Why automakers keep beating government standards
Scientific American, feat. John DeCicco
For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. automakers have exceeded the federal government’s requirements for greenhouse gas emissions, and they have also achieved record fuel efficiency. In two reports released last month, the EPA said that manufacturers had surpassed the emissions standards for 2015 passenger vehicles by an average of 7 grams of CO2 per mile. At the same time, fuel economy rose to an all-time high of 24.8 miles per gallon average. Thanks to these regulations, automakers have prevented emissions of 130 million metric tons of carbon dioxide—equivalent to a year’s worth of electricity use for 20 million homes.
Future cars will communicate with each other, making self-driving vehicles safer
Michigan Radio, feat. Huei Peng
It’s a persistent message: Self-driving cars are coming. Yet, before the roads are filled with cars steered entirely by computers, there’s much work to be done — especially when it comes to safety.
A grim reminder of that happened this past May when a man driving a Tesla became the first to die while using autopilot mode. He was watching a DVD when his car plowed into a tractor-trailer that was crossing its path.
That accident sent a message to the engineers who are developing this technology: get it right and make it safe.
Take the long view on environmental issues in the Age of Trump
EOS, feat. Richard Rood
Donald Trump will be the next president. What will this mean for the environment?
Normally, we rely on a politician’s past behavior to frame the future. However, we do not have any record of environmental policy or practice on which to base an analysis of what to expect. Our best information relies on the appointments to his transition team and interpretation of statements he made in the latter part of his campaign.
Judging by these appointments and statements, I see a strong chance that President Obama’s climate policy will be rapidly disassembled. How do we face this head-on?
Over 2,000 scientists urge Trump to respect ‘scientific integrity and independence’
The Washington Post, feat. Mark Barteau
Call it the opening shot in a brewing war over scientific integrity in the future Trump administration.
More than 2,300 scientists, including 22 Nobel Prize winners, have issued an open letter to President-elect Donald Trump and the 115th Congress, urging them to “adhere to high standards of scientific integrity and independence in responding to current and emerging public health and environmental health threats.”
Trump adds renewable energy advocate to DOE team
President-elect Donald Trump has added another team member to the so-called landing team expected to shepherd the Energy Department’s transition.
On Friday, the transition team announced that Kelly Mitchell, a Michigan Republican and a sales account manager at Multi Automatic Tool and Supply Co., will be joining the DOE team. The landing teams are expected to interview top agency officials and help formulate a policy agenda for the new administration.
Want to see why Trump will struggle to save the coal industry? Look at Michigan.
All year, Donald Trump has been promising to rescue the US coal industry by repealing various Obama-era pollution rules and ending the “war on coal.” And all year, analysts have pointed out that he probably can’t stop the collapse of the coal industry — since coal’s woes go far beyond the Environmental Protection Agency.
But if you want a perfect example of why Trump will struggle to bring back coal, just look at Michigan.
Last weekend, the CEO of Michigan’s largest electric utility reiterated that his company is still planning to retire eight of its nine remaining coal plants by 2030 — whether or not Trump tries to repeal President Obama’s climate policies. “All of those retirements are going to happen regardless of what Trump may or may not do with the Clean Power Plan,” DTE Energy’s Gerry Anderson told MLive.com’s Emily Lawler.
Trump faces dilemma as U.S. oil reels from record biofuels targets
The Obama administration signed its final plan for renewable fuel use in the United States last week, leaving an oil industry reeling from the most aggressive biofuel targets yet as President-elect Donald Trump takes over.
The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, signed into law by President George W. Bush, is one of the country’s most controversial energy policies. It requires energy firms to blend ethanol and biodiesel into gasoline and diesel.
The policy was designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce U.S. reliance on oil imports and boost rural economies that provide the crops for biofuels.
It has pitted two of Trump’s support bases against each other: Big Oil and Big Corn. The farming sector has lobbied hard for the maximum biofuel volumes laid out in the law to be blended into gasoline motor fuels, while the oil industry argues that the program creates additional costs.
Three turbine manufacturers provide more than 75% of U.S. wind capacity
U.S. Energy Information Administration
EIA recently started collecting data on wind turbine manufacturers, turbine models, and other wind plant attributes in the Annual Electric Generator Report. As of the end of 2015, just three manufacturers— General Electric (GE), Vestas, and Siemens—accounted for 55 gigawatts (GW), or 76%, of installed wind generating capacity in the United States. Of the 8.2 GW of total wind capacity installed in 2015, these three companies’ combined share is even greater, representing more than 92% of new capacity in 2015.