EPA to maintain fuel economy standards


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The fuel economy standards require all new fleets of light trucks and cars to average 54.5 miles per gallon. (Robert Couse-Baker/flickr)
Jenna Ladd | December 1, 2016

Despite objection from automakers, the Obama administration decided on Wednesday to maintain fuel economy requirements for light trucks and cars.

Following a technical analysis by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it was concluded that vehicle manufacturers are able to continue meeting emissions standards and fuel economy requirements for model years 2022-2025. The standards require that new fleets of light trucks and cars average 54.5 miles per gallon, with a reduction to 50.8 miles per gallon should buying habits change. In a statement Wednesday, the EPA said that the requirements help to save drivers billions of dollars at the pump, double new-car gas mileage and drastically reduce carbon emissions. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said,

“Although EPA’s technical analysis indicates that the standards could be strengthened for model years 2022-2025, proposing to leave the current standards in place provides greater certainty to the auto industry for product planning and engineering. This will enable long-term planning in the auto industry, while also benefiting consumers and the environment.”

Dan Becker is the director of the Safe Climate campaign environmental group. He said, “Numerous studies demonstrate that automakers have ample, affordable technology to achieve the program’s cost-effective goals.” Becker also said that the EPA plans to make the decision final before president-elect Trump is inaugurated in January.

The EPA is accepting public comment on the decision through December 30th, 2016. Comments can be submitted at www.regulations.gov to Docket EPA-HQ-OAR-2015-0827.

National Drive Electric Week events planned for three Iowa locations


Under the hood
The engine compartment of an all-electric Toyota Rav 4. (Jeff Youngstrom/flickr)
Jenna Ladd | September 13, 2016

National Drive Electric Week is hosting its fifth annual celebration and outreach effort this week at locations across the United States.

The week-long celebration is presented by Plug In America, the Sierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association. National Drive Electric Week is hosting 232 events during the week of September 10th through the 18th. At each event, electric vehicles provided by local owners and car dealerships will be available for public observation, test-drives, and rides.

The popularity of electric vehicles in Iowa is on the rise. According to the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, approximately 1,000 electric vehicles are already in use in the state, and that number has the potential to reach 100,000 by 2040. David Darrow of Grimes, Iowa will display his Tesla Model S P85D at the Drive Electric DSM Car Show. He said, “For daily driving, it’s just unbeatable. It just makes other cars feel kind of clumsy and rough. When you take out the delay of sucking air and fuel, and you take out the delay of a shifting transmission, it’s amazing the difference driving an electric car.”

Electric vehicles help to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil and produce zero tailpipe emissions, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. While electric vehicles can have a much larger price tag initially, the cost can be offset by fuel cost savings, a federal tax credit, and state incentive programs. Also, as production volume goes up, prices are likely to go down.

National Drive Electric Week will host three events in Iowa this week:

Drive Electric DSM Car Show
When: Wednesday, Sept. 14 from 11:30 a.m-1:30 p.m.
Where: Western Gateway area of downtown Des Moines,
between Locust St. and Grand Ave.

Drive Electric Week Event West Des Moines
When: Thursday, Sept. 15 from 4:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
Where: Valley Junction Farmer’s Market
304 5th Street, West Des Moines, Iowa 50265

Drive Electric Week Event Cedar Rapids
When: Saturday, Sept. 17 from 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Where: NewBo City Market
1100 3rd Street SE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

Iowa Public Radio: “Could Electric Cars be Bad for the Environment?”


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Photo by freefotouk; Flickr

Conservationist and author of the book “Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism,” Ozzie Zehner spoke with Iowa Public Radio yesterday about the negative effects electric cars have on the environment, highlighting that they can have an even worse impact on the environment than average cars. Continue reading

On the Radio: Kirkwood’s campus gets greener


Photo courtesy of Kirkwood Community College.

Listen to this week’s radio segment here or read the transcript below. This week’s episode highlights the excellent environmental practices of Kirkwood Community College.

Kirkwood Community College is raising the standards for on-campus sustainability.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Continue reading

Propane autogas looks to break into American auto industry


Photo by Steve Pollock, Flickr

Americans hear about electricity and natural gas powered vehicles almost everyday.  However, there is another fuel used to run cars that is getting a little less airtime in the United States.

Read more from the New York Times below:

Texas tycoon T. Boone Pickens has made himself the face of the natural gas industry. The flamboyant oil man has invested millions in his push to fuel cars with natural gas and is trailed by cameras and microphones during his frequent visits to Capitol Hill.

Pickens’ ability to grab attention for natural gas is much envied by its underdog rival, propane autogas.

Natural gas “is getting all the publicity, and we don’t want to be disadvantaged,” said Stuart Weidie, the leader of the industry group Autogas for America. “We’re not an experimental deal. We’re here, we’re available.”

But propane autogas — a popular fuel in the rest of the world — has yet to catch on in the United States. Weidie’s group is trying to change that but has made little headway with consumers and policymakers so far. Most Americans consider propane as a fuel for a barbecue, not a car, and the industry’s lobbying hasn’t been up to the task of changing that perception. Continue reading

New Kwik Trips wired for electric car charging


Photo by Kara Allyson, Flickr

The new Kwik Trip gas stations being added in Northeast Iowa will have a new service to provide for their customers – electric outlets for charging cars.

The gas station chain plans on adding outlets at 25 stores in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin so far in an attempt to catapault the chain into the future.

Midwest Energy News reports:

A convenience store chain is installing free electric vehicle charging stations at stores in three Midwest states. But will the stations – essentially standard household outlets with a sign attached – really make a difference?

The family-owned Kwik Trip chain is installing the stations at all its new stores, a total of 25 so far in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. But the outlets only provide 110 volts, which, charging for the few minutes it takes to grab coffee and use the bathroom, would barely get someone out of the parking lot and down the block. Charging for an hour at that voltage might allow a typical electric vehicle to run three to five miles.

Kwik Trip officials and electric vehicle proponents acknowledge the limitations, but say the charging stations are a significant symbolic move and also lay the groundwork for more powerful charging stations in the future. With the infrastructure laid for 110-volt stations, Kwik Trip spokesman Dave Ring said, the company can more easily upgrade the stations to higher voltage if demand increases. Continue reading