Can "Eco-Industrial Districts" help make Seattle sustainable?

A potentially far-reaching step toward making Seattle and its economy truly sustainable went unrecognized by news media this week: King County declaring its intention to partner with the city to create "Eco-Industrial Districts." A likely first candidate: The Duwamish River corridor in south Seattle, home of a Superfund site but also some grand visions by environmentalists, community activists and others.

The King County Council, prodded by councilman Larry Phillips, passed a resolution Sept. 13 that was welcomed by Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin:

"Seattle’s industrial core is a unique and extremely valuable resource and critical to the long term economic health of the region. The City Council’s interest in (eco-industrial districts) has a dual purpose, both to strengthen our industrial core and to improve the environmental quality of the Duwamish river corridor."

It's been a few years since the city council passed an ordinance intended to help preserve easily gentrified industrial areas. It's a threat we explored in our 2007 series on the Duwamish. But the city hasn't done a whole lot since then to proactively encourage high-wage industry to stay in town.

The whole idea of these eco-industrial districts is that new and cleaner industry can dovetail with efforts to green up -- literally and figuratively -- some of the city's grittier and yet economically important areas. Here's how the county's press release conceputalizes them:

Industry lobbyists torpedoed Copenhagen climate pact, eight-nation investigation by journalists shows

Following yesterday's news that there will be no global climate pact when international negotiators meet next month in Copenhagen, the Europeans today are saying it's all President Obama's fault.

But from where we sit -- and let's recall that Dateline Earth was a little grouchy at Obama early in his term about his less-than-laser focus on climate -- there's plenty of blame to go around.

Exhibit No. 1: The excellent report out today from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists outlining how industry lobbyists in eight pivotal countries torpedoed hopes for a climate treaty.

We heard about this from our friends at the Center for Public Integrity, which ran the effort to investigate the lobbying blitz.