One Step for Short-term Economic Stimulus, and One Giant Leap (backward) for U.S. Energy Sustainability


The “cash for clunkers” (or CARS) program that was widely predicted to be extended by the Congress has been, if nothing else, a clear public relations win for the Obama Administration. It may also be, at least for the short-term, a shot in the arm for the beleaguered American auto industry (including domestic dealerships of foreign car companies, like Honda and Toyota). But the program’s extension may also be bad news for anyone who was hoping that candidate Obama’s campaign promises to fix our domestic energy policy would translate into something resembling a robust make-over.  read more »

Reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled Produces Meager Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Returns

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Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) and Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) have introduced legislation that would require annual per capita reductions in driving each year. Another bill, the National Transportation Objectives Act, introduced by Representative Rush Holt (D-Indiana), Representative Russ Carnahan (D-Missouri) and Representative Jay Inslee (D-Washington.) would require a 16 percent reduction in driving in 20 years.  read more »

Green Jobs Can't Save The Economy


Nothing is perhaps more pathetic than the exertions of economic developers and politicians grasping at straws, particularly during hard times. Over the past decade, we have turned from one panacea to another, from the onset of the information age to the creative class to the boom in biotech, nanotech and now the "green economy."  read more »

Koyaanisqatsi Redux


I went to Hollywood one night last week to watch my favorite film of all time, Koyaanisqatsi (released in 1983). It was being shown on a big screen at the Hollywood Bowl, accompanied by orchestra playing the original score, conducted by its composer, Philip Glass. Oh, I didn't go to the Bowl; I watched it at my daughter's apartment about half a mile away (hi def DVD and digital sound system turned way up, thank you).  read more »

ULI Moving Cooler Report: Greenhouse Gases, Exaggerations and Misdirections


Yesterday a group of environmental advocacy groups, foundations and other organizations released a report, Moving Cooler, amid much fanfare, seeking to have us believe that it is a serious study of GHG reduction options in the transportation sector. It is immensely disappointing. The world could use a dispassionate, objective and broad-based assessment of petroleum reduction options as well as their positive and negative consequences. This is not it.  read more »

Subsidies, Starbucks and Highways: A Primer


At a recent Senate Banking Committee hearing, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, responding to comments about large transit subsidies, remarked that the last federal highway bill included $200 billion in subsidies for highways.

The Senator should know better. The federal highway bill builds highways with fees paid by highway users, not by subsidies.  read more »

Enviro-wimps: L.A.'s Big Green Groups Get Comfy, Leaving the Street Fighting to the Little Guys


So far, 2009 has not been a banner year for greens in Los Angeles. As the area's mainstream enviros buddy up with self-described green politicians and deep-pocketed land speculators and unions who have seemingly joined the “sustainability” cause, an odd thing is happening: Environmentalists are turning into servants for more powerful, politically-connected masters.  read more »

Why Rapid Transit Needs To Get Personal

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Innovation in urban transportation is the only long-term correction for expensive environmental losses and energy waste. Why, then, isn’t there a US plan for more vigorous exploration and demonstration of new systems using advanced technologies, particularly automation? Where is the Personal Rapid Transit — PRT — in US transportation policy?  read more »

Telecommuting And The Broadband Superhighway

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The internet has become part of our nation’s mass transit system: It is a vehicle many people can use, all at once, to get to work, medical appointments, schools, libraries and elsewhere.

Telecommuting is one means of travel the country can no longer afford to sideline. The nation’s next transportation funding legislation must promote the telecommuting option...aggressively.  read more »

Letter From Asia's Co-Prosperity Sphere

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To visit banks in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, I recently flew into Shanghai and out from Singapore. In two weeks, I rode a lot of trains and met a lot of bankers. When I got home to Europe, it felt like I had traversed a Greater Economic Co-Prosperity Sphere, although I was never sure if it was one that belonged to China, Japan, or the international banking system. Here's a highly personal, thumbnail report on the region's development and some of the local rail network:  read more »