Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Front Group Flips on Fracked Gas Pipeline

In 2013 and 2014, lobbyist Marc Brown's "New England Ratepayers Association" opposed Kinder Morgan's proposed fracked gas pipeline expansion plans through Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Then just this month, Brown flipped and suddenly supports more fracked gas pipelines.

As I asked in a recent letter to the editor in my local New Bedford Standard-Times, what changed, Marc? Or should I say, whose check cleared?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Green Miles Hosts Rhode Island Wind Energy Panel

I recently hosted a panel on wind energy for RenewableNow.Biz featuring Jeff Grybowski of Deepwater Wind, Hannah Morini of Wind Energy Development, West Warwick Town Manager Fred Presley, and Providence Journal columnist Robert Whitcomb, who's the co-author of Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics, and the Battle for Our Energy Future on Nantucket Sound. Watch it here:

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Volkswagen is a Scam

Volkswagen Factory Wolfsburg/Germany How can anyone buy a Volkswagen after this?
Volkswagen’s pollution problems took a costly new turn on Tuesday when the company said it had understated emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, for about 800,000 of its vehicles sold in Europe, and overstated the cars’ fuel economy. A limited number of gasoline-powered cars are affected, said Eric Felber, a company spokesman, expanding the focus of Volkswagen’s crisis beyond its diesel engines.

It is the latest in a series of emissions revelations shaking the company, raising questions about the quality of its internal corporate controls and its reputation for engineering prowess, and undermining a carefully crafted image as a maker of efficient and environmentally friendly cars. The latest problem will force the company to incur an estimated 2 billion euros, or about $2.2 billion, in possible financial penalties, a spokesman said, because of tax breaks granted in Europe on cars with low carbon dioxide emissions.

Those costs would be on top of the €6.7 billion the company has already set aside to address its central emissions crisis, revealed in September when Volkswagen admitted that it had installed deceptive software in 11 million diesel vehicles to make it appear as if they met air-quality standards for nitrogen oxide, which poses a threat to human health. Volkswagen’s troubles have led to lawsuits from investors and car owners that are likely to cost the company billions of dollars beyond the money already set aside.
Is there any aspect of its vehicles that Volkswagen hasn't been lying about? These problems go so far beyond "whoops, we screwed up one thing!" Its entire corporate culture has embraced systematically lying about a range of performance items, from polluting emissions to fuel efficiency. How do we know they haven't been cheating on safety tests, too?

One of the world's biggest corporations has been running as a scam, intentionally selling shoddy vehicles to its customers. It's hard for people to get their minds around something that big and that evil, but welcome to Griftopia.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Official Admits Iowa Needs to Go on a Road Diet

US Highway 218 - IowaThe first step to getting your highway budget back to a sane level is admitting you have a problem. As Charles Marohn reports at StrongTowns.org, Iowa Dept. of Transportation Director Paul Trombino recently did just that, pointing out Iowa can't afford to maintain all the roads & bridges it's built:
I said the numbers before. 114,000 lane miles, 25,000 bridges, 4,000 miles of rail. I said this a lot in my conversation when we were talking about fuel tax increases. It’s not affordable. Nobody’s going to pay.

We are. We’re the ones. Look in the mirror. We’re not going to pay to rebuild that entire system.

And my personal belief is that the entire system is unneeded. And so the reality is, the system is going to shrink.

There’s nothing I have to do. Bridges close themselves. Roads deteriorate and go away. That’s what happens.

And reality is, for us, let’s not let the system degrade and then we’re left with sorta whatever’s left. Let’s try to make a conscious choice – it’s not going to be perfect, I would agree it’s going to be complex and messy – but let’s figure out which ones we really want to keep.
As Congressional budget negotiators come up with increasingly bizarre tricks to try to pay for a transportation budget that's mostly spent on building new roads, the question remains: What if voters don't want to pay for it?

We should talking about building fewer new, unneeded highways and focusing our resources on maintaining what we have. We know urban roads can lose lanes, with Austin recently showing that many urban roads can be slimmed down while improving safety and cutting speeding.

What can we do about expensive and little-used rural highways? How many could lose a lane and no one would ever miss it?