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Ford won’t sell 65-mpg diesel car in U.S.

The Ford Fiesta ECOnetic, a small, sporty five-seater that gets an impressive 65 miles per gallon, will the hit the road in November -- but only in Europe. "We just don't think North and South America would buy that many diesