Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stumblin' & Bumblin' NoVA GOP Strikes Again

In the 8th Congressional district, the Republican Party has a clear pattern:
  • Whine about how Democrats always win
  • Nominate candidates who run on the national GOP platform & don't even try to pretend to represent the district's values
  • Hire staffers more interested in catching the national party's attention for their next job than actually trying to win
  • Lose horribly
  • Repeat
Which brings us to the story of the Patrick Murray campaign staffer who thinks bashing Al Gore & denying global warming is a winning campaign strategy in one of the greenest Congressional districts in the entire country that Gore won by 15 points in 2000. I think Jim Moran will take "attacks" like that any day. Lowell has the full story at

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

No Thanks, We'll Keep Blowing Up Mountains

Off-shore Wind Farm TurbineWhile Virginia keeps getting its power from blown up mountains, Cory Nealon of the Newport News Daily Press reports:
Offshore wind power could exceed Virginia's current electricity demand and create up to 26,660 in-state jobs, according to a report issued Tuesday.

Written by Oceana, an ocean-oriented environmental group, the report examines the East Coast. It found that wind farms could supply nearly half the region's current electricity generation and provide up to 212,000 jobs.

The report looked at water that averages at least 12.5 mph winds, is three to 24 miles off the coast, and is no deeper than 100 feet. It excluded 67 percent of these areas due to potential military, environmental and shipping conflicts.
Check out Cory's blog, The Deadrise, featuring some of Virginia's best (and let's face it, these days only) local environmental journalism. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Arlington Sends Most Unintentionally Funny Press Release Ever

Many a visitor to The Green Miles has found it unintentionally funny that Arlington has something known as a Beaver Pond. I have not only taken part in Beaver Pond cleanups with fellow Arlington Community Volunteer Network alumnus Dan Silverman, pictured here. I've taken Arlington visitors to the pond so they could take pictures in front of it so they can prove to friends back home that it exists.

Arlington is moving to renovate the pond, which is great. Will clean storm runoff, provide better wildlife habitat, good stuff.

But did the press release announcing the renovations have to go out of its way to put "Beaver" in quotes? Or make repeated, vague references to the pond's not-so-fresh feeling? And the capper -- a county board member saying one of the goals is to make it "easier to access"?

Come on, Arlington County. Grow up.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Los Angeles Breaks Record for Hottest Temperature

2010's tied for the hottest year on record so far. Over the weekend, DC tied the record for most 90 degree days in one year. And now America's 2nd-largest city has broken its record for highest temperature:
As of 12:50 p.m.: downtown L.A. had hit 113 degrees, a record high. Stuart Seto, a forecaster for the National Weather Service, said that's the hottest temperature recorded at the downtown station since record-keeping began in 1877.
Nothing to see here, right California GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina? No need to buy any less Middle Eastern oil or burn any less mountaintop-removed coal? Just all a coincidence, or sunspots, or something?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Will New Evidence Convince Cuccinelli to Drop War on Climate Science?

One of the things you always hear from science deniers like Ken Cuccinelli is that if only there were more research on global warming, it would align with their political opinion that climate change is (depending on the day):
  • Not happening
  • Happening but not our fault
  • Happening & our fault, but oh, it's not so bad
  • Sunspots! Martian warming! Fartgate, follow the smell!
But the problem with that is, the more scientists look into climate change, the more they find the planet is warming, manmade carbon emissions are to blame, and we need to switch to clean energy sources as soon as possible to avert catastrophic impacts.

So now that two new independent studies have both come to the conclusion that current global warming is unprecedented in magnitude, speed & cause, do you think Ken Cuccinelli will consider his demand for more research fulfilled, drop his attacks on the Clean Air Act & support more wind farms & energy efficiency in Virginia?

Yeah, me neither.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall Flavor: Virginia Apple Picking

Apple PieThe Green Miles will weigh almost as much as Haley Barbour by the time the week is out, thanks to this pie.

Golden delicious & empire apples just picked the day before & a recipe from The Official Vermont Maple Cookbook substituting maple syrup for sugar. (Not pictured: Apple cider donuts & a pumpkin roll I got at the orchard bakery.)

But the fantastic local food is just one reason I set aside a Sunday to go apple picking every fall. After the DC area's hottest summer on record, it's a great excuse to spend some time outdoors in non-sweltering weather. And not to get too Ferris Bueller, but if you don't take some time to enjoy the highlights of the season, suddenly the year's over & you're wondering where the time went.

