Unionized Metro Transit Workers Authorize Strike During Super Bowl

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By Janet Moore for the Star Tribune – Unionized bus drivers, LRT operators and others at Metro Transit voted overwhelmingly to reject a final contract offer and authorize a strike during Super Bowl festivities next year. The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1005, which represents about 2,500 workers at Metro Transit, voted 93 percent in favor of rejecting the Metropolitan Council’s last contract offer and authorizing a strike during the period leading up to the Super Bowl. The vote was held on Sunday and Monday. The union says there’s disagreement over proposed changes to work rules, outsourcing and security for bus drivers. Mark Lawson, ATU Local 1005 president, said in a statement there’s still time to reach a contract before the Super Bowl, which is expected to attract up to 1 million enthusiasts leading up to football’s big day. Met Council officials on Monday stood by their statement last week that they are confident a deal can be reached before the Super Bowl. A mediator from the state Bureau of Mediation Services has been involved in the negotiations.

Britain Wants Cycle-Friendly Cities. Here’s How We Get Them

‘Every new cyclist is freeing space on the roads or on public transport for others who do not cycle.’ A cycling commuter in Manchester. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

By Andrew Gilligan for The Guardian – Cycle lanes reduce pollution, improve health and are incredibly popular. But forget common sense: getting the go-ahead on new schemes is all about politics. Almost four-fifths of people in some of Britain’s largest cities want road space taken away from cars and given to bikes, according to a new poll from Sustrans. I’m not at all surprised. Whenever we proposed the same thing in London, where I was cycling commissioner until last year, we got the same response. Every single one of the cycle superhighway schemes now open in the capital got between 60% and 85% public support, in our own statutory consultations and in independent, professional opinion polls. Once the new routes opened, that support translated into astonishing levels of usage. In the first six months, the number of cyclists on the roads served by the new separated lanes went up by more than half. The bike lane on Blackfriars bridge, which takes up a fifth of the roadspace, now carries 70% of the bridge’s rush-hour traffic. There’s an Eiger of evidence that cycling improvements are popular. Why, then, do they so seldom happen? Partly it’s because politicians confuse noise with numbers. Cycling schemes create a lot of noise. Our opponents would spend busy weeks organising petitions, holding demonstrations and comparing bike lanes to the Luftwaffe in their effects on the capital.

Newsletter - From Neoliberal Injustice To Economic Democracy

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers. This week, we will focus on positive work that people are doing to change current systems in ways that reduce the wealth divide, meet basic needs, build peace and sustainability and provide greater control over our lives. The work to transform society involves two parallel paths: resisting harmful systems and institutions and creating new systems and institutions to replace them. Throughout US history, resistance movements have coincided with the growth of economic democracy alternatives such as worker cooperatives, mutual aid and credit unions.

Taking Back Power: Public Power As A Vehicle Towards Energy Democracy

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By Johanna Bozuwa for The Next System Project – “We would line up all of our inhalers in a row on the benches before we would go run, just in case,” recounts Kristen Ethridge; an Indiana resident near some of the most polluting power plants in the country. Asthma rates are so bad from the toxic emissions that many students cannot make it through gym class without their inhalers. Cancer and infant mortality rates in the area are through the roof. These plants are owned by some of the biggest names in the utility business including groups like Duke Energy and AEP. Gibson Power Plant, the worst of them all, emits 2.9 million pounds of toxic compounds and 16.3 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year. What’s more, most of the energy generated in these plants is transported out of state, leaving Indiana with all the emissions and very little gain. Indiana’s power plants provide a window into how our current electrical system works. It is a system dominated by a small number of large powerful companies, called investor-owned utilities. Their centralized fossil fuel plants are at the heart of our aging electricity grid—a core contributor to rapidly-accelerating climate change. The carbon emissions associated with these power providers are but one symptom of larger systemic issues in the sector.

