Environment

Project Development: Regulation and Roulette

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The site plan logically should be the key to approval of a development project. Yet in reality, the plan is secondary to the presentation. My conclusions are based upon experience with well over a thousand developments over four decades, most in the mainland USA. And what I’ve observed is that the best site plan is only as good as the presentation that will convince the council or planning commission to vote “Yes” on it. No “yes” vote, no deal, no development.  read more »

Cap and Trade: Who Wins, Who Loses

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President Obama recently announced his plan for environmental protection and Congress took up the debate. Called “Cap and Trade” Obama explained it simply in several public appearances. The government puts a limit on the total amount of carbon emissions that are acceptable in the United States. Carbon emissions come, basically, from burning carbon-based fuels – natural gas, petroleum and coal – in the production and use of energy.  read more »

Lessons from Chrysler and the Nationalized Economy

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Economists and accountants could very likely have told us six months ago that Chrysler was doomed as a business and that the likely best course of action would be Chapter 11 bankruptcy and restructuring. Doing this in a timely manner would have saved the taxpayers billions of dollars.

But the politics were not right to permit this to happen at that time. So instead we invested billions of tax dollars to save it, only to find ourselves right back were we started. Except now the clock is striking twelve and it is the right time to reorganize the automaker – politically speaking.  read more »

Germany's Green Energy Goals Are Potentially Unrealistic

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The world looks to Germany to be a leader in Green Energy. There’s been a great deal of hype surrounding Chancellor Angela Merkel’s very ambitious goals of dramatically reducing the county’s emissions by 2020.

Yet the German experience should also provide some pause to President Obama and others proposing such changes in the United States. It turns out that goals are potentially unrealistic, perhaps even dangerous, for numerous reasons.  read more »

Playing With Trains

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The Obama administration appears to have established the development of high speed rail (HSR) as the most important plank of its transportation strategy. The effort may be popular with the media and planners, but it’s being promoted largely on the basis of overstatement and even misinformation.  read more »

Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Reality: Residential Emissions

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In the quest to sufficiently reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, it is crucial to “get the numbers right.” Failure to do so would, in all probability, mean that the desired reductions will not be achieved. Regrettably, much of what is being proposed is not based upon any comprehensive quantitative analysis, but is rather rooted in anti-suburban dogma.  read more »

Enough "Cowboy" Greenhouse Gas Reduction Policies

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The world has embarked upon a campaign to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This is a serious challenge that will require focused policies rooted in reality. Regrettably, the political process sometimes falls far short of that objective. This is particularly so in the states of California and Washington, where ideology has crowded out rational analysis and the adoption of what can only be seen as reckless “cowboy” policies.  read more »

How Elite Environmentalists Impoverish Blue-Collar Americans

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The great Central Valley of California has never been an easy place. Dry and almost uninhabitable by nature, the state's engineering marvels brought water down from the north and the high Sierra, turning semi-desert into some of the richest farmland in the world.  read more »

Different Shades of Green

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Last month marked the 15th anniversary of the settlement of Plotkin vs. General Electric, the landmark “greenwashing” lawsuit I filed in 1993. At the time, GE was misleading consumers by selling phony lookalike energy efficient light bulbs that were in fact just old fashioned incandescent wolves in green packaging.

I took no money from the case. But I required G.E. to make labeling changes and to pony up $3.25 million dollars in consumer refunds and donations to environmental and public service groups. The labeling changes made it easier for the manufacturers of real energy efficient light bulbs, which were just then entering the marketplace, to distinguish their products on the shelves.  read more »

The New Business Ethos

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My only post-graduate employment lasted 3 months. I worked for a small political consulting firm drafting online strategy for a well-funded land-use initiative. After the success of the measure, the firm’s founder sat me down, told me he loved my work but that the firm was not interested in continuing its web-based consulting. He had to let me go. It was in that same meeting that I decided to start – and pitched to my boss – my own business.  read more »