Poole R.W.,Reason Foundation
Transportation Research Record | Year: 2016
The trucking industry depends critically on the National Highway System and in particular on the Interstates. With a design life of less than 50 years, the Interstate corridors are aging, and most will need reconstruction over the next two decades. Many corridors - especially those used heavily by trucking companies - also will need widening. This paper reviews several funding alternatives for the reconstruction and widening of the Interstate system, with a focus on the needs and concerns of the trucking industry. After concluding that toll financing may be the least-bad alternative for this estimated trillion-dollar set of projects, the paper addresses the trucking industry's long-standing and current concerns about the expanded use of tolling. The paper seeks to develop a value proposition for that industry (as well as for other Interstate highway users). The value proposition builds on recent developments in all-electronic tolling technology, current trucking industry uses of this technology, and policy changes aimed to guarantee that tolls used for Interstate modernization will be pure user fees, used solely for the capital and operating costs of the revamped system. © 2016, National Research Council. All rights reserved.
News Article | September 19, 2006
ExxonMobil is the world's most profitable corporation. Its sales now amount to more than $1bn a day. It makes most of this money from oil, and has more to lose than any other company from efforts to tackle climate change. To safeguard its profits, ExxonMobil needs to sow doubt about whether serious action needs to be taken on climate change. But there are difficulties: it must confront a scientific consensus as strong as that which maintains that smoking causes lung cancer or that HIV causes Aids. So what's its strategy? The website Exxonsecrets.org, using data found in the company's official documents, lists 124 organisations that have taken money from the company or work closely with those that have. These organisations take a consistent line on climate change: that the science is contradictory, the scientists are split, environmentalists are charlatans, liars or lunatics, and if governments took action to prevent global warming, they would be endangering the global economy for no good reason. The findings these organisations dislike are labelled "junk science". The findings they welcome are labelled "sound science". Among the organisations that have been funded by Exxon are such well-known websites and lobby groups as TechCentralStation, the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation. Some of those on the list have names that make them look like grassroots citizens' organisations or academic bodies: the Centre for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, for example. One or two of them, such as the Congress of Racial Equality, are citizens' organisations or academic bodies, but the line they take on climate change is very much like that of the other sponsored groups. While all these groups are based in America, their publications are read and cited, and their staff are interviewed and quoted, all over the world. By funding a large number of organisations, Exxon helps to create the impression that doubt about climate change is widespread. For those who do not understand that scientific findings cannot be trusted if they have not appeared in peer-reviewed journals, the names of these institutes help to suggest that serious researchers are challenging the consensus. This is not to claim that all the science these groups champion is bogus. On the whole, they use selection, not invention. They will find one contradictory study - such as the discovery of tropospheric cooling, which, in a garbled form, has been used by Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday - and promote it relentlessly. They will continue to do so long after it has been disproved by further work. So, for example, John Christy, the author of the troposphere paper, admitted in August 2005 that his figures were incorrect, yet his initial findings are still being circulated and championed by many of these groups, as a quick internet search will show you. But they do not stop there. The chairman of a group called the Science and Environmental Policy Project is Frederick Seitz. Seitz is a physicist who in the 1960s was president of the US National Academy of Sciences. In 1998, he wrote a document, known as the Oregon Petition, which has been cited by almost every journalist who claims that climate change is a myth. The document reads as follows: "We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind. There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth." Anyone with a degree was entitled to sign it. It was attached to a letter written by Seitz, entitled Research Review of Global Warming Evidence. The lead author of the "review" that followed Seitz's letter is a Christian fundamentalist called Arthur B