Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Anadarko presses ahead in NZ despite Gulf of Mexico mess
By Grant Bradley
NZ Herald Wednesday Jun 30, 2010
The Texas-based oil explorer that owns 25 per cent of the damaged well pouring crude into the Gulf of Mexico says its work programme in deep water off the New Zealand coast has not been affected.
Anadarko Petroleum must by late next month make a call on whether to drill off the South Island, targeting up to 500 million barrels of oil.
While protesters have focused on Petrobras, the Brazilian company which has up to five years to decide on drilling off the East Coast, drilling by Anadarko off Dunedin could start in summer.
South Island's Ngai Tahu said last night they hoped the Government would ensure proper procedure was followed and the utmost care taken to protect the environment when it came to oil exploration and oil drilling.
Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu general manager of tribal interests David O'Connell said the Ministry of Economic Development had in the past sought input on oil exploration around Stewart Island.
"It is our expectation that our views still have resonance today and we would not expect these places to be placed in jeopardy."
"The tragic events in the Gulf of Mexico...(have) not impacted on what the plans are in New Zealand"
When Anadarko announced it had formed a joint venture with Australia's Origin Energy in February, it said drilling could start early next year.
Anadarko spokesman John Christiansen said the company was excited about the potential in New Zealand.
"This is a great opportunity for us and it's one that we feel very blessed to have."
Anadarko has a non-operating stake in the Deepwater Horizon project but could face paying a share of the billions of dollars required to be spent in the Gulf of Mexico after the rig explosion on April 20 that killed 11 workers and has resulted in one of the world's worst oil spills.
Anadarko's debt rating has been downgraded, it is being sued by investors claiming it made false claims about drilling safety and could face an expensive legal battle with BP over liability for the clean-up.
Christiansen said the company would maintain its US$5.3 billion ($7.6 billion) to US$5.6 billion capital spending programme this year and because of the hold in drilling in the Gulf it was looking at concentrating on other areas.
"At this point in time the tragic events in the Gulf of Mexico have not impacted other areas of portfolio. We've looking at other places - it's not impacted on what the plans are in New Zealand."
Anadarko was still assessing a three-dimensional seismic survey recorded by Origin last year over the Carrack/Caravel prospect.
Christiansen said it was a little early to say whether the company would commit itself to drilling by August 21. If it does not, it must surrender the permit.
Anadarko is also part of a joint venture in the early stages of gathering and assessing a large prospect in deep water off the Taranaki coast.
Last weekend there were protests around the East Coast by groups alarmed at Petrobras drilling in deep water there.
While much of the drilling off Taranaki is in water 200m deep or less, deepwater drilling is classified as in water over 300m. The Canterbury Basin prospect was in water 1000m deep and the Deepwater Horizon rig was in water 1500m deep. Christiansen said Anadarko was well aware of the new concern about deepwater drilling.
Friday, June 18, 2010
It is catching on. People are starting to see that the private auto is a self-indulgent, anti-social killer. It kills everyday and now it threatens the biosphere itself.
There are many solutions being offered, but the most direct, simple, and effective is to make public transit fare-free.
Our advocates will be at the European Social Forum in July, and will be starting a nation-wide campaign in the UK in October. The campaign is stepping up in Scotland and getting a lot of attention in New Zealand and Australia. It has been strong for years in Brazil where there are MPL chapters in 8 cities. There are activists in Russia, Poland and India.
This movement is going to be huge. And that will happen sooner if you join.
Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, June 17, 2010
From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
Toronto’s main business lobby, the Board of Trade, recently called for the outsourcing of public transit services to private companies, part of their free advice to the next mayor on reducing the city’s deficit.
On one level, it’s an unremarkable proposal: just the latest in a chorus of business demands that governments fix their deficits by selling, contracting out or eliminating public services. But it caught my eye because I am residing temporarily in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city, where the transit system is the most fragmented, expensive and maddening I’ve ever used. And it’s 100-per-cent private. The gory details provide a caution for those who believe the private market always does things better.
