Climate Change

After decades of overrunning Southern landscapes, the much maligned kudzu vine has found its way to Northeast Ohio. Although the short growing season in the Great Lakes region largely prevents the plant from flowering, and thus producing rapidly, a botanist with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History worries that potentially milder winters as a result of climate change could change that equation. 

Stateline Midwest ~ January 2012

The benefits of using biomass residuals — the byproducts from activities such as agriculture and forestry — as an energy source are clear for the Midwest.

The New Hampshire State Senate voted 18-6 to amend the state's cap and trade program, witch is part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), to allow utility companies more control over the use of auction proceeds for energy efficiency. The bill also changes a consumer rebate formula that would slightly decrease monthly rates for consumers. The bill now goes to the House, where leaders are unsure of its prospects as their body passed legislation requiring a repeal of the entire cap and trade program rather than just changing administrative functions.

TransCanada has faced many hurdles in its multi-year effort to get a new 1,700-mile oil pipeline built. But this fall, the energy infrastructure company ran up against perhaps its stiffest opposition yet — from concerned residents and lawmakers in the state of Nebraska.

The West is running out of water … well, almost. Northwestern and Northcentral Western states are seeing an increase in precipitation and the Southwestern and Southcentral areas are, as expected, experiencing decreased rain. Add to this a temperature increase of five to seven degrees Fahrenheit in key river basins, a lower-than-predicted snowpack—a key feeder of Western water—and you end up with the perfect mixture of short-term events and long-term impacts that are likely to decrease Western stream flow up to 20 percent across several river basins. This session focused on the critical issue of Western water, how states can work and are working together, and what the federal government is doing to assist.

The fairness of charging motorists a mileage fee to help pay for road repairs… The state of the nation’s bridges… The economic impact of the transportation construction industry… How to win public support for road pricing... The keys to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from freight transportation... All are the subjects of recent reports and studies. Here’s a roundup of those reports, along with an update on public-private partnerships.

This Act requires the state department of community, trade, and economic development to implement a strategic plan to enhance energy efficiency in and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from homes, buildings, districts, and neighborhoods. It directs the department and the state building code council to convene a work group to develop the plan. The Act requires the state energy code be designed to accelerate construction of energy efficient homes and buildings which help achieve a broad goal of building zero fossil-fuel greenhouse gas emission homes and buildings by the year 2031.

According to The Council of State Governments Eastern Regional Conference staff, this Act generally creates an "Efficiency Trust" to develop funding sources to pay to weatherize all residential buildings and half of commercial buildings in the state by 2030, which is in line with the state‘s greenhouse-gas reduction goals.

The SSL Committee published a draft of Wyoming Chapter 30 of 2008 about Carbon Sequestration in the 2010 SSL Volume. This draft Act expands upon the Wyoming legislation by including eminent domain provisions about construction and operation of such a facility, including installation of pipelines to transport carbon dioxide. This Act also addresses long term liability by transferring ownership of such facilities to the state 10 years (or other time period adopted by rule) after a facility closes. Finally, the Act establishes a Carbon Dioxide Geologic Storage Trust Fund, funded by fees and penalties, to provide for long-term operation and maintenance of facilities.

I’ve written a fair amount over the last year or so about the intersection of transportation and the environment in public policy, about Sustainable Communities and Smart Growth, about Climate Change and Transportation and about Green Transportation. Several new reports on related issues have come across my desk in recent weeks. Here’s a rundown.

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