Archive for May, 2013

Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker

Attention all environmental policy and legislative followers! Colorado State University’s Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE)and Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) has recently unveiled a free program to help inform the public on energy and environmental bills taking shape in state and national legislative bodies. The Advanced Energy Legislation (AEL) Tracker is a free online database containing information on various categories of policies moving through congressional houses. These policies include Economic Development, Infrastructure, Electricity Generation, Natural Gas Development, Emissions, Energy Efficiency, Regulatory Schemes, Transportation, Financing and Other Energy. With the category and keyword search engine, the AEL Tracker also provides maps, graphs, trends and in-depth analysis for the various bills and policy proposals.

Piles of bills are proposed on state and national levels every year, making it difficult for most to navigate through. Open States, an online database of the Sunlight Foundation, created to reveal all legislative information to the public for free. This site has been a huge success but can still hinder many from finding specifically targeted proposals within an area of interest. Colorado State University’s CNEE and AEE, a business organization, found that using Open States and individual state websites’ legislative information to narrow down energy and sustainability categories would provide another effective tool, bringing more information options to the public.

Although the database might sound like an intellectual gauntlet, the AEL Tracker is an interactive, user friendly service that any level participant should be able to grasp. The site begins on the “Search Tracker” page, where users are able to designate a state, selection of states or all states (nation wide). After designating location, a policy category, a selection of policy categories or all categories may be highlighted with a keyword option as well. The user may then “Search Bills” and a new page containing a map, graph and summation of bills pertaining to search criteria will reveal. Each bill’s summation (State bill #,  File Year, Title, Policy Category, Primary Sponsors, and Last Update) can also be clicked where a new page will disclose all details and links to the various process and adjustments the bill has undergone. The AEL Tracker also contains a “Maps & Graphs” tab that contains various interactive maps and graphs, a “Trends and Analysis” tab with in-depth information/papers pertaining to data and policy trends.

This resource should prove useful for any individual, business or organization trying to keep up with certain areas of legislation and policy trends. For Green Builders or the US Green Building Council, bills such as “The Green Building Tax Credit Act” (and many others) can be found by simply typing LEED in the “Keywords” box. Organizations similar to the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) could greatly benefit from this tool as well. The Transportation Department of the NCTCOG could utilize the bill results from selecting “Emissions” and “Transportation” under the Texas designation to stay up with on coming bills and trends. Individual researchers, policy wonks or concerned citizens could make use of the site on a vast array of topics. This first of its kind site could spark a new trend of utilizing the internet and data to better inform the public on the status of legislation throughout the country. For more information and to start collecting information visit the Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker’s website today.

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General Motors’ Great Electric Endeavors

Chevrolet Spark EV

When it comes to Electric Vehicles (EVs), consumers are concerned with two factors that generally fall short to standard gasoline powered automobiles, range and price. Manufacturers and consumers are looking for more fuel efficiency; as technology progresses more EVs and alternative powered vehicles hit the market in an effort to meet these concerns. Right now the Nissan Leaf is touted as the leader in electric vehicle value, but GM/Chevrolet’s unveiling of the Chevy Spark EV with its low price and adequate driving range might soon challenge the allure of the Leaf. For more information: http://cleantechnica.com/2013/05/24/chevy-spark-ev-undercuts-competitions-charge-times-prices/http://www.treehugger.com/cars/chevrolet-spark-ev-be-priced-27495-lease-starting-199month.html

Chevy Volt and Cadillac ELR’s Lighter Engines

It is rumored that General Motors engineers plan on lowering the engines weight in future models of the Volt and the soon to be released Cadillac ELR by decreasing the amount of cylinders from four to three, improving fuel economy and lightening the engine load on the car. Nothing has been approved quite yet, but these improvements will be implemented in 2015 (Volt) and 2016 (ELR) and could have a major effect on the price and fuel efficiency of these models.  In this case “downsizing” will be a very good thing. For more information: http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2013/03/chevy-volt-cadillac-elr-may-get-3-cylinder-engine.html

200 Mile Range
General Motor’s CEO, Dan Akerson, revealed that the company is working on an electric car with up to a 200 mile range. Apparently GM is taking the “opportunity to seize the energy high ground”, Akerson explained, and “actually developing a car today which is really anathema to the way the auto industry works: We’re running a dual play on the technology to see which one will succeed. One will result in” a 100-mile range, “the other will be a 200-mile range.” For more information: http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/brandons-blog-cars/2013/mar/27/GM/ http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-06/akerson-says-gm-working-on-200-mile-range-electric-car.html

The endeavors of General Motors are a perfect example of sustainability planning, revealing the benefits to manufacturer, consumer and environment all in one effort. Better late than never, look for other U.S. auto companies to follow GM’s lead in the near future.