In many places around the country, and west of the Cascades more than most, "green" is all the rage. It's not just the interest groups or the media, but businesses and governments - green is hot. But how much is this green heat generating real change in the way our communities function? And to what extent might it be just fad?
In 2008 Governor Ted Kulongoski set up a framework that could make green uncommonly central in Oregon, from the big picture down to the exercise of daily lives. While there's a rap on him that he's not one of the most charismatic of leaders, and while any number of critics expressed disappointment with him in his first term on environmental matters, what he seems to be setting into place could mark a genuinely big change in Oregon in the next few years.
This is, to be sure, speculative. But in 2008 Kulongoski merged with the trend and tides in greening the state's economy, and was given the political advantages he would logically need to press forward. And almost many kinds of initiatives might be curtailed by weak tax revenues and a tough economy, this won't necessarily fall to that: He has estimated state spending for his proposals at only about $10 million, a figure low enough to slip through. Atop that, he now has a strongly Democratic legislature - the house was only barely just last cycle - and a strongly cooperative congressional delegation for the federal level.
And, crucially, he has a cearl set of proposals that plug neatly into the economic moment.
An Oregonian story put it this way: "If the Legislature approves the plan, Oregon would become a national leader in renewable energy production, electric car use and 'green' building construction, he said. 'How we live, how we move, how we work is going to change.'" (more…)