Environment

Follow The Money On Development Deals

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“Follow the money” became a household phrase after the 1976 movie that told the story of Watergate, All the Presidents Men. Personal experiences over four decades in the consulting industry, working to create sustainable developments, often bring the phrase to mind.  read more »

The Limits Of The Green Machine

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Environmentalism is strangely detached from the public's economic goals.

The awful oil spill in the Gulf--as well as the recent coal mine disaster in West Virginia--has added spring to the step of America's hugely influential environmental lobby. After years of hand-wringing over global warming (aka climate change), the greens now have an issue that will play to legitimate public concerns for weeks and months ahead.

This is as it should be. Strong support for environmental regulation--starting particularly under our original "green president," Richard Nixon--has been based on the protection of public health and safety, as well as the preservation of America's wild spaces.  read more »

Jobs, Environmental Regulation, and Dead French Economists

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The debate over the repeal of California’s global-warming regulation, AB32, has degenerated into a shouting match, each side claiming economic ruin if the other side wins. A couple of long-dead French economists can help us think about the debate.

The great French economist Leon Walras (1834-1910) showed that perfect markets result in an allocation of goods and services that can’t be improved on, in the sense that no one could be made better off without someone else being made worse off.  read more »

The New E.D. -- Environmental Density

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Developers often have an E.D. problem and are not even aware of it. No, not the type of E.D. temporarily cured with Viagra. Environmental Density — E.D. — is the measurement of the impact of man made construction on a site. In simple terms, E.D. is the average per acre volume of impervious surface due to land development construction. It has two very important impacts, one environmental, and one financial. One acre of land is 43,560 square feet. The lower the E.D. — square foot of impervious surface area divided by 43,560 — the lower the surface area of manmade structures that divert rain run-off, and the less environmental damage.  read more »

A Carbon Added Tax, Not Cap and Trade

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Paul Krugman devoted a recent lengthy New York Times Magazine article to the promotion of a disastrous “cap and trade” regime for reducing carbon emissions. Though he doesn't outright endorse it, he strongly suggests that the Waxman-Markey bill that passed the House would be acceptable to him. Krugman then proceeds to pooh-pooh the carbon tax idea, one that I believe has far more merit.

Cap and trade would be a debacle for a slew of reasons. The most important is that it won't even reduce carbon emissions.  read more »

Power in Los Angeles: The High Price of Going Green

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Greece and Los Angeles are up against a financial wall. Los Angeles had its bond rating cut on April 7. Greece managed to hold out until April 9. Greece has endured public employee strikes as it has attempted to reign in bloated public payrolls. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa drew the ire of the city's unions and city council opposition in proposing two-day a week furloughs for city employees.

A Bankrupt Los Angeles?  read more »

Jobs Will Rule November

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Health care lays behind him, financial reform and climate change ahead, but for President Barack Obama--and his opponents--there is only one real issue: jobs. The recent employment reports signal some small gains, yet the widespread prognosis for a slow, near-jobless recovery threatens the president and his party more than any major domestic challenge.  read more »

EPA Joins the Green Building Party

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By Richard Reep

Well into the last decade, green design and smart growth operated as two separate and distinct reform movements. Both were widely celebrated in media, academic and planning circles, seeing themselves as noble causes albeit underdogs in the struggle against the mighty capitalistic enterprise of real estate development. Starting in 2009, the frozen credit market has kept private development moribund, and these two movements are somewhat moot as development takes a cease-fire.  read more »

Freeing Energy Policy From The Climate Change Debate

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The 20-year effort by environmentalists to establish climate science as the primary basis for far-reaching action to decarbonize the global energy economy today lies in ruins. Backlash in reaction to “Climategate” and recent controversies involving the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s 2007 assessment report are but the latest evidence that such efforts have evidently failed.

While the urge to blame fossil-fuel-funded skeptics for this recent bad turn of events has proven irresistible for most environmental leaders and pundits, forward-looking greens wishing to ascertain what might be salvaged from the wreckage would be well advised to look closer to home. Climate science, even at its most uncontroversial, could never motivate the remaking of the entire global energy economy.  read more »

The Not-So-Lucky Country

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President Obama's last-minute decision to postpone his homecoming to Indonesia and a trip to Australia expands the list of friendly countries--which include France, the U.K. and most of Eastern Europe--that have received a presidential snub. Yet in putting off his Australia trip, Obama will also miss an opportunity to commune with the politician whom he most closely resembles.  read more »