Saturday, May 22, 2010

"plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles", Presidential Memorandum on Fuel Efficiency Standards

Last Thursday, May 21st, 2010, President Obama announced a continuation of fuel efficiency policy for Americas autos.

As advocates for mass transit will point out, there is a likely decline liquid fuels. As with most predictions, the oil industry should be having a going out of business sale. They probably should, but for other reasons. #1 is our hot planet, #2 is that the people with oil control much of our economic and foriegn policy decisions, #3 the demand from emerging markets for oil will drive the price up.

Where the light rail folks sometime miss the bus is seeing that mobility can not be completely solved by light rail, but the secondary goals can be solved by right sized modes of transportation for a given situation. The light rail vs car is more than the tailpipe. It is not to the exclusion of either, and this is where advocates sometimes fall down.

We need light rail, in the right places, right now, but that is not everywhere, and in some locations it is never.
I have not seen a single light rail proposal that would serve my part of Seattle. No trolley, no street car, but we have the same bus that takes enough people close enough to where they need to go to make that transportation mode viable. Still, my part of Seattle has an unusual amount of cars, sometimes two or three per household, interspersed with the few homes without any cars that are served by the limited mass transit within walking distance.

There are no plans to change this within the next 25 years in many neighborhoods. The Transportation 2040 vision of transportation published on May 20th makes this clear.

The question becomes: what do we do about the tailpipe since there are no meaningful policy plans to supplant them?
25 years is about two car lifetimes for cheap people like me.

Our last family car was a minivan that got 18 mpg, and my commuter car got 26 mpg. Three years later the family car gets 50, and my commuter gets 33. Both vehicles pollute far less.
By the time the Transportation 2040 plan has mass transit as a practical solution for my commute I will be retired, and likely buy another commuter car between now and then.

Here I would like to make a point that is lost on some people, they choice to buy that next car for me, and many other people has to do with the viable optionat the time of the next purchase. Once I have sunk costs into that mode, driving, I am going to resist being taxed to pay for another mode at the same time. I only want to pay for one mode at a time, when possible. I only want to pay for the mode that is practical. I am no different then the person that lives near a light rail station and commutes to work downtown Seattle via light rail.
Same city, same reasons for supporting/resisting transportation modes.

The American car market is a replacement market, but the population will grow. The Transportation 2040 tries to anticipate where the density will be and how it's mobility can best be served of mitigated.

The reasonable solution is to find a way to support the right sized modes in appropriate places not to the absolute exclusion of recognizing the other. Sadly, those with a vested interest in upzones on one side, and the sprawl builders on the other are not paid to compromise, and find a middle way that moves us all forward.

What are the common goals? Well, I think the 1, 2, 3 items listed above should drive policy. So, it is with great interest that I read President Obama's speech from May 21st, 2010. Below are a few paragraphs that should help.
And over the next five years, we expect fuel efficiency standards in cars and light trucks to reach an average of 35.5 miles per gallon. 
As a result, everybody wins.  The typical driver will save roughly $3,000 over the life of the vehicle.  We’ll reduce our dependence on oil by 1.8 billion barrels and cut nearly a billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions.  This is the equivalent of taking 50 million cars off the road -– lowering pollution while making our economy more secure.  And by setting a single standard in place, rather than a tangle of overlapping and uncertain rules, auto companies will have the clear incentive to develop more efficient vehicles.  This, in turn, will foster innovation and growth in a host of new industries.

So that’s what we set in motion one year ago.  And today, we’re going even further, proposing the development of a national standard for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, just as we did for cars and light trucks.  In a few moments, I’m going to sign a presidential memorandum, coordinated by my chief energy advisor, Carol Browner.  It directs my administration, under the leadership of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, to develop a standard to improve fuel efficiency and reduce harmful emissions for trucks, starting with the model year 2014. 
. . .
This is going to bring down the costs for transportating -- for transporting goods, serving businesses and consumers alike.  It will reduce pollution, given that freight vehicles produce roughly one fifth of the greenhouse gas emissions related to transportation.  We estimate, for example, that we can increase fuel economy by as much as 25 percent in tractor trailers using technologies that already exist today.  And, just like the rule concerning cars, this standard will spur growth in the clean energy sector.

