TAKE ACTION: Stand with Somerville and support the Green Line Extension!

Aug 5, 2011 by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

The Union Square area in Somerville is one of the communities that would be served by the Greenline Extension. (Photo credit: dales1, flickr)

Residents of Somerville and Medford, MA, were crushed and angry when on Monday transportation officials announced that the already-delayed Green Line Extension project would most likely not be completed before 2018. The project would extend the MBTA’s Green Line through parts of these two cities just north of Boston, where right now there is no subway service of any kind, but plenty of pollution from I-93 and diesel commuter trains.

The critical project has already suffered several setbacks, and after years of broken promises, the community has had enough. Over 1500 residents, including many who stayed in Somerville or Medford because of the Green Line Extension, signed this petition demanding that the state follow through on the project and that they release a definitive plan to the public on how it intends to do so.

Stand with the residents of Somerville and Medford in support of government accountability and better transportation options for communities that need them. Sign the petition today.

Make your neighborhood great – Join CLF at the Great Neighborhoods Summit!

Jun 16, 2011 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Photo credit: Red9898, flickr

Who doesn’t want to live in a Great Neighborhood? On June 23, join some of your neighbors — whether you share a block, town, state or region — along with CLF and the MA Smart Growth Alliance at the Great Neighborhoods Summit 2011: Placemaking in Action. This event, to be held in the Campus Center Ballroom at UMass Boston, brings non-profit organizations, political leaders, academic and policy experts, grassroots activists, and community leaders together to discuss the importance of placemaking and to share ideas about how to inspire collective action that transforms communities and drives local and regional change. Notable events include:

  • Opening Remarks by the Honorable Thomas M. Menino, Mayor of Boston
  • Metropolitan Issues and Collaboration Across Sectors
  • Great Neighborhoods: Regional Change through Local Action
  • Panel Discussion: Five Examples of Placemaking and Transformation in Greater Boston
  • Keynote Address by Fred Kent, President, Project for Public Spaces: Creating “Place Capital”

Click here for a full schedule of events and speakers.

Great Neighborhoods are active, environmentally friendly and welcoming places where community and business leaders, residents, and public officials work together to create affordable homes, job-generating offices and stores, and recreational spaces close to public transportation. Residents are able to spend more time interacting with neighbors, biking or walking and less time commuting. Massachusetts is leading the way with this groundbreaking initiative that serves as a model for smart community and regional planning, and we need your help.

Great Neighborhoods Summit 2011: Placemaking in Action
Thursday, June 23, 2011
8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
UMass-Boston Campus Center, 3rd Floor Ballroom
100 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston (map and directions)

All are welcome. Register today!

Visit www.ma-smartgrowth.org for more info and the latest news and updates.

Clean Rivers Make Cents

Apr 5, 2011 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Charles River on a sunny day. Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/

In times of economic woes, environmental concerns are often pitted against fiscal concerns. Take the recent attacks on the EPA’s power to enforce the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, for example. Republicans in Congress argue that the US cannot handle the economic costs necessary to comply with regulations and that the alleged “job-killing” regulations threaten our economic recovery. However, recent studies are testimony to the inaccuracy of these claims.

In one instance, a $2 million one-time investment in a bike path along the Little Miami River in Cincinnati resulted in $6 million – per year – in economic benefits to the local community. In addition, another $2 million per year is generated from canoe and kayak rentals. So in one year alone, all of the initial investment costs are returned and then some!

But what about restoring a river? Do the high costs associated with such projects also make sense? Another study found that restoring Mill Creek, which runs through a heavily industrialized section of Cincinnati, would result in $100 million increase in property values, a $3.5 million annual increase in recreational use and a $5.5 million increase in property tax revenue. There is now a $1 million investment per year to restore Mill Creek. (You can read more about these studies and others here.)

This research confirms what we learned from cleaning up Boston Harbor and other waterways in New England. Clean rivers are essential to a healthy economy and investments in clean waters can drive economic growth. Even if you do not fish, boat, kayak, or swim, local communities stand to benefit tremendously by investing in the preservation or restoration of their waters.

ME lawmakers favor ZOOM bus expansion

Mar 22, 2011 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Where is Maine’s future going? Regardless, it’s going there on a ZOOM bus. Or at least, that’s the hope of the 26 co-sponsors of LD 673, the bill that proposes to expand the ZOOM bus system to serve additional locations based on rapid growth in demand. The ZOOM bill was the focus of a well-attended press conference held today at the state house in Augusta by the Maine Alliance for Sustainable Transportation (MAST), the steering committee of which includes CLF’s own Jane West. The press conference featured speeches by three of the bill’s co-sponsors–Rep. Bradley Moulton (R-York), Rep. Ben Chipman (I-Portland) and Sen. Justin Alfond (D-Portland)–as well as other local transportation advocates. More >

Sarah Palin Gets Smart About Maine Transit

Mar 20, 2011 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Larry King gets a shocker when guest star, Sarah Palin, makes an intelligent and logical pitch for mass transit in Maine!

Bottom line: If you don’t want to listen to us, at least listen to Sarah. The ZOOM proposal would expand mass transit between Maine’s largest cities, increasing the current service between Portland and Biddeford and Saco and adding routes between Portland and Lewiston/Auburn and Augusta–and with full buses and park-and-ride facilities at capacity, it’s a service that Maine commuters desperately need. The proposed bill, introduced in January, would increase commuter transit options, reduce household expenditures on gasoline and diesel, increase employment opportunities and productivity and reduce government expenditures.

