Transport - Jan 13
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Cash crunch slows high-speed rail project
Michael Cabanatuan, San Francisco Chronicle
Just months after Californians voted to invest nearly $10 billion in a statewide high-speed rail system, the agency charged with getting it built is running out of money.
The California High Speed Rail Authority's budget for the current fiscal year, which ends in June, included $29 million from the sales of high-speed rail bonds authorized by voters in November. But because of the state budget crisis, the credit crisis and the poor market for bonds, the state treasurer has not sold any of the rail bonds.
That's left the rail authority without cash at a time when Californians are eager to see the 800-mile fast train system built.
(9 January 2009)
A Move Toward Veggie Power Aloft
Matthew L. Wald, New York Times
Burned by the cost of jet fuel, the aviation industry is trying everything from algae to camelina and jatropha as alternatives, but specialists say that some of the new fuels, which include coal, might simply trade one set of problems for another.
On Wednesday, Continental Airlines will test a fuel made from algae and jatropha, a tropical shrub with an oil-bearing seed, in a Boeing 737 jetliner, in a two-hour flight beginning and ending in Houston.
The flight will be the first airline trial of algae, and, perhaps more important, the first use of biofuels in a twin-engine jet.
(6 January 2009)
Toyota to build electric town car, plug-in hybrids (cites PO)
Martin LaMonica, Green Tech blog, CNET news
Toyota Motor Sales announced an expanded commitment to electric vehicles on Saturday, disclosing plans to manufacture an all-electric city car by 2012 and a wider fleet of gas-electric hybrids.
At the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Toyota showed off a concept car called the FT-EV, a battery-powered four-seat compact car. Although it's concept car, Toyota said it will release an "urban commuter" electric car in 2012.
... In a statement, Toyota Motor Sales' group vice president of environmental and public affairs Irv Miller said that even though gasoline prices have dipped substantially in the past half year, the auto industry should focus on fuel-efficiency.
"We must address the inevitability of peak oil by developing vehicles powered by alternatives to liquid-oil fuel, as well as new concepts, like the iQ, that are lighter in weight and smaller in size. This kind of vehicle, electrified or not, is where our industry must focus its creativity," he said.
(11 January 2009)