Robinson. He is not a professional climate scientist. It was co-published by Robinson's organisation - the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine - and an outfit called the George C Marshall Institute, which has received $630,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998. The other authors were Robinson's 22-year-old son and two employees of the George C Marshall Institute. The chairman of the George C Marshall Institute was Frederick Seitz. The paper maintained that: "We are living in an increasingly lush environment of plants and animals as a result of the carbon dioxide increase. Our children will enjoy an Earth with far more plant and animal life than that with which we now are blessed. This is a wonderful and unexpected gift from the Industrial Revolution." It was printed in the font and format of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: the journal of the organisation of which Seitz - as he had just reminded his correspondents - was once president. Soon after the petition was published, the National Academy of Sciences released this statement: "The NAS Council would like to make it clear that this petition has nothing to do with the National Academy of Sciences and that the manuscript was not published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences or in any other peer-reviewed journal. The petition does not reflect the conclusions of expert reports of the Academy." But it was too late. Seitz, the Oregon Institute and the George C Marshall Institute had already circulated tens of thousands of copies, and the petition had established a major presence on the internet. Some 17,000 graduates signed it, the majority of whom had no background in climate science. It has been repeatedly cited - by global-warming sceptics such as David Bellamy, Melanie Phillips and others - as a petition by climate scientists. It is promoted by the Exxon-sponsored sites as evidence that there is no scientific consensus on climate change. All this is now well known to climate scientists and environmentalists. But what I have discovered while researching this issue is that the corporate funding of lobby groups denying that manmade climate change is taking place was initiated not by Exxon, or by any other firm directly involved in the fossil fuel industry. It was started by the tobacco company Philip Morris. In December 1992, the US Environmental Protection Agency published a 500-page report called Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking. It found that "the widespread exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in the United States presents a serious and substantial public health impact. In adults: ETS is a human lung carcinogen, responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths annually in US non-smokers. In children: ETS exposure is causally associated with an increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. This report estimates that 150,000 to 300,000 cases annually in infants and young children up to 18 months of age are attributable to ETS." Had it not been for the settlement of a major class action against the tobacco companies in the US, we would never have been able to see what happened next. But in 1998 they were forced to publish their internal documents and post them on the internet. Within two months of its publication, Philip Morris, the world's biggest tobacco firm, had devised a strategy for dealing with the passive-smoking report. In February 1993 Ellen Merlo, its senior vice-president of corporate affairs, sent a letter to William I Campbell, Philip Morris's chief executive officer and president, explaining her intentions: "Our overriding objective is to discredit the EPA report ... Concurrently, it is our objective to prevent states and cities, as well as businesses, from passive-smoking bans." To this end, she had hired a public relations company called APCO. She had attached the advice it had given her. APCO warned that: "No matter how strong the arguments, industry spokespeople are, in and of themselves, not always credible or appropriate messengers." So the fight against a ban on passive smoking had to be associated with other people and other issues. Philip Morris, APCO said, needed to create the impression of a "grassroots" movement - one that had been formed spontaneously by concerned citizens to fight "overregulation". It should portray the danger of tobacco smoke as just one "unfounded fear" among others, such as concerns about pesticides and cellphones. APCO proposed to set up "a national coalition intended to educate the media, public officials and the public about the dangers of 'junk science'. Coalition will address credibility of government's scientific studies, risk-assessment techniques and misuse of tax dollars ... Upon formation of Coalition, key leaders will begin media outreach, eg editorial board tours, opinion articles, and brief elected officials in selected states." APCO would found the coalition, write its mission statements, and "prepare and place opinion articles in key markets". For this it required $150,000 for its own fees and $75,000 for the coalition's costs. By May 1993, as another memo from APCO to Philip Morris shows, the fake citizens' group had a name: the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition. It was important, further letters stated, "to ensure that TASSC has a diverse group of contributors"; to "link the tobacco issue with other more 'politically correct' products"; and to associate scientific studies that cast smoking in a bad light with "broader questions about government research and regulations" - such as "global warming", "nuclear waste disposal" and "biotechnology". APCO would engage in the "intensive recruitment of high-profile representatives from business and industry, scientists, public officials, and other individuals interested in promoting the use of sound science". By September 1993, APCO had produced a "Plan for the Public Launching of TASSC". The media launch would not take place in "Washington, DC or the top media markets of the country. Rather, we suggest creating a series of aggressive, decentralised launches in several targeted local and regional markets across the country. This approach ... avoids cynical reporters from major media: less reviewing/challenging of TASSC messages." The media coverage, the public relations company hoped, would enable TASSC to "establish an image of a national grassroots coalition". In case the media asked hostile questions, APCO circulated a sheet of answers, drafted by Philip Morris. The first question was: "Isn't it true that Philip Morris created TASSC to act as a front group for it? "A: No, not at all. As a large corporation, PM belongs to many national, regional, and state business, public policy, and legislative organisations. PM has contributed to TASSC, as we have with various groups and corporations across the country." There are clear similarities between the language used and the approaches adopted by Philip Morris and by the organisations funded by Exxon. The two lobbies use the same terms, which appear to have been invented by Philip Morris's consultants. "Junk science" meant peer-reviewed studies showing that smoking was linked to cancer and other diseases. "Sound science" meant studies sponsored by the tobacco industry suggesting that the link was inconclusive. Both lobbies recognised that their best chance of avoiding regulation was to challenge the scientific consensus. As a memo from the tobacco company Brown and Williamson noted, "Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the 'body of fact' that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy." Both industries also sought to distance themselves from their own campaigns, creating the impression that they were spontaneous movements of professionals or ordinary citizens: the "grassroots". But the connection goes further than that. TASSC, the "coalition" created by Philip Morris, was the first and most important of the corporate-funded organisations denying that climate change is taking place. It has done more damage to the campaign to halt it than any other body. TASSC did as its founders at APCO suggested, and sought funding from other sources. Between 2000 and 2002 it received $30,000 from Exxon. The website it has financed - JunkScience.com - has been the main entrepot for almost every kind of climate-change denial that has found its way into the mainstream press. It equates environmentalists with Nazis, communists and terrorists. It flings at us the accusations that could justifably be levelled against itself: the website claims, for example, that it is campaigning against "faulty scientific data and analysis used to advance special and, often, hidden agendas". I have lost count of the number of correspondents who, while questioning manmade global warming, have pointed me there. The man who runs it is called Steve Milloy. In 1992, he started working for APCO - Philip Morris's consultants. While there, he set up the JunkScience site. In March 1997, the documents show, he was appointed TASSC's executive director. By 1998, as he explained in a memo to TASSC board members, his JunkScience website was was being funded by TASSC. Both he and the "coalition" continued to receive money from Philip Morris. An internal document dated February 1998 reveals that TASSC took $200,000 from the tobacco company in 1997. Philip Morris's 2001 budget document records a payment to Steven Milloy of $90,000. Altria, Philip Morris's parent company, admits that Milloy was under contract to the tobacco firm until at least the end of 2005. He has done well. You can find his name attached to letters and articles seeking to discredit passive-smoking studies all over the internet and in the academic databases. He has even managed to reach the British Medical Journal: I found a letter from him there which claimed that the studies it had reported "do not bear out the hypothesis that maternal smoking/ passive smoking increases cancer