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Alcohol-related deaths in the US have more than doubled in the past 20 years

Vanessa Romo and Allison Aubrey, NPR »

Some of the greatest increases were found among women and people who were middle-aged and older.

[…]

Overall, researchers found men died at a higher rate than women. But when analyzing annual increases in deaths, the largest increase was among white women.

“With the increases in alcohol use among women, there’s been increases in harms for women including ER visits, hospitalization and deaths,” Aaron White, who authored the paper, told NPR.

The research shows that in 2017, alcohol proved to be even more deadly than illicit drugs, including opioids. That year there were about 70,000 drug overdose deaths — about 2,300 fewer than those involving alcohol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Oregon and Utah ask electric vehicle owners to pay extra for road use

Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica »

… the US has traditionally paid for the upkeep of its roads via direct taxation of gasoline and diesel fuel, which means that as our fleet becomes more fuel-efficient, that revenue will drop in relation to the total number of vehicle miles traveled each year.

As a result, some states are starting to grapple with the problem of how to get drivers to pay for the roads they use in cars that use less or even no gas per mile. At the start of this year, Utah has begun a pilot Road Usage Charge program, coupled to an increase in registration fees for alternative fuel vehicles. Assuming a state gas tax of 30c/gallon and 15,542 miles/year driven, Utah says it collects $777 a year from a 6mpg heavy truck, $311 from a pickup getting 15mpg, $187 from a 25mpg sedan, $93 from a 50mpg hybrid, and nothing from anyone driving a battery EV.

So in 2020, Utah is increasing vehicle registration fees. In 2019, registering a BEV in Utah would cost $60; in 2020 that will be $90, increasing to $120 in 2021. PHEV fees were $26 in 2019, increasing to $39 this year and $52 in 2021, and not-plug-in hybrid fees have gone from $10 to $15, increasing to $20 next year. An extra $30 a year—or even $60 a year—is pretty small in the grand scheme of things, particularly considering how much cheaper an EV is to run.

[…]

Oregon is another state that has been working on solving this problem for a while now—this Ars forum thread about the topic is exactly 11 years old today, in fact. In 2020, Oregon is increasing its state gas tax by 2c/gallon, and like Utah, it’s also increasing vehicle registration fees. Now, fees for registering your car in Oregon will depend on how many miles per gallon your car gets; a two-year registration for something that gets below 19mpg will cost $122, rising to $132 for a vehicle between 20–39mpg, then $152 for a vehicle that gets 40mpg or better, and $306 for a BEV.

More » Daily Herald

Trump administration shuts down pollution-tracking database

Trump and his administration are not friends of the Earth or of Americans. Pollution kills 30,000 Americans each year.

John Bowden, The Hill »

TOXMAP, an interactive map hosted by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and accessible to the public, allowed users to track pollution-producing factories and other environmental concerns such as superfund cleanup sites.

However, on Dec. 16, all links to the application on the NLM’s website were deprecated, following an announcement from the agency in September notifying users that the site would be “retired.”

Climate change is already destroying New England’s fisheries

Audrey Gray, writing in The New Republic »

But deep down, we know better. And if the national discussion hasn’t moved to climate change in the Northeast yet, it soon will. The effects are already profound—they just happen to be underwater.

Fourth-generation fisherman Al Cottone holds no illusions of being spared climate impacts in 2019. He captains one of the 15 fishing boats still active in the waters around Gloucester, Massachusetts. Not a decade ago, there were 50. To fish in the Gulf of Maine—the ocean inlet spanning from Cape Cod up to the southern tip of Nova Scotia—is to navigate one of the fastest-warming bodies of water on the planet. “It’s not something you see with your naked eye,” Cottone told me. “But fish are definitely reacting differently, and I’m attributing it to climate change. We’re seeing them in deeper water—they’re trying to get the right temperature at depth.”

Read the whole article at The New Republic »

Oregon increasing taxes on electric vehicles and higher-mileage cars

Beginning January 1, 2020, vehicle registration fees in Oregon are increasing based primarily on the MPG rating determined by the DMV.

Meanwhile, in an effort to promote purchasing more fuel efficient vehicles,  France is considering adding a tax of up to €20,000 on the purchase of SUVs.

The emphasis of Oregon lawmakers is to pay for the roads with less consideration given for the climate.

Mark Brennan »

The cost to register a high mileage hybrid vehicle or an Electric Vehicle (EV) in Oregon will rise significantly on Jan. 1. The increased amount vehicle owners can expect to pay will depend on the fuel efficiency rating of the vehicle, which will now be the primary factor in determining the cost to register it.

[…]

“Drivers of more efficient vehicles will pay more to register and renew their tags so they contribute more for use of the roads,” ODOT said in a public statement released earlier this week. “That’s because these drivers are contributing much less (or nothing) in fuels tax while driving just as much.”

[…]

Oregon currently has approximately 27,000 EVs registered.

Read the whole article at Siuslaw News »

To be fair, vehicle owners that drive less may benefit by registering their vehicle in the OReGo program that offers a lower yearly registration fees. Owners then need to track their mileage and pay an additional a 1.7 cents per mile tax.

