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Let the Engineer Speak: On Scientific Free Speech and the Harassment of Experts

Last week, Minnesota engineer and planner Charles Marohn received a letter notifying him of a complaint of misconduct filed against his professional engineering license. Was Mr. Marohn accused of a misstep in his professional engineering practices? No. Rather, the complaint concerned Marohn’s writings on his website, Strong Towns. Read More

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How Oregon Can Fill Up On Clean Fuels

Something big is brewing in Oregon. No, it’s not a new IPA from Portland-based Bridgeport Brewery—though that sounds delightful. It’s the next phase of Oregon’s Clean Fuel Program, a forward-thinking regulation that requires transportation fuel to get steadily cleaner on average, ultimately achieving a 10 percent reduction in carbon emissions per unit of fuel in 10 years. Extending this rule is a big deal because approximately one-third of Oregon’s greenhouse gases come from transportation, and Oregon has the in-state resource potential to produce significant amounts of clean fuels. Read More

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Dear Chrysler: 5 Reasons Oil Prices Shouldn’t Affect Fuel Economy Standards

Lately, low gas prices have been making headlines across the country. Having dropped by more than $1.50/gallon over the last 6 months, there is certainly reason to be talking about them. So it was no surprise when the topic came up at the North American International Auto Show earlier this month in Detroit. The CEO of Chrysler, Sergio Marchionne, used the opportunity to call for rolling back vehicle fuel economy standards. This is perhaps not surprising from a CEO who also tells people not to buy his company’s electric cars and who’s company has scored last in 6 out of 7 UCS Automaker Rankings. But his statements on fuel economy appear to be as volatile as oil prices. Just a couple of years ago he stood up with the President and supported the new standards. Read More

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The Latest on Biofuels and Land Use: Progress to Report, but Challenges Remain

Carbon pollution caused indirectly by the increasing use of crops to produce biofuels has been a contentious topic for the last 7 years. In this post I look back at what we have learned since then about indirect land use change (ILUC) emissions, as this phenomena is generally called. The headline 7 years ago – that crop-based biofuels are far worse than fossil fuels – no longer holds. Read More

Categories: Biofuel, Global Warming, Vehicles  

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President Obama’s State of the Union: What to Expect, and What to Hope For

In his State of the Union speech next Tuesday night, President Obama is expected to focus heavily on challenges like economic inequality and international terrorism. But he is also likely to address at least some of the issues that UCS works on directly, such as climate change and energy. Here’s a quick take on what he may say on these issues, as well as some things he should say, but probably won’t. Read More

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New Study Shows Electric Vehicles Can Have Significant Climate and Air Quality Benefits Compared to Gasoline Cars

A new study from the University of Minnesota shows that plug-in electric vehicles have both an air quality and global warming emissions benefit when they are charged using electricity generated from natural gas or renewable sources. However, the research finds that using electricity from coal-fired power plants in an EV is likely to have worse emissions than an average gasoline vehicle. This result isn’t surprising, but it’s also important to put in context. Many regions in the US use very little coal to generate electricity and the fraction of electricity in the US produced from coal has been dropping – meaning many EVs are delivering emissions benefits today and have the potential to deliver even more in the future.

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Fuel Cells vs Plug-ins: Both are Winners

Often when I’m talking to people about plug-in and fuel cell electric vehicles, I’m asked, “which one is going to win?” Trying to divine which type of vehicle will be more prevalent in the future is impossible, but thankfully it’s not really important to know the answer. That’s because both types of electric vehicles, fuel cells AND plug-ins, will be important solutions to reducing emissions and oil use. To help explain why we need all types of electric vehicles, UCS has recently produced a fact sheet: “The Importance of Both Battery Electric and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles.Read More

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5 Facts About Nissan’s Battery Manufacturing Plant

Just recently, I came back from a visit to Nissan’s headquarters to talk to them about the Leaf. While there I was lucky enough to get a tour of their battery manufacturing facility in Smyrna, Tennessee. Here are some surprising facts I learned, along with a video of their whole process: Read More

Categories: Vehicles  

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What Happened at the LA Auto Show? Small SUVs, Hydrogen Cars, and 2015 Fuel Economy Gains

Before Thanksgiving, my colleague Lucy and I toured the LA Auto Show. While we confirmed many trends I identified in my previous post, three things stood out: fuel cell vehicles are gaining attention and momentum, small crossover SUVs are racing to market, and some redesigned 2015 models are offering up some significant fuel economy improvements compared to previous models. Read More

Categories: Vehicles  

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Is the Hummer Back? How Falling Gas Prices Impact Clean Vehicles and Transportation

Gas prices are falling! Gas prices are falling! The average price of a gallon of gas near me in Washington, D.C. is $3.10 and the national average has dropped to $2.92. While this is good news for drivers in the short term, this dip also presents an opportunity to avoid a potential lag in reducing emissions from transportation by doubling down on increasing fuel economy and advancing electric vehicles. Read More

Categories: Vehicles  

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