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UPDATE: Well, isn’t this something? County issue 1B is now passing by a small margin.
Well, those who were doing coffeeshop prognosticatin’ appear to have been right: Boulder Issue 2B, which replaces the Xcel franchise fee with a tax, passed easily.
The measure will keep revenue from Xcel flowing into Boulder’s budget through 2015, giving the city time to study alternative sources of energy. Options could include taking municipal control of the city’s supply of electricity, or working with Xcel on a new franchise agreement that includes more renewable sources.
“This is a clear message to Xcel,” City Councilwoman Lisa Morzel said Tuesday night. “Are you going to partner with us or not?”
County issue 1B, which would fund open space purchases with a tax increase, appeared to fail late last night, but has pulled ahead by 465 votes.
If Issue 1B fails, it will be the second time in as many years. A similar open space tax initiative was voted down in 2009 with 52 percent of voters opposing the measure. That defeat marked the first time county voters had turned down a tax to support open space since 1989.
Longmont resident Dave Larison, a longtime opponent of open space taxes, said Tuesday night that he was pleased Issue 1B appeared to be failing.
“For two years in a row now, the voters have spoken against open space taxing and spending,” he said. “The voters have sent a loud message that they don’t want any more open space.”
Though Dave and I share a name, I’m not sure the rejection means that voters don’t want any more open space so much as it means that the voters are prioritizing their taxes and open space finished behind human services in that race. In any case, there’s your greenish election 2010 roundup. Quick and painless, right? Now go listen to your phone not ring at dinner time.
Turns out this one’s a ride!
Just over half of Boulder commuters drive alone to get to work. Compared to the rest of Colorado, that’s pretty impressive, we’re also built better for it in the city, so we probably should be comparing ourselves to other cities that are bike- and bus-friendly.
The other number that sticks out on this data from the 2009 U.S. Census American Community Survey is our work-from-home number — but we already knew that.
Here’s some of the relevant data:
|Location||Drive alone||Carpool||Public transportation||Bike||Walk||Work from home|
In Amsterdam, they take more trips by bike than by car. Consider that!
In Portland, bike traffic constitutes 20 percent of the traffic on some roads, leading to bikejams.
Until we’re having bikejams — or until I have to stand up for part of my bus commute — it seems like there’s still a lot of education to be done. (But please don’t cut bus service to artificially make this happen. Here’s a great post from our neighbors to the south on that line of thinking.)
Note: When I lived on the Skip line, I did have to stand up — often.
Hey, some of us can get pretty satisfied with our short, carbon-light commutes. At the moment I’ve got a slightly-broken bike and a slightly-mysterious foot injury, so I’m off of two thin wheels and onto four big, fat RTD wheels in the mornings (and, by the way, I’m starting to miss the sun!).
But that’s nothing compared to the people whose commute is… nothing!
Boulder County leads the state in telecommuting, and the percentage of workers here doing their jobs from home doubled over the last decade, according to an analysis of data from the American Community Survey.
Those working from home — or “working from anywhere,” as one business owner put it — say technological changes have made it easier to take a pass on commuting, while worsening traffic has made it more appealing.
The large number of small businesses and high-tech start-ups in Boulder also contributes to more people working at home.
The American Community Survey, an ongoing study of economic and social conditions conducted by the Census Bureau, found that in 2009, the year for which survey data was recently released, slightly more than 12 percent of Boulder County workers worked from home.
Twelve percent! Holy mackerel!
It’s a good sign when the largest presence in town takes serious steps to reduce its energy use:
CU’s conservation efforts also are a move toward meeting Gov. Bill Ritter’s executive orders to decrease fuel consumption 25 percent, cut energy and paper use 20 percent, water use 10 percent and incorporate zero-waste operations statewide by 2012.
A team of CU leaders is focused on reducing water use 30 million gallons a year by 2012. So far, CU has installed 890 dual-flush handles for toilets.
Dave Newport, director of the CU Environmental Center, said the school’s next step is a 20 percent greenhouse gas reduction by 2020, and the school is on pace to achieve that goal.
