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That Ken-do Spirit

London's Mayor Pushes Solar Panels London's lefty mayor, known (either fondly or derisively, depending on whom you talk to) as "Red Ken" Livingstone, is calling for the "vast majority" of new homes built in London to include photovoltaic solar panels. The requirement is part of a set of strict building and planning rules for local authorities that will go into effect next month. The plan is being released on the heels of a World Wildlife Fund study showing that Britain's leading house-construction firms are not using sustainable building practices. Industry groups protested the rules, saying that focusing on upgrading old …

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The Big Apple of Our Eye

World Trade Center Reconstruction Will Set New Eco-Friendly Standard Reconstruction of New York City's World Trade Center area -- site of the 2001 terrorist attacks -- is set to make a green splash as one of the largest eco-friendly building projects ever undertaken. Under environmental guidelines expected to be released today for public comment, new structures on the massive site (which will contain as much commercial space as the city of Indianapolis) would have, among other features, roofs that catch rainwater for use in toilets and in efficient cooling systems. The guidelines would also encourage builders to use renewable and …

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Houston, We Have a Solution

Supporters Claim $300 Billion Energy Plan Would Create 3.3 Million Jobs A coalition called the Apollo Alliance released a report on Wednesday proposing and outlining a 10-year, $300 billion investment in alternative energy sources, which it claimed would create 3.3 million jobs and more than pay for itself through energy savings and economic stimulation. The 10-point plan -- which contains prescriptions for everything from more efficient factories to modernized electrical plants to hybrid cars -- contrasts sharply with the Bush administration's proposed energy plan, which would heavily subsidize the oil, gas, and nuclear industries. The report prompted criticism from economists …

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They’re Going to Pump You Up

Supreme Court to Review Two Important Environmental Cases In what court-watchers are calling an unusually in-depth review of environmental issues, the Supreme Court is set to hear two cases today with potentially nationwide implications for clean air and water regulations. The first is an appeal by oil companies and diesel manufacturers (supported by the Bush administration) who are challenging a Los Angeles-area requirement that diesel-fueled buses, trash trucks, and airport shuttles be replaced with cleaner-burning models. The second is a suit brought by the Florida Everglades-based Miccosukee tribe against a water-pumping station that for years has been piping polluted runoff …

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All-wheel Jive

Subaru Outback to Become "Light Truck" to Avoid Fuel Economy Rules As of next year, Subaru's Outback sedan will be classified as a "light truck," thanks to some technical modifications to its ground clearance and back bumper position. The revised classification will place the car ... er, truck in a category requiring (as of 2005) 21.2 miles per gallon; in contrast, each automaker's fleet of standard passenger cars must average 27.5 mpg. More than semantics are at stake: Since the regulatory categories were put in place in the 1970s, the automotive industry has developed the minivan and the SUV, both …

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We Love to Fly and It Shows

Britain Mulls Ways to Limit Impact of Aviation Industry With the holidays looming, the airports and skies are fuller than ever -- unfortunately for the environment. Air travel is the most environmentally damaging way to get around, with planes using vast quantities of fossil fuels and emitting toxic byproducts and greenhouse gases. The issue is looming large on the radar screen in Britain, where the government just released a white paper on the future of aviation. Environmentalists were disappointed by the contents of the paper, which they say failed to adequately address the problems of pollution, airport expansion, and greenhouse …

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The word on relatively green cars and positively green bicycles

Hy-wire act. Photo: DOE. My daughter Maya, who is 9, saw a picture of the General Motors Hy-wire, the company's super-sleek experimental fuel-cell car, and immediately decided we should have one. Unfortunately, I had to explain to her that the hydrogen-powered, zero-emission, fossil-fuel-free car would be perfect for us in all respects except one: It's not available. So it goes with U.S. manufacturers and innovative, efficient automotive technology -- all promise, no delivery. So what's an environmentally minded would-be car owner to do? First, make sure you really need a car. Motor vehicles take a heavy toll on the environment, …

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Deck the Hauls

U.S. High Court Will Hear Mexican Truck Pollution Case The U.S. Supreme Court announced yesterday that it will wade into a dispute over whether tens of thousands of highly polluting Mexican trucks should be allowed to cross the border and deliver goods throughout the U.S. The Bush administration, arguing the free-trade point of view, welcomes the trucks, but enviros and union members say they would dramatically worsen pollution in cities such as Los Angeles and Houston, which are already struggling with dirty air. In January, a federal court ruled that the administration should have conducted a comprehensive environmental impact study …

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Bicycles Shanghaied

Shanghai Bans Bicycles from Major Streets Shanghai, China, whose streets once teemed with peddling people, will ban bicycles from most major thoroughfares beginning next year. It's a dramatic (and, many say, depressing) shift for a city that was home to some of the nation's earliest bicycle factories. Now, Shanghai has become a center of China's burgeoning auto industry. Though bicycles are still the main form of transportation for the country's masses, members of China's burgeoning affluent class are buying cars in ever-growing numbers and finding that bikes are getting in their way. "Bicycles put great pressure on the city's troubled …

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NRDC’s new Santa Monica building may be the most eco-friendly in the U.S.

Do you realize we are gathered in what must be the greenest building in the United States?" Natural Resources Defense Council Executive Director Frances Beinecke asked a crowd of well-scrubbed Californians gathered for the opening ceremony of the organization's new SoCal headquarters in Santa Monica. Swilling mimosas and nibbling croissants on the building's sunny, plant-strewn terrace, everyone cheered and grinned at the rhetorical question, well aware that they were standing at the newest altar of sustainability. I, for one, had sprung for a plane ticket to Santa Monica as though I were heading out on a pilgrimage to the Emerald …

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