risk among infants". TASSC paid him $126,000 in 2004 for 15 hours' work a week. Two other organisations are registered at his address: the Free Enterprise Education Institute and the Free Enterprise Action Institute. They have received $10,000 and $50,000 respectively from Exxon. The secretary of the Free Enterprise Action Institute is Thomas Borelli. Borelli was the Philip Morris executive who oversaw the payments to TASSC. Milloy also writes a weekly Junk Science column for the Fox News website. Without declaring his interests, he has used this column to pour scorn on studies documenting the medical effects of second-hand tobacco smoke and showing that climate change is taking place. Even after Fox News was told about the money he had been receiving from Philip Morris and Exxon, it continued to employ him, without informing its readers about his interests. TASSC's headed notepaper names an advisory board of eight people. Three of them are listed by Exxonsecrets.org as working for organisations taking money from Exxon. One of them is Frederick Seitz, the man who wrote the Oregon Petition, and who chairs the Science and Environmental Policy Project. In 1979, Seitz became a permanent consultant to the tobacco company RJ Reynolds. He worked for the firm until at least 1987, for an annual fee of $65,000. He was in charge of deciding which medical research projects the company should fund, and handed out millions of dollars a year to American universities. The purpose of this funding, a memo from the chairman of RJ Reynolds shows, was to "refute the criticisms against cigarettes". An undated note in the Philip Morris archive shows that it was planning a "Seitz symposium" with the help of TASSC, in which Frederick Seitz would speak to "40-60 regulators". The president of Seitz's Science and Environmental Policy Project is a maverick environmental scientist called S Fred Singer. He has spent the past few years refuting evidence for manmade climate change. It was he, for example, who published the misleading claim that most of the world's glaciers are advancing, which landed David Bellamy in so much trouble when he repeated it last year. He also had connections with the tobacco industry. In March 1993, APCO sent a memo to Ellen Merlo, the vice-president of Philip Morris, who had just commissioned it to fight the Environmental Protection Agency: "As you know, we have been working with Dr Fred Singer and Dr Dwight Lee, who have authored articles on junk science and indoor air quality (IAQ) respectively ..." Singer's article, entitled Junk Science at the EPA, claimed that "the latest 'crisis' - environmental tobacco smoke - has been widely criticised as the most shocking distortion of scientific evidence yet". He alleged that the Environmental Protection Agency had had to "rig the numbers" in its report on passive smoking. This was the report that Philip Morris and APCO had set out to discredit a month before Singer wrote his article. I have no evidence that Fred Singer or his organisation have taken money from Philip Morris. But many of the other bodies that have been sponsored by Exxon and have sought to repudiate climate change were also funded by the tobacco company. Among them are some of the world's best-known "thinktanks": the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute, the Frontiers of Freedom Institute, the Reason Foundation and the Independent Institute, as well as George Mason University's Law and Economics Centre. I can't help wondering whether there is any aspect of conservative thought in the United States that has not been formed and funded by the corporations. Until I came across this material, I believed that the accusations, the insults and the taunts such people had slung at us environmentalists were personal: that they really did hate us, and had found someone who would pay to help them express those feelings. Now I realise that they have simply transferred their skills. While they have been most effective in the United States, the impacts of the climate-change deniers sponsored by Exxon and Philip Morris have been felt all over the world. I have seen their arguments endlessly repeated in Australia, Canada, India, Russia and the UK. By dominating the media debate on climate change during seven or eight critical years in which urgent international talks should have been taking place, by constantly seeding doubt about the science just as it should have been most persuasive, they have justified the money their sponsors have spent on them many times over. It is fair to say that the professional denial industry has delayed effective global action on climate change by years, just as it helped to delay action against the tobacco companies. · This is an edited extract from Heat, by George Monbiot, published by Allen Lane. To order a copy for £16.99 with free UK p&p (rrp £17.99), go to Guardian.co.uk/bookshop or call 0870 836 0875. · George Monbiot's film on this issue will be broadcast tonight on BBC2's Newsnight, starting at 10.30pm.
