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Jonathan Hiskes' Posts


Dead plant coughing

Indiana coal plant will stop sending soot toward Chicago — in a few years

Photo: A Chicago SojournAn especially filthy coal-fired power plant in northwest Indiana will belch its last cloud of soot, carbon, mercury, and other pollutants sometime between 2014 and 2017, Gitte Laasby of the Post-Tribune reports. The State Line power plant in Hammond, Ind., will shut down rather than install new scrubbers when new EPA sulfur dioxide protections come online, its owner, Dominion Resources announced Friday. Two points of interest: 1. The decision is driven not by carbon-dioxide regulation but by old-fashioned toxics regulation from the Clean Air Act. We'll hear more announcements like this from the electricity industry as the …

Read more: Climate & Energy


Moving violations

Mother of Green Party candidate killed by SUV becomes bike-safety advocate

Natasha Pettigrew was an experienced cyclist and triathlete.Photo: via TBDNatasha Pettigrew, a Maryland Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate, died on Sept. 20 after a Cadillac Escalade struck her while she was bicycling. The 30-year-old was training for a triathlon about an hour before sunrise. The driver didn't stop and didn't call police until hours later, when she found the bike still wedged under her damaged vehicle. Charges still have not been filed against her, The Washington Post reports. Pettigrew's mother, Kenniss Henry, took her daughter's place in the longshot Senate campaign (which was unsuccessful). Today, the Post reports on …

Read more: Living



6 ways to solve the ‘renter’s dilemma’ for home energy

Thermal imaging helps energy inspectors locate heat leaks.Photo: reeishome.comWatching a skillful home-energy inspector explore a leaky house last week left me with a distinct sensation: envy. As the inspector went through the process, showing the homeowner how insulation, foam sealing, and other improvements would save money on heating bills, I realized I want some of that sweet weatherstripping action for my house. But my wife and I have a simple and common dilemma: we rent. We're not going to pay for house improvements because we might not live there for long and won't profit from the increased property value. Our …


The activist currently known as Prince, video

NBC’s green nagging takes a break for the Prince of Wales documentary ‘Harmony’

From what I've seen in the past, NBC's "green week" spots tend to be pretty naggy, all about annoying things you're supposed to do to satisfy the moralistic green police. There's none of the bright green message that a sustainable future can also be sociable, prosperous, and fun. (That's the hope that animates untold young-ish people who see environmental success as inseparable from a more holistic measure of success.) NBC may have a welcome departure from its past tone in Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World, the hour-long documentary airing tonight at 10 p.m. EST/PST. It's created …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living


'Get out of the way, the bus of the future is here', video

High-speed rail too expensive? Let’s go with bullet-speed buses [VIDEO]

From the Onion: Obama Replaces Costly High-Speed Rail Plan With High-Speed Bus Plan Back in the real world, people actually want more passenger-rail options. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Like what you see? Sign up to receive The Grist List, our email roundup of funny and pun-usual green news just like this, sent out every Friday.

Read more: Cities


'We’re going to make pretending to care the new caring', video

Anatomy of a greenwash [VIDEO]

The good folks at Funny or Die have new video skewering Chevron's cynical "We agree" ad campaign. The comedy site's previous "Chevron thinks we're stupid" video was part of a broader comedy offensive against the oil giant. The new vid gives us a behind-the-scenes pitch from an ad agency. Advertising executive: "We're going to make pretending to care the new caring." Chevron executive: "Wait, wait, I think I get it. You can agree with someone on something without having to do anything about it." Anatomy of a Greenwash from Paul Scheer


meter mad

Understanding the smart meter backlash

Smart meters let you track real-time energy use.Photo: PG&E Energy David's been writing lately about the intersection of technology and human habits and culture, arguing that energy is a behavioral challenge as much as a technological one. There's a prime of example of how these things collide -- and why climate hawks should pay attention -- in the backlash against smart meters in California. The New York Times is the latest to cover the trend of residents responding in outrage when utilities install smart meters -- home-energy computers that provide detailed information on what appliances you're using, and when. They're …

Read more: Climate & Energy


Greening your Hajj

Bicycling to Mecca

I'm fascinated by stories of pilgrimages, religious or otherwise. So this caught my eye, from Al Jazeera: The idea began as a hypothetical situation -- what would happen if a few friends attempted to bicycle from their home in South Africa to the Muslim holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia in time for the annual Hajj pilgrimage? Twelve countries, nine months and untold kilometres of freshly traveled earth behind them, the hypothetical has become a reality for Cape Town residents Nathim Cairncross, 28, and Imtiyaz Ahmad Haron, 25. The two pedalled their way across the Saudi border in late October, arriving …

Read more: Living


Kids these days

Young greens, old greens, and cities

San Francisco Chronicle columnist John King has a smart piece on the "generation gap" between old-school environmentalists suspicious of urban development and young people who see density as essential. He looks at Berkeley's recent ballot measure to allow denser growth near transit stops and concludes the green urbanism crowd is ascendant: More and more, there's a disconnect between the established view of how we should grow, and the values of people who weren't even born when activists first battled "Manhattanization." The (mostly) gray-haired guardians who radiate the certainty that They Know Best have dominated the debate for decades, but they …


me and my shadow

9 things I learned by shadowing a home-energy inspector

Weatherizing homes to cut heat waste makes all kinds of good sense -- it lowers utility bills, makes homes more comfortable, creates building-industry jobs, saves energy, is both a floor wax and a dessert topping, etc. Grist has sung the praises of building efficiency so often we've taken to recycling our old jokes (and they're not even good ones). We're usually looking at the big-picture questions of climate, economy, and jobs. For example, there's nothing better Congress could do right now than pass a well-designed retrofit program like the Home Star bill, which would save 44 times the amount of …

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy