Greenpeace and other eco-activists have been protesting mightily against a planned third runway for London’s Heathrow Airport, which would demolish the nearby town of Sipson and, say activists, be completely counter to Britain’s ambitious carbon-cutting goals. The airport-expansion plan has brought significant opposition from both politicians and residents; the British government has yet to make a final decision, but opponents fear it’s a foregone conclusion.
Today's second panel -- Carl's, on "conservation and the environment" -- opened with remarks from Houston Mayor Bill White. Despite my earlier comments about the road-crazy Bayou City, Mayor White laid out some items from what appears to be a truly progressive energy agenda for Houston, including making it an international leader in green buildings. Some of his more interesting comments came when White told the story of being one of the staffers that helped write the Energy Policy & Conservation Act of 1975, the original fuel economy law. He spoke of the doubling in fuel economy occasioned by the law, but then -- in a story I'd never heard -- spoke of trying to incorporate pickups and the forebears of today's gas-guzzling SUVs into the law. Unfortunately, this provision was "hijacked," as he put it, and became an exemption for so-called "work trucks," even when they did nothing more than ferry suburban hausfraus around. Thankfully last year's energy bill finally closed this disastrous SUV loophole. White noted that he himself drives a car that gets 49 miles per gallon and while he's happy about the big boost in CAFE, we "can do, shoulda done, and will do better." He agreed that doubling our current fuel economy is "not a stretch" and could be done with technology that exists today. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that he's switched over the vast majority of the city's fleet of passenger vehicles and public buses to hybrids and is now looking to the other vehicles like garbage trucks.
Last week the Center for American Progress began a series called "It's Easy Being Green," meant to recognize the steps communities, individuals, and organizations are taking to transform our country's energy use. Last week's column featured a new kind of neighborhood:
The National Governors Association has linked up with “a team of Wal-Mart energy experts” to “green the capitols.” That’s fantastic — and I’m sure it will draw well-deserved huzzahs in certain green circles. (It’s touching to see Wal-Mart giving back some of what it has been siphoning off in state taxes!) But read a little deeper into the press release, and you see what the National Governors Association means by “green.” Turns out that when it comes to energy, the govs love some pretty dubious stuff. I’ll let Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell take it from here: [I]t’s clear that charting …
North Carolina’s Triangle — Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh — counts as the state’s economic, educational, and political engine. It’s also very quickly running out of water, parched by a severe drought. Are the area’s leaders doing anything constructive to respond to the situation? So far, the signs aren’t encouraging. I’ve been following the story in the excellent daily Raleigh News & Observer. On Monday, the N&O reported that Raleigh has exactly one agreement with another local entity to buy water in case of an emergency. The agreement is with Durham — and there’s a problem: Durham’s is perhaps the …
The percentage of 16-year-olds with a U.S. driver’s license has decreased sharply in the last decade, from 43.8 percent in 1998 to 29.8 percent in 2006. Rising insurance costs, expensive driver education, and an increase in indoor pastimes are more likely to be driving the trend than environmental awareness — and sure, most yoots still get around in four-wheeled transportation, chaffeured by parents and friends. But at the very least, we suspect that fewer kids with a license means fewer cars idling for hours while teens grope in the back.
Volker Weber provides a strong counterargument to my posts favoring public investment (very funny, if you are a certain kind of geek):
The British government is preparing a shortlist of sites for high-density, carbon-neutral eco-towns, but is coming under consistent protest from villagers who don’t want ‘em nearby. Many residents living near the proposed sites have concerns that, eco or not, new development will take over agricultural land, increase traffic, and burden local infrastructure. Says Mark Sullivan of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, “[Eco-towns] will never be self-sustaining, effective communities if they are sited in the wrong places.”