In the 1980s and 1990s, New Zealand municipalities were forced by conservative national governments to sell off many public assets, including transit. They assumed free-market forces would cut costs and improve productivity. The reality has been the opposite. Indeed, since the 1980s, productivity has fallen far behind other OECD countries, yet costs and taxes remain relatively high. The government even had to buy back some of the privatized companies that failed entirely, such as Kiwi Rail and
Today, Auckland’s regional government contracts a dozen different private firms to supply bus, rail and ferry services. A complex network of interlocking ownership links many of these suppliers. So much for “competition.” The biggest, Infratil, is a $2-billion giant with a broad portfolio of privatized assets, including transit, electricity and airports. (That’ll surely catch the Board of Trade’s attention!)
This hodge-podge is all the worse because each company accepts only its own tickets, and not those offered by competitors. Since inter-company transfers are impossible, bus routes can be insanely circuitous. My daughter’s bus trip to school takes three long detours through different neighbourhoods, doubling what should be a five-kilometre route.
Tickets are expensive. Passengers pay according to how far they travel (and then pay again if they need a transfer). Trips of just a few stops cost as little as $1.70 – but another $1.70 is added each time the bus passes through another invisible “stage.” Travelling 40 kilometres from the city’s north to south costs $12.70 to $16.50 (depending which company is used) and takes two hours. A passenger travelling the same distance in Toronto (say, from Scarborough to Etobicoke) would pay $3 once, and require less than half the time.
City planners impose various pseudo-quantitative performance indicators on the contractors, such as sophisticated GPS systems to monitor on-time performance. But even this minimal nod to public accountability produces unintended consequences. Bus companies fear being fined for missing schedule targets, but are driven by the profit motive to ruthlessly minimize outlays on equipment and staff. The resulting pressure is intense on drivers (some of whom don’t even get paid overtime) to meet unrealistic timetables – a media exposé last year showed this often requires breaking the speed limit. Several times, we’ve watched an awaited bus race by without stopping, the driver shrugging helplessly and pointing at his watch.
That anecdote sums up perfectly the system’s irrationality. The top priority becomes ensuring that a private company reaches profit targets, not picking up people who need a ride.
Yet Aucklanders still pay for transit – three times over. Once through taxes – subsidies to private transit consume half of all property taxes collected by the regional government. Then again at the fare box. And finally a third time through inconvenience. No wonder Aucklanders take transit one-quarter as often as Torontonians.
So before you get carried away with enthusiasm for the inherent efficiency of the private sector, visit Auckland. It’s beautiful. But you’ll need to rent a car.
The Globe & Mail 16/06/2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
March for Student MetrocardsBeyond Tech, Videos — By BTHSnews on June 12, 2010 at 6:45 pm
BY ALFRED NG & ANDY MAI
VIDEO BY ALFRED NG
EDITING BY ALFRED NG
Whether you know it, time is running out on the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) decision on New York City Student Metrocards. Later this month, the MTA will vote on whether or not to continue the Student Metrocard program. The decision is for students getting free public transportation now to have to pay half fare next school year and full fair the following year. A decision heavily criticized by parents, students, teachers, transit workers and MTA employees.
The New York City Student Union, on June 11th, organized a March for Student Metrocards across the Brooklyn Bridge. The March was led by Brooklyn Technical’s own Lucas Johnson and Henry Pines who spoke with BTHSnews.org about the effects of losing student Metrocards. Johnson did the math and predicted a expense of over a $1000 a year for each child to get to school. Pines criticized the MTA’s wasteful spending by stating only three years ago the MTA had a billion dollar budget surplus and today they are in the hole.
To show that students care, back in March, the NYC Student Union collected expired student Metrocards from students all over New York City with messages on the back of them explaining how the cuts would effect them. At a March public hearing, the NYC Student Union presented the student Metrocards to MTA officials pleading the students point of view. On June 11th, they used 3000 expired student Metrocards and strung them up on a line to walk the Brooklyn Bridge.
