March 18, 2017
LA Times: "When the Forest Service announced its calculation last November that the Sierra Nevada contained 102 million dead trees, it conveyed the immensity of a tragedy that is unprecedented in California’s history. It also challenged planners and innovators to find a beneficial use for at least some of the dead trees. As it turns out, there is one." . . . .
"One of the most promising technologies, deployed by Berkeley-based All Power Labs, produces electricity through gasification, which is more efficient and environmentally benign than combustion. Equally compelling, the company’s “power plant” units are small enough to fit inside a shipping container, which can be towed by truck to the hazard zones, reducing transport costs and greenhouse gas emissions."
"Aside from their main output, electricity (which can be fed into the grid), the units generate a key byproduct, biochar, a charcoal-like substance that is almost pure carbon. When applied to soil, biochar stimulates plant growth and reduces water consumption, which makes it a valuable commodity in water-stressed California fields. In essence, biochar is carbon that would otherwise have been released into the atmosphere, which makes All Power’s gasification process not just carbon neutral but carbon negative."
March 05, 2017
LA Times: "Los Angeles is fed up with its traffic. Despite billions spent in herculean efforts to expand our roads, our freeways are as clogged as ever. We spent $1.6 billion to widen the 405 Freeway in 2014, and yet commute times through the Sepulveda Pass are the same. Perhaps even more frustrating, we’re spending billions more to get people out of their cars and onto Metro — and not only is our traffic problem unmoved, transit ridership is declining."
"Things have gotten so bad that billionaire futurist Elon Musk recently promised to “just start digging” tunnels underneath L.A. With enough layers of tunnels, says Musk, any amount of cars could be provided for."
"With all due respect to Mr. Musk, this plan encapsulates everything that’s wrong with how we think about traffic. Instead of building our way out of the problem, there is a proven solution to fighting traffic, one that’s much easier, more effective and less costly than our current approach. It’s putting a price on the use of our roads."
"Nobody likes paying for anything they are used to getting for free, and freeway tolls are no exception. But why are we willing to pay for electricity, gasoline or air travel, but not for roads?"
"The reason that electrical power and air travel don’t fail every time they get crowded is that we raise prices to manage demand. If things cost more, people use less of them. We all accept that airline tickets are more expensive during the holidays. And yet we miss that this very same, simple system of pricing could solve our congestion problem. Roads are the only piece of infrastructure we allow to consistently fail due to overuse."
February 25, 2017
Fortune: "On Thursday in Salt Lake City, the Nikola Motor Company unveiled the Nikola One, the world’s first hydrogen fuel-cell electric freight truck. The full-scale, zero-emission semi will offer a range between 800 and 1200 miles, and produce 1,000 horsepower, about twice that of an average diesel truck. The company also claims it will operate at half the cost of a comparable diesel truck."
"The truck will also feature regenerative braking, weight about 2,000 pounds less than a diesel truck, and have 2,000 foot pounds of torque, allowing it to accelerate with a full load much faster than a diesel truck."
"The company will begin delivering vehicles in 2020, partnering with Fitzgerald to build the first 5,000. It will start work on its own production facility next year, and says that after that it will be able to build 50,000 trucks a year."
February 04, 2017
REI: “We love the outdoors, so we approached this project as an opportunity to find new ways to reduce our use of natural resources while also making a positive, lasting impact on local outdoor places. We believe that investing in sustainability is not only good for people, places and the planet, but it’s also a smart business decision that creates measurable value. We think this project shows that we can push the boundaries of what’s possible.”
RMI: "Once the building was as efficient as possible, the company installed a 2.2-megawatt PV system on its roof. One of the largest rooftop arrays in Arizona, it provides enough electricity to power the entire facility annually and will pay for itself in five years."
February 04, 2017
City of Perris: "The City of Perris has partnered with its waste hauler, CR&R to create the largest organic-waste eating machine in the world, a behemoth so big it will consume 335,000 tons of trash a year and convert it to 260,000 tons of fertilizer and four million gallons of renewable natural gas."
January 18, 2017
New York Times: "Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016 — trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row."
"The findings come two days before the inauguration of an American president who has called global warming a Chinese plot and vowed to roll back his predecessor’s efforts to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases."
January 03, 2017
CCEC has initiated litigation against Placer County for its failure to evaluate mitigation for the climate change impacts of its Tahoe Basin Area Plan. Pursuant to legislation adopted by the California Legislature in 2007, lead agencies such as Placer County are required to identify feasible mitigation for climate impacts.
Major projects elsewhere in California have gone so far as to fully mitigate their climate impacts.
Despite being roundly criticized during the public comment period, Placer County nevertheless postponed the issue of feasible climate mitigation making it into a future closed-door discussion between Placer County staff and developers.
The impact of climate change on the Sierras is already clear in the reduced snowpack and the unprecedented forest die-off in the Sierras. In January, 2016, the Placer County Board of Supervisors itself formally found "that conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property have arisen within Placer County, caused by the widespread and rapidly increasing incidence of tree mortality."
The County's process for the Area Plan plainly did not protect the public interest in cost-effective and enforceable climate mitigation. The writ petition is here. The Lake Tahoe News coverage is here. The Sierra Sun coverage is here.
December 29, 2016
Ford Cars Info: "Ford, the Blue Oval American automaker aims to use electric drive-trains in over 40% of its models by 2020 according to its CEO Mark Fields. To achieve this, the automaker is investing $ 4.5 billion in the next five years."
December 28, 2016
Pew Research Center: "Large majorities of Americans favor expanding renewable sources to provide energy, but the public is far less supportive of increasing the production of fossil fuels, such as oil and gas, and nuclear energy."
"Fully 89% of Americans favor more solar panel farms, just 9% oppose. A similarly large share supports more wind turbine farms (83% favor, 14% oppose)."
Greentech Media: "A new survey of 1,000 people conducted by the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies illustrates this dynamic. According to the poll, 75 percent of Trump voters support 'action to accelerate the deployment and use of clean energy'--including solar, wind, energy efficiency, and community renewable projects."