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05/26/06

11:44:21 am, Categories: Water, Energy, U.K., Academic Study/Journal Article, 219 words   English (US)

Counting the cost of water use in hydroelectric generation in Scotland

Increasing the proportion of renewable capacity in the national energy mix may give rise to a range of economic costs. This paper considers the nature of water use in hydroelectric generation in Scotland. Hydroelectric generation is currently the highest volumetric use of water in Scotland. After calculating this volume, the paper considers the nature of some of the non-priced costs associated with this use.

The paper is set in the context of the transposed EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), which states that users of water should face the full costs. This article of the Directive has yet to be fully implemented, and may have consequences for hydroelectricity that have not yet been fully explored. For example, the low value of water use in hydro schemes compared to competing uses, implies an opportunity cost, which is a signal of potential resource misallocation that the WFD aims to address. In practice however, there are likely to be limited circumstances where economic misallocation can be practically redressed.

Keywords: Hydroelectricity; Water use; Valuation

by Michael MacLeod 1, Dominic Moran 1 and Ian Spencer 2
1. Land Economy Group, Scottish Agricultural College, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG, UK; Tel.: +44 131 535 6452; fax: +44 131 667 2601
2. Entec UK Ltd, 17 Angel Gate, City Road, London

Energy Policy via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 34, Issue 15; October, 2006; pages 2048-2059
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2005.02.015

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Summitville tab for mine site cleanup at $195 million

An estimated $195 million in public funds has been spent thus far cleaning the Summitville Mine Superfund site.

Austin Buckingham, site manager for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, also shared good news about the cleanup for 10 people who gathered Wednesday at Centauri High School.

The lingering drought has limited environmental damage from the toxic mine, Buckingham said. In 2005, snowpack was 165 percent of normal, which meant that all the water runoff from the contaminated site could not be treated. This winter’s snowpack was 70 percent of normal, meaning that virtually all water can be treated, Buckingham said.

“Because of the low snowpack, we are able to manage all the water melting out of the site,” Buckingham said.

The lighter snowpack also meant this year’s treatment efforts started earlier.

Victor Ketellapper, site manager for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, touted about $400,000 in modifications that have been made to the treatment plant, making it safer and more efficient.

However, Ketellapper cautioned that a treatment plant capable of handling runoff from a high-snowpack year is not likely soon.

“A water treatment plant ranks very low in the priority of funding because the area is of ecological risk, not a risk to human health,” Ketellapper said.

Both officials noted that it costs about $1.4 million annually to treat the contaminated water.

A proposal to use potato waste along with lime and organic compounds to treat the soil and neutralize its heavy metals also was discussed.

This method would cost about $900,000. Arcadis, a national company with offices in Denver, holds the patent on the process and would manage the procedure.

The money is not in the budget, Buckingham and Ketellapper explained, adding that similar projects undertaken by Arcadis have been only a year long and better proof is needed of efficacy of a five-year project such as Summitville.

A possibility is for Arcadis to be designated as a “sole source contractor” based upon its proprietary patent of the process, Buckingham said.

“If they (Arcadis) are successful, it could have huge impacts on other places,” Ketellapper said.

And it could save perhaps 50 percent of the annual cleanup costs at a site that will have to be managed forever. The 1,440-acre Summitville site is located at about 11,500 feet above sea level in the San Juan Mountains some 25 miles southwest of Del Norte and about two miles east of the Continental Divide.

Two public gatherings are held each year: one here in May because the area marks the end of the Alamosa River and one at the site in September.

The site had been mined by various methods since 1870. Summitville Consolidated Mining Corp. Inc., a subsidiary of Galactic Resources Limited of Vancouver, Canada, mined the site from July 1986 through October 1991 and abandoned it in December 1992.

SCMCI employed open-pit heap leach methods using cyanide to extract gold. The operation dumped a variety of heavy metals into creeks, spilling into Wightman Fork, which flows about five miles downstream to the Alamosa River.


...
By ERIN SMITH
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
http://www.chieftain.com/metro/1148652014/6
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN www.chieftain.com

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It's Only $300 Billion by Cass R. Sunstein

For the United States, the cost of the Iraq war will soon exceed the anticipated cost of the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement designed to control greenhouse gases. For both, the cost is somewhere in excess of $300 billion.

These numbers show that the Bush administration was unrealistically optimistic in its prewar prediction that the total cost would be about $50 billion.

The same numbers do not demonstrate that the Kyoto Protocol is a good idea; but they do raise some questions about the Bush administration's claim that the cost of the Kyoto Protocol would be prohibitive, causing (in President Bush's own words) "serious harm to the U.S. economy."

With respect to the Iraq war, careful estimates come from Scott Wallsten, a former member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers who is now at the American Enterprise Institute. Writing at the end of 2005, Wallsten estimated the aggregate American cost at about $300 billion. With the costs incurred since then, and an anticipated appropriation soon, the total will exceed $350 billion.

With respect to the Kyoto Protocol, the most systematic estimates come from William Nordhaus and Joseph Boyer of Yale University. Writing in 2000, they offered a figure of $325 billion for the United States, designed to capture the full costs of compliance over many decades. This staggeringly large figure helped support Kyoto skeptics in the Bush administration and elsewhere, who argued that the benefits of the agreement did not justify its costs.

For the world as a whole, the comparison between the Iraq war and the Kyoto Protocol is even more dramatic. The worldwide cost of the war is already much higher than the anticipated worldwide cost of the Kyoto Protocol -- possibly at least $100 billion higher.

The worldwide cost of the war now exceeds $500 billion, a figure that includes the cost to Iraq (more than $160 billion) and to non-American coalition countries (more than $40 billion). For the Kyoto Protocol, full compliance is projected to cost less than $400 billion, because the United States would bear most of the aggregate costs.

Of course, legitimate questions can be asked about these numbers. For the Kyoto Protocol, the estimates require a lot of projection and guesswork; much depends on issues of implementation, which could drive costs up or down. Many environmentalists believe that the $325 billion figure is inflated. Perhaps technological innovations would significantly reduce that cost.

Congressional appropriations for the Iraq war will soon exceed $300 billion and counting (generally at a rate of more than $4 billion per month). But to obtain an adequate total, it is necessary not only to take account of appropriations but also to consider the full range of costs, which include more than 2,000 deaths and many thousands of injuries to U.S. servicemen and women. Specialists disagree about how to monetize these costs; some people object to the whole exercise.

In addition, a full assessment would have to look at benefits as well as costs. The Kyoto Protocol would reduce emissions that contribute to climate change, but to evaluate the agreement we need to know how much good it would actually do. What would the United States get for its $325 billion investment? Scientists agree that the Kyoto Protocol would make only a small dent in climate change by 2100. Its defenders respond that the agreement would spur new technologies and provide an international framework for major reductions.

By the time it ends, the war in Iraq is expected to cost the United States at least $500 billion and possibly $1 trillion or more. But if the war leads to a large decrease in the risk of terrorist attacks and to a wave of democratization in the Middle East, perhaps the money will have been well spent.

Because of the importance of an assessment of benefits, an accounting on the cost side cannot support any particular judgments about the war or the Kyoto Protocol. In my view, President Bush was entirely right to reject the Kyoto Protocol, on the ground that the benefits were not high enough to justify the costs. Because developing countries were not included in the agreement, and because they are expected to be huge greenhouse gas emitters before long, the Kyoto Protocol would do very little to combat climate change (a paltry .03 C reduction in warming by 2100, according to the careful study by Nordhaus and Boyer).

But I also believe that President Bush was wrong not to suggest other, better approaches to climate change -- approaches that would be less expensive for the United States (eg, more emissions trading, less severe emissions reduction requirements for the short term) and be more beneficial to the world and the United States in particular (because all significant contributors to the problem would be included). A degree of "starting to reduce, then learning more" would also be sensible for climate change.

But the central point remains. It is crucial to know the costs of our policies, with respect to national security and environmental protection (and much more), even though knowledge of costs tells us only part of what we need to know. For the United States, the economic burden of the Iraq war is on the verge of exceeding the total anticipated burden of the Kyoto Protocol. Because the price of the war increases every day, its total cost, for America as well as the world, will soon dwarf the expected cost of a remarkably ambitious effort to control the problem of climate change.

The writer is a professor of law and political science at the University of Chicago and the author of "Risk and Reason."

by Cass R. Sunstein
AEI-Brookings Joint Center www.aei.brookings.org
Policy Matters 06-13 May 2006
http://www.aei.brookings.org/policy/page.php?id=254
A version of this article appeared in The Washington Post on May 10, 2006

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The environmental and economic impacts of the UK climate change agreements

The climate change agreements (CCAs) in the UK were negotiated with a number of energy-intensive industrial sectors, and offered a reduction in the rate of the climate change levy (CCL), provided that negotiated energy efficiency targets were met. Through modelling and by analysis of the results of the first target period, this paper analyses the stringency of the targets, and the economic and environmental implications of the CCAs. It concludes that, while the targets in themselves were not stringent, and were in the main met well before the due date, the CCAs appear to have had an ‘awareness effect’ in stimulating energy savings. This has resulted in overall environmental benefits above those which would have derived from the imposition of a flat-rate tax with no rebate and no CCAs, and economic benefits for the sectors and companies with which CCAs were negotiated.

Keywords: Voluntary/negotiated agreements; Energy taxation; Carbon dioxide emissions

by Paul Ekins 1 and Ben Etheridge 2
1. Policy Studies Institute, Environment Group, 100 Park Village East, London NW1 3SR, UK
2. Cambridge Econometrics, Covent Garden, Cambridge CB1 2HS, UK

Energy Policy via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 34, Issue 15; October, 2006; pages 2071-2086
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2005.01.008

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06:16:19 am, Categories: Europe, Academic Study/Journal Article, Transportation, Costs and Benefits, 267 words   English (US)

Investigating the distribution of the value of travel time savings

The distribution of the value of travel time savings (VTTS) is investigated employing various nonparametric techniques to a large dataset originating from a stated choice experiment. The data contain choices between a fast and more expensive alternative and a slow and less expensive alternative. Increasing the implicit price of time leads to an increased share of respondents who decline to pay to save time. But a significant proportion of respondents, 13%, remain willing to pay to save time at the highest price of time in the design. This means that the right tail of the VTTS distribution is not observed and hence the mean VTTS cannot be evaluated without additional assumptions. When socio-economic and situational variables are introduced into a semiparametric model it becomes possible to accept that the whole VTTS distribution is observed.

Sixteen candidates for parametric VTTS distributions are investigated. Some distributions are simply not able to fit to the empirical distribution while others have very long tails. The mean VTTS is shown to be extremely dependent on the choice of parametric distribution. Requiring that the parametric distribution should be accepted against the nonparametric alternative narrows the field down to five candidates. One of the distributions tested here has also support within the observed range such that the estimated VTTS is bounded by the data.

Keywords: Value of travel time savings; VTTS; Distribution; Nonparametric; Semiparametric; Klein–Spady; Zheng

by Mogens Fosgerau; Danish Transport Research Institute, Knuth-Winterfeldts Alle, Bygning 116 Vest. 2800 Kongens Lyngby, Denmark; Tel.: +45 4525 6521; fax: +45 4593 6533.

Transportation Research Part B: Methodological via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 40, Issue 8; September 2006, pages 688-707
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.trb.2005.09.007

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02:08:06 am, Categories: Preservation/Open Space, New Jersey, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, 223 words   English (US)

State, town pay $14M for golf course

The state Department of Environmental Protection on Thursday announced the purchase of a landmark Route 539 property — the Cream Ridge Golf Club and adjacent land — for $14 million.

Members of Township Committeeman William E. Miscoski's family, which has owned the property since 1952 and opened the golf course in 1958, are to continue operating the course for at least five years in a lease agreement with the state, according to the DEP and family.

The 18-hole course, which will remain open to the public, occupies about 143 acres. The remaining 43 acres of the Miscoski tract — now being farmed, with hay growing on it — eventually will be used for township recreation needs, according to the DEP and Township Administrator-Clerk Bar-bara L. Bascom.

"Number one, we didn't want development there," Bascom said. "It's the center of town. Nobody ever wanted to see that piece developed."

The state share of the $14 million purchase price is $12,250,000 — that is, $10.5 million directly for the property and $1.75 million in a grant to the township. The township's share is $1.75 million.

The state now owns the golf course while the township takes title to the farmland. The township portion is to remain rented out as farmland for the time being, Bascom said.

by Joe Sapia
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060526/NEWS/605260403/1004/rss01
Asbury Park Press www.app.com

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BP's emissions trading system

Between 1998 and 2001, BP reduced its emissions of greenhouse gases by more than 10%. BP's success in cutting emissions is often equated with its use of an apparently market-based emissions trading program. However no independent study has ever examined the rules and operation of BP's system and the incentives acting on managers to reduce emissions. We use interviews with key managers and with traders in several critical business units to explore the bound of BP's success with emissions trading. No money actually changed hands when permits were traded, and the main effect of the program was to create awareness of money-saving emission controls rather than strong price incentives. We show that the trading system did not operate like a “textbook” cap and trade scheme. Rather, the BP system operated much like a “safety valve” trading system, where managers let the market function until the cost of doing so surpassed what the company was willing to tolerate.

Keywords: Emission trading; Safety valve

by David G. Victor and Joshua C. House; Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, Stanford University, 616 Serra St., Encina Hall East E419, Stanford, CA 94305-6055, USA; Tel.: +1 650 724 3723; fax: +1 650 724 1717.

Energy Policy via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 34, Issue 15; October 2006; pages 2100-2112
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2005.02.014

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Competitive Electricity Markets and Investment in New Generating Capacity

Evidence from the U.S. and some other countries indicates that organized wholesale markets for electrical energy and operating reserves do not provide adequate incentives to stimulate the proper quantity or mix of generating capacity consistent with mandatory reliability criteria. A large part of the problem can be associated with the failure of wholesale spot market prices for energy and operating reserves to rise to high enough levels during periods when generating capacity is fully utilized. Reforms to wholesale energy markets, the introduction of well-design forward capacity markets, and symmetrical treatment of demand response and generating capacity resources to respond to market and institutional imperfections are discussed. This policy reform program is compatible with improving the efficiency of spot wholesale electricity markets, the continued evolution of competitive retail markets, and restores incentives for efficient investment in generating capacity consistent with operating reliability criteria applied by system operators. It also responds to investment disincentives that have been associated with volatility in wholesale energy prices, limited hedging opportunities and to concerns about regulatory opportunism.

by Paul L. Joskow
http://www.aei.brookings.org/publications/abstract.php?pid=1077
AEI-Brookings Joint Center www.aei.brookings.org
Working Paper 06-14. May 2006.

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05/25/06

11:59:59 pm, Categories: General, Air, Companies, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, 709 words   English (US)

Listmania! Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility Lists Drive Improved Performance

CSR lists take the old adage--what gets measured gets managed--one step further by spotlighting the ranking process, thereby encouraging better corporate social and environmental performance.

SocialFunds.com -- Lists are playing an increasing role in defining and driving corporate sustainability and responsibility (CSR)--and the list of CSR-related lists is growing. For example, Business Ethics magazine recently released its eighth annual list of the "100 Best Corporate Citizens," based on rankings by KLD Research & Analytics. Canada-based Corporate Knights magazine teamed up with Innovest Strategic Value Advisors to produce the "Global 100Most Sustainable Corporations in the World" starting last year. Even Fortune magazine assesses social responsibility in its annual "Most Admired Companies" as well as in the "100 Best Companies to Work For."

On the other side of the coin, the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) of the University of Massachusetts launched the "Toxic 100" last year based on data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). Instead of applauding best practice, as the other lists do, this list identifies the companies with the greatest environmental impact. Yet all of these lists tap into the innate human yearning to order and rank, thereby leveraging "listmania" to advance understanding and practice of corporate sustainability and responsibility.

"People love lists--when I was a kid growing up, we used to sit around the radio waiting for the Top 40 to get announced and write them down," said Michael Connor, executive editor of Business Ethics. "A list is a wonderful device for focusing people's attention, particularly on abstract concepts and ideas--it helps crystallize them."


...
Business Ethics Founding Editor Marjorie Kelly and KLD chose not to rate companies on a scale with the top score being the ideal. Rather, they chose to rank by standard deviation from the mean (compared to the universe of companies under consideration--the Russell 1000, S&P 500, and Domini 400 Social Index.) This methodology avoids setting a ceiling for the ideal and instead rates companies relative to each other, thus not defining the ideal nor placing a cap on progress toward sustainability and responsibility.

For example, list-topper Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (ticker: GMCR) earned an average score of 1.775 (about one and three-quarters points above the mean) across eight stakeholder categories, including human rights, environment, corporate governance, and total return. The Global 100 list takes a different approach--it simply lists 100 leaders and refrains from assigning any ranking to companies in recognition that sustainability issues impacting corporate performance vary widely from sector-to-sector.

Companies now take much more notice of their presence or absence--and position--on CSR lists than they did eight years ago, according to Mr. Connor. High-rankers trumpet their achievements, and those spurned seek ways to improve their CSR performance.

Just as companies seek to move "up" the laudatory lists, they are actively engaging on how to move "down" the more damning lists. For example, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, a UK-based website that seeks to represent critical accounts of corporate human rights practices as well as company perspectives, invited the top 10 of the Toxic 100 to respond to their ranking. GE, Fortune's Most Admired Company and a constituent of the Global 100 but not the Business Ethics or Fortune Best Companies to Work For lists, was one of seven companies to respond (ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil declined.)

"Since 1987, GE has reduced its emissions by more than 85 percent despite greatly expanding its production," GE responded. "The US Environmental Protection Agency has stated that the model used by PERI is properly used for screening purposes only and it is not a quantitative risk assessment model and thus not independently meaningful."

Despite GE's assertion, its aggregate toxic emissions (based on the data the company itself submits to the TRI) are very meaningful to those who assess corporate sustainability and responsibility by these lists. In the Citizenship Report it released this week, GE crowed that its vast size positions it well to help solve global social and environmental problems--the Toxic 100 simply exposes that its hugeness also translates into a heck of a lot of toxic emissions. To descend on this list, GE will have to reduce its emissions even further.


...
by Bill Baue
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
http://www.socialfunds.com/news/article.cgi/2015.html
SocialFunds.com www.socialfunds.com

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Town recoups $3.8 million for landfill

After six years of litigation and negotiation, the township has reached a settlement agreement with the eighth and final insurance carrier named in its multiparty lawsuit filed to recover the costs of remediating the French's Landfill Superfund site.

The Township Council approved May 17 in executive session the settlement offer of $425,000 proposed by the final litigant - the New Jersey Property Liability Insurance Guaranty Association.

The township recovered $3.83 million in remediation costs from insurance carriers who had sold general and excess liability insurance policies to the township dating back to 1970.


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In late 1999, the township began exploring the possibility of recovering its past and future landfill remediation costs from its historic insurance carriers. Attorney Kevin Starkey of Starkey, Kelly, Bauer, Kenneally & Cunningham, Brick, was retained to spearhead the township's efforts. Starkey had more than eight years of experience in environmental claims litigation while working for a prominent New York law firm.


