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The New Nuisance Thing

California sues automakers over greenhouse-gas emissions California sued the six largest auto manufacturers yesterday, saying that vehicle greenhouse-gas emissions are a public nuisance and seeking compensation for damage to the state's air, water supplies, coast, forests, wildlife, and people. "Basically, what we are saying is, it's old-fashioned economics. You should pay for the damage you cause," said State Attorney General Bill Lockyer, pointing a finger at DaimlerChrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota. The companies' vehicles are responsible for 30 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in California. The automakers argue that they're already working on clean cars, and say …

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Seattle’s — possibly the country’s — coolest new neighborhood

This past Sunday, I went out to the Highpoint neighborhood in West Seattle to attend the Green Living Expo. Highpoint is extraordinary (check out this map of the master plan). When it's completed (about a third is finished at this point), it will be the largest interurban redevelopment in the country. I won't get into all the details -- check out the website -- but here's the short summary: The community will be mixed-use, mixed-income, and mixed-ethnicity. They're connecting up the streets with the surrounding grid. All the sidewalks (and one test street) are made of permeable concrete that allows …

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Search and You Shall Find

New Google philanthropy aims to build super-efficient hybrid car If you're tired of waiting for bold innovation from big automakers, help is on the way from, of all places, iconic search firm Google. The company's founders have established a controversial for-profit philanthropy, Google.org, which will focus on poverty, disease, and global warming. One of its first projects will be the development of a super-efficient hybrid car that will run on any combination of ethanol, gasoline, and electricity. Free from the restraints imposed on traditional nonprofit charitable foundations, Google.org could potentially start a company to sell the car, partner with venture …

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Hydrogen Hopes

BMW to put a few hydrogen cars on the road next year The cars of the future are here! Sorta. BMW announced yesterday that it will distribute about 100 hydrogen-powered 7-Series sedans to select drivers in the U.S. and E.U. in early 2007. The cars, which can travel about 125 miles before switching to gasoline, maintain BMW's sporty image: they go from zero to 62 in 9.5 seconds, with a top speed of 143 mph. The 7-Series recipients will be people who "have a potential impact on making a hydrogen economy happen," says a BMW spokesperson. Ooh, pick us, pick …

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Colleges and universities are learning what it takes to go green

The dawn of the new school year has brought with it a corps of fresh-faced ideas and initiatives aimed at making colleges and universities cleaner and greener. And, like any freshman class, they are all beaming with potential: Most will succeed, a handful will excel, and a few will end up disappointing their parents. Campuses are going green -- and not just with ivy. Photo: iStockphoto The greening of academe is nothing new, but it seems to have taken root in a big way. Today, it's not just about doing a few good, green things -- recycling, buying green energy, …

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Huston Eubank, director of the World Green Building Council, answers questions

Huston Eubank. What work do you do? I'm executive director of the World Green Building Council. What does your organization do? The World Green Building Council is a union of green building councils from around the world who are working to encourage development of green-building rating systems and accelerate the transformation of the global property industry toward sustainability. Our current members are GBCs in the U.S., Australia, Canada, India, Japan, Mexico, and Taiwan. We are currently reviewing the United Arab Emirates' membership application, and expect the United Kingdom, Brazil, and New Zealand to join us in the next few months. …

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Keepin’ It Real Estate

Portland's real-estate database makes it easy to search for green homes Realtors in and around Portland, Ore., will soon be able to search more easily for homes that have met national green-building standards. Starting in 2007, houses certified by LEED, Energy Star, and other such programs will be searchable in Portland's authoritative Regional Multiple Listing Service. Added amenities like on-site solar power and high-efficiency furnaces will be searchable individually. "People increasingly want energy efficiency in their homes, indoor air quality, and lower energy bills. This gives them the ability to find those features and a mainstream tool, which is important," …

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How Ultra-Low Can You Go?

California makes the jump to ultra-low sulfur diesel Starting today, on-road and off-road diesel vehicles in California will fill up with ultra-low sulfur fuel. California is leading the pack on this issue (natch); the rest of the U.S. will require on-road diesel vehicles to go ultra-low starting Oct. 15, but won't require off-road vehicles to make the switch until 2010. The new diesel has a sulfur content of 15 parts per million; diesel currently on the market has a sulfur content of 150 ppm in California and 500 ppm in the rest of the U.S. Ultra-low sulfur diesel should be …

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Reality Bites

U.S. automakers acknowledging that gas prices are likely to stay high Expect gasoline prices to stay between $3 and $4 a gallon for the rest of the decade, says ... no, not some fearmongering environmentalist or peak-oil nut, but Chrysler CEO Thomas LaSorda. In fact, all of Detroit's Big Three automakers have resigned themselves to current gas prices and are revamping their business models accordingly. "We are looking at it as if it's going to be much higher, rather than hoping it comes down," LaSorda said this week. Ford's chief sales analyst agreed, but declined to cite a price range, …

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A new exhibit lets New Orleans residents tell their own stories

In the beginning of July, I arrived in New Orleans for an internship at the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. I met with Anne Rolfes, the coordinator and one of the founders of the nonprofit health and environmental-justice organization, and we discussed the work I would be doing. I was to organize a photo exhibit displaying images of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, taken by the residents of St. Bernard Parish. For three weeks I worked with members of the community to create a collection of more than 300 photographs taken by 18 parish residents and four visiting photographers. The result was …

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