I usually head out to Winchester's Marker Miller Orchards, which features lots of different kinds of apples & pumpkins, a bakery & store, and a tractor ride. Just a couple of minutes down the road, there's also The Pumpkin Patch with a petting zoo & pumpkin pie fudge. Find a full list at

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Facebook Falling Behind Yahoo & Google in Online Green Race

If you need to keep your building cool, why not put it in a place that's freezing most of the year?

Yahoo is building a new data center in Lockport, NY, not far from Niagara Falls, that will be cooled in part by the bitter winds that blow off Lake Ontario. (As a Syracuse University graduate, I can vouch for how effective the lake wind is at cooling.)

Google had an idea to go one step further, filing a patent for an offshore data center that would use wave power for energy & ocean water for cooling. But Google filed the patent in 2008 & there doesn't seem to be any public evidence it's moving forward.

Yahoo & Google have been doing their part to reduce their carbon footprints, but what about Facebook? For its new data center, Facebook chose coal power. Facebook is now the target of a Greenpeace campaign to reject dirty coal, featuring this wicked awesome parody of the upcoming movie about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, The Social Network:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

FlatEarth.TV: Tea Time with Sarah Palin

Generation Y: Cars Suck

Detroit has spent decades refusing to make more fuel-efficient cars, claiming it's too expensive and besides, consumers don't want them.

That effort is finally making a difference -- but not in the way automakers expected. Seeing it as a polluting waste of time, driving is down sharply among young adults:
Selling cars to young adults under 30 is proving to be a real challenge for automakers. Unlike their elders, Generation Yers own fewer cars and don’t drive much. They’re likely to see autos as a source of pollution, not as a sex or status symbol. [...]

“This generation focuses its buying on computers, BlackBerrys, music and software and views commuting a few hours by car a huge productivity waste when they can work using PDAs while taking the bus and train,” says [Learning Resources Network President William] Draves.

Moreover, in survey after survey, Gen Yers say that they believe cars are damaging to the environment. Even hybrid electric vehicles don’t seem to be changing young consumers’ attitudes much.
True low-polluting vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt are finally getting ready to hit the market. But is it too little, too late to sell Gen Yers on the idea that you can be green AND drive? And if this generation really does hate extreme commuting, what does that mean for distant suburbs that have sprung up to support Baby Boomers' craving for a white picket fence no matter how long the drive?

Via Greater Greater Washington 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thursday: AYD/ACE Happy Hour

The Arlington Young Democrats Environment Caucus & Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment are hosting a joint happy hour this week:
Time: Thursday, September 23 · 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: Ireland Four Courts, 2051 Wilson Blvd, Arlington

Join the Arlington Young Democrats and Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment on Thursday, Sept 23 from 7-9pm at Ireland 4 Courts. Network with local green activists, learn about the Green Living Challenge and how you can make a difference in your community! To learn more, contact Heather at environment(at)
RSVP on Facebook!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dulles Airport's Terrible Transit Options

On the list of Topics I've Always Wished I Had More Time To Get Into, the godawful transit options to Dulles International Airport ranks high. Fortunately, the folks at did it for me.

In the long term, Metro to Dulles will help solve this problem. But in the short term, Dulles does its best to incentivize driving & discourage transit use.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Are Leaves "Turning" Already?

I've seen a ton of tweets & Facebook posts in the last couple of weeks from friends in the mid-Atlantic remarking that the leaves are "turning already."

What I'm seeing right now in my Falls Church, VA neighborhood isn't leaves turning -- they're dropping dead. There's a big difference between leaves gradually turning yellow, orange & brown while on the tree, then gently floating to the ground ... and leaves turning brown & immediately leaping to the sidewalk. My neighborhood features green trees with brown leaves lining the gutters. Not exactly prime leaf-peeping.

Why are they dropping so early? A scientist friend explains:
The leaves dropping is mostly because of the dry summer, but this summer's record heat also means the trees require even more water, making the same level of drought more severe than it would have been without the high heat. I'm hoping what we're seeing is the trees going into early dormancy, rather than signs of long-term damage.
Why do people assume any brown leaves after Labor Day are fall foliage? Part of it is an issue of transplantation. Many of us grew up in places up north where hints of fall foliage right now wouldn't be unusual. But here in the mid-Atlantic, it's way too early for true fall foliage -- we're still technically in summer.

Of course, this debate is a blip on the radar compared to what's facing New England. Why would tourists spend thousands to go leaf-peeping there if global warming makes it too hot for maple trees, the main source of New England's brilliant autumn colors?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Who's Jim Webb Fighting For?

Does Jim Webb realize that when he declares war on the Clean Air Act, he's fighting for BP? That he's fighting for coal companies that leave in their wake maps of mountaintop removal coal mining & poverty that match up almost perfectly? Does he think it's brave to stand up for the Koch brothers?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Earth to Jim Webb

On the same day Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) announces he'll fight efforts to limit global warming pollution, NOAA announces the first 8 months of 2010 tied for the hottest on record.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

McDonnell: Meh, Chesapeake Bay Fine The Way It Is

Sunrise over the Pound Nets, Chesapeake Bay_6-7-08Dead zones spawned by runoff from farm fields, urban sprawl & inadequate water treatment plants? Crab populations constantly on the brink of collapse? Oysters in need of human helping hands just to survive? Watermen having to go to court to preserve their way of life?

Gov. Bob McDonnell's response: Sounds fine to me!
The restoration plan developed by Virginia offers tax incentives to farmers to use pollution- and erosion-reducing practices, yet still estimates the cost to agriculture could range up to $800 million. It also calls for the expansion of other programs intended to limit bay pollution.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation was unsparing in its criticism, saying the plan lacks details and is "stunningly deficient on how the commonwealth will implement many of these proposals."

J.R. Tolbert, assistant director of the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club, said the plan relies too heavily on voluntary measures and General Assembly passage of program expansions aimed at a cleaner bay. He called it a "status quo" plan.

"I think our governor has an approach that the free market is going to solve all the problems of the world," Tolbert said. "We've spent the last 25 years relying on the free market to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and, while we've made a little bit of progress, we have failed time and time again."
Considering McDonnell has gotten more than $1.1 million from agriculture interests in his career, should we be surprised who he's looking out for here?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Exclusive Footage of Westover Market's Appeal to Arlington Zoning Officials

UPDATE: Yet another instance of Arlington threatening to shut down a business for an absurdly insignificant reason.

Former Arlingtonian Dan Ennis passes along this video of the Westover Market Beer Garden's plea to Arlington zoning officials to allow music:

In all seriousness, here's a comment from a member of the Save Westover Market Beer Garden Facebook group:
I live 3 blocks from the Westover Beer Garden. I can hear the Metro trains (another 3 blocks beyond the Beer Garden), but I have never heard noise from the Garden, even when I know it's in full swing. It's a cool neighborhood gathering place that attracts all kinds of musicians and patrons and adds to the vibrancy of the Westover neighborhood.
I say again: I understand there are zoning & permitting issues to be worked out. Westover Market is already in the process of addressing them. But what does it say about Arlington County's zoning & permitting process that a few complaints can completely silence the music that hundreds of people had been enjoying every week?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Silent All These Beers: Step Up To Save Westover Market Beer Garden

Want to know how insane the partying gets at the Westover Market Beer Garden? Check out this picture of a typical rowdy night from the Save Westover Market Beer Garden Facebook group:
Yes, that's what Westover's NIMBYs & Arlington County's Zoning Commissioner are spending so much time & energy on: A guy who looks like Pacey from Dawson's Creek playing adult contemporary. When neighbors complain about "noise," you have to wonder what standard they're using. Are they balancing what's easily-ignored with what's actually loud? Or are they saying, "It was completely silent before, now I can hear something, therefore I'm calling the authorities"?

The question remains, is fun public enemy #1 in Arlington? Got this response to my post from Maureen Dilg, writing on behalf of the Arlington County Office of Communications (reprinted here in its entirety):
Due to complaints from neighbors about excessive noise from the outdoor area..., Arlington County zoning inspectors are investigating zoning violations brought against Westover Market. Westover Market has appropriate approvals for seasonal outdoor seating for nine people. The purpose of this seating is outdoor dining.

The space is being used for more than nine people and live bands are entertaining clientele. Having live, musical entertainment requires a public hearing before the Arlington County Board. Should Westover Market choose to apply for a Live Entertainment Use Permit, the County Board will weigh measures that will minimize the adverse impacts of its use on its neighbors.

