Category Archives: DC green

2010 and Beyond!

Hello Greendistrict readers! Happy New Year to all!

It’s a good ten days into the new year and about time I return from extended holiday hiatus. I’m kicking off 2010 with a few adjustments to my blogging habits: nixing the daily Green Lines sustainability roundup, for starters. It’s just too time consuming to compile that stuff. Besides, truly compelling stories don’t appear everyday. Instead, I’m going to focus on writing more substantive blog posts and make the Green Lines roundup a weekly feature filled with the most noteworthy and new reporting of the previous seven days. To get started, here are a few stories that caught my eye:

CBS News reported on vulnerabilities in the nation’s food supply.

Finally someone wrote a story on the brewing battle over biodiesel made from trees – or lumber scraps, that is. The Washington Post had a piece today about complaints from the lumber industry that the congressionally induced boom in fuel made from “woody biomass” could put cabinet makers and other producers of “composite wood” products out of business.  The story, however, makes no mention of the growing environmental concerns. To learn why the federal Biomass Crop Assistance Program is a bad idea from a sustainability standpoint you have to go elsewhere.

The greening of the U.S. House of Representatives: “The House saved almost 75,000 pounds of waste from landfills and cut nearly 400,000 pounds of carbon emissions last year through a new program to make the chamber’s offices more energy efficient,” according to Roll Call.

Mountaintop removal mining is causing vast and permanent environmental destruction, exposing people to serious health consequences such as birth defects, and should be banned, according to a new study discussed in this story in The Guardian.

“A federal jury awarded more than $100 million to 10 workers who claimed they were injured in 2007 when a toxic substance was released at BP’s Texas City plant,” The New York Times reports. Company officials reportedly expressed outrage though it’s hard to say why they were surprised since federal investigators came to the same conclusion as the jury. The company spends more on its “Beyond Petroleum” ad campaign depicting itself as a “green corporation” than it will be shelling out to the injured workers, which seems another reason to take the executive exclamations with a grain of salt.

The White House “regulatory czar” is pushing to nix the E.P.A.’s plans for tougher rules on coal ash, according to this story in the Wall Street Journal.

Here’s a scary piece on India‘s water mafias.

Los Angeles Times has a travel piece on the “endangered paradise” of the  Maldives islands, which is expected to be underwater if the world continues to dither on global warming.

Book Report: I just finished reading “Bitter Chocolate, The Dark Side of The World’s Most Seductive Sweet” by Canadian journalist Carol Off. It’s a harrowing but fascinating and well-researched tale of human rights abuses in the cocoa fields where chocolate’s main ingredient is grown. But be warned: The stories of children working Ivory Coast in slave-like conditions  may dampen your appetite for chocolate, as it did mine – or at least for chocolate not stamped with a “fair trade” label.

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Greenlines – EPA Dithers on BPA, Big Oil’s Deniers Club + More Shame over Sidewalks

I’ve seen tons of stories and received a slew of activist emails about the need to ban BPA, or bisphenol A. The material used in baby bottles and many other products was considered safe for years but a growing body of scientific research suggests toxins in the plastic seeps into whatever is stored inside, meaning we may be consuming it with every sip. The EPA was poised to take a side on the issue, but NPR reports that the agency now plans to delay action pending the results of even more studies.

Mother Jones on Big Oil continues funding climate deniers abroad and how the corporate largess undermines international climate action.

The EPA is reversing a long-standing decision with plans to require pesticide manufacturers to disclose to the public the inert ingredients in their
products. Federal regulators are also shifting course on the policy toward pharmaceutical residues in the nation’s drinking water.

Farmers use more herbicides on GMO crops, according to a new report.

Hey, did you see that the shoveled sidewalk story made the TV news last night and outrage has not yet waned! There are posts in Borderstan, Urban Places & Spaces, and the DCist.

Congress Heights on the Rise takes on the pros and cons of gentrification.

