Tuesday, June 30, 2009

EPA grants California's request for stricter emissions standards

The EPA is granting California’s waiver request enabling the state to enforce its greenhouse gas emissions standards for new motor vehicles, beginning with the current model year. Using the law and science as its guide, the EPA has taken this action to tackle air pollution and protect human health.

“This decision puts the law and science first. After review of the scientific findings, and another comprehensive round of public engagement, I have decided this is the appropriate course under the law,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “This waiver is consistent with the Clean Air Act as it’s been used for the last 40 years and supports the prerogatives of the 13 states and the District of Columbia who have opted to follow California’s lead. More importantly, this decision reinforces the historic agreement on nationwide emissions standards developed by a broad coalition of industry, government and environmental stakeholders earlier this year.”

The first California waiver request was made in December 2005 and was subsequently denied in March 2008. This previous decision was based on an interpretation of the Clean Air Act finding that California did not have a need for its greenhouse gas emission standards to meet “compelling and extraordinary conditions.”

To read the rest of this article, click here.

Despite other tax increases, a gas tax hike could be coming

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed the commonwealth's 2010 fiscal year budget Monday that implemented numerous tax hikes, including increases in the sales, meals, hotel, and alcohol taxes.

However, there may be more bad news coming on taxes, as the governor hinted that the gas tax increase he has been pushing for may still happen. “We haven’t done that yet. We haven’t finished that work yet,’’ Patrick told The Globe, when asked if he would keep pushing for a gas tax. “And whether that’s the gas tax or something else, we’re going to have to face those issues, I think sooner rather than later.’’

An increase in the gas tax would add yet another item to the growing list of reasons to carpool, take transit, or bicycle/walk to work. Your company offers incentives and benefits to help you use these methods to commute to work. Send us an e-mail if you have any questions about them.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ten reasons to support the climate change bill

With the House of Representatives set to vote as early as this afternoon on the controversial climate change bill that is strongly supported by President Obama, there is a lot of information circulating on the Internet about why you should or should not support the bill.

While the bill is far from perfect, it most certainly is a step in the right direction in limiting the potential catastrophic effects of global warming. The Daily Green has a good article describing 10 reasons why you should support the bill, ranging from job creation to improved national security. Check it out when you get a chance.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mayor Menino to ban city workers from texting while driving

Boston city employees—including police officers, fire fighters, snowplow operators, and others—will be banned from sending text messages while driving city-owned vehicles under a proposal announced today by Mayor Thomas Menino.

Menino also helped with the launch of a new ad campaign, produced in conjunction with the Safe Roads Alliance, aimed at making drivers aware of the dangers of driving while texting on their cell phones.

This policy change as well as other proposed changes to state laws comes in the wake of the Green Line trolley crash at Government Center last month that injured dozens of people. The driver of the trolley admitted to texting his girlfriend moments before the crash occurred.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Government loans to fund electric car production

President Obama announced this week that the government has given out over $8 billion in loans to automobile manufacturers to increase the development of low-emission technologies.

Nissan has accepted a loan $1.6 billion of this money to produce 150,000 electric cars a year at its production plan in Smyrna, Tennessee. The money will also be used to build a new part of the plant that will manufacture lithium ion battery packs, creating over 1,300 jobs.

Nissan expects to release a preview of its electric car model in August and have the cars ready to launch sometime next year. The manufacturer has said it wants to manufacture 100,000 a year by 2012. A very ambitious agenda, indeed.

In other big news, Ford has accepted a $5.6 billion loan to create an electric version of the Ford Focus, the affordable and popular compact sedan.

For more information on these exciting developments in the automobile industry, check out this story from Business Green.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Texting while driving ban not in budget

Many lawmakers seemed to favor putting a ban on texting while driving in the state budget bill that legislators will vote on soon, but the texting ban was taken out before the bill got out of committee.

Recent accidents on roads as well as the T, including the incident near Government Center where a Green Line driver rear-ended another trolley injuring several riders, have people focused on the dangers of texting while driving. The T has banned all cell phone use for operators and recently fired two employees for breaking the new rule.

Despite the fact that a texting ban won't be passed as part of the state budget, bans on texting and/or talking while driving are being proposed as part of new bills that could be passed in the future.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Walking school 'buses' gain popularity

Walking school 'buses,' where parents walk children to school on an organized route, are gaining popularity in the area. In fact, there were only two schools in Massachusetts involved in walking bus programs in 2001, but now there are over 225 school involved in the commonwealth.

"Massachusetts was one of the first states to get programs out the door. The children respond well to the environmental message, parents respond well to the notion that this is good for their children’s health, and the kids like being together walking to school,” said Mass Highway commissioner Luisa Paiewonsky.

