This weekly newsletter, focused on environmental issues, highlights relevant analysis done by the John Locke Foundation and other think tanks, as well as items in the news.

1. Asheville area restaurants receive over a quarter of a million dollars in state taxpayer money to "go green," despite state budget woes

Seventeen Asheville area restaurants using a $285,000 grant from a little-known state government agency called the NC Green Business Fund to the Asheville Independent Restaurant association. I guess the word "independent" here does not refer to being independent of their fellow citizens’ tax dollars.

According to this article in the Asheville Citizen-Times, the grant will be used to allow 17 Asheville area restaurants to "retrofit their hot-water systems with solar panels, upgrade their lighting and take other measures to meet the standards for Certified Green Restaurant status." This status is bestowed upon restaurants by a nonprofit called the Green Restaurants Association, which proudly lists endorsements by such leftwing groups as the Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resource Defense Council. The latter is the group that perpetrated the phony Alar scare, which devastated apple farming in this country back in 1989.

Apparently these changes and the "certified green label" that they bring are not changes those restaurants would consider worth making if they had to use their own money. The amazing thing is that, after all the spending cuts that went into balancing this year’s state budget and all the teeth-gnashing about loss of state jobs, programs like this continue to flourish. (HT to my colleague Jon Sanders.)

2. $10 billion more in guaranteed government loans to be handed out by the end of next week

And here it is:

As mandated by the stimulus bill, the Obama administration has until September 30 to "spend" all the funds allocated for the Department of Energy loans program, which guaranteed a $535 million loan to the now defunct solar company Solyndra. The program has already allocated about $8 billion so far, but has an additional $10 billion worth of loans in the works that must be finalized before the end of the month or the money will be reclaimed.

These funds will have a much greater stimulative effect if they are "reclaimed."

3.Celebrate annual World Car Free Day

Today is World Car Free Day. I want to urge everyone in the Raleigh area to leave your cars at home today and either walk, bicycle, or take the bus, especially those living south of town. This way I can drive in on a traffic-free road.

4. Weekly Ozone Report
Each week during the summer ozone season this newsletter will report how many, if any, high-ozone days had been experienced throughout the state during the previous week, where they were experienced, and how many have been recorded during the entire season to date. While many environmental groups express concern about air quality, the John Locke Foundation is the only organization that keeps up-to-date track of the actual ozone data and reports it in an unfiltered manner on a regular basis.

The ozone season began on April 1 and ends October 31. All reported data are from the North Carolina Division of Air Quality, which is part of the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

During the period from September 12 through September 18 there were three reported high-ozone readings on monitors across the state of North Carolina, two on monitors in Mecklenburg County and one in Rowan County. All three occurred on the same day, September 14. So far this season there have been 99 readings on various North Carolina monitors that have exceeded federal standards of 0.75 parts per billion. These have occurred over a period of 26 days.

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