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December 11, 2005

New York City: Ecotopia

In a nation of car drivers, mass transit New York City has always been an inherently enviro-friendly place.

But recent government policy is making it a trend-setter in other areas:

More than 11,000 traffic lights and "Don't Walk" signals in New York City have been switched to light-emitting diodes that use 90 percent less energy than conventional fixtures.

More than 180,000 energy-guzzling refrigerators in public housing projects have been replaced with new ones that use a quarter of the power of the old ones...

"For people who look closely at energy, the idea of New York being a callous and wasteful place is long dead and buried," said David Hamilton, director of global warming and energy programs for the Sierra Club. "When it comes to following up on new ideas and new technologies and staying ahead of the curve in terms of being smart and economical, New York is clearly among the leaders in the country."

The federal government has handed out wasteful tax breaks for oil companies, but NYC has used its taxing incentives to encourage conservation: "Just this month the Council passed a bill that would require the landlords of any building that receives a tax break to purchase only refrigerators, air-conditioners and other appliances that are certified as being efficient under the federal government's Energy Star program."

In reality, just a little bit of intelligent public policy could massively cut energy consumption in this country. The question is where the political will may come from.

Posted by Nathan at December 11, 2005 03:13 AM