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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

The External Costs of Fossil Fuels; Environmental and Health Value of Solar

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014
U.S. Net Electricity Generation

ENERGY & POLICY INSTITUTE
Ratepayers and customers have been led to believe that a power plant burning coal or natural gas is the cheapest form of electricity and therefore, should be prioritized over renewable energy generation. However, ratepayers are paying for more than the cost of the fossil fuel that is used to generate electricity. Utility customers pay for the cleanup of toxic spills and health costs associated with burning dirty energy sources. Furthermore, ratepayer’s money spent importing fossil fuels from other states causes unforeseen negative economic impacts when local renewable energy systems could provide economic benefits. Utilities have little economic incentive to reduce fuel costs since the cost of coal and natural gas are passed directly through to customers. Finally, customers ultimately pay for the impacts of climate change, including water scarcity, both of which are fueled and exacerbated by the burning of fossil fuels.

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Los Angeles County: Profile of Clean Energy Investment Potential

Monday, August 25th, 2014
Mid-century Warming in the Los Angeles Region

ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND
UCLA LUSKIN CENTER FOR INNOVATION
The Environmental Defense Fund commissioned the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation to profile the potential for clean energy investments in Los Angeles County. The Los Angeles Solar and Efficiency Report (LASER): An Atlas of Investment Potential is multi-faceted. The LASER Atlas begins with this particular profile of clean energy investment potential at the county level. Other profiles that comprise the LASER Atlas are at the sub-regional level…This county level overview is designed to help community stakeholders identify areas of high potential for solar energy and the benefits of green economic investment. These benefits include capitalizing on incoming state and local funding while creating jobs and building community resilience to current environmental health and energy threats that climate change will exacerbate.

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Back in the Fast Lane: How to Speed Public Transit Planning & Construction in California

Thursday, August 21st, 2014
Figure 1. Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Economic Sector

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES
EMMETT INSTITUTE ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE ENVIRONMENT
This brief seeks to explain some of the causes of the planning and construction delays and escalating costs for major public transit projects, such as rail and bus rapid transit. Among the factors are counter-productive regulatory processes, lack of coordination among overlapping agencies and entities, poor agency oversight of construction, and political compromises meant to appease powerful neighborhood groups and automobile drivers at the expense of the regional good.

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Reggie Watts Goes Solar for #ClickClean

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014
Reggie Watts Goes Solar for #ClickClean

Together, we can stop clicking dirty. Join us, and ask Internet companies to switch to a greener online, so we can all enjoy a greener offline. Learn what’s up at clickclean.org
#ClickClean

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The Southern Megalopolis: Using the Past to Predict the Future of Urban Sprawl in the Southeast U.S.

Friday, August 15th, 2014
Figure 1. Business-as-usual urbanization scenario for the Southeast US.

DEPARTMENT OF APPLIED ECOLOGY
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
Cities are expanding, and as they do urban sprawl–low-density urban development outside the urban core–is expanding even more rapidly. In some regions, expansion of suburban habitats as a result of shifts to automobile-dependent living has led to increases in the urban footprint even where populations have not shown large increases. Urban sprawl increases the connectivity among urban habitats while simultaneously fragmenting non-urban habitats such as forests and grasslands. These changes have a variety of effects on species and ecosystems, including impacts to water pollution, disturbance dynamics, local climate, and predator-prey relationships. Urban sprawl will also, almost certainly, influence the ability of species to respond to climate change, in as much as it creates barriers to the movement of species that cannot survive in cities and corridors for those who can. Knowledge about the potential future character of urban sprawl is thus useful to a variety of stakeholders, including resource managers, conservation organizations, and urban planners.

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The Societal Costs and Benefits of Commuter Bicycling

Monday, August 11th, 2014

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SCIENCES
Car use is the dominant mode of transport to work in many high-income cities. In car-oriented cities, commuting by private motor vehicle allows access to employment and training (crucial social determinants of health) while enabling households to manage competing responsibilities. However, car-dependent commuting has significant negative public health effects for commuters, the wider community, and local and global ecosystems. A mode shift to greater use of active transport would bring environmental, health, social, and equity benefits (de Nazelle et al. 2011; Hosking et al. 2011).

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Energy to Spare: NIST Completes Successful Net-Zero Energy House Experiment

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
Energy to Spare: NIST Completes Successful Net-Zero Energy House Experiment

NIST conducted a year-long experiment to prove it could build a modern, spacious house that would create as much energy as it uses. This “net-zero” house was home to a virtual family that consumed as much energy as an average American family of four. Thanks to the house’s energy efficient construction and appliances, and solar panels for producing electricity and hot water, the house made more energy than the family used. The house will serve as a testbed for new energy efficient technologies for decades to come.

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The Economic and Climate Change Benefits of Accelerating Repair and Replacement of America’s Natural Gas Distribution Pipelines

Monday, July 28th, 2014
Figure 1: Historical U.S. Employment, Thousands of Jobs

BLUEGREEN ALLIANCE
As the United States continues a slow but steady recovery from the recession triggered by the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, investment is desperately needed to fuel economic growth and job creation—including modernizing large swaths of our nation’s infrastructure. Repairing the system of distribution pipelines that deliver natural gasto homes and businesses offers an opportunity to drive significant investment in our economy. Doing so will help to fix a critical part of our aging infrastructure while creating jobs and cutting global warming pollution—a winning proposition for both the environment and the economy.

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The 2014 International Energy Efficiency Scorecard

Friday, July 25th, 2014
2014 Energy-Efficiency Scorecard

AMERICAN COUNCIL FOR AN ENERGY-EFFICIENT ECONOMY (ACEEE)
In this second edition of the International Energy Efficiency Scorecard, we analyze the world’s 16 largest economies covering more than 81% of global gross domestic product and about 71% of global electricity consumption. We looked at 31 metrics divided roughly in half between policies and quantifiable performance to evaluate how efficiently these economies use energy. The policy metrics were scored based on the presence in a country or region of a best-practice policy…The United States has made some progress toward greater energy efficiency in recent years, particularly in areas such as building codes, appliance standards, voluntary partnerships between government and industry, and, recently, fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles and heavy-duty trucks. However, the overall story is disappointing.

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Features of a Fully Renewable US Electricity System: Wind and Solar PV

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014
Figures 1 and 2

STANFORD UNIVERSITY
DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING
CO2 and air pollution emission reduction goals as well as energy security, price stability, and affordability considerations make renewable electricity generation attractive. A highly renewable electricity supply will be based to a large extent on wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) power, since these two resources are both abundant and either relatively inexpensive or rapidly becoming cost competitive. Such a system demands a fundamentally different design approach: While electricity generation was traditionally constructed to be dispatchable in order to follow the demand, wind and solar PV power output is largely determined by weather conditions that are out of human control.

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