These City Bus Routes Are Going All-Electric ― And Saving Money

Nashville is one of several cities that have started integrating electric buses into their routes. The buses are more expensive up front but save cities money on fuel and other costs. Credit: Proterra

By Lyndsey Gilpin for Inside Climate News – Two years ago, the Transit Authority of River City (TARC) in Louisville, Kentucky, bought 10 electric buses to replace its aging diesel fleet. The agency installed two on-route chargers, where the buses now stop to recharge in less than 10 minutes before continuing their downtown route. TARC officials liked the buses so much, they’ve since ordered five more. A few hours to the south in Nashville, Tennessee, nine electric buses have been running fixed routes around the Music City since 2015. And across the country in Park City, Utah, the local transit authority recently purchased six electric buses to help reach a goal of a net-zero carbon footprint by 2022. In all, 40 transit authorities in the United States have looked to Proterra, an electric bus manufacturer based in South Carolina and California, to help them transition away from diesel buses and toward a solution that can save cities money and lower their emissions. Since 2004, Proterra has sold more than 400 buses to city transit authorities. The company has a waiting list of orders, and it recently opened a new manufacturing facility outside of Los Angeles that will employ 100 people and ramp up production to 400 buses a year. It’s also pushing the envelope for what electric power might do for public transit. Last month, Proterra broke world records by test-driving an electric bus 1,100 miles on a single charge. The trip put the previous record for an electric bus―632 miles―to shame, and was more than triple the average mileage of a Tesla.

Saudi Women Behind The Wheel, But Not In Driver’s Seat

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By Medea Benjamin. It looks like 27 years of protesting, along with international pressure and government recognition that it needs more Saudi women in the workforce, has finally paid off. In a royal decree, Saudi King Salman announced on September 26 that Saudi women, who have been the only women in the world banned from driving, will have that right as of June 2018. The move brings the Saudi Arabia a step closer to joining the 21st century, but Saudi women remain shackled by extreme gender segregation and a guardianship system that is a form of gender apartheid. The ban on driving, along with the general lack of reliable and safe public transportation, has had a terrible impact on middle class and poor Saudi women who cannot afford their own personal drivers.

Utilities Plot Ways To Prep Grid For Coming EV Boom

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By Herman K. Trabish for Utility Drive. California – Electrifying the transportation sector is no easy task. But, as with many innovations occurring in the power sector, California is leading the way. The California Public Utilities Commission recently approved two rounds of pilot proposals to electrify transportation from the state’s investor-owned utilities (IOUs). These pilots will cost a combined $1.3 billion and go beyond Gov. Jerry Brown (D)’s plan to have 1.5 million zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) on the road by 2025. The pilot projects would cover the gamut of possible ways to boost electric vehicle deployment including rate designs, smart charger buildout, public education efforts, and help utilities avoid upgrade costs, said Jim Lazar, senior advisor for the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP).

France Will ‘Ban All Petrol And Diesel Vehicles By 2040′

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By Chloe Farand for Independent – France plans to ban all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040, the country’s new environment minister has announced. Nicolas Hulot made the announcement as he unveiled a series of measures as part of newly elected President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to make the country carbon neutral by 2050. Mr Hulot said he recognised the target would put pressure on France’s car manufacturers, but he said they currently had projects which “can fulfil that promise”. As part of the plan, poorer households will receive a premium so they can swap their polluting vehicles for clean alternatives. The announcement comes after Volvo said on Wednesday it planned to built only electric and hybrid vehicles from 2019. Speaking at a press conference, Mr Hulot told reporters France would stop using coal to produce electricity by 2022 and that up to €4bn of investments will help to boost energy efficiency. The announcements are part of a five-year-plan to encourage clean energy and fulfil the country’s commitments under the Paris Agreement. Mr Hulot said the government wanted to maintain the country’s “leadership” in climate policy. “We want to demonstrate that fighting against climate change can lead to an improvement of French people’s daily lives,” he said.

Electric Cars Tested As Power Grid Stabilizers

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By Leslie Kaufman for Inside Climate News. California – In an important real-world test of whether electric vehicles could play a bigger role in backing up the green power grid of the future, a group of San Francisco-area drivers showed that they were willing and even eager to adjust their charging times for the right financial incentives. The small but sophisticated pilot test that took place over 18 months. During that time, BMW asked owners of its electric cars if they would be willing to delay recharging them by an hour on the company’s cue. An app notified the owners when a delay was coming, and they could opt out if they needed to charge at that time. “Eighteen months later, I can unequivocally state that participation was transparent, hassle-free and mind-numbingly dull to the point that I mostly forgot about it,” one participant, John Higham, wrote in a first person account of his experience for Inside EVs.

From Oslo To Vancouver, These Major Cities Have Plans To Go Car-Free

Oslo is one of 12 cities which plans to phase out cars in the near future. Image: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

By Leanna Garfield for TSS – In late 2016, Madrid’s Mayor Manuela Carmena reiterated her plan to kick personal cars out of the city center. On Spanish radio network Cadena Ser, she confirmed that Madrid’s main avenue, the Gran Vía, will only allow access to bikes, buses, and taxis before she leaves office in May 2019. It’s part of a larger effort to ban all diesel cars in Madrid by 2025. But the Spanish city is not the only one getting ready to take the car-free plunge. Urban planners and policy makers around the world have started to brainstorm ways that cities can create more space for pedestrians and lower CO2 emissions from diesel. Here are 12 cities leading the car-free movement. Oslo will implement its car ban by 2019. Oslo plans to permanently ban all cars from its city center by 2019 — six years before Norway’s country-wide ban would go into effect. The Norwegian capital will invest heavily in public transportation and replace 35 miles of roads previously dominated by cars with bike lanes. “The fact that Oslo is moving forward so rapidly is encouraging, and I think it will be inspiring if they are successful,” says Paul Steely White…

Electric Cars Could Save Billions In Healthcare Costs

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By Stephen Edelstein for Green Car Reports. It’s entirely obvious that internal-combustion cars pose a threat not only to the environment, but also to human health. Exhaust from gasoline and diesel cars contributes to air pollution that can lead to deleterious health effects after long exposure. Now a new study from the American Lung Association in California aims to quantify the health costs related to those exhaust emissions. It estimates that in 2015, the costs of internal-combustion cars on the health of residents in 10 selected states totaled $24 billion. Researchers analyzed health costs in the 10 “Zero-Emission Vehicle states” that have adopted California’s stricter emissions limits. Besides California, these states are Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

If China Can Fund Infrastructure With Credit, So Can We

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By Ellen Brown for the Web of Debt Blog. United States – May 15-19 has been designated “National Infrastructure Week” by the US Chambers of Commerce, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and over 150 affiliates. Their message: “It’s time to rebuild.” Ever since ASCE began issuing its “National Infrastructure Report Card” in 1998, the nation has gotten a dismal grade of D or D+. In the meantime, the estimated cost of fixing its infrastructure has gone up from $1.3 trillion to $4.6 trillion. While American politicians debate endlessly over how to finance the needed fixes and which ones to implement, the Chinese have managed to fund massive infrastructure projects all across their country, including 12,000 miles of high-speed rail built just in the last decade. How have they done it, and why can’t we?

Ten Tips To Make Every Day Earth Day

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By Lloyd Alter for Tree Hugger. Readers of a certain age will remember Pogo, the political satire strip that was probably the Doonesbury of the sixties. Walt Kelly did this great poster for the first Earth Day and really, nothing has changed. So many email pitches for green products, infographics and listicles (articles made of lists) come to me at TreeHugger. It is astounding, how many of them there are, and how trivial they can be. One that got me particularly cranked suggested that we could make a big difference in the state of the world by turning our TV brightness settings down and making the video game console go to sleep. A few years back, one of my sustainable design students asked what she could do to go green that did not involve buying replacement windows, electric cars or bamboo socks; Here is an Earth Day roundup of them, an update of an earlier version, listing the things that anyone can do.

VW’s Environmental Settlement Includes 400 EV Fast Charging Stations

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By James Ayre for Clean Technica – As part of its court settlements with with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Volkswagen will build around 400 electric vehicle fast-charging stations in the US, according to reports. The $2 billion settlement will see the majority of stations — to be comprised of 150 kW and 320 kW DC fast-chargers, around 5 chargers to a station — installed in metro areas with high expected demand for electric vehicles. Note that these are genuinely “fast charging” rates, much faster than current non-Tesla fast chargers. The first US high-power, superfast-charging station with 150 kW of power is currently being constructed for the EVgo charging network (visualizations of that station from EVgo below).

Trump Wants To Privatize Air Traffic Control

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By David Shepardson for Reuters. WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump is proposing to shift oversight of the U.S. air traffic control from the federal government to an independent group, according to budget documents released on Thursday. Trump, who called the U.S. air traffic control system “obsolete” in a meeting with airline executives last month, is proposing $16.2 billion for the Department of Transportation’s discretionary budget for fiscal year 2018, a reduction of 13 percent. Some Transportation Department budget items are paid through the highway gas tax fund. Privatization advocates argue that spinning off air traffic control into a non-government entity would allow for a more efficient system and rapid, cost-effective improvements of technology, in part by avoiding the government procurement process. Opponents, including some airlines, say the U.S. system is so large that privatization would not save money, and would drive up ticket costs and could create a national security risk.