the streets at the weekday peak of 6:30 to 7 p.m., the report said. The busiest time, Fridays from 7:30 to 8 p.m., sees more than 6,500 ride-hailing cars. The report did not distinguish between Uber and Lyft trips; the two companies account for virtually all ride-hailing in San Francisco.

The app-summoned vehicles are heavily concentrated in popular areas such as the downtown core, South of Market, the Mission and Van Ness corridors, Pacific Heights and the Marina. In SoMa and downtown, ride hailing accounts for a quarter of all in-city trips at peak commute periods (6 to 9 a.m. and 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.). In outer neighborhoods like the Sunset, their impact is far lower.

Still, Uber and Lyft cars “provide broader service across the city than taxis, particularly in the western neighborhoods,” the report said. But they provide fewer trips relative to the population in lower-income areas such as the southern and southeastern parts of the city.

Friday is the busiest day, with 222,500 trips, while Sundays saw only 129,000 trips.

San Francisco officials want to gauge Uber’s and Lyft’s impact on the city. That’s why the transportation authority, which is distinct from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, produced the report. It was based on data collected from the companies’ apps by Northeastern University researchers over a six-week period late last year.

“Information is power,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who chairs the authority, describing the findings as “shocking” news. “This information will be used by me and my colleagues, and hopefully members of the state Legislature to ... take policy steps to rationalize this new frontier.”

Uber and Lyft are regulated at the state level by the California Public Utilities Commission, while taxis are regulated by cities or counties. (In San Francisco, the SFMTA regulates taxis.) Peskin hopes the Legislature will allow cities like San Francisco where the services’ impact is acute to create “a certain amount of reasonable regulation.” He pointed to Supervisor Jane Kim’s suggestion of a per-ride fee as an example.

http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Uber-Lyft-cars-have-heavy-impact-on-SF-streets-11214835.php

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13Jun/17Off

Sacramento streetcar project effort scores key local funding

JUNE 12, 2017 9:13 PM

BY TONY BIZJAK

tbizjak@sacbee.com

The Sacramento streetcar effort got a major boost Monday night when the Sacramento Regional Transit bus and rail agency board agreed to put $25 million into the trolley project’s construction fund.

That money would be part of an eventual pot of $100 million in local and state funds to match a hoped-for $100 million federal grant for the $200 million project.

The money SacRT pledged comes from that agency’s share of a state high speed rail bond fund. Several bus and rail riders asked the SacRT board to keep that money for other transit needs, such as buying low-floor light rail vehicles or light rail improvements in the downtown railyard.

Local leaders, including city Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Sacramento Congresswoman Doris Matsui, asked for SacRT’s financial support for the project, which will be jointly controlled by the cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento. The streetcar line, if built, will run through the core areas of both cities.

Proponents called the transit agency’s financial assistance critical to keeping the project hopes alive. But it does not assure the project will happen.

http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article155810549.html

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12Jun/17Off

Culture Clash at a Chinese-Owned Plant in Ohio


点击查看本文中文版

By NOAM SCHEIBER and KEITH BRADSHERJUNE 10, 2017

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Fuyao’s plant sits on what was once the site of an abandoned General Motors facility in a suburb of Dayton, Ohio.

Credit

Nathan C. Ward for The New York Times

MORAINE, Ohio — When a giant Chinese glassmaker arrived here in 2014 and began spending what would become more than a half-billion dollars to fix up an abandoned General Motors plant, it seemed like a tale from opposite land: The Chinese are supposedly stealing American jobs — as no less an authority than President Trump has pointed out.

But now the Chinese were suddenly creating them. More than 1,500 jobs, in fact.

The Chinese company, Fuyao Glass Industry Group, decided the money was worth spending in this Dayton suburb to be close to its key customers, the big American-based automakers that buy millions of windshields each year.

And it was not alone.

From 2000 to the first quarter of this year, the Chinese have invested almost $120 billion in the United States, according to the Rhodium Group, which tracks these flows. Nearly half of that amount has come since early 2016, making China one of this country’s largest sources of foreign direct investment during that time.