City of Boulder officials have unveiled a new contingency plan for the 2011 budget that incorporates additional cuts that would be made if voters do not replace fees Xcel has been paying the city with a tax on the utility this November:
In August, officials submitted a nearly flat budget to the City Council for 2011 that eliminates 19.74 full-time positions. The new contingency plan would cut spending by 5 percent, eliminating the equivalent of an additional 27.7 full-time jobs across all city departments.
“While there is clear support to replace the franchise fee with the utility occupation tax, it’s prudent that we take a conservative and strategic approach to 2011 in the event that the city cannot replace the franchise fee,” Brautigam said. “The contingency budget reflects careful analysis and difficult choices that must be made if we are required to cut the budget by $4.2 million.”
Naturally, the city is hoping to avoid that — City Council announced their support for 2B, the ballot issue that would replace the Xcel fees, in a resolution on Sept. 7 (PDF).
You’ve heard “my body is a temple,” but how about “my house is a body?”
The wall, as the CU team of engineers and architects proposes, would use channels of advanced polymers to naturally heat or cool homes similar to how the human body regulates its temperature.
“What we are envisioning is actually having a wall that has a vascular network inside,” said Kurt Maute, an associate professor with CU’s aerospace engineering sciences department.
The team of engineers assigned think that the living wall could have commercial applications in 20 years.
Not everybody is happy about to Colorado Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act, which “requires Xcel to cut nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 80 percent from several Front Range coal plants by the end of 2017, most likely sooner.”
GRAND JUNCTION — Legislation aimed at cleaning up Denvers air and turning Colorado into a model state for clean energy and jobs is feared as a job killer for the Western Slope’s coal country.
Sign-waving coal miners stole the show from the Colorado Public Utilities Commission on Monday night as they rallied outside the old Mesa County Courthouse. They gathered before the commissions first hearing on Xcel Energys plan to close or retrofit some of its Front Range coal-fired plants. The changes are being made to comply with the Colorado Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act.
Of course, the Western Slope natural gas folks are excited about it.
Yesterday, the Sierra Club released its “cool schools” ranking of the most eco-awesome colleges and universities in the country. Last year the University of Colorado at Boulder ranked #1. This year, #13.
CU wasn’t the only one on a roller coaster ride. According to a blog on the Chronicle of Higher Eductaion’s website:
Dickinson College went from 19th in 2009 to No. 2, and Stanford University zoomed up from 26th to 5th. Yale University went from 14th to 26th, and Emory University fell 10 notches to 42nd.
You might assume from such fluctuations that sustainability programs went haywire in the past year. But little changed, it seems, other than Sierra‘s ranking methodology. Energy issues were given more weight in this year’s survey, Sierra editors say, but that answer probably won’t satisfy the longtime critics of these green ratings.
And the new emphasis on energy sources are what hurt CU. Dave Newport, director of CU’s Environmental Center, told the Camera that the university is at the whims of Xcel Energy, which still relies heavily on coal.
After years of Xcel Energy arguing that there’s no conceivable way they would shut down the coal-burning generator at Valmont Station east of Boulder (in part because the boiler is one of the most efficient in the utility’s system), the company announced Friday, that actually they will shut the plant down by 2017.
For activists who have staged a number of protests at the plant over the last couple of years, the announcement was good news. (But better news, some said, would have been an announcement that the plant, which spews 44 pounds of mercury into the air every year, would close immediately.)
The three natural gas-fired generators a the plant will continue operating.
NRDC just named 22 “Smarter Cities” nationwide. Check out the research methodology on their site. You can also see where Boulder qualified for certain of their criteria.
To assess the efforts to limit municipal demand of energy and provide clean energy, Smarter Cities surveyed city governments about the city’s aggregate kilowatt hour consumption, top three fuel sources, whether it had completed a greenhouse gas inventory, energy conservation programs (including targets for reduced consumption) and processes to measure energy conservation. The Smarter Cities team sought advice from experts both in and outside of NRDC to develop its plan. “It was important to establish a clear and reasonable description of the factor by which the Smarter Cities team would compare cities’ performance—a description that was researchable, meaning there was comprehensive, pertinent and reliable data to collect,” says Brandi Colander, an NRDC attorney with NRDC’s Air and Energy programs and a Smarter Cities project advisor.