News From TreeHugger: DC Bag Tax Shows Impressive Results

photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/farhan/2279621136/">Farhan</a> via flickr.

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Editor’s Note: A weekly roundup from our friends over at TreeHugger. Enjoy!

Wisconsin Bans Phosphorus in Lawn Fertilizer to Protect Drinking Water and Tourism Industry

Recognizing the need to protect Wisconsin’s lakes and rivers, which support a large and economically important tourism industry, and which provide drinking water for a large portion of Wisconsin’s residents, the State no longer allows sale of phosphorus-containing lawn products intended for maintenance (recurring) application. There are exemptions for starting up a new lawn, gardening, and so on, but the bottom line is that retailers and producers are going need to stock no-phosphorus lawn care products.

Plastic Bag Use in DC Drops From 22 Million to 3 Million a Month

Washington DC’s 5 cent tax on plastic bags, instated just this past January, has already proven to have a phenomenal impact: the number of plastic bags handed out by supermarkets and other establishments dropped from the 2009 monthly average of 22.5 million to just 3 million in January. While significantly reducing plastic waste, the tax simultaneously generated $150,000 in revenue, which will be used to clean up the Anacostia River.

San Francisco is the First City in the US to Count Its Parking Spaces

t might come as a surprise to some, but pretty much all cities in the U.S. (and the world) have only a vaguest idea of how much parking spaces (public and private) they have. Almost all of them, but now there’s a sizeable exception: San Francisco spent the past 18 months counting parking spaces. Total: 441,541 spaces. Over 280,000 on streets, 25,000 of which are metered. Now that this is know, decisions about removing or adding parkings can be informed, and be part of a bigger-picture plan.

Peruvian Farmers Happy to Offset West’s Carbon

Peruvian farmers are about to get a windfall–and it’s all thanks to the burgeoning carbon offsetting market. Recently, one particular section of Peru was selected to be the site of a massive reforesting operation to offset CO2 emissions of Nestle Waters France over 6 thousand miles away. But, in age where the appearance of environmental responsibility often supersedes actual responsibility, the bottled water company has enlisted the help of France’s most well-known environmentalist to head the tree planting project to show that all is on the level–and he insists that Peruvians won’t be the only ones to benefit from it.

The US May Finally Get a Bigger Gas Tax, But Would It Work?

The US has long had among the most minuscule taxes of transportation fuels in the developed world–blame it on our deeply ingrained car culture or the plethora of wide open spaces that make transit via automobile seem more like a need than a privilege. Either way, we may finally see a significant bump in the amount consumers pay at the pump—one of the anticipated provisions in the soon-to-be-released Kerry-Graham-Lieberman energy reform bill is a proposed spike in the national gas tax. But would such a tax accomplish its intended goal of curbing carbon emissions and deterring Americans from relying so heavily on automobiles?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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