Transportation Nation

Report: In 2012 Feds Spent More on Extreme Weather Cleanup Than on Schools, Roads

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


In the wake of our report on the costs to New Jersey Transit of Hurricane Sandy, a national report says extreme weather clean-up cost U.S. taxpayers nearly $100 billion -- or $1,100 per taxpayer.  That's according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, a national environmental group.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Toxic Couches

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sarah Janssen, NRDC senior scientist for health, talks about the study that found high levels of toxic or untested flame retardants in 85% of the couches tested.

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Transportation Nation

Heat From Climate Change Will Kill More Americans This Century: Report

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

(photo by Lori Greig via flickr)

150,000 Americans will die from excessive heat by the end of this century if carbon pollution continues unabated.

That's according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which released a report (pdf) Wednesday projecting future heat-related mortality in the U.S.'s 40 largest cities.

"We think, if anything, (those estimates) are low," said the NRDC's Dan Lashof, explaining during a conference call with reporters that researchers didn't adjust for expected increases in population. But, he said, these stark numbers show "climate change has real life and death consequences -- one of which is that carbon pollution, which is continuing to increase our atmosphere, is going to continue to make climate change worse and increase the number of dangerously hot days each summer."

Thirty seven of the 40 cities studied would see increases in deaths. Larry Kalkstein, a professor of geography and regional studies at the University of Miami and co-author of the research, said they found a "regional coherence" in the heatwave effect. And perhaps counterintuitively, cities in the South appear to be spared the worst.

According to the NRDC, the three cities with the highest number of total estimated heat-related deaths through 2099 are Louisville, Kentucky (19,000 deaths); Detroit (17,900); and Cleveland (16,600).

"The Midwest is particularly hard hit," Kalkstein said, explaining that cities that experience sharp temperature fluctuations are more at risk than those cities with more constant temperatures, even if they're hot.

"Take a typical day in Washington or Philadelphia or New York, where most of the summer days are in the eighties," he said. "And then all of a sudden you get a hot streak, where the temperature goes up to a hundred degrees plus for a week -- and that is what causes the problem. The fact that people are not used to this high variable climate, that all of a sudden you have a 20-degree rise in maximum temperature...for this reason, many less people die of the heat in cities in the deep South."

But just pinning down how many heat-related deaths there are each year is more of an art than a science. "People tend to understate the threat of heat, and the medical examiners tend to under-report the number of people that die from heat," said Kalkstein.

The NRDC praised cities like Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia, which it said have upped their game in responding to heat-related emergencies and have adopted strategies like cooling centers, "heatlines", and organized programs where neighbors look in on local at-risk residents. Some cities also won't cut off power to residents who have failed to pay an electric bill during a heat-related emergency.

Case in point: New York City, with its eight million residents, sees an average of 184 heat-related deaths each summer. But just across the Hudson River in Newark, New Jersey -- population 280,000 -- that number is 56.  "New York has one of the most aggressive local health departments in the country," Kalkstein said. "They're one of the few cities in the country where the Health Department calls the heat emergency, rather than the National Weather Service...they are doubling down on every effort to deal with heat."



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Report: NY, NJ to See Big Savings from Fuel Efficient Cars by 2025

Thursday, April 19, 2012


An increase in fuel efficiency standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 will save New York and New Jersey motorists big money, according to a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. New Yorkers will save almost $3 billion a year, while New Jersey residents will save $1.5 billion.


Transportation Nation

Report: Drivers to Save Almost $70 Billion by 2025 from Fuel-Efficient Cars

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Gas Prices, February 2012

UPDATED: The Natural Resource Defense Council says drivers will save some $70 billion by 2025 from fuel savings and other costs associated with cars that get 54.5 m.p.g. -- the federal standard in that year.

Individual drivers will save about $4,400 over the life of their cars -- accounting for the increased costs of high-mileage cars.

The report says increased fuel efficiency will cut U.S. oil consumption by 1.7 million barrels a day by 2030, the equivalent of the combined U.S. oil imports from Saudi Arabia and Iraq in 2011.

It will also cut carbon pollution by 297 metric tons, equivalent to the CO2 emssions of 76 coal power plants.

Alan Baum, of Baum and Associates, an automotive forecasting firm, said consumer demand for higher mileage vehicles is growing.  "Before 2007 the expectation was that fuel prices would be low, and if they went up, that was the aberration," said Baum on an NRDC-organized conference call. " People in the 2005-6 period said, 'oh, okay, we’ve got a problem with whatever, political issues in the mid-east or supply shortages, etc – that’s a transitory thing and I’m not going to change my interest in fuel economy.’ From 2007 onward, it reversed."

"To the extent we enjoyed fuel prices under $3.00 in recent years, the general expectation from the consumer was that was the aberration. That the norm was going to be higher fuel prices."

NRDC says there were only 5 car models that got more than 30 m.p.g. in 2009, before the White House announced new fuel standards.  In the 2012 model year, there were 15 models.