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A total of $3.8 million was recovered by the township as compensation for its ongoing and future landfill remediation costs.


..
"Probably the single greatest hurdle in this case was the late notice given to the insurers. The contamination at the landfill was discovered in 1980 but the insurance companies did not receive notice of the claim until approximately 20 years later," Starkey said.


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French's Landfill is listed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund list, yet Brick taxpayers have paid for all of the work done on the landfill. Since 1981, Brick has spent over $4.3 million to remediate the landfill.

http://bulletin.gmnews.com/news/2006/0525/Front_page/037.html
Brick Township Bulletin http://bulletin.gmnews.com

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05/24/06

06:41:40 am, Categories: General, Europe, Academic Study/Journal Article, Environmental Economics, 185 words   English (US)

Demand for Environmental Quality: An Empirical Analysis of Consumer Behavior in Sweden

In this paper Tarek Ghalwash estimates the income elasticity of demand for recreational services and other traditional groups of goods in Sweden and test for potential changes in such estimates over the twentieth century. Due to the difficulty of directly observing the
demand for recreational services, Ghalwash employs an indirect methodology by using the
demand for some outdoor goods as a proxy for the demand for recreational services. In
line with most prior research, our results confirm the expectation that recreational
services, as a public good, is a luxury good in Sweden. His results also show that the
income elasticities for traditional goods are stable over time, indicating that consumer
preferences for expenditure on these specific commodities do not change over time.

Keywords: Household demand; environmental services; income elasticities; Engel curves (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D12 H41 Q26
Date: 2006-05-05

by Tarek Ghalwash (tarek.ghalwash@econ.umu.se)
http://econpapers.repec.org/paper/hhsumnees/0676.htm
Research Papers in Economics REPEC www.repec.org
Umeå Economic Studies from Umeå University, Department of Economics, No 676
http://www.econ.umu.se/ues/Ues676.pdf (application/pdf)

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The Welfare Consequences of Hospital Mergers

In the 1990s the US hospital industry consolidated. This paper estimates the impact of the wave of hospital mergers on welfare focusing on the impact on consumer surplus for the under-65 population. For the purposes of quantifying the price impact of consolidations, hospitals are modeled as an input to the production of health insurance for the under-65 population. The estimates indicate that the aggregate magnitude of the impact of hospital mergers is modest but not trivial. In 2001, average HMO premiums are estimated to be 3.2% higher than they would have been absent any hospital merger activity during the 1990s. In 2003, we estimate that because of hospital mergers private insurance rolls declined by approximately .3 percentage points or approximately 695,000 lives with the vast majority of those who lost private insurance joining the ranks of the uninsured. Our estimates imply that hospital mergers resulted in a cumulative consumer surplus loss of over $42.2 billion between 1990 and 2001. It is estimated that all but a modest $95.4 million of the loss in consumer surplus is transferred from consumers to providers.

by Robert Town, Douglas Wholey, Roger Feldman, Lawton R. Burns

National Bureau of Economic Reseearch (NBER) www.nber.org
Working Paper No. 12244; May 2006
http://papers.nber.org/papers/w12244

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12:00:01 am, Categories: Energy, Transportation, Midwest, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Costs and Benefits, 582 words   English (US)

Cheaper by a mile By Tim McLaughlin

You and your friend make last-minute plans to go to Chicago for Memorial Day weekend.

Before fantasizing about first-class museums, shopping and a Chicago Cubs meltdown before June, a key question looms: How will you get there?

Train?
Plane?
Automobile?
Or the bus?

The planning frenzy/cost-benefit analysis takes place Monday morning as you slurp coffee and surf the Internet. First you check the Web sites for Southwest Airlines and American Airlines.

Close call.

American offered two round-trip tickets for $425.20, taxes and fees included, between Lambert Field and O'Hare International Airport. Southwest was a tad more expensive at $432 for two round-trip fares between Lambert and Midway Airport.

Air travel is more expensive than other modes of transportation, and the aggravation factor has the potential to be sky-high. Flight delays, lost luggage, not enough peanuts to go around.

And you could have got a better price on the fare. But remember, you procrastinated and airline seats can get more expensive the longer you wait.

The question to ask here is: Do you have time or money?

St. Louis-to-Chicago flights typically take about an hour. But add about 75 minutes on each end for the rigmarole of getting to the airport, checking and claiming bags, clearing security and boarding/deplaning the flight.

So call it 3½ hours to get from St. Louis to Chicago via airplane if everything goes right.


...
Two round-trip tickets on Amtrak's Ann Rutledge train went for $248. The trip to Chicago's Union Station takes 5 hours 35 minutes. If you're a ferroequinologist (a student of the iron horse), you know the Ann Rutledge is named after the supposed first love of Abraham Lincoln. So you could take a train, imagine what old Abe must have seen out the window and get a firsthand look at how Amtrak spends its $1 billion-plus a year federal subsidy.

But before you make any hasty decisions, there are two more options to explore.

The bus isn't sexy, but consider what Megabus.com offers. The Internet-based service, a subsidiary of Coach USA, has made the news recently with $1 fare offers. You weren't able to get that deal, but you could land two round-trip tickets for $120. That price easily beats the train and the plane.

An 8:45 a.m. Friday bus leaving St. Louis Union Station arrives in Chicago's Union Station in 5 hours 20 minutes. Megabus offers movies, too. And you never know, you might meet your own Ann Rutledge during the 30-minute break at a Bloomington, Ill., truck stop.

That leaves you with one more mode to consider: the good old POV (personal-owned vehicle).

In this case, you calculate your cost estimates based on a 2000 Honda Accord automatic that gets 30 miles per gallon on the highway. The tires are good, the oil has been changed and your CD selection is ready to rock.

But you won't relax too much while driving, especially after you read this grim item from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: 43,200 people died on the nation's highways in 2005, up from 42,636 in 2004.

Just buckle up and pay attention. Besides, the price is right, even when a barrel of Brent crude costs about $70.

Up and back is about 610 miles. If you average 60 mph, you'll spend about 10.2 hours on the highway, using 20.3 gallons of gas at $2.65 per.

That'll cost $53.80 (before a two-way split), sans snacks and a potential traffic ticket in Illinois' Sangamon County.

By Tim McLaughlin

FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/business/stories.nsf/story/864217B61968DF5186257179000A7EB0?OpenDocument
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH www.stltoday.com

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05/22/06

Lawmakers want help battling beetles

The hungry Asian longhorned beetle has turned more than 4,000 city trees into mulch, prompting officials to warn Sunday that Gotham could be stuck with a $2.25 billion bill unless the federal government loosens its purse strings.

That is, the same way lawmakers have done for Chicago, which has gained an upper hand in the fight against the pesky bugs with help from D.C. dollars.

"It's time for the federal government to do its part to ensure that a tree will still grow in Brooklyn, and throughout the five boroughs of New York."

The city lost out on $15 million in federal funding to fight the beetle during the past four years, according to a recent report by Weiner and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan/Queens).

Chicago, by contrast, has had its highly successful, $80 million eradication program almost fully funded by the federal government. While Weiner has repeatedly criticized the funding of Chicago's program over New York's, the United States Department of Agriculture says it allocates money to where it thinks eradication efforts will be most successful.

Weiner said Sunday that he will introduce an amendment to the agriculture appropriations bill to increase federal anti-beetle funding for New York.

That bill is still in committee, but could come to the House floor as early as this week.


...
The beetles have been hitching rides here on Chinese cargo ships for at least a decade. Without natural predators in North America, the beetle larvae feast freely on hardwood trees, gradually choking off the flow of moisture and nutrients through the wood.

The bug is particularly hard to kill because it spends 90 percent of its life within the tree, emerging only in late adulthood to lay eggs in other parts of the tree or within a new tree. Once infected, the tree usually must be cut down.

The federal government has warned that if the beetle spreads into the country's hardwood forests, it could cost the economy $138 billion annually.

Chicago has controlled its beetle infestation problem by injecting at-risk trees with pesticide and by chopping down large swaths of infected trees.

By Justin Rocket Silverman
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
http://www.newsday.com/news/local/newyork/am-beetle0522,0,1200398.story?coll=ny-nycnews-headlines
Newsday www.newsday.com

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Brownfields slow to go green: A state program aims at redeveloping abandoned sites; but critics are finding reasons for concern

It offers some of the nation's most lucrative incentives to reuse blighted land, but some developers and affordable housing advocates say New York's landmark brownfields cleanup legislation is becoming better known so far as a source of bureaucratic headaches and legal confusion.

As of last week, 278 applications have been received for the Brownfields Cleanup Program, including 25 on Long Island, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation. Of those, 193 have been approved to enter the process and 21 projects were deemed ineligible.

The state has so far issued three "certificates of completion" to cleaned sites, including one in Queens, entitling them to be reimbursed for a share of their building costs.

"Extremely slow start"

DEC officials have characterized those numbers as "significant progress." But with 450,000 potential sites, 6,800 of them on Long Island, others are calling the pace disappointing. The cleanup program was signed into law in October 2003.


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New York's brownfields program is targeted at idled, abandoned or underutilized industrial sites and service stations that are unattractive to investors because of contamination or the perception of it. It offers developers liability protections and flexible cleanup standards based on how the land is to be used, along with three types of tax credits that range up to 22 percent of the cost of the new development.


...
But attorneys and consultants complained of cumbersome review procedures that include as many as seven public comment periods and costly, unpredictable delays because of limited state agency staff, which makes banks leery about extending loans.

For investors weighing whether they can profit from a brownfields project, it's become clear that "hard" costs of cleanup are only part of the expense, said Great Neck environmental attorney Suzanne Avena: They also need to budget for research, oversight, expediting and legal fees, permit work and "delays, delays, delays," she said. And with heightened recent concern about the health risks of toxic soil vapors, "there's a lot more data being requested than we might have expected."

