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Sep 112013

People who would like to see US high speed rail service in the upper Midwest should get their calendars out.

High Speed Rail-corridors1

A federal plan suggests that high speed rail could be incubated in several regional areas of the U.S., as the map shows.

The Michigan Department of Transportation will be sampling public opinion on upgrading rail service between Chicago and Detroit, which the Midwest High Speed Rail Association (MHSRA) sees as an opportunity to step up the campaign for high speed rail between the two cities.

“This is a big deal,” writes MHSRA executive director Rick Harnish to supporters, urging them to attend one of the meetings.

“The Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac passenger rail corridor is critical to building a high speed intercity rail network in the Midwest. This is winnable, but only if we all make our voices heard,” Harnish said.

The MHSRA has proposed that connecting Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Detroit would be a logical next step for expanding the US rail system and installing high speed trains such as those used in Japan, Europe, China and other countries. A high speed network would “shrink” distances to a few hours between these cities, enabling business and tourist travel.

High speed rail has enjoyed popular support. Polls show many people would use fast trains. But plans hit a speed bump in 2010 when a federal proposal that identified specific corridors and offered initial funding was nixed by conservative governors in Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida who said it was too expensive to build. These opponents withdrew matching state funding, stalling plans for regional rail programs.

Despite that opposition, the federal government has kept in place a plan to build designated corridors in several parts of the U.S., which have received seed money to develop rail routes and cost analyses.

The meetings are set for:

-Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013
Chicago Union Station, Union Gallery Room (off the Great Hall), 500 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL

-Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013
Genesis Convention Center, Lake Room, One Genesis Center Plaza, Gary, IN
-Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013
Porter Town Hall, Main Floor Meeting Room, 303 Franklin St., Porter, IN

-Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013
Double Tree by Hilton Hotel, 5801 Southfield Expressway, Dearborn, MI

All the meetings will be open to the public from 4-7pm. A presentation will be made at 4:30pm and repeated as needed.


Jan 092012

From Green Right Now Reports

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced today that Triad Mining Inc., the owner and operator of 31 surface mines in Appalachia and Indiana, has agreed to pay an $810,171 civil penalty and restore  waterways that it polluted.

Triad had failed to obtain a required Clean Water Act (CWA) permit for stream impacts caused by its surface mining operation in Indiana in 2002 when it began dumping excavated soil into waterways feeding the White River.

The result was that Triad’s mining operation filled up more than 53,000 feet of streams that flow into the White River, according to the EPA.

Under the settlement, Triad will have to restore those waterways, and return them to their natural state, said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

The settlement holds Triad accountable for its un-permitted discharges into streams of the White River watershed, said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. And to fulfill the agreement, the mining company will have to restore the area, enhance stream beds and create buffer zones that benefit aquatic life and the people of Indiana, Moreno said.

Triad, a subsidiary of James River Coal Company, obtained the required Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act permits from the state of Indiana for its mining operations, but never obtained the required CWA permit for the site, despite the fact that its surface mining operation involved excavating coal seams located directly below stream beds, according to the EPA.

On March 24, 2008, the Army Corps of Engineers issued a cease and desist order requiring Triad to stop its unauthorized stream-filling activities. Triad continued its mining practices until the Army Corps of Engineers sent a second order on June 24, 2009, which Triad complied with. Since the second order was issued, Triad has continued mining, but has avoided additional impacts to streams.

Under the settlement, Triad must restore 34,906 linear feet of streams and enhance 4,330 linear feet of stream bed to address and mitigate impacts to stream beds caused by its mining activities. Triad will also create and maintain 66 acres of forested buffer areas and nine acres of forested wetland to protect the restored streams.

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, is subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval.

Oct 182010

From Green Right Now Reports

GLWN, also known as the Great Lakes Wind Network, has teamed up with the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation to help bring more small and medium manufacturers into the developing U.S. wind energy business.

The partnership will help these smaller firms build capacity so they can supply parts for North American wind turbines, and in turn, strengthen growing U.S. wind markets.

Part of the money for this joint project will come from the National Institute of Standards and Technology‘s (NIST)  Clean Energy Manufacturing Center, which is trying to help U.S. manufacturers find a place on the production chain for wind power.

The center has programs in Illinois, Indiana, West Virginia and Montana — known as the Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center; Indiana Purdue TAP; Montana Manufacturing Extension Project, and West Virginia Manufacturing Extension Project.

GLWN, a non profit group affiliated with 1,600 suppliers, also will be working with the American Wind Energy Association, the United Steelworkers and the Alliance for American Manufacturing, to speed the development and capacity of U.S. manufacturers to service the wind energy sector.

