New Hampshire Shows the Way on Mercury Reduction

If New Hampshire is out to make North Carolina look bad, they're doing a fine job. A few days ago I noted that NC is on its way to a near total abdication of its responsibility to protect citizens, in this case from power plant mercury emissions.

Today I see that there's a mercury fight in New Hampshire as well, but with two important differences: (1) they are arguing over whether to cut mercury emissions by 80% or by 90%; and (2) the 80% bill has already passed one house of the state legislature. Gosh, it's almost as if the government in New Hampshire cares more about citizens' health than about maximizing power company profits.

Why Shuler and Kissell MUST Go to DC

It's not censure or impeachment that Republicans are really worried about if they lose control of Congress. It's subpoenas. If they lose the ability to block Democrats from conducting genuine investigations backed by the subpoena power of Congress, the jig is up. And they know it.

That, from Kevin Drum, is prompted by the following paragraph from a Newsweek article by Michael Hirsh about mismanagement of the Iraq reconstruction effort:

Pathetic Attempt at Something Conservative at UNC Law

Given the dominance of conservative groups at schools, I was somewhat worried about a group that claimed to be starting a Conservative Law Journal at UNC Law School. Boy was I worried over nothing!

First some background. UNC Law, much like other Law Schools, has a number of accredited academic journals. These journals publish a combination of professional and student pieces on discrete points of law. The journals range in breadth of the subjects they cover from the Law Review, which covers any issue, to issue specific journals such as the First Amendment Law Review. Substantively these articles are very intense studies on discreet, timely legal issues. The pieces are heavily edited, heavily footnoted, and well respected. In fact, these journals serve as the main method of communication between law professors, are well circulated, and do a great deal to advance the law in many areas.

Easley's Roadless Plan

In addition to his objection of the sale of our national forests, Easley has filed with the USDA for some of our forest to be classified as roadless and thus protected against industrial activity. There is a great post on this issue at the North Carolina Conservation Network.

Update: Check the comments to see where Lance beat me to the story. Also, check out our Take Action! center advertised on the right.

Road Maintenance, Another Huge Cost of Our Reliance on the Automobile

For the battle cry of high costs levied against the proposed Triangle Rail Line, there is counterpoint being conveniently ignored: Roads cost a ton of money themselves. In fact, the cost of building roads is artificially lowered by not considering the long term costs to maintain the roads. Those of us in the Triangle have seen the results of those costs being ignored with a plethora of potholes, which increase wear and tear on a car, reduce traffic speed, and are a general hassle.

Potholes are caused by neglect of road surfaces over years. The best way to get rid of them is repaving the road. But repavement costs money to perform, wastes productivity by increasing traffic jams, and creates a hassle for every commuter. For a visual effect, I have pasted a list of repaving projects scheduled for this year in just Durham, Wake, and Franklin counties (from Crosstown Traffic):

Good Practices Can Be Selfish

I was just browsing the UNC Health Care System employees CONNECTIONS - Special Transportation, Parking and Construction Issue. Yeah, I know.

UNC is in the midst of a Capital building boom that is just remarkable. My wife hates it, she grew up here and thinks there just isn't enough open space left. I agree to some extent, once again I think the hospitals and research buildings should be a minimum of 11 stories high with greenspace between stuffed with live oaks, magnolias, and lawn space.

Still, as a scientist, I know that UNC is expanding because its world-leading research is expanding. The two go hand in hand. Along with that expansion has come a change in travel, which I think is a good thing. UNC is moving all of its parking off campus, face it, you won't be able to park on campus in another 50 years. This leads to good and bad.

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