Keyspan withdraws

KeySpan, which had filed 25 applications to include cleanups of some of its old manufactured gas plants and other New York facilities in the brownfields program, withdrew those applications last year, citing uncertainty about how it would affect the utility's ability to pursue damages from other polluters. It has said it may seek to re-enter the program later.

In Smithtown, an application by Cherokee Arker Kings Park Llc to clean up part of the old state psychiatric hospital facility in Kings Park under the brownfields program was approved by the state in May 2005. But the agreement has never been signed by Cherokee, which withdrew its mixed-use redevelopment proposal amid vociferous resident opposition and later filed suit to force the state to go through with the sale.

Rockville Center wrangle

In Rockville Centre, developers proposing an $85-million, 230-condominium complex on the former Darby drug warehouse site have been accepted into the brownfields program to clean up perchloroethene under the land. The developers won a smart-growth award, but residents have united to oppose their proposal, which is pending before the planning board.

Critics say the brownfields cleanup program's tax credits, so appetizing to developers, threaten to be so costly to the state that it has forced the DEC to narrow eligibility criteria, which some fear will hurt smaller projects in economically marginal areas.

"The state is soon going to be hemorrhaging dollars to pay for uncapped tax credits with absolutely no relationship to need - zero," said Jodi Kass, co-director of the nonprofit New Partners for Community Revitalization, which builds affordable housing on brownfields sites and fought hard for this law. She just learned a pending application in New Cassel is likely to be turned down.

Sarah Lansdale, executive director of Sustainable Long Island, said last week that some brownfields redevelopment is simply bypassing the state incentive program because it's not worth the trouble, and other developers are still choosing to skip all the headaches and build on "greenfields" or never-developed land.

"Time is money"

"Time is money - it's these delays which add to the expense of redeveloping ..." Lansdale said. "The market is still not working perfectly."

BY ELIZABETH MOORE
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
http://www.newsday.com/business/ny-bzcov4751689may22,0,2133861.story?track=rss
Newsday www.newsday.com

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the Theory And Practice Of Environmental And Resource Economics: Essays in Honour of Karl-Gustaf Löfgren

This collection of specially commissioned papers pays tribute to Karl-Gustaf Löfgren’s significant and diverse contribution to theoretical and empirical research within the field of environmental and resource economics over the past two decades.

A number of distinguished scholars examine a broad range of topics including sustainability, risk and uncertainty, demand theory and issues related to public goods. The book also contains analyses of more specific resource problems concerning fisheries, forestry management, wildlife and pollution.

Contributors: T. Aronsson, K. Backlund, B.M. Balk, P. Berck, O. Bergland, R. Brännlund, R. Färe, I.M. Favada, A. Fisher, H. Folmer, S. Grosskopf, C. Håkansson, W.M. Hanemann, G. Heal, H.P. Hess, L. Hultkrantz, P.-O. Johansson, B. Kriström, J. Kuuluvainen, C.-Z. Li, M. Lindmark, K.-G. Mäler, U. Narain, K.H. Pham Do, T. Puu, R. Ready, E. Romstad, J.F. Shogren, T. Sjögren, T. Stamland, J. Uusivuori, M.L. Weitzman, M. Wikström

Edited by Thomas Aronsson, Professor of Economics, Roger Axelsson, Associate Professor of Economics and Runar Brännlund, Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, Umeå University, Sweden
June 2006
368 pages hardback $145.00/$116.00
ISBN 13 978 1 84542 649 1
http://www.e-elgar-environment.com/Bookentry_main.lasso?id=4046
Edward Elgar Publishing www.e-elgar.co.uk

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08:43:51 pm, Categories: Non-Environmental, U.S., Cost-Benefit Analysis, Costs and Benefits, 242 words   English (US)

Evaluating the Viability of 100 Per Cent Container Inspection at America’s Ports: Chapter 12 of The Economic Impacts Of Terrorist Attacks

As part of a recently published book edited by Harry W. Richardson, Peter Gordon, and James E. Moore II, this chapter presents a cost-benefit analysis of scanning 100 percent of incoming seaborne cargo containers at U.S. ports.

Currently, approximately 5 percent of containers arriving at U.S. seaports are inspected, first by scanning with an x-ray or gamma ray device, followed by hand inspection in some cases. Congress is currently debating proposals to require that all incoming cargo containers be scanned.

This analysis considers three strategies for 100 percent scanning: the application of currently available technology, the application of technology with a faster rate of scanning, and the application of faster and more accurate technology that reduces the number of physical inspections that are required. The cost analysis includes equipment acquisition, operations and maintenance, and freight delays. The benefit of a policy is the avoidance of a terrorist attack of a certain magnitude, measured in terms of total economic damage.

The authors find that 100 percent scanning of inbound containers is not feasible with current technology because of the space and personnel requirements associated with the scanning and hand inspection stations. As technology and processes are improved, reducing the requirements for physical inspections, these policies appear to be cost effective when the consequences of a terrorist attack via a container approach $10 billion.

By Susan E. Martonosi, David S. Ortiz and Henry H. Willis
http://www.rand.org/ise/container_inspection.html
Rand www.rand.org

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Insurers take cover with global warming risks

INSURANCE products linked to climate change may be introduced in Australia.

Bruce Thomas, a sustainability expert with reinsurer Swiss Re, told The Age he expected Australia to follow other countries where insurance had taken account of the effects of global warming.

"There are certain amounts of warming that are already built into the global climate system," Mr Thomas said. "The in-built increases in temperature as a result of CO 2 emissions that have already occurred mean that even if we do something dramatic starting today, or even next year, we will still see warming, and therefore likely climate change, during the first half of the 21st century."

Swiss Re joined Westpac, Insurance Australia Group, Origin Energy, BP, Visy and the Australian Conservation Foundation last month in a statement attempting to raise the corporate profile of carbon awareness.

But Mr Thomas said business interest in climate change was not soft or altruistic. Trends in environmental economics, including trading of carbon credits, offered opportunities for the financial services industry to create products and price the new risks.

Insurance companies buy risks — for example, the risk that a house may burn down or a car may be stolen — from people and companies. When a large number of policies representing a basket of risks has accumulated, reinsurers buy the bundle and sell it back to a market, usually as bonds. This disperses the risk of one company collapsing, protecting consumers.

Mr Thomas said markets had struggled to price carbon emissions, but consensus was growing. Swiss Re last year joined the Chicago Climate Exchange, where it trades greenhouse gas emissions.

"Boards and directors of management of companies will look at ways of gaining either an advantage or looking at ways they can deal with it at a price," Mr Thomas said. "If carbon has a price of zero, then in some ways (emission awareness) is just a feel-good type of thing.

"But if carbon has a price, someone responsible for emissions of 1000 tonnes a year can look at mitigation strategies."

ACF's sustainability program manager Erwin Jackson said pricing risks had caused ructions among business, environmentalists and governments for decades.

He said there was no clear, long-term framework to give industries the confidence to invest large sums to reduce emissions.

"If you're a company that wants to build a gas-fired power station, for example, you can't justify it to your board because you don't know what the price of carbon is going to be in the future," he said.

"If you're a bank wanting to assess the carbon liabilities of a company that you are going to invest in, you can't properly assess the risks associated with future climate policy."

The price of emitted carbon has troubled economists seeking to develop a a carbon trading market. Mr Jackson said economic literature on the subject had arrived at a mid-range price of about $50 a tonne of carbon, but some estimates put the price as high as $600 a tonne.

By Marc Moncrief
The Age www.theage.com.au (Australia)
http://www.theage.com.au/news/business/insurers-take-cover-with-global-warming-risks/2006/05/22/1148150186764.html

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05/21/06

07:46:41 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Academic Study/Journal Article, China, Costs and Benefits, 220 words   English (US)

Multi-objective optimization of cassava-based fuel ethanol used as an alternative automotive fuel in Guangxi, China

Multi-objective optimization of net energy, external costs of environment pollutant-emissions, and cost of using cassava-based fuel ethanol as an alternative automotive fuel in Guangxi has been conducted based on its holistic life cycle, from feedstock production to fuel combustion. A new indicator, cost of net energy (CNE), linking net energy-yield, external cost of environment pollutant-emissions, and production cost (the lower the CNE reading, the better the total performance) of ethanol–gasoline blends, is proposed for carrying out multi-objective optimization. On the life-cycle basis, CNE of ethanol–gasoline blends is found to obtain its lowest value, i.e. 0.119 RMB/MJ, when processing fuel during the ethanol conversion stage was natural gas and the ratio of ethanol blended with gasoline was 5%. From the standpoint of the CNE indicator, the most viable implement form of cassava-based fuel ethanol should be used as one of oxygenate additives. The recommended processing fuel during ethanol conversion stage should be natural gas.

Keywords: Energy; Environment; Cost; Life cycle multi-objective optimization; Cassava-based ethanol; Guangxi; China

by Zhiyuan Hu 1, Piqiang Tan 1, and Gengqiang Pu 2
1. Automotive School, Tongji University, 4800 Caoan Road, Shanghai 201804, PR China; Tel./fax: +86 21 69589981
2. School of Mechanical and Power Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 1954 Huashan Road, Shanghai 200030, PR China

Applied Energy via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 83, Issue 8; August 2006; pages 819-840
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2005.09.002

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The Impact of Small Brownfields and Greenspaces on Residential Property Values

Using a hedonic pricing model, this paper investigates the responsiveness of residential property values in a well-defined inner-city neighborhood of Kenosha, Wisconsin, to the presence of two small former industrial sites contaminated by various environmental pollutants, or brownfields, and a local neighborhood park, or greenspace. Using readily available data on sales and assessments for residential property in close proximity to the brownfields and the greenspace, we estimate well-behaved and statistically significant property value gradients with respect to the park, the environmental amenity, and the brownfields, the environmental disamenities. These functions are then used to estimate the possible impact that brownfield remediation may have on total property value. We estimate that remediation and redevelopment of the brownfields into greenspaces would increase property values for the 890 neighborhood residences between $2.40 and $7.01 million. These results suggest that small brownfields have a measurable impact on property values and that readily accessible data can be used to help local policymakers make decisions on remediation issues.