Both Johnson and Pines stressed the right to an education and taking away student Metrocards would be taking away that right. The march also landed on the same day as an organized student walkout for student Metrocards. Students left school early to protest student Metrocards at City Hall. The MTA is expected to make their decision on student Metrocards in late June before summer vacation.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Press Release – Greater Wellington Regional Councilor Paul Bruce
A report to the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Transport and Access Committee next Tuesday is proposing that all fares be increased from 1 October 2010 to produce a 3% increase in fare revenue to balance increased costs.
The Dom Post has reported; “Round-the-clock gridlock has been predicted if The Terrace and Mt Victoria tunnels are closed for five weeks to kickstart a $80 million project to remedy serious safety problems.”
Could we use this sense of crisis to achieve immediate improvements in public transport services and safe cycle and walk ways between Wellington CBD and its suburbs?
Greater Wellington Regional Councillor Paul Bruce said that coinciding public transport fare increases with the Mt Victoria tunnel safety upgrades is bad timing.
“If we are going to close off routes, we must provide some counter balancing measure to help people move freely about Wellington city. One of these measures could be moving the subsidy for free weekend public parking to zero inner city fares.” Mr Bruce said that many other cities provide zero fare services, including Auckland, Christchurch and Invercargill.
“Shifting some of the Wellington City Council business levy to cover bus fares in the central business district ties in with a move towards integrated fares, allowing people arriving from outer suburbs to proceed through to Courtenay Place without any extra cost. This will attract extra riders and lead to fewer cars in the inner city area, which in turn will improve traffic flow and air quality and thus ambience and … retail sales. Convenient public transport will also give an added pull to tourists.
“There are also health, social and environmental advantages to funding alternative modes of transport such as cycling, walking and public transport. Physical inactivity accounts for almost 10 percent of New Zealand’s 20 leading causes of death. It is a contributor to obesity and type 2 diabetes, which together cost the health system over $500 million per year. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency is now promoting ‘car reduced’ communities. And the British government’s 2001 planning document says: ‘Development comprising jobs, shopping, leisure and services should not be designed and located on the assumption that the car will represent the only realistic means of access for the vast majority of people’.
“Wellington is an extreme case in terms of provision of car parks, with the highest number of parking spaces per job, according to figures collated by Kerry Wood. We outrank Christchurch and Auckland, and well known US cities, Phoenix, Denver, and Detroit.
“Wellington City Council “free” weekend car parks cost a lot in foregone revenue, in fact four times more than the inner city public transport weekend fare, and about half the total weekend bus revenue take. Free parking contributes to vehicle pollution and traffic snarl ups as cars search for parking spaces, and may actually diminish retail sales. In a time of diminishing resources, a subsidy for free parking isn’t the best plan.
“Improving Wellington’s transport network can happen with some creative solutions. Our transport network includes every bus, car, skateboard or pair of feet that people use to get around, each with different requirements, whether in use or not. Wellington’s compact size means space is at a premium downtown. What goes unnoticed are the ways in which we prioritise and even sponsor car use above every alternative. Private cars are the part of that network that take up the most space and energy, for the least return. Instead, providing some real alternatives, such as zero inner city public transport fares combined with safer cycling after the removal of some parking, enhances the village atmosphere that we all seek.”
Paul Bruce concluded that the closure of the Mt Victoria tunnel for safety upgrades should be seen as an opportunity to promote our public transport system. “Greater Wellington provides a free connecting bus service on the Kapiti Coast to connect with train services, and has found this to be a great success. What about moving towards zero weekend fares for Wellington city?”
