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WNYC News

State Environment Chief In Hot Seat Over Fracking

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Department of Environmental Conservation Chief Joseph Martens submitted to nearly three hours of intense questioning by members of a New York State Assembly committee on an issue that has inflamed passions like few others: high volume hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as 'fracking.'

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WNYC News

State Needs to Focus More on Health Effects of Fracking, MDs Say

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

More than 250 physicians and medical professionals have signed a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo requesting the state devote more study to the health impacts of hydraulic fracturing before issuing permits for the controversial natural gas drilling technique.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Boeing Delivers New Plane, Atlanta's Transpo System Needs Billions, and LA Stadium Plan Heavy on Parking, Light on Transit

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top stories on TN:

FEMA disaster reimbursements -- on hold due to Congressional inaction -- are affecting Montana residents hit hard by flooding. (Link)

Obama administration officials continue to push for transportation spending, despite unpromising signs from lawmakers. (Link)

A Dreamliner 787 in mid-flight. (Bernard Choi / Boeing)

The train tracks under the New York's East River that support hundreds of Long Island Railroad cars daily will be replaced due to "significant water drainage issues." (WNYC)

The transportation plan for a proposed 72,000-seat football stadium in downtown Los Angeles is heavy on the parking, fuzzy on the public transit details. (Los Angeles Times)

Even if Atlanta's transportation referendum passes, its transit system will still face $2.3 billion in unfunded maintenance needs over the next decade. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Dreamliner takes flight: Boeing delivered its first new aircraft in over a decade. (Marketplace)

Urban bicyclists may be inhaling twice as much soot as pedestrians. (Los Angeles Times)

New York State is getting nearly $150 million in federal transportation funding to upgrade Amtrak's passenger service in the Albany area. (AP via Wall Street Journal)

New York's MTA is putting nine more properties on the block, including a mostly empty building in downtown Brooklyn. (Wall Street Journal)

The NYPD rolled out "Total Impact," a policing strategy designed to combat a spike in subway crime. (NY Daily News)

'Shovel-ready' jobs -- a term the president has avoided this time around - actually take a fair amount of time. (Politico)

About 30 percent of the natural gas produced in North Dakota is flared off as waste, an amount that no other oil field in the rest of the country comes close to. (NY Times)

New York City Council held hearings on bills that would change procedures for installing bike lanes. (Streetsblog)

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WNYC News

Study Suggests Controversial Gas Drilling Method Could Add Jobs

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

WNYC

Aggressive development of Upstate New York's natural gas resources could create tens of thousands of jobs and draw large numbers of people to live in economically depressed communities that have been losing population for decades, according to a study commissioned by the state's Department of Environmental Conservation.

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WNYC News

Christie Vetoes NJ Fracking Ban, But Orders Moratorium

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill to ban the controversial natural gas drilling technique known as fracking in the state on Thursday — but he ordered a one-year moratorium on the practice.

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WNYC News

USGS: Northeast Gas Reserves Smaller than Expected

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WNYC

Upstate New York might not sit on one of the largest natural gas reserves in the world after all. That's according to the latest estimate by the U.S. Geologic Survey.

Upstate New York might not sit on one of the largest natural gas reserves in the world after all. That's according to the latest estimate by a federal agency. WNYC's Ilya Marritz explains the new numbers could spell trouble for the companies seeking to develop the resource.
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[CutID: <DAVID:DigaSystem\NEWS>PB8-NCR4-DAW_003A022C64E0468380538026A0A65FD4.WAV
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Title: news20110824_FRACKING_marritz
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[No one disputes that there's a lot of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, which stretches from upstate New York to West Virginia. But exactly how much gas is there?
The US Geologic Survey looked at, quote, new geologic information and engineering data, and put reserves at 84 trillion cubic feet. That's 80 percent less than an earlier estimate made by the Energy Department, and an even smaller percentage of what energy companies have been saying.
For them, this could spell trouble. New York's Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, recently subpoenaed documents in a probe of whether energy companies misled shareholders with overly optimistic assessments of gas reserves. 
For WNYC, I'm Ilya Marritz]

 

 

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WNYC News

New Yorkers Split on Cuomo's Plan to Regulate Gas Drilling: Poll

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Cuomo Administration's plan to regulate the natural gas-drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has divided New Yorkers about evenly, according to a new poll from the Siena College Research Institute. The poll also shows most New Yorkers are fearful that fracking could harm the environment.