This is a fantastic way to save gasoline and get children (and the parents that walk them to school) more exercise. Not to mention that it gives children another opportunity outside of school to socialize and interact with children their own age.

These programs have the support of both the state and federal government, and funding can be obtained to make the walking routes safer with new signs or construction. For more info on walking buses, check out this story from Boston's Fox affiliate. The link also contains a video with info on how to start your own walking bus.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Gas prices continue to rise

Gas prices rose nationwide for the 52nd consecutive day on Friday, hitting a national average of about $2.70 per gallon.

CNN reports that gas prices have risen every day since April 29, when the national average for a gallon of gasoline was $2.05. Gas prices in Massachusetts are right around the national average as of this week.

As gas prices continue to rise, the amount of money you could be saving by switching to carpooling, public transportation, or another alternative commuting method will also rise. Your employer provides you incentives and benefits for choosing to do something other than drive alone to work. You should look into it, and save yourself some money this summer.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Efficient tires can save money

Not all tires for your car are created equally because some tires require more energy than others. In fact, splurging for fuel-efficient tires will actually save you money—and then some—in the long run. Not to mention that you'll be more eco-friendly because you will be using less gas and creating fewer emissions to get from Point A to Point B.

However, the efficiency ratings of tires are complicated and can vary from model to model and between manufacturers. But, don't worry, The Daily Green has put together this article to help you pick out your next set of fuel-efficient tires. Be sure and read it, and remember to consider being eco-friendly the next time you need a new set of tires.

Monday, June 15, 2009

State legislators consider cell phone driving bans

The Massachusetts state legislature is considering over a dozen bills related to restrictions on cell phone use while driving.

The bills range from banning talking to texting to both, state officials said.

"Texting while driving has become the new drunk driving. You can tell someone is on their cellphone just by the way they're driving," said Representative Peter J. Koutoujian.

A House and Senate conference committee is currently working on a bill that will be acceptable to both houses of the legislature. For more info on the potential cell phone driving bans, check out this story from the Globe.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Nokia works on phone that can draw power from radio waves

Yesterday, Samsung released the world's first solar-powered phone, and, today, Nokia announced that it is working on a phone that can harness the power of ambient radio waves, such as TV, radio, and cellular signals.

While the phone will not capture enough waves to power it during a call, it will capture enough to keep the phone powered when in stand-by mode (powered on, but not in use). The goal is eventually to develop a phone that can not only keep itself powered while in stand-by mode but also capture enough energy to slowly recharge its battery when not in use. Now, that would be cool.

For more information on the technology Nokia is working on, check out this story from Business Green.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Samsung introduces world's first solar-powered cell phone

Samsung has launched its (and the world's) first solar-powered cell phone, which it calls the Solar Guru.

The phone will allow five to 10 minutes of talk time per hour of solar charging, with a full charge expected to take 10 to 14 hours. The phone can also be charged using the traditional method of plugging it into an electric outlet. Most people will likely use the conventional method to charge it, and then allow the solar panels to "top it off" during the day.

The phone was designed for India, the world's fastest growing cell phone market. Samsung will launch the phone in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America later this month.

The company has not yet made plans to launch the phone in the United States and may opt instead to wait to release the more powerful solar-powered Blue Earth cell phone that is expected by the end of the year.

For more info on these solar-powered cell phones, check out this article from Business Green.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Green jobs expand opportunities

The government stimulus money that was allocated to green technologies and the increasing importance of sustainable living to many people has made green technology and service fields some of the fasting growing job markets.

From solar power to wind power to green engineering, these fields should continue to grow as the importance of being green increases in our economy. The Daily Green has an article today with five green job fields that are rapidly growing. Check it out when you get a chance.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cap and trade would generate $900 million revenue

The controversial proposed cap and trade legislation would create about $900 billion worth of revenue over the next decade, according to a report released today by the Congressional Budget Office.

Cap and trade is a way of limiting the amount of pollutants a company can release by setting a maximum legal limit. Companies that cannot (or are not willing to) stay under this legal limit can buy credits from companies that are under the legal limit. In theory, this does two things: First, it rewards companies who pollute less. And, second, it controls the amount of pollutants being released into the air.

For more info on the report, check out this story from Business Green.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tesla to open seven new stores

Electronic car manufacturer Tesla has made plans to open seven new stores and service centers around the country, with locations planned for New York, Chicago, Seattle, Miami and Washington, D.C.

The company, which has been working on expanding its product line, will begin mass producing its first family sedan, called the Model S, in 2011. The sedan is expected to be able to carry up to seven people and have a range of up to 300 miles. Company officials say they have taken over 500 reservations for the Model S.