Number of CBD parking spaces in 1996 per 1000 CBD jobs (figures collated by Kerry Wood) Wellington 1050 Christchurch 940 Auckland 650 Sourced:Phoenix 910 Denver 730 Detroit 710 Perth 630 Houston 610 Los Angeles 520 Portland 400 Melbourne 340 Brisbane 320 Sydney 220 Copenhagen 220 Zürich 140 London 120 New York 60
Zero fare public transport services
Auckland Free downtown bus loop, ‘City Circuit’ Christchurch Free downtown bus loop, ‘The Shuttle’ Invercargill Free downtown bus & free off peak buses Adelaide Free downtown tram route Sydney Free downtown city bus loop Melbourne Free downtown tram and bus loop Chapel Hill, USA Free area-wide bus services Hasselt, Belgium Free area-wide bus services
Bachels, M, Newman, P and Kenworthy, J (1999). Indicators of urban transport efficiency in New Zealand’s main cities. Perth: Murdoch University, ISBN 0 86905 669 7 Newman, P and Kenworthy, J (1999). Sustainability and cities — overcoming automobile dependence. ISBN 1 55963 660 2.
The High Cost of Free Parking, Donald Shoup estimates that off-street parking subsidies in the United States are worth at least $127 billion a year. www.earthpolicy.org/index.php?/book_bytes/2010/pb4ch06_ss1and8Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
Students Rally to Support Free Rides to SchoolNew York Times. 11 June 2010
By SHARON OTTERMAN
Todd Heisler/The New York Times
About 600 students walked out of their high schools on Friday to rally outside City Hall in support of free student MetroCards, which the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has threatened to discontinue.
The students, from at least 18 high schools in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan, held up signs and chanted in support of the free rides, which it make possible for low-income students to choose their schools. Some travel for up to 90 minutes to attend classes.
“If it’s not free transportation, it’s not free education,” said Nazifa Mahbub, 16, a student at Long Island City High School who helped organize the protest. The crowd cheered as she addressed the gathering from a podium just outside the police barricades that were set up for the protest.
Though he was invited, Bill de Blasio, the city’s public advocate, declined to attend. His office said that although he supports the fight to preserve the free MetroCards, he did not endorse the idea of students leaving school to demonstrate. Five City Council members, including Robert Jackson, chairman of the Council’s Education Committee, showed up, as did representatives from the Transport Workers Union.
“I support the walkout because the students have organized themselves in order to lobby legislators and the city,” Mr. Jackson said. “So this is an organized protest, and that’s how you are supposed to do it.”
Many of the protesters said they faced little opposition when they walked out of school at the appointed hour of noon, but students from the Roosevelt Educational Campus in the Bronx said that the police, who work to stop truancy, were stationed outside the building and turned dozens back.
“We went out the side door,” said one of the Roosevelt students, Nancy Crespo, 14, who said she cut her history, art and English classes to attend the rally with two friends. She travels across the Bronx, from the Soundview section to Fordham Road, to get to school. (A police spokesman said that while there were officers stationed outside the school, they did not prevent students from leaving.)
The transportation authority, facing budget shortfalls, is scheduled to vote in the coming weeks on phasing out the free rides. The program has been financed in roughly equal parts by the city, the state and the transit agency.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Unless you attend a “virtual” campus, chances are you have engaged in more than one conversation about how hard it is to find a place to park on campus. Indeed, according to Clark Kerr, a former president of the University of California system, a university is best understood as a group of people “held together by a common grievance over parking.”
Clearly, the demand for campus parking spaces has grown substantially over the past few decades. In surveys conducted by Daniel Kenney, Ricardo Dumont, and Ginger Kenney, who work for the campus design company Sasaki and Associates, it was found that 7 out of 10 students own their own cars. They have interviewed “many students who confessed to driving from their dormitories to classes that were a five-minute walk away,” and they argue that the deterioration of college environments is largely attributable to the increased use of cars on campus and that colleges could better service their missions by not adding more parking spaces.
