Mendota, a town I travel to every winter break, was featured in the New York Times today (probably for the first and only time). The article discussed how the Central Valley’s water supplies are at an all time low.
Drought Adds to Hardships in California [via NY Times]
Heidi Schumann for The New York Times
MENDOTA, Calif. — The country’s biggest agricultural engine, California’s sprawling Central Valley, is being battered by the recession like farmland most everywhere. But in an unlucky strike of nature, the downturn is being deepened by a severe drought that threatens to drive up joblessness, increase food prices and cripple farms and towns. [Read full article]
… Read the rest
Read Full Post | February 25 2009 | Environment | No Comments » |
MBTA Buses at Dudley Station
[Another blog entry I wrote for ACE:]
February 20, 2009
At last week’s MBTA Board Meeting the Massachusetts Transportation Secretary James Aloisi, Jr. offered a grim look at where the T is headed. Without both reform and new revenue, the T is destined for “an endless spiral of fare increases and massive service cuts.” State lawmakers must act immediately and decisively to avoid: [Read More]… Read the rest
Read Full Post | February 23 2009 | Environment | No Comments » |
Lufthansa 747-400 on approach to LAX
Despite their environmental harms, I tend to think airports are a pretty good idea. The Great Park is okay, but building a small airport at the former MCAS El Toro for general aviation traffic would have been preferable and would have reduced the number of runway incursions at John Wayne. Administrators at John Wayne tend to blame the small planes but ignore the larger structural problem of combining heavy commercial and general aviation traffic at a tiny airport. Instead of building a bunch of soccer fields and a giant balloon, it would have made sense to move general aviation traffic to El Toro, safely out of the way of the commercial flights at John Wayne. Small recreational aircraft and charter planes wouldn’t have to deal with the constant “Caution wake turbulence” advisories from John Wayne Tower, and they would be able to clear the foothills that El Toro airport opponents claimed would doom any takeoffs. The larger planes at John Wayne would have been safer without all the runway incursions.
While I tend to argue in favor of additional runway capacity, I do have to appreciate some of the tactics being used against Heathrow’s proposed third runway. One of the more creative ones:
Greenpeace has quietly bought a field close to the site of the third runway, right in the middle of what would be the expanded airport.
The plan is to parcel it up into tiny squares, and sell them online to people across the world.
“The airport will have to buy the land back from Eskimos and people living on remote islands,” said one Greenpeace activist. [BBC]
Awesome.… Read the rest
Read Full Post | January 13 2009 | Environment and Transportation News | No Comments » |
An Eroding Mission at EPA
The Bush administration has weakened the agency charged with safeguarding health and the environment.
An Eroding Mission at EPA | Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/07/2008.… Read the rest
Read Full Post | December 07 2008 | Environment | No Comments » |
[Another blog entry I wrote for ACE]
November 18, 2008
The Globe’s Green Blog recently highlighted a study touting the health benefits of community green space.
The study suggested that parks, trees, and landscaped areas in a neighborhood can help reduce residents’ risk of heart attack and stroke…[Read more]… Read the rest
Read Full Post | November 20 2008 | Environment | No Comments » |
The LA Times reported last week that Governor Palin has been working against California SB 974, which would implement per-container charges to fund air quality and goods movement measures in the Los Angeles and Bay areas. I think it’s a pretty base move (though not that surprising) for the Governor of Alaska to seek to dissuade Californian officials from addressing some of Southern California’s most crippling problems. The pollution, health, and safety problems caused by the ports is a case of environmental injustice.
The LA Times notes that:
Fully 15% of the nation’s international container trade travels along the 710 en route to rail yards east of Los Angeles, warehouses in the Inland Empire and importers nationwide.
Environmental justice communities near the ports and along freeway corridors should not have to bear the unmitigated harms of the nation’s cargo needs.
Today’s strategies of goods movement in Southern California, especially through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, are dangerous and inefficient. Traffic congestion on local freeways, particularly the 5, 10, 15, 60, and 710 is significantly worsened by truck traffic from the ports. Truck traffic from the ports creates safety hazards for drivers; an example is a seven vehicle fatal crash on the 710 last year. As shown by last week’s train crash, Southern California railroads may also need to consider better and safer ways to move rail cargo on tracks that are increasingly being used for heavy commuter rail traffic. Additionally, the pollution emanating from the ports leads to disproportionate health problems in lower income communities of color; the Times article above explains that literally thousands of Californians die each year as a result of pollutant emissions from the ports.
The bill (full text available here) recognizes that:
(b) The operation of the ports and trains, ships, and trucks that move cargo containers to and from the ports cause air pollution that requires mitigation.
(c) The improvement of goods movement infrastructure would benefit the owners of container cargo moving through the ports by allowing the owners of the cargo to move container cargo more efficiently and reliably, and to move more cargo through those ports.
(d) It is vital to the movement of goods in California, especially
in southern California, to resolve the road and rail conflicts of locomotives carrying container cargo and automobile traffic by
building grade separations. This infrastructure will reduce air
pollution and provide benefits to the owners of container cargo by
mitigating rail expansion. Without these grade separations, the rail
expansion may not happen, and California could lose valuable goods movement jobs.
(e) The reduction of goods movement air pollution would benefit
the owners of container cargo moving through the ports by contributing to the achievement or maintenance of federal air quality standards, which will allow for continued federal funding of goods movement infrastructure projects.
(f) The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the Port of Oakland operate in unique communities, environments, and markets that require infrastructure improvements and air pollution reduction measures tailored to the nature and degree of need in each port of each community.
