PLUG-IN HYBRID ELECTRIC VEHICLES

LaHood, Obama, Congress Face Transportation Challenges

President-elect Barack Obama Friday is to name retiring Illinois Congressman Ray LaHood the next U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary. Though he has served on the House Transportation Committee, moderate Republican LaHood’s upside is his well established role as a bipartisan diplomat with close ties to Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, as the Chicago Tribune reports. He’ll need to use well the relationships he’s built in seven congressional terms. The surface transportation landscape poses big challenges and real opportunities for establishing a new way of doing business. This article about LaHood’s appointment, from the New York Times, highlights several important menu items. Mr. LaHood…has overseen major spending projects as a member of the House Appropriations Committee….The next transportation secretary will Read More ›

Buzz Keeps Building For Electric Vehicles And Plug-in Hybrids

A lot has happened since the Redmond, Wash. “Beyond Oil: Transforming Transportation” conference earlier this month on electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which was sponsored by Cascadia Center, Microsoft, Idaho National Laboratory (INL), WSDOT, USDOT and Pemco Insurance. For starters, Time Magazine’s environmental correspondent Bryan Walsh, who attended both days of the event and interviewed key sources there, has published an important article titled, “Is America Ready To Drive Electric?” Walsh writes: If plug-ins suddenly became popular, before the grid had a chance to get smarter, it could lead to a real power predicament…A…solution: tap into the enormous extra capacity of the grid during off-peak times, like between midnight and dawn…To do that, however, we need to persuade plug-in Read More ›

Cascadia Center’s “Beyond Oil” Conference: A Wrap-Up

A crowd of 500 key influencers from the private sector, government, academia and the media filled Microsoft’s large meeting facility in Redmond for the Sept. 4-5 conference organized by Discovery Institute’s Cascadia Center, “Beyond Oil: Transforming Transportation.” Gripping presentations by former CIA Director James Woolsey, electric car systems entrepreneur Shai Agassi of Better Place (pictured, left), and Microsoft’s sustainability guru Rob Bernard – plus groundbreaking vehicles on display, dozens of other great speakers and several high-level technical workshops – built a heady buzz and energized networking. Among the take-aways: U.S. national security is badly compromised by our dependence on foreign oil – we need to develop an even greater sense of urgency around breaking the habit. Electricity and the second-generation Read More ›

Seattle Region In Violation Of Clean Air Act

This just in, from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Seattle is in violation of the Clean Air Act for the first time since the 1990s. Going over the legal limit for smog over the weekend means officials here will have to start hammering out a plan to improve air quality. That could feature a number of measures to put the brakes on pollution, including requiring reformulated, more expensive gasoline for the region. The final violation of the smog standard needed to push the Emerald City and the Puget Sound region into official violation of the act occurred Saturday afternoon, when a monitor at Enumclaw in south King County went over the official limit. It’s thanks to ozone emissions, which at ground level Read More ›

Paul Roberts On The Promise Of Plug-in Hybrids

The May/June 2008 issue of Mother Jones is all about “The Future Of Energy,” and one must-read article is “The Seven Myths Of Energy Independence,” by Paul Roberts, author of “The End Of Oil.” Roberts argues that energy security is a far more achievable and strategic goal for the United States than energy independence, and the goal should be “massive increases in energy efficiency,” particularly in the transportation sector. With that in mind, he details some of the reasons why plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) hold such great promise. ….saving energy is almost always cheaper than making it: There is far more oil to be “found” in Detroit by designing more fuel-efficient cars than could ever be pumped out of Read More ›

Gov. Kulongoski Eyes Congestion Pricing In Metro Portland

In a recent speech to the Oregon Environmental Council’s Business Forum, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski (below, right) said the transportation plan he’ll present to the 2009 state legislature will likely accent congestion pricing. It could also include a statewide low-carbon fuel standard in synch with California’s, and incentives for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. More, first from from The Oregonian. Gov. Ted Kulongoski…said he will likely advocate for rush-hour tolling and other tough measures to control traffic congestion in his 2009 appeal to the Legislature. “In plain English, tolls that vary by time of day, by location, or by congestion level, so that those who are using the highway at the most desirable time are paying more to do so,” he Read More ›

Commuter Rail Projects, Proposals Multiply Across U.S.

In Austin, Texas, Capital Metro’s new 32-mile long commuter rail line using state-of-the art diesel multiple unit (DMU) cars will begin operations this fall. Officials from around the U.S. are flocking to Austin for demos. Among them were a transportation-focused Washington state contingent in early April organized by the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, including WSDOT Secretary Paula Hammond, King County Council Member Julia Patterson, Cascadia Center Director Bruce Agnew and Cascadia Senior Fellow Steve Marshall. Agnew is spearheading our Eastside TRailway commuter rail and recreational trail initiative, and Marshall is leading our charge on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which are gaining traction thanks in part to the outstanding work of Austin-based Plug-in Partners and their national grassroots initiative. The Read More ›

Plug-in Electric Vehicles Get A Charge

The U.S. transportation sector contributes more than any other to manmade greenhouse gas emissions which threaten the planet’s environment, while our nation’s dependence on foreign oil means – as former CIA Director James Woolsey so astutely puts it – that we are funding both sides of the war on terrorism. Some say the answer is to “get people out of their cars,” and certainly, the more who can be enticed to use public transit or telecommute, the better. I’m a regular Seattle bus rider, and telecommuter, myself. But cars are an uttter necessity for the majority of daily commuters, and indispensable for much discretionary personal transportation. That’s just not going to change. So, we can rail against cars and trucks. Read More ›

Domestic Demand Strains Global Oil Market

It seems the global oil market isn’t immune to at least one law of nature: The apex predator has the most voracious appetite. The New York Times reports that the very oil-exporting countries that are experiencing remarkable domestic economic growth because of the global demand for oil may soon become victims of their own success. Experts say … several of the world’s most important suppliers may need to start importing oil within a decade to power all the new cars, houses and businesses they are buying and creating with their oil wealth. … The report [by Canada-based CIBC World Markets] said “soaring internal rates of oil consumption” in Russia, in Mexico and in member states of the Organization of the Read More ›