Capitol Ideas May/June 2012

Spokane, Wash., officials were simply looking for a way to deal with the city’s solid waste two decades ago when they stumbled upon a solution that could turn that trash into treasure.

City officials and the community made the decision to invest in a waste-to-energy facility, burning solid waste from the Spokane region to create energy. City Administrator Theresa Sanders said the waste-to-energy facility has given Spokane a solution to the solid waste issue that is environmentally sound, and also gives the city an alternative energy and a new business opportunity.

The Keystone XL Pipeline was designed to bring Canadian crude oil down to the large U.S. refining markets along the Gulf Coast. The project drew intense political opposition from environmental groups over the development of oil sands, while supporters touted its energy security benefits, including much-needed pipeline capacity.

In January 2012, the Obama administration denied the project’s necessary permit to cross the international border citing arbitrary deadlines set by Congress to force a decision. The company backing Keystone XL now has decided to break up the project in two phases, which will allow domestic construction to proceed while it reapplies for a permit needed to cross the international border.

Article Authored by Jim Stembridge

American state capitols have evolved only moderately in the more than 200 years since their early beginnings in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Typically, state capitols were designed, from the earliest, to have multi-storied wings housing the legislature’s two chambers, with galleries for viewing by the public, on two sides of a central rotunda opening high into a dome. Often, the governor’s ceremonial office also opens onto the rotunda. In 12 states, the supreme court also meets in the capitols.

Ten states have adapted to this “ideal” in particularly atypical ways.

The economic forecast was anything but rosy when the Car Allowance Rebate System—otherwise known as Cash for Clunkers—kicked off in July 2009.

Unemployment had reached 9.4 percent. Both Chrysler and GM had filed for bankruptcy. Things were not looking good for the economy in general or automakers specifically. That’s where Cash for Clunkers came in.

With no pun intended, Sen. Jim Kyle believes the future of solar energy in Tennessee is bright.

Kyle, sponsor of the state’s Clean Energy Act of 2009 championed by former Gov. Phil Bredesen, said the new solar farm near Memphis and the success of the Tennessee Solar Initiative will determine whether that future will be dimmed in any way.

“There’s a lot riding on these two particular projects,” Kyle, a 1986 Toll Fellow, said.