Business & Technology

Hitachi and Schwarzenegger

Hitachi’s Plant Technologies division and two cities in Japan are selling treated sewage water to an iron ore mining company in West Australia for use in industrial processes that today consume scarce drinking water. Ore ships go to Japan fully loaded, but come back to Australia empty, taking on seawater as ballast for that return trip. The treated sewage water will be used for ballast instead, so there is no extra energy used (or net carbon and smog emissions) in moving the water. Moreover, invasive marine species typically hitch a ride in ballast water of ships (California is among many …

Froot Oops

Tainted cereal exposes soggy food-safety system

Photo by Mykl Roventine, FlickrOn June 25, Kellogg’s issued a “voluntary recall” of 28 million boxes of its breakfast cereals, including Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, Corn Pops, and Honey Smacks. The company revealed it had detected an “uncharacteristic off-flavor and smell coming from the liner in the package” of the suspect cereal and warned of “possible temporary symptoms, including nausea and diarrhea” from eating it. Before we plunge our spoon into this cereal bowl of trouble, let’s ponder the enormity of the recall. A box of cereal contains about 12 servings. That means Kellogg’s recalled enough cereal to serve breakfast …

Clean Up The Gulf For Only $19.95!

ScamWow! Greenpeace has the perfect solution for scrubbing BP’s oily image

Mocking the scam that is the BP cleanup, Greenpeace today released the “ScamWow!” infomercial targeting BP and other oil companies who need a quick solution whenever pesky ecological devastation results from their irresponsible, risky drilling practices. Spoofing the original late night cable sensation, the ScamWow! info-mock-cial demonstrates how the simple budget picker-upper’s cleaning powers can instantly sanitize tar-balled beaches, scrub the oil company’s public image, and save shareholders millions in onerous cleanup costs — savings the company can then invest in more insulting “We will make this right” TV commercials and full-page ads. Watch the Greenpeace “ScamWow!” video: The scary …

California greening

Solar projects continue to shine despite dark economic times

Three years into a decade-long project to install 3,000 megawatts of photovoltaic arrays, California is almost halfway to its goal.Photo: Flickr via Jason Levine DesignAs the Great Recession drags on in California — unemployment rate: 12.4 percent, state government in a state of collapse — the solar boom continues. The Golden State’s decade-long program to install 3,000 megawatts of photovoltaic arrays on residential and commercial rooftops kicked off in 2007, not too long before the global economic collapse began. Only three years in, the program — known as the California Solar Initiative — has achieved 42 percent of its 1,750 …

THE BEATDOWN GOES ON

Seven reasons BP would like to forget last weekend

It’s been 81 days since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank in the Gulf.Photo: U.S. Coast GuardIt should have been a good weekend for BP. Its latest plan to staunch the geyser — lowering a tighter cap over the spewing pipe — is ahead of schedule, and its two relief wells, which could stop the gushing once and for all, remain on track to be ready in mid-August. But, as we’ve come to learn over the past 81 days — and counting — BP reeks of bad karma.  Here are seven of examples from last weekend alone: Chum and …

Rebate and switch

Are kickbacks from Kellogg and others driving school-food purchasing?

D.C. Public Schools in the last two years have taken in more than $1 million in corporate rebates — referred to by some as “kickbacks” — paid by giant food manufacturers as an inducement to place their brands on kids’ cafeteria trays at school. Documents I obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that Chartwells, the company hired by D.C. Schools to provide food services at 122 schools across the city, through February of this year had declared $1,076,738 in rebates it received since its contract began in the fall of 2008. That represents 5 percent of the $18.7 …

Weeding out the influence

Weighing safety of weed killer in drinking water, EPA relies heavily on industry-backed studies

Illustration by Lagan Sebert, Huffington Post Investigative Fund, EPA Image by Harry Hanbury, Crop Duster image courtesy Jenni Jone via FlickrCross-posted from the Huffington Post Investigative Fund Companies with a financial interest in a weed-killer sometimes found in drinking water paid for thousands of studies federal regulators are using to assess the herbicide’s health risks, records of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show. Many of these industry-funded studies, which largely support atrazine’s safety, have never been published or subjected to an independent scientific peer review. Meanwhile, some independent studies documenting potentially harmful effects on animals and humans are not included …

Recurrent Energy

California’s photovoltaic push

Amid the hullabaloo over government-chartered mortgage giants derailing the green financing program known as Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, the march toward distributed generation of renewable energy — that is, generating electricity from decentralized sources such as rooftop solar panels or backyard wind turbines — continues. Case in point: The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) announced Wednesday that it had awarded contracts to San Francisco’s Recurrent Energy to install 60 megawatts’ worth of solar panels in the region surrounding California’s state capital. Rather than construct a central solar power station, Recurrent will scatter a dozen five-megawatt installations around two …

SUNNY SIDE UP

Sure it’s hot, but here are six reasons not to hate the sun

Spend a week on the sticky East Coast and it’s easy to go off on the sun. But stay cool. If we have any hope of beating our oil addiction, we need that Great Heat Machine in the Sky. Just last weekend, President Obama committed to $2 billion in loans to solar energy companies, including one outfit building a huge solar plant in Arizona. That’ll help. Here are six stories to remind you that the sun is our friend. Really. The  plane, the plane:  Sure, it’s all wing and has a top speed of only 75 miles an hour, but …

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