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The Promise and Peril of Eco-Crowdfunding

Officials in Oregon, New York, and California have embraced crowdfunding as a way to push forward with environmental projects in a time of constrained budgets. Though the emerging tool is attractive to many, others see danger.
November 21, 2013, 9am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Online crowdfunding has been around for a little while. But it’s a new approach for governments, especially for environmental projects," writes Elizabeth Daigneau. "Since the recession, revenue has primarily supported essential services; there hasn’t been extra for new parks, energy-efficient retrofits or renewable energies. So states and localities have had to get creative."

With the support of public officials, and in partnership with crowdfunding websites, an off-road bicycling park in Portland and solar energy projects in New York and California are looking to the Internet to find financial support.    

"As exciting as this idea is to many public officials, eco-crowdfunding raises questions. A project’s ability to attract Internet investors may not be the best way to determine how worthwhile it is to a city as a whole," adds Daigneau. "And over-relying on crowdfunding could leave some more-necessary environmental projects behind."

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Published on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 in Governing
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