California bill could ban all new fossil-fueled cars by 2040

January 4, 2018 by  
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California could ban all new fossil fuel cars from 2040 under a bill introduced this week by Assemblymember Phil Ting , a Democrat of San Francisco. If it passes, the Clean Cars 2040 act would require all new cars sold in the state to be zero emissions vehicles. Ting said in a statement , “We’re at an inflection point: we’ve got to address the harmful emissions that cause climate change .” AB 1745, or the Clean Cars 2040 Act, would require every passenger vehicle sold in California to be zero emissions after January 1, 2040. Ting said fossil fuel vehicles are responsible for almost 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, so “achieving the goal of electrification of transportation is crucial for the health of our people and the planet.” NextGen America president Tom Steyer said polluting cars are California’s biggest source of carbon emissions . The bill would not apply to commercial vehicles greater than 10,000 pounds, just passenger cars. It also wouldn’t apply to cars owned by people in other states moving to California. Related: Scotland to phase out new gas and diesel cars by 2032 California hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent under 1990 levels by 2030. Governor Jerry Brown aims to have 1.5 million zero emission cars on the streets by 2025, and there are almost 300,000 EVs registered in CA already. But the state still has a ways to go: the San Francisco Chronicle said in 2016 that while 2.1 million new cars were sold, only 1.9 percent of those were zero emissions. The bill already has support from some environmental groups. Earthjustice staff attorney Adrian Martinez said in Ting’s statement, “Reducing fossil fuels emissions should be California’s highest priority. With this legislation, California will be taking combustion polluting vehicles off the road…helping us to finally address air pollution and better equipping us to combat climate change. I urge our state’s leaders to pass this important legislation.” Via Assemblymember Phil Ting , the San Francisco Chronicle , and Engadget Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 , 3 )

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California bill could ban all new fossil-fueled cars by 2040

2017: the year climate change spiraled out of control

January 4, 2018 by  
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With its extreme weather and unraveling public policy, 2017 provided the world with a glimpse of its climate-chaotic future if changes are not made immediately. Ferocious wildfires burned across California, back-to-back major hurricanes devastated coastal and even inland areas, and the Arctic continued to melt. All the while, Washington DC took action to halt the marginal but meaningful progress made under the Obama Administration by withdrawing from the Paris agreement and stacking the Environmental Protection Agency with those who would serve the interests of industry first. In what is yet another warning sign in a long line of alarm bells ringing, 2017 served as a reminder that the disruptive power of climate change is real and that our failure to act will cost us dearly, today and tomorrow. Although global emissions had remained flat for three years prior, 2017 marked a return to form, with greenhouse gas emissions rising by two percent. While the United States , despite its change in leadership, maintained a slight decline in emissions, this was more than offset by increases in China and India. This continued rise means that in order to meet the emissions goals to avoid catastrophic climate change, substantial cuts will need to be made quickly over the next few decades. Meanwhile, the worst-case climate-change scenarios predicted by scientists seem to be increasingly likely, according to a recent study published in the journal Nature . Related: Climate change is squishing the Earth and making oceans heavier If the numbers aren’t convincing, the visceral experience of 2017 should make clear the dangers of climate change. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria devastated the United States and the Caribbean, leaving much of Puerto Rico still without power and over $200 billion in damages during what was the costliest hurricane season in history. On the other side of North America, wildfires raged in what was also the costliest wildfire season on record. While climate change doesn’t cause wildfires or hurricanes, it creates the conditions that facilitate extreme weather. Meanwhile, the Arctic continues to melt as scientists declare that the region is no longer reliably frozen due to a downward spiral of warming temperatures. The world is not doomed to this climate catastrophe. However, time is rapidly running out. Via MIT Technology Review Images via Depositphotos (1)

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2017: the year climate change spiraled out of control

