An Interview on
"Green Living is a Necessity, Not a Luxury"
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Hotel Review: The Original Element Hotel
More than 30 new Element hotels are to be built. Here's a look inside the first.
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Ocean, Thou Shalt Not Rise!

A scene in North Carolina, sometime in the near future.

Looking furtively from side to side, the climatology graduate student spotted a phone booth outside a convenience store, one of the few remaining pay phones in the county. Dashing inside, she inserted a few quarters and dialed the number at the secret lab.

The phone rang several times, then a man on the other end picked up. He recited an old song lyric: "Let's go surfing now, everybody's learning how, come on and safari with me."

Recognizing the pass phrase, the graduate student replied by reciting the countersign, another old song lyric: "It's getting bigger every day. From Hawaii to the shores of Peru."

Confident she was talking on a secure line, the student shot another quick glance outside the phone booth, then spoke quickly to the man: "OK, professor, I ran the numbers again on your climatology model. The sea level rise projected for 2100 is looking really serious."

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Nothing New About the Federal Government 'Picking Winners'

One of the more commonly heard bumper-sticker slogans that passes for discourse on Capitol Hill these days is that "government shouldn't pick winners" when it comes to supporting energy R&D.

Baloney, Norman Augustine, a retired Lockheed Martin CEO, said in so many words at a May 22 Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing that explored energy technology innovation. Augustine, member of a high-powered business group advocating greater federal support for energy R&D, said "in the real world, government does and has to pick winners and losers every day."

And has since the earliest days of the republic. In helping to transform the U.S. economy from a rural backwater into an industrial civilization that has provided material abundance and a quality of life few would willingly give up, the federal government has picked winners in ordering the country's fiscal and monetary affairs, developing infrastructure, and supporting high-risk technology research.

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A Nugget of Conservation Gold in the Political Dross

Forty-seven lawmakers from across the spectrum are trying to accomplish a task that once was normal but lately has been a struggle: securing a bipartisan agreement on a transportation bill to authorize funding for roads, bridges, and transit systems.

The 47 senators and House members sit on a conference committee trying to harmonize the sharply different transportation bills the Senate and House passed earlier this year.

There's a nugget of gold amidst the political dross. Tucked into the Senate bill is a pro-conservation provision with a fighting chance of winning bipartisan acceptance: $700 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund in each of the next two fiscal years. The Senate added the provision to its transportation bill in an impressive 76-22 vote. Now, several House Republicans are circulating a letter to Speaker John Boehner asking him to support inclusion of the Senate language in the final transportation bill.

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