Update on AC Transit Cuts

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Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Last night, AC Transit’s board of directors voted unanimously to slash night and weekend bus service in an effort to reduce the projected $40 million budget deficit.

Thirty-nine “minor” weekend routes are on the chopping block, but most major weekend routes will be left intact.

Four of the six all night buses will disappear. The only surviving lines will be the 800 and the 801.

According to Berkeleyside, 9 weekend services will be eliminated in Berkeley – the 1R, 7, 12, 25, 49, 52, 65, 67 and the Transbay F.

Another decision on paratransit services was postponed.

The full set of cuts should be posted on the AC Transit site soon.

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Noelle has previously written about the challenges facing AC Transit – AC Transit Cuts (5/25/10), AC Transit Cuts, Part 2 (6/2/10), and AC Transit Cuts, Part 3 (7/8/2010).

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Assorted Links

Greentech Media discusses the ongoing infighting between the solar and energy efficiency sectors.

The coal industry costs more money than it creates in West Virginia.

Earth2Tech says we should all be watching the Texas smart meter market, not California.

Is Wal-Mart going green or greenwashing?

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You can read our post on Greenwashing here.

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The Koch Brothers and AB 32

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I have previously posted about AB 32 and Prop 23.

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Today, the New York Times published an editorial about the coalition of oil and gas companies and climate change skeptics that are trying to kill it through Prop 23.

…a well-financed coalition of right-wing ideologues, out-of-state oil and gas companies and climate-change skeptics is seeking to effectively kill that law with an initiative on the November state ballot. The money men include Charles and David Koch, the Kansas oil and gas billionaires who have played a prominent role in financing the Tea Party movement.

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The prospect that these rules could reduce gasoline consumption strikes terror into some energy companies. A large chunk of the $8.2 million raised in support of the ballot proposition has come from just two Texas-based oil and gas companies, Valero and Tesoro, which have extensive operations in California. The Koch brothers have contributed about $1 million, partly because they worry about damage to the bottom line at Koch Industries, and also because they believe that climate change is a left-wing hoax.

You can read the entire editorial on the New York Times website.

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Hot Water, Lights, and Solar as a Service?

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A number of start-up companies are trying to formulate a business model that sells hot water, lights, air conditioning, and solar power as a service.

The rationale is that the folks occupying buildings don’t necessarily want to own the equipment that produces hot water, light, cool air, or solar power, but they do want the end result.

The current model is that the companies (such as Skyline Innovations and Metrus Energy) retrofit commercial and industrial buildings, retain ownership of the equipment, and then charge a fee for the energy avoided. Because the fee is almost always less than the cost of the energy avoided, and because the maintenance costs of the equipment are generally included in the fee, the building owner can see further savings.

You can read more about this at Greentech Media.

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Assorted Links

For the first time in 35 years, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) is moving to enforce decades-old energy efficiency and water conservation standards.

ICLEI USA has compiled a list of cities taking action to reduce their GHG emissions.

NPR has a map showing renewable energy goals and renewable energy generated for each state.

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Peter Gleick on Cash for Water Clunkers

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In his latest post in the San Francisco Chronicle’s City Brights blog, Dr. Peter Gleick (president of the Pacific Institute) calls for a “Cash for Water Clunkers program:

The US should commit $5 billion in a “Cash for Water Clunkers” program to help individuals and businesses get rid of old water-wasting appliances and processes…

These funds would help homeowners and businesses who choose to replace old water-wasting appliances and equipment, which can then be recycled. Funding could be prioritized to water-efficient appliances produced in the U.S., thereby providing a special boost to U.S. manufacturers.

The program should also be accompanied by a jobs-training program for plumbers and contractors in low-income communities, along the lines of the now-legendary partnership between the Madres del Este de Los Angeles Santa Isabel (Mothers of East Los Angeles Santa Isabel – MELASI) and several local water utilities more than a decade ago. That program helped the City of Los Angeles replace over 2 million old inefficient toilets (though many millions more remain, locally and nationally). The funds for such programs could be managed by local community groups, in conjunction with local water utilities.

Read his entire post on the San Francisco Chronicle website here.

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Assorted Links

Washington, Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, and California are the greenest states, according to a NMI survey of more than 3,000 U.S. consumers in the 25 largest states.

Oakland is recognized as a bike-friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists.

Texas and three other states threaten to sue California over AB 32.

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Luxury or Necessity?

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A study by the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project from April 2009 reveals that Americans are paring down the list of familiar household appliances they say they can’t live without.

No longer do substantial majorities of the public say a microwave oven, a television set or even home air conditioning is a necessity. Instead, nearly half or more now see each of these items as a luxury. Similarly, the proportion that considers a dishwasher or a clothes dryer to be essential has dropped sharply since 2006.

These recession-era reevaluations are all the more striking because the public’s luxury-versus-necessity perceptual boundaries had been moving in the other direction for the previous decade. For example, the share of adults who consider a microwave a necessity was just 32% in 1996. By 2006, it had shot up to 68%. Now it has retreated to 47%. Similarly, just 52% of the public in the latest poll say a television set is a necessity — down 12 percentage points from 2006 and the smallest share to call a TV a necessity since this question was first asked more than 35 years ago.

Read an overview of the 2009 study here, with graphs!

Read the full report here.

Read an overview of the 2006 study here.

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Water Footprint Calculator

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The National Geographic website has a water footprint calculator that walks you through very basic aspects of your lifestyle and give you a sense of how much water you use at home, to produce your diet, to produce the stuff you buy, and to produce the fuel you need to travel. And it compares your use to the American average for each category. Check it out here!

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Dan Kammen, Clean-Energy Czar

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Dan Kammen, who leads the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at UC Berkeley, was just appointed by the World Bank to be its first Clean-Energy Czar.

The New York Times Green Inc. blog posted an interview with him today:

Q – One of the chief criticisms of the World Bank is that, even as it has increased funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in developing countries to $3.3 billion annually, it continues to provide significant funding for carbon-intensive projects like coal-fired power plants. Do you see a need for the bank to maintain financing for those projects?

A – This is really at the heart of the tension between traditional development — meaning more energy, more access, irrespective of environmental damage — and the emerging environmental mandate that we’ve got to cut our greenhouse gas emissions so dramatically. So you get cases like the very controversial $3.5 billion investment in coal in South Africa, and at the same time, how to build the emerging economies around solar, biofuels, wind, etc.

You can read the entire interview on the New York Times website.

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UPDATE: There is also an interview with Dan Kammen posted on Grist:

Q – The climate bill process fell apart in Congress this year and it seems like the U.N. process isn’t headed for a big treaty either. How can things actually get done?

A – There’s no simple answer to that. When we look back at the Montreal Protocol and CFCs, people thought that process looked impossible until a few companies and countries realized that cleaning circuit boards without CFCs might actually save them money and be more effective. A couple successes turned a story that looked like it was going to be a failure into one that we all look back now and say, “Oh, that was easy by comparison.”

I’m not sure exactly how many successes we need to tip the balance so that a big treaty is possible, but no group is better positioned than the World Bank to facilitate them.

You can read the entire interview at Grist.org.

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