Plans for Indiana BioTown face obstacles, but sputter on

In 2005, Reynolds, Ind., was deemed the world’s first “BioTown,” as agricultural officials unveiled a plan to power the 550-person burg entirely with corn, hog waste, sewage, and other energy sources in ready local supply. Three years and many obstacles later, the ambitious proposal is far off track. A significant private investor dropped out; construction on a planned ethanol plant was suspended; work has not yet begun on a planned anaerobic digester. Officials have downgraded their ambition, but say the project will sputter on.

New York’s new governor supports congestion pricing

Brand-spankin’-new New York Gov. David Paterson has announced his support for a controversial congestion pricing plan. The proposal, put forward by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and supported by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, would charge $8 to drivers entering Manhattan during peak hours. Said Paterson in a written statement, “Congestion pricing addresses two urgent concerns of the residents of New York City and its suburbs: the need to reduce congestion on our streets and roads, and thereby reduce pollution and global warming; and the need to raise significant revenue for mass transit improvements.” Hear, hear.

As Corps series ends, big questions remain about the future of the Mississippi

There are 8 million stories in the Mississippi Basin, and this week we’ve told only a few. As lead editor of this Army Corps series, I’ve been immersed for the last few months in all things Mississippi River. Coming out the other side, I have a few answers, yes, but even more questions to explore. Below is my personal working list of issues that — while perhaps less acknowledged nationally than the spectacular disaster that is New Orleans and the Louisiana coast — rank high in determining a bright or dim future for the Mississippi Basin’s communities, both human and …

A post-Katrina homebuilding project gives hope for weathering severe storms

When Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Mississippi on August 29, 2005, the storm’s 125-mile-an-hour winds and 25-foot wall of seawater ground homes, boats, and businesses into matchsticks across the state’s three coastal counties: Jackson, Hancock, and Harrison. The cities of Waveland and Bay St. Louis, roughly 20 miles east of the Mississippi-Louisiana state line, were practically flattened; whole neighborhoods were destroyed in larger cities like Biloxi and Gulfport. In the end, Katrina damaged over 94,000 homes across the three counties, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, with those in moderate- and low-income communities the hardest hit. …

Highwaymen take over the Transportation Department

The WaPo reveals why mass transit gets the shaft on the national level

I have a couple of things to add about the Washington Post article pointed to by Ryan Avent in his smart recent post about mass transit. The article, by Lyndsey Layton and Spencer S. Hsu, is a superb and important piece of work, but it’s maddeningly written; it buries key and even shocking information. The theme is the takeover of the Department of Transportation by neocon ideologues with ties to the highway industry. Evidently, they’re using the department as a tool to gut mass transit projects and hand the proceeds over to their friends in the highway-building industry. This is …

Army Corps climate efforts in New Orleans may not be enough

No one wants to see this again — but can post-Katrina protection efforts keep the Big Easy safe? Photo: NOAA Here’s the good news: The Army Corps of Engineers is “racing” to complete a comprehensive levee system for metropolitan New Orleans by 2011 that actually takes into account global warming, at least in terms of sea-level rise. Here’s the bad news: the levee system under development is wildly insufficient to the growing climate problem, according to many informed critics. That’s because the vast and flat Louisiana coastal area — sometimes called the “Bangladesh of America” because it could disappear due …

Welcome to the new Grist. Tell us what you think, or if it's your first time learn about us. Grist is celebrating 15 years. ×