April Newsletter: Problems in transportation … and solutions

Highway interchange
Irina Blok via Unsplash
Highway interchange

A new vision for transportation finance

High oil prices are causing consumer pain and political consternation, but as our recent white paper Shifting Gears argues, the way the nation prices and pays for transportation is a big reason why we’re so dependent on oil in the first place. Driving in America is artificially cheap, with drivers paying less than half the cost of maintaining the road network, and transportation funding is often dedicated to projects that increase car dependence. The paper suggests a simple but profound alternative: we should price transportation based on its societal impact and invest transport funds where they’ll do the most good.

What does your school bus do when it’s not picking up students?

Electric school buses can be good for the environment and our health – even when they’re parked. Electric School Buses and the Grid details the benefits of equipping school buses with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, which allows their batteries to be used to store clean energy and release it back to the grid. V2G has potential to save money for school districts and utilities, while hastening the clean energy transition and improving community resilience. The report was featured in local news across the country, including in Myrtle Beach, South CarolinaColumbia, Missouri; and Austin, Texas.

Solar panels provide resilience in a crisis

Fully building out Texas’ rooftop solar potential could have covered the aggregate shortfall in power generation for 11 of the 13 days of outages during last year’s freeze. That’s the main finding of Rooftop Solar and the 2021 Texas Power Crisis, our analysis of the impact rooftop solar could have made during the storm and the ways it could have improved grid resilience. The report was co-written with Environment America’s Emma Searson, and was covered by Electrek and The Weather Channel.

New feature: The fact files

This winter, Frontier Group published three short pieces of data analysis on important current topics. The first finds that Americans drive a lot more than residents of other industrialized countries. The second shows that the number of miles Americans drove rebounded in 2021 from a dip in 2020 to nearly pre-pandemic levels. The third looks at the Energy Information Administration’s most recent Annual Energy Outlook to illustrate the potential of an array of policy changes – including reducing the cost of renewable energy and disincentivizing fossil fuels – to address climate change.

On the blog

Senior Policy Analyst Tony Dutzik argues that a so-called “abundance agenda” must be based on sound decisions about what we need more of, and what we can do without … Policy Analyst James Horrox recounts his experience trying to explain what a ‘walkable’ neighborhood is – and why walkability is important – to a realtor … Senior Policy Analyst Elizabeth Ridlington explains the process of replacing a water service line – as is going to be done in millions of places all across the country to get rid of lead pipes – with pictures of the project as it unfolded on her street.


Susan Rakov

Managing Director, Frontier Group; Senior Vice President, The Public Interest Network

Susan directs Frontier Group, the research and policy development center for The Public Interest Network. Frontier Group’s work informs the public discussion about degradations to the environment and public health, threats to consumer rights and democracy, and the available routes to a better future. Susan lives in Santa Barbara, California; she has two children, a husband, and a dog, and is an amateur singer/songwriter.

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