We know how important that is.  We know that our dependence on foreign oil endangers our security and our economy.  We know that climate change poses a threat to our way of life -– in fact we’re already seeing some of the profound and costly impacts.  And the disaster in the Gulf only underscores that even as we pursue domestic production to reduce our reliance on imported oil, our long-term security depends on the development of alternative sources of fuel and new transportation technologies.
. . .
And that’s why, when we fashioned the Recovery Act to get our economy moving again, we emphasized clean energy.  Today, we’re supporting the development of advanced battery technologies.  We’re doubling the capacity to generate renewable electricity.  We’re building a stronger, smarter electric grid, which will be essential to powering the millions of plug-in hybrids -- cars and trucks that we hope to see on the roads.  It’s estimated that through these investments, we’ll create or save more than 700,000 jobs.  And these investments will help businesses develop new technologies that vehicle makers can use to meet higher fuel efficiency standards.

In addition, the standard we set last year for cars and light trucks runs through 2016.  I’m proposing we start developing right now a new and higher standard to take effect beginning 2017, so that we can make more and more progress in the years to come.

Through the directive I’m signing, we’re also going to work with public and private sectors to develop the advanced infrastructure that will be necessary for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.  And we’re going to continue to work to diversify our fuel mix, including biofuels, natural gas, and other cleaner sources of energy.  I believe that it’s possible, in the next 20 years, for vehicles to use half the fuel and produce half the pollution that they do today.  But that’s only going to happen if we are willing to do what’s necessary for the sake of our economy, our security, and our environment.
. . .
[read the full speech linked here]Presidential Memorandum on Fuel Efficiency Standards

Or, watch the video here:

The reduction of oil consumption should not shift that burden to the electric grid. Efficiency does not start and end with transportation, or the garage.
Another area the government could help is providing ways to make home energy generation, wind and solar, cheaper. It looks like every time one of these systems is put on a home the local government acts as if it is the first time they have ever seen it.
But that is another story for another day.


Peter said...

Do you think it is too much wishful thinking to say 2012 or 2013 is the likely target date for an new team and an new arena? BR must have mentioned 2012 or 2013 8 or 10 times over the last year on SC. It`s almost like he knows something we don`t. I wanna stay a optimist, so since someone posted on SC about Seattle's 2 "near misses" on the NHL, i would prefer to think the third time's the charm. Is that wishful thinking too? Only time will tell.

Mr Baker said...

He knows people you don't, so, yes, he knows something you don't.

There are a couple teams for sale right now that have horrible leases that are more easily broken in 2013.
The league will have a work stoppage next year, and teams are more likely to change hands, and possibly cities.

It is likely that BR will be part of bringing a team here.

Peter said...

Any news on the arena plans? Speaking of that, wouldn`t we have to grossly overpay for a team? The ballmer group approaches any nba owner wanting to buy an team, and the current owner would know where the team is going after the sale, and not sell. I wouldn`t wanna pull a bennett on another city with some fake arena plan in the teams current city, and i don`t think ballmer would want to either. I`d wanna announce our intentions up front.

Peter said...

Since brock has announced that "teams have been contacted", when do you think we will hear an announcement on the potential purchase of teams by the groups? Did he also say the NBA and NHL were involved? Everybody keeps saying that we should expect to hear something this summer. However, you would think they would get tyhe arena figured out first and we would hear about it next summer.since a county wide public vote is unlikely to pass on such short notice, you would think that the county would try to get the user fees from the state next year, and the announcement of the teams being sold to us would be next summer, unless they plan on funding the whole thing theirselves if the state and/or voters say no.

Mr Baker said...

I do not know when anybody will say anything. I do know that nothing will be said while the NBA playoffs are going on.

How much did clay pay for the sonics as compared to how much Jordan paid for the bobcats?

plenty of teams losing money will keep losing money and only turn a profit when sold. That stopped happening. Some owners will cut their losses.

It is a buyers market.

