St. Elizabeths redevelopment; Geoengineering really?; bag taxes; the urban future of India & China; and more!

Dec 28, 2011
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We’ve got a year-in-review post in the works that will highlight some of the most-read and most-shared blog posts from Region Forward over the past year. Look for that next week.

In the meantime there’s a few current news stories that focus on issues we’ve blogged about this year. We thought we’d share these stories for some additional perspective on these issues:

“Cities Face Tough Choices as U.S. Slashes Block Grants Program” This New York Times piece outlines the impacts that reduced Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) funding is having on cities and their residents. Back in April when Congress was debating whether to cut CDBG funding Alicia Lewis warned that short-sighted cuts would have very negative results for productivity and prosperity.

Good news and bad news for redevelopment in Southeast Washington DC. Mayor Vince Gray’s economic development team is “wooing” Microsoft to build a campus at St. Elizabeths in SE Washington as part of the city’s revitalization efforts for the area. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is already confirmed to relocate its headquarters there though it was recently announced that the DHS move would be delayed by 5 years. In April regional planner John Mataya wrote about the efforts to build innovation cluster in SE Washington.

“[Indian] Government Plans New Urban Hubs Around Big Cities” This piece from The Times of India delineates some of the Indian government’s plans for handling its immense and rapidly growing urban population. India’s on track to overtake China as the most populous country in the world in the few decades exactly at the same time that the world’s population is becoming majority urban for the first time in history. How countries like India and China manage their incredible growth is a key element in international efforts to combat climate change. If they manage it well utilizing smart growth principles they can emerge as leaders in this new urban world. If not sprawl could proliferate on a scale that would make LA’s or DC’s traffic congestion pale in comparison.

The full impact of bag taxes. Montgomery County is set to implement its 5-cent tax on paper and plastic shopping bags beginning January 1 2012. The move is aimed to reduce pollution and raise revenues and is modeled after the District’s bag tax that was introduced in 2010. While some have criticized the District’s tax for not raising enough revenue back in May we encouraged people to consider the aims of the tax and to realize that lower revenues in this case is actually a sign of success.

Geoengineering – using technological solutions to modify the earth’s climate (or at least shield it from the effects of climate change) – is beginning to move from a somewhat fanciful theoretical concept to something we may actually have to consider especially if the US and other major nations continue to drag their feet on emissions reductions. That’s a scary thought given how little we know about what the side effects of geoengineering may be. Back in March we warned about the dangers of relying on technology alone to solve our climate problem.

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