Ireland set to ban fracking after both houses of Parliament pass bill

July 3, 2017 by  
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Ireland is one signature away from banning hydraulic fracturing, or fracking . After the country’s House of Representatives, the Dáil Éireann, passed a fracking ban the end of May, Ireland’s Senate, the Seanad Éireann, followed suit the end of June. Now the bill just needs Irish President Michael Higgins’ signature before Ireland bids farewell to the controversial practice. “We’ve made history,” said Fine Gael TD Tony McLoughlin, who introduced the bill, after the vote. President Higgins is expected to sign the bill “in the coming days,” according to the Fine Gael Party . France, Bulgaria, and Germany are the only other European Union states to have banned the practice onshore so far. Related: Ireland votes to be world’s first country to fully divest from fossil fuels “Fracking must be seen as a serious public health and environmental concern for Ireland,” McLoughlin said in a statement. “If fracking was allowed to take place in Ireland and Northern Ireland it would pose significant threats to the air, water, and the health and safety of individuals and communities here.” According to The Irish Times, politicians across the political spectrum in Ireland supported the bill. A public consultation earlier in 2017 drew 8,000 submissions, with just one opposing the ban. Environmental activists touted the bill as protecting people, the environment, and water quality in the country. There are large shale deposits in multiple counties in Ireland such as Sligo and Leitrim, the counties McLoughlin represents. Irish communities will be safe from the negative impacts of fracking seen in towns and cities in the United States, according to McLoughlin, where states are beginning to consider fracking bans . Earlier this year Maryland joined Vermont and New York to ban fracking , and they were the first state with gas reserves to do so. Via The Irish Times and EcoWatch Images via Friends of the Earth Ireland and greensefa on Flickr

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Ireland set to ban fracking after both houses of Parliament pass bill

Indiana governor delivers blow to solar industry

May 4, 2017 by  
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The solar industry provides three times as many jobs in the state of Indiana as natural gas, but governor Eric Holcomb doesn’t seem to care. Despite Department of Energy statistics that show the industry’s potential benefits to his constituents, Holcomb just signed a bill reducing incentives for solar power , impacting both installers and customers. Holcomb signed Senate Bill 309 this week. It’s better than a previous variant, which would have treated homeowners as power plants and consumers simultaneously, requiring them to sell all of the power generated on their own rooftops at the wholesale rate, around four cents per kilowatt-hour (kwh), and then buy it back at the retail rate of about 11 cents per kwh. That version didn’t go through; but the new bill hits net metering , or the opportunity for homeowners to sell excess energy at the retail rate in Indiana. Now they can only sell it at just above the wholesale rate. Related: Solar power now provides twice as many jobs as coal in U.S. That’s not all. Utilities can now charge those homeowners with rooftop solar an extra fee for “energy delivery costs.” Some people think the bill’s ambiguous language also ends net metering entirely for people obtaining power from community solar, or those leasing their panels. People who get rooftop solar installed after 2022 won’t be able to benefit from net metering at all; neither will those people who replace or expand the system they have now after 2017. The public were against the bill, according to Hoosier Environmental Council executive director Jesse Kharbanda who said, “Ask Republicans , ‘What kind of feedback are you getting from your constituents?’ They’ll tell us that they have gotten dozens and dozens of calls opposing the bill, but zero supporting the bill.” Solar installer Paul Steury of Indiana-based Photon Electric said the law could hurt sales since it’s stripped away incentives. He said he knows many representatives who didn’t listen to the people. Indiana rooftop solar owner Lanette Erby told Nexus Media, “We’re currently on an inverter with the electric company, but obviously if the net metering bill were to go through, we’d be purchasing battery backups. That’s where we’re at. The same kind of legislation killed the solar industry in a couple of other states…which is terrible because it’s creating so many jobs.” Via Nexus Media Images via Rectify Solar Facebook

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Architects envision a bright new future for Milan’s abandoned railways

May 4, 2017 by  
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Five international studios recently unveiled exciting plans to revitalize seven disused rail yards in Milan, Italy. MAD Architects , EMBT , Stefano Boeri Architects , Cino Zucchi Architetti and Mecanoo reimagined the brownfield sites as beautiful green spaces with social housing and green transportation systems. MAD Architects focused on incorporating sustainable mobility in their design. The team envisioned an entire ecosystem of cycle lanes, footpaths, and pedestrian-friendly spaces that connect different spatial concepts dedicated to different functions. Related: MAD offers up two design proposals for Lucas Museum: one for SF, one for LA Miralles Tagliabue EMBT designed a project named Miracoli a Milano (Miracles in Milan) that includes an area devoted to creativity, one that focuses on education, one dedicated to leisure and entertainment, and a zone for emerging, innovative start-up companies . Stefano Boeri Architects proposed an urban reforestation project for the city. The proposal would transform 90% of the site area into public lawns, woods, green spaces, and orchards interconnected by a sustainable mobility network. Related: UNESCO announces winning design for the Bamiyan Cultural Center in Afghanistan Dutch firm Mecanoo designed seven mobility hubs where trains, subway lines, trams and busses would meet and link to other local and regional hubs. Cino Zucchi Architetti designed a proposal that references the traditional Brolo wooded garden. They replicated the flexibility of this space and envisioned different sites as distinctive environments dominated by greenery. + MAD Architects + Miralles Tagliabue EMBT + Stefano Boeri Architects + Cino Zucchi Architetti + Mecanoo Via Dezeen

