Transportation & Infrastructure

‘The People of Puerto Rico are Dying’: Action is Needed Now

by Bonnie Castillo – Volunteer nurses describe deadly conditions and demand federal action immediately. Crowd funding. A Costco Card. The water in a nurse’s own backpack. These are the resources to which volunteer nurses on the ground in Puerto Rico—where 85 percent of the island is still without power and where the official death toll has risen to 48 (with the real toll expected to rise much higher)—have been forced to turn in recent weeks, to keep hurricane victims alive, even for a few additional days. “The people over here in Puerto Rico are dying. We have a healthcare crisis right now,” said National Nurses United (NNU) vice president and Registered Nurse Response Network (RNRN) volunteer Cathy Kennedy, RN. “Nurses have been going out into communities, where all they ask for is water and food. And when you have to make a decision of who’s going to get the food today or the water—we shouldn’t have to...

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To Great Applause, Paris Announces Combustion Engine Ban by 2030

by Julia Conley – New goal would accelerate existing plan to do away with gas-powered cars and trucks. Receiving great applause from climate advocates, Paris officials announced a new goal on Thursday to ban gas-powered cars from its streets by 2030. Greenpeace USA  ✔@greenpeaceusa Paris plans to banish all but electric cars by 2030 Paris authorities plan to banish all petrol- and diesel-fueled cars from the world’s most visited city by 2030, Paris City Hall said on Thursday. A BIG step! — Paris is planning to ban all but electric cars by 2030. http://reut.rs/2i5cjxQ  1:00 PM – Oct 12, 2017 The proposal would accelerate existing efforts to reduce air pollution in the city after French President Emmanuel Macron promised to ban the sale of vehicles with combustion engines by 2040. Under the rule, only electric cars would be allowed in the city. Paris is already home to an electric car-sharing service, Autolib, which...

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Promoting Renewable Future, Solar Companies and Nonprofits Rush to Puerto Rico

by Jessica Corbett – Promoting Renewable Future, Solar Companies and Nonprofits Rush to Puerto Rico As Congress on Thursday approved a $5 billion loan that will further burden the already bankrupt U.S. territory, various solar companies and nonprofits continued working together to offer aid to the storm-ravaged island while also promoting a more sustainable future and resilient energy system. On Thursday, the nonprofit Empowered By Light and Sunrun—the nation’s largest residential solar company—partnered with local leaders to install a 4kW solar array with battery storage at the Barrio Obrero fire station in San Juan. A second system will be installed at another fire station on Friday. More than 90 percent of the island’s power grid has not been restored since Hurricane Maria struck last month. The commonwealth’s power system was already hobbled by financial difficulties long before the hurricane devastated the island, and the federal government has been widely condemned for its slow and inadequatedisaster relief efforts. “It appears the federal emergency response is focused on diesel to...

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Google to Use Balloons for Puerto Rico Phone Service

Alphabet Inc is sending high-altitude balloons to provide phone service to island devastated by Hurricane Maria. Alphabet Inc, the company that controls Google, is sending special balloons to Puerto Rico to help restore phone service after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria last month. The US Federal Communications Commission said it had approved the company’s application to provide the emergency cellular service to Puerto Rico. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has struggled to regain communications services. The FCC said on Friday that 83 percent of cell sites remain out of service, while wireless communications company are deploying temporary sites. Alphabet, which announced its Project Loon in 2013 to use solar-powered, high-altitude balloons to provide internet service in remote regions, said in an FCC filing it was working to “support licensed mobile carriers’ restoration of limited communications capability” in Puerto Rico. Earlier on Friday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced...

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Trump Wants $1.6 Billion for the Border Wall. That Covers Just 74 Miles

by Jim Hightower – All this for a boondoggle project most Americans continue to oppose. How much of your money does Donald Trump want to pour into his xenophobic fantasy of erecting an impenetrable wall on our Mexican border? The big-businessman-turned-president insists he doesn’t care about costs — just build it! That seems to be a very un-businesslike approach, but then, it’s not his money, is it? For those of you who do care, one measure of what the total tab might be is that he’s demanding $1.6 billion from Congress to start construction. How much wall will that buy? Seventy-four miles. Now, how long is that U.S.-Mexican border he wants to seal off? One thousand, nine-hundred miles long. Tony Webster / Flickr So, $1.6 billion down — and only 1,826 miles to go. And let’s not even get into the cost overruns, fraudulent billings, shoddy materials, and other scams that the...

