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Does the rest of the dinosaur know about this?

A car company takes a step in the right direction — and it’s GM!

It's a pretty short step from here to letting OnStar drivers pay for auto insurance by the mile; that's a plus everywhere, but especially in states like Michigan, where it would help turn what had been very high fixed costs into proconservation variable ones. Now if only the state would stop charging all drivers the same flat fee (about $125/yr) for the catastrophic claims fund -- put it into the price of gas or something. GM's inspiration was to realize that OnStar's global positioning satellite technology gave GMAC a reliable, low-cost way to measure the actual mileage of GMAC policyholders, …

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On the Ball: Get trashed fast

Or should that be get fast trashed?

In college I wrote my honors thesis on the connection between running and spirituality. And I like the idea of eco-running as a combining-of-passions sort of idea. Except I'm not really into combining my passions a la eco-runner Samuel, by picking up trash while I run. Because I'm training for a marathon, and I live in the city, and if I picked up every bit of trash on my long runs, I'd probably never finish. Also, I've never been a fan of running while carrying things. Also, I'm way too time- and goal-oriented to take all those breaks. But good …

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Jam Plan Is Toast

NYC mayor's traffic-reducing proposal shot down, for now New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's congestion-fee proposal, reportedly down to the wire on Monday, is now just down, period. The plan would have charged a fee for Manhattan-bound vehicles during peak hours, but the state Senate adjourned without voting on the measure after Democrats made it clear that they would vote as a bloc against it -- arguably just as much out of distaste for Bloomberg as opposition to the fee. Is NYC congestion pricing dead? Said one senator supportive of the plan, "It doesn't sound like it's alive, that's for …

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Bloomberg's congestion fee plan ...

Dead

... killed by lawmakers in Albany.

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Post-vacation links

Stuff I missed

There are a gazillion things I missed over vacation, or meant to post about before vacation, that I'll never have time to return to. Thus: a link post! I missed the MoveOn town hall on climate and energy. You can watch the candidate presentations here. Bill Scher has a pretty good rundown of who said what, here. Our guide to the candidates on these issues is here. FYI, MoveOn members voted John Edwards the winner. I doubt I'll have a chance to read Chris Mooney's new book Storm World any time soon (and -- sssshhh -- I must confess that …

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Leo, I’ve Got a Feeling We’re Not in Hollywood Anymore

DiCaprio-produced series will rebuild tornado-ravaged Kansas town It's official: Nine months after the rumors began, Leonardo DiCaprio has confirmed that he and a partner will give birth to ... a reality series on green building. DiCaprio will executive produce the 13-part Eco-Town on the Discovery Channel's Planet Green arm, launching in 2008. The original notion was to upgrade Anywhere, USA, for a show called E-topia, but the new series will focus on rebuilding a Kansas town that was hit by a tornado in May. The tornado caused 10 deaths, displaced almost all of the town's roughly 1,500 residents, and leveled …

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No Rush Hour

New York hems and haws over Manhattan congestion fees Today is a make-or-break, do-or-die, fish-or-cut-bait, poo-or-get-off-the-pot, we-wish-we-could-think-of-more-hyphenated-clichés day for New York, as state legislators, Governor Eliot Spitzer, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrestle over Bloomberg's proposal to enact traffic congestion fees. Following the lead of cities like London and Singapore, the Big Apple would charge a fee for vehicles entering or exiting Manhattan below 86th Street at peak hours. Supporters say the plan will reduce air pollution and associated health problems while boosting public transportation; opponents fear it will increase parking and pollution in the outer boroughs. While …

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Restoring rural roots

How legislators can help the rural

In a recent trip through the small town of Walthill, Nebraska, the phrase "rural revitalization" took on a whole new meaning. In this case, it was the lack of any kind of prosperity that made it obvious to me why rural communities are in need of revitalization. Main Street looked painfully deserted, with two recent arsons adding fresh scars to the once-active storefronts. As we drove around the residential area, most houses looked to be in some state of disrepair -- so much so that it was difficult to really tell which were homes and which had already been abandoned. …

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Valuing the commons: Congestion pricing's hidden payoff

The connection between congestion pricing and carbon taxes

I wrote this piece linking NYC Mayor Bloomberg's congestion pricing proposal with a carbon tax, in June. I shopped it around but none of the big papers took it. Now, NY Times columnist Tom Friedman -- perhaps the second-most visible supporter of carbon taxes (after Al Gore) -- has written a column backing the Bloomberg pricing plan. "Crunch time" for the plan may come as early as the next day or two. So it's time the piece saw the light of day. Every so often there arises an environmental controversy that tests the capacity of Americans to face reality. One …

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Summer property rights update

A smorgasbord of campaigns in various states

There's something energizing about midsummer. If it's not the camping trips, or the afternoon concerts in the park, it must be the flurry of property rights campaigns gearing up for the fall election. Here's the latest: In Oregon, the "Yes on 49" campaign kicked off yesterday. (Measure 49 is the state legislature's referendum that will trim back some portions of Measure 37.) I can't find a website for the "No on 49" campaign, so no link today. But if you want the low-down on Oregon's property rights politics, check out landusewatch, where Peter Bray dishes the dirt with a keen …