July 23, 2019
On July 8, 2019, CCEC initiated litigation against the City of American Canyon over the energy and transportation impacts of the Broadway Specific Plan. The litigation follows extensive correspondence by CCEC and Caltrans, pointing out the failure to address measures to reduce transportation demand in the new plan for the city's Broadway Corridor (SR 29). The plan, which proposes widening of SR 29 to six lanes, is not a sustainable solution, nor will it meet future transportation demand generated by the region. Building roadway capacity typically results in increased driving. Moreover, funding is plainly not available for the costly road widening. Napa County Transportation Authority's county-wide plan points out clearly the challenge going forward for American Canyon and for the region, which has historically used American Canyon as an increasingly congested driveway into Napa Valley--
"Napa County’s economy is largely dependent on the wine and tourism industry which accounts for 40% of the local labor force. The top five fastest growing job sectors in Napa County, which will account for 63% of the projected job growth, are low wage earning job sectors. This is particularly significant because housing in Napa is expensive and projected housing production will not keep pace with job production. This will force the growing Napa County workforce to look for more affordable housing elsewhere. Conversely, residents that wish to live in Napa County are likely to seek higher paying jobs elsewhere. The housing/income mismatch will result in more vehicle miles traveled and the inevitable associated congestion on Napa’s roads. If projections are accurate, this could result in 30,000 workers commuting into Napa each day by 2040 – a 45% increase, and an additional 2,000 outbound-commuters or a total of 16,000 daily trips leaving the county for work over this same time period."
CCEC is demanding a robust discussion of meeting future transportation demand in the Broadway Corridor.
July 23, 2019
CCEC's settlement of litigation with the Placer County Board of Supervisors over long-range plans for North Lake Tahoe bore fruit today when the supervisors finally approved a set of policies designed by a leading Bay Area transportation firm to provide the public with more desirable options to driving in the North Tahoe Basin. Under the settlement, the county has undertaken a five year commitment to implement the consultant's recommendations which include transit improvements, bus stop improvements, parking management, parking benefits districts, residential parking permits, active transportation, information access, multi-modal trip planning app, and other measures.
July 17, 2019
Midwest High Speed Rail Association: "A new study makes the business case for 220-mph high-speed rail in the Pacific Northwest. A brand-new high-speed line would be more cost-effective than other alternatives, it would cover its operating costs, and it would have a whole array of transformative benefits. It affirms that not only is high-speed rail feasible in the U.S., it’s a great idea. And, it lays out the sort of collaboration we need to bring high-speed rail to the Midwest."
"The plan to connect Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. was first proposed in 2016 and has broad support from both government and the mega-region’s business community. This study—and a prior feasibility analysis—were funded by the governments of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, along with significant contributions from Microsoft."
May 08, 2019
New York Times: "Humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival, a sweeping new United Nations assessment has concluded.
"The 1,500-page report, compiled by hundreds of international experts and based on thousands of scientific studies, is the most exhaustive look yet at the decline in biodiversity across the globe and the dangers that creates for human civilization. A summary of its findings, which was approved by representatives from the United States and 131 other countries, was released Monday in Paris. The full report is set to be published this year.
"Its conclusions are stark. In most major land habitats, from the savannas of Africa to the rain forests of South America, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more, mainly over the past century. With the human population passing 7 billion, activities like farming, logging, poaching, fishing and mining are altering the natural world at a rate 'unprecedented in human history.'
"At the same time, a new threat has emerged: Global warming has become a major driver of wildlife decline, the assessment found, by shifting or shrinking the local climates that many mammals, birds, insects, fish and plants evolved to survive in. When combined with the other ways humans are damaging the environment, climate change is now pushing a growing number of species, such as the Bengal tiger, closer to extinction.
"As a result, biodiversity loss is projected to accelerate through 2050, particularly in the tropics, unless countries drastically step up their conservation efforts."
April 08, 2019
New York Times: "City officials have been working to reduce the inundation of trucks on New York’s streets. The trucks carry about 90 percent of the city’s freight, more than most major American cities, contributing to the city’s worsening gridlock and pouring greenhouse gases into the air.
"By contrast, the city’s rail lines transport just 2 percent of New York’s cargo.
"To change that, city officials are investing tens of millions of dollars to upgrade the freight train’s corridors, including modernizing several rail depots.
