Top Northwest Sustainability Headlines

April 23, 2014

1. King County rejecting money for transit, roads

A list of transit cuts is headed to the King County Council this week, after 55 percent of voters were rejecting a sales-tax and car-tab increase in the Tuesday night count. “There are no other options but to cut service,” said County Executive Dow Constantine.

The Seattle Times | Transportation

2. Obama: Oso’s strength ‘should inspire us all’

President Obama spent more than an hour comforting the families of the dead and missing from last month’s mudslide, traveling Tuesday to the devastated community of Oso “just to let you know that the country is thinking about all of you.”

The Seattle Times | Land Use

3. County may ban development in landslide areas

The Snohomish County Council will consider an emergency moratorium on development in areas at risk of landslides. Dave Somers, president of the council, said he’ll propose a vote on the six-month ban at a council meeting Wednesday.

The Seattle Times | Land Use

4. Whale status downgraded amid pipeline concern

The Canadian government is downgrading the protection of humpback whales off the coast of BC under the Species at Risk Act. The move is being made as the government readies for a decision on the approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline, which would feed oil onto a tanker shipping route that overlaps with what environmental groups describe as “critical habitat” for the whale.

CBC British Columbia | Wildlife

5. Earth Day math: 40%, 41% and 3 miles

In Seattle, 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from road transportation and 41 percent of those trips are under 3 miles. Walking and biking can’t reasonably offset the entire 40 percent, but it can easily and quickly reduce it.

Seattle Bike Blog | Transportation

6. Your hero’s new story

Last year, the Communications Hub, a program of Fuse Washington, released what became a highly popular and widely used guide to effective storytelling for progressive advocates. After months of collaborative work, countless editing rounds, and a bit of design back-and-forth, they’re out with version two—and it’s a treasure trove.

Sightline | Communication

7. Is burning renewable trees a smokescreen?

That mission to replace finite, climate-baking fossil fuel with renewable wood to generate electricity sounds so darn cool. But when it comes to extracting energy from “biomass”– basically any plant matter that will burn, from switchgrass to whole trees — the impacts on the environment depend very much on the details. And British Columbia is ramping up to sell the world an awful lot of biomass.

Investigate West | Energy

8. PBOT Director Leah Treat’s 1st major speech

From the beginning of the new director of Portland Bureau of Transportation’s first major speech to the end, it’s clear that Leah Treat is someone who is looking past the auto-dominated status quo.

Bike Portland | Transportation

9. Racial equality loses at the court

A blinkered view of race in America won out in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, when six justices agreed, for various reasons, to allow Michigan voters to ban race-conscious admissions policies in higher education. They failed to see, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed out, that “race matters.”

New York Times | Race

10. Photos: Earth Day around the globe

People across the globe held events on Earth Day to celebrate the earth’s environment and spread awareness on how to conserve its natural resources.

The Oregonian | Environment

More News from April 23, 2014

Tunnel contractors: Bertha stall may cost $125M

The costs to repair and restart Bertha, the Highway 99 tunneling machine, are somewhere close to $125 million, a senior executive said in a Seattle Times editorial board meeting today. However, the $125 million isn’t a hard figure, and who will pay has yet to be determined.

The Seattle Times | Transportation

NTSB chief: Oil trains’ safety compromised

The recent spate of accidents in the US and Canada involving trains carrying crude oil demonstrates that “far too often, safety has been compromised,” the head of the top US transportation safety agency said Tuesday.

The Seattle Times | Fossil fuels

This app lets you narc on wasted energy

There’s no reason for offices to be lit up all night if no one’s around. If seeing a bright skyline pisses you off as much as it inspires awe, LightsOut will help you channel your annoyance.

Grist | Energy

Traffic = ‘public health threat’

Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat declared war on cars Tuesday, saying her top priority was providing more alternatives to automobiles for city residents. “We have a growing public health crisis in Portland — traffic,” Treat said

Sustainable Life | Transportation

America’s middle class no longer the world’s richest

The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction. While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades.

New York Times | Economy

44 years of Earth Day

When environmentalists proclaimed the first Earth Day, on this date in 1970, the air was filled with doomsday predictions: overpopulation, a denuded planet, hundreds of millions of people starving to death, a new Ice Age or the greenhouse effect. Many — though not all, obviously — of those forecasts were off. Here is our overview of how the environment has changed in the 44 years since April 22, 1970.

New York Times | Environment

For smaller cities, the big Airbnb backlash

Kevin Flynn has worked in law enforcement for more than 20 years in Ashland, Oregon. Six months ago, though, he was recruited to crack down on an issue that’s cropped up in not just his city but similarly sized communities nationwide: short-term home rentals.

Atlantic Cities | Housing

Obama views mudslide scene, mourns

Swooping over a terrain of great sadness and death, President Barack Obama took an aerial tour Tuesday of the place where more than three dozen people perished in a Snohomish County mudslide last month, then mourned privately with those who lost loved ones in the destruction.

KUOW | Land Use

I’ve got a six-lane bridge to sell you

If Coquitlam and Surrey BC want a six-lane replacement for the Pattullo Bridge, they can have it on their own turf, says New Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright.

Vancouver Sun | Transportation

Bullitt Center’s vision shines on Earth Day

What a delight to see the Bullitt Center’s vision for a sustainable future coming true. It announced Tuesday that the center used 75 percent less energy compared to other new buildings required to meet city code. Within the same 12-month period, solar panels on the roof generated 252,560 kWh of renewable energy.

The Seattle Times | Green Building