News Article | December 21, 2016
The regulations promise to reduce energy consumed by computers by about one-third, saving power customers about $373 million in utility bills by 2027, and figure to have effects far beyond California. Computers and computer monitors in the state use an estimated 5,610 gigawatt-hours of electricity, representing up to 3 percent of residential electricity use and 7 percent of commercial use. "Such efficiency improvements are good for consumers, good for the electric system, good for the environment and frankly good for the green credentials of the manufacturers," said Andrew McAllister, a commission member who helped guide the new rules through a four-year process of consultations with industry that culminated in Wednesday's 5-0 vote in Sacramento. The first of the new standards will start Jan. 1, 2018, to be completed in stages by July 1, 2021. One of the rules' chief targets is desktop computers, which use about four times as much power as a typical laptop or notebook computer. Sometimes called "energy vampires" by efficiency experts, desktops are switched on 77 percent of the time but sit idle for 61 percent of those minutes, according to a recent study from a research team at the University of California, Irvine. Under the new rules, desktops must reduce how much power they draw by about 30 percent when idle by the beginning of 2019 and nearly 50 percent by mid-2021. Most computer monitors will also be affected, with the new rules establishing thresholds for the amount of power a monitor or display can consume even when they are in sleep mode. The standards also apply to laptops, but it's estimated that about three-quarters of notebook computers on the market already meet the requirements. By 2021, the commission estimates, the new rules will make each desktop about $14 more expensive, but consumers would save more than $55 over five years in reduced energy bills. Monitors will cost about $5 more but are expected to lead to $30 in savings over seven years, the commission said. It said laptops will cost about $1 more, but that energy savings in four years will be more than $2. The Consumer Federation of America praised the regulations and said the cost savings more than make up for the increase in prices. "Believe me, the average consumer who can barely get 2 percent on his CD today, that's a pretty darn good investment," Mark Cooper, the federation's director of research, said in a teleconference after the commission passed the rules. Representatives from Intel Corp. and HP Inc. also took part in the teleconference, with HP environmental compliance manager Paul Ford calling the energy limits "ambitious but achievable." The California Energy Commission has emphasized that manufacturers will have flexibility to meet the standards. The rules apply only to computers in California, but the state's share of the computer market is so formidable - California by itself accounts for 25 million computer monitors, 23 million laptops and 21 million desktops - the new standards almost certainly will have ripple effects. "It will have a global impact and significantly change the way future energy-efficient desktops and all-in-one computers are designed and manufactured," said Andrea Deveau, vice president of state policy and politics for TechNet, a trade group whose members include Cisco Systems and Microsoft among its members. But Adrian Moore, vice president of policy at the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank based in Los Angeles, questioned the commission's cost savings estimates and said consumers already have a built-in incentive to buy energy-efficient computers: keeping their utility bills low. "It's always easy to say, 'Hey, this is a really cheap way for people to save a lot of money,' but for some reason, (consumers) just aren't doing it," Moore said. "So we, the energy commission, being all wise and powerful here in Sacramento, can make this happen for them. Because we know as the energy commission, we know far more about computer markets than dumb old computer makers, much less dumb old computer consumers." The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, worked closely with the commission to develop the new standards. Pierre Delforge, the group's director of high-tech-sector energy efficiency, said the savings estimates are "relatively conservative" and that rules will lead to huge reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, helping California meet its aggressive climate goals. By California Energy Commission estimates, the efficiency standards will save 2,332 gigawatt-hours per year - the equivalent of the power used by households in San Francisco and San Luis Obispo counties combined.
Wang Y.,Chang'an University |
Wang Z.,Chang'an University |
Li Z.,Illinois Institute of Technology |
Staley S.R.,Florida State University |
And 2 more authors.
Journal of Transportation Engineering | Year: 2013
This paper applies a binary logistic analysis method for assessing impacts of modal shifts from automobiles, normal buses, and nonmotorized vehicles caused by bus rapid transit (BRT) deployments using survey data collected on six representative BRT corridors in China. The traveler's demographic and socioeconomic attributes (gender, age) and trip-related attributes (trip purpose, travel time savings, trip costs, trip distances, and weekly travel frequencies) are found to be statistically significant in influencing modal shifts to BRT. Ridership characteristics and preferences are found to vary significantly by BRT corridor based on travel mode, demographics, socioeconomic status, and the perceived benefits in travel time and trip costs, suggesting that BRT deployment strategies must recognize the heterogeneous nature of ridership and travel preferences. The probability of modal shifts to BRT could reach up to 15% for travel time savings of 10 min and then increase steadily for a greater extent of travel time savings. For relatively long trip distances greater than 5 km and high weekly trip frequencies greater than 10 trips, all other things being equal, the probability of modal shifts to BRT could reach 13-57% and 9-55%, respectively. The findings are consistent with some notable studies conducted in other countries. © 2013 American Society of Civil Engineers.