Peter said...

did brock say on the radio that the NBA and NHL were involved as well as the teams being contacted? i couldn't get the audio to work. if they announce anything about the purchase of teams THIS summer, they better get the arena done. annoucing something like that and ultimatly not getting it done would be a huge embarrassment. if this does eventually end up in the state next year, what do you think would be the correct strategy for the county to pass it in the state? maybe spelling out that the county wants it to be tax nuetral to the general public would be a good idea.

Mr Baker said...

Those things would have to be announced at the same time, at least one sports league and an arena solution.

He did not say what or when anything would happen for sure.

Peter said...

I know you have said before that athlete taxes are "not a hard sell" in the legislature, but how hard do you think the user fees would be to get from the state? Going to the state would seem Like a better option to me than going to voters this fall because the county would have more time to get a strategy going. I think it winning any public vote would take alot more time, even if there is no public money from people who don`t use the arena.

Peter said...

I know nicastro said that ballmer's offer still stands, but did anyone say for sure if ballmer really is the potential nba owner involved in the effort? We all are just assuming, but if the talk includes the nhl, it can`t be keyarena, so whatever ownership group is part of the effort must be willing to go in for an brand new arena in my understanding.

Mr Baker said...

Including the NHL excludes Key Arena.

Peter said...

this isn’t a done deal yet, but at least it’s moving in the right direction. before, we were hopelessly trying to get the stadium taxes. i get what some people have been saying. the state clearly saying “no” to the stadium taxes may be a good thing if it got people like nicastro’s creative ideas flowing and people started trying to fund an arena without funds from people who don’t use the arena. like some people like you have been saying here, taking the “path of least resistance” is a lot more likely to succeed, and it could very well set up a model for the future where user fees/ performer fees/ booking fees/athlete taxes fund stadiums for good. getting the state and county from acting as primary funders of an arena to just “facilitators”, ups the chances of an arena imo.

Peter said...

If this does to the state for the user fees, do you think it will be seen as any different by the legislature? I really wanna believe they will, especially with all the comments anti stadium people have made in recent years saying the people who use the arena should pay for it. It seems like a common sense solution that can satisfy most. If you don`t use the arena, you don`t pay for it. This seems alot different than even the ballmer plan for keyarena, but then again i said that about the ballmer plan 2 years ago.

Peter said...

What do you think the best way to get this done would be. Going to the state or going to voters? they both have risks, but one thing i think is if we rush it to voters like nicastro wants and it fails badly it could be a kiss of death for the effort.the county needs to slow her down. i would like to think the state would look at a proposal like nicastros diffrently than past offers. If someone like rodney tom could be for an solution with athlete taxes, i would think it wouldn`t be a hard sell. This is quite similar to the athlete tax imo because the people who benefit from the arena pay for it.
What would be the odds of something getting thru the state?

Peter said...

speaking of slowing down the effort,do you think the comments from the county councilman from the nicastro article show the county is already trying to do that? i do agree with him that an effort like this will take a lot of effort, and there isn't enough time for a favorable outcome this fall. i really hope that is the position of the county. if we rush it to voters and it fails it may never recover.i also don't think the county will put it to a vote w/o a reasonable chance of success, and they'd rather slow it down and get it right. hopefully dow's position mirrors that of the county councilmans comments.

Mr Baker said...

Time is short to get anything on the ballot. There will be a variety of things on the ballot that are a higher priority to voters.

I think that going to voters before there are other things in place will fail.

What has worked in the past is having a municipal partner, and a way to position the user fees as clearly a self-imposed tax. The Safeco parking tax simply does not exeist without the Nariners and Safeco Field. But, you see, those other things are in the proposal already. It is not as if there was a parking garage was already there and then the teamshowed up.

I think the county and some city have to partner with whoever the arena folks are to present a complete plan to the legislature that clearly does not cost any public money, and in fact provides the state B $ O taxes. Cities can impose B & 0 taxes too, and use that to offset some administrative costs.
I think a public vote without a clear plan will not get on the ballot. This what the county is saying, that there is a lot of work to be done to put a plan like that in place before the council votes to put anything on the ballot.