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For Hollywood, carlessness is ‘symbolic castration’

Greenberg, carless loserSlate's Tom Vanderbilt takes a look at how Hollywood portrays the carless, leading off with Ben Stiller's new movie Greenberg, about a loser of the same name: Greenberg's inability to drive is treated as a weakness -- watch him flail hopelessly at the SUV that cuts him off at the crosswalk! -- but also as a more insidious character failing. As the reviewer for the Guardian put it: "Greenberg takes emotional advantage of ... quiet, compliant people, not least because he's that classically dependent figure, a non-driver in Los Angeles who needs people to transport him around town." …

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Paris hopes to expand car-sharing, limit car-burning

Autolib.frParis already has one of the largest bike-sharing programs in the world; now it wants to add a car-sharing program, with all electric cars. From NPR: Autolib, which stands for auto liberte, will allow Parisians to rent an electric vehicle whenever they need to, with the goal of cutting down on car ownership, traffic and pollution. Paris' pedestrians and cyclists have had a lot to celebrate in a decade of pro-green policies. Since 2001, traffic in the city has dropped nearly 25 percent because of better public transport and restrictions on automobiles. ... Now, with Autolib, many people may be …

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Colorado: Denver mayor and guv candidate talks bike-sharing, light rail, and coal

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper took Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on a bike ride last week to show off B-cycle, the city's new bike-sharing program. Hickenlooper has helped lead one of the nation's most ambitious transit expansions in recent years, the FasTracks plan that would send rail and bus lines further into the Denver suburbs. Hickenlooper is also running for governor of Colorado and is expected to handily win the Democratic nomination on Aug. 10.  He'll likely face Republican Scott McInnis, a former member of the U.S. House (unless McInnis is forced out by a plagiarism scandal). Right now, polls have …

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California pulls home-energy stimulus funding in PACE dispute

More fallout from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's opposition to Property Assessed Clean Energy: California pulled funding for its home solar and energy-retrofit loans yesterday in response to federal mortgage overseers' negative ruling on the program. The California Energy Commission's (CEC) decision removes $30 million in federal stimulus funds awarded by the state last February to five counties for county and municipal home energy loans. The state said the five were expected to create 4,400 jobs and avoid 187,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions through 2012. Meanwhile, the Sierra Club joined California's attorney general and Sonoma County, Calif., (home of …

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Mighty Colorado River dribbles through Mexico [EXCERPT]

Jonathan Waterman is the author of the book Running Dry about the Colorado River. Waterman, who infected his feet in the polluted remains of the drying river, walked with the photographer Pete McBride down the last 60 miles of delta. The once rich estuary and its wetlands have been reduced by 95 percent since dam construction. The river has not reached the Sea of Cortez for more than a decade, with the exception of several days of rare flooding combined with cancelled farm orders. Still, conservationists on either side of the border are working to bring pulse flows to the delta and …

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Smart Growth is great, unless it created the housing bubble

Glenwood Park, AtlantaDid land-use regulation contribute to the housing bubble? The idea is no comfort to Smart Growth fans, but it's the conclusion of new research [PDF] from a pair of economists. Haifang Huang and Yao Tang, of the University of Alberta and Bowdoin College respectively, found that any limits on where homes can be built -- be they lakes and mountains or urban growth boundaries such as Portland's -- corresponded to both higher price gains and steeper price drops for residential property: In a sample covering more than 300 cities in the U.S. between January 2000 and July 2009, …

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Energy bill could save PACE clean-energy program — if a Republican will help

The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) finance tool helped thousands of homeowners pay for green improvements to their homes until Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac came out against it. Here's the latest in the fight to save it: PACE programs may soon run up against the same barrier that's blocked so much progress of late: a Senate that can't manage to get much done. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he is willing to add PACE-restoring legislation to a scaled-back energy bill, but only if a Republican cosponsor signs on to the plan, according to Brad Penney of the …

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Even suburban Chicagoans want to invest in transit

The Chicago Tribune/WGN released a doozy of a poll Saturday finding a surprisingly large appetite for cutting highway expansion and redirecting the money to transit. City residents overwhelmingly prefer bus and train service improvements to highway spending -- that's no surprise. The news is that a majority of suburbanites -- 52 percent -- agree with them. That's up from just 34 percent in 1999: Most suburbanites support investing more in mass transit than roads, sharing the long-held stance of a large majority of city residents, the poll found. Suburban residents also said they are driving less and taking more advantage …

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L.A. mayor climbs on bike, gets hit by taxi, gets hit by bike-bloggers

The mayor, pre-crashAntonio Villariagosa via FlickrTalk about a way to focus a city's attention on bicycle safety: After taking heat for lack of bike-infrastructure support -- what mayor doesn't get flack for this? -- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa climbed on a bike for the first time in years last Saturday for a ride to the beach. Within 30 minutes a taxi driver pulled out in front of him on Venice Boulevard, knocking the mayor to the pavement. He hit his head -- he was wearing a helmet -- and broke his right elbow. The security officer trailing him in …

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Senate PACE bill adds to pressure to restore clean-energy program

Grist has been covering the fate of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), a tool that helps homeowners finance green improvements to their properties. PACE programs had been spreading quickly across the country until Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac put a stop to them in recent months. Here's the latest: Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) introduced a bill Thursday that would put Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs back in action over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's objections. Based on the Senate's less-than-speedy performance in recent years, it's not likely to pass …