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Architects envision a bright new future for Milan’s abandoned railways

California introduces its own 100% renewable energy bill

February 22, 2017 by  
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Massachusetts recently introduced a bill to derive 100 percent of the state’s energy from renewables , and now California is following suit. A new bill introduced by state Senate leader Kevin de León would require the state to obtain 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045. Under de León’s bill, SB 584 , California would need to reach 50 percent renewable energy use by 2025, five years earlier than the state’s current target of 2030, and cease using fossil fuels completely by 2045. Related: Massachusetts lawmakers sponsor 100% renewable energy bill In 2016, the state obtained 27 percent of electricity via wind , solar, and other clean sources, and California’s deserts offer potential spaces for more renewable energy plants. The solar industry has created 100,000 jobs in California. Experts say the state could reach the 100 percent goal since costs for solar and wind power are falling – in many areas of the state solar is already the cheapest option, according to The Desert Sun. Some people wondered if de León’s bill as a reaction to Donald Trump’s energy policies. Large-scale Solar Association president Jim Woodruff, who worked with de León on the legislation, told The Desert Sun, “Whether it’s a direct response to what’s happening in Washington, I don’t know, but it’s certainly an indication that California will continue to lead in this area. It’s the sixth-largest economy in the world. I think by putting these goals out, it’s making a pretty powerful statement, not only in the U.S., but globally, that if we set out the goals and put the resources to it, those goals can be achieved.” The Desert Sun said it’s not yet clear if de León will move forward with the bill; as he filed it right before the state’s deadline to file bills on Friday, it could act as a placeholder until legislation more detailed can be written. Massachusetts recently introduced a similar bill , but it’s slightly more ambitious than California’s. Under the 100 Percent Renewable Energy Act , Massachusetts would transition to obtaining all their electricity from renewable energy by 2035, and would grant sectors like heating and transportation a 2050 deadline. The California bill gives its state’s electricity sector an extra ten years to reach that 100 percent target. Via The Desert Sun Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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California introduces its own 100% renewable energy bill

Secluded Thai home converted into a luxury lodge with an elephant lookout

February 22, 2017 by  
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Tucked into the green hills of Chiang Mai, Thailand, Hill Lodge was originally built as a private home for a nature-loving family. But the new owners wanted something new, so they commissioned Bangkok-based SOOK Architects to convert the wooden bungalows into a guest lodge. The team completed the luxury renovation using locally-sourced materials and craftsmanship, ensuring ample opportunities to spot the local wildlife. The complex, comprised of three bungalows and a hut, was originally designed for family use, but due to its popularity among visitors, the family decided to revamp the complex into a resort. The project began with a reorganization of the layout, converting the main timber hut into a restaurant, lobby, and office space. The remaining buildings have been designated as four bungalow suites, a large three-bedroom bungalow, and 2-3 houses for employees and their families. All of the guests have access to a cantilevered elephant lookout. Related: Take refuge in this off-grid bungalow tucked into the lush Mexican forest Although most of the complex was completely updated, the architects stayed true to the traditional Siamese vernacular architecture found in the original design. The redesign also focused on creating a strategic layout in order to provide views from almost every angle, all while respecting the site’s existing natural landscape. During the construction process, the architects worked with local carpenters to complete the renovation, which, due to the sloping topography, was quite complicated. The materials had to be shaped just precisely to enable easy and quick transportation through the dense forest. To facilitate transportation, steel was chosen to frame the buildings. This also enabled the architects to create the extended timber-clad volumes and cantilevered forms. On the interior, all of the bungalows have wooden walls, flooring, and roof shingles, all made by local craftsman. + SOOK Architects Via Platforma Arquitecture Photographs via Spaceshift Studio

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Secluded Thai home converted into a luxury lodge with an elephant lookout