… Read the rest
Read Full Post | September 15 2008 | Environment and Local News and Transportation News | No Comments » |
[This is another blog entry I helped write for ACE:]
August 1, 2008
ACE recently received an unsolicited email from Wal-Mart commending our work. It said that “REEP is a wonderful program” and that Wal-Mart appreciates the connections REEP makes between environmental sustainability and education. It’s always rewarding when REEP is recognized, but the praise from Walmart is a bit puzzling as our mission and vision contradict Wal-Mart’s business practices… [Read More]… Read the rest
Read Full Post | August 01 2008 | Environment | No Comments » |
July 17, 2008
Preliminary boring along Boylston Street has started for Silver Line Phase III. Our friends at Switchback have posted an article on some of Phase III’s serious flaws. They summarize,
“What do we get with the current Silver Line scam? Less capacity, less comfort for more money than a rail line. Oh, and a few buildings might be put in danger, as well.”
The proposed tunnel project will cost more than light rail service, require the destruction of historic buildings for tunnel portals, disrupt traffic, and could jeopardize the structural integrity of structures in Chinatown and Downtown Boston. ACE and our partners, including On the Move and the Washington Street Corridor Coalition, are advocating for light rail service that would use existing tunnels leading from Boylston Street. This alternative would cost less and provide service “equal to or better than” the Orange Line Elevated Train, as the MBTA has promised to provide. Read more…
… Read the rest
Read Full Post | July 18 2008 | Environment and Transportation News | No Comments » |
July 3, 2008
On Thursday, Mayor Menino issued an executive order to green City Hall, requiring city departments to use green cleaning contractors, recycle more, and take simple energy conservation measures.
This order came one day after Governor Patrick signed into law the Green Communities Act. The new state law strengthens Massachusetts’ renewable energy standard so that by 2030, utilities will be obligated to generate at least 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources. It also forces utilities to enter into 10 to 15 year contracts with sustainable electricity developers. This will provide funding for the development of green technology, focusing specifically on Massachusetts-based firms.
The Governor asserted, “This legislation will reduce electric bills, promote the development of renewable energy, and stimulate the clean energy industry that is taking root here in the Commonwealth.”
ACE believes that all communities should share the benefits of this new wave of green legislation. Cleaner energy production and the benefits of new green collar jobs should go to communities that have been overburdened with environmental injustices, not just higher income neighborhoods. Read more…
Read Full Post | July 03 2008 | Environment | No Comments » |
June 26, 2008
Local and state officials visited Roxbury yesterday morning to open a time capsule from 1922. The capsule was found in the cornerstone of an expansion to Dudley Square’s Ferdinand building, which is being renovated into a city office building. Mayor Menino, State Representative Byron Rushing, State Senator Diane Wilkerson, BRA Director John Palmieri and members of the Dudley Vision Task Force helped present the capsule to the public. Representative Rushing provided a salient overview Roxbury’s history, highlighting the different groups of people who have lived in Roxbury over the centuries.
Inside the capsule were newspapers from June 1922, Ferdinand’s Furniture advertisements, and a list of Ferdinand’s employees. Read more…
Read Full Post | June 26 2008 | Environment | No Comments » |
June 20, 2008
Monday night in Roxbury, the state Executive Office of Transportation (EOT) held the last in a series of meetings about the Urban Ring. This proposed network of bus rapid transit (BRT) lines would run in a loop around Downtown Boston, offering connectivity for communities that are underserved by the MBTA’s rapid transit routes.
Employees of Earth Tech, the state’s consultant for the project, shared how the Urban Ring would pass through the Melnea Cass corridor, using renderings and design guidelines from the Roxbury Master Plan. After passing through a tunnel under the Longwood Medical and Academic Area (LMA), the Ring would come above ground at Ruggles Station, then travel in a dedicated busway on Melnea Cass Boulevard. Some service buses along the Urban Ring would also include a stop at Dudley Station, running in mixed traffic down Washington Street. These presenters insisted that the Urban Ring would provide accessibility benefits to Roxbury residents and learn from the <a href=” http://www.ace-ej.org/service_on_the_silver_line_bus_anything_but_rapid_transit
“>mistakes of the Silver Line Bus.
Despite problems with facilitation and misleading information about the format of the meeting, TRU members and Roxbury residents were able to raise some critical concerns about the project. A vast majority of the project’s funds ($1.5 billion out of $2.2 billion) will go towards the tunnel under the LMA. Other neighborhoods will have to deal with the noise pollution and traffic congestion of running buses above ground. This hugely disproportionate investment is only another instance of transportation racism and classism that we fight against. Read more…
Read Full Post | June 20 2008 | Environment | No Comments » |
June 9, 2008
Last Thursday, ACE and REEP attended a Roundtable Discussion hosted by the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA). The discussion was held in conjunction with the opening of an exhibition of political posters on display in CPA’s Henry Wong and You King Yee Memorial Gallery.
These posters, from the collection of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, challenge viewers to grapple with the intertwined effects of gentrification and displacement.
Coalition members from more than ten different community-based organizations, including ACE, gathered to discuss the Right to the City framework within the context of gentrification. As the discussion developed, a number of participants expressed an interest in reviving the Whose Boston? campaign and coalition. Two particular ideas brought forward were refocusing to build a citywide message that our communities are here to stay, and strengthening it by linking more socially conscious artists with organizers. Read more…
Read Full Post | June 09 2008 | Environment | No Comments » |