Here's a list of state saving calculated by the NRDC.

1) Texas               $7.750 billion
2)California          $7.270 billion
3)Florida:             $6.683 billion
4) New York:       $2.959 billion
5)North Carolina: $2.797 billion
6) Georgia:           $2.564 billion
7) Virginia:          $2.179 billion
8)Pennsylvania:    $2.004 billion
9)Tennessee:        $1.958 billion
10)Arizona:          $1.887 billion
11) Illinois           $1.853 billion
12) Ohio:             $1.664 billion
13) Washington:  $1.547 billion
14) Maryland       $1.529 billion
15) Michigan       $1.520 billion
16) New Jersey:   $1.452 billion
17) Alabama       $1.271 billion
18) Kentucky:     $1.207 billion
19) Missouri:      $1.207 billion
20) Minnesota    $1.162 billion

And, in case you've forgotten, a gas price graph from AAA:

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Indian Point Nuclear Plant Should Be Shuttered: Environmentalists

Monday, October 17, 2011

A new report commissioned by the National Resources Defense Council and Riverkeeper stated that there are alternative energy resources available to replace Indian Point should the Nuclear Regulatory Commission not renew the facility’s license.

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Transportation Nation

NRDC List: Top 15 Metro Regions for Public Transportation

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) New York, Chicago, Boston all made the cut. Los Angeles, not so much. The Natural Resources Defense Council released their top 15 "Smart Cities" for transportation Wednesday.

The study compares metro regions according to public transit accessibility, cost, use as well as household auto habits. Innovations, like pedestrian plaza construction and sustainable transportation programs are factored in as well.

The NRDC announcement offers some highlights of what constitutes a "Smart City" In Lincoln, Nebraska, for instance, low-income riders pay a mere $7.50 for unlimited bus rides all month long.

Around U.C. Davis in Yolo, Calif. the local transit provider, Yolobus, does such a good job of balancing the needs of students (who bike a lot), government employees, and casino patrons that the area boasts the highest rate of transit access, 91 percent, of any small region (population under 250,000).

NRDC partnered with the Center for Neighborhood Technology on the study, drawing data from the U.S. Census as well as CNT's H+T Affordability Index that quantifies household transportation costs by location.

Getting from place to place is more affordable in New York—at an average annual household cost of $5,289—than in any other large city, according to CNT.

And at an average of 9,920 miles a year per household, New Yorkers travel fewer miles in the car than residents in any other region in the country besides Jersey City, New Jersey.

The 2011 Smarter Cities for Transportation aren't ranked. Sorry, there's no a number 1 city here. But they are grouped by city size, and each city gets it's own web page extolling the efficiencies, access, or other admirable elements that earned them this eco-accolade.

Large cities (population more than 1 million)

Boston, MA/NH, Chicago, IL, New York, NY , Portland, OR, Philadelphia, PA/NJ , San Francisco, CA, Washington, DC/MD/VA/WV.

Medium cities (population: 250,000 – 1 million)

Boulder-Longmont, CO, Honolulu, HI, Jersey City, NJ, New Haven, CT.

Small (population less than 250,000)

Bremerton, WA, Champaign-Urbana, IL, Lincoln, NE, Yolo, CA

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Transportation Nation

Average Fuel Spending Drops, but We Still Use a Lot of It

Thursday, November 04, 2010

(Washington, D.C. -- Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) Drivers across the country spent a lower percentage of their income on gasoline in 2009 than in 2008, according to an analysis out today from the Natural Resources Defense Council. That shouldn't be a surprise, considering the spike in oil prices in 2008.

But there are still several states where gas purchases eat up more than five percent of household income on average. And NRDC says that in two states--Mississippi and Montana--gasoline consumption accounted for more than six percent. In Montana the average household spent $2,066.58 on gas in 2009, the nation's highest dollar figure. Typical Mississippians spent $1,910.75 but led the nation in terms of income percentage spent on gasoline. Chalk up the difference to low mean incomes in Mississippi, which ranks among the poorest states in the nation.

Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Kentucky round out the list of states where gas consumption took up more than 5% of average household income in 2009. Meanwhile the higher-income states of the Northeast were at the bottom of the list. Drivers in New York spent a national low of $1,229.16 on gas, though Connecticut had the lowest household income share at just 2.56%.

You won't be surprised to read that NRDC, a leading environmental group takes these results as a clarion call for less dependence on fossil fuels. The group points out that only three states--California, Massachusetts, and Oregon--have their own low-carbon fuel standards. The twelve states with renewable fuel standards are primarily those with functioning ethanol industries. Only 19 states have growth management, or "smart growth" laws designed to manage transportation and land use in growing suburbs, according to NRDC.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Home-grown saves money

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Home-grown veggies
Originally uploaded by miss mass

Furyk Clark wrote in to Your Uncommon Economic Indicators about turning over a new gardening leaf: "In past years ...

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