We found that in addition to time, transportation was the biggest obstacle for people, most did not own cars and the registration office was not easily accessible by public transportation. We decided to organize car pools to take people to the Board of Elections, which meant identifying local residents willing to drive them. All of this was incredibly time-consuming and resource intensive. Over the course of the summer we were able to register a few thousand new voters. It sounds like a small number, but it was the result of massive community organizing and mobilization. It increased the political power of a community that had long been ignored and neglected by local elected officials who now began vying for their votes. The experience was incredibly rewarding and left me permanently committed to increasing civic participation especially among the poor and marginalized…In case you’re wondering, the city where we conducted the summer voter registration drive was not some small southern town or rural, Midwestern community—it was Mount Vernon, New York…
more, from Jack & Jill Politics.
If you assumed that the federal mandate requiring automakers to reach the 54.5 miles per gallon corporate average fuel economy standard by 2025 was negotiated cordially and ended in a group hug, think again. Verbal fisticuffs and head butting would be more accurate descriptions, with members of Congress and automakers joining the squabble with the federal regulatory agencies. During the negotiation process, foreign automakers took umbrage with more favorable treatment domestic makers seemed to be receiving by the White House.
While the White House did keep the process quiet and off the public radar, it was more like a boiling cauldron behind the scenes, according to new reports. On Friday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Republican majority staff released a report stating foreign automakers had bitterly complained about how they were treated. Jim Lentz, the U.S. sales chief for Toyota, said Toyota executives in Japan feel like, “they’ve been screwed” by the mandate that nearly doubles the fuel economy standards by 2025 and what they see as preferential treatment given to larger trucks, calling it a “second bailout for Detroit.”
The White House defended the deal, with White House spokesman Clark Stevens saying the historic standards for 2017-2025 model year light-duty vehicles will save families $1.7 trillion dollars at the pump and dramatically reduce fuel consumption. More than a dozen automakers, along with the United Auto Workers, the state of California (which, at that time, made things more difficult with its even more stringent standards), and environmental organizations, supported the mandate, Steven said.
Toyota wanted a few things out of the deal – credits for hybrid electric vehicles, a category in which the company dominates, more flexibility to use car credits for meeting truck standards, and inclusion of the Toyota Tundra in the definition of full-size trucks in the mandate. Volkswagen and other German automakers complained that the deal didn’t give credits for clean diesel, while it did favor EVs, compressed natural gas and ethanol. Resentment with the state of California and its regulatory agency, the California Air Resources Board, also raised hackles in the negotiation process.
At the end of the day, the major automakers are now quietly complying with the federal rules and it doesn’t look like they will be fighting the state of California in court over its zero emissions rules, as they did a few years ago.
With as many as 2.9 million new and existing jobs on the line, House Republicans are refusing to pass a transportation reauthorization bill, even after the Senate’s version of the bill overwhelmingly passed through the upper chamber in a 74-22 bipartisan vote.
The deadline for new transportation funding is June 30, and if the calendar flips to July without a compromise, as many as 1.9 million workers could lose their jobs, at least temporarily. The Senate version of the bill, if adapted, would create an additional one million new jobs as well, according to Department of Transportation projections.
So why are House Republicans holding nearly three million jobs hostage? Because they want approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to be included in the bill. This infographic gives a sense of the GOP’s priorities:
The State Department estimates that roughly 6,000 jobs would be created if the Keystone XL is approved, but as few as 20 of them will be permanent.
Speaker John Boehner is reportedly preparing a 90-day “clean” extension of federal highway and transit programs that would include provisions opening the Keystone pipeline as a vehicle for beginning conference talks with the Senate, GOP aides said today.
Pretty amazing. I want it tested in rual America to see if it can dodge deer.
Google’s Self-Driving Car Test (by Google)
Image description: Public transportation use is at its highest since the 1950s, as shown in this chart that goes through 2009. 2011 levels (not pictured) were second only to 2008. Reasons for this most recent rise in public transit ridership?
- High gas prices, just like in 2008.
- Economic rebound in some areas has more people commuting to work.
- Information technology, like apps that tell arrival times, make it easier.
Rural communities with populations under 100,000 showed the highest growth in public transit use in 2011, at 5.4%
On the graph, “Heavy Rail” means subways and commuter rails. “All Other” includes trolleys, light rail, and more.
Information courtesy of the American Public Transportation Association, an advocacy organization that partners with the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Boehner’s allies insist that after weeks of straining, cajoling and rewriting, the House will pass a version of the highway measure sometime next month. But it won’t have been pretty, it won’t have been painless, and it will give more ammunition to those in Washington’s power corridors who believe the tail is wagging the dog on the House side of the Capitol.
On top of that, Boehner has hyped this bill as the GOP’s main election-year jobs plan.
There’s even a political complication: Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) announced he’d be running against Republican freshman Rep. Sandy Adams in the midst of the fight over the bill, alienating at least one House member and risking backlash from other first-year lawmakers.
Republican leaders are now discussing whether to shorten the bill’s timeline from five years to 18 months. While construction of the legislation hasn’t stopped, plenty of workers are standing around pointing fingers at one another.
Solar powered rail connects Paris and Amsterdam
Europe’s first high-speed international trains to use solar panel generated electricity were introduced Monday. The trains link the cities of Paris and Amsterdam.
Solar power is used in a 3.6 kilometer (about 2 mile) stretch of tunnel crossing Antwerp, Belgium. 16,000 solar panels were installed on the tunnel’s roof and cover an area of 50,000 square meters (about 12 acres.)
The project costs about $22.8 million.
The panels produce 3,300 megawatts per hour of electricity, or the average annual consumption of nearly 1,000 families, reports Agence France Presse.
They will not only power the high-speed rail, but also support inter-city trains while providing enough electricity to charge the train station, according to The Daily Mail.
The electricity produced feeds into the line’s infrastructure, for lighting, signals and in-train power points, Frederic Sacre, spokesman for Infrabel, which runs the rail network, told AFP.
47.3 million kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions are expected to be eliminated by the project over the next 20 years.
House Republicans have just put together a transportation bill so horrid, that even Obama’s Republican Secretary of Transportation has called it “the worst transportation bill” he had ever seen. The crux of this measure is gutting federal support for public transit, a slap in the faces of poor Americans, minorities and environmentalists, while providing benefits for Big Oil…
In the “news that is significant but easy to miss because it’s boring” category, we’re using less gas than we were a year ago. This is despite (modest) economic growth. It looks like we’re at our lowest demand levels since 2003.
Some portion of the decline is due to higher gas prices and economic anxiety. But the increased fuel efficiency seems to have equaled or exceeded the expected increased demand due to economic growth. Put simply, it looks like we’re using less gas because our cars are more efficient.
The Obama administration has not passed a cap and trade bill. But it has done a lot to increase energy efficiency. We’re seeing the fruits of some of those efforts.
It will not be easy to run a national railroad on renewable energy like wind, hydro and, but that is what Deutsche Bahn of Germany aims to do, for one simple reason: It is what consumers want.
…which is being gutted for more development of highways.
And the Tea Party is trying to deregulate and defund it, especially up North where there’s lots of it.
A 2009 study by the Department of Agriculture found that 2.3 million households do not have access to a car and live more than a mile from a supermarket. Much of the public health debate over rising obesity rates has turned to these “food deserts,” where convenience store fare is more accessible—and more expensive—than healthier options farther away. This map colors each county in America by the percentage of households in food deserts, according to the USDA’s definition. Data is not available for Alaska and Hawaii. (via Slate Labs - Food Deserts: An interactive map)