Keywords Brownfields - Greenspace - residential property values - Hedonic pricing

by Dennis A. Kaufman and Norman R. Cloutier; University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Kenosha, WI, USA; and

The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics via SpringerLink www.SpringerLink.com
ISSN: 0895-5638 (Paper) 1573-045X (Online)
DOI: 10.1007/s11146-006-8272-7
Volume 33, Number 1; August, 2006; pages 19-30
http://springerlink.metapress.com/(aeiipu550bjulsibxq0knve0)/app/home/contribution.asp?referrer=parent&backto=issue,2,5;journal,1,101;linkingpublicationresults,1:102945,1

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Resource-effective systems achieved through changes in energy supply and industrial use: The Volvo–Skövde case

The result presented in this paper shows that the Volvo plant can decrease its electricity use by 44% by making the use of electricity more efficient and converting from oil and electricity to district heating for hot tap-water, space heating and cooling. The increased demand of district heating makes investing in a new planned CHP and cooperation between the Volvo plant and the local energy utility production cost fall by 46% at current unit electricity price and by 64% when calculating with a European unit electricity price and investment in an optimised CHP system instead of the planned plant. The study furthermore shows that the global emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon-dioxide will be reduced by 350% a year if the two energy-supply measures are taken and the electricity unit prices are at a European level.

Keywords: CHP; Co-operation; Deregulated electricity market; District heating; Electricity price; Emission trading

by Louise Trygg, Alemayehu Gebremedhin and Björn G. Karlsson; Division of Energy Systems, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Linköping Institute of Technology, S-581 83 Linköping, Sweden; Tel.: +46 13 281000; fax: +46 13 281788.

Applied Energy via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 83, Issue 8; August 2006, pages 801-818
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2005.09.005

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12:00:01 am, Categories: Energy, U.S., Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Costs and Benefits, 622 words   English (US)

Prospects for ethanol are mixed: Interest in the fuel is high, but it won't replace gasoline soon. One big problem is creating a distribution system.

Ever since President Bush's State of the Union vow to break America's addiction to oil, interest in the corn-based fuel ethanol has soared.

A giant grain company just hired a top oil executive to be its new chief executive officer, the IRS is giving tax breaks for the installation of ethanol pumps, and even Wall Street investment banks are getting into the game.

But don't write off gasoline yet. For the foreseeable future, ethanol is most likely to remain only a blending agent, mixed into gasoline to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil only modestly.

Numerous hurdles stand in the way before consumers can choose between ethanol and gasoline, chief among them creating a distribution system from scratch.

More than 200,000 miles of oil, gasoline and natural-gas pipelines snake across the continental United States. But because ethanol absorbs water from gasoline and oil and can become contaminated, few pipeline operators are eager to push it through their vast networks.

To compete with gasoline, ethanol producers would have to build a parallel national pipeline network.

"To build a brand-new system like that would be an extreme challenge, and not just from a financial standpoint," said Raymond Paul, spokesman for the Association of Oil Pipe Lines.

Today, most major oil pipelines originate along the Gulf Coast, where drilling is concentrated and where the bulk of the nation's oil imports arrive.

By contrast, ethanol production is concentrated in the Midwest, far from the big consumer markets on the East and West Coasts. Most of the ethanol produced today moves in tank trucks or on railcars, in what the ethanol industry calls a "virtual" pipeline that costs more than moving gasoline through pipelines.

The costs of creating a parallel distribution system would be staggering. Paul estimates that a continuing expansion of the oil-pipeline system currently costs about $1 million per mile.

That is not to say that ethanol cannot help America kick its oil habit.

Virtually any car on the road today can run on gasoline containing up to 10 percent ethanol. Most oil companies already blend a good bit of ethanol into their product. Shell USA estimates that 30 percent of the gasoline it sold last year contained ethanol, and late last year that figure climbed above 40 percent.

But there is a long way to go before ethanol can challenge gasoline.

Today, fewer than 650 fuel stations sell E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. That is a minuscule number considering that roughly five million flex-fuel vehicles are on U.S. roads today - cars, pickups and SUVs that can run on either gasoline or ethanol. Most are powered by gasoline, as are the other 195 million cars on America's roads.


...
Enter next-generation ethanol.

Next-generation ethanol technologies could allow ethanol to be made from corn, sugarcane, naturally growing prairie grasses, and virtually any kind of plant or plant waste. Backers see potential for 100 billion gallons of unconventional ethanol.

Cellulosic ethanol, or biomass, involves biologically produced enzymes that can break down virtually any plant fiber into a final ethanol product. The drawback has been the inability to produce those enzymes cheaply on a massive scale.

Two companies - Genentech Inc. of San Francisco, Calif., and Iogen Corp. in the Canadian capital

Iogen announced on May 1 that Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs & Co. had given it a vote of confidence by taking a $27 million minority stake in the company.

But this boomlet could bust.

Cambridge Energy Research Associates warns that by 2010, there could be so much new oil coming to market that prices could drop sharply. That could rob ethanol of its urgency.


...

by Kevin G. Hall
FOR FULL STORY GO TO
http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/business/14628672.htm?source=rss&channel=inquirer_business
The Philadelphia Inquirer www.philly.com

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05/20/06

A multiobjective optimization approach to smart growth in land development

In this paper Steven A. Gabriel, José A. Faria, and Glenn E. Moglen apply a multiobjective optimization model of Smart Growth to land development. The term Smart Growth is meant to describe development strategies—that do not promote urban sprawl. However, the term is somewhat open to interpretation. The multiobjective aspects arise when considering the conflicting interests of the various stakeholders involved in land development decisions: the government planner, the environmentalist, the conservationist, and the land developer. The authors present a formulation—employing linear and convex quadratic objective functions subject to polyhedral and binary constraints for the stakeholders. The resulting optimization problems are convex, quadratic mixed integer programs that are NP-complete. They report numerical results with this model for Montgomery County, Maryland, and present them using a geographic information system (GIS).

Keywords: Multiple objective programming; Integer programming; Quadratic programming; Smart Growth; Large Scale Optimization; Geographic Information System; Land use planning

by Steven A. Gabriel 1 2, José A. Faria 1, and Glenn E. Moglen 1
1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maryland, 1143 Martin Hall, College Park, MD 20742, USA. Tel.: +1 301 405 3242; fax: +1 301 405 2585
2. Applied Mathematics and Scientific Computation Program, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA

Socio-Economic Planning Sciences via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 40, Issue 3; September 2006; pages 212-248
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.seps.2005.02.001

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County must make long-term plans for trash

After purchasing 520 acres of land adjacent to the existing, capped landfill at 1481 Pueblo Road, McPherson County must now decide in the long term whether the county will continue to transfer its trash out of the county or to take the steps needed to use the recently purchased land for expansion of a Subtitle D Municipal Solid Waste Landfill.

Bill Ridge, general manager of the McPherson Area Solid Waste Utility (M.A.S.W.U.), and John Hawk, operations manager for M.A.S.W.U., presented an application for a conditional use permit (CUP) to establish a Subtitle D landfill on the 520 acres adjacent to the existing landfill at the monthly meeting of the McPherson County Planning Board and Board of Zoning Appeals held Monday evening at the Bank of America, fifth floor.


...
After capping and closing most of the existing landfill six years ago (which was privately owned until M.A.S.W.U. took over ownership and management in 1991), McPherson County solid waste has been transferred out of county to either the City of Salina Landfill or to the Reno County Landfill. Only a small area of the old landfill remains open for construction and demolition materials. McPherson County currently transfers an average amount of 85 tons of solid waste per day.

“We have seen a continuing growth in the amount of trash we generate in McPherson County,” said Hawk, who predicted that disposal costs at out-of-county facilities will continue to increase and that fuel costs will influence higher trucking costs, making transfer of solid waste to out-of--county landfills more expensive in the future. Reno County's tipping costs have increased from $22 per ton to $25 per ton in six years. Hawk said Salina city commissioners considered raising tipping fees this past year.

“Last year (disposal costs) we had total costs that were close to about $700,000 we paid Reno County and the City of Salina Landfills. We projected those costs over the next five years....You can see, even conservatively, those costs head up to close to $900,000 close to a million dollars per year to give to those counties or the City of Salina over the next five years...and that is every single year,” said Hawk.

Hawk anticipated trucking costs will increase from a cost of about $200,000 per year to $300,000 per year over a five-year period because of fuel costs.

Hawk said another reason for the county to develop its own landfill is so that in the future McPherson County can control its own destiny, both to ensure that there is always a guaranteed location for McPherson County to dispose of its solid waste and to ensure that the solid waste is managed and disposed of safely.


...
Ridge stated that the initial expansion and establishment of a Subtitle D Landfill should cost $4 million, with $1 million of that cost to be paid for relocation of a stream along the property. M.A.S.W.U. is currently working with the Army Corps of Engineers to develop a plan for relocating the stream south to meander near the property boundary at Pueblo Road, dependent upon approval of the CUP application.


...
Several concerned citizens expressed worries about their property values decreasing as a result of expanding the landfill. These citizens also expressed concerns about increased blowing debris, possible contamination of water supplies to their residences, and increased traffic on the county roads which provide access to their residences.


