Solar Highways Begin to Light the Way

Oregon highway solar panels begin lighting the way

Oregon highway solar panels begin lighting the way

The state of Oregon began installing the U.S.’s first solar highway in August. Located at the intersection of Highways 5 and 205, its 104-kilowatt array will produce 28 percent of the power necessary to light the exchange.

Portland (OR) General Electric and U.S. Bankcorp Community Development Corporation partnered to create the funding for this $1.4 million alternative energy project.

The CDC will own the project’s federal and state tax benefits for 5 years (they’ll expire then). Ownership will then revert to Portland GE.
This venture sounds promising. Makes you wonder what something like this could do in a sunnier states like California, Nevada or in the Southwest, with those wide-open spaces? There’s the land for larger arrays that could produce significantly larger amounts of energy. Think the utility companies are considering it? It could make a unique contribution to their renewables’ portfolios.

 

 

A "Natural" Legacy

A plethora of states would love to jump on the National Trail System’s bandwagon – from Washington, D.C. to Ohio, from Maryland to Indiana.

The pending National Trails bill that awaits action by the U.S. Senate, authorizes the National Park Service to study extending numerous trails and sites throughout the Eastern half of the country.

The Secretary of the Interior would be required to update the feasibility and suitability of extending four historic trails – the Oregon, California, Pony Express and Mormon Pioneer National Historic trails, sites rich in our country’s history.

A number of U.S. Senators have proposed various portions of this massive and, well, historic legislation.

The current administration has done extremely little to protect our country’s innate beauty and historical sites. Wouldn’t it be something if the politicians took it upon themselves to create a substantial legacy of protected trails and historical sites that future generations could appreciate and learn from?

What a legacy that would be.

 

A “Natural” Legacy

A plethora of states would love to jump on the National Trail System’s bandwagon – from Washington, D.C. to Ohio, from Maryland to Indiana.

The pending National Trails bill that awaits action by the U.S. Senate, authorizes the National Park Service to study extending numerous trails and sites throughout the Eastern half of the country.

The Secretary of the Interior would be required to update the feasibility and suitability of extending four historic trails – the Oregon, California, Pony Express and Mormon Pioneer National Historic trails, sites rich in our country’s history.

A number of U.S. Senators have proposed various portions of this massive and, well, historic legislation.

The current administration has done extremely little to protect our country’s innate beauty and historical sites. Wouldn’t it be something if the politicians took it upon themselves to create a substantial legacy of protected trails and historical sites that future generations could appreciate and learn from?

What a legacy that would be.

 

Trails Bill Rests in the Senate

Some remarkable trails have been proposed for annexation into the National Trails System. Amazingly, the U.S. House has approved many of them. Typically, the Senate hasn’t.

The Senate could vote on this bill – containing 150 public lands, natural resources, and water projects -on November 17th, in a lame duck session. If so, the House would have to re-approve the measure, or risk delaying it until 2009.

Among trails proposed are:

the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail, running from Rhode Island to Virginia, commemorating American and French troop movement in the Revolutionary War.

the New England National Scenic Trail.

a bill establishing the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail.

the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, linking areas of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.

the Arizona National Scenic Trail (co-sponsored by John McCain), creating a trail from Mexico’s border to Utah’s border.

There’s more yet to come.

National Hiking Trails Abound

The National Trail System http://www.nps.gov/nts/nts_trail, is celebrating its 40th birthday this month. With over 60,000 miles around the country already included, many more could be added, perhaps as early as November.

Congress decides when and which trails to include, but the list covers some fantastic scenery and weaves throughout numerous states.

Amazingly, 5 trails encompassing 9,000 miles have been approved since 2000. These are:

  • El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail (New Mexico and Texas)
  • Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail (Hawaii)
  • Old Spanish National Historic Trail (Southwest)
  • El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail (Louisiana and Texas)
  • Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail (Maryland and Virginia)

In May, the Star Spangled Banner American Natl. Historic Trail was approved.
It links routes used by British & American troops laying siege to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. (search http://thomas.loc.gov

Check the next post for more details.

New Facts about CFL’s

CFL’s – they’re everywhere. And advertising encouraging consumers to use them is proliferating.

Yet all is not as it seems. Sure, they save energy. But no matter what the ads say, they STILL have mercury in them. And mercury is by every measure considered hazardous waste.

Now scientists at Yale say eight states “will end up with more local emissions of mercury” – Alaska, California, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

The US will see a modest net reduction in emissions; Canada and Mexico slight reductions. Parts of Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe will see the biggest increases.

The report also states “some of the calculations will change if mercury content in CFLs decreases, recycling rates increase, or power plant emissions are reduced.”

So, are CFL’s the REAL answer? Not yet. There are still too many serious health risks to go along with utilities’ and government’s positive spin.

Kaiser goes Green in a big way

One of the most environmentally-friendly hospitals in California has just opened in Modesto. Kaiser Permanente, the largest non-profit health care plan in the U.S., has just opened their 670,000 square foot facility.

Some of the “green” measures this hospital utilizes includes:

  • rubber flooring, which absorbs sound and doesn’t leach toxins
  • low VOC carpet, which emits less toxins into the air
  • permeable pavement, which allows rain to drain into the ground, replenishing groundwater
  • a 50-kilowatt solar power generator to produce much of their own electricity
  • natural light to illuminate interiors

Wtih 32 medical facilities and 421 medical offices in the United States. perhaps this is “shades of things to come” in the healthcare industry. Improving health care definitely includes embracing green.