Linklist: March 15, 2012

Good GM: Ars Technica notes: A robo-glove for auto workers might be a great glove for astronauts [When GM and NASA work together on something, you would think its transportation related. This is indirect, but cool anyway]

Bad GM: Danny King writes: GM opposes Washington State’s proposed electric vehicle fee that has “no merit”:

“General Motors has gone on record to oppose a Washington State bill that would impose a fee of $100 per year to electric-vehicle drivers.
GM Regional Director Howard Lenox, Jr. wrote a letter on March 6 to Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire stating that the automaker, which makes the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in hybrid, is against such a bill. The state is proposing the fee as a way for EV drivers to compensate for the gas taxes that they otherwise wouldn’t be paying. The letter was posted on GM’s The Future Is Electric blog.
“A fee which singles out electric vehicles will be a disincentive to the growth of the electric vehicle market in Washington State,” Lenox wrote in the letter. “As a practical matter, there are so few vehicles on Washington’s roads today that their impact in replacing fuel tax revenues will, for now, be negligible.”
While drivers of the Volt wouldn’t be subject to such a fee because its on-board generator is gas-powered, GM appears to be looking ahead as the automaker looks to electrify more of its fleet to meet more stringent greenhouse-gas emissions requirements.
Last month, Washington State passed Senate Bill 5251, which was introduced by Mary Haugen, the Senate’s transportation committee chairwoman. The fee, which is subject to a vote by the state’s House of Representatives, is estimated to add as much as $1.9 million to the state’s coffers by 2017. Arizona, Oregon and Kansas are among other states looking at instituting fees that specifically target electric vehicle drivers.”

Bloomberg: Ships Vie With Japan Utilities as Fuel Supplies Dwindle: Freight:

“Oil refiners’ investment in more- efficient facilities is leaving shipping lines competing with Japanese power producers for a fuel that no one wants to make.
Refiners are upgrading plants to cut output of fuel oil, a byproduct from making gasoline and diesel, as it sells for less than the price of crude. Shipping lines are seeking more of the product — known in the industry as bunker — to fuel expanding fleets, while Japanese electric companies are speeding purchases as they close nuclear plants for checks after 2011’s tsunami.”

Bloomberg: Senate Passes U.S. Highway Bill Penalizing Privatization:

“One exception was an amendment by Senator Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat, to discourage states from leasing roads to private operators. The amendment, which passed 50-47, added to language already in the bill that would limit tax breaks for companies such as Macquarie Infrastructure Co. (MIC) that operate highways for states. Bingaman’s amendment excludes privately operated toll roads from the formula that calculates U.S. highway aid to states. Those proposals counter other parts of the bill and President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget that encourage states to attract investment in infrastructure.”

DCist picks up on my “Modest Proposal“: A Solution to D.C.’s Voting Problem: 50 States, 50 Districts [Comments there are amusing. No one has thus far picked up on my Swiftian reference.]