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Peak Oil Demand is Near: General Motors Says the Future is ‘all-electric’

by Joe Romm – GM, Ford, and China strongly embrace electric cars, signaling trouble for Big Oil. “General Motors believes in an all-electric future,” Mark Reuss, GM’s head of global product development, announced in a corporate press release Monday. These are remarkable words for a company that has become a global behemoth over the past century by making and selling tens of millions of cars, SUVs, and light trucks that run on liquid fossil fuels. When you add in plans from huge, fast-growing markets like China and India to quickly shift to EVs and end the sale of petrol cars, it’s clear that upending the car market will also upend the oil market. Reuss said GM would accelerate the transition to electric vehicles (EVs), with two new EV models coming out in 2018, and “at least” another 18 by 2023. On the same day, Ford Motor Co. announced it would release 13 new EV models in the next five years. The...

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The United States is Unprepared for the Next Major Earthquake

by E.A. Crunden – Mexico is a victim of geography — but so are major U.S. cities like Los Angeles. Two devastating earthquakes recently rocked Mexico in the short span of 12 days, killing nearly 300 people and leaving many more in need of aid and assistance. The dual tragedies, largely worsened by geography, left the country struggling to recover and rebuild. But as outside nations flocked to send their condolences, many experts warned that the same fate could befall a number cities in their home countries as well. The United States happens to be counted in that list. The 7.1-magnitude earthquake that struck Mexico on Tuesday originated in Puebla and topped buildings far from the site, including 75 miles away in Mexico City. At least 230 people have died so far, with many more casualties expected. That disaster came less than two weeks after an 8.1-magnitude earthquake off the coast —...

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Following Harvey and Maria, House Republicans Propose $10 Billion … for Trump’s Wall

by Gabe Ortiz – Maria’s aftermath in Puerto Rico is nothing short of catastrophic. “Water, food, and fuel are scarce on the island,” noted Vox, with more than three million U.S. citizens facing the prospect of living up to six months without power. According to some estimates,damage could exceed $30 billion. Our fellow Americans are in crisis. Since the disaster, House Republicans, led by Congressman Michael McCaul (TX-R), have unveiled a $10 billion proposal … for Donald Trump’s racist border wall and immoral mass deportation force: Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) said his panel will vote on the legislation next week. The bill also would add 10,000 more border patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers, tap the National Guard to patrol the southern border and target people who have overstayed visas. “Now that we have a partner in the White House who has made this a top priority, it’s time to send a bill to President Trump’s...

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Trump’s Refusal to Send Hospital Ship Tips His Plan to Abandon Puerto Rico (UPDATED)

by DocDawg – A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for. – U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper Eight hundred and ninety-four feet long, 106 feet wide, and weighing 69,360 tons, USNS Comfort is a complete ocean-going medical facility with 1,000 patient beds including 80 for intensive care patients. Along with 12 operating rooms she boasts a complete dental clinic, optometry lab and pharmacy, X-ray machines, CT scanners, oxygen and fresh water production plants, capacity to store 5,000 units of blood, laundry operations, and a morgue. She’s the size of a 20th century supertanker. Indeed, she was a supertanker — the SS Rose City — until purchased by the Navy in 1987 and converted to serve her current lifesaving mission. She and her sister ship in the Pacific, USNS Mercy, are among the rare few assets of the obscenely wealth US military devoted exclusively to saving, rather than taking, lives. But today,...

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3.5 Million Americans Face Disease & Death in Puerto Rico. What the Hell is Trump Doing?

by Denise Oliver Velez – People with no drinking water. People with no food. People with no medicine. No dialysis. No insulin. No homes. Water full of feces. No fuel for generators. The mayor of San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz describes the horror: Where the hell is the army, the navy, the marines?  Why is there no massive airlift in and out?  insightus @InsightusOrg As 3.4 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico face a public health crisis, hospital ship USNS Comfort remains moored in Norfolk VA home port. 9:44 AM – Sep 24, 2017 WTF is the President of the United States and the Republican controlled Congress doing? Thank you Hillary Clinton: Hillary Clinton  ✔@HillaryClinton President Trump, Sec. Mattis, and DOD should send the Navy, including the USNS Comfort, to Puerto Rico now. These are American citizens. https://twitter.com/samynemir/status/911401368983924736 … 12:04 PM – Sep 24, 2017 Thank you Governor Cuomo: Andrew Cuomo   ✔@NYGovCuomo Puerto Rico needs...