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WNYC News

As Legislative Session Winds Down, Fracking Bills Vie For Attention

Monday, June 13, 2011

The natural gas extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking (for a primer, click here) has become such a hotbutton issue in Albany, legislators have put forward roughly two dozen bills regulating the practice. Here are three to watch as the legislative session draws to a close.

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WNYC News

Suit: Feds Failed to Study Fracking Effects in Delaware

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has sued several federal agencies alleging they have ignored their legal obligation to study the possible environmental consequences of natural gas drilling in the watershed of the Delaware River.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: NJ Gov Christie No Friend to Commuters, and Hydrofracking Leads to Attorney Boom

Monday, May 16, 2011

NJ Governor Christie's approach to transportation has led to higher tolls and more expensive transit.  (NY Times)

Automakers are trying to convince the Chinese to drive electric vehicles -- not an easy sell. "In addition to general suspicions of new technology and logistics of where to plug the cars in, there is also a huge problem with Chinese government oversight and regulation." (NPR)

NY's MTA is testing out buses which apparently have low ceilings and cramped legroom. (NY Post)

The U.S. natural gas boom is paving the way for another kind of all-American boom: litigation. (Marketplace)

The NY Times has a photo essay about old subway cars used as reefs -- a practice which is ending.  (Can't help but note that WNYC had this story a year ago, almost to the day. )

Ray LaHood returned to his alma mater to deliver the commencement address; video below. (FastLane)

According to a Detroit Free Press editorial, transportation in Grand Rapids is one of the reasons why that city is in better shape than Detroit.

British author Robert Penn already owned six bicycles -- but none of them was the perfect one. NPR interviewed him about his quest to build the perfect bike.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

In case you  missed it on Transportation Nation:

-- DC's DOT is losing key staff, and the mayor has yet to appoint a head (link)

-- Boston says 1/3 of transit riders are using transit apps (link)

-- the AAA says 630 bicyclists were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2009 (link)

-- does driving make you fat? Could be. (link)


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WNYC News

Gas Drilling Linked to Methane Contamination of Drinking Water: Study

Monday, May 09, 2011

Those who get drinking water from wells close to gas drilling sites are in much greater danger of having their water is contaminated by methane gas, according to a study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences believed to be the first to establish a link between gas drilling and methane contamination.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

T. Boone Pickens On Our Energy Future

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Oil and gas executive T. Boone Pickens discusses the Pickens Plan and the promise of natural gas.

→ Listen, Read a Recap, and Add Your Comments at It's A Free Country

WNYC News

Delaware Waters Must Be Protected From Fracking Dangers: AG

Monday, April 18, 2011

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is threatening to sue an obscure but powerful intergovernmental agency, saying it's not doing enough to protect the Delaware River basin from the dangers of fracking for natural gas.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Predatory Auto Lending Scams, Ohio Pulls Funding from Cincy's Streetcar Project, and Weird Items People Try to Fly With

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ohio has pulled nearly $52 million in funding for Cincinnati's proposed streetcar project. (Cincinnati.com)

DC's Metro says a new report shows that an increase in peak fares has not stopped riders from using the system (WAMU).