...
By KERRI SNELL
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
http://www.mcphersonsentinel.com/articles/2006/05/20/news/news3.txt
Mcpherson Sentinel www.mcphersonsentinel.com

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05/19/06

Back to School

Leave it to a prospective MBA student to thoroughly analyze the costs and benefits of going to graduate school. Before Steinar Knutsen made the decision to go after a business degree, he whipped up a spreadsheet to evaluate how long it would take for the investment to pay off. Harder to weigh, though, were some of the choices he and his wife, Liz, would have to make before he launched into two years of all-consuming study in August 2000.

First, the dollars and cents that Steinar cranked into his spreadsheet: Two years of tuition at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, totaled $74,000. A scholarship and financial aid halved that amount, but the cost of books added another $1,400 each year. And housing expenses up north would be 50% higher than they had been paying in North Carolina. Then there was the opportunity cost: Two full years of Steinar's salary, totaling nearly $90,000, would be gone forever--not to mention the $2,700 his employer would have kicked in to his 401(k) account.

But Steinar figured that his earnings with an MBA would be at least 75% greater than what he earned at his old job training salespeople. He calculated that those higher earnings would pay off the investment within three to five years. After that, the numbers would all be in the black.

Some costs, however, weren't so easily quantified: The Knutsens had to consider whether Liz could find a job that would pay enough to support both of them. Luckily, she had little trouble landing a good job as a media buyer for an insurance company in Cleveland. And her health benefits cover them both.


...
Plotting the payoff. Even a law degree doesn't always economically justify the heavy debt load a student takes on, according to Sandy Baum, who chairs the economics department at Skidmore College, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. A study she did for the Nellie Mae Foundation showed that students who borrow for graduate studies, especially those in expensive professional programs such as law or medicine, are likely to have unusually high debt burdens--an average of $45,700 when you combine graduate and undergraduate loans. High monthly debt payments after graduation are not always offset by comparably high salaries.

For example, PhD candidates in low-paying fields, such as most of the humanities, understand from the beginning that they can't count on a big earnings boost to pay off their degree.


...
By Elizabeth Razzi
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
http://biz.yahoo.com/kiplinger/060519/pf_v055_n012_u088_01001_id.html?.v=1
Kiplinger Magazine via Yahoo Business http://biz.yahoo.com/kiplinger

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Technoeconomic evaluation of IGCC power plants for CO2 avoidance

Growing electricity demands within the next century imply an expansion in the current power plant fleet. The achievement of the above, coupled with the need for significant reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is a challenging task. Cleaner, more efficient fossil fuel based power plant designs, combined with CO2 capture technologies constitute an attractive option to meet this challenge in the near to medium term. Integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plants have the lowest carbon dioxide emissions among coal power plants. When combined with a CO2 physical absorption system, substantial GHG emissions reductions can be attained. Depending on the degree of capture, the emissions can match or become less than those of natural gas fired combined cycle (NGCC) power plants.

This paper is a technical and economic comparison of the performance of five plant designs in the 500 MW output range: IGCC without CO2 capture, IGCC with 80% capture, IGCC with CO2 emissions equal to those of a NGCC, IGCC with CO2 and H2S co-capture, and NGCC without capture. ASPEN Plus™ models of the above plants were developed and the following plant performance results are discussed: net power output, efficiency, plant ancillary energy requirements and overall CO2 emissions. Economic evaluations for all cases are presented, including the cost methodology and economic basis. The capital investment, cost of electricity and carbon dioxide mitigation costs for all plants are detailed and compared.

The simulation results show that the economics favour higher capture levels in new IGCC plants. The CO2 mitigation costs corresponding to IGCC plants with 80% capture are slightly lower than those corresponding to IGCC plants with equal emissions to those of NGCC plants (28 vs. 30 US$/tonne CO2 avoided). The capital cost difference (per kW of net installed capacity) between the above plants is 7%, while the CO2 emissions of the former are almost half those of the latter. IGCC plants with CO2 and H2S co-capture have substantial technoeconomic advantages over IGCC plants that capture CO2 and H2S separately. Based on a 577 MW IGCC, the power output decreases only to 552 MW for the co-capture case, whereas it drops to 488 MW when CO2 and H2S are captured separately. The incremental capital cost of co-capture plants is 6%, and their electricity production cost increase is less than half a cent, with respect to an IGCC without capture. The CO2 mitigation cost of co-capture plants is at least four times lower than their separate CO2 and H2S capture counterparts.

Keywords: IGCC; CO2 capture; CO2 emissions reduction; CO2/H2S co-capture

by Guillermo Ordorica-Garcia 1, Peter Douglas 1, Eric Croiset 1, and Ligang Zheng 2
1. Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Waterloo, 200 University Ave. West, Waterloo, Ont., Canada N2L 3G1; Tel.: +1 519 888 4567x6472; fax: +1 519 746 4979
2. CANMET Energy Technology Centre, Natural Resources Canada, 1 Haanel Rd., Ottawa, Ont., Canada K1A 1M1

Energy Conversion and Management via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 47, Issues 15-16; September 2006; pages 2250-2259
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.enconman.2005.11.020

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06:44:01 am, Categories: Air, Energy, Asia, Academic Study/Journal Article, Transportation, Costs and Benefits, 188 words   English (US)

Recent advances on the production and utilization trends of bio-fuels: A global perspective

Bio-fuels are important because they replace petroleum fuels. There are many benefits for the environment, economy and consumers in using bio-fuels. Bio-oil can be used as a substitute for fossil fuels to generate heat, power and/or chemicals. Upgrading of bio-oil to a transportation fuel is technically feasible, but needs further development. Bio-fuels are made from biomass through thermochemical processes such as pyrolysis, gasification, liquefaction and supercritical fluid extraction or biochemical. Biochemical conversion of biomass is completed through alcoholic fermentation to produce liquid fuels and anaerobic digestion or fermentation, resulting in biogas. In wood derived pyrolysis oil, specific oxygenated compounds are present in relatively large amounts. Basically, the recovery of pure compounds from the complex bio-oil is technically feasible but probably economically unattractive because of the high costs for recovery of the chemical and its low concentration in the oil.

Keywords: Biomass; Bio-conversion; Bio-fuel; Bio-oil; Biogas; Chemicals; Ethanol; Bio-diesel

M.F. Demirbas 1 and Mustafa Balat 2
1. P. K. 216, 61035 Trabzon, Turkey; Tel.: +90 462 230 7831; fax: +90 462 248 8508
2. Polatoglu ap Kat 6, Besikduzu, Trabzon, Turkey

Energy Conversion and Management via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 47, Issues 15-16 , September 2006, Pages 2371-2381
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.enconman.2005.11.014

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U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service Foodborne Illness Cost Calculator

USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) has developed an online Foodborne Illness Cost Calculator, which enables meat and food processors to calculate the potential economic impact of food-borne illnesses. Processors can examine the impact of different assumptions on cost estimates and risk rankings, and change these assumptions to reflect any specific information about disease incidence, medical costs, productivity losses, or disutility. By changing the number of cases, processors can calculate the costs of food-borne illness for a particular state or region, or for a particular food-borne illness outbreak. The ERS estimates of the costs of illness and premature death for a number of food-borne illnesses have been used in regulatory cost-benefit and impact analyses. Like all cost estimates, the ERS estimates include assumptions about disease incidence, outcome severity, and the level of medical, productivity, and disutility costs. Changes to any of these assumptions could change the cost estimates and, as a result, change the way policymakers rank risks, prioritize spending, and formulate food safety policies. The Foodborne Illness Cost Calculator provides information on the assumptions behind food-borne illness cost estimates—and gives processors the opportunity to make assumptions and calculate cost estimates.

http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/Foodborneillness/
U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service www.ers.usda.gov

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Tupelo train-track move deemed feasible

Tupelo Mississippi would save millions of dollars by moving several miles of railroad tracks outside its busiest areas, according to the feasibility phase of a three-year study to relocate the tracks.

That phase, which started in August and ended last week, was to determine whether the benefits of moving the tracks would outweigh its costs.

The conclusion: They would. Moving the tracks would save Tupelo more than $800 million by 2030 just by eliminating the need to stop traffic for each train. Gas consumption, worker salaries and other factors helped determine that figure, said Wayne Parrish, the study's planning manager at the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

"And that's just the cost of the delay to the waiting public," he said. "If you figure out the other benefits for relocation, then your cost-benefit projection looks real good."

The results of the entire feasibility report will be made available to the public soon.

Seeking solution

City leaders for years have called for a solution to mounting train traffic through Tupelo, where Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Kansas City Southern tracks cross several downtown intersections.

BNSF runs an average of 26 trains a day through the city; KCS runs about six. Many come during Tupelo's peak traffic hours, stalling vehicles for blocks.

The first phase's findings mean the $2.2 million study will move to the next step. Had the phase found the project unfeasible, the study would have ended there.

by Emily Le Coz
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
http://www.djournal.com/pages/story.asp?ID=219710&pub=1&div=News
The Northeast Missippi Daily Journal www.djournal.com

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Ministers give tepid response to green tax

The environment and industry ministers are against the Finance Ministry's plan to impose a green tax on businesses because they believe it will do little to improve the country's environment.

State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday he had never been consulted over the environmental tax.

Rachmat said he was of the opinion the tax had nothing to do with efforts to preserve the environment. Calling the tax an "internal matter" of the Finance Ministry, Rachmat told the Post his office would continue protecting the environment under the 1997 law.


...
Sri Hudyastuti, an environment ministry expert in green economics, said if the tax was to work, the Finance Ministry would have to prove the money collected through the tax would go to sustainable management programs. The ministry would also have to establish an independent body in charge of monitoring the tax's management, she said.