Wang J.,Chang'an University |
Mao X.,Chang'an University |
Li Z.,Illinois Institute of Technology |
Moore A.,Reason Foundation |
Staley S.,Florida State University
Journal of Transportation Engineering | Year: 2014
This research aims to determine the reasonable scale of toll highways in China by considering factors including effects of non-debt investments; agency costs of construction, maintenance, and system operations; user travel time costs; debt repayment; and toll revenue generation. A bilevel optimization model is proposed, in which the lower-level optimization uses origin-destination (O-D) travel demand for network traffic assignments and the upper-level optimization uses data on link-based traffic volumes generated from the lower-level model and other influencing factors as inputs to determine a reasonable scale of toll highway network. The model is applied to determine the reasonable scales of expressways in provinces of Hebei, Jiangsu, Jilin, and Shaanxi located in the central, eastern, northeastern, and western economic regions that form a predominant portion of toll highways in China. It is revealed that the current expressway network scales in all four provinces are higher than the reasonable scales by 22-38%. The provinces are faced with extremely high asset-debt risks that are likely to get worse in the future if the toll highways continue to be constructed using the same financing and investment scheme. It is recommended to seek alternative financial resources such as private capitals for expressway construction and management to reduce the risks of highway financial affordability. © 2014 American Society of Civil Engineers.
News Article | November 16, 2016
On Saturday, Nov. 26, more than 3,000 car lovers are expected to attend the fourth annual AmeriCarna LIVE Car Show presented by MSC Industrial Supply Co. and Autogeek.com in Davidson, NC. The event will raise funds to benefit IGNITE, the Autism Society of North Carolina’s community center for young adults with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. WHO: Ray Evernham, former NASCAR championship crew chief, star of the “AmeriCarna” television series on Velocity, and founder of IGNITE, along with MSC Industrial Supply Co. and Autogeek.com. WHAT: AmeriCarna LIVE will feature celebrity cars from NASCAR’s biggest stars as well as classic, custom, and collector cars on the Ingersoll Rand North American Headquarters and Corporate Center. A special display of off-road vehicles and vintage race cars will also be on-hand for spectators to enjoy. The show is open to the public for $5 per person and kids under 10 are free. Car owners can pre-register online at http://www.AmeriCarnaLIVE.com or register at the gate on event day for $30. A variety of food vendors will be available. All proceeds from AmeriCarna LIVE will be donated to the Evernham Family – Racing for a Reason Foundation and go to support the IGNITE Community Center in Davidson, N.C. for young adults with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. The campus is located on the edge of Lake Davidson adjacent to Lake Norman. Parking is available on the Ingersoll Rand campus. WHEN: Saturday, November 26, 2016. Gates open for car entrants at 7 a.m. and for spectators at 10 a.m. Show ends at 4 p.m. Media Opportunities: Media are invited to cover AmeriCarna LIVE the day of the event. Also, Ray Evernham is available for in-studio interviews and media are invited to visit Ray Evernham Enterprises for a sneak peek at some of the classic cars to be featured in the event. IGNITE representatives also are available for interviews at the event. About IGNITE: IGNITE, which was founded with support from the Evernham Family-Racing for a Reason Foundation, offers activities, skills training, and educational workshops that foster social, financial, educational, and employment independence for its members. About AmeriCarna Live: For event updates, go to http://www.AmeriCarnaLIVE.com. For more information on Ray Evernham, follow @RayEvernham on twitter. About IGNITE and the Autism Society of North Carolina: For more information on IGNITE, a program of the Autism Society of North Carolina, visit http://www.ignite-davidson.org. For more than 45 years, the Autism Society of North Carolina has worked to address areas of need and expand services and support for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families in North Carolina. For more information, call 1-800-442-2762 or visit http://www.autismsociety-nc.org. About Autism: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. As many as 1 in 59 children may be diagnosed with ASD in North Carolina, according to a prevalence study by the CDC of 8-year-old schoolchildren.