All Arlington County residents and businesses are expected to comply with the requirements of local ordinances.
I appreciate Ms. Dilg's response, but according to, she's not telling the whole story here. Westover Market did apply for a permit to seat up to 24, but the county denied it on the grounds that the bathroom was insufficient. So, to review:
  • Cite business for seating more than 9 people
  • When said business applies to seat more, deny it
  • When people complain about you harassing a business for doing well, say they don't have the right permit, which you denied
  • Repeat
But as I said in my first post, I understand the zoning regulations & don't dispute Westover Market needs to meet them. The question is, do you work with the business that's clearly tapped a niche in the community (the Facebook group is approaching 300 members at this writing) to keep a good thing going? Or do you shut down the live music effective immediately & force them through a regulatory steeplechase

Arlington County has clearly chosen the latter. Nine people on the patio sitting quietly? Fine. Ten people on the patio with toddlers dancing to Jack Johnson covers? HAVE SOME COUNTY BOOT ON THE BACK OF YOUR NECK, HIPPIES.

As TBD reported, there's a question of community character at stake:
Daniel Weir, another patron of the garden, wrote to us to say that the garden is part of the reason he’s considering settling down in Westover. “[The beer garden] is a piece of what makes Westover magic — the combination of a truly residential neighborhood that has a spice of urban vitality. Without it and the atmosphere that it helps create, Westover would be like a slightly older, less wealthy McLean,” he says.
According to the Facebook group, fans of the Westover Market Beer Garden are asking supporters to email Arlington County Zoning Commisioner Melinda Artman at, letting her know that you want Arlington to work with Westover Market to keep the Beer Garden thriving.

GOP Candidates Fall Flat in Arlington

How badly are GOP challengers doing in Arlington? Even conservative Arlington Sun Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey scored Democratic incumbents Rep. Jim Moran & County Board Member Chris Zimmerman ahead of their Republican opponents in their performances at this week's Arlington Civic Federation forum.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Quick Thought on Arlington County School Board Race

I don't like to criticize people who run for office on issues they're passionate about but have little chance of winning -- I wish we had more of them & fewer generic, calculating, soulless politicians who stand for nothing, like, say, Virginia's lieutenant governor whose name I dare you to remember.

But Miriam Gennari, Green Party candidate for Arlington County School Board, says on her website that sustainability is her driving force. It's her whole thing. I just wish the company she's president of,, touted sustainability too. Or even had the word anywhere on its website. Makes it look like she's not practicing what she preaches.

Especially when she's challenging Sally Baird, a fighter for environmental issues even when they're controversial, like the geothermal power system at the new Wakefield High School.

Just sayin'.

DC Sierra Club Endorses Gray for Mayor

Jim Dougherty, the DC Sierra Club's conservation chair & a member of the national Sierra Club's board of directors, explains the reasons for endorsing Vince Gray over Adrian Fenty at, concluding:
If we want Washington to take its rightful place alongside Seattle and San Francisco as one of America's most progressive environmental cities, we need an executive that will work hand-in-hand with our now progressive legislature. Gray has the vision; Fenty doesn't.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Jim Webb Looks Out for Jim Webb, Part 68,302

Rep. Tom Perriello took a tough stand to hold polluters accountable by voting for the American Clean Energy & Security (ACES) Act.

So while campaigning with Tom Perriello, what does Sen. Jim Webb do? Attack legislation like ACES.

Just the latest evidence that Jim Webb only looks out for one guy: Jim Webb.

Does WI GOP Senate Candidate Think Demons Cause Cancer?

Ron JohnsonWhen politicians say they don't accept climate science, you have to wonder: What other science to they reject? Evolution? Cancer?
A global warming skeptic, [Wisconsin GOP Senate candidate Ron] Johnson said extreme weather phenomena were better explained by sunspots than an overload of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as many scientists believe.

"I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change," Johnson said. "It's not proven by any stretch of the imagination."

Johnson, in an interview last month, described believers in manmade causes of climate change as "crazy" and the theory as "lunacy."

"It's far more likely that it's just sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time," he said.
The next time you start blaming your cancer on cigarettes, asbestos or coal-fired power plants, ask yourself this: Is my cancer caused by sunspots? Should I stop blaming Big Tobacco & blame Big Sun instead?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Public Enemy #1 in Arlington: Fun has been documenting Arlington County's bizarre war on up & coming businesses. First the Arlington County Board denied patio seating for American Flatbread. Then a county employee took sidewalk signs from both Screwtop Wine Bar & Bakeshop and threw them in a Dumpster.

