The Daily Grist: March 3

It's a Sprawl World After All
Two Anti-Sprawl Initiatives Fail in California

In other, less eco-friendly initiative news, two separate measures intended to limit sprawl were defeated in California yesterday. In San Diego County, voters bucked statewide trends by rejecting the Rural Lands Initiative, which would have put a 20-year ban on development in 1,000 acres of the county's "backcountry." And in Contra Costa County, voters rejected Measure L, which would have prohibited the building of large discount/grocery outlets (read: Wal-Mart Supercenters) on unincorporated land. The hotly contested election saw Wal-Mart -- widely criticized for, among many other things, encouraging sprawl -- pour $1 million into the campaign, grossly outspending opponents. County supervisor and initiative-backer Mark DeSaulnier told supporters, "Whatever happens, we did the right thing. We all know that this is one battle in a nationwide war against a predatory company that is all about profit."


There Are Other Fish in the Sea ... for the Moment
Report on Ocean Management Likely Headed for Chilly Reception

The sad state of our oceans is poised to make headlines again this month, but ocean advocates worry that the Bush administration won't take the problem seriously. The Commission on Ocean Policy -- a 16-member presidential advisory panel appointed to comprehensively revisit ocean management policy for the first time in 35 years -- is set to release its preliminary report in the next few weeks, after three years of meetings and presentations. The report is expected to recommend a shift from a harvesting approach to a stewardship approach that would protect endangered species, as well as a doubling of federal funding for research. Public surveys show wide support for protective measures for oceans, but some experts and conservationists fear they won't be forthcoming. "I don't think it's a high priority for this administration," said commission member William Ruckelshaus.


Home Green Home
Green Home-Building Rising in Popularity

Eco-minded builders and environmental groups in the U.S. are pushing to simplify and popularize the notion of "green building," which encompasses practices and materials that reduce waste and make homes more efficient. Green building -- ranging from landscaping with native plants to using carpet made of recycled soda bottles to recycling cast-off construction materials -- has been on the rise for several years: A total of 18,887 green homes were built in the U.S. between 1990 and 2001, while 13,224 were built in 2002 alone. While the added expense of non-standard materials and specialized builders currently limits the market largely to affluent, dual-income families, it's likely that expanded production will lower costs and make the benefits of lower energy bills, cleaner indoor air, reduced maintenance costs, and a healthy conscience available to the rest of us before too long.

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