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Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
Ohio: Cleveland wants to use dredgings to create industrial-park site in Cuyahoga River Valley

Cleveland Plain Dealer – Mounds of dried river muck would be dumped and leveled to help create a large industrial park in the Cuyahoga River valley, under a unique plan crafted by Cleveland officials.

The city is working with the Army Corps of Engineers on an effort to scoop 500,000 cubic yards of dredged muck from dikes north of Burke Lakefront Airport.

The dirt – enough to fill 154 Olympic-sized pools – could be taken to a valley west and south of Pershing Avenue and Interstate 77, officials say.

That would be only half of what’s needed. Cleveland is seeking 1 million cubic yards of fill to create a 54-acre industrial site, with a project cost of $18 million, said Tracey Nichols, the city’s economic development director.

The site could handle 500,000 square feet of manufacturing and create up to 300 jobs, Nichols said. “We’re looking forward to attracting a large end user with a lot of skilled jobs,” Nichols said Wednesday.

The project faces a degree of uncertainty. While the Corps would bid out the digging and transport of dirt under a $7.25 million contract, the winning contractor must furnish the disposal site. [read more…]

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
Seattle: New sewage plant behind schedule and over budget

Seattle Post Intelligencer – Construction on King County’s Brightwater sewage-treatment plant is another six months behind schedule and could cost another $70 million more than last year’s cost estimates, according to an oversight report presented this week to the King County Council.

The $1.8 billion project north of Woodinville, just across the Snohomish County line, will treat 36 million gallons of wastewater per day from south Snohomish County and north King County when it opens.

The plant, already the focus of controversy over costs and litigation, is now expected to open in September 2011, instead of March. When the project first launched, it was expected to open in 2010. [read more…]

Thursday, May 14th, 2009
Headlines – White House on rescue: How we’re doing

CNN – The Obama administration, issuing its first progress report on the $787 billion stimulus program, said Wednesday that $88 billion has been made available and that it’s ahead of schedule in implementing most initiatives.

Of the $88 billion, some $28.5 billion has been actually spent with nearly $16 billion going for Medicaid payments to the states, according to the report. The administration has also enacted tax cuts under the Making Work Pay program and begun mailing $250 payments to 54 million senior citizens.

Critics, however, say the money is not being spent fast enough to help arrest the economy’s slide. States are now waging yet another round of battles with their budgets after April tax revenues came in under estimates. [read more…]

Thursday, May 14th, 2009
Headlines – Water managers OK Big Sugar buyout for Everglades restoration

The Miami Herald – Calling the downsized deal more realistic and affordable, regional water managers Wednesday afternoon signed off on Gov. Charlie Crist’s bid to buy a massive swath of farmland for Everglades restoration.

The deal would pay the U.S. Sugar Corp. $536 million for 72,800 acres of sugar fields and citrus groves, with the eventual goal of turning them into huge reservoirs and pollution treatment marshes to restore the flow of clean water to the River of Grass.

The governing board of the South Florida Water Management District, which agonized over a previous $1.34 billion offer for 180,000 acres before approving it by a single vote in December, voted 6-1 in favor of the latest deal. Mike Collins of Islamorada dissented.

Environmentalists, backed by Crist’s chief environmental aide, sport-fishing groups and the Obama administration, have argued the deal was too good to pass up — despite concerns that paying for it might delay or divert money from other Glades projects. [read more…]

Thursday, May 14th, 2009
Rising Calls to Regulate California Groundwater

The New York Times – Although California has been a pathbreaker in some environmental arenas, like embracing renewable energy and recycling, groundwater rights remain sacrosanct. But the state government is facing growing pressure to embrace regulation.

Recent scientific studies indicate that in the long term, climate change is diminishing the potential for the Sierra snowpack to generate enough runoff. Aquifers are thus a crucial insurance policy for water users.

Critics argue that refusing to monitor and regulate groundwater could prove catastrophic to the state’s real estate sector and its $36 billion agricultural economy. [read more…]

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009
Cities Cry Foul on Stimulus Cash

The Wall Street Journal – Across the country, fights between local and state authorities have erupted as federal stimulus money is doled out. About $280 billion of the $787 billion federal stimulus package passed in February is set to flow through state and local governments.

Many mayors are grateful for getting some money they wouldn’t have had otherwise. Still, mayors of several cities have blasted their governors for denying them money for big projects, for favoring suburban requests over urban needs, and for taking back state aid after doling out federal dollars.

The governors have said they are trying to balance the needs of many municipalities, and that they must follow the dictates of Congress or their own state laws.

The disputes touch on a longstanding area of tension between city halls and state capitols. As more federal money for local needs is funneled through states, cities have complained that they aren’t getting as much as they feel they deserve for the size of their population. [read more…]

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009
San Francisco to become solar powerhouse

The New York Times – A plan approved by San Francisco’s board of supervisors clears the way for a 5-megawatt photovoltaic array that would triple the city’s solar productivity. The energy it generates — enough to power 1,000 homes — will largely be used in government buildings like schools and municipal facilities. [read more…]

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009
Michigan: Coal, nuke plants blur state’s green goals

The Detroit News – Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s attempts to move Michigan away from fossil fuel power may be seeing their first signs of success, but many still fear the glut of old-school projects in the pipeline could lock the state into decades of reliance on coal.

Mid-Michigan Energy recently suspended its attempts to get approval for a new coal-fired plant in Midland. Some see that as an indication that new laws and the governor’s stance on cutting carbon dioxide emissions are working to keep new plants from coming on line. Last year, Michigan’s Legislature enacted measures that require power companies to justify new projects while considering all options for energy production.

The state’s Department of Environmental Quality is reviewing permit requests for five coal-fired power plants and expects another three. Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is overseeing the approval process for a new DTE nuclear reactor 30 miles south of Detroit. [read more…]

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009
California: Prominent power lines dim green enthusiasm for some

The Sacramento Bee (Calif.) – The $1.5 billion project envisions stringing 600 miles of new lines from northeast California to Sacramento and the Bay Area with a targeted completion date of 2014. It would be the largest power infrastructure venture undertaken in Northern California in nearly two decades, sponsored by a consortium of 15 Northern California municipal power providers, including Sacramento Municipal Utility District and the city of Roseville.

But it’s also a new front in an emerging, nationwide fight over green power that pits environmental concerns against each other. [read more…]

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