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Puerto Rico is a Disaster, Moving Toward Catastrophe, That Demands a Massive, Emergency Response

by Mark Sumner – Donald Trump has not mentioned Puerto Rico since the day after Hurricane Maria brutally scourged the US territory. After making a trip to Alabama to call any athlete who takes part in peaceful protest a “son of a bitch” who should be fired, Trump doubled, tripled … pentadekaled down on that point by tweeting 15 times about his NFL hate. He’s also slipped in half a dozen mentions of the health care bill and even managed to talk about how nice the White House looks. But three and a half million Americans, many of whom are without shelter, struggling to find clean water and food, who are living about without power, lacking communications with relatives, and still searching for loved ones they haven’t seen since before the storm—that doesn’t merit a word. Trump isn’t alone in his disdain and neglect. The grand total of time all five Sunday morning talk shows devoted...

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Should Utilities Build Charging Stations for Electric Cars?

by Martha T. Moore – Faced with deadlines to increase the number of electric vehicles on the road, states are being asked to decide whether utility companies can build electric vehicle charging stations — and pass on the cost to their customers. Building more charging stations could help alleviate “range anxiety,” the fear of running out of charge with no station in sight, and therefore stimulate sales of the clean-air-friendly cars. But in some states, officials say that letting the utility industry build more stations would force all electricity consumers to pay for a service that only a few, relatively affluent, people will use. In California, home to nearly half the electric vehicles (EVs) now on U.S. roads, the Public Utilities Commission last year approved plans for three of the state’s largest utilities — Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric — to...

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Homeland Security Waives Environmental Review for California Border Project

by Mark Hand – The number of environmental laws bypassed is astonishing. The Department of Homeland Security granted the federal government waivers for a long list of environmental laws in order to expedite the construction of a new barrier on the border of Mexico and California, about 85 miles east of San Diego. In a Federal Register notice published Tuesday, Elaine Duke, acting secretary of Homeland Security, said the waiver is necessary so that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) can take “immediate action” to upgrade barriers to prevent unauthorized people from crossing into the United States from Mexico. With the waivers from DHS, the Calexico project will get to bypass the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, National Historic Preservation Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Migratory Bird Conservation Act, Archaeological Resources Protection Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Noise Control Act, Solid Waste Disposal Act, Antiquities Act, Federal...

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After Harvey, Texas Left With Toxic Soup of Sewage, Spilled Fuel, Pesticides, and More

by Jessica Corbett – As hurricane cleanup continues, Times report reveals alarming levels of E. coli and heavy metals in Houston’s flooded neighborhoods. Following reports that refineries and petrochemical plants released millions of pounds of pollutants because of Hurricane Harvey, which battered Southeast Texas last month, test results published on Monday by the New York Times confirmed concerns that “Houston’s floodwaters are tainted with toxins.” The storm’s unprecedented “1,000-year flood,” triggered by record rainfall generated by the hurricane, left large swaths of the Houston metro area under water. As the region begins itslong road to recovery, and residents attempt to regain access to their homes, those who encountered tainted waters during the storm are already experiencing consequences. Regional medical professionals told the Times they have seen a doubling of skin infections, and “some families in inundated neighborhoods in west Houston said they had developed staph infections and other health problems after wading through waters released from reservoirs that swamped their homes long after other parts...

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First Responders Sue Owners of Houston-area Chemical Plant For ‘severe bodily injuries’

by Mark Hand – Arkema failed to take precautions to secure plant, lawsuit alleges. Seven first responders filed a lawsuit Thursday against Arkema Inc., the owner of a chemical plant near Houston, Texas that was damaged by Hurricane Harvey. The suit alleges that the plant owner’s negligence caused the responders “severe bodily injuries.” The plaintiffs, who include police officers and medical personnel, accused Arkema Inc. of neglecting to secure trailers of volatile chemicals susceptible to explosion after severe flooding knocked out the electricity and ability to cool the heat-sensitive chemicals. The chemical plant in Crosby, Texas suffered two explosions early in the morning on August 31, after having lost power for days following Harvey’s landfall. The explosions sent black smoke into the air, forcing several first responders to the hospital following exposure to the smoke plume. At least 2 tons of highly unstable chemicals used in such products as plastics and paint burned at...

