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The Sub-way Continent

If ever there were a city that needed a good subway system, it is New Delhi, India, one of the world's most populous (14 million) and most crowded metropolises. Now the city's got just that, and everyone, from residents to foreigners, is amazed and thrilled by its success. Although the entire 62-mile, 90-station subway system won't be complete until the end of the decade, the first part opened on time and on budget -- a cause for celebration for any public-works project, and a rare occurrence in India. The project, which was begun four and a half years ago and …

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Super-efficient Cheeseheads

Going green could save Wisconsin more than $225 million over the next two years, according to a coalition of state environmental groups. Yesterday, the groups released a "Green Budget" itemizing ways Wisconsin could save money while protecting the environment. One of the budget's simplest recommendations -- using more efficient lighting and turning off unused electronic equipment in state office buildings -- would save between $9.2 million and $18.4 million per year, and far more if public schools followed suit. Purging the state's car fleet of gas-guzzling vehicles like the Ford Excursion would also save a chunk of money, according to …

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Windy Cities

Wind power is usually generated in vast, open spaces -- mountaintops, prairies, or offshore in shallow waters. But the Netherlands is taking wind power to new heights, literally: the rooftops of buildings in metropolitan areas. With light, quiet, efficient designs that often blend into the surrounding architecture, these urban windmills are built to take advantage of the severe turbulence and rapid shifts in wind direction that are typical of cities. Amsterdam, the Hague, Tilburg, and Twente all plan to install urban windmills this year, at a cost of $5,000 to $12,000 each. One windmill that's already been installed on the …

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Lead Us Not

Ninety percent of the global gasoline supply is unleaded -- but the majority of the remaining 10 percent is consumed in developing nations. That's bad news for citizens of those countries because leaded fuel is associated with neurological damage, particularly in children. Now, though, there's some good news from the United Nations Environment Programme: Most of the African continent will have weaned itself off of leaded gasoline by 2008. According to UNEP, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, and Mauritius have already phased out leaded fuel, and another 22 nations have plans to eliminate use of leaded gas by 2006, or are currently …

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Mass. Devastation

Laws designed to protect the environment are only useful if they're enforced -- and in the state of Massachusetts, they often are not. Indeed, the Bay State has one of the nation's worst enforcement records, according to a new federal website that allows the public to monitor enforcement of anti-pollution laws. Only 27 percent of Massachusetts factories, power plants, hazardous waste transporters, and other facilities with major environmental permits have been inspected in the last two years. (The national average is 44.5 percent.) And the situation is even worse in minority neighborhoods, where just 15 percent of major facilities have …

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The Truck Stops There

In a setback for the Bush administration, a federal appeals court yesterday halted a federal plan to permit thousands of Mexican trucks on U.S. roads, calling instead for environmental reviews that could take up to three years. In November, President Bush approved the entry of 30,000 Mexican trucks per year, citing obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement to lift trade barriers. A coalition of environmentalists, Teamsters, and U.S. trucking companies responded by filing suit, claiming the trucks would not meet U.S. emissions standards. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the plaintiffs, saying that compliance with …

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You’re in the Army Now

Environmentalists and the Pentagon have never been the best of friends -- in fact, the folks at the Department of Defense are currently trying to wiggle out of complying with as many environmental regulations as possible in the name of national security -- but it would seem that military leaders can think green when it suits them. The U.S. Army and General Motors have rolled out a new, highly efficient hybrid-engine truck, designed for soldiers doing stealth work in the field. The truck, a militarized version of the Chevrolet Silverado, has a V8 engine coupled with a gas-electric system and …

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Dolorous Haze

Emissions that contribute to smog in the Los Angeles area are drastically worse than previously estimated, air-quality officials admitted yesterday. The announcement marked a reversal of the usual optimistic rhetoric about California air quality, which has been steadily improving since the late 1980s. Now it seems that progress in eliminating the two most common pollutants that lead to smog is not as advanced as previously thought. The miscalculation is due to underestimated emissions from cars, trucks, and consumer products ranging from deodorant and hairspray to household cleaners. California is under federal mandate to improve air quality by 2010; failure to …

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Great Build

It's not clear if the problem is one of economics or one of spin, but either way, environmentally conscious building design is a concept that hasn't quite caught on. The technology and expertise to build "green" structures have been around for decades; now, a movement is underway to sell developers on the economic benefits of green building. In an effort to create brand-recognition among building styles, the U.S. Green Building Council, a private group, is certifying structures as sustainable if they meet a number of energy-efficient and eco-friendly criteria. Simultaneously, governments are beginning to encourage green building: In 2000, New …