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Terry Tamminen's Posts

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Is the next Steve Jobs in Geneva, Beijing, or Abu Dhabi?

Reading tributes to the fallen tech hero, Steve Jobs, from around the globe, two things are clear to me -- his successor is likely to be in the clean energy sector and working somewhere other than the U.S. I'm not saying Americans have lost their inventive mojo, just that I have met 50 innovative, inspirational thinkers from other nations for every one working equally hard in Silicon Valley or MIT. And most are tackling the greatest challenge to our environment and economy -- securing sustainable, clean energy for the 7 billion people now living on earth and the 10 billion …

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How Congress is turning America into China

Reading news from Washington D.C., while spending a week in China, it seems to me that some members of Congress are backing policies that would make America much more like China -- without any of the economic benefits. The House voted last week 249 to 169 to curtail the EPA's ability to reduce air pollution -- increasing the asthma and lung disease it causes -- by passing a bill that would delay or scrap regulations to reduce harmful air emissions. The bill was astonishingly broad, including everything from mercury to carbon emissions to smog-forming gases. And those voting in favor …

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Conversations You WON'T Overhear

As summer gives grudging way to our back-to-work lives, busy execs will likely compare notes at Chamber of Commerce luncheons about the economy and job creation. We can all imagine those conversations, given recent market and political news, but here are a few you won't be likely to overhear. Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon/Mobil: Hey Russ, I can't wait to get my hands on some of your expensive, hard-to-refine oil from the Canadian tar sands for my refineries in the lower 48. What's the hangup? The White House? Russ Girling, CEO of TransCanada: Nah, Rex, President Obama is playing ball, …

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The city of the future is already here

Ever see those signs that say, "If you lived here, you'd be home by now"? They're usually affixed to urban revitalization projects located near mass transit hubs (of course you're commuting another hour to your sprawl development in the 'burbs when you read it). Those projects represent a part of the city of tomorrow, but look a bit farther afield to get the full picture of what life could be like in a clean, sustainable city of the future - - and of the business opportunities that are hidden within. In East London, for example, the organizers of the 2012 …

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The law of unintended consequences

The House of Representatives has proposed legislation to cut USEPA funding by almost 20% and curtail its ability to tackle a wide range of pollution issues. The regulated industries and their allies in Congress may be hopeful of reduced cost and a less intrusive government, but they should be very careful of the Law of Unintended Consequences. In this case, it is likely to lead to more cost and steep increases in complex paper pushing. In my years as a regulator in California, the Number One thing that industry told me they wanted was certainty. Part of that demand included …

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McDonalds and United Arab Emirates greener than America?

Everyone loves a "man bites dog" story. Not everyone likes those tales, however, if they embarrass someone in the process. Take the news out of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, where fast food giant McDonalds has just announced that they will fuel their delivery trucks with bio-diesel made from their own used vegetable oil. Neutral Fuels will process the oil into fuel - - powering 100% of Big Mac's fleet with something that is otherwise treated as a waste product there. Air pollution and greenhouse gases will be slashed about 50%, but the real figure is much greater when you …

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The Afghan Price

Earlier this year, Afghan President Hamid Karzai spoke about discovering that truckloads of single-use plastic shopping bags imported into his war-torn nation were squandering precious resources of fuel while risking the lives of truck drivers as they passed through insurgent held territories. Recognizing the true cost of wasting scarce resources in a place with so few to begin with - - call it the Afghan Price of goods - - he led the effort to ban the use of those wasteful bags. He may want to measure the Afghan Price of a much bigger threat to his people next - …

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Could EcoAds Keep the Lights on in Japan?

In 1950s science fiction movies, irradiated monsters would emerge from the sea to level Tokyo as horrified citizens flee. In 2011, as a sign I saw last week in Tokyo airport attests (see photo), Japan faces a real-world nuclear nightmare and the very daunting task of rebuilding cities and an entire nation’s energy grid. An innovative American ad campaign may be at least one way to slay the dragon and build a more sustainable future. Last week in San Francisco, SunPower Corporation put their advertising dollars to work to support a rooftop solar PV system at the Telegraph Hill Community …

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We spend $76.6 billion a year on health care for kids made sick by toxic chemicals and air pollution

America spends a staggering $76.6 billion every year to cover the health expenses of our children who get sick because of exposure to toxic chemicals and air pollution, according to a recent study by researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. That figure includes the cost of medical care and the lost workdays of parents caring for their kids. The inestimable costs of exposure to things like lead in homes and soot in the air include children with severe learning impairment and chronic asthma, among many others. Enforcing pollution laws would reduce illness in kids and …

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Earth Day Aftermath – - Hope or Despair?

On Earth Day last week, I saw a burger wrapper tossed from an old Buick and was stunned that anyone still thought it was OK to use our shared city habitat as a personal dumpster. Later that same day however, I saw a homeless man pick up a Styrofoam cup from the gutter and drop it in a trash can nearby, a tsk-tsk look clearly visible on his face. Trivial perhaps, but those two incidents exemplify both the despair and the hope that we will ever climb the “green” mountain ahead of us. The problems are obvious, from nuclear accidents …

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