Monday, July 13th, 2009
It’s good to have friends in high places. The Windy City is privileged to have the support of the man holding the highest office in the land, President Obama, to back a hub-and spoke high speed transit network with Chicago as its epicenter. The wheel sprawls in all directions, covering most of the major cities of the Midwest.
Obama is not the only proponent of the high speed rail in the Midwest. Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle is firmly behind the proposal. His conviction comes from a fact-finding mission to Spain he undertook this past winter. The Governor traveled on the Spanish high speed rail, the AVE (Alta Velocidad Española), and came back a believer of the system.
Governor Doyle was not only impressed by the comfort and speed of his journey, he saw the potential for jobs to be created in the manufacturing, maintenance and operation of an American high speed rail network running through his state into Chicago and beyond.
Friday, July 10th, 2009
Large, low-emission buses being introduced in developing cities from Mexico City to Ahmedabad, India are reducing congestion on crowded roadways and cutting pollution and carbon dioxide emissions, all at a much lower cost than constructing subways.
In Bogota, Colombia, city leaders took control of two to four center lanes of major boulevards for the TransMilenio rapid transit system. Small walls isolate the “tracks” of the bus lines from other traffic, and passengers are able to board the long, segmented buses from the center platforms of modern stations.
Thursday, July 9th, 2009
In what must be considered a positive development for expanding high speed rail in the US, the route between Los Angeles and Las Vegas has been designated a federal high speed rail corridor. Transportation secretary Ray LaHood announced on the 2nd of July that the route to Las Vegas would be an extension to the California High Speed Rail Corridor, thus making it eligible for federal funding.
The line would most likely put the dagger in the Maglev rail project that has gone nowhere over the past thirty years. Despite that project being backed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and President Obama, the Maglev has always been stalled because of cost concerns. A more cost effective high speed rail service via an electrified system that is connected to nearly the whole of California is something the residents of Nevada would be keen to see.
Wednesday, July 8th, 2009
The Smiths have a Ford, and the Johnsons have a Nissan… but how long will it take the Jones to have a Tesla in your neighborhood?
Tesla Motors, along with Ford and Nissan, were recently awarded loans from the US Energy Department, totaling about $8 billion, to help automakers transition to making more fuel-efficient vehicles. Tesla Motors, which produces high performance, consumer-oriented battery electric vehicles, received $465 million to finance the manufacturing plant for their Model S, as well building a powertrain plant. The Model S, an electric sedan, expected to start production in 2011, will cost roughly $49,900, after a $7,500 tax credit.
Tuesday, July 7th, 2009
Seambiotic, a Tel Aviv, Israel-based leader in the development and production of marine microalgae for the nutraceutical and biofuel industries, announced today that its US subsidiary, Seambiotic USA, has entered into an agreement with NASA Glenn Research Center to develop an on-going collaborative R&D program for optimization of open-pond microalgae growth processes.
Under a Space Act Agreement, NASA is partnering with Seambiotic USA to model growth processes for microalgae for use as aviation biofuel feedstock,” said Prof. Ami Ben-Amotz, Chief Scientific Adviser to Seambiotic.
Monday, July 6th, 2009
Texas is a major battlefield in the fight between high speed rail advocates and opponents. The lone star state is the home base for many of the forces that are against the development of passenger rail in the United States. The “big three” opponents of high speed rail are all located in Texas and have been successful in preventing better passenger train construction for decades. This group consists of:
1. Texas is firmly a “red state” that is home to many members of the Republican Party political elite. This includes the family of Bush 43 (now retired into a private residence in a Dallas suburb), Rick Perry (state governor who made headlines promoting the idea of succession from the Union) and two Republican senators – John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison. Republicans have proven themselves, by their legislative record and public statements, to be against passenger rail investment.
Thursday, July 2nd, 2009
The week before last was the culmination of a labor of love for Sunil Paul and Claire Tomkins with the launch of the Gigaton Throwdown in DC after 18 months of hard work, researching and – as I witnessed first hand – coralling the efforts of other researchers.
What is the Gigaton Throwdown?
The Gigaton Throwdown Study was launched as a Clinton Global Initiative in 2007. It was started as a project to educate and inspire entrepreneurs, investors, and policy makers to think big about solving the climate crisis. It was an effort to answer Sunil’s question, “What does it take to make a difference with clean energy technology?” (more…)
Thursday, July 2nd, 2009
The red states of in the heart of Dixie (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia) have been designated a federal high speed rail line to be known as the Gulf Coast Corridor. In this Republican heartland, home to the most anti-high speed rail politicians in the country, this line must be seen as “If they can do it here, they can do it anywhere” corridor.
The political class representing these southern states is extremely resistant to high speed rail, but has not produced any sound reasons for it besides the generic argument about cost. Louisiana Governor and former Republican rising star Bobby Jindal was questioned on his thoughts about high speed rail a few months back. Asked for comment about his stance on the federal rail money from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the governor’s Chief of Staff Timmy Teepell said he does not think the Las Vegas to Anaheim line is a good use of taxpayer money. He did not address the Louisiana proposal.
Wednesday, July 1st, 2009
The US Environmental Protection Agency today announced the next steps in a coordinated strategy to reduce emissions from ocean-going vessels. EPA is proposing a rule under the Clean Air Act that sets engine and fuel standards for U.S. flagged ships that would harmonize with international standards and are expected to lead to significant air quality improvements throughout the country, especially near ports.
“These emissions are contributing to health, environmental and economic challenges for port communities and others that are miles inland. Building on our work to form an international agreement earlier this year, we’re taking the next steps to reduce significant amounts of harmful pollution from getting into the air we breathe,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. (more…)
Monday, June 29th, 2009
Right around the same time an indie band from Seattle named Nirvana burst onto the national music scene with a song called “Smells like teen spirit”, the Pacific Northwest was designating a high speed train line from Eugene through Portland, Tacoma, and Seattle, ending in Vancouver. Seattle has seen the rise of its music scene, Starbucks proliferate as a worldwide brand and the creation of Bill Gates’ mega-mansion, but it has not seen the development of high speed rail.
Since 1992 there have been plans for an international high speed train line between the US and Canada, but after seventeen years no such line has entered into service. The Pacific Northwest has a good culture of public transportation and seems to be one of the more receptive areas of the country when it comes to improving mass transit. Portland Oregon stands out as having one of the best light rail and bus fleets in the country. Despite this, progress has been painfully slow.