NYC Energy Report

Dan Miner is the Coordinator of Beyond Oil NYC and Energy Committee Chair of the New York City Sierra Club. He is also very involved with promoting urban Permaculture, presumably from the viewpoint that in the era Beyond Oil (which may be sooner than many people think) we will need to produce much more of our food locally. I first heard Dan speak about Peak Oil at a GreenHome NYC monthly forum in 2005, and his presentation was very compelling. Dan is also the author of a recent report entitled Moving New York City Toward Sustainable Energy Independence. Gotham Gazette named it Report of the Day, and the President of New York Divinity School calls it a “must read”. Here’s a taste:

Many of us are worried about the long-term consequences of climate change, and there’s growing support for the warnings of climate scientists that we need to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 to avoid climate catastrophe. On the other hand, most Americans are not cutting their energy use significantly. Defenders of business as usual claim that energy frugality will harm our economy, while failing to consider that inaction now guarantees wrecking the economy later with heat waves and flooding. Part of the problem is the perception that the climate impacts of our oil addiction lie far in the future, preventing a public consensus of urgency. Without that, the bold political action we need today is impossible.

Check out a summary here, or download the whole report here.

3 thoughts on “NYC Energy Report”

  • NY Times July 19, 2007
    Make Nice, Win Up to $500 Million
    There is no need for federal funding for congestion pricing to die, but if it does, finding the killer might resemble the ending of “Murder on the Orient Express.” Everyone — the mayor, the governor and the two legislative leaders — did it. We hope this saga ends differently, with elected officials pulling together for an agreement that might yet win New York City as much as $500 million to help relieve traffic and improve public transportation.

    Yesterday, two days after a federal deadline, leaders in Albany were attempting a 13th-hour rescue of the congestion-pricing proposal. Voters could have been spared the cliffhanger, but the turnaround is welcome if it works. In the days leading to the deadline, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, disappointingly, did not even seem to be trying. Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno did not get a bill through his chamber. Gov. Eliot Spitzer did not push hard enough. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who needs congestion pricing as part of his plan to reduce greenhouse gases, should have done a better job selling it.

    This is no time, though, for finger-pointing. Mayor Bloomberg, in particular, is wise to check his anger at Albany lawmakers because he still needs them as long as there is a glint of hope the city could still get a hearing for a federal grant. The Department of Transportation, which has praised Mr. Bloomberg’s proposal, has not ruled out that it could extend last Monday’s application deadline for applying for the $500 million.

    Politics aside, the mayor’s plan is a good one. It would charge a fee to most drivers who drive south of 86th Street in Manhattan on weekdays, $8 for cars and $21 for trucks. Commuters who pay bridge or tunnel tolls would be able to subtract them from the congestion fee. The plan generally resembles London’s model, which in four years has reduced traffic so much that city buses now run ahead of schedule. Harmful emissions have gone down, and skeptical businesses and commuters have embraced the plan. Similar programs have also worked in Stockholm, Oslo and Singapore.

    Without congestion pricing in New York City, large transportation projects are likely to be further delayed, and subway and bus riders can count on higher fares and lower service. New York’s elected officials have to find a way to collect the large pot of federal funds that may still be available for improving transportation in and around the city.

  • NY Daily News
    Thursday July 19th
    Congest fight U-turn

    Albany, mayor on brink of deal over pricing plan


    Posted Thursday, July 19th 2007, 4:00 AM

    State leaders and Mayor Bloomberg were on the brink of a deal last night on a far-reaching traffic congestion relief plan for the city – one that could qualify for some $536 million in federal startup funds, officials told the Daily News.

    While the deal was not finalized, the parties were close enough that an agreement was expected to be announced as early as today, city sources said.

    “It appears that we’re getting close to being able to submit a plan for the feds,” Senate GOP Leader Joe Bruno told The News in Manhattan last night. “And I’m hopeful that we can get together, where we can submit a plan that will qualify \[for the federal dollars\] with a draft bill.”

    The tentative deal appeared to revive a trail-blazing plan to ease traffic snarls, a scheme many thought was dead on the vine after a glum-faced Bloomberg left the state Capitol in frustration Monday when lawmakers balked at approving it.

    An official close to Gov. Spitzer said the impending deal would include authorization for congestion pricing, which would charge drivers to enter busy parts of Manhattan during peak hours.

    Paul Larrabee, a spokesman for Spitzer, said shortly before midnight, “We are extraordinarily close, but it’s just not going to get there tonight. All the pieces have not come together.”

    A person briefed on the talks said a deal would set up a congestion pricing commission, contingent on the feds coughing up $350 million by Oct. 31. The arrangement would allow the city to start spending federal funds for new rapid bus routes and toll-collection devices, the source said. The commission would be required to make recommendations on how congestion pricing would be implemented by March 31, suggestions that would be subject to approval by both the City Council and the Legislature. The actual collection of tolls could not begin without both bodies signing off.

    Bloomberg’s original plan called for $8 fees for cars entering Manhattan south of 86th Street during peak hours.

    Silver wanted assurances the MTA would submit a capital plan in early 2008 on how congestion pricing revenue would be used for mass transit, other sources said.

    Bruno and Spitzer, as part of a broader package deal being worked out, struck an agreement on campaign finance reform, which the governor had been demanding from the Republican-controlled Senate, sources said.

    Spitzer made significant concessions and a final package, once it emerges, will likely have minimal restrictions on the ability of limited liability corporations to make contributions, they said.

    An aide to the Democratic governor did not dispute the assertions that he wanted to broker an overarching deal to break gridlock on bills that have been stuck for months.

    “There are a number of issues on the table right now and always have been,” said spokeswoman Christine Anderson.

    Bruno said the initial congestion-pricing plan offered by Bloomberg “changed a great deal” in the talks, but the emerging blueprint achieves the dual objectives of improving air quality and curbing traffic congestion.

    Though the mayor had said last Monday was the “drop-dead deadline” for the state to approve congestion pricing so the city could qualify for federal dollars, Bruno said the money could still be nailed.

    “I talked to people who are operative at the Department of Transportation again today . . . and they’re sort of keeping the door open . . . because they think the plan that the mayor submitted was the best plan, and this is the biggest community in the whole country,” Bruno said.

    An official close to the governor said Spitzer believes he can produce an agreement by tossing out such additional carrots as a legislative pay raise. That could be part of a final package as the talks continue, the official said.

    “If you want to get Shelly to the table on congestion pricing, you have to deal with the fact he’ll want something else in return,” the official said.

    With Lisa L. Colangelo


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