When it comes to environmental issues, emotions often trump reasoned argument or sensible reform, especially in California. In Sacramento at our state capitol, real world impacts are abstracted into barbed soundbites. It’s the dialogue of the deaf as environmental advocates rally around our landmark California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) -- and economic interests decry it as “a job killer.” Perhaps the polarization can be put aside to ask about a specific example in the real world. Why does an old K-Mart sit vacant on Ventura’s busiest boulevard despite initial City approval for a Walmart store? All the thunder and lightning surrounding whether a Walmart belongs in Ventura is behind us. A vigorous and contentious debate (and a failed citizen initiative) have rendered the verdict that filling an empty discount retail space with a different discount retailer is a function of the market, not government regulation. read more »
Central Florida is poised at the cusp of a major turnaround, and its response to this condition will either propel the region forward, or drag it backward. This cusp condition is brought about by a train and a road; neither of which have begun yet but both of which appear imminent. Sunrail uses existing 19th century railroad tracks as a commuter spine through Orlando’s disperse, multipolar city. The Wekiva Parkway completes a beltway around Orlando, placing it with Washington DC, Houston and other ringed cities. Before either gets built, the region deserves some analysis read more »
The Durban climate change conference has come to an end, with the nations of the world approving the "Durban Platform," (Note 1) an agreement to agree later on binding greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets by 2020. read more »
In the wake of Solyndra's failure, pundits have latched on to a simple, compelling narrative: government can't do energy right.
From synfuels to solar panels to "clean coal" (written, inevitably, with knowing quotation marks), demonstration projects funded by the Department of Energy are described as one failed white elephant after another. Today the DOE is the agency everyone loves to hate (and, at least in Texas Gov. Rick Perry's case, the agency to forget). read more »
TV network MSNBC's left-leaning commentator Rachel Maddow has opened herself up to ridicule by the conservative blogsophere over her advert featuring the Hoover Dam. The thrust of the spot is that “we don’t do big things anymore” but that we should. But critics say the dam couldn’t be built today due to environmental opposition to exactly these kinds of projects. Indeed many in the Administration and their green allies are more likely to crusade for the destruction of current dams than for the building of new ones.
Both sides have their points. read more »
Which would you rather have in the view from your house? A thing about the size of a domestic garage, or eight towers twice the height of Nelson’s column with blades noisily thrumming the air. The energy they can produce over ten years is similar: eight wind turbines of 2.5-megawatts (working at roughly 25% capacity) roughly equal the output of an average Pennsylvania shale gas well (converted to electricity at 50% efficiency) in its first ten years. read more »
The nation’s unemployment rate has been hovering at nearly nine percent since 2009. But not every state is suffering an employment crisis. In the remote, windswept state of North Dakota, job fairs often bustle with more recruiters than potential workers. The North Dakota unemployment rate hasn’t risen above five percent since 1987. In the state's oil country, unemployment hovers at around two percent, and pretty much everyone who wants a job—as long as they are old enough and not incarcerated—is employed. read more »
Despite higher prices and huge media hype over shifts to public transit, the big surprise out of the 2010 American Community Survey has been the continued growth over the last decade in driving alone to work. Between 2000 and 2010, driving alone to work increased by 7.8 million out of a total of 8.7 million increase in total jobs. As a result, this use of this mode reached 76.5% of the nation's workers, up from 75.6% in 2000. This is the largest decadal share of commuting ever achieved for this mode of transport. read more »
On December 31, 2011, Primatene Mist, the only over-the-counter asthma inhaler still available, will be taken off the market. The ban is being pointed to as an example of regulatory overreach by the Obama administration. As a physician and asthma specialist, I have been observing the Primatene controversy for — without exaggeration — decades, and have concluded that there’s blame enough to share between both the pro and con government regulation camps, as well as the pharmaceutical and financial industries. read more »
Next week Australia's Parliament is set to pass a carbon tax that has proven so divisive it may bring down the Labor-Green government. By setting a low price on carbon, returning the money raised to industry and consumers, and relying so heavily on offsets, the legislation is further proof of the iron law of climate policy. A better way forward would be for Australia to impose a modest fee on coal mining and use the money to support its advanced manufacturing industries and innovation to make clean energy cheap. Below is our take on the legislation in Australia's news magazine, Crikey. read more »