Enviro & Government

– This really sucks – Million Solar Roofs Bill Dies in California Assembly – This bill had bi-partisan support until Assembly Democrats added union-sponsored amendments, including a provision that requires the payment of “prevailing wage” — in effect, union scale — on commercial and industrial solar installations. In essence, the democrats poison-pilled the bill to prevent Schwarzenegger from being successful on a popular environmental issue. I can not express how disappointing this is, and how lame the democrats look because of it. Prevailing wage is fine and dandy, but it should not be tackled in an environmental bill. More info here (note National Council for Solar Growth has moved to https://evergreensolar.com).

– For energy-hungry Asian governments, renewable energy such as solar, wind and geothermal power is gaining ever greater credence as a way to curb the region’s appetite for oil and cut runaway import bills.

– With gasoline prices topping $3 a gallon and consumers searching for relief, what’s the smartest thing the government could do? Make sure the prices stay at least that high, say some economists. High prices could boost conservation and diminish the country’s oil thirst. Why now? The economy still is expanding, and consumers already have confronted the shock of $3-a-gallon gasoline. Unfortunately, high gas prices hit the poor the hardest. But I still think we need to tackle our addiction head-on, and give alternatives a fighting chance in the market. We need better public transit, to eat local, and to be more efficient in our use of oil.

– The always provocative Kunstler ties in his (often worst case) theories on sprawl and US energy use with the rebuilding of New Orleans.

“…The dirty secret of the American economy for at least a decade now is that it has come to be based on the creation of suburban sprawl and the activities associated with it — the building of cul-de-sac McMansions, highway retail pods, car sales, real estate sales, the creation of false liquidity in the form of easy mortgages and the deployment of that debt into tradable instruments. The sprawl-building industry comprises over 40 percent of what we do in this country. If you subtract it from the U.S. economy, there isn’t much left besides hair cutting and open heart surgery… Of course, any rebuilding would depend on a major engineering effort to raise the ground level in these neighborhoods. That, in turn, depends on whether whole neighborhoods are deemed to be “scrape offs,” since such a project could not be done in piecemeal fashion. Finally, we would be faced with the economic paradox that new construction tends not to fall into the “affordable housing” category, and those displaced might not be able to acquire new houses to replace the ones they lost in the places where they stood. It’s too early to tell what will become of New Orleans’ downtown core of skyscrapers and megastructures…”

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