Now I hear Arlington County has been harassing Westover Market over its wildly popular Bier Garden. The Powers That Be are apparently upset about the live music and the Market's makeshift bathroom setup. I am not making this up: Apparently actual police officers have been seen responding to reports of a man playing Jack Johnson cover songs while children danced.

Look, no one believes in the power of government to fight for the common good more than The Green Miles. And I don't profess to know the intricacies of county code. But it's hard to know what Arlington is thinking these days. At a time when the economy continues to struggle & Arlington's cultural identity seems increasingly dominated by generic places like Cheesecake Factory & Spider Kelly's (aka Adams Morgan West), these businesses are trying to breathe new life into places off the beaten path. And what do they get for their troubles? Harassment from county bureaucrats & Jason Mraz-hating NIMBYs.

There needs to be a thoughtful balance in a community between bustling business & restful residential areas. But when government bureaucrats are swiping signs & silencing acoustic guitars, you have to wonder if anyone's thinking at all.

The Green Miles on Een Zeilboot

This just popped up in my inbox & I couldn't be more delighted:
  • "Een Zeilboot"? That's just made-up, right? No actual translation could be that hilarious, could it?
  • "Here, ees zee ocean!"
  • Hey, it's a donkey! Now here's a black guy sitting in front of a shanty!
  • The sea turtle frantically trying to swim out of the diver's grasp, like, "I don't have gills, asshole!"
I'm sure they're trying to raise awareness of ... something ... and anyway, it's extremely funny in a Sprockets sort of way, so give them some views:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

GOP Being Overrun by "Climate Zombies"?

securedownload[1]Over at DailyKos, RL Miller takes a look at a phenomenon infecting the GOP:
This past summer, climate peacocks like Lisa Murkowski succeeded in killing the Kerry-Lieberman bill by preening their sincerely held, beautifully articulated concerns about the horrors of climate while simultaneously refusing to find solutions. Those peacocks are going the way of the polar bear. Instead, climate zombies like Joe Miller mindlessly replicate. If you listen carefully, you can hear them moan: "caaaash!" Or maybe they cry "Kooooch!"
Remember when clean air wasn't a partisan issue? When Republicans like John Warner knew being pro-business didn't mean letting polluters literally write their own rules? Was that really so long ago?

The Kochtopus Extends Its Tentacles in California

From the LA Times: "A company owned by oil billionaires Charles and David Koch has contributed $1 million to Proposition 23, a November ballot initiative to suspend California’s groundbreaking 2006 global-warming law."

Friday, September 3, 2010

Deep Thoughts: Transportation Edition

Was just listening to Adam Tuss' report on WTOP on the completion of Maryland's ICC.

Now that the ICC is finished, what will be the next Phenomenally Expensive Paving Project That Will Surely Solve All Our Transportation Problems (Paying No Attention To The Fact That Afterwards Traffic Usually Remains Unchanged, If Not Worse)? Expanding I66? I395 HOT lanes? An Outer Beltway?

Surely then every driver from Loudoun & Stafford Counties will be able to cruise from their cul-de-sac to K Street in 20 minutes flat!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Report: Global Warming Threatens Jamestown, Chincoteague, Shenandoah

Jamestown SettlementReports USA Today's Green House:
Human-caused climate change threatens to flood Jamestown, the first permanent European settlement in what became the American colonies and the United States, says a report Wednesday by environmental groups.

Jamestown Island, the site of the original 1607 settlement, is low enough to be inundated by rising seas and tidal waters -- even if the waters do not rise as much by 2100 as scientists predict, according to the report by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Climate Organization. [...]

"Climate change poses the greatest risk our National Parks have ever faced," says Theo Spencer, senior advocate of NRDC's Climate Center. He says Jamestown, along with two other parks, attracts six million visitors each year who spend more than $200 million and support 4,000 Virginia jobs.

The report (PDF) says the other two parks also face grave risks: Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge could lose its beach and Shenandoah National Park could see it brilliant fall colors muted by air pollution and encroaching pine trees.
Previous reports have made similar warning about threats to Virginia's coastal communities & wildlife habitats. And that's on normal days, never mind when a hurricane threatens to bring a storm surge.