• Home

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Midwest Pittsburgh

The tentative results of the destination of $8 Billion for high-speed rail are in. To give you some background on the state of high-speed rail in the USA, check out this Wired article with lots of pictures (courtesy of Pazzler.)

The results?

Pittsburgh, it's time to embrace our midwest location. Governor Rendell (and his succeeding governor) are not going to suddenly realize that Pittsburgh is a gem hidden in the rough. We are only 2 1/2 hours from Cleveland. Let's jump on the Ohio bandwagon and ultimately connect ourselves to Chicago in less time than it takes to get to Philadelphia. Now is the time for leadership and inter-state cooperation. In the next round of rail funding, there needs to be a request for improved Pittsburgh to Cleveland rail. Otherwise, we will be left in the dust.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Supreme Court Ruling is a Huge Blow to Climate Change Legislation

Big business just got a huge shot in the arm yesterday thanks to a Supreme Court of the United States ruling that removes restrictions for federal campaign financing by corporations, unions, and other special interest groups (See "A Shocking Win for the Fat Cats"). The argument made by the majority boils down to the need to give corporations the same freedom of speech that you and I have under the Constitution of the United States. I blogged over at Thoughts on Government about how wrong this reasoning is, but here at Green is Good I wanted to touch upon how corporations can now directly spend their money to work to defeat any legislation that threatens their bottom line.

Health care firms were already spending an average of $1.4 million a day, yes, a single day, to defeat health care legislation. Now that the SCOTUS has made a ruling that will remove the restrictions that force corporations to use PACs for federal campaign contributions, one could argue that any legislator who supports a bill that hurts corporate profits will now be under fire from those same corporations and industry groups. Besides health care, the climate change legislation comes to mind as the most critical legislation that is now under threat of being derailed thanks to this ruling. The utility industry groups have already been sending out letters to their customers, telling them that climate change legislation would lead to higher rates or a tax on the utility customer. The SCOTUS ruling will open up a floodgate of more mailings, more commercials, and much more money being spent to defeat any legislators who support cap and trade or cap and dividend legislation.

This ruling will make it more likely that any Democratic Senator or Congressman in a red state or district will think twice about supporting a bill that puts them squarely in the bulls eye of corporate America. Our legislators, those who do not have a spine anyways, will not vote for something that is unpopular, even though it is, in their mind and heart, the right thing to do. My friends, we are becoming a plutocracy - a nation where our laws and policies are no longer written for your average citizen, but for the citizen (think T Boone, Bloomberg, Soros, etc) and the corporations that have the deep pockets to buy any politician who supports their agenda. If you haven't already, please watch the great documentary The Corporation for more on how treating corporations as if they were citizens poses a serious threat to our democratic republic.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy New Green Year Pittsburgh

Is this the year Pittsburgh makes it onto a top green cities list or gains us a major bike-friendly nod? We're getting off to an auspicious start.

First, a landmark study commissioned by the city was released this week which affirmed that LED street lights are the most efficient, green and money-saving option. The results of this study should kick the Pittsburgh streetlight conversion process into high gear.

Second, Pittsburgh unveiled new secure and bright green bike parking. For a mere $100 per year, you can have a reserved biking space downtown. With the impending lease of Pittsburgh Parking Authority parking garages (and resulting car parking price increases), I expect these will only get more valuable.

Third, even Newsweek is getting in on the Sandcastle-bashing, with an article on how the international amusement park company is holding up the last one mile of the Great Allegheny Passage. Maybe this is the year the trail is finally completed?