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Oil hysteria

Let’s rebuild our national rail network instead of repealing the gas tax

At the rate things are going, any money that would be available for global warming mitigation is going to go into subsidizing the oil used by airplanes, trucks, cars, and heating oil so that most Americans do not become hysterical -- or am I being hysterical? From Michael T. Klare's latest article: Oil at $110 a barrel. Gasoline at $3.35 (or more) per gallon. Diesel fuel at $4 per gallon. Independent truckers forced off the road. Home heating oil rising to unconscionable price levels. Jet fuel so expensive that three low-cost airlines stopped flying in the past few weeks. This …

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Don't celebrate this holiday

We need to be freed from gas, not the gas tax

John McCain's proposal to institute a gas tax "holiday" during the summer driving season is as clear an example of a pander as one is likely to see during election season, but its inclusion in a major economic policy speech suggests that this is no easily ignorable one-off. As Joseph Romm notes, any hope progressives might have had that the maverick, straight-talking conservative could bring some principle to the table on climate and energy issues has now gone out the window. How badly does the tax holiday plan fail? Let us count the ways. First, it will offer consumers little …

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Big urban parks sprouting across the U.S.

Four major cities are poised to create urban parks several times bigger than New York's iconic Central Park, itself a not-at-all-shabby 843 acres. In Orange County, Calif., a portion of a former air station will become a 1,347-acre park; in Memphis, a 4,500-acre former prison farm has been snatched from developers by a conservation easement; Atlanta is trying to add enough parkland to attach nearly every neighborhood to green space; and a Staten Island landfill will become a giant park with amenities to attract bikers, boaters, and fishers. (No word on whether the Staten Island park will maintain the unsettling …

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Sidewalks are sexy!

and other things I learned at Hahvahd

I just spent a couple of days at a journalists' forum at Harvard whose topic was climate change and cities. The basic premise being that -- as our Mayor Nickels and his climate-fighting compatriots well know -- cities contribute a hell of a lot of carbon to the world, but are also in the best position to slow our handbasket voyage. Over the two days (which could easily have been two weeks), we heard from planners and architects working in places like New York, New Orleans, D.C., Phoenix, London, Latin America, and Seattle, as well as from smart-growth advocates and …

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Green buildings wise up

Linking green buildings and the smart grid will spawn a green energy ecosystem

A new energy ecosystem is emerging that connects smart, green buildings with a smart, green grid to optimize energy flows. Since commercial and industrial buildings represent around 40 percent of U.S. energy use, and homes another 30 percent, this represents the most significant opportunity for energy efficiency and mass-scale renewable generation. But creating this new green energy ecosystem means linking what are today heavily "stovepiped" separate systems within buildings and between buildings and the grid. It also means expanding the definition of green buildings to include the digital smarts that connect diverse systems. The Green Intelligent Buildings Conference in Baltimore …

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Curbside treecycling

High-end use for urban trees saves landfill space

A company in North Carolina is making some good things from urban trees which have to be cut down for one reason or another: high-end lumber from what was once considered good only for firewood or mulch. They process 15,000 to 20,000 board feet a year of local urban lumber from private land for use in homes, sheds, barns, farms, or woodworking projects. It's estimated that 2 million board feet of lumber is wasted annually in the local landfills in the Charlotte metro area due to storms, land clearing, maintenance, or disease. I'm sure much the same can be said …

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Fashion before function

The automotive equivalent of high heels

Was looking for an electric vehicle and this came up. Seriously -- six batteries? And a suicide trunk? Part of me kind of wants it.

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State Farm pulls bike-bashing ad

Remember that stupid ad from State Farm, where the natty professional laments that gas prices have gotten so high he's been forced -- gasp -- to ride a bike to work? Oh, the humiliation. Well, apparently the hubbub about the ad got so heated that it made its way back to State Farm. In response, they have pulled the ad. Streetsblog has the details, and deserves credit for generating the kind of blowback that might make the next big corporation think twice before disparaging transportation alternatives. And of course State Farm deserves some credit as well -- despite the ad …

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WTF?

They're submerging subway cars to make artificial reefs?! Nobody tells me anything.

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Machiavelli meets the Big Apple

Ten reasons NYC’s congestion pricing plan went belly up

Photo: Tom Twigg Albany strikes again: congestion pricing -- the smartest urban-transportation idea since the subway -- has been buried by the professional morticians of the New York State legislature, led by Chief Ghoul Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. As previously reported, the pricing plan, proposed a year ago by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and subsequently improved by a 17-member state-mandated commission, would have charged an $8 entry fee on cars driven into Manhattan's central business district (CBD) during 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. on weekdays. Benefits included an annual $500 million revenue stream for mass transit (sufficient to bond at least …

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