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Transportation Nation

WSJ Finds Gas Mileage for Airlines. Will it Change Your Choice?

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's was a wonderful piece of reporting this week in the Middle Seat column of the Wall Street Journal: a review of DOT data, yielding what amounts to an MPG rating for the airlines.  Alaska came out on top, with a bit of luck (like being West Coast-based) and some good practices (like shutting down engines quickly at the gate).  The worst guzzlers turn out to the three biggest U.S. carriers.

But here's the big question: would information like this -- that getting you from LAX to JFK sucks around 10 gallons more fuel on Delta than it does on JetBlue on average -- cause you to change who you buy your ticket from?  Let us know in the comments.

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The Takeaway

Kenneth Feinberg on BP's Claims System

Friday, August 13, 2010

BP has already paid out more than $300 million to businesses and individuals affected by the oil, which started gushing into the Gulf of Mexico on Apirl 20, but the company's claims system has been criticized by business owners who say they have had to deal with multiple adjusters. Attorney Kenneth Feinberg was hired by BP to serve as administrator of its $20 billion compensation fund and he will begin processing claims for victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill later this month.

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The Takeaway

Senate Delays Vote on Spill Bill

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Senate still has a few things to do before it goes on August recess. From the "spill bill" to Elena Kagan, Takeaway Washington correspondent, Todd Zwillich has the latest from Capitol Hill.

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The Takeaway

Oil Spill: A Closer Look at Chemical Dispersants; Shrimping Season Begins

Monday, August 02, 2010

The oil unleashed into the Gulf of Mexico over the last months is a toxic danger to sea life and wetlands, but in a frustrating Catch-22, so is one of the key methods of fighting the oil. Chemical dispersants, though better (in most cases) for the environment than the oil itself, still pose different environmental hazards. BP says they have only used 1.8 million gallons of the dispersant "Corexit," but a Congressional inquiry may yet call those numbers into doubt. We look at the effects of the dispersant on the environment and talk to a shrimper about whether he's seen any toxicity in his catch as the season begins.

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The Takeaway

Did the Oil Spill Cause Less Damage than Expected?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Yesterday, a Time Magazine article suggested the damage from the Gulf oil spill may have been exaggerated, and that some of the marsh areas important to the Gulf's life cycle may have escaped disaster. But can we know the full extent of the damage caused by the spill, just two weeks after the leak has been capped? The impact of the sheer volume of oil – which on its long journey to shore from the spill site loses some of its toxic qualities in the ocean – has yet to be determined. How can we better understand the complexity of the spill, and the road to recovery?

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Transportation Nation

Car Battery Incentives, BP Liability in New Senate Bill

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

(Washington, DC -- Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) Senate Democrats have released a scaled-back energy bill that cracks down on BP and other oil drillers but avoids hoped-for debate over controlling carbon emissions across the economy.

The bill includes several new incentives and investments for cleaner-energy vehicles. That includes rebate programs and loan guarantees designed to encourage companies to convert their trucking fleets to natural gas-burning vehicles. It would also spend millions to encourage the installation of natural gas pumping stations to service those fleet

Plug-in hybrids and electric cars also get a nod, to the tune of about $5 billion. The package of incentives and grants for plug-in hybrids and high-capacity battery development reported here several weeks ago have made it into the bill, according the Senate Democratic aides. The package includes the development of at least a dozen demonstration communities where car-charging infrastructure would be piloted. It also contains a taxpayer-funded $10 million prize for the first firm to develop a battery capable of driving a car 500 miles on a single charge.

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Transportation Nation

From Obama's "Planet in Peril" to Democrats in Peril: The Politics of Climate Change

Monday, July 26, 2010

(Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) Now that carbon caps or any other direct curbs on greenhouse gases appear dead in the Senate, at least for now, it seems like a good time to ask: How did one of President Barack Obama's key domestic initiatives fall apart?

The political press is rife with stories looking at the demise of a global warming policy as part of an energy bill slated to hit the Senate floor this week. But for the Senate the bottom line seems to be this: You just don't try to pass big, controversial, economy-changing legislation so close to an election. Not if you're serious about passing it, that is.

(There are dissenters to this view. On WNYC's Brian Lehrer show July 23, New York Congressman Anthony Weiner argued pretty strongly that Senator Reid was cowardly not to try-- and that a public debate might have helped Reid accrue a few more votes.)

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said it plainly last week. He just didn't have the 60 votes needed to pass an energy bill that included a cap-and-trade system for limiting carbon emissions. That stayed true even when Democrats tried to take the edge off by narrowing the plan to apply to utilities alone, an idea many of the utilities themselves supported. Why not?

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Transportation Nation

Energy Debate Stalls in Washington, and Houston Agrees

Friday, July 23, 2010

(Flickr user Hella (cc: by-nc-nd))

(Houston, Texas - Melissa Galvez, KUHF News)  Esmeralda Gomez sits in Brochstein Pavillion, a model of wide windows, natural light, and waving green fronds at the heart of the Rice University campus in Houston. Gomez works at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business. When asked about her reaction to the Gulf oil spill, she said she was “devastated” by the pictures of oiled animals and reports of lost employment. But would the massive oil slick change the way she gets around every day?

“Not at this moment, no.  And that’s mainly because I don’t have a lot of choices of getting to and from work. I can make little changes in other areas of my life -- trying to be a little more responsible about my gas consumption, combining trips, but as far as the overall impact on my day to day, not really,” she said.