Poole Jr. R.W.,Reason Foundation
51st Annual Transportation Research Forum 2010 | Year: 2010
Federal surface transportation policy is at a fateful crossroads. Since the completion of the Interstate system, the federal program has lost its focus and its sense of purpose. And the user-pays funding mechanism used to build that system have gradually been transformed into a public works tax for Congress to spend on its own-- rather than highway users'-- priorities. Most calls to reformulate the federal program would further break faith with highway customers. While appearing to advocate simplification and program consolidation, they would add costly new non-highway programs, increasing highway use taxes but spending much of the proceeds on new kinds of non-highway programs, from passenger trains to energy subsidies to federalized land-use planning. Yet it is thanks to these very trends that American taxpayers no longer have trust in the Highway Trust Fund. Instead of welcoming an expanded federal program, most oppose increases in fuel taxes as unlikely to improve their own transportation situations. This study argues that the federal program needs to be rethought. Every serious study in recent years has concluded that America is under-investing in highway infrastructure; indeed, we are not even investing enough to maintain its current mediocre performance and condition, let alone enough to produce major improvements. But rather than simply putting larger sums of money into a seriously flawed process, the better course is to rethink and refocus the federal role, in order to spend more on core federal purposes and less on peripheral concerns. While the federal government may have an interest in a wide range of transportation issues and concerns, direct federal involvement is both unwise and inappropriate in many of these areas. The facilitation of interstate travel and commerce and international trade are clearly federal responsibilities, so a larger emphasis on inter-state and international transportation should be at the core of a rethought federal role. The Interstate highway system was laid out more than 60 years ago, and begun 50 years ago. Increasing portions are reaching the end of their design life and need complete reconstruction. Most urban Interstates need major additions to eliminate bottlenecks and reduce congestion; and as the lifeblood of goods movement, many inter-city Interstates need more lanes to handle projected growth in truck traffic. A major federal effort to rebuild and modernize the Interstate system for the 21st century is the kind of purpose that could give new focus to the federal highway program. And it offers us the opportunity to restore the original user-fee nature of highway user taxes. Ever since the ISTEA legislation of 1991, each federal reauthorization has expanded the eligible uses of federal highway user taxes to an ever-larger array of non-highway programs. Indeed, this diversion ultimately goes back to the 1970 PL 91-605, which permitted Highway Trust Fund monies to be used for bus facilities and park-and-ride lots, undercutting the user-pays/user-benefits principle. Subsequent reauthorizations steadily increased non-highway uses, such that today urban transit, bikeways, scenic trails, "enhancements," and numerous other programs consume one-third or more of current federal highway user tax revenues. Congress could dramatically increase funding to reduce the very large backlog of costeffective highway projects via two changes: (1) shifting non-highway programs either to general revenues or to the states, and (2) narrowing the Trust Fund's focus to rebuilding and modernizing the Interstate system, both urban and inter-city. This would restore the kind of trust in the Highway Trust Fund that was present during the creation of the Interstate system. Making this change is also probably the best hope we have for gaining political support-not for all-purpose transportation tax increases but for an increase in the "utility bills" that highway users pay to significantly improve the performance of the nation's most critically important highway infrastructure. © (2010) by the Transportation Research Forum All rights reserved.
Poole Jr. R.,Reason Foundation
Transportation Research Record | Year: 2011
A growing community of transport economists and urban planners has concluded that the best solution to U.S. freeway congestion would be to implement congestion pricing on all such freeways. At the same time, many political scientists and other political observers consider doing so to be politically impossible, primarily because of strong opposition from taxpayers, voters, and highway user groups. Federal efforts (dating to the 1970s) to induce one or more urban areas to price its freeways have been unsuccessful; this lack of success reinforces the political scientists' skepticism. This paper suggests that even if the political difficulties could be overcome, the conventional model of freeway congestion pricing (charging all users the same variable price) may not be optimal: this model could well create more losers than winners. In analyzing this conundrum, the author looks more closely at two assumptions implicit in the standard congestion pricing model: uniformly applied (variable) pricing and all general purpose lanes. Revisiting both assumptions leads to a proposal for multitier pricing on differentiated lanes, which the author suggests could be more politically feasible and productive of larger economic benefits. This approach also lends itself to being implemented in an evolutionary manner, in which each step is justified on its own merits, without regard of the possible longer-term end.