Announced last week under the proposed amendments to the Regional Taxes and Charges Law, the levy would be imposed by regencies and municipalities on manufacturing companies with annual sales of more than Rp 300 million (about US$33,000). It would be levied at a maximum rate of 0.5 percent of firms' total production costs.

The Finance Ministry said revenues produced by the tax would be used to fund local environmental programs and would fund the building and maintenance of waste treatment facilities.

Bandung University of Technology professor of environmental economics Surna T. Djajadiningrat said the plan was "impractical" because the country had no accountable tax agency to ensure the tax's effectiveness.

by Arie Rukmantara
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
http://www.thejakartapost.com/detailnational.asp?fileid=20060519.H03&irec=4
The Jakarta Post www.thejakartapost.com

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Roadway damaged by slide won't be fixed: El Cerrito city manager says there's not enough money to repair Wildcat Drive; about five homes stand beyond the segment

On a quiet, dead-end road that runs along the rim of Wildcat Canyon Regional Park, there is a gaping, though little-known, city embarrassment.

In 1996, a landslide on the east side of El Cerrito's Wildcat Drive tore away a large chunk of the roadway. The remaining lane of roadway was stabilized with heavy steel beams, and there is enough room for cars and delivery trucks to squeak by.

However, the city of El Cerrito has no intention of repairing the slide-damaged road or shoring up the hillside, City Manager Scott Hanin said, because the public has been rather reserved on the matter.

There are only about five homes beyond the collapsed roadway and next to no traffic. In addition, Hanin said, it's simply too expensive to fix.

"We did a cost benefit analysis two years ago, and it just didn't make sense," he said. "The estimate was $1 (million) or $2 million, and we're looking at $10 (million) to $20 million in necessary road repairs citywide. It's not that I'm unsympathetic, but we just don't have enough money to fix everything."

by John Geluardi
CONTRA COSTA TIMES www.contracostatimes.com
http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/news/transportation/14617881.htm?source=rss&channel=cctimes_transportation

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05/18/06

Refurbishment of industrial buildings

When a building is subject for refurbishment, there is a golden opportunity to change its behavior as an energy system. This paper shows the importance of careful investigations of the processes, the climate shield and the heating systems already present in the building before measures are implemented in reality. A case study is presented dealing with a carpentry factory. The building is poorly insulated according to standards today, and initially it was assumed that a better thermal shield would be of vital importance in order to reach optimal conditions. Instead, it is shown that the main problem is the ordinary heating system. This uses steam from a wood chips boiler and the wood chips come from the manufacturing processes. These wood chips are, therefore, a very cheap fuel. The boiler had, during decades of use, slowly degraded into a poor state. Hence, aero-tempers using expensive electricity have been installed to remedy the situation. These use not only expensive kWh but also very expensive kW due to the electricity tariff. It is shown that electricity for heating purposes must be abandoned and further, that this could be achieved at a surprisingly small cost. By stopping a large waste of steam, it was possible to find resources, in the form of unspent money, for further mending the existing heating system. Not only economy but also environmental hazards in the form of CO2 emissions urges us to abandon electricity and instead use heat from cheap biomass fired boilers. Such equipment saves environment at the same time it saves money.

Keywords: Industry; Buildings; Steam; Electricity; Processes; Optimisation

by Stig-Inge Gustafsson; Linköping University, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Division Energy Systems, SE581 83 Linköping, Sweden; Tel.: +46 13 281156; fax: +46 13 281788.

Energy Conversion and Management via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 47, Issues 15-16; September 2006; pages 2223-2239
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V2P-4J6161W-3&_coverDate=09%2F30%2F2006&_alid=404086074&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_qd=1&_cdi=5708&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=91da7d5e5e584df9473857ad153ce7cb
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.enconman.2005.12.011

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Solar Strife: The state is demanding more clean energy--but it will come at a price

"I want to be able to say proudly that as builders, we're environmentalists," says developer John Wesley Miller.

Southern Arizona may be the sunshine capital of the country, but when it comes to electricity, that doesn't mean much. However, the Arizona Corporation Commission wants to significantly increase the production of "renewable" energy like solar power--a move which could cost utility customers substantially.

For a decade, the commission has required the state's electricity providers to produce a tiny fraction of their power from renewable resources such as solar, wind or landfill gas. While the target for last year was only 1 percent of total energy sold, with 60 percent of that coming from solar facilities, none of Arizona's utility companies could achieve the goal. Tucson Electric Power came closest, meeting about two-thirds of the target.

Despite the shortfall, the commission in March radically raised the standards. Listing advantages such as future reliability, as well as price comparisons with other fuel sources, the ACC voted to slowly increase the renewable energy requirement to 15 percent by 2025.


...
TEP has already invested more than $32 million on developing renewable energy, including burning methane gas from the Los Reales landfill at its coal-fired plant on South Palo Verde Road. It has also installed one of the world's largest "solar" farms, a 44-acre facility in Springerville, Ariz.

Even though the Corporation Commission permits utility companies to collect a small environmental energy surcharge from their customers, TEP has still lost in excess of $7 million in the renewable-electricity business.

To meet its recently expanded goals, the commission will allow TEP to increase the monthly surcharge, suggesting a household figure of $1.05, or triple the current allowance. Given the ACC renewable energy mandate, Salkowski says the company believes the figure will have to be even higher than that.

How these additional funds will be spent by the utility remains under discussion, but Salkowski points out the commission is placing great emphasis on "distributed generation." This category of energy production can include a number of renewable sources, but is often associated with solar collectors located at a customer's home.

The ACC has mandated that within six years, 30 percent of its new energy standard must be met by this type of electricity, with half being supplied from residential locations. Presently, however, TEP produces only a minuscule amount of power from residential "distributed generation."

The utility has two programs in place to encourage this type of energy. One of them is GreenWatts, a fund into which TEP customers can voluntarily pay to invest in renewable sources of power. With approximately 1,500 participants, TEP has received more than $310,000 in "green" revenue.

The utility's other program is SunShare, which helps people buy solar equipment and pays for any excess energy they provide to the company. Despite the financial incentives, less than 200 households have taken advantage of this program.

Valerie Rauluk, a solar consultant and member of the Tucson-Pima Metropolitan Energy Commission, criticizes TEP for its shortcomings with "distributed generation." She believes the company must do much more to encourage individual participation.

"To date, TEP has been more interested in building large (renewable energy) facilities on its own property," Rauluk says. "Arizona Public Service (of Phoenix) has set a customer rebate level that made more sense. It was $4 a watt compared to $2.70 for TEP. Plus, it was easier to participate in the APS program, so they had no problem getting customers."

Salkowski disputes those figures, pointing out that both have been lowered recently, and that program participants largely chose the equipment purchase subsidy, not the electrical rebate. He also emphasizes that, on a percentage basis, TEP has more solar customers involved than APS.


...
By DAVE DEVINE
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
http://www.tucsonweekly.com/gbase/Currents/Content?oid=82340
Tucson Weekly www.tucsonweekly.com

11:20:00 am, Categories: General, Climate Change, U.S., Companies, 193 words   English (US)

JPMorgan Chase Agrees to Discuss Global Warming Lobbying With Mutual Fund; Support for Shareowner Proposal Key to Bank Decision, Says Free Enterprise Action Fund

Twenty-four percent (24%) of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) shareholders supported the Free Enterprise Action Fund's shareholder proposal concerning the bank's lobbying priorities at JPM's annual general meeting on May 16.

Following the vote, JPM Chairman William Harrison agreed to engage in dialogue with the Free Enterprise Action Fund regarding the company's pursuit of greenhouse gas regulations.

Tom Borelli, a portfolio manager of the Free Enterprise Action Fund (http://www.FreeEnterpriseActionFund.com) and Deneen Moore, an individual investor in the FEAF, pressed JPM's chairman to justify the company's lobbying priorities. In 2005, JPM voluntarily agreed to take a leadership position in lobbying for greenhouse gas regulations even though the company has no expertise in the scientific, economic, legal and public policy aspects of climate change. Meanwhile the company is paying outside lawyers over $500 million annually to manage lawsuits that the company feels are without merit. The FEAF's shareholder proposal on Lobbying Priorities asked the company to justify its decision to lobbying for greenhouse gas regulations rather than for litigation reform.


...
Source: Free Enterprise Action Fund Press Release http://freeenterpriseactionfund.com/release051806.htm
Free Enterprise Action Fund http://freeenterpriseactionfund.com/release051806.htm
http://freeenterpriseactionfund.com/release051806.htm

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09:31:02 am, Categories: Air, Energy, Climate Change, Government Report, Massachusetts, Savings, Costs and Benefits, 650 words   English (US)

Catching knots for watts: As energy costs rise, more towns along the coast look at wind power

Squeezed by rising energy costs and inspired by Hull's two wind turbines, communities south of Boston are looking to the wind to power their schools, municipal buildings, and waste-water treatment plants.

At least half a dozen area towns -- eager to take advantage of the 15 mile-per-hour winds that routinely sweep the coastline -- are, after years of discussion, finally making tangible progress following in Hull's footsteps. They are constructing towers to measure wind, taking votes at Town Meeting to encourage wind energy, and talking to developers about the costs and benefits of the technology at a time of rising gas and electric prices. Several are being helped by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, which supports community wind projects.

''I think a lot of people have seen what Hull has done and they see [wind power] in the news, and they say every time I go down to the high school my hat gets blown off," said Brian Kuhn, chairman of the Plymouth Energy Committee.

Public awareness of the technology is at a high point. Not only has Hull's second turbine just come online (joining one that has been spinning on the tip of Hull's peninsula since 2001), but the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103 windmill along the Southeast Expressway looms in commuters' peripheral vision. So, too, does the Massachusetts Maritime Academy windmill in Bourne. Add to that the ongoing debate over the 130-turbine Cape Wind project.

