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San Francisco Seeks 100% Electric Bus Fleet by 2035
On Tuesday, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SF Muni) Board of Directors passed a resolution to begin procuring zero emission battery buses to replace electric hybrid vehicles by 2025, with a goal of achieving a 100 percent electric bus fleet by 2035. The resolution allows SF Muni to catch up to other Californian transit agencies from Los Angeles to Stockton that have already started switching their bus fleets to zero-emissions electric buses.
The resolution comes after a coalition of community, environmental and labor groups delivered a joint letter to SF Muni decision-makers last month, urging them to go electric.
"Today, I am a proud San Franciscan. Despite our city's history of being on the vanguard of environmental protection and clean technology, our transit system had fallen behind, relying on dirty diesel buses for too long. Along with our labor, community, and environmental partners, Earthjustice's Right to Zero campaign strongly supports the transition of our SF Muni bus fleet to zero emission, battery-electric buses," said Paul Cort, staff attorney at Earthjustice, who delivered the letter to SF Muni in April.
"It's terrific that SFMTA is taking concrete steps to get battery-powered zero emissions buses on the ground in San Francisco," said Nick Josefowitz, who represents San Francisco at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. "Upgrading to clean buses is good news for our air quality, reduces our carbon footprint and will deliver far more reliable Muni bus service."
Seven other Californian transit agencies—representing almost one-third of all public buses in California—have already committed to making a full transition to zero-emission buses in the past year. Back in its 2004 "Clean Air Plan—Zero Emissions 2020," SF Muni itself boldly announced its visionary goal "to be the first major transit agency in the world to operate a 100 percent zero-emission fleet by the year 2020." The resolution passed by SF Muni finally sets that plan in motion, prompting the agency to begin procurement of electric buses.
A worker at BYD's California electric bus factoryBYD
"While this is a good start, SFMTA must move faster, ensure its planned 2023 procurement is 100% electric, and plan for the infrastructure to make that happen," said Alex Lantsberg, Director of Research and Advocacy for the San Francisco Electrical Construction Industry. "As of September of 2017, 107 battery-electric and fuel cell buses were already driving people to work, school and home in over 20 transit fleets across California, with thousands of Californian workers manufacturing them. It is no longer an excuse to say this technology isn't ready—because people are already building and benefiting from electric buses throughout our state."
The commitment to a zero-emissions fleet comes after SF Muni committed last month to testing nine battery electric buses. Those first electric buses are expected to hit the streets in fall 2018. The pilot program will evaluate how electric buses perform on crowded and hilly routes, and allow staff to evaluate the facility upgrades needed to support an all-electric fleet. The Bay Area's own electric bus manufacturer Proterra recently took one of their buses on a record 1,100-mile trip on a single charge and on a trip along Utah's steepest mountain highways.
Workers build an electric bus on Proterra's California assemblylineProterra
"SF Muni is going to be pleasantly surprised by how well these electric buses will perform in San Francisco's steep and hilly neighborhoods," said Jimmy O'Dea, senior vehicles analyst with Union of Concerned Scientists. "Electrifying buses is a big step forward in the local and global fight against the worst impacts of climate change. SF Muni's commitment to battery electric buses means that by 2035 buses on San Francisco's streets will have 40 percent lower life cycle greenhouse gas emissions than the diesel buses currently on the road."
SF Muni's current bus fleet consists of mostly diesel and diesel-electric hybrid buses. The health impacts of diesel particulate matter are well-known. In 1998, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) identified diesel particulate matter as a toxic air contaminant based on published evidence of a relationship between diesel exhaust exposure and lung cancer and other adverse health effects.
"There's no reason we should be running dirty, polluting buses in our communities when we have better, cleaner options," said Emily Rusch, executive director of CALPIRG. "Whether commuters are on the bus or boarding the bus, they're exposed to toxic air in high concentrations, while simultaneously, diesel contributes to global warming. We have the technology to avoid this, so why wouldn't we?"
The resolution also comes as CARB is developing strategies to transition all Californian transit agencies to zero-emissions vehicles to meet air quality, climate and public health protection goals. The long-term vision of CARB's Innovation Clean Transit (ICT) effort is to achieve a zero-emission transit system across California by 2040—five years after SF Muni's 100 percent electrification goal.
"CARB's Innovative Clean Transit rule should be a huge signal to every transit agency in the state that our future is zero-emissions electric vehicles—not just because battery electric is the best option for our climate, but because it is best for our communities," said Eddie Ahn, executive director of Brightline Defense. "Californian communities—especially those most impacted by poor air quality—are demanding absolutely zero-emissions transit powered by clean energy. Because anything more than zero emissions means more air pollution for our families."
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Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.