Schwarzengreener, or Transit Terminator?

How green is California?

The State of California just passed a budget that, thanks to Governor Schwarzenegger and the Republicans in the Assembly, removes $1.3 billion from the public transit budget. Yes, this is the same state and governor that passed a cap-and-trade bill that seeks to cut carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020. But so far, the only thing being cut is the one way to get cars off of the roads. But let me tell you about this car-pool lane ... Photo: You know all of those ways we could allegedly do the equivalent of removing cars from the road, like buying compact fluorescent light bulbs? Trains and buses actually replace cars. In addition, more public transit leads to absolute and certain reduction in emissions. Even mandating greater efficiency of cars does not eliminate the possibility of greater emissions. More efficient cars might simply delay an increase in carbon emissions, since miles traveled keeps going upward -- unless there are trains or buses. With peak oil looming, the situation is getting more critical, both for drivers who have to pay more for their gas, and might therefore prefer to take public transit if it was available, and for nonelectrified buses and trains, since their fuel costs increase. So, the logical thing to do would be to increase public transit funding. Enter the convoluted state of budgets in most states, particularly California:

Post-Labor Day link dump, the second

Exploring the tubes so you don’t have to

Mo’ links! Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland Ohio recently passed a renewable portfolio standard that falls prey to the worst pitfalls of that particular policy mechanism: Gov. Ted Strickland wants to require that 25 percent of the electricity sold in Ohio by 2025 come from alternative energies, such as fuel cells, solar panels, windmills, nuclear and hydroplants. Half of that would have to come from renewable energy while the other half would come from nuclear, fuel cells or clean coal sources. The point of RPSs should be to boost renewable energy technology. If the point of this jerry-rigged contraption is to …

A win for buses in L.A.

Los Angeles City Council OKs a peak-hour bus-only lane

An update from me and my colleague Francisca Porchas of the Labor/Community Strategy Center: For the first time in L.A., the car capital of the world, a bus-centered public-transportation system has been given priority over the auto -- a big victory for environmental justice and the reduction of auto-based air toxins and greenhouse gases. On Aug. 15, the Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union secured an important environmental and public-health victory at the Los Angeles City Council: the approval of a $27 million project to implement peak-hour bus-only lanes on Wilshire Boulevard. The Wilshire bus-only lane would run from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica and would operate during rush hour, 7-9 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. Wilshire Boulevard has the largest transit ridership in the county with over 90,000 boardings a day. The bus-only lane is expected to reduce travel time by 20 percent for current transit users and would attract new riders to public transportation.

The perfect dorm

College residence halls trending toward green … and not-so-green

I’m excited about this new trend toward green dorm design and decor, such as the Green Campus Program in California wherein new students can tour a dorm room pimped out with, for example, "hemp towels, organic cotton sheets, a reusable elephant grass shopping basket, and bed frames made of recycled train tracks." But I’m bummed that it’s basically negated by another "trend" in college dorms these days: deluxe consumerism of the not-so-eco kind. Said one UCLA resident director, "The newest trend is the bigger-screen TV, the plasma — I’ve seen some big ones, 40- and 50-inchers." In either case, however, …

No Looking Back

Los Angeles Times series looks at NOLA’s rebuilding effort two years later The two-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is a largely grim occasion, but a Los Angeles Times series has found cause for inspiration. In a 10-story installment, the paper appraises the rebuilding effort in New Orleans and the innovation it has sparked — particularly in the environmental arena. Read up on nonprofit Global Green’s push to build inexpensive, eco-friendly, low-income housing; the all-too-relevant deconstruction movement, which encourages the use of old building parts in new construction; the charter school that’s bringing slow food to NOLA; an amateur inventor’s idea …

Welp, Back to Swimming

Two days after it began, service on the muchly protested Hawaii Superferry has been suspended indefinitely, for environmental-impact and protester-safety reasons.

Hybrid wars

Honda fights to regain green car company mantle

Honda entered the hybrid market before Toyota, but over time it made a fateful mistake: it failed to visually distinguish its line of hybrids. The Prius’ distinct shape is like peacock feathers — it signals your identity to the world. Who wants to be virtuous if nobody knows about it? Now Honda’s gotten the message and it’s returning to the fight: [Honda is] working on a new high-profile hybrid — a Prius fighter that analysts expect will have the highest mileage on the road when it arrives in 2009. Code-named the “Global Small Hybrid,” Honda’s new gas-electric model won’t be …

‘Eco cities’ easier said than done in today’s China

Remember architect Bill McDonough’s much-ballyhooed "eco-cities" in China? Mara Hvistendahl points to troubling signs that the projects are falling apart.

Ferry Ferry, Quite Contrary

Hawaii’s first-ever inter-island ferry service comes under protest Hawaii’s first-ever inter-island passenger ferry service set off this weekend amidst protests that it could harm marine life, spread invasive species, and worsen pollution. The docking of the ferry’s second voyage was delayed by a dozen steamed surfers, while hundreds more protesters stood on the island seawall shouting and carrying signs. (Perhaps most eloquent: “Stupid ferry, stupid riders.”) Hawaii’s Supreme Court had ruled Thursday that the state should have required an environmental review before letting the Hawaii Superferry go forward; in response, the ferry service moved its maiden voyage up by two …

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