This January 2011 artist’s rendering, courtesy of Landscape Architect Ken Smith, shows an aerial view looking at Legume Plaza of the Planters Grove project in New Orleans. A grove of trees and flowers that will soon be built is anchoring hopes of transforming a down-on-its-heels New Orleans neighborhood that’s been plagued by crime and poverty.
New York City architect Smith is taking the concept of urban oases to four cities in a public-corporate project that’s won the blessing of the Obama administration. The first of the groves will be built over the next month in New Orleans. Similar groves will be planted in San Francisco, New York City and Washington, D.C.
WH: On Tuesday, the President signed a number of bills …. which help ensure Americans can enjoy clean air, safe drinking water, and healthy wildlife.
These bills will curb lead levels in water pipes, a major source of harmful lead exposure for children, and help address diesel engine pollution that is linked to serious health conditions like asthma and heart and lung disease. They also hold the Federal Government accountable for the water pollution it contributes to American communities; encourage volunteer opportunities in National Wildlife Refuges; and help conserve vulnerable shark populations. These measures are just the beginning of what we can accomplish in 2011….
The President signed the following environmental bills into law:
H.R. 81, the “Shark Conservation Act of 2010 and International Fisheries Agreement Clarification Act,” which generally prohibits the removal of shark fins at sea and amends certain laws related to international fisheries;
H.R. 4973, the “National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Improvement Act of 2010,” which reauthorizes and amends authorities relating to volunteer programs and community partnerships for national wildlife refuges;
H.R. 5809, the “Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2010,” which modifies and reauthorizes through FY 2016 the Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Program;
S. 3481, which clarifies the Federal Government’s responsibility to pay reasonable service charges to a State or local government to address stormwater pollution from Federal properties; and
S. 3874, the “Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act,” which modifies the Safe Drinking Water Act definition of “lead free” with regard to pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures
Ken Salazar (Secretary of the Interior): I am in Florida today to announce an exciting initiative to conserve working lands and wildlife habitat in the Everglades headwaters.
The Everglades rural working ranch landscapes are an important piece of our nation’s history and economy, and this initiative would work to ensure that they remain vital for our future.
The partnerships being formed would protect and improve water quality north of Lake Okeechobee and restore wetlands which are so vital to the entire Florida economy. The proposed conservation area and refuge would also protect important habitat for 88 federal and state listed species, including the Florida panther, Florida black bear, whooping crane, and Everglade snail kite.
The Fish and Wildlife Service, along with its partners, is conducting a thorough, preliminary study to establish a new National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area of approximately 150,000 acres of important environmental and cultural landscapes in the Kissimmee River Valley south of Orlando. The proposed area includes 50,000 acres for potential purchase, and an additional 100,000 acres that could be protected through conservation easements and cooperative agreements, keeping the land in private ownership.
NPR: The Obama administration plans to reverse a Bush-era policy and make millions of undeveloped acres of land once again eligible for federal wilderness protection, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Thursday.
The agency will replace the 2003 policy adopted under former Interior Secretary Gale Norton, Salazar said. That policy — derided by some as the “No More Wilderness” policy — stated that new areas could not be recommended for wilderness protection by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and opened millions of acres in the Rocky Mountain region to potential commercial development.
That policy “frankly never should have happened and was wrong in the first place,” Salazar said Thursday.
Environmental activists have been pushing for the Obama administration to restore protections for potential wilderness areas.
(1) TPM: The Virginia federal district court judge (a George W Bush-appointee) who ruled that the individual mandate in the health care bill is unconstitutional owns a stake worth between $15,000 and $50,000 in a GOP political consulting firm that worked against health care reform – the very law against which he ruled.
(2) Legal experts are attacking Judge Henry Hudson’s decision, citing an elementary logical flaw at the heart of his opinion. And that has conservative scholars – even ones sympathetic to the idea that the mandate is unconstitutional – prepared to see Hudson’s decision thrown out.
“I’ve had a chance to read Judge Hudson’s opinion, and it seems to me it has a fairly obvious and quite significant error,” writes Orin Kerr, a professor of law at George Washington University, on the generally conservative law blog The Volokh Conspiracy.
First Lady Michelle Obama and Ken Fisher of the Fisher House Foundation cut the ribbon to open the newest Fisher House at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on December 2, 2010. The Fisher house provides free housing to military families while their loved ones receive hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury
Democrats got a boost of good news yesterday in a batch of new tracking polls that show previously written-off Senate candidates in Pennsylvania, Colorado and Wisconsin running significantly closer to their Republican opponents. New polls yesterday also confirmed close margins in critical battlegrounds like Washington and West Virginia, but a Democratic comeback in either Pennsylvania, Colorado or Wisconsin would all but end Republican hopes to gain a majority in the U.S. Senate.