Environment

Pollution: An Off – Road Guide to Environmental Hot Spots

Montana- the toxic Berkeley Pit.jpg

Not all pollutants are created equal, nor do they necessarily hang out in the same hot spots. Rankings of the most polluted cities — you know who you are — have become depressingly familiar. But those standings almost always represent a statistical stew of assorted toxins in the air and water, averaged together. The list that follows may surprise you: A quick look at a handful of cities, each with the unfortunate distinction of being the worst in the U.S. for a specific environmental health hazard.  read more »

Subjects:

The High Speed Rail Battle of Britain

british-high-speed.jpg

A high speed rail battle is brewing in Great Britain, not unlike the controversies that have lit up the political switchboard in the United States over the past six months.

The Department for Transport has announced a plan to build a "Y" shaped high speed rail route that would connect Leeds and Manchester, to Birmingham, with a shared line on to London and London's Heathrow Airport.  read more »

Energy Policy Reset: Forget Nuclear Reactors and Mideast Oil

oil-pump.jpg

The two largest crises today — the Japanese nuclear disaster and the widening unrest in the Middle East — prove it’s time to de-fetishize energy policy. These serious problems also demonstrate why we must expand the nation’s ample oil and gas supplies — urgently.

The worsening Japanese nuclear crisis means, for all intents and purposes, that atomic power is, if not dead, certainly on a respirator.

Some experts may still make the case that nuclear power remains relatively safe. Some green advocates still tout its virtues for emitting virtually no greenhouse gases.  read more »

Asthma: The Geography of Wheezing

asthma inhaler very cool.jpg

Are you familiar with the Hygiene Hypothesis? The HH — or, as some of us call it, the “pound of dirt theory” — is grabbing attention again. A minor medical press feeding frenzy followed the publication in the New England Journal of Medicine of a study based on data from Europe. The summary?  read more »

Dallas Charges Up for the Electric Chevy

chevyvolt.jpg

If they build it, will we come? Planners, utilities, auto industry execs, and retailers are hopeful that we will, as they get themselves ready for electric vehicles in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. This isn’t a pie-in-the-sky vision for the future. The reality is unfolding right now. In 2011, NRG Energy will install upwards of 70 car-charging stations across Dallas and Forth Worth. As the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt begin to penetrate the D/FW market, NRG aims to capture the revenue stream from charging car batteries here, just it is doing in Houston. NRG’s news comes on the heels of electric utility TXU Energy's announcement of its own installation of twelve public charging stations being allocated across Dallas and Fort Worth.  read more »

Agglomeration Vs. Isolation for Science Based Economic Development

NBAFaerial.jpg

Earlier this month President Obama signed the reauthorization of the COMPETES Act, which provides federal funding for science initiatives aimed at enhancing economic competitiveness. In addition to shoring up agencies like the National Science Foundation, the bill called on the Department of Commerce to create a new program charged with supporting the development of research parks and regional innovation clusters. Unheard of before World War II, these entities today represent the cutting edge in what insiders call TBED: technology-based economic development.  read more »

The Urban Energy Efficiency Retrofit Challenge

chicago-bw.jpg

I was welcomed home to Chicago from visiting family on Christmas Day by a cold house and a gas furnace that wasn't working. The next day a repair tech gave me the bad news about a blown circuit board that would cost over $500 to replace. But I heard that were was a $1500 tax credit for energy efficient upgrades that was expiring at year end. With $2000 in “free money” to spend, I thought maybe furnace replacement might be a better option. At eight years old, the furnace might have more years of life.  read more »

Here Comes Barack Cameron?

barack-cameron.jpg

President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were so “like-minded,” according to one Los Angeles Times writer, that they brought new meaning to the U.S. and England’s “special relationship.” Blair’s later embrace of George W. Bush, however, was less satisfying, leading to widespread ridicule that the PM was the Texan’s favorite “lap dog.”  read more »

California’s Third Brown Era

jerry-brown.jpg

Jerry Brown’s no-frills inauguration today as California governor will make headlines, but the meager celebration also marks the restoration of one of the country’s most illustrious political families. Save the Kennedys of Massachusetts no clan has dominated the political life of a major state in modern times than the Browns of California. A member of this old California Irish clan has been in statewide office for most of the past half century; by the end of Jerry Brown’s new term, his third, the family will have inhabited the California chief executive office for a remarkable two full decades since 1958.

Brown, at 72 the oldest governor in state history, may well determine the final legacy of this remarkable family. His biggest challenge will be to reverse the state’s long-term secular decline — a stark contrast to the heady days of the first Brown era, presided over by paterfamilias Edmund “Pat” Brown.  read more »

Washington Opens The Virtual Office Door

home office on back deck.jpg

On December 9, President Obama signed into law the Telework Enhancement Act, a bill designed to increase telework among federal employees. Sponsored by Representatives John Sarbanes (D-MD), Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA), the legislation gives federal agencies six months to establish a telework policy, determine which employees are eligible to telework, and notify employees of their eligibility.  read more »