Cities

Mining claims encroaching on Western population centers

Mining claims on federal land in the West are coming increasingly close to urban areas, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group. Thanks to a spike in the value of many minerals — and antiquated U.S. mining law, which is highly prospector-friendly — there are now 51,600 hardrock claims within five miles of Western population centers, nearly double the count in 2003. Las Vegas and the Phoenix area both have more than 5,000 claims within a five-mile radius. While fewer than 5 percent of claims are likely to actually be developed into mining operations, greens are still …

Climate change has it out for transportation infrastructure, says report

Climate change is likely to wreak havoc on U.S. transportation infrastructure, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Research Council. Think bridge joints weakened by too-high temperatures, flooded tunnels, shipping disrupted by heavy storms, roads threatened by erosion, and much, much more! Coastal regions are likely to be especially hard hit, as more and more folks move in and demand infrastructure in vulnerable areas. Says report contributor Henry Schwartz, Jr., “The time has come for transportation professionals to acknowledge and confront the challenges posed by climate change and to incorporate the most current scientific knowledge into the planning …

San Francisco gets even greener

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom got jiggy with eco-measures this week. He signed into a law a requirement that the city’s taxi fleet be converted to low-emission vehicles by 2011; ordered all city departments to purchase 100 percent recycled paper and reduce overall paper use by 20 percent by 2010; and announced his support for a tidal-energy project in the San Francisco Bay, despite a recent study’s conclusions that the project would be more expensive than it’s worth. Newsom has proposed strict green-building standards for his city and will submit a carbon tax to voters; folks in don’t-call-it-Frisco also live …

Small-scale bike-share program to come to Capitol Hill

Thirty bicycles will be made available to government employees on Capitol Hill under a pilot bike-share program announced by U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) at a National Bike Summit Thursday. “You have such a huge concentration of people” on the Hill, he said, “and so much of the errand running doesn’t need to fire up an engine.” Blumenauer, founder of the 160-member Congressional Bike Caucus, hopes bike sharing will take off nationwide. Currently, only 1 percent of all journeys in the U.S. are done on a bicycle. And, as Blumenauer pointed out, “How many people are stuck in traffic on …

Green building certified! Again!

New certification planned by safety group

Maybe this all makes more sense to green builders than it does to me, but I see news today of plans to develop another new green-building certification, this one sponsored by the International Code Council. It seems like only yesterday three weeks ago that the National Association of Home Builders launched its own “education, verification, and certification” program, and of course our pal LEED keeps chugging along. Oh wait, look what happens when you read the whole article: The [ICC] certification will test an official’s knowledge about the dominant green building rating systems, such as LEED, Green Globes and National …

Grey's anatomy

Victim of Seattle arsons reaffirms commitment to green building

As Grist readers know — and are furiously debating — there were some arsons in Seattle on Monday which have been attributed to shadowy (perhaps mythical) activist group Earth Liberation Front. The following is a letter to Grist from the owner of one of the houses that was destroyed, Grey Lundberg of CMI Homes, Inc: I am writing you today in reference to your recent article "Know Thy ELF: ‘Eco-Terrorism’ Suspected in Seattle-area Arson." I am the builder of the home which suffered the most damage from the fire in the Woodinville area — it was completely destroyed. I would …

Gas up

The next generation of infrastructure should help more Americans go carless

It appears that oil has reached a new all-time high in real terms. Given that gas prices normally peak during the summer season, the stage could be set for some ugly pump prices this year, although expensive oil may not be the most painful part of the current commodity price boom for consumers (an honor which may go to the exploding cost of grain). With oil so expensive, commuters may wish they had better transportation options. Some of them may even begin to wonder whether we might want to improve our investments in mass transit. This is important, as momentum …

Americans using less gasoline

Well, it’s finally happened: Americans are starting to use less gasoline. It took a weakened economy and record oil prices — crude hit an all-time high of $103.95 a barrel Monday — but in the past six weeks, U.S. gasoline consumption has fallen by an average 1.1 percent from 2007 levels, the most sustained drop in at least 16 years (excepting the dropoff that followed Hurricane Katrina). As Americans move to mitigate their gas-pump pain by seeking out more fuel-efficient cars, migrating into walkable neighborhoods, and riding public transit, analysts are suggesting that reduced gasoline use could be a long-term …

‘Eco-terrorism’ suspected in Seattle-area arson

Four unoccupied multimillion-dollar homes burned in a Seattle suburb Monday in what officials have reason to believe was eco-related arson. Explosives were found in the homes, and a spray-painted sign out front — “Built green? Nope black! McMansions in RCDs r not green” — bore the initials of radical environmental group the Earth Liberation Front. The Woodinville, Wash., homes were built with water-pervious sidewalks, efficient insulation, and recycled materials, but critics had raised concerns that the development could have a negative impact on a nearby creek and wetlands. Said the president of the targeted “Street of Dreams” development, “My understanding …

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