The new Oregon taxes for registering a vehicle for two years starting January 1 »

  • Passenger Registration 0-19 mpg: $122
  • Passenger Registration 20-39 mpg: $132
  • Passenger Registration 40 + mpg and not enrolled in OReGo: $152
  • Passenger Registration 40 + mpg and enrolled in OReGo: $86
  • Passenger Registration Electric and not enrolled in OReGo: $306
  • Passenger Registration Electric and enrolled in OReGo: $86

 

California will stop buying vehicles from Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Toyota and other car manufacturers that do not recognize its authority to set emissions standards

The big US automakers and others announced in October they were joining the Trump Administration’s litigation to stop California from imposing tougher emissions rules and higher mileage requirements than federal standards.

Effective immediately, California would “prohibit purchasing by state agencies of any sedans solely powered by an internal combustion engine, with exemptions for certain public safety vehicles.”

California along with 22 other states and the District of Columbia are suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, asking the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to block the Trump administration from stripping it of its long-standing authority to set its own fuel-efficiency standards on cars and trucks.

They are also asking the court to review the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s effort to preempt California’s right to set tailpipe emission standards.

Going forward, California will chiefly purchase cars from Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW.

David Shepardson »

California said on Monday it will halt all purchases of new vehicles for state government fleets from GM, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and other automakers backing U.S. President Donald Trump in a battle to strip the state of authority to regulate tailpipe emissions.

Between 2016 and 2018, California purchased $58.6 million in vehicles from General Motors Co (GM.N), $55.8 million from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCHA.MI), $10.6 million from Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) and $9 million from Nissan Motor Co (7201.T).

Last month, GM, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and members of the Global Automakers trade association backed the Trump administration’s effort to bar California from setting its own emission standards, which are significantly stricter than the Trump Administration proposal’s preferred option.

Read the whole story at Reuters »

More » NY Times, International Business Times, CNET, The Detroit Bureau, Green Car Reports

Massachusetts sues Exxon, accusing the oil giant of defrauding customers and investors over climate change

The State of New York is also suing Exxon over climate change. The case rests exclusively on investor fraud allegations. The Massachusetts case more broadly includes consumer fraud allegations.

David Hasemyer, writing for Inside Climate News ≫

Beyond the fraud allegations, Attorney General Maura Healey also upbraids Exxon in the lawsuit for an on-going “green washing” marketing campaign that she says falsely touts the company as a leader in clean energy research and climate action.

The lawsuit further calls out Exxon over “hypocritically touting itself as an exemplary environmental corporate steward” when the company is among the largest corporate contributors to global warming.

“Collectively, as with its historic and ongoing deception campaigns about the science, the objective of ExxonMobil’s efforts is to preserve the company’s short-term profits in a carbon-dominated world economy no matter the dire long-term consequences for the company’s investors or for the consumers who buy its products,” the 211-page complaint states.

Read more »

More » Reuters, France 24, Al Jazeera

Exxon’s climate change fraud trial opens to a packed New York courtroom [Updated]

Did big oil cook the books?

October 22, 2019

Nicholas Kusnetz, writing in Inside Climate News »

The civil case is the first major climate change lawsuit to reach trial in the United States, and it is the culmination of four years of investigation by the New York state attorney general’s office.

The central allegation is that Exxon fraudulently used two sets of books to estimate the risks it faces as governments take steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions: one that was shared with investors and another that was used only internally. The public estimate was higher, suggesting a future with stricter limits on emissions, while the internal figures were lower, reflecting more lenient regulations.

More at Inside Climate News »

Updated October 26, 2019

Melissa Lemieux, writing in Newsweek »

The exploratory procedure for the suit began in 2015, when InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times reported that Exxon scientists knew in the late 1970s that emissions were damaging the climate but had covered the information up, an accusation that Exxon strongly denies.

and

“Exxon has known for decades about the catastrophic climate impacts of burning fossil fuels—its chief product,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement. “Yet, to this day, Exxon continues to deceive Massachusetts consumers and investors about the dangerous climate harms caused by its oil and gasoline products and the significant risks of climate change—and efforts to address it—to Exxon’s business. We are suing to stop this illegal deception and penalize the company for its misconduct.”

More at Newsweek »

More » NPR, NY Times, Bloomberg, Bloomberg (again), CBC, CBS

Climate change is forcing this Alaskan village to move

After years of melting permafrost, residents of Newtok, Alaska are being forced to move. The village is rapidly sinking due to warming weather, thawing permafrost, and erosion.

Craig Welch, writing in National Geographic »

“Many folks are not happy to be leaving the place they’ve known their whole lives.” But they are excited to finally be moving to a place with better services.

John says some residents are relieved while others feel anxious, and a few already experience separation anxiety. Some are too busy gathering food for winter to give it much thought.

The move might leave some residents a bit farther from traditional hunting grounds, “but frankly that’s a small price to pay for the safety and security they will now have,” John says.

“I think as a people, our greatest attribute has been our ability to adapt,” John says. “Our people have been flexible. We’ve found a way.”

Or, as Kasaiuli sees it, “Our story is unfolding to a better ending, even if we don’t want to leave this place.”

Read the whole story »

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