Energy development on public lands and waters pumped more than $12 billion into federal coffers in 2012, $1 billion more than the previous year, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior.
"These revenues reflect significant domestic energy production under President Obama's all-of-the-above energy strategy and provide a vital revenue stream for federal and state governments and American Indian communities," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement.
Yes! Win win win win win. Winners all around. Lots of cash money/moolah just pouring out of the ground like so much crude oil, thanks to the president's staunch commitment to fossil fuels. Everyone line up for your cut! [PDF]
Just such good news. But we need to do a smidgen of accounting work here.
In one sense, this is a bit of good news about Los Angeles and its car-heavy transportation culture: More than half of the time people are involved in car accidents, they actually stick around and take responsibility for it. Slightly more than half.
About 20,000 hit-and-run crashes, from fender benders to multiple fatalities, are recorded by the Los Angeles Police Department each year.
That's huge, even in a city of 3.8 million people. In the United States, 11 percent of vehicle collisions are hit-and-runs. But in Los Angeles, L.A. Weekly has learned, an incredible 48 percent of crashes were hit-and-runs in 2009, the most recent year for which complete statistics are available. According to data collected by the state, some 4,000 hit-and-run crashes a year inside L.A. city limits, including cases handled by LAPD, California Highway Patrol and the L.A. County Sheriff, resulted in injury and/or death. Of those, according to a federal study, about 100 pedestrians died; the number of motorists and bicyclists who die would push that toll even higher.
In other words, Los Angeles drivers are four-and-a-half times more likely to bail after an accident than the country on the whole.
This is what is meant when people refer to externalized costs.
The fire alarm shattered the monotony of the Tazreen Fashions factory. Hundreds of seamstresses looked up from their machines, startled. On the third floor, Shima Akhter Pakhi had been stitching hoods onto fleece jackets. Now she ran to a staircase.
But two managers were blocking the way. Ignore the alarm, they ordered. It was just a test. Back to work. A few women laughed nervously. Ms. Pakhi and other workers returned to their sewing tables. She could stitch a hood to a jacket in about 90 seconds. She arranged the fabric under her machine. Ninety seconds. Again. Ninety more seconds. She sewed six pieces, maybe seven.
Then she looked up.
Smoke was filtering up through the three staircases. Screams rose from below. The two managers had vanished. Power suddenly went out throughout the eight-story building. There was nowhere to escape. The staircases led down into the fire.
There are 52 percent more winter farmers markets operating in the U.S. this year compared to last, the Department of Agriculture announced this week. Winter markets now make up a larger share of farmers market sales throughout the year, even if they're not quite as well stocked with delicious goodies. (I miss you, summer tomatoes.)
But winter's nice too! Roasty chestnuts and hot apple cider? Yes please! Oh, and I guess I'll take that kale too.
Earlier this week, The New York Times examined how some of New York City's poorest residents ended up in what under different circumstances might be highly sought-after real estate: land right by the shore.
New York started building housing projects on the waterfront because that’s where its poorest citizens happened to live. It continued because that’s where space was most readily available. Finally, it built them there because that’s where its projects already were.
The case of the Rockaways, the spit of land on the southeastern edge of the city, is slightly different. The Rockaways are home to a disproportionately high number of poor people because of Robert Moses, the despotic city planner whose mid-century efforts to reshape New York City were largely successful.
Never one for nostalgia, Moses saw the Rockaways as both a symbol of the past and a justification for his own aggressive approach to urban renewal, to building what he envisioned as the city of the future. “Such beaches as the Rockaways and those on Long Island and Coney Island lend themselves to summer exploitation, to honky-tonk catchpenny amusement resorts, shacks built without reference to health, sanitation, safety and decent living,” he said, making his case for refashioning the old summer resorts into year-round residential communities.
What is more, the Rockaways had plenty of land that the city could buy cheaply, or simply seize under its newly increased powers of eminent domain, swaths big enough to accommodate the enormous public-housing towers Moses intended to build as part of his “Rockaway Improvement Plan.” Though only a tiny fraction of the population of Queens lived in the Rockaways, it would soon contain more than half of its public housing.
The old summer bungalows that weren’t bulldozed in the process were repurposed as year-round housing for those uprooted by Moses’ urban renewal -- derided as “negro removal,” by the writer James Baldwin -- across the city.
There's some irony in this: Many Sandy-related deaths occurred in small, low-lying structures, while Moses' much-derided highrises turned out to be safer places to ride out the storm.
Michoacáns near the state’s 12 butterfly reserves often turn to illegal logging because they have few other sources of income. It can take an illegal logger less than an hour to chop down a pine tree that has been sheltering monarchs for centuries. “From 1986 to 2006, 20 percent of the forest reserves in Michoacán were disturbed,” says Maria Isabel Ramirez, a geographer and conservationist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. “More than 60 percent of this loss is tied to illegal extractions.”
Activists are working on both sides of the border to reestablish the monarchs’ once-glorious orangey reign, fighting the spread of Roundup in the U.S. and giving Mexican villagers better options than chopping down monarch habitat.
[Tom Hassenboehler is] returning to Capitol Hill from his role as vice president of policy development and legislative affairs with America’s Natural Gas Alliance, a trade group for gas producers.
Hassenboehler previously worked on the committee staff from 2004 until 2008, and then served three years as counsel to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee before going to the gas trade group.
The natural gas revolution will not be televised, because it's not fun to watch. But it might provide the power for your television, if that counts -- and if you live in the Southeast, the odds that it does are climbing.
States in the Southeast use a lot of coal. On this map, the darker states produced the most coal power in 2011. The Southeast is pretty dark, though less so than Texas and the Rust Belt.
China's economic growth may be slowing for the first time in decades, but its air pollution is still going gangbusters. The city air is choked with fine particulates, and experts are projecting 3.6 million global deaths due to air pollution by 2050, many of them in China. The country announced this week it would be investing $56 billion in cleaning that up over the next three years, in part to appease, as Reuters reports, "increasingly prosperous urban residents."
Henry Paulson, the former Goldman Sachs CEO and treasury secretary who became the face of the 2008 economic collapse, has some advice for this newly struggling China. Paulson says the country's potential "is stifled by traffic and pollution." From The New York Times:
By adopting a new approach to urbanization, its leaders can assure more balanced investment, address a major source of debt, achieve a consumption windfall and clean up the country’s environment. Otherwise, China’s economic and environmental problems will worsen, with vast implications for the rest of the world ...
A flawed system of municipal finance is driving debt, corruption and dissent, while unsustainable urban planning has yielded polluted cities that are destroying China’s ecosystem. Yet China’s future requires continued urbanization, which, absent a new approach, will only make the problem worse.
Cities can, however, be part of the solution: better urban policies can put China on a healthier path forward, economically and environmentally.
Hey, you know what sounds like a better urban policy to me? Destroying 700 mountains! From The Guardian:
Even if the United States has the coldest December in its history -- even if it's a full degree (F) colder on average than the previous coldest December ever -- 2012 will be the hottest year in American history.
We figured this was coming. But even though November wasn't particularly hot -- coming in 2.1 degrees F above the 20th century average, making it only the 20th-warmest November ever -- it's now almost a certainty.