Massachusetts lawmakers sponsor 100% renewable energy bill

February 15, 2017 by  
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Massachusetts could become the first state in America to be powered entirely by renewable energy . Lawmakers recently introduced a bill that would require an economy-wide transition to obtaining power via clean sources like wind and solar, and 53 state legislators from both the House and the Senate have shown support for the measure. The bill, SD. 1932 , also known as the 100 Percent Renewable Energy Act, would set targets of electricity generation via 100 percent renewables by 2035; other sectors like transportation and heating would have until 2050 to make the switch. Over a quarter of legislature members in Massachusetts have now cosponsored the bill, which has been promoted by environmental advocacy group Environment Massachusetts . The organization’s state director Ben Hellerstein said in a statement, “Now is the time for Massachusetts to go big on clean energy . Getting to 100 percent renewable energy is 100 percent possible – and it’s 100 percent necessary.” Related: San Diego to become largest U.S. city to run on 100% renewable energy State Senator Jamie Eldridge, one of three legislators who first filed the bill, pointed out that even if the Trump administration refuses to act on climate change , states can wage their own war. He said in a statement, “Massachusetts has been a leader on alternative energy policy for over a decade, and now with federal assaults on efforts to combat climate change, it will be up to individual states to protect the environmental and health interests of the public.” The bill would launch a Clean Energy Workforce Development Fund to provide employment in renewable technologies; part of the fund would go towards shifting fossil fuel workers into clean fuel jobs . SD. 1932 would also complement Massachusetts’ 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act, which calls for the state to lower carbon emissions by 80 percent under 1990 levels by 2050. The bill’s not law yet, but with so much support from Massachusetts lawmakers, a 100 percent clean energy commitment appears promising. Via Environment Massachusetts Images via Doc Searles on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Public rejects bill that would have sold 3 million acres of public land

February 3, 2017 by  
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This year Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah introduced a bill to sell off of 3.3 million acres of public land from 10 different states. The measure could have proceeded, but Americans resoundingly spoke out to fight the bill – and Chaffetz listened. This week he wrote: “I hear you and HR 621 dies tomorrow.” https://www.instagram.com/p/BP_zOxEF0-Q/ Chaffetz’s bill, HR 621, would have sold off land in Utah, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, and Nebraska. He first introduced the bill in 2013, and a poll conducted around then revealed 72 percent of voters residing in western states wouldn’t be as likely to vote for a candidate who backed the idea of selling public lands to make a dent in the deficit, which was one of Chaffetz’s proposals in HR 621. Related: Congress maneuvers to give away 640 million acres of American land When he reintroduced the bill in 2017, people made their voices heard. Many called representatives and posted on social media using the hashtag #keepitpublic to say they were against the bill. Chaffetz, who described himself as a gun owner and hunter who loves public lands in an Instagram post , responded to the public pressure. While he said the bill would only have sold small land parcels President Clinton “identified as serving no public purpose,” he said groups he supports feared the bill didn’t send the right message. Many people expressed their gratitude but also called for Chaffetz to withdraw HR 622 as well, which according to the representative “removes the law enforcement function from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service. Instead, the bill calls for deputizing local law enforcement, combined with block grant funding, to empower existing duly elected law enforcement offices to carry out these responsibilities.” Via The Wilderness Society Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Public rejects bill that would have sold 3 million acres of public land

Lead pipes in Flint, Michigan are finally being replaced

December 12, 2016 by  
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Months after the Flint , Michigan water crisis emerged, residents still can’t obtain clean drinking water straight from their taps. That may be set to change as the Senate just passed a bill providing $170 million to replace lead -contaminated pipes in the beleaguered city. But the victory could come at the cost of environmental harm in California . Policymakers inserted a rider, or addition, to the bill allowing more Bay-Delta estuary water to irrigate farms, which some environmentalists fear could harm estuary wildlife . Many Flint residents have been waiting for safe, clean water since 2014. With federal government money, the city is expected to replace 29,000 service lines. Although 96 percent of samples from high-risk Flint houses met federal standards for lead, according to state officials speaking this month, the crisis has not yet been fully resolved. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said people will only be confident in the water when old lead infrastructure is replaced. The new government money could enable the city to at last put any fears to rest. Related: 6 Michigan state workers charged with misconduct over the Flint Water Crisis But not everyone is pleased with the Senate legislation. The bill providing relief to Flint includes an addition allowing more Bay-Delta water to irrigate drought-afflicted farms. According to The Guardian, the bill could make way for new desalination projects and dams. As she spoke against the bill, California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer said, “You’re destroying the Endangered Species Act,” but California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who wrote the bill with California Republican congressman Kevin McCarthy, said the legislation was the best they could do after working for three years. The organization Defenders of Wildlife issued a statement saying the rider hurt wildlife like Delta smelt and salmon. Scott Slesinger, Natural Resources Defense Council legislative director, also condemned the bill. He said in a statement , “Federal funding to help begin fixing the pipes at the heart of the Flint water crisis is shamefully overdue. This is a start, but far more is needed to fix Flint and ensure safe drinking water to communities across America. We should not have to trade delinquent Congressional action in Michigan for the erosion of endangered species protection and a threat to fishing jobs in California, but that is the result of the partisan games at play in this bill.” Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons and Mitch Barrie on Flickr

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Lead pipes in Flint, Michigan are finally being replaced

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