Several area towns are testing wind flow -- the first step in turbine construction process -- to decide whether the investment, $2.5 million to $3 million for a 1.5-megawatt windmill, makes sense.

The city of Quincy expects to install wind-monitoring equipment at the police station on Sea Street and at Quarry Hills by the end of the month. Kingston has been monitoring wind direction and speed at its waste-water treatment plant for nine months. The Renewable Energy Committee in Scituate recently received a building permit to install a wind-monitoring tower at its sewage-treatment plant.

At Plymouth's special Town Meeting this Saturday, voters will decide whether to authorize the town to lease land near the waste-water treatment plant, where the Plymouth Energy Committee sees potential for four 2-megawatt turbines. Last week, Wareham voters passed a bylaw to allow windmills to be constructed. Jim Collins, superintendent of the Wareham school district, said the School Committee is working to draft a request for proposals for wind energy at the high school and middle school.

Marshfield's Department of Public Works is beginning to study the feasibility and economics of a windmill at its sewage-treatment plant. Mattapoisett set up a monitoring tower in January.

The Southeastern Massachusetts project closest to completion, according to Warren Leon, director of Mass. Tech Collaborative's Renewable Energy Trust, is a plan for two 1.65-megawatt turbines in Orleans, which could be up by fall.

Interest in wind power comes at a crucial time. Independent System Operator of New England, a nonprofit organization that manages the region's power grid, recently warned that overreliance on natural gas will keep energy prices high, and encouraged the state to diversify its power sources.

Hull seems determined to stay at the front of the pack and is working on a proposal for four additional off-shore windmills. Because that town owns its power grid, the process of building windmills has been easier. Hull's light department was able to buy the turbines and connect them directly to the town's grid, with clear benefits to residents.

Hull's 660-kilowatt turbine, or ''the little guy," was installed in 2001 and has produced over 6 million kilowattt-hours of energy, saving the town an average of $185,000 a year, according to John MacLeod, operations manager of the town's light department. The new 1.8-megawatt machine, installed at the town's landfill this spring, is projected to save half a million dollars each year.

By Carolyn Y. Johnson
FOR FULL STORY GO TO:
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2006/05/18/catching_knots_for_watts/
The Boston Globe www.boston.com

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05/17/06

Life-cycle cost-effective optimum design of steel bridges considering environmental stressors

This paper presents a practical and realistic LCC methodology for the LCC-effective optimum design of steel bridges considering the time effect of bridge reliability under environmental stressors such as corrosion and heavy truck traffic. The LCC functions considered in the LCC optimization consist of initial cost, expected life-cycle maintenance cost and expected life-cycle rehabilitation costs including repair/replacement costs, loss of contents or fatality and injury losses, road user costs, and indirect socio-economic losses. For the assessment of the life-cycle rehabilitation costs, the annual probability of failure which depends upon the prior and updated load and resistance histories should be accounted for. For the purpose, the Nowak live load model and a corrosion propagation model considering corrosion initiation, corrosion rate, and repainting effect are adopted in this study. The LCC methodology proposed in the paper is applied to the optimum design problem of an actual steel box girder bridge with three continuous spans, and various sensitivity analyses are performed to investigate the effects of various design parameters and conditions on the LCC-effectiveness. From the numerical investigation, it may be positively expected that the proposed methodology can be effectively utilized for the LCC-effective optimum design of steel bridges.

Keywords: Life-cycle cost; Indirect cost model; Steel bridge; Optimization; Time-variant reliability; Corrosion model

by Kwang-Min Lee 1, Hyo-Nam Cho 2, and Cheol-Jun Cha 3
1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Hanyang University, An-San 425-791, Republic of Korea; Tel.: +82 31 400 4027; fax: +82 31 406 5660
2. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering Science, Hanyang University, An-San 425-791, Republic of Korea
3. Korea Infrastructure Safety and Technology Corporation, Daehwa-Dong, Koyang-Si, Kyounggi-Do, Republic of Korea

Engineering Structures via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 28, Issue 9; July 2006; pages 1252-1265
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.engstruct.2005.12.008

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The effect of urban quality improvements on economic activity

This paper is concerned with the link between urban quality improvements and economic activity. A key question is whether improvements in the urban environment which might be achieved, for instance, through pedestrianisation, will affect business location choices - for example, are office or retail businesses particularly keen to locate in more pleasant urban places? The paper outlines the current state of development of the literature with respect to the influence of urban quality on economic activity, and proposes a framework for forecasting economic impacts based on three communities of reference: customers, employees, and the businesses themselves. The results from original modelling of a case study area in Manchester, England are reported and suggest that the positive uplifts that may be expected from environmental improvement programmes may well be on a scale which is significant. The research is obviously important for the urban regeneration and renaissance agendas which posit attractive and well-designed environments as a way to create the right conditions for promoting economic growth.

Keywords: Town centre regeneration; Urban quality; Economic impact; Pedestrianization; Land use/transport interaction models

by Tim Whitehead 1, David Simmonds 2 and John Preston 3

1. Transport Studies Unit, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, 11 Bevington Road, Oxford, England, OX2 6NB, UK
2. David Simmonds Consultancy, Suite 23, Millers Yard, Mill Lane, Cambridge, England, CB2 1RQ, UK
3. Transport Studies Unit, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, 11 Bevington Road, Oxford, England, OX2 6NB, UK

Journal of Environmental Management via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 80, Issue 1; July, 2006; pages 1-12
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2005.01.029

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Determinants of willingness to pay in separate and joint evaluations of options: Context matters

Consumers’ willingness to pay (WTP) can be higher for items that are objectively worse than others when it is difficult to evaluate them comparatively on the relevant dimensions. However, it is unclear how the ease of evaluation affects WTP. In order to investigate the antecedents of WTP, we showed participants an underfilled and an overfilled cup containing the same amount of ice cream or orange juice. We asked them to state their WTP and to report how much they liked the servings (Experiment 1) and how large they judged them to be (Experiment 2). When participants could not evaluate the two cups comparatively, they regarded the overfilled one as fuller and they were willing to pay more for it. This replicates previous work. We also found that, regardless of mode of presentation and cup filling, the desirability of the servings and their perceived size both determined the WTP. However, they did so only when these judgements were made explicitly. This suggests that the influence of product features on WTP depends on their being made salient and that this can be done by asking consumers about them.

Keywords: Evaluability; Preference reversals; WTP
JEL classification codes: D81
Psychological classification codes: 2340; 3920

by Nick Sevdalis 1 and Nigel Harvey 2
1. Department of Surgical Oncology and Technology, Imperial College London, 10th floor, QEQM, St. Mary’s Hospital, South Wharf Road, London W2 1NY, UK; Tel.: +44 020 7886 6567; fax: +44 020 7886 1810
2. Department of Psychology, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK

Journal of Economic Psychology via Elsevier Science Direct www.sciencedirect.com
Volume 27, Issue 3; June 2006; pages 377-385
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.joep.2005.07.001

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A triangle model for evaluating the sustainability status and trends of economic development

In conjunction with ecological performance, a definition to sustainable economic development was proposed, and a novel triangle method was designed to evaluate economic development sustainability, based on the interrelationships among economic development, resource–energy consumption, and environment pollution. As a case study, the triangle method was applied to assess the sustainability status and long-term trends of China's economic development. The results show that economic development in 2000 represents a relatively weak state of sustainability, and that most of the 31 political regions in Mainland China reflect sustainability positions ranging from weakly unsustainable to weakly sustainable. The China's economic development between 1980 and 1991 reveals a rather weak sustainability trend, while that from 1991 to 2000 demonstrates a relatively strong sustainable trend. China's unremitting efforts in environmental protection over the last two decades would be responsible for these status and trends. The triangle method, as an intuitive platform for illustrating sustainability status and trends in economic development, seems to hold promise as an analytical management tool given its simplicity, ease of use, and flexibility.

Keywords: Triangle model; Economic development; Sustainability; Ecological performance; Quantitative evaluation; China

by Fu-Liu Xu 1, Shan-Shan Zhao 1, Richard W. Dawson 2, Jun-Yi Hao 1, Ying Zhang 1 and Shu Tao 1

1. College of Environmental Sciences, MOE Laboratory for Earth Surface Process, Peking University, Beijing 100871, PR China; Fax: +86 10 62751938
2. University of Colorado, International College Beijing, Beijing 100083, PR China

Ecological Modelling via Elsevier Science Direct www.ScienceDirect.com
Volume 195, Issues 3-4; 15 June 2006; pages 327-337
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=JournalURL&_cdi=5934&_auth=y&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=28c381201de7c5f37f6545faaaed185c
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2005.11.023

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Cost Benefit News covers legal, academic, and regulatory developments pertaining to the valuation of environmental amenities and disamenities, such as clean air, trees, parks, congestion, and noise. We apprise the reader about ways in which costs and benefits are measured, and the results of empirical studies. We hope that this information will allow public and private organizations to comprehend the risks and benefits of various actions, help disputants to resolve conflicts equitably and efficiently, and improve the quality of public policies. We will only discuss issues related to the empirical quantification of private and social costs and benefits and damages, and summarize information from daily newspapers, academic journals, legal publications, court decisions, professional newsletters commissioned studies, and on-line services. This newsletter is dedicated to the principal that all policies place values upon life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We believe that more information, explicit specification of assumptions, and rigorous analysis can help our society to better meet these ends. This site will increasingly serve, in conjunction with others, as a valuation database. We will include a wide range of studies, including non-environmental reports, because omission of a factor effectively values it at zero, and biases decisions.

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