But with the explosion of investment has come unexpected trouble. At Fuyao, a major culture clash is playing out on the factory floor, with some workers questioning the company’s commitment to operating under American supervision and American norms.

Fuyao faces an acrimonious union campaign by the United Automobile Workers and a lawsuit by a former manager who says he was let go in part because he is not Chinese.

Photo

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The company has hired more than 1,500 American workers.

Credit

Nathan C. Ward for The New York Times

The investment has even prompted hand-wringing in China, where comments by the company’s chairman, a self-made billionaire named Cao Dewang, stirred a debate over the country’s competitiveness. “Cao Dewang behaved like a traitor,” wrote one person on Weibo, the popular Chinese microblogging site. “You set up a factory in the U.S. to solve employment there.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/10/business/economy/ohio-factory-jobs-china.html?src=me

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12Jun/17Off

Drivers Head Into Summer With a Gift at the Gas Pump


By CLIFFORD KRAUSSJUNE 9, 2017

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The skyline of Akron, Ohio. The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline tumbled to $2.35 on Friday.

Credit

Andrew Spear for The New York Times

HOUSTON — Looking for an excuse to pack up the car for a road trip this weekend?

Look no further: The average nationwide gasoline price on Friday was the lowest for this point of the year since 2005, according to GasBuddy, a website and smartphone app designed to help drivers find the best deals at the pump.

The immediate cause of the price break was the shock to global oil markets that came when the Energy Department reported this week that domestic inventories of both crude oil and gasoline had surprisingly surged the week before despite heavy driving on the Memorial Day weekend.

Crude oil prices plummeted by more than 5 percent on Wednesday alone, and are near a one-year low at less than $46 a barrel.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/09/business/energy-environment/oil-gas-prices-drivers.html?ref=energy-environment&_r=0

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12Jun/17Off

‘They said girls don’t ride bikes’: Iranian women defy the cycling fatwa

Religious leaders in Iran consider women on bicycles a threat to morality. But as traffic chokes the capital, Tehran, a counter-movement is growing

  1. What is Guardian Cities cycle week?

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Women cycling at Mothers Paradise park, a female-only public recreation area in Tehran, Iran. Photograph: Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

Cities is supported by

Guardian Cities staff

Monday 12 June 2017 07.14 EDT

Last modified on Monday 12 June 2017 09.16 EDT

It’s a hot spring day in Tehran, and Negin, a 32-year-old IT manager, is riding her mountain bike through a park. “I love my bike. I often go cycling in the countryside with a group,” she says. “I also cycle in the city, when I go to visit my mother, for example. I think the number of women cycling in Tehran is growing. I even have a friend who goes to work on her bike. I would love to do that, but it’s too far and we don’t have showers at work.”

What Negin is saying might not sound strange, if it weren’t for the fact that she’s a woman, on a bike, in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In spite of the heat, Negin is conforming to the dress code – she wears long sleeves and leggings, a headscarf under her helmet and a skirt covering her hips – but religious leaders at the highest level in Iran are clear: women on bikes constitute a threat to morality.

The question has become a hotly debated point in Tehran in recent months, as the city grapples with two truly dire problems: air pollution and traffic congestion, both some of the world’s worst. With cars choking Iran’s cities, campaigns to encourage cycling are picking up speed.

When we heard the fatwa banning women from cycling, we immediately rented two bicycles

Woman who tweeted using #IranianWomenLoveCycling

In autumn of 2015, a young environmentalist in Arak, a city with pollution levels even more staggering than Tehran, started a “car-free Tuesday” campaign to encourage people to commute by bike. The campaign caught on, and other cities followed suit. Municipal authorities across the country began encouraging residents to ride bikes and leave their cars at home.

Women cyclists, naturally enough, saw an opportunity to support a good cause that everybody in Iran could agree on: clean air. After all, there is no law in Iran that officially forbids women to cycle.

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Bikes are everywhere in Isfahan - but women are banned from using the city’s bike share scheme. Photograph: Andia/UIG via Getty Images

But when women in Marivan, a city in west Iran, took to their bikes, they were arrested by police – despite having explicitly followed the advice of the local authorities to cycle instead of drive.

