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De-Frosting the classics 

Fire and Ice

Even as Congress bumbled and then fumbled a slew of energy-related bills, leaving America mired in an unstable oil market without a coherent way forward (beyond burning more corn as the world food markets riot), San Antonio’s leadership dropped green ordnance on the Alamo City.

It was sorta like being in Maxwell Smart’s “The Nude Bomb” during last week’s Council B Session, only instead of fighting a secret weapon that threatens to make everyone nekkid, councilmembers were fighting a long history of irresponsible energy use. Not nearly as sexy.

Still, “COSA Mission Verde” bared enough skin — er, transparency — with nebulous plans to expand mass transit, super-insulate our homes, and establish a “green collar” economy, that the side chamber was packed with riveted ears.

Last night, a panel of environmentalists and city advisors gathered at the Witte Museum to hash out exactly what the City has committed to, and discuss which strategies will be most successful in transforming SA’s energy empire.

Fresh from the embarrassing defeat of its requested 5-percent rate hike, City-owned CPS Energy suggested it may not be able to expand its efficiency programs, or donate much to the City’s. Still, there seems to be plenty budgeted to advertise in this captive market as well as time to spend lobbying for nuke power with the recently formed Nuclear Energy for Texans.

Now, if only radioactive strontium-90 and tritium just melted away our clothes …

Whose woods are these

So that’s how you win a “Golden Shovel” award, eh?

Announced by the lamentably un-singed press staff of Governor Rick Perry this week, Texas received the gilded implement from Area Development magazine.

Can you feel that business-friendly climate breathing down your neck? Can you see it? It looks an awful lot like bad building policies mucking up our cherished rivers and streams. Perry credits the award to “our state’s reasonable regulatory environment.”

Queque suggests we also have to thank our long history of not bothering the builders.

Days before the Shovel revelation, the U.S. EPA announced it had settled a number of lawsuits against four of the country’s most prominent builders, including Dallas-based Centex Homes, for alleged Clean Water Act violations.

Texas stayed out of it, despite being the third-most-impacted state in the country.

Of the 2,200 sites included in the lawsuit, 247 were in Texas. That includes 26 housing developments in San Antonio and 19 in Bexar County.

So, while Colorado, Maryland, Virginia, Missouri, Nevada, Tennessee, and Utah are divvying up their share of the $4.3-million settlement (granted, it’s not much), Texans can play with our shiny new tool in silted-over riverbeds.

The Road Not Taken

Tireless TURF warrior Terri Hall claimed partial victory this week in her ongoing battle with the expansionist-minded San Antonio Metropolitan Planning Organization. It’s true that vacancies will no longer count against a quorum, which Hall fears will favor appointed board members over elected representatives in the perilously close 9-10 split, and the MPO would like to expand its transportation embrace to the Hill Country, a proposition Hall believes will go over like a lead zeppelin in anti-toll Texas House District 73.

But Hall and her mobilized troops did beat back a proposal to allow the County Judge and SA’s Mayor to unilaterally appoint alternate members to the MPO’s elected seats, and preempted a proposition for more toll-friendly scoring and prioritizing of projects. More details on the Curblog at

In other toll-related news, following a host of chilly public hearings this spring and winter, TxDOT announced that it will re-route a portion of the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor along existing lanes, particularly U.S.-59 — a concession advocated by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, the Texas Farm Bureau, and a host of other eminent-domain-averse folk.

Hall is not mollified. She worries that the new plan will cause TxDOT to toll portions of roadway already paid for with taxes in order to subsidize newly built but less-trafficked portions of the proposed superhighway, a charge TxDOT spokesman Mark Cross called spurious: “The only thing that could possibly be tolled would be additional new lanes that could be built.”

Another issue they’re sparring over: whether TxDOT can simply refine the environmental study they’ve already done, narrowing the focus to the new route, or, as Hall contends, TxDOT must start anew. Either way, says Cross, they’ll have the enviro survey completed by next spring.

Compare the routes and read more about it at

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