Conservationist Wins $100,000 Idea Contest

A river conservationist who proposed taxing fossil fuels and pollution to pay for renewable energy development and environmental restoration won a $100,000 contest of ideas sponsored by the Service Employees International Union.

"The idea is to promote broad-scale environmental restoration and sustainable use of resources," said Peter Skidmore, the contest winner and a 41-year-old river conservation manager from Seattle. "There's a little bit being done here and there, but nothing on a scale that makes a difference."

Skidmore, married and the father of two young sons, proposed a "resource tax" that would tax use of fossil fuels, pollution and any type of development that degrades the environment.

Two second-place winners each claimed $50,000. Leslie Hester, a 26-year old graduate student studying forestry in Raleigh, N. C., would reform public education by redistributing tax revenues for schools, controlling tuition at public universities and raising teacher salaries. Filippo Menczer, a 40-year-old associate professor at Indiana University in Bloomington, would tie the minimum wage to the cost of living.