"The railway will also handle more freight because another little-known piece of the region’s transportation network will soon be expanded: a service that floats rail cars from New Jersey across New York Harbor by barge to Brooklyn, where they connect with New York and Atlantic’s line.
“'That rail line has an important but unsung job of diverting truck traffic, and it is key to the future of freight transport for New York City,' said Representative Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat who has long advocated rail freight, including supporting building a tunnel under New York Harbor connecting New Jersey to Brooklyn.
"The New York & Atlantic line now is in the surprising position of having its big diesel locomotives — and the sooty, graffiti-strewn boxcars they haul — pegged as a progressive, environmental choice for New York."
Memphis Business Journal: "'With gas prices at an all-time high, Americans can't afford to waste money and time sitting in traffic. Because one intermodal train can take nearly 300 trucks off our highways, shifting freight from trucks to trains reduces competition between commuters, drivers and freight traffic for space on the road,' said Wendell Cox, author of the study and principal of Demographia, a market research and urban policy consultancy."
April 06, 2019
New York Times: "In reality, the government is a monopoly provider of road space, and the government has largely chosen to give it away. It’s no surprise, then, that the vast majority of American commuters drive to work alone, or that all those lonely commuters (plus taxis, Ubers, buses and delivery trucks) cause congestion.
"When the government holds down the price of something people value, Mr. Manville said, we get shortages. And congestion is effectively a shortage of road — one that occurs at the peak times when people want to use it most.
"If we had that problem with other kinds of infrastructure or commodities, we’d charge people more for them. If airline tickets were particularly in demand, their prices would go up. If there were a run on avocados, grocers wouldn’t respond by keeping them as cheap as possible. . . .
"Today, because most people seldom pay directly for roads — or because general funds do — it can seem as if no one does.
“'Therefore the street transportation system has no cost,'” said Yonah Freemark, a doctoral student in city planning at M.I.T., who runs the blog The Transport Politic. 'And therefore we can just expect to have unlimited parking, we can expect to have unlimited access to neighborhoods, for whatever reason, for free.'
"Take those expectations to their logical conclusion in a major city today, and you get 10-mile-per-hour road speeds, rampant double parking, clogged intersections and worsening commute times. You get, finally, the political will for congestion pricing."
CCEC: Congestion pricing is heavy lift in most communities, but there are other practical tools such as paid parking that provide similar benefits.
March 29, 2019
California Energy Commission: "Five of the deadliest, seven of the most destructive (in terms of structures destroyed), and four of the largest wildfires in California’s history occurred in 2017 and 2018 alone, with some fires making the top 20 list in more than one category."
March 25, 2019
CCEC settled litigation with Placer County in November, 2017, over the Tahoe Basin Area Plan. Under the settlement, the County agreed to undertake a systematic study of reducing traffic congestion by making non-automobile travel options easier for everyday trips.
Subsequently, the highly-regarded Bay Area transportation firm Nelson-Nygaard has worked with the County and other agencies in the area to produce a draft "Transportation Demand Management Strategies for North Lake Tahoe."
The TDM strategies document contains a range of recommended solutions for traffic congestion in North Lake Tahoe that may be presented to the Placer County Board of Supervisors for consideration and potential implementation.
The document is now open for public discussion. A detailed presentation will be made by County staff and Nelson Nygaard at the April 11, 2019, meeting of the North Tahoe Regional Advisory Council. The meeting will take place at 5:00 p.m. at the North Tahoe Event Center, 8318 North Lake Tahoe Blvd, Kings Beach, CA.
February 06, 2019
New York Times: "Greenland’s enormous ice sheet is melting at such an accelerated rate that it may have reached a 'tipping point'and could become a major factor in sea-level rise around the world within two decades, scientists said in a study published on Monday."
January 29, 2019
Wall Street Journal: "PG&E Corp.’s bankruptcy could mark a business milestone: the first major corporate casualty of climate change. Few people expect it will be the last."
"California’s largest utility was overwhelmed by rapid climatic changes as a prolonged drought dried out much of the state and decimated forests, dramatically increasing the risk of fire. On Monday, PG&E said it planned to file for Chapter 11 protection by month’s end, citing an estimated $30 billion in liabilities and 750 lawsuits from wildfires potentially caused by its power lines."
"The company’s fall has been fast and steep. In October, its market value was $25 billion. This week, it was removed from the S&P 500 as its value tumbled below $4 billion and its shares fell to their lowest level since at least 1972."