For more info on the new Tesla stores, check out this story from Business Green.

Friday, June 5, 2009

38 California counties receive 'F' grade on air pollution

California’s air quality scored mixed grades with 38 of California’s 52 counties receiving failing grades and 16 receiving “A” grades in the 10th annual American Lung Association State of the Air 2009 report. Kern County ranked as having the worst annual particle pollution levels nationwide, as did San Bernardino County for ozone pollution. Likewise, the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside area ranked as the worst ozone-polluted metro area, and Bakersfield received the top ranking for the most year-round particle pollution.

This year, 12 more California counties received failing grades than last year, reflecting the tighter national ozone standard implemented in 2008. The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside metro area demonstrates a continued and notable improvement trend for annual particle pollution levels (dropping to number three on that most-polluted list nationwide), based on State of the Air report grades during the past decade, although particle pollution levels remain unhealthy.

To read the rest of this article, click here.

EPA cites five programs as national models for asthma care

The EPA is recognizing five asthma management programs as national models for effective asthma care at the National Asthma Forum in Washington, D.C.

The award recognizes innovative approaches the programs use to successfully improve the lives of asthma patients in their communities. The approaches are proven to deliver results through strong collaborations and community ties, integrated health care services, committed leadership, and effective environmental management.

“Asthma is a public health issue, an economic issue, and an environmental issue that touches entire communities,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “This year’s award winners are leading the way towards real solutions, and giving hope to the millions of Americans–many of them children–who battle asthma. We have a long way to go, but with the innovation and hard work of these winners, we are making progress.”

For more info on these awards, click here to go to the EPA's web site.

Bad news about T fares

Riders of the T can expect to see a 15 to 20 percent fare increase this fall, according to officials in the Patrick administration.

T officials said it is possible that they will issue service cuts that would decrease the need for an increase but probably not entirely eliminate it.

After the T announces any increases in fares or service cuts, they will conduct legally-required meetings where people will be able to discuss their opinions with T officials.

While this certainly isn't good news, hopefully T officials can find a way to balance the fare increase with service cuts that won't affect too many people's schedule to avoid forcing everyone to pay a lot more money to use transit.

For more info on the potential fare increases, check out this story from The Globe.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tips for getting the most of your farmers' market

Earlier this week, we discussed ways to get your hands on more locally-grown food, with farmers' markets being one of the best ways to do it. However, if you've never been to a farmers' market, the experience could be intimidating, and/or you may not get the most out of your trip.

But, fear not because The Daily Green has put together a slide show with six tips to use to master the farmers' market. Check it out, and then be sure to visit a local farmers' market, such as the ones in Kendall Square or City Hall Plaza.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fast Lane use increases on Pike

More drivers on the Pike are taking advantage of the convenience of electronic toll transponders since the Turnpike Authority began offering the transponders for free in February.

The Herald reported that almost 7 out of 10 people that were tolled on Memorial Day were done so via a transponder. While overall tolls were up one percent from last year for the day, electronic tolls were up 11 percent.

Pike officials have reported that about 95,000 transponders have been given out since February. If you haven't picked yours up yet, there's little reason not to do so. The transponders will save you a quarter or more at each tolling booth, and you won't have to wait in the cash-only lines.

To get a transponder, go to the Mass Pike's website, or stop by the Auburn, Natick, or East Boston service centers through the week to pick one up in person.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

15 ways to eat more local food

With farmers' markets set to open around the Greater Boston area (including the one in Kendall Square), it's a good time to start thinking about eating locally-grown food. Besides farmers' markets, there are a number of ways to get your hands on this type of food, including growing it yourself, community gardens, and community-supported agriculture agreements.

The Daily Green has put together a slide show with 15 ways you can pick up locally-grown food to feed to your families.

Monday, June 1, 2009

World climate change talks kick off in Germany

The U.S. and many other countries began United Nations-sponsored discussions and negotiations about emission reduction targets in Germany today.

Most developing nations in the world want a new climate treaty, which would serve as the successor to the Kyoto Treaty, to require high emissions reduction requirements—between 25 and 40 percent—by 2020. Despite the recent changes in environmental policy by the Obama administration, negotiators from the U.S. have said that this range may be unrealistic for developed nations.

The 12-day meeting in Bonn, Germany, aims to lay some of the groundwork for the treaty that will be negotiated and hopefully signed at a conference in Copenhagen at the end of this year. The goal is to make the treaty legally binding for all that sign it, unlike the Kyoto Treaty, which was not legally binding in many regards.

For more info on this conference and the proposed climate change treaty, check out this story from Business Green.