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12 Reasons Bicycling Will Continue to Soar in Popularity

By Jay Walljasper

For too long biking has been viewed skeptically as a white-people thing, a big city thing, an ultra-fit athlete thing, a twenty-something thing, a warm weather thing or an upper-middle-class thing. And above all else, it's seen as a guy thing.

But guess what? The times, they are a-changin'. More than 100 million Americans rode a bike in 2014, and bicycles have out-sold cars most years in the U.S. since 2003.

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Air Pollution Puts Health of Unborn Babies at Risk, Study Shows

We already know that air pollution is bad for our lungs, but a new study shows that air pollution can even harm a baby that hasn't left the womb.

Researchers at Imperial College London have found an association between exposure to road traffic pollution and an increased risk of low birth weights at term.

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Los Angeles traffic. Luke Jones / Flickr

Why Transportation Is Now the Top Source of U.S. Pollution

With the holidays coming around, it may be a good time to note that the countless miles that Americans will drive, train or fly has a big planetary impact.

In fact, the transportation sector is now the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., unseating electricity production for the first time in four decades.

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In Cities Across the Country, Driving Electric Is Cheaper Than Gasoline

It's much cheaper to charge a car than fill it with gasoline, according to the study Going from Pump to Plug: Adding up the Savings from Electric Vehicles, released by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) Tuesday. The analysis compared electricity rates and gasoline prices in 57 cities around the country. The study shows that electric vehicle (EV) drivers could save from $440 to more than $1,070 a year compared to the cost of fueling the average new gasoline-powered vehicle.

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Renewable Energy

Scientists Are Closer to Making Solar-Powered Jets a Reality

By Tim Radford

Swiss scientists are closer to making solar-powered jets a reality. They now know how to make jet fuel out of air, sunlight and water.

With a high temperature solar reactor fashioned from a helpful ceramic, they split carbon dioxide and water to make carbon monoxide and hydrogen, known as syngas or synthetic natural gas, with oxygen as the only exhaust.

They then handed the compressed syngas to chemists in Amsterdam who used a standard industrial process to turn the syngas into kerosene, the fuel that flies jumbo jets around the world.

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Would More People Ride the Bus if It Looked and Felt Like a Train?

By Jeff Turrentine

It moves through city thoroughfares, towering above automobile traffic. It makes frequent stops to pick up and drop off passengers. It has places to sit, places to stand, and—yes—rubber-tired wheels that go 'round and 'round, all through the town.

But don't call it a bus. It's a "trackless electric train."

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The 40-stall "Mega" Supercharger station in Kettleman City, California. Tesla

Tesla Opens Largest U.S. Supercharger Stations to Date and That's a Big Deal

Range anxiety—the fear that an electric vehicle has an insufficient charge to reach its destination—is one of the most common, but fair, concerns about EVs. Just think, what if you and your car get stuck in the middle of a desert and have nowhere close by to juice up? Ultimately, if we want to spread the adoption of zero-emission vehicles, then we're going to have to make them easier to charge.

That's why Tesla's latest additions to its Supercharger network is kind of a big deal. On Wednesday, the electric automaker revealed it has opened its largest Supercharger stations in the U.S. to date, according to a news release provided to EcoWatch. The 40-stall stations in Kettleman City, Calif. and Baker, Calif. each feature covered solar parking and the Tesla Powerpack System.

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Seven States Take Big Next Step on Climate: Here’s the What, Why and How

By Ken Kimmell

On Monday, Nov. 13, a bi-partisan group of seven states (New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware and Vermont), and the District of Columbia announced that they will seek public input on how to craft a regional solution to greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, now the largest source of CO2 emissions in the region. An announcement to conduct listening sessions may not sound like a big deal, but it is. Here's why:

First, this region has been successful at reducing emissions from the electric sector, but transportation is lagging behind, as this graph shows:

Energy Information Administration Data

All of these states have committed to economy-wide goals that will be impossible to reach without ambitious policies to reduce pollution from transportation. Monday's statement demonstrates that policy leaders understand that transportation is the next major frontier in the fight against global warming in the Northeast.

Second, a public conversation is necessary. For several years, these states have talked internally through their departments of energy, environment and transportation, about how to cut transportation emissions. When I served as a commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, I was part of those conversations, and they have yielded a number of promising ideas.

But policies that are truly worthy and lasting can't be hatched in isolation from the public. Public engagement is needed to get the best ideas out on the table, test assumptions, gauge political support and persuade the skeptical. The states' announcement shows that the states are serious, and that they are going about this in the right way.

Third, once the states announce a goal (as they have done here), and encourage the public to provide input to it, they create the expectation that action will follow: doing nothing becomes a much harder option. Once these listening sessions begin region wide, as they already have in Massachusetts, state leaders will see that their constituents want clean, affordable transportation, and that they are prepared to invest in that. Thus, the conversation will change from "whether" to implement a regional solution to "how" to do so.

In this regard, it is intriguing that on the day of the announcement, the states also released a white paper on one particularly promising approach—a regional "cap and invest" program. A cap and invest program would build upon this region's success with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which has helped to dramatically lower emissions from the electric sector while creating jobs and reducing consumer costs.

The program would set an overall cap on regional transportation emissions, require fuel distributors to purchase "allowances" for the right to sell polluting fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel, and re-invest the proceeds in improved mass transit, electric cars and buses, affordable housing located near transportation centers, and other proven ways to make clean transportation available to all. The white paper does an excellent job of identifying how such a scheme would work under our existing fuel distribution network. (For more information on this approach, read my op-ed and the blog by my colleague Dan Gatti).

I encourage Union of Concerned Scientists members and the public to attend these listening sessions and publicly support a bold regional solution. And I applaud the leaders of these states for taking a critical next step. State leadership, particularly when it is bi-partisan, is the way that the U.S. can best stay on track to meet its climate goals and assure an anxious world that we are still in the fight, notwithstanding the Trump administration's abdication of leadership.

Ken Kimmell is president of the Union of Concerned Scientists and has more than 30 years of experience in government, environmental policy, and advocacy.

Energy
An electric bus in London. Domdomegg / Wikimedia Commons

Electric Bus Was Killed Off 100 Years Ago

By Kieran Cooke

The electric bus would have let Londoners enjoy clean air early in the twentieth century, saving millions of people from breathing problems and premature death, but dishonesty and double-dealing promoted the internal combustion engine instead.

The world is only now slowly waking up to the scale of the problem. Air pollution caused by fumes from the hundreds of thousands of vehicles on our roads is one of the big killers of the modern age, especially in cities, and is, along with climate change, a serious threat to the future of the planet.

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