New Development East of Austin

I thought this new development was interesting. On the one hand, I generally bristle at anything that might generate urban sprawl. The last thing I want Austin to look like is Dallas or Houston. But on the other hand, this will probably eventually mean good things for my inside-the-loop property values, and they’re building green and with large green spaces in an area that was formerly a gravel mine, so that’s nice. I do think it’s funny, however, that they allow the phrases “15 minutes from downtown” and “8,000 houses” to exist in the same story, as if those two things could exist in the same universe. A large suburban area 15 miles from downtown will only be 15 minutes from downtown on Sundays after 10pm. No matter how green you make a community, sprawl equals traffic, and traffic decreases air quality and overall quality of life. Or maybe they’ll have a MetroRail line going out there. That’d be cool.

Pollution

I heard an interesting story on KUT this morning about pollution in Pasadena, TX. I remember as a child thinking that Pasadena must be one of the worst places on Earth; we would cover our noses and shut all of the A/C vents in the car when driving through. I didn’t realize until I heard the story this morning that they actually have an alarm that goes off when they release big batches of benzene into the air so that you know when to hide your kids and close all your windows.

I was going to say something about this being like regulation-free China, but apparently Chinese coal companies have much cleaner facilities in China than in America:

Three months later, union workers and tribal members flew to Taiwan for a 2004 stockholders meeting of Continental Carbon’s parent company. The union protested with a hunger strike. Ponca tribal official Dan Jones returned from Taiwan with stunning photographs of the company’s carbon black plant there.

“It’s beautiful. It’s clean. They have gardens throughout the whole thing,” Jones recalls. “There’s no fugitive emissions at all.”