MN: Sustainable Development, Sustainable Spending

Yesterday’s Star Tribune also had an editorial about the importance of sustainability and smarter spending for development. The governor and legislators working to pass House and Senate bills establishing a bipartisan Sustainable Growth Working Group whose tasks would include agreeing on principles for guiding Minnesota’s growth.

The nation faces an unstable energy future, as petroleum supplies recede and political/religious strife overtakes much of the oil-rich world.. . . To put it bluntly, no state can continue to afford policies that encourage the kind of wasteful, willy-nilly growth that has characterized the postwar (1945-2001) era. Instead, public investments must be more carefully channeled to benefit the kind of sensible growth and development that will sustain future generations.

Take, for example, current incentives that encourage new schools on 40-acre sites at the edge of town. Do state or local officials consider the full costs of that practice? What about all the added driving, gasoline consumption, carbon emissions and time pressures on family life? What about new roads and sewers required to serve not only the school but the slew of houses that will spring up around it? What about the costs of abandoning old downtown sites and the impact on old neighborhoods? What about kids whose health and exercise habits had benefited by walking to school but who now must be driven? Does it always make sense to discard the old and break new ground?

Hear, hear.

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