• Timber bridges viable option for low-traffic local roads

    Glulam timber bridges are viable and cost-effective options for replacing bridges on low-traffic county and township roads. Glulam, short for glued laminated, means the structural members are made of layers of wood strips bonded with glue. A timber bridge would provide alternatives to conventional precast double-tee bridges, giving counties and townships more options when designing a new bridge or replacing an old one.

  • Climate action window could close as early as 2023

    As the Trump administration repeals the U.S. Clean Power Plan, a new study underscores the urgency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions—from both environmental and economic perspectives. For the U.S. most energy-hungry sectors—automotive and electricity—the study identifies timetables for action, after which the researchers say it will be too late to stave off a climate tipping point. And the longer the nation waits, the more expensive it will be to move to cleaner technologies in those sectors—a finding that runs contrary to conventional economic thought because prices of solar, wind and battery technologies are rapidly falling, the study’s authors say.

  • Why Rick Perry’s proposed subsidies for coal fail Economics 101

    In a controversial proposal, Energy Secretary Rick Perry has asked federal regulators to effectively subsidize coal and nuclear power plants at ratepayers’ expense. Subsidizing utilities to burn more coal would worsen coal’s major negative externalities in the name of some dubious positive externalities. Deregulated power markets already have measures in place to support efficient levels of investment in reliability and resilience. There is surely room for refinement, but Perry’s proposal is the opposite of refined. It asks government to interfere in well-functioning markets, which is not something Republicans usually support – especially since it will come at great expense to ratepayers. Subsidizing coal for its reliability attributes is like subsidizing bacon for its nutritional content. There are better ways to get your vitamins, and better ways to keep the lights on.

  • Administration’s decision to rescind 2015 water rule based on flawed analysis: Experts

    New evidence suggests that the Trump administration’s proposal to rescind the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule that would limit the scope of the Clean Water Act inappropriately overlooks wetlands-related values. The differences between the two analyses led to an almost 90 percent drop in quantified benefits from the 2015 to the 2017 analysis.

  • Bipartisan bill to help secure the electric grid

    Last week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introducing H.R. 3855, the Securing The Electric Grid to Protect Military Readiness Act of 2017. H.R. 3855, if enacted, would require the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Director of National Intelligence, and the Secretaries of Energy and Homeland Security, to submit to Congress a report detailing significant security risks to defense critical electric infrastructure posed by malicious cyber-enabled activities.

  • Stanford Cyber Initiative addresses cybersecurity, governance, and the future of work

    Daily headlines emphasize the down side of technology: cyberattacks, election hacking and the threat of fake news. In response, government organizations are scrambling to understand how policy should shape technology’s role in governance, security and jobs. The Stanford Cyber Initiative is bringing together scholars from all over campus to confront the challenges technology presents.

  • USGS helps four cities improve urban waterways

    This fall more than $1.5 million is being invested in improving urban lands and waters thanks to expanded USGS partnerships with Albuquerque, New Mexico; San Antonio, Texas; Gary, Indiana; and Harlem and Bronx, New York.

  • Tracing the sources of today’s Russian cyberthreat

    Cyberspace is an active battleground, with cybercriminals, government agents and even military personnel probing weaknesses in corporate, national and even personal online defenses. Some of the most talented and dangerous cybercrooks and cyberwarriors come from Russia, which is a longtime meddler in other countries’ affairs. Over decades, Russian operators have stolen terabytes of data, taken control of millions of computers and raked in billions of dollars. They’ve shut down electricity in Ukraine and meddled in elections in the U.S. and elsewhere. They’ve engaged in disinformation and disclosed pilfered information such as the emails stolen from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, following successful spearphishing attacks. Who are these operators, why are they so skilled and what are they up to?

  • Strengthening the cybersecurity of the grid

    As the U.S. electricity grid continues to modernize, it will mean things like better reliability and resilience, lower environmental impacts, greater integration of renewable energy, as well as new computing and communications technologies to monitor and manage the increasing number of devices that connect to the grid. However, that enhanced connectivity for grid operators and consumers also opens the door to potential cyber intrusions. New project aims to mitigate vulnerabilities introduced by rooftop solar panels integrated with the grid.

  • Testing bridges for safety after major hurricanes

    After Hurricane Irma hit, there was a major concern about South Florida’s bridges, mainly the ones in the Florida Keys. Would the structures be safe to cross for drivers anxious to get back home? Would relief efforts be impaired due to damage caused by massive winds? Fortunately, all forty-two bridges that connect the mainland to the Keys were inspected and declared safe by Monroe County officials. If another major hurricane like Irma hits South Florida, researchers and engineers shares an easy and cost-effective way to test a bridge for safety.

  • Examining NYC storm surge infrastructure resilience

    With the recent Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and now Maria, which ravaged much of Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, as well as Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, from which NYC infrastructure is still recovering, it has become clear that addressing threats to infrastructure is critical to keeping our communities safe, functional, and healthy. Storm surge has emerged as one of the most destructive forces on infrastructure, especially interconnected structures in cities.

  • Filter removes fracking-related contaminants from water

    A new filter produced has proven able to remove more than 90 percent of hydrocarbons, bacteria and particulates from contaminated water produced by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations at shale oil and gas wells. The process turns a ceramic membrane with microscale pores into a superhydrophilic filter that “essentially eliminates” the common problem of fouling.

  • Breaking nuclear deal could bring hacking onslaught from Iran

    If the Trump administration discarded the nuclear deal with Iran, Tehran could retaliate quickly – and inflict considerable damage – by unleashing its increasingly aggressive Iranian hacker army. Cyber-experts who track Tehran’s hackers warn that the attacks might target U.S. power plants, hospitals, airports, and other components of the country’s critical infrastructure. Iran’s current hacking against Western targets is limited almost entirely to commercial espionage and dissident surveillance, but Teheran could quickly redirect its efforts in the event of a rupture of the nuclear pact.

  • Equifax breach is a reminder of society’s larger cybersecurity problems

    The Equifax data breach was yet another cybersecurity incident involving the theft of significant personal data from a large company. Moreover, it is another reminder that the modern world depends on critical systems, networks and data repositories that are not as secure as they should be. And it signals that these data breaches will continue until society as a whole (industry, government and individual users) is able to objectively assess and improve cybersecurity procedures. We all must take a realistic look at the state of cybersecurity, admit the mistakes that have happened and change our thinking for the better. Only then can anyone – much less everyone – take on the task of devoting time, money and personnel to making the necessary changes for meaningful security improvements. It will take a long time, and will require inconvenience and hard work. But it’s the only way forward.

  • Circuit simulation methods protect the power grid

    In December 2015, Russian hackers pummeled Ukraine’s power grid, disrupting the flow of electricity for nearly a quarter-million Ukrainians. Then, in December 2016, roughly a year after the first attack, the hackers struck again. But this time, they targeted an electric transmission station in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. Each cyberattack lasted no more than six hours, but security experts were still alarmed: hackers had just demonstrated their ability to infiltrate the grid and drastically alter the flow of society. Americans began to worry. If hackers could target Ukraine, then what would stop them from targeting other countries in western Europe or even the United States?