Two-Stepping with the Feds on Earth Day

As noted on the CNU Facebook page earlier this week, the one-step-forwards-one-step-back dance with the Feds continues. Last Friday, one foot was put forward when news emerged that HUD’s Sustainable Communities Initiative would retain $100 million in the final CR for FY2011. Included in the budget is $70 million earmarked for regional planning grants and $30 million for Community Challenge planning grants. This is a great example of federal mindfulness taking note of positive outcomes that can be spearheaded in times of austerity. (Note well Chicago: this is an example of a crisis not going to waste!)

But then, at the beginning of this week, the feds completed the one-step-back portion of the their clunky, ineffectual two-step dance. First noted in an eloquently exhaustive post by Kaid Benfield, the EPA has moved its Region 7 HQ "from a walkable, transit-rich, downtown Kansas City (KS) neighborhood to one of the worst examples of suburban sprawl it could have possibly found, some 20 miles from downtown." Steve Mouzon of The Original Green made the Good Friday/Earth Day connection complete by stating the "the Environmental Protection Agency has joined the infamous ranks of those who betray what they were sworn to protect." Later on, Mouzon attributes the bizarre and unfortunate EPA decision to the Green Gizmo effect, or as he writes, "the proposition that with better equipment and better materials, we can achieve sustainability."

Mouzon hits the nail on head concerning the current conundrum when it comes to sustainability practices. Ultimately, we are caught between two choices: that of efficiency or that of conservation. Efficiency seems to be winning the race at present, if only because sustainability has emerged as a "hot" marketing term, and there is no lack of material out there waiting to be re-branded. And yet, there are only so many shades of green one can effectively be sold. At some point, conservation - which is a behavioral response based upon actual reduction of resource use - will have to become the predominant meme. So where to start? Well, let's start conserving fuel, land, energy and the EPA's integrity by petitioning them to stay in downtown KC.

Access the petition by clicking here.

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