Since few universities charge enough for parking to even cover the cost of building and maintaining parking lots, the rest is paid for by all students as part of tuition. Their research shows that “for every 1,000 parking spaces, the median institution loses almost $400,000 a year for surface parking, and more than $1,200,000 for structural parking.” Fear of a backlash from students and their parents, as well as from faculty and staff, seems to explain why campus administrators do not simply raise the price of parking on campus.
While Kenney and his colleagues do advocate raising parking fees, if not all at once then over time, they also suggest some subtler, and perhaps politically more palatable, measures—in particular, shifting the demand for parking spaces to the left by lowering the prices of substitutes.
Two examples they noted were at the University of Washington and the University of Colorado at Boulder. At the University of Washington, car poolers may park for free. This innovation has reduced purchases of single-occupancy parking permits by 32% over a decade. According to University of Washington assistant director of transportation services Peter Dewey, “Without vigorously managing our parking and providing commuter alternatives, the university would have been faced with adding approximately 3,600 parking spaces, at a cost of over $100 million…The university has created opportunities to make capital investments in buildings supporting education instead of structures for cars.” At the University of Colorado, free public transit has increased use of buses and light rail from 300,000 to 2 million trips per year over the last decade. The increased use of mass transit has allowed the university to avoid constructing nearly 2,000 parking spaces, which has saved about $3.6 million annually.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
How much is that car really costing? You? The rest of us? (World Streets, May 24, 2010)
Also discussed here: Transportation Cost and Benefit Analysis Techniques, Estimates and Implications (500 page pdf in sections, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Jan.2, 2009)
And here: Transportation Cost Analysis Spreadsheet (Excel spreadsheet, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Jan.2, 2009)
And here: External Costs of Transport in the U.S. (34 page pdf, Forthcoming in Handbook of Transport Economics, ed. by A. de Palma, R. Lindsey, E. Quinet, and R. Vickerman, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd. 2010)
When asked how much their car costs, many drivers think first of the cost to operate it( fuel mainly), or maybe also the cost of owning it which includes depreciation, insurance, licensing etc. Few consider what it costs to the city in terms of infrastructure (road maintenance and building)or the costs to public health because of worsened air quality, as a result of traffic congestion and vehicle emissions, the focus of this blog. To turn the question around, what would be saved for each car taken off the road and replaced by another modal option. The article reviewed today looks at these issues. Among some myth-breaking insights is the higher costs of driving at rush hour vs. off peak or the relative insignificant savings of electric cars or the 70% higher costs of urban (peak) driving vs. rural driving.
The City of Ottawa recently looked at what each mode costs the city in terms of services provided- in terms of service per passenger trip in this report: Costs For Different Transportation Modes (City of Ottawa Transportation Committee, Feb. 1, 2010)
“The total public (government and societal) cost per passenger trip, including construction, maintenance, land value, enforcement, unaccounted accidents, air, noise and water pollution are: Car driver: $2.50, Transit user: $1.76, Cyclist: $0.24, Pedestrian: $0.10”.
Translating these costs to a cost per mile (or km) was not attempted in the report but would likely lower the difference between modes as shown in the review article because car commuters typically travel 5 times farther than cyclists (25 km trip vs. 5 km say)who in turn would typically travel as much more than pedestrians (5 km trip vs. 1 km).
Using these “typical” figures results in a cost of about 10 cents per km for all three modes. Again though, the City included only the external costs to the city and did not include operating or ownership costs nor the impact on the environment.
“lists the 23 categories of transport costs considered in my analysis. Some costs, such as parking and accidents, are divided into internal costs, which are borne directly by users, and external costs, borne by other people.”
“public transit travel costs are much lower than automobile costs under urban-peak conditions, and under favorable conditions walking and cycling can have very low costs”
“what it costs to drive they typically mention vehicle operating expenses, which average approximately 16¢ per mile for a typical automobile. Some may include vehicle ownership costs, which average about 27¢ per mile… Total estimated costs range from about $0.94 per vehicle mile for rural driving to $1.64 for urban-peak driving.”
