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Business & Technology


Environmental interests vs. environmental advocates

South Carolina misses an opportunity for energy efficiency with Duke's Save-A-Watt program

I recently interviewed a guy who explained his approach to long-term contracting to me as follows: "always structure your contracts to ensure that your counter-party makes money, and you'll never have a bad contract negotiation." It's a great point, too often lost by those who are convinced that all negotiations are zero-sum games. Lest one think that hard-nosed, selfish negotiating is limited to greedy financial types, I bring you this story from South Carolina, where a change in utility regulation to incentivize energy efficiency was blocked by environmentalists and consumer advocates on the grounds that it would give too much …


The myth of simple market solutions

No particular policy instrument is appropriate for all environmental problems

I introduced my previous post by noting that there are several prevalent myths regarding how economists think about the environment, and I addressed the "myth of the universal market" ­-- the notion that economists believe that the market solves all problems. In response, I noted that economists recognize that in the environmental domain, perfectly functioning markets are the exception, not the rule. Governments can try to correct such market failures, for example by restricting pollutant emissions. It is to these government interventions that I turn this time. A second common myth is that economists always recommend simple market solutions for …


Planet f&%#ers

Electronics industry takes own temperature at Greener Gadgets

Hm. Where are all the gadgets at the Greener Gadgets conference, a one-day acronym festival -- EPEAT, ROHS, LCA, anyone? -- covering topics from e-waste recycling to the economic benefits of going green. I was expecting to see cell phones crafted of discarded water bottles or a smog-powered BlackBerry. At least they've got the photovoltaic backpacks. Mostly, the exhibitors' hall and panels include an odd amalgam of entrepreneurs and industry analysts, makers and regulators, who are far less focused on the gadget itself than on where it comes from and where it goes on its cradle-to-cradle journey through the world. …


Remake your living

Tips for landing a green job

Ah, the daily grind: An endless progression of dreary days with that pathetic guy in the next cubicle who spends half his time complaining and the other half in loud personal conversations for which the phrase "too much information" was invented. And that boss of yours? One shudders. But fear not. You can remake your living and land a green job -- all in one fell swoop. Here are some career-planning basics to get you started. Got goals? One-year periods are just about perfect for career planning. Annual plans are just long enough to accommodate multiple projects that require lots …


Sales figured

Survey finds Americans still want earth-friendly products during recession

A survey released Wednesday confirms that Americans remain interested in buying environmentally responsible products even during the recession. Conducted by Boston communications firm Cone Inc., the finding is the latest in a string of surveys drawing cheery conclusions about green spending. According to Cone, about 34 percent of 1,087 adult consumers said they are more likely to buy green-leaning products in the current economic climate, while 44 percent said their environmental shopping habits have not changed because of the economy. Only eight percent said they were less likely to buy earth-friendly products due to the downturn. The survey -- whose …


Meat Wagon: Layoffs at the factory farm, video

Farmers take the hit as the CAFO model comes under pressure

In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat and livestock industries. ----- The industrial meat giants have entered a crisis phase. As I've reported before, the world's biggest chicken packer, Pilgrim's Pride, is languishing in bankruptcy, squeezed by high feed costs, its own addiction to cheap capital from Wall Street, now dried up, and ruthless competition from rival Tyson. Facing a similar situation, Smithfield Foods, the globe's biggest pork packer and hog producer, announced it's shuttering six plants and hacking away 1,800 jobs. Pilgrim's Pride has deftly used its bankruptcy to shunt much if the pain …


The CAFO syndrome

An interview with Mia MacDonald on China's growing appetite for U.S.-style meat production

Mia MacDonald. Photo: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Old MacDonald had a farm -- one resounding with oinks and moos and squawks. By today's standards, the old man's farm would count as a model of biodiversity. Researcher Mia MacDonald points out that across the planet, old ways of farming are giving way to the environmentally devastating factory farms we've pioneered in the West -- typically housing a single species of animal, confined by the thousands in conditions that would be alien to Old MacDonald's pigs and cows and chickens. For modern industrial-scale animal farms, the proper literary form is the scathing …


Green Light: All up in my bus-ness

A zero-emission bus tours California, Toyota flirts with ethanol, and more green auto news

Thursday in San Francisco, it was easier to get an electric bus than an electric car. Proterra, a commercial hybrid- and electric-vehicle manufacturer in Golden, Colo., finished its weeklong California clean bus tour in the city by the bay. The sleek EcoRide BE35 climbed the hills of San Francisco, flaunting its environmental and fiscal charms before California municipal and transit stakeholders. Getting bus-y? Proterra's EcoRide BE35. Why California? Besides being the ultimate destination for fair-weather roadtrips, the California Air Resources Board mandated that 15 percent of all municipal urban bus fleets purchased for the 2012 model-year and beyond must consist …


Dell to pay

Computer maker expands recycling efforts

PC giant Dell today continues its campaign to be the world's greenest technology company by rolling out a pair of new recycling programs. The company is adding six states to its partnership with Goodwill Industries that lets customers drop off unwanted electronic devices for recycling at Goodwill retail stories. The network of 1,100-some collection points in 18 states accepts gear of any brand, as long as it's an item Dell manufactures (computers and printers, for example, but not TVs). has a list of dropoff locations. "Today we're making it even easier for environmentally-conscious customers to do the right thing," …


Going with the wind

ITC to build $12B in wind farm power lines, JCSP study finds $50B savings from wind

Wind power is coming of age as the U.S. becomes the global wind leader and probably the biggest source of new jobs in the energy industry. ITC Holdings announced Monday plans to build a $10 to $12 billion power transmission network to move 12,000 megawatts of electricity from the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Iowa to the Chicago area. ITC called the plan, depicted above, the Green Power Express, saying it could: result in a reduction of up to 34 million metric tons of carbon emissions, which is equivalent to the annual emissions of about seven to nine 600 MW coal plants. …