Business & Technology

Resource cursed

Oil spill underscores need for Gulf-area economies to diversify

In the best of times, the three states most directly affected by the Gulf oil disaster have pretty fragile economies. Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi all rank among the bottom ten U.S. states in per-capita income. Obviously, the ever-growing oil spill isn’t just wreaking ecological havoc. It also threatens severe economic damage. The commercial fishing and tourism industries, two linchpins of the regional economy, are obvious potential casualties. The third is the very industry that brought on the mess in the first place: deepwater oil drilling. If you live near the Gulf, you don’t have to be an oil-stained pol like …

BP: Belittling People

BP chairman ‘cares about the small people.’ WTF?

BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg must still be learning the finer points of crisis relations — here’s his explanation (before the White House press corps) of why President Obama is so frustrated with his company: [He's] frustrated because he cares about the small people. And we care about the small people. I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don’t care. But that is not the case indeed. We care about the small people.” Sir, you are an idiot. How out of touch does an executive have to be to let something like this slip out in …

EVs on aisle 4

Swiss supermarkets to offer Think electric cars

Think CityPhoto: Think“Honey, could you run down to the store and pick up some milk, tofu, and one of those new Think City electric cars?” That’s a request you could be hearing soon in Switzerland (in French, German, Italian, or Romansh, of course) now that Norwegian electric automaker Think has struck a deal with Swiss retailer Migros to market the City. Sort of a cooperatively owned Costco, Migros is Switzerland’s largest supermarket chain and operates more than 600 stores across the country. In a deal announced Wednesday, Migros will sell the battery-powered Think urban runabout through a new division called …

Mad (oyster farming) men

PR lessons from a 1960 oil trade group [VIDEO]

The oil drilling and oyster industries both extract things from coastal waters, so it’s no surprise they’ve been interacting for decades. Here’s a cheesy 1960 video from the American Petroleum Institute that gives a fun look into that relationship, and the industry-funded science that keeps it humming: I don’t know the full background, but Louisiana oyster harvesters claimed that offshore drilling was sickening oysters. The API responded with $2 million worth of research into oyster health — they pumped oil into a tank of oysters, poured in drilling mud, even measured the effect of dynamite charges on oysters. “Every possibility …

don't pray with fire

BP relief ship struck by lightning, bum luck

Photo: MReece via FlickrNot even the Big Guy can saviour BP’s luck.There have been many, many striking things about the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico: the carelessness of BP CEO Tony Hayward’s comments, the ridiculousness of BP’s spill-response plan, the scope and scale of the spill itself, the list of failed attempts to plug the leak whose names sound like they were made up by a seven year-old. And now, perhaps most striking (ahem) of all, comes news that the only functioning, albeit imperfect, solution for containing the runaway oil — the ship siphoning off about 15,000 barrels …

why can't they be friends?

Oil execs turn against BP in Congress hearing

Lamar McKay, President BP AmericaPhoto: BP The planet’s most powerful oil executives found their well-tailored behinds planted in the Congressional hot seat today, as the House Energy and Commerce Committee grilled the chiefs of ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Shell, and, of course, BP America about the Gulf oil spill and drilling safety. Recaps of the hearing are all over by now, so here are just the highlights. And by “highlights” I mean examples of corporate irresponsibility and political ineptitude. Here we go! Throwing BP under the bus. As expected, the four executives whose companies aren’t currently fouling the Gulf of Mexico …

identical spins

Waking America from the BP nightmare

57 days ago, in the dead of night, the worst environmental nightmare in U.S. history began. The spill cam, requested by Congress, has brought the horror into homes across the country, as we watch tens of thousands of barrels of oil billowing into the Gulf every day. For years, the oil industry swore this could never happen. We were told that technology had advanced, that offshore drilling was safe. BP said they didn’t think the rig would sink. It did. They said they could handle an Exxon Valdez-sized spill every day. They couldn’t. BP said the spill was 1,000 barrels …

Will the new climate bill damage U.S. energy security?

This piece was co-authored by Michael A. Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations. Few groups have been more strident in their opposition to cap-and-trade legislation than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Last year, four prominent members of the powerful business lobby, including Exelon Corp. and Pacific Gas & Electric, quit on account of its obstructionist approach to climate policy. When some activists announced, in a prank press conference, that the chamber would throw its weight behind an ambitious climate bill, the group responded with a lawsuit. In arguing against cap-and-trade, the chamber has repeatedly advanced the notion that such …

The great carbon market crash of '09

As we know, one of the few beneficial side effects of the Great Recession of 2009 was the decline in global greenhouse gas emissions as our consumer-centric economy sputtered. But that also sent the voluntary carbon markets into a tailspin, according to a new report released Tuesday by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Ecosystem Marketplace. Voluntary carbon markets, such as the Chicago Climate Exchange, allow companies to trade carbon credits, usually as part of corporate sustainability programs where they pledge to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions by buying offsets tied to forestry programs, the capture of methane gas from landfills and …

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