The Red Line rolls into Metro's Judiciary Square station (photo by Kate Hinds)

State and local officials in Virginia have taken the next steps in their fight to block a plan to build a new underground metro station at Dulles airport. (WAMU)

Gas prices are up 40% over last year, and economists are debating the effect on consumers. (NPR)

So are drivers buying less gas? Or are fuel-efficient vehicles partially responsible for a slowdown in gas sales? (Marketplace)

The Center for Public Integrity investigates predatory auto loans -- the same scams outlawed by Congress after the mortgage crisis.

ProPublica reports that natural gas might not be cleaner than burning coal.

The New York Post says a new study contradicts the NYC DOT's cycling numbers.

New York's MTA sometimes uses regular subway cars --with passengers on them -- to haul garbage. (NY Daily News)

Virgin Atlantic blogs about the strangest items passengers have tried to pass off as checked baggage, including bathtubs, dead cows, and a bag of cutlery previously stolen from another Virgin Atlantic flight.

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: The US DOT conducts surprise bus inspections -- and finds that one in 10 are unsafe. A budget deal is made -- and the slashing isn't just for high-speed rail. The Willis Avenue bridge makes its final journey. Bikes are now used to sell bridal wear. And: the San Francisco Bay Area's most dangerous transit mile.

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WNYC News

Natural Gas Industry Has Sharp Increase in Lobbying Dollars

Friday, April 08, 2011

Pro-gas drilling groups spent $1.5 million lobbying in Albany in 2010 — 21 percent more than they spent in the prior year. Industry lobbying expenditures have more than quadrupled since 2008, when hydraulic fracturing became a hot-button political issue.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: EV Sales Boost US Economy, NJ Highways "Deficient," and Amtrak Sets Ridership Record

Friday, April 08, 2011

Chevy Volt (Photo: GM)

Are sales of electric vehicles behind the growth in the US economy? (The Takeaway)

Toyota and Nissan restart production (Marketplace).

The nuclear disaster in Japan could undermine support for nuclear power here in the US -- and build support for natural gas. (NPR)

A new report says half of New Jersey's highways are deficient. (AP via the Star-Ledger)

More on New York's parking placards in the NY Daily News and NY Times.

Can smartphones -- with commuting apps -- get people out of cars and onto public transit? (Wired)

Amtrak says it's on track for record ridership. (The Hill)

Will a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons spur economic development -- or acres of empty parking lots? (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Los Angeles Metro launched what it says is the nation's first major public transit agency's Spanish language blog (The Source). Called El Pasajero, the blog formally launches today.

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: NY Gov. Cuomo tightens parking placard rules; Caltrain isn't slashing service...yet; traffic light timing is adjusted in Central Park's loop; Dulles's Metrorail link answers the question 'over or under?,' and: how much high-speed rail will $2.4 billion buy?

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Transportation Nation

Houston Contemplating Natural Gas-Powered Buses

Thursday, March 31, 2011

(Houston--Wendy Siegle, KUHF News) Over the last 10-15 years or so, transit agencies across the country have been switching to natural gas technology to fuel their bus fleets. Many cite the rising price of oil as an incentive for the shift. In Los Angeles, nearly 100 percent of the bus fleet runs on natural gas-powered vehicles. Transit officials there estimate that ditching diesel-fueled buses has slashed nearly 300,000 pounds of CO2 emissions per day. Other major cities, such as Chicago, are also considering adding CNG buses to their systems. Now, Houston's jumping on the bandwagon. . . well, maybe.

Houston's Metro has just launched a study into the viability of natural gas-fueled buses. Right now, Metro operates around 1250 buses, more than a quarter of  which are diesel-electric hybrids. The question is whether it would make sense to diversify the fleet with other kinds of alternative technologies. “One thing that’s happened is, all these technologies have come closer together in terms of their environmental impact," said Metro president and CEO George Greanias at today's board meeting. "They all work better in terms of keeping the environment as pristine as possible.”

