Terry Tamminen

Terry Tamminen is the former secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency and is now a policy adviser and author. His latest book is Watercolors: How JJ the Whale Saved Us.

Living

Top five New Year’s resolutions for planet and profit

It’s that time of year when someone at a holiday gathering inevitably asks about your resolutions for 2012. Feel free to plagiarize mine: 5. Grow more of my own food. China’s biggest dairy admitted that some of its products contained a toxin commonly found in corn and wheat, transmitted to the milk of cows eating the tainted crops. Maine residents were sickened this month when contaminated beef carried the salmonella “superbug” that had already sent many other Americans to hospitals. Wood shipping pallets have been suspected of transferring the bacteria from one place to another. McDonald’s, Burger King, and Taco …

A New Obsession

“This obsession with a legally binding treaty [to tackle climate change] is an obstacle for countries achieving targets they have committed to,” declared Paul Bledsoe, a climate change advisor to President Clinton. “What we need is national will to reach stated goals.” Given that the only international agreement so far, the Kyoto Protocol, expires in 2012, and greenhouse gases have been rising instead of falling, we clearly need a new obsession – – or a way to pay for the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. In a world facing economic meltdown, the question for many is not “how” but …

Give Thanks for Regulations

In the Broadway hit musical, “Book of Mormon,” a woman from Uganda envisions paradise as a place where warlords are benevolent and the Red Cross hands out as much flour as you can eat. In other words, the things that inspire hope and gratitude in any part of the world are in the eye of the beholder.    In this season of Thanksgiving in the US, I am grateful for clean air, water, and a productive landscape. Oh sure, we still suffer from too much pollution and degradation of these shared resources, but compared to Uganda or many other parts …

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 …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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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