“We’ve been saying all along that the wind market is ‘tailor-made’ for U.S. heavy industry. With the right resources there are opportunities to manufacture turbine components as well as parts for wind-related infrastructure and logistics supply chains,” said Ed Weston, Director of GLWN.

The U.S. needs to focus on wind manufacturing if it is to compete against established foreign suppliers, Weston said.

GLWN, located in Cleveland, launched in 2007.

Jan 062010

Green Right Now Reports

Elkhart, Ind., will become home to an assembly plant for the Finnish company THINK, a maker of all-electric vehicles.

THINK's City model can go 100 miles on a charge

THINK's City model can go 100 miles on a charge

The factory, expected to employ at least 400 workers, will produce a “highway-capable urban EV” that is being newly marketed in Europe and will be available later this year in the U.S., the company announced yesterday.

The THINK “City” model car will not come off the line at the Elkhart location until 2011, after the Finnish automaker retools the Indiana plant, which previously made recreational vehicles.

The RV industry suffered serious wounds in the recent recession and during the summer of 2008′s high gas prices. Those events contributed to high unemployment in Elkhart, which reached nearly 20 percent a year ago, but recently was reported to be down to around 15 percent , as RV production has stabilized. Elkhart is considered the capital of the RV industry, but Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has said he’d like to see the state of Indiana now also become the capital of EV production in the U.S.

THINK had announced in mid 2009 that it would produce its urban EV in Elkhart County, which is in Northern Indiana, east of Chicago, but the precise location was only formally confirmed at a news conference yesterday.

THINK projects that the Elkhart production facility could support manufacturing for 20,000 vehicles a year. The company, which has been developing EV technology for 18 years, describes the THINK City as “a purpose-built, all-electric car designed for urban environments.” It will be able to travel at highway speeds for more than 100 miles on a single charge with zero tailpipe emissions. The car has be granted EU certifications that represent its passing extensive testing, the company reported.

In Finland, the car is produced by THINK’s manufacturing partner, Valmet Automotive, which also assembles the Porsche Boxster and Cayman models for Porsche AG. Sales have started in selected electric vehicle markets in Austria, Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden.

“Things are moving very swiftly for the company in Europe following the start of production in Finland and the subsequent start of sales at the end of last year,” said CEO Richard Canny in the news release. “Now it’s time for us to do the same in the North American market – and there’s no better place to start than Indiana.”

Canny praised Indiana for becoming a leader in advanced, clean technology and said, “We’re proud to be part of this effort to reinvent and reinvest in U.S. auto manufacturing.”

In addition to the THINK plant, Indiana is home to Indianapolis-based EnerDel, a lithium-ion battery maker. EnderDel’s parent company, Ener1, is a 31 percent stakeholder in THINK.

THINK expects to take advantage of local tax abatements, Indiana state funding of about $3 million tied to performance, and additional money for training funds, and funding from the U.S. Departement of Energy for the development of new auto technology.

Jul 282009

From Green Right Now Reports:

Eight Midwestern states have agreed to work toward the common goal of developing high speed rail in the Midwest, and hope to access $8 billion in earmarked federal dollars to fund the new services.

Governors from those states — Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin — signed an agreement on Monday, saying they support each other in seeking federal dollars to build a high speed rail network. The hub of the network would be in the Windy City, and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley along with five of the governors attended the Midwest High Speed Rail Summit to solidify the agreement.

Chicago already serves as a hub for Amtrak and many freight lines. The new plan would bring high speed rail into the mix, which advocates say could transform and green transportation in the the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions.

(Photo: Midwest High Speed Rail Association)

Continue reading »

Apr 132009

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

The American Wind Energy Association released its annual rankings of industry leaders today, showing that the nation’s wind production companies and turbine manufacturers are growing at warp speed, creating thousands of jobs and helping top wind states provide millions of households with clean energy.

First the states: Texas leads the nation with the ability to produce electricity from wind with 7,118 Megawatts of power capacity, or enough to provide 1.75 million homes in electricity.

The Lone Star state is followed by Iowa (2,791 Megawatts of wind capacity); California (2,517 Megawatts); Minnesota (1,754 Megawatts); Washington (1,447 Megawatts) and Oregon and Colorado (each with just over 1,000 Megawatts).

All together, wind installations were able to provide 25,300 MW of power by the end of 2008 and that is expected to grow in 2009 — with wind capable of powering 7 million “average American homes,” according to the AWEA.

Indiana and Michigan are growing fastest in wind, with Indiana moving from zero capacity to 131 Megawatts of capacity.