DC Mud reports that Zip Car has won the right to park in alleys, a victory that will help the car sharing service expand its presence in parking-strapped neighborhoods.

Qualia, the Petworth coffee joint, is staying open late tonight to help last-minute shoppers stay alert. Oops,I’m confusing my blog posts. This one’s better for my new Washington City Paper Series “Confessions of a Wi-Fi loafer.” Check it out on the WCP’s City Desk blog!

Today’s Greenlines – Shoveling, Snowmen + Subprime Mortgages

Pix from Park View

The Prince of Petworth has a post on “Sidewalks of Shame,” where nobody has bothered to shovel. When I lived in Boston, the city would fine property owners who failed to clear the snow away from the fronts of their properties. It was a hassle for the owners but made the city much more walkable this time of year. Why doesn’t the District have a similar ordinance?

It turns out, the Prince and I aren’t the only one peeved about impassible sidewalks. The Hill is Home‘s Claudia Holwill rants on the subject today too. And, those ever-unflappable folks at We Love DC have also found something with which they are not so enamored: Here’s a post with photos of a snow bank blocking a crosswalk in Arlington. Sometimes tough love is the only option.

The Prince also has a nice collection of reader-submitted snowmen shots.

The Washington Business Journal says fewer Washingtonians will be driving long distance to see the relatives this year. High gas prices are the culprit, according to this story that sources the AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Here’s more confirmation that man’s BFF is a carbon hound.

Living near busy roads may affect brain health and could contribute to cognitive decline as women age, according to a new study by German scientists.

The Guardian has the most “bizarre wildlife stories of 2009

The Guardian pix

The UN has agreed to revamp the “beaurocratic and unwieldy” climate talks process in the wake of last week’s much maligned negotiations in Copenhagen, which critics have now dubbed: “Flogenhagen.”

USA Today has a story on environmentally friendly ways to get rid of snow and ice.

The Park View blog also has a nice collection of snowmen pix. Hey, what’s not to like? Snowmen are a low-carbon way of decorating for the holidays!

Finaly, please check out my story today in the Huffington Post. The tale is one one man’s subprime mortgage – not exactly an environmental issue but it does fall in the broader sustainablity catagory. And, hopefully, it’s a good and informative read. There’s also a video documentary and another story by David Heath on the topic that ran yesterday.

Cherry Blossom Festival Dates Set

We Love DC pix

In what seems like wrong timing, what with all the snow on the ground, We Love DC reports that the Cherry Blossom Festival will begin on Mar. 27 this year.

Greenlines – Climate Diplomacy is Dead, Go Rent a Xmas Tree!

Greetings, this post-blizzard, pre-holiday Monday! It almost feels like a Sunday since so many offices are closed and the roads are still snow clogged.  Let’s start things off with an informal readers’ poll: How many of you have had your street plowed by city crews? Here in Takoma DC, my little block has seen no plowing action but a few neighbors appear to have driven to work this morning anyway.  Encouraging news, for sure.

There is not a lot of DC sustainability news this morning though I did happen upon the website for Weatherize DC, which had a big meeting in Chevy Chase to talk about replacement windows and other “weatherization” options last week.

Beyond the Beltway, the fight to stop mountaintop removal coal mining is getting more volatile. The Associated Press reports: “Fear of violence grows in mountaintop mining fight.” Meanwhile, we’re coming up on a year since the huge coal ash spill at a Tenn. coal-burning power plant created huge damages and made headlines around the world. But ” the battle over potential new rules to protect coalfield communities and the environment from the dangers of toxic coal ash is just getting started,” according to the Charleston (WV) Gazette.

Another story worth checking out is the New York Times coverage about toxins in the nation’s water supply. Here’s a link to the Times coverage. The Washington City Paper also has a post on the story.