Want to know more? Now’s the perfect time to get on board. Speak out in support of the ZOOM bill at a public hearing this Tuesday, March 22 at 1 p.m. at the State House in Augusta. Prior to the hearing, CLF and the Maine Alliance for Sustainable Transportation (MAST) will host a press conference beginning at noon in the same location. It’s the perfect chance to learn more, get your questions answered and hear straight from the bill’s co-sponsors why they think the ZOOM proposal is essential to Maine’s development. Details at www.clf.org/events.

MEDIA ALERT: ZOOM Bus Bill Press Conference on March 22 in Augusta

Mar 18, 2011 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

ZOOM Press Conference
Tuesday March 22 at 12 p.m.
Welcome Center at the State House, Augusta, ME

CLF and the Maine Alliance for Sustainable Transportation (MAST) will be hosting a press conference on the new bill to expand the ZOOM commuter bus service between Portland and York County and add new service between Portland and Lewiston and Auburn and between Portland and Augusta to keep up with rising demand.

Those in attendance will include Jane West, CLF staff attorney and steering committee member of MAST; Representatives Bradley Moulton (R-York) and Ben Chipman (I-Portland), both sponsors of the bill; Nicola Wells, communications director and organizer at the Maine League of Young Voters and steering committee member of MAST; and Christian MilNeil, citizen activist. Read the full media alert >

Learn more about ZOOM

CLF calls EPA’s “air toxics rule” critical for New England

Mar 16, 2011 by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

Today, the EPA announced the first national standard for emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants from coal-fired power plants. This rule will protect public health, preserve our environment and boost our economy, particularly for New England, which absorbs the downwind effects of air pollutants generated in other regions of the country. Jonathan Peress, CLF’s director of clean energy and climate change, responds.

“Right now, coal-fired power plants are allowed to poison the air we breathe with toxic pollutants like mercury, arsenic and lead. The EPA’s proposed ‘Air Toxics Rule’ will provide critical protection from major health impacts, including cancer, brain damage and birth defects, associated with this deadly brew of as yet unregulated pollutants.” More >

A “Green” Facelift for The Big Apple’s Waterfront

Mar 16, 2011 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Yesterday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the city’s 10-year Waterfront Vision and Action Agenda.  New England cities should take note of this forward-thinking plan, which knits together a dizzying array of restoration activities to ensure that NYC’s rivers, harbors and 500-mile waterfront remain world class amenities for its residents and visitors.

The waterfront plan incorporates key elements of NYC’s Green Infrastructure Plan, released last September.

Among other things, NYC plans to invest over $4 billion over the next 20 years in modernizing infrastructure to control pollution to the city’s waterways.  Recognizing it would need to invest huge sums to protect and enhance its critically valuable waterfront, the city did its homework.  Experts found that using green infrastructure approaches to reduce sewer overflows over the 20 years would result in cost savings of $1.5 billionNYC’s vision for restoring water quality now includes a mix of strategic investments in some “grey” or hard piped infrastructure – the sort cities have employed for the past century – along with a hefty proportion of green technologies.  In addition, the plan includes $900 million in private investment.

One inch at a time

Green stormwater management techniques, often referred to as “Low Impact Development,” model nature’s way of handling runoff from paved areas during storms – the runoff is cleansed by soil and plants in vegetated areas, then evaporates or is filtered back into the ground.  Wetlands, green roofs and even specially designed rain gardens and street trees can serve this function.  Dumping polluted stormwater runoff into natural wetlands isn’t on its own an acceptable solution, so green infrastructure approaches add new vegetated areas where the treatment occurs.

The status quo is that street runoff co-mingles with human wastewater in the sanitary sewer system, overwhelming the pipes and treatment plants.  Instead, the city plans to send street runoff into new green treatment areas designed to manage stormwater.  NYC has set its sights on diverting runoff from the first inch of rainfall from 10% of paved area. Keeping this quantity of runoff out of the combined sewer system, experts predict, will have dramatic water quality benefits.

Everybody pays, everybody wins

NYC’s waterfront vision is an impressive example of coordination across a tangle of city and state agencies, public and private entities.  The city’s action plan to cut back sewer overflows relies on public and private entities to restore water quality over the next 20 years.  The city will soon require new development to include state-of-the-art stormwater management, recognizing that private property owners will benefit from the improved waterfront and the public goals cannot be accomplished without their contributions.  If all goes as planned, many more New Yorkers will enjoy views of blue harbors from atop green roofs…

Avoiding false choices – seeing the value of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Mar 2, 2011 by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

One of the easiest ways to make bad decisions is to allow ourselves to be drawn into a false choice – to see two options as an “either/or” where seeking one goal means stepping away from another. This can be a false choice because, fortunately, sometimes making the right decision will yield a double benefit.

When we have an opportunity to reduce energy use and harmful emissions while building jobs and the economy we encounter that kind of golden moment: when the right choice yields double, triple and even quadruple benefits.

There are people who will reject this formulation – who will present that most fundamental of false choices: the flawed argument that making the right choice for our environment and the public health is bad for the economic health of our communities and building jobs.

We are surrounded by proof that economic benefit flows from the same actions that reduce dirty energy use and emissions. The nation-leading energy efficiency programs funded by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) which have created jobs while slashing the energy bills of families and businesses of the Northeast is a prime example.  A recent report issued by the states participating in RGGI (described here) provides hard numbers documenting this happy phenomena.

But we can do far better – and we need to if we are going to address the fundamental challenge of global warming and if we are going build the new economic base that can provide jobs and financial security for the future. Building that cleaner and more secure future will mean building on the successes of RGGI, making it more effective in reducing emissions and creating even more investment in energy efficiency so it slashes even more customer bills and creates even more jobs.