They were released the same day, but only after signing pledges to not ride bicycles again. Marivan residents later protested in an open letter to local authorities.

Shortly afterwards, Iran’s vice president for women’s affairs, Shahindokht Molaverdi, posted a photograph of women cycling on her official Twitter account. Under it, she quoted the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as saying: “Women’s cycling is permissible on the condition that religious customs are observed.”

Subsequently, in an article in the pro-government Tehran Times, a female journalist quoted a government official who supported female cyclists, and concluded: “As long as there is no violation of the dress code, women should be free to ride bicycles on the street.”

Hopes, however, were crushed when Khamenei issued a fatwa in September 2016, stating women were allowed to ride bikes – just not in public.

The fatwa sparked a reaction from female cyclists, who posted photographs on social media of themselves on their bikes, with the hashtag #IranianWomenLoveCycling.

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/jun/12/girls-ride-bikes-iranian-women-defy-cycling-fatwa-tehran

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9Jun/17Off

The Buzz


JUN 2017

http://cacurrent.com/subscriber/archives/29913

Legislation to expand the carbon cap-and-trade program was waylaid by an oil slick of campaign contributions to Assembly Democrats.  Thus, the life span of a key Senate cap-and-trade bill looks as promising as an oiled bird.

Also floundering in the current is Senate legislation that seeks to thwart refilling the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field until a study on the root cause of the massive months-long leak is concluded.

Power utilities aren’t swimming against California’s carbon trading program tide because of the state’s green energy laws. JUICE insists clean energy mandates are not only good for California’s second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, the power sector, but also for the largest source: transportation and petroleum refineries that fuel it.

Although the California sun is strong, the solar rooftop market has dampened because of less favorable rates and a heavy rain season. But outside the Golden State PV installations are booming, a report finds.

At the same time, repowered gas plants on the Southern California coast may get washed up. Both the Los Angeles DWP and Energy Commission are warming to the idea that clean energy can keep the grid and planet robust.

In the nation’s Capitol, the two Republican Federal Energy Regulatory Commission nominees were approved by a key U.S. Senate committee.

The U.S. EPA’s reversal on the Obama Administration’s rule to slash methane emissions from new oil and gas plants and pipes provoked a suit by environmentalists.

–The Editors


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9Jun/17Off

Gov. Brown Heads Back To California After China Visit


Thursday, June 8, 2017 | Sacramento, CA | Permalink

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Governor Brown meets with Beijing Mayor Chen Jining.

California Governor Jerry Brown is back in California, after five whirlwind days in China. The trip ended much as it began.

Brown walked through a lush garden and tranquil pond at Beijing city hall to once again sit with a government official.

"Well, I’m very glad to be here," says Brown. "I was a mayor myself, the city of Oakland."

Brown and Beijing mayor Chen Jining pledged in generalities to work together.

Then it was off to Tsinghua University for a remarkably frank discussion with Chinese environment officials and scientists. It contained direct criticism of President Trump’s climate change stance, which more formal meetings have avoided.

Government researcher Dadi Zhou, communicated through a translator.

"Mr. Trump is just fueling such doubts and lack of trust in scientific evidence," said Zhou.

The visit also included talks of California and the university creating a new joint institute for climate studies.

"I’m counting on you and all the smart people at this university," said Brown. "I didn’t study science, I studied Latin and Greek, and that’s not going to help solve our climate change problem."

Over the course of the trip, the governor signed multiple non-binding agreements to collaborate with China on clean technology, including pursuit of joint investment funds and an incubator for cleantech businesses.

State Air Resources Board chair Mary Nichols will be one of the officials responsible for hammering out details.

"My dream is that in a few years we’ll see big companies that are bi-national or multi-national," said Nichols.

She lists as a potential product, electric vehicles—

"That can be manufactured in both countries, sold in both countries and where the size of that market is going to be enough to bring down the cost," says Nichols.

Governor Brown says the trip had another overarching goal:

"What I wanted and which I accomplished is to further build the alliance for dealing with climate change."

http://www.capradio.org/96789

The results are to be determined, but this week’s trip to China and the governor’s meeting with its president showed he has an international audience receptive to the effort.

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