The study will help determine what the overall cost will be for operating and maintaining a bus that runs on compressed natural gas (CNG). Greanias notes that cost factors, such as the price of CNG, are some of the big questions the study will address. "Can we control the cost factor better with a CNG vehicle?" he wonders. "But on the other side of the coin, there’s also significant infrastructure up front that you have to use with CNG technology.”

Metro tested natural gas buses a decade ago, but found it was too costly for the agency. Back then, the fleet had four CNG buses. They were converted into diesel-electric hybrids in 2002. But the technology has advanced a lot since then, which why METRO is taking another look.

Greanias says, in addition to cost, Metro will have to weigh the environmental benefits of CNG against other fuels, such as the hybrid technology that the agency has already adopted. Metro will also have to decide if it would be best to use the same technology across the entire fleet, or if it would work to mix it up a bit. “Right now we've been moving in a single direction," he says, referencing the diesel-electric hybrids. "As we go forward, will we want to expand that and have one or two or three different options?[That raises] operational questions and maintenance questions.”

Metro board member Christof Spieler stresses that it's important the agency not rush into anything. "When we’re buying a new bus it’s not like buying a new car; this is a 12 year commitment. We want to keep these buses on the road. So when we’re making a decision now it’s going to have ramifications for a long time to come.”

METRO expects to have the results of the natural gas study by autumn.

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Transportation Nation

Obama: Cut Oil Imports by a Third in the Next Decade

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

(File Photo: Getty Images)

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) President Obama is vowing the U.S. will cut oil consumption by a third in the next decade.  Speaking before a group at Georgetown University, Obama said:  "So today, I’m setting a new goal: one that is reasonable, achievable, and necessary. When I was elected to this office, America imported 11 million barrels of oil a day. By a little more than a decade from now, we will have cut that by one-third."

To achieve this, Obama said, he would take several measures:  continue to expand domestic drilling, pursuing increased natural gas drilling while ensuring it didn't endanger oil supplies, and, as he put it, keeping nuclear power "on the table," because he said, nuclear power doesn't produce carbon.  But he said that must be done safely.

His biggest proposals, however, were on the consumption side. By 2015, he said, all federal cars purchased will be hybrid or electric.

"The fleet of cars and trucks we use in the federal government is one of the largest in the country.  That’s why we’ve already doubled the number of alternative vehicles in the federal fleet, and that’s why, today, I am directing agencies to purchase 100% alternative fuel, hybrid, or electric vehicles by 2015.  And going forward, we’ll partner with private companies that want to upgrade their large fleets."

Obama noted that even if the US were to drill "every drop" of U.S. oil, US oil only accounts for 2 percent of the world supply, while the US consumes 25 percent of the oil.  He also pointed out that 70 percent of US petroleum consumption comes from the transportation sector.

Most of the oil consumption part of the speech focused on alternative-fueled personal and commercial vehicles, but he did make reference to increasing mass transit options: " We’ve also made historic investments in high-speed rail and mass transit, because part of making our transportation sector cleaner and more efficient involves offering Americans – urban, suburban, and rural – the choice to be mobile without having to get in a car and pay for gas."

The administration has invested about $11 billion in high speed rail, and wants to spend more than $50 billion more.

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It's A Free Country ®

Where We're Starting on Domestic Energy: Coal

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

As President Obama laid out his vision for domestic energy production in the future, calling for a drop of one-third in our oil imports, it's worth noting where we're starting from.

President Obama only mentioned "coal" once in his speech, but last year, it made up the largest share of domestic energy production at 45 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Only one percent of domestic energy production came from petroleum, 24 percent was natural gas, and nuclear made up 20 percent of domestic energy.

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WNYC News

Texas Lawmaker Talks Fracking During Nuke Hearing

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

House lawmakers grilled the nation's two top officials on nuclear safety — Dr. Stephen Chu of the Department of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko — about the ongoing crisis in Japan and security at U.S. nuclear plants. But Chu was also drawn into an exchange with Texas Congressman Michael Burgess on a different energy topic: natural gas.

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