From 'Pollution Free Cities': pollutionfree.wordpress.com
Thursday, June 3, 2010
NASA researchers confirm that automobiles are the planet’s #1 source of emissions of substances suspected of causing anthropogenic global warming:
In a paper published online on Feb. 3 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Unger and colleagues described how they used a climate model to estimate the impact of 13 sectors of the economy from 2000 to 2100. They based their calculations on real-world inventories of emissions collected by scientists around the world, and they assumed that those emissions would stay relatively constant in the future.
In their analysis, motor vehicles emerged as the greatest contributor to atmospheric warming now and in the near term. Cars, buses, and trucks release pollutants and greenhouse gases that promote warming, while emitting few aerosols that counteract it.
When was the last time you heard anybody, including environmentalists, connect driving cars to climate change? That connection is simply too hot to handle, given that it targets corporate capitalism’s core commodity.
The NASA scientists say, correctly, that conventional reports on climate change focus on chemicals, rather than the sources of the chemicals in actual economic sectors. Only by focusing on the latter, they argue, can we “identify effective opportunities for rapid mitigation of anthropogenic radiative forcing.”
So, if cars are the #1 source of anthropogenic global warming, what do you imagine might be the #1 policy requirement for rapid mitigation of the problem? Rather obvious, but utterly unmentionable…
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
The lessons of climate history: implications for post-carbon agriculture
by Dan Allen
Published in the Post-Carbon Institute's Energy Bulletin
17 May 2010
“The facts stare us in the face, yet we do not display sufficient humility…In a new climatic era, we would be wise to learn from the climatic lessons of history.”
- Brian Fagan
“All our lives utterly depend on just six inches of topsoil and the fact that it rains.”
- Anonymous wise person
SUMMARY: Populous civilizations require agriculture. Agriculture requires climatic stability. Industrial civilization is rapidly eroding climatic stability. This can’t end well. But…there’s some stuff we can do, and we have to try. So shut off your damn computer, get outside, and start building some agricultural resiliency!
AGRICULTURE? HUH? THAT'S ALL YOU GOT?
Every so often, one of my suburban New Jersey high-school students asks me what I think will be the biggest problem associated with climate change. Knowing they’re asking the question from a human-centered perspective, I respond simply, “Agriculture might not work if we change the climate.”
They usually just sort of stare blankly back at me and say, “Hmmmm.”
In other words, they don’t get it. “Agriculture? That’s it? That’s all you’ve got? Like farms and stuff? Cows and tractors? But aren’t we in the Information Age now? Isn’t it all about technology these days? Isn’t agriculture so…ummm…last century?”
I think that these kids – like the majority of Americans, really – just don’t understand what is at stake with this whole climate-change thing. I don’t think they understand that we are – that EVERY populous civilization necessarily is – fundamentally an AGRICULTURAL civilization. Agriculture is still now, as it has been for millennia, THE foundation of our species. A population of our density obviously cannot get by on hunting and gathering. So agriculture it is. (Well…for now, at least.)
And despite our fossil-energy-fueled bravado, agriculture is still, as it has always been, a very tenuous endeavor. Even though we’ve ‘progressed’ to having fossil-fuel-powered machines tending the fields instead of humans, we are STILL dependent for our very existence on six inches of topsoil and the somewhat-predictable, relatively-benign climatic regime we’ve enjoyed for the past 10,000 years.
The fact that agriculture in the US has become so thoroughly removed from the everyday thoughts of most of our industrial population does not make its future prospects of any less concern. In fact, quite the contrary. Despite our currently-overflowing supermarket shelves, packed refrigerators, and prodigious waistlines, an honest and thorough look at our coming agricultural challenges is enough to make one literally shake in their boots.
Read more » http://unityaotearoa.blogspot.com/2010/06/lessons-of-climate-history-implications.html#more
Hat tip to: www.unityaotearoa.blogspot.com