Ten new manufacturing facilities came online; 17 were expanded and 30 newly planned operations were announced in 2008, according to the AWEA. These investments affect 24 states, from Pennsylvania and New York to Oregon and Montana, with several Midwest and Southern states also involved in wind and wind equipment production.

The wind association estimates that 85,000 people are now employed in the industry, a 70 percent increase from a year ago, making wind a more powerful recession salvo than many realize.

“The wind energy industry today generates not only clean energy for our economy, but also hope and opportunity for American workers and businesses,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode in a statement. “Whether it is building or maintaining a wind project, or producing wind turbine components, you’ll find people employed in wind power in nearly all 50 states today.”

As for the companies that run these wind projects, NextEra Energy Resources, with wind offices in Minnesota, is the top “project owner” with 6,290 Megawatts in wind power assets — or roughly 25 percent of the total installed in the U.S..

Next on the wind scene are three companies that comprise another 25 percent of the market: Iberdrola Renewables, MidAmerican Energy and Horizon-Energias de Portugal.

Providing the equipment for these projects are GE Energy, which accounts for 43 percent of all the new wind capacity installed in the U.S., followed by Vestas (13 percent), Siemens and Suzlon (9 percent each) and Gamesa (7 percent).

Bode said the wind industry needs strong support from Washington to continue its progress forward.

“We need the right policies in place for our industry to maintain its momentum. A national Renewable Electricity Standard, requiring utilities to generate 25 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025, is vital to provide the long-term, U.S.-wide commitment businesses need to invest tens of billions of dollars in clean energy installations and manufacturing facilities, and create hundreds of thousands of American jobs,” she said.

Copyright © 2009 Green Right Now | Distributed by Noofangle Media


Apr 062009

From Green Right Now Reports

A softening economy and a milder-than-usual winter contributed to a decline in carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants in 2008, according to a new report from the Environmental Integrity Project.

EIP officials noted that the decrease is a departure from the recent trends, with power plant carbon dioxide emissions having risen 0.9 percent since 2003, and 4.5 percent since 1998, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Even with the national improvement in CO2 emissions, six states had increases in power plant emissions of 1 million tons or more from 2007 to 2008:

  • Oklahoma (3.1 million)
  • Iowa (1.8 million)
  • Texas (1.7 million)
  • Nebraska (1.3 million)
  • Illinois (1.1 million)
  • Washington (1.1 million)

“Unfortunately, one year of improved data does not mean that we are on the right path for carbon dioxide reduction from U.S. power plants. We clearly cannot afford a wave of conventional fossil-fired power plants that would only add tens of millions of tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year over the lifetimes of these new plants,” EIP Senior Attorney Ilan Levin said in a statement. “If the United States is serious about curbing greenhouse gas pollution and meeting the goals that the scientific community says are needed, then many of the nation’s dirtiest power plants will either need to be cleaned up or retired. We have no time to lose.”

The 10 states that emitted the most CO2 in 2008, measured in total tons, are: Texas, Ohio, Indiana, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, and West Virginia.

The 10 states with the largest CO2 increases over the past 10 years (from 1998 to 2008) are:

  • Texas (26.9 million tons)
  • Arizona (22.6 million)
  • California (18.8 million)
  • Georgia (17.7 million)
  • Illinois (17.7 million)
  • Oklahoma (16.6 million)
  • Alabama (8.9 million)
  • South Carolina (7.5 million)
  • Colorado (6.7 million)
  • Iowa (6 million)

Apr 022009

On April 25, 2009, Waynedale Green Alliance & Southwest Conservation Club, 5703 Bluffton Road, Fort Wayne, Indiana will unite for GreenFEST ‘09: In Celebration of Earth Day Week. This is the first annual Green Festival to take place in northeastern Indiana, and a great opportunity to become involved in all aspects of sustainable living.

Mayor Tom Henry will give the proclamation at noon. The Three Rivers Vero Club will be riding in from Wayne High School for their GreenFEST ’09 Tour to Southwest Conservation Club. Speakers from Citilink, Allen County Solid Waste District, and Save the Maumee Grassroots Organization will be on hand along with a finale concert by Cathy Serrano, Bill Certain, Skip Calvin of Guitar Exchange, and Dan Dickerson of Harp Condition.

Food, talent displays by All Martial Arts Academy, a presentation by Laura Stein of Neuhouser Nursery, giveaways by local companies, and games are all planned for the day.

Businesses involved in alternative transportation, local and sustainable building, renewable energy, local food, sustainable water, and fair trade will all have a presence.

Admittance is a canned good or non-perishable food item that will be donated to Community Harvest of Northeast Indiana.

Visit http://www.fortwaynegreenfest.webs.com for more info.