That's the consensus among the dozen or so people I spoke to across Houston.  This week, the Senate gave up on broad energy reform, saying Americans weren't ready for the debate and the taxes it brought with it.  Today, the response to the Gulf oil spill again stopped for an approaching storm, this time it's Tropical Depression Bonnie.  Facing these palpable pressure points in the energy debate, Houstonians still feel like life goes on.

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Transportation Nation

New York Congressman Weiner: Skeptical Climate Change Will Pass this Congress

Friday, July 23, 2010

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Brooklyn and Queens Congressman Anthony Weiner says he doubts climate change legislation will be passed in this Congress. His remarks on the Brian Lehrer show come on the heels of Senator Harry Reid's announcement that the U.S. Senate won't take up legislation that would put a price on carbon emissions anytime soon.

Last summer, the House, after much sturm-and-drang, narrowly passed sweeping climate change legislation to limit CO2 emissions. But the Senate bill has gotten narrower and narrower, until Reid announced a very limited set of reforms yesterday.

Weiner's told WNYC's Brian Lehrer show that he's skeptical that Democrats will be able to get energy legislation passed before the mid term elections.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories

Friday, July 23, 2010

Rise in inflation measure blamed on congestion charge for cars in Singapore (Bloomberg)

Oil field that could match Gulf of Mexico in output sits; blame transportation problems and politics.  (NY Times)

FAA routinely allowed Northwest to avoid penalties, fines for not voluntarily disclosing failures (AP)

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Transportation Nation

Senate Energy Reform Gets Even Smaller

Thursday, July 22, 2010

(Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) The slimmed-down energy bill we've been forecasting for the Senate floor next week will be even slimmer than expected.

The Hill newspaper is quoting Senate Democratic aides who say that the energy bill will leave off any attempt set a price for carbon. Instead, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will go with an even narrower package, regulating BP and other oil drillers as well as promoting green energy production and fuel-efficient vehicles.

Supporters of a cap-and-trade approach to regulating greenhouse gases had floated the idea of applying the scheme to utilities alone in recent weeks. That approach might have been politically more palatable to a Senate that is wary of slowing down the economy with new energy mandates. Now it seems even the less ambitious carbon policy is off the table until next year.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

U.S. DOT says study showing its tough new tarmac delays rule leads to more cancellations is "premature" (AP)

Rendell wants higher license and registration fee, three-cent hike in the gas tax to close PA's funding gap. Unhappy state GOP wants bonds. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Green "engineers' dreams" on display by Airbus at Farnborough Air Show (Liverpool Daily Post) Boeing posts video of 787 Dreamliner's trip across Atlantic

Nun ticketing sparks concern about Holland Tunnel traffic enforcement (DNAinfo) while cop gets slapped with assault charges and reckless driving for driving the wrong way, hitting a cyclist, and leaving the scene (Gotham Gazette)

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WQXR News

Scientists Call Gulf Oil Seepage Insignificant

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Oil and small amounts of gas are slowly seeping into the Gulf of Mexico floor, but at a rate that scientists are calling insignificant.

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Transportation Nation

What Will Energy Reform Look Like?

Monday, July 19, 2010

(Washington, DC - Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation)  This is the week we’re supposed to see the climate change and energy bill Democrats hope to pass in the Senate before breaking for August. The bill’s actual form is not yet known, but proponents of an economy-wide cap and trade scheme to combat global warming are likely to be disappointed.

Lawmakers—even those firmly behind broad cap and trade policy—acknowledge they do not have the 60 votes needed to overcome objections in the Senate. That’s left Majority Leader Harry Reid and his lieutenants to get less ambitious, hoping to find a scaled-back formula that can corral enough votes while still enabling Democrats to declare an environmental victory just months before the midterm elections.

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WQXR News

BP Says Cap is Stopping Oil from Gushing into the Gulf

Thursday, July 15, 2010

BP announced on Thursday that its new cap is finally preventing oil from leaking into the Gulf.

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WNYC News

Gulf Oil to Keep Flowing While Cap is Analyzed

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The plan to start choking off oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico was suddenly halted as government officials on Wednesday.

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WQXR News

BP Installs New Cap, Begins Testing Device

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Underwater robots successfully installed a new 150,000-pound cap onto the gushing Deepwater Horizon well on Monday.

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WQXR News

BP Hopes to Install New Sealing Cap Over Well

Monday, July 12, 2010

Underwater robots are attempting to install a tighter cap over the Deepwater Horizon busted well on Monday.

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Transportation Nation

A Life Refining, Mining and Drilling into the Earth

Friday, July 09, 2010

Refineries, open-pit mines, and mining camps can seem like remote locations. Unless they are your father's photographic obsessions. Over at the WNYC culture page, writer Carolina Miranda muses on her engineer father's five decades of snapshots of oil refineries, open pit mines, and mining camps.  At left, a view of the Caletones copper smelting project in the Andes, as captured by Felipe Miranda in 1968.

We write about oil and energy, all the time at Transportation Nation, but these photos tell the story from a whole new angle. Literally.  --Andrea Bernstein

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Underreported: BP's Response to 2005 Refinery Blast

Thursday, July 08, 2010

In 2005, a blast at a British Petroleum refinery in Texas City, Texas, killed 15 people. On today’s Underreported, reporter Ryan Knutson describes the safety violations that led up to the blast, how the oil company responded to the disaster, and the parallels with the Deepwater Horizon explosion in April.

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