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Study: 83% of Tap Water Around the Globe Tested Positive for Tiny Plastic Fibers

by Jessica Corbett – Widespread microplastic contamination of drinking water samples has scientists worried about its impact on human health. “Microscopic plastic fibers are flowing out of taps from New York to New Delhi,” according to a recent investigation by Orb Media, which found plastic contamination in 83 percent of drinking water samples gathered from more than a dozen countries on five continents. For what’s been deemed the “first global tap water survey of plastic pollution,” Orb worked with researchers at the State University of New York and the University of Minnesota to test 159 samples. The U.S. had the highest levels of contamination, with 94 percent of its 33 samples testing positive for plastic fibers. Sources of contaminated tap water in the U.S. included Congressional buildings, Trump Tower in New York City, and even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency headquarters. “This should knock us into our senses,” Muhammad Yunus, the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said in...

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Where Have All Those Great Infrastructure Jobs Gone?

by Kristin Miller – The Trump administration has scrapped an Obama-era local hiring plan for public works. Remember back in the heady days of the campaign when then-candidate Donald Trump promised to create 25 million jobs with his economic plan? Many of these jobs were to come from a massive reboot to American infrastructure. He promised a 10-year, trillion-dollar program that would solve many of America’s aging infrastructure woes as well as add new, better jobs for millions of American workers. The promise actually had some bipartisan appeal — both sides of the aisle acknowledge the poor state of our roads, bridges and rails and obviously support job creation. But, of course, any plan does require congressional backing. Trump soon created a White House advisory group, the Council on Infrastructure, populated with both practiced politicians and industry bigwigs to help with the initiative. President Trump’s original budget proposal to Congress in April didn’t...

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A Beautiful Moment of Socialism. But Now Killer Capitalism Resumes

by Paul Buchheit – In the worst moments of the tragedy in Houston, something remarkable about America burst into view, as government and business and military and especially ordinary citizens put aside thoughts of personal gain and dedicated themselves to the needs of fellow human beings. People in Texas and around the nation pitched in, through their labors and donations; neighbors and first responders saved lives; the Red Cross and other charitable organizations, including many local churches, brought food and supplies and medicine to hurricane victims; many GoFundMe initiatives were set up; the business community—especially furniture man Jim McIngvale—donated their goods and services; government officials remained focused on the people they were elected to represent; even the military contributed with rescue helicopters. No one seemed to care about the skin color or religion or politics of those in need. The empathy and cooperative spirit—the socialism!—that gripped America was delightful to behold. But soon we return to reality. Capitalism Has No Incentive to...

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EPA Has Still Yet to Inspect Nearly a Dozen Houston-area Hazardous Waste Sites

by Mark Hand – News agency reporters have accessed sites by boat and on foot. The Environmental Protection has been unable to inspect many of the contaminated hazardous waste sites in Texas flooded by Hurricane Harvey, even as kids have reportedly been swimming in waters that have passed through these federal or state-designated toxic sites. The EPA said on Saturday that aerial imagery showed 13 of the 41 designated Superfund sites in the Houston area were flooded by Harvey and were “experiencing possible damage” due to the storm. Of these sites, the EPA said just two have been inspected and will not require emergency cleanup, although additional sampling in the area will continue to be conducted. The remaining eleven sites “have not been accessible by response personnel,” the EPA said. “Teams are in place to investigate possible damage to these sites as soon flood waters recede, and personnel are able to safely access the sites,” the agency added....

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Here’s the Long List of Legislative Items Congress Needs to Get to in Addition to DACA

by Amanda Michelle Gomez – Tick tock. The White House will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with a six-month delay for Congress to act. The Trump administration is phasing out DACA — an Obama-era initiative that conferred deportation protection and work permits for nearly 800,000 young unauthorized immigrants — unless Congress passes a bill by March to protect recipients, often referred to as DREAMers. President Donald Trump is punting responsibility to Congress. In a statement, he said “the legislative branch, not the executive branch, writes these laws.”  Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA! 8:04 AM – Sep 5, 2017 Meanwhile, Congress already has a slew of crucial legislation that it needs to pass in September. By the end of the month, Congress needs to pass legislation that addresses government fiscal deadlines, natural disaster relief, and now presidential directives. During a the White House press briefing Tuesday afternoon,...

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