Friday, September 28, 2012

Bikes on BART

BART releases bike pilot survey results

A rider survey about BART’s commute period bike pilot, when blackout restrictions were lifted on five Fridays in August, found varied results.

Riders responding to the survey were equally split on what to do: 37% wanted to keep the blackouts; 37% wanted to end them; and 25% favored reducing the blackout periods to one hour from two. Other data from the survey suggest similarly divided feelings.

90% of respondents aware of the pilot who rode during the commute reported they did not personally experience any problems related to it. (Of the 10% who did experience problems, the most commonly cited problems were bikes blocking aisles, doorways and seats; bikes entering crowded trains; and bikes running into or brushing up against people.)

Asked how lifting the blackout affected their BART trip, 17% said it made their trip worse. (9% said it made their trip better, and 74% said it had little or no effect.).

The public will have an opportunity to discuss the results when the BART Bicycle Task Force has a meeting on Monday, Oct. 1, at 6 pm.

Additional details available on the BART website.

Treasure Island Radioactive Waste Investigation Expands into Yards and Homes

Treasure Island Health Study Planned
Matt Smith, Bay Citizen, September 26, 2012

Navy contractors have been searching for and removing low-level radioactive waste at the former Treasure Island Naval Station since 2003, the legacy of an atomic warfare school and a warship repair yard.

But recently, the Navy has had to broaden its efforts after state health officials said military contractors had misidentified and mishandled potential radioactive waste sites.

Officials with the Navy and the state Department of Toxic Substances Control assured residents that they would have suffered no health effects from radioactive material. 

Steve Woods, a radiation specialist with the state Department of Public Health, offered a slightly different message. He said that even though findings so far do not suggest there is a health risk, more studies are warranted.  San Francisco health officer Tomás Aragón said his agency may step into the breach by collecting available health information about Treasure Island residents.

Read the complete article here, and the Bay Citizen's coverage of Treasure Island here.

The Social Cost of Carbon

Joanna M. Foster, NY Times, September 18, 2012

In 2010, 12 government agencies working in conjunction with economists, lawyers, and scientists, agreed to develop a common standard for the social cost of carbon. The reason was that, in calculating the costs and benefits of pending policies and regulations, the Department of Transportation was assuming that a ton of emitted carbon dioxide imposed a $2 cost on society while the Environmental Protection Agency plugged 10 times that amount into its equations.

Instead, they decided that all agencies would use the same baseline of $21 per ton as the standard in monetizing the social costs of the seven-plus billion tons of carbon generated by US power plants, vehicles, and factories each year.

But a new paper published in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences concludes that the costs of carbon pollution and related climate change are vastly greater — possibly two to 12 times as much. The authors argue that the federal government is not adequately taking into account the impacts of climate change on future generations.

At the heart of this debate is a disagreement about how to apply an economic concept known as the discount rate. Simply put, the discount rate is based on how much it is worth to us now to prevent that future damage. The governmental agency group looked at discount rates of 2.5, 3, and 5 percent, ultimately settling on 3 percent and putting the cost of one ton of carbon at $21. But the new study opts for discount rates of 1, 1.5, and 2 percent, ultimately putting the cost of one ton of carbon at anywhere from $55 to $266.

Read the complete article here.