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View from the Cordillera

A Commentary on Achieving Excellence in Local Government
Read by Municipal Leaders on 4 Continents
Published by the Cordillera Institute

Improving Our Environment
The Waste-Management Challenge: How Did We Get into This Jam? (Vol. 3, Issue 4)
This issue is part 1 in the series on waste management.  As the volume of senior-government regulations mushrooms and as suitable disposal sites become more difficult — and expensive — to find and develop, waste management is becoming a real challenge for many municipalities.  This was not always the case.  As recently as the 1950s, the disposal of solid waste attracted little attention.  And, in many rural and smaller urban municipalities, it appeared as a relatively minor item in the annual budget.  So, what sparked the change from where we were then to where we are today?  How did this become such a difficult — and expensive — municipal activity?  What role did senior governments play?  How have municipalities responded?  Were these early remedies successful?  This issue offers some answers to these troubling questions.

The Waste-Management Challenge: Examining the Remedies (Vol. 3, Issue 5)
This issue is part 2 in the series on waste management.  It opens with a consideration of the 2 avenues used to seek answers to challenges.  Then, it continues our examination of remedies which municipalities are applying to meet the waste-management challenge.  For more on how waste is being diverted from landfills, we cover 2 incineration technologies and 3 involving gasification.  Next, we see 3 approaches that are being used to extend the lives of landfill sites.  And, we note how 2 municipalities, which are quickly running out of landfill capacity, have responded.  What's being done to reduce the waste stream?  We describe the 4 most widely used remedies.  With such a range of remedies available to meet the waste-management challenge, how should we judge the success of any single remedy?  This issue provides a formula to measure success.  Using that yardstick, it assesses which remedies have been successful and why.  With this information in hand, you can assess — or re-assess — your municipality's challenges in waste management.

The Waste-Management Challenge: Ensuring the Availability of Sustainable Remedies (Vol. 3, Issue 6)
This issue is the last of our 3-part series on waste management.  After a brief recap of what has been covered in the 2 prior issues, it looks at remedies which have been less successful or have led to other problems.  Then, it describes how remedies which use new technologies have performed.  To brighten the waste-management future, this issue notes the importance of dispelling 2 persistent fictions which have led to poor choices of remedies.  The issue — and this series — conclude with a set of 5 recommendations for successfully meeting the waste-management challenge.  The recommendations do not evaluate the environmental consequences of the various remedies nor do they address their technical performance.  Neither I nor anyone else at the Institute has that expertise.  What we do have is a thorough understanding of what makes some remedies cost-effective and others not.  When combined with your own technical expertise and your extensive knowledge of conditions in your community, you should be well equipped to select sustainable remedies for your municipality — from the considerable range of available choices.  However, there's a big 'if' here.  To successfully meet the waste-management challenge and to continue improving the natural environment without breaking the bank, we will have to 'clean up' the regulatory environment.

Do We Have the Green to Go Green? (Vol. 3, Issue 27)
About 40 years ago, a massive effort to clean up our air and water was begun.  Yes, we still have more to do for our water and our air but great strides have been made — without reducing our living standards.  Today, we are said to be facing a very different and, potentially, far more expensive challenge.  With all the major-media attention and the billions of tax dollars going to subsidize projects intended to meet that challenge, an assessment of their sustainability is overdue.  Since local-government agencies and municipal utilities are considering — or already involved in — such projects, we examine the risks involved and see who is most likely to bear those risks.  Then, we apply those guidelines to some typical projects that your organization may be considering.  Almost all of us would like to do our part to improve our environment — but not if it risks leaving our communities, our organizations, or our people holding the bag.

Can We Grow the Economy and Still Protect the Environment? (Vol. 3, Issue 46)
In this issue, we confront the major environmental challenge of our time.  We discuss who is behind it and where it is leading us.  Then, we see how we can choose better policies.  In doing so, we examine whether environmental improvement is compatible with economic growth.  Next, there is the need to separate fact from fiction.  Before we can improve our environment in ways which are truly sustainable, there are 4 myths to be dispelled.  The following step is to decide which environmental policies — and the programs to implement them — are best for your community, your county or region, your state or province, and your nation.  To assist you in making your choices, a set of 7 recommendations is offered.  When combined with your own technical expertise and your extensive knowledge of conditions in your community, you should be well equipped to make your selections.

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