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Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’

BY BRADFORD McKEE

Credit: Richard Crossley [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons, left; Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons, right.

FROM THE SEPTEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Susan Combs will be back for the golden-cheeked warbler. Combs is a former Texas state comptroller, agriculture commissioner, and state representative who has been nominated by President Trump to run the policy and budget section of the U.S. Department of Interior. The job will put her in charge of all things related to the Endangered Species Act, under which the golden-cheeked warbler (Setophaga chrysoparia) is listed as being at risk of extinction. She “has an aesthetic interest in the golden-cheeked warbler and seeks to conserve the warbler and its habitat within Texas,” according to a petition she signed in June 2015 to have the bird taken off the federal Endangered Species list. But “Combs believes that local and state conservation efforts would be of greater benefit to the warbler and that continued unwarranted regulation under the Endangered Species Act can impede voluntary and local conservation efforts.”

Combs seems fond of these voluntary and local conservation efforts, as opposed to statutory mandates, to protect species, perhaps because they have little if any force. In 2011, she masterminded an effort called the Texas Conservation Plan for the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus). The plan was less about conserving the lizard than keeping it off the Endangered Species list and out of the way of the Texas Oil & Gas Association and the Texas Farm Bureau, among other cosigners of the plan, with “a locally controlled and innovative approach.” Another cosigner was the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southwest Region office. The problem, according to Gary G. Mowad, a former enforcement official and Texas administrator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was that (more…)

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

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Image courtesy of iLoveMountains.org [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

FROM THE MARCH 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Among the very early priorities of the new Republican-controlled Congress was to give the greenest of lights to any corporation—corporations being people—that wants to blow off the top of a gorgeous Appalachian mountain for coal, throw the spoils into the nearest headwaters, ruin the stream, ruin much downstream, and destroy a spectrum of wildlife, not to mention human life, in the process.

The instrument was a joint resolution of the House and Senate that pulled back the Stream Protection Rule, a long-sought goal of the Obama administration to prevent mountaintop removal for mining, which took effect on January 19, Obama’s last day as president. Its reversal by Congress was presented to President Trump on February 6. The resolution kills the Obama rule, which (more…)

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By Zach Mortice

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The Rockwell Gardens public housing project in Chicago, demolished in 2006. Photo by Paul Goyette.

The founders of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) started off with a bang. The small but influential cadre of advocates for walkable and traditional-looking urbanism began meeting in 1993—the first big gathering was held at the historic Lyceum in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, with its “enormous entablature,” as the historian Vincent Scully noted in his opening remarks. The CNU’s beginnings dovetailed with the passage of a piece of legislation that enshrined the group’s approach to city building as federal policy: the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOPE VI program. After decades of crumbling, dysfunctional government-built-and-managed public housing projects, housing would instead be at least partially constructed and controlled by private developers and management companies. They would build lower-density, “mixed-income” communities of row houses and garden apartments. By the numbers, the lower density was made easier because Congress, in 1995, ended what had long been the “one-for-one” replacement rule for any public housing to be demolished. Housing vouchers, to be used to pay private landlords (who are not required to accept them), were considered sufficient for tenants not accepted into newly built units. At any rate, the policy change posed no obstacle to architects and planners.

But the 2016 election of Donald Trump was a tidal wave that washes over every corner of government—public housing design guidelines and funding policy included. HUD and the New Urbanists’ HOPE VI legacy is, pending a likely confirmation, in the hands of Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and GOP presidential primary candidate, who is neither an expert nor even a novice (more…)

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