Monday, June 16, 2008

Urban News Vol. 20

Back from an exhausting weekend, here is the environment/energy story promised last week. In addition, a recent announcement by the New York State Department of Transportation has created an opportunity for a parallel series to the Rochester downtown master plan. The first New York State Rail Plan released in 22 years was unveiled Wednesday for a 30-day public review period. Meetings in Buffalo, Binghamton, and New York highlight the agenda of the next 4 weeks.

I will be going through the document, fishing out noteworthy facts, figures, and plans of action in at least two posts in the near future. The timing of this release is not coincidental. In fact, it ties into last week's news regarding the federal House of Representatives' overwhelming support for an Amtrak funding bill. As noted in a letter to all New Yorkers from Astrid Glynn, commissioner of the state DOT, a condition in both the Senate and House verisons of the bill is the adoption of a comprehensive state rail plan.

Associated Press

Article Key Points:
  • Plant to serve as demonstration facility for CO2 sequestering technology
  • Officials say plant has potential to remove more than 90% of CO2 emissions
  • Environmentalists say city's needs could be met more cleanly and cheaply with combination of efficiency and renewable energy
  • Cost of technology would increase the cost of electricity produced by as much as 40%
  • State hopes to determine if below-ground storage works in New York's geology
  • Site would create 28 new permanent jobs by 2013

I have to say I'm extremely disappointed by this news which raises far more questions than it addresses. As seen in my 5th bullet point, they don't know if this will work. I'm of the opinion that it won't. My major concerns are that we don't have a complete grasp on the porosity of the bedrock. Can this rock withstand inflationary pressure from below and compression force from above? What are the implications of carbon-dioxide polluted soil and groundwater?

Why is it so far hard for people to simply change their lives? Just because you can do something, doesn't always make it a good idea. Perhaps it will take a profound change in the standard of living of U.S. Americans for things like central air-conditioning to return to the realm of luxury (which it is), rather than necessity.

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