News Article | December 15, 2016
The California Energy Commission (CEC) on Wednesday passed sweeping energy efficiency standards for computers and monitors in an effort to reduce power costs, becoming the first state in the country to adopt such rules. The regulations promise to reduce energy consumed by computers by about one-third, saving ratepayers some $373 million in utility bills by 2027, and figure to have impacts far beyond California’s state lines. Computers and computer monitors in the state use an estimated 5,610 gigawatts-hours of electricity, representing up to 3 percent of residential electricity use and 7 percent of commercial use. “"Such efficiency improvements are good for consumers, good for the electric system, good for the environment and frankly good for the green credentials of the manufacturers," said Andrew McAllister, a CEC commissioner who helped guide the new rules through a four-year process of consultations with industry that culminated in Wednesday’s 5-0 vote in Sacramento. “There's a lot of substance to like here.” The first tranche of the new standards will start Jan. 1, 2018, to be completed in stages by July 1, 2021. One of the rules’ chief targets is desktop computers, which use about four times as much power as a typical laptop (or notebook) computer. Sometimes called “energy vampires” by efficiency experts, desktops are switched on 77 percent of the time but sit idle for 61 percent of those minutes, according to a recent study from a University of California Irvine research team. Under the new rules, desktops must reduce their power-draw by about 30 percent when idle by the beginning of 2019 and nearly 50 percent by mid-2021. Most computer monitors will also be affected, with the new rules establishing thresholds for the amount of power a monitor or display can consume, even when they are in sleep mode. The standards also apply to laptops but it’s estimated about 73 percent of notebook computers on the market already meet the rules’ requirements. By 2021, the CEC estimates the new rules make the cost of each desktop about $14 more expensive but said consumers will save more than $55 over five years in reduced energy bills. Monitors will cost about $5 more but are expected to lead to $30 in savings over seven years. Laptops will cost about $1 more but energy savings in four years, the CEC said, is about twice that amount. The Consumer Federation of America praised the regulations and said the percentages in cost savings more than make up for the increase in prices. “Believe me, the average consumer who can barely get 2 percent on his CD today, that’s a pretty darn good investment,” said Mark Cooper, the federation’s director of research in a teleconference after the commission passed the rules. Representatives from Intel and HP Inc. also took part in the teleconference, with HP environmental compliance manager Paul Ford calling the energy limits “ambitious but achievable.” The CEC has emphasized that manufacturers will have flexibility to meet the standards. “It’s been a very good process that has led to, I think, a very good rule,” Ford said. The rules apply only to computers in California but the sheer size of the state’s share of the computer market is so formidable — California by itself accounts for 25 million computer monitors, 23 million laptops and 21 million desktops — the new standards will have ripple effects across the country and beyond. “It will have a global impact and significantly change the way future energy-efficient desktops and all-in-one computers are designed and manufactured,” said Andrea Deveau, vice president of state policy and politics for Tech Net, a trade group that counts Cisco and Microsoft among its members. “It was never taken lightly and it is definitely an historic rule-making.” But Adrian Moore, vice president of policy at the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank based in Los Angeles, questioned the CEC’s cost savings estimates and said consumers already have a built-in incentive to buy energy-efficient computers in order to keep their utility bills low. “It's always easy to say, hey, this is a really cheap way for people to save a lot of money but for some reason, (consumers) just aren't doing it,” Moore said. “So we, the energy commission being all wise and powerful here in Sacramento, can make this happen for them. Because we know as the energy commission, we know far more about computer markets than dumb old computer makers, much less dumb old computer consumers.” The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental group, worked closely with the CEC to develop the new standards.