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The clock is ticking on a March 31 deadline for Congress to pass a transportation bill. The Senate did its part yesterday by approving a $109 billion measure that received praise from the trucking industry. It is now Houseward bound. President Obama is speaking at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Maryland today about his energy proposals, in an effort to calm public angst over rising gas prices. The Los Angeles Times has a half full cup citing that while gas prices could top $5 a gallon in the near future, since 2008, there’s been a 16% increase in average fuel economy, saving $400 per year in fuel prices. Coda is talking fuel economy as the company celebrated their first, all-electric sedan rolling off of the assembly line this week. The vehicle has an EPA-certified range of 88 miles per charge, and comes with a 10-year, 100,000 mile, battery warranty.

A tricky thing about battery motors and battery packs is that they are made using rare earth metals, 95% of which are produced in China. In 2010, China imposed export quotas on those metals and the U.S., Europe and Japan have filed a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization citing a 1947 trade agreement that if a country restricts exports, they also have to limit their own domestic supply. Global demand for the metals is increasing 10% annually, and has quadrupled in China. All eyes are on Toyota, according to Rare Earth Investing News, as they have developed a method to manufacture hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) without using the costly rare earth elements (REEs). The manufacturer says that while they have no timeline for commercialization, they will bring their technology to market if the price of REEs doesn’t recede.

Reuters reports on a sobering prediction issued by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). OECD says that by 2050, the global economy will be four times larger than today and the world will use 80% more energy. The kicker is that our energy mix isn’t predicted to be much different than today. Their assessment is that oil, coal and gas will comprise 85% of energy demand resulting in a 50% increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The result will be a surging of global average temperatures by 3-6 degrees Celsius by 2100, unless mitigation efforts begin immediately. Cincinnati is answering that call and by mid-year they will complete their Green Fleet Plan that calls for eliminating all fossil fuel use by 2025, resulting in a measurable reduction in emissions. Currently the city fleet burns through 2 million gallons of fuel per year at a cost of $5.1 million.

Transportation Bill Good News for Truckers, Land Line Magazine

Most Fuel Efficient Cars 2012, Los Angeles Times

First All-Electric Coda Sedan Rolls Off Assembly Line, Mercury News

WTO Actions On China’s Rare Earth Quotas, Globe and Mail

Toyota Seeks to Decrease Reliance on Rare Earth Elements, Rare Earth Investing News

Rare Earths-The Next Oil, Asia Times

Emissions Set to Surge 50% by 2050, Reuters

Cincinnati Plans to Rid City of Fossil Fuels, Biz Blog

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