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That Thing Utah Do!

Bill to sell federal land in Utah could set off cascade of land sales In the American West, many of the fastest-growing regions contain the most federally owned land, which limits expansion. This puts developers, local officials, and the vacation-home set in conflict with the public interest, and ... well, we hardly need to finish that sentence, right? Some members of Congress from Western states are getting the itch to sell off public land to make more room for development, and a new bill proposed by a senator and rep from Utah is widely seen as a test of their …

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A commute point

Tomorrow is Commute Another Way Day! In Maine, at least (anyone know of this happening elsewhere?), this is an annual event to promote carpools, vanpools, public transit, biking, walking, pogo-sticking, and other eco-friendly alternatives to that long, lonely slog to and from the 9-to-5. According to the CAWD website: Last year, more than 500 employers and 5,000 commuters got involved statewide, helping to reduce traffic congestion and auto emissions by eliminating 6,000 auto trips; 62,000 auto miles; 1.65 tons of harmful pollution; and $32,000 in commuting costs ... all in a single day! And you know what else those commuters …

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Can we replace oil and maintain energy supply?

This piece on EnergyBulletin is brilliant, and by that I mean it makes arguments I like to make. Can we simply switch out oil for other fuels? No: The question is: can production from non-conventional sources such as the Alberta tar sands or synthetic fuels using coal-to-liquids (CTL) technology be ramped up to anything even approaching a supply deficit of 22 million barrels per day by 2015? The answer appears to be a clear no. Not by a long shot. So what's the answer? Rather than focusing only on what I see as futile and costly attempts to continue to …

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Sustain’t Misbehavin’

Portland, Ore., ranked as most sustainable city in U.S. Portland, Ore., took top honors in SustainLane.com's 2006 ranking of the sustainability of America's 50 most populous cities. The rankings were based on a laundry list of the usual environmental factors: breathable air, clean drinking water, renewable energy, parks, green buildings, farmers' markets, affordable housing, recycling, walkable communities, and, especially, public transit. Commuting was weighted more heavily in the rankings than other factors; nine of the bottom 10 cities have less than 5 percent transit ridership. San Francisco came in second, despite being 49th in affordability (ouch); Seattle rounded out the …

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South Central Community Farm update

If you haven't been keeping up: The situation at the South Central Community Farm has gotten even more grim. The farmers have received an eviction order. A variety of celebs and quasi-celebs and hippie ex-celebs have taken up direct action, camping out on the farm. Julia Butterfly Hill is even sitting up in a tree. It's not looking good. Go give them some money. (Meanwhile, the same city that can't cough up $10 million for this community farm is contemplating spending $800 million renovating a sports stadium to attract an NFL team. Awesome.)

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Fuel Me Once, Shame on You

GM promotion will cap gas at $1.99 a gallon for SUV buyers In a promotion that begins today, General Motors promised to cap gasoline prices at $1.99 a gallon for a year for customers in California and Florida who purchase certain new full-size SUVs or midsize cars. That's right: if you buy a gas-guzzler from GM, they'll help pay for the gas. The refund amount for buyers will be based on estimated fuel use and the difference between $1.99 and the average state-wide price per gallon. Eligible SUVs in California include the Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon, and Hummer …

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We’ve Been Cartwheeling to Work

Gas prices spur Americans to change behavior Americans hit in the pocketbook by high gas prices are, shockingly, changing their consumptive behavior. A survey by Consumer Reports found that over a third of American drivers are pondering getting a more fuel-efficient vehicle in place of their current one; half of those are considering a hybrid, and fewer than 5 percent want a luxury sedan or large SUV. Lots of drivers are downsizing to two wheels: when gas prices spiked last year, motorcycle sales jumped 16 percent compared to the same period in 2004, and scooter sales leaped 65 percent. Bike …

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Move Thyself: Deer avoids car, hits man on bicycle

D'oh, a deer ... In other bicycle news, it seems the Chinese masses are increasingly trading in their classic cruiser-style Flying Pigeon bikes for cushy mountain bikes and higher tech road bikes (oh, and cars). Not a huge surprise, as an increase in affluence often leads to a transportation upgrade. But nonetheless, the state-owned bike company has noted the changing demographics of its riders as well as a dip in sales. Sales at Flying Pigeon, the state bicycle company set up after the Communist revolution in October 1949, have plummeted so far that the company is considering outsourcing to south-east …

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It’s a Mall World, After All

Green mega-mall gets green light to build in Syracuse, N.Y. Destiny USA -- the purportedly uber-green mega-mall planned for Syracuse, N.Y. -- is finally ready to move into the construction phase, after developers and local officials ended years of bickering and reached a 30-year tax deal this week. According to lead developer Robert Congel, it will be the largest complex in the world run entirely on renewable energy. The first phase, 848,000 square feet of retail, dining, and entertainment space, could open in 2008; subsequent phases include a 1,000-room hotel and an additional 350,000 square feet of shops. Congel says …

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The Wrong Side of the BedZed

Problems in one green community won't keep U.K. from building more Four years ago, a housing complex called BedZed opened in south London with the ambitious goal of running entirely on renewable energy. Well, things haven't gone quite as planned. BedZed's biomass-fueled electric system was unreliable, forcing it to go on the national energy grid. Its natural sewage-recycling system, out of commission for seven months, has not been replaced because of expense. But even so, residents are living the good green life: well-insulated buildings, solar panels, and a wind-driven ventilation system lower electricity usage, and community gardens and a car-sharing …

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