BP‘s green luster is finally starting too look gangrenous. The British petroleum company is often hailed for the most successful green advertising greenwashing campaign in history. But the treehugger rhetoric apparently didn’t wash with a federal jury that awarded more than $100 million to workers exposed to toxic fumes at its troubled BP Texas City, Texas refinery that was named by the EPA as the country’s most polluting plant a few years ago. BP officials were quoted saying they were “shocked and outraged” by the verdict but it’s hard to understand why when BP has already paid many millions of dollars in fines and other penalties for failing to meet federal environmental and other laws at the Texas City plant, on Alaska’s North Slope and elsewhere.
It’s official: Copenhagen Summit has been roundly hailed as big-time failure! Check out these cheery headlines:

“A GRUDGING ACCORD IN CLIMATE TALKS”

“CLIMATE SUMMIT HOPES LESS IS MORE”

“AN AIR OF FRUSTRATION FOR EUROPE AT CLIMATE TALKS”

On a lighter note, do you think this rent-a-christmas-tree concept will ever catch on in the District? One can only hope!

Greenlines – Post-Blizzard Edition!

Snowflake

Pix by Artgeek, Wikipedia Creative Commons Attribution

The city has this nifty new web tool that let’s you check out which streets around D.C. have been plowed. It’s pretty cool to find out that Georgia Avenue NW is passible, for instance, but doesn’t do me much good since my little side street hasn’t seen a plow or even a bucket of salt from city crews. And, if passed years are any indication, we’ll be waiting for a thaw before we’ll be able to get our cars out of the snow bank.

Some people, in fact, are getting a little snippy about the city’s plowing priorities. On the Petworth listserv, one resident took note that the pavement in front of Mayor Adrian Fenty‘s house was looking good – some much plowing action has taken place there that the asphalt is not just visible but nearly dry, she reports. To which, another resident suggests checking out the streets where other city pols live to see if they are pulling down similar clout with DC snowplow crews.

Meanwhile, on the same neighborhood listserv, Roshani Kothari posted links eco-friendly methods of getting rid of the ice and snow. I guess it’s a bit late for all us shut-ins. But I just thought I’d pass them on for next time!

http://www.grist. org/article/ De-salt-of- the-Earth/
http://www.gardensa live.com/ article.asp? ai=725

http://www.ecos. com/icemelt. html

http://www.thedaily green.com/ living-green/ blogs/green- products- services/ driveway- ice-environment- 55013001

http://www.amazon. com/Scotwood- Industries- 50B-CLEAN- Clean-Melter/ dp/B001J5QO82/ ref=sr_1_ 23?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1261181797&sr=1-23

http://www.amazon. com/Keep- Green-KIG40- Snow-Melter/ dp/B001E5CUAS/ ref=sr_1_ 1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1261181797&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon. com/Howard- Johnsons- 40Lb-Melter- 9586/dp/B000KL0Y IC/ref=sr_ 1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1261182111&sr=1-1

Greenlines: Public Schools May Get Better Lunches + Goethermal Power – But Not Both

Miles Grant reports that the Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment board has endorsed a plan for installing geothermal power at the new Wakefield High School.

There is a cross-post on DC Food For All and The Slow Cook l has an update on the DC Council’s Healthy Schools bill that would improve the food served in the city’s public schools.

Here’s a good reason to move into the city: The Washington Post reports that the controversial new Inter-county connector will be the region’s most expensive highway, costing more than six bucks each way.

Much excitement is brewing about DC’s new streetcars though the cars won’t be operational for a while – maybe not until 2012. Still here’s a post by DC MUD and another from WTOP.

Barry Farm (Re)Mixed recommends the documentary FOOD, Inc. I agree with the Urban Architect; the movie is worth a view. Here’s a review I posted to the Washington City Paper site after the premier at the E Street Cinema last spring.

From here, it’s hard to tell just how badly things are going at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen. Get a load of these two conflicting headlines, one from the New York Times, the other from The Guardian:

Obama Presses China for Accountability on Climate

Barack Obama’s speech disappoints and fuels frustration at Copenhagen

On that note, I wish you well this pre-holiday Friday. Bundle up, there’s a storm coming!

Greenlines: Climate Talks on the Rocks, Monsanto Bad, DC School Lunches Better + 5 Fab Bikes

The Slow Cook asks: Does DC’s sweeping new  legislation on healthy school lunches go far enough?

The Washington Post reports that UN climate talks were temporarily suspended this morning after a block of developing countries walked out. But Miles Grant says the death of the Copenhagen talks have been greatly exaggerated. Here’s a link to his “brief note on bullshit,” which doesn’t directly relate to the Post story but provides some context to last weeks climate saga.

The Associated Press breaks a story of Monsanto’s business practices. “Confidential contracts detailing Monsanto Co.’s business practices reveal how the world’s biggest seed developer is squeezing competitors, controlling smaller seed companies and protecting its dominance over the multibillion-dollar market for genetically altered crops, an Associated Press investigation has found.” Read more.

Tree Hugger pixFinally, from Tree Hugger: “5 Fab Bike Solutions Seen On The Streets At COP-15”

Enjoy! And, don’t be spinning your wheels today!

GreenLines: Trans-continental Climate Talks Edition!

Wikipedia photo

In Copenhagen, climate negotiations move closer to an accord as the talks head toward the half-way mark, the Washington Post reports.

In Washington, a delegation of area schoolchildren gave a presentation on climate change to youth delegates in Copenhagen via a live feed at a federal building downtown.

The director of one of the world’s biggest cycling events, the Giro d’Italia, met with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty yesterday to discuss plans for Washington to host the start of the 2012 race, the New York Times reports.

Meanwhile, Fenty‘s fraternity brothers – the ones who won the parks & recreation contracts – were called to defend themselves yesterday and insisted their ties to the city administration had nothing to do with their success. Sheesh!

The Park View blog posts on the city’s tree planting plans.

Greater Goods just put out its December newsletter. It’s a bit out of date, listing some events that already took place. But it’s in time to advertise a couple of workshops on “greening” your holiday season including one tomorrow on how to make eco-friendly decorations. Cost: $5. The class calendar hasn’t been updated either, but you can still RSVP by email.

DC Metrocentric went to EcoBuild 09 and has an enthusiastic post about the green building conference at the Washington Convention Center.

Pacific Coast fishermen Say Carbon Dioxide Having ‘Really Scary’ Ocean Effect.

New figures show 10,000 people have died of Swine Flu.

A new study in Sweden has found that high voltage power lines trap cancer-causing pollutants in their electric fields, potentially raising health risks for people who live beneath them.

The DCist has some weekend cultural offerings here and here.

GreenLines: The Holidays by Bike Edition

via We Love DC

The folks over at DC Department of Environment are advertising a “spring special.” OK, so they seem a little confused about the seasons. But it’s still a good deal: For $50 you not only get a new tree, but the city will arrange to have it planted on your property. For details, click here.

The District Department of Transportation, meanwhile, is calling for suggestions on how to improve the city for pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers and mass transit users. There is a public meeting tonight from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm at the Franklin D. Reeves Center at 2000 14th Street, NW. Or you could call Ledesma Smith-Mathis at (202) 671-2317.

The neighborhood blogs have been abuzz about the news that DC may soon be allowed to set up a medical marijuana program. So you may have already heard the news that congressional negotiators greenlighted a budget bill this week that would sweep away ban established by Congress in 1998. Well, this Washington Times story does its best to stamp out the buzz.

DC’s Green Building Act is up for a revision. The Washington Business Journal says it’s no big overhaul. Is that true? Does anyone know if there were be more than minor word changes? Please share with the group.

Miles Grant takes on Sarah Palin.

See the holiday lights by bike, says We Love DC. (I guess it’s one way to cut down on the emissions.)

In the many weeks since “stolen emails-gate” began, you (like me) may have wondered what had happened to the 99.9 percent of climate scientists said to agree global warming is real and really human-made. Here’s some news on the subject from the Associated Press.

Check out this “best of YouTube” videos from the Copenhagen climate conference, courtesy of The Guardian.