A public-private partnership in the San Francisco Bay Area plans to build a $1-billion network of electric-car charging stations, while in Portland, Ore., a utility and two private firms already are erecting electric vehicle battery-charging stations in a cluster of nearby cities. Photo: Better Place Recharging takes one minute per mile driven, or drivers can swap out batteries. In Oregon, Nissan Motors and Renault SA have signed a memorandum of understanding with Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) to supply electric vehicles to the state’s fleet in 2010. Nissan also committed to work with the state, in partnership with utility Portland General
Dropping demand for gasoline has taken a chunk out of last year’s super-high prices, and refiners are shifting capital expenditures accordingly. Prices for gasoline rose 7.1¢ on Jan. 5 to $1.68 per gallon but were still down 46% overall since a year ago, reports the federal Energy Information Administration. On-highway diesel prices fell 3.6¢, to $2.29, a 32% drop since 2008 and the lowest in years. Despite the winter price rollback for both fuels, diesel is “the growth fuel, globally,” says Allen Schaeffer, executive director of Washington, D.C.-based Diesel Technology Forum. As such, ExxonMobil Corp. and others are boosting output
A group of engineers and scientists will host a conference this spring to push for development of design criteria for storm-surge barriers to protect New York City. Global warming, rising sea levels and more frequent and violent storms mean the city inevitably will face a devastating hurricane, says conference organizer Douglas Hill, a consulting engineer and adjunct lecturer at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, N.Y. Hill is working with the American Society of Civil Engineers N.Y. Metropolitan Section’s Infrastructure Group and the New York Academy of Sciences, as well as with municipal
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released for public comment its proposal for the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway West Closure Complex, a surge protection project that will include a 20,000- to 25,000-cu-ft-per-second capacity pump station, the largest in the nation. The GIWW Closure Complex will likely be the largest component of the Greater New Orleans Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System. Located just south of New Orleans on the west bank of the Mississippi River, it is intended to reduce risk from a storm event with an intensity that has a 1% chance of occurring in any given year.
A proposal by a North Carolina artist is laying the foundation for what may become the largest in-situ residential soil-lead remediation project in the country. Artist Mel Chin’s work often brings site-specific art to unlikely places, including destroyed homes and landfills. He has worked with scientists in the past to create gardens of hyperaccumulators—plants that draw heavy metals from soil. Now he is attracting academic, engineering and social resources to ask Congress for $300 million to address soil-lead contamination in New Orleans. Photo: Pam Radtke Russell Chin’s Operation Paydirt would be the largest urban soil cleanup in the U.S. Although
States must now certify that their building codes meet tougher energy-efficiency requirements under a new determination by the U.S. Dept. of Energy. DOE says it has established the latest standard from the American National Standards Institute/American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Standard 90.1-2004, as the commercial building reference standard for state building energy codes.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has reinstated the Bush administration’s Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) until the Environmental Protection Agency develops a new clean-air program for powerplants. The court struck down the rule, which had been touted as the centerpiece of the administration’s air quality program, on July 11, saying it had “fundamental flaws.” But the court decided to revisit the issue after EPA, Environmental Defense Fund and several states asked for the rule to be reinstated. In its Dec. 24 ruling, the court concluded that despite “relative flaws” of CAIR, allowing the rule to remain
Cleanup of the worst spill of its kind in the history of the U.S. is continuing in east Tennessee, where an earthen retention wall at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston coal plant failed on Dec. 22. The failure sent 5.4 million cu yd of toxic sludge composed of fly ash and water flowing over 300 acres. Photo: AP/Wideworld Impoundment pond retention wall failure on Dec. 22 covered 300 acres with 5.4 million cu yd of coal-combustion waste from TVA’s Kingston powerplant. Photo: United Mountain Defense Water-quality samples in affected area show elevated levels of arsenic. The sludge, a byproduct of
Losing bidders of a U.S. Energy Dept.’s $3-billion cleanup contract at the agency’s Hanford site in Washington state may get a chance to rebid after the agency agreed on Dec. 29 to reevaluate the “mission support” contract award made in September. The decision comes at the urging of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which reviewed a protest of the award by a losing bidder that claimed problems with DOE’s solicitation. GAO dismissed the protest but only after DOE agreed to take “corrective action” in its cost evaluation. A limited-liability company led by Lockheed Martin won the contract, but another led
Cleanup of the worst spill of its kind the history of the United States continues this week in east Tennessee, where an earthen retention wall at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston coal plant failed on Dec. 22 and covered 300 acres with 5.4 million cubic yards and water—or more than one billion gallons—of a sludge-like byproduct of coal combustion called fly ash. Photo: AP/Wide world House knocked off it foundation near site of Tennessee spill. Photo: AP/Wideworld Impoundment pond retention wall failure on Dec. 22 covered 300 acres with 5.4 million cu yd of coal-combustion waste from TVA’s Kingston powerplant.