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Infra Views

MIPRC Survey: Good News, Growth Potential for Passenger Rail

Friday, April 29th, 2016

MIDWEST INTERSTATE PASSENGER RAIL COMMISSION
The survey identifies strong support for passenger rail as an integral piece of the national transportation future, and even finds strong willingness to advocate on behalf of passenger rail. But the survey also shows that neither students nor – by inference – the general public are aware of the roles played by states and the federal government in funding Amtrak and in determining passenger rail routes and service frequencies. Thus we strongly recommend that a public education campaign be considered to clarify this point.

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The Native-Born STEM Shortage

Thursday, April 28th, 2016
STEM-table1

AMERICAN ACTION FORUM
AAF finds that the U.S. will be short roughly one million U.S. citizen STEM workers by 2024. However, this shortage is not consistent across all STEM occupations…AAF projects a surplus of almost 400,000 U.S. citizen STEM workers in occupations related to computer, mathematics, and life, physical, and social science.

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Cost of Congestion in the Trucking Industry

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016
Figure 1: United States NPMRDS Roadway Network

AMERICAN TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH INSTITUTE
Trucks transported nearly 10 billion tons of freight representing over two-thirds (68.8 percent) of total domestic tonnage shipped1, and traveled more than 279 billion miles on the nation’s roadway network in 2014.2 Due to the critical role of safe and reliable truck movements in sustainable economic growth, it is essential to continually monitor and evaluate the efficiency of the national roadway system. A key impediment to nimble supply chains is the level of traffic congestion experienced on U.S. roadways, and the subsequent costs that are incurred due to this congestion.

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Analytic Research Foundations for the Next-Generation Electric Grid

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016
FIGURE 1.2 U.S. transmission grid.

NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Mathematical modeling and control of the electric grid has been an active area of research for decades. However, in 1996 a major outage that affected 11 Western states and 2 Canadian provinces—coupled with emerging concerns that computers would malfunction after December 31, 1999—increased awareness of a lack of complete understanding of the overall system and its frailties. For several decades the Electric Power Research Institute funded a program of research to develop tools for recognizing early signs of instability and means to counter them. That research was largely of a mathematical nature.

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The State of the Air 2016

Monday, April 25th, 2016
Figure 1: Air pollution emissions have dropped steadily since 1970 thanks to the Clean Air Act

AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION
The “State of the Air 2016” found continued improvement in air quality in 2012–2014, showing lower levels of year-round particle pollution and ozone. Still, more than half of all Americans—166 million people—live in counties where they are exposed to unhealthful levels of these pollutants.

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Oil Market Futures

Friday, April 22nd, 2016
Figure ES.1: Global oil demand from transport in 2015 and under two scenarios for 2050

CAMBRIDGE ECONOMETRICS
THE INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL FOR CLEAN TRANSPORTATION
Policies to tackle climate change are likely to lead to lower oil prices, according to the results of this analysis. As governments start implementing the Paris Agreement, they will increasingly need to cut carbon emissions from transport by curbing the combustion of petroleum fuels. Lower oil prices will prevail in this lower-demand scenario, compared to a business-as-usual scenario where oil demand would rise unchecked and in line with economic growth and expanding mobility trends.

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Lifting the High Energy Burden in America’s Largest Cities

Thursday, April 21st, 2016
While energy efficiency programs provide benefits beyond energy savings, we find they are an underutilized strategy that could complement bill assistance and weatherization programs to reduce high energy burdens in low-income communities.

AMERICAN COUNCIL FOR AN ENERGY-EFFICIENT ECONOMY (ACEEE)
This report provides a snapshot of energy burdens in cities across the US. We focus on the high home energy burdens faced by select groups in major metropolitan areas…In the first half of this report, we analyze data from the US Census Bureau’s 2011 and 2013 American Housing Survey to determine energy burden values for 48 of the largest US cities and specific households within each city. In the second half of the report, we discuss strategies for alleviating high energy burdens, with a focus on policies and programs to increase the impact of energy efficiency initiatives in these communities.

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Consumer Impacts of California’s Low-Carbon Transportation Policies

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016
Consumer Impacts of California’s Low Carbon Transportation Policies by 2030

CONSUMERS UNION
California is a global leader in developing and implementing clean transportation policies. The State’s regulatory approach is multifold, using various policy instruments to improve the efficiency of vehicles, reduce the carbon intensity of fuels, and increase options for mobility. These policies are a mix of market-based approaches, direct regulation approaches, and planning opportunities. These policies will have impacts on the pricing of consumer goods such as automobiles and fuels– both of which represent a significant share of consumer expenditures.

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America’s Most Endangered Rivers 2016

Thursday, April 14th, 2016
America

AMERICAN RIVERS
The report is not a list of the nation’s “worst” or most polluted rivers, but rather it highlights rivers confronted by critical decisions that will determine their future…The report presents alternatives to proposals that would damage rivers, identifies those who make the crucial decisions, and points out opportunities for the public to take action on behalf of each listed river.

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Issuance of New Money Bonds Remains Low in Large U.S. Cities

Thursday, April 14th, 2016
Figure 1 New Money Issuances Hit a 24-Year Low in 2014

THE PEW CHARITABLE TRUSTS
Cities in the United States play a substantial role in funding critical infrastructure with investments in capital projects such as roads, bridges, schools, and libraries. For example, all local governments accounted for 35 percent of total highway and transit spending from 2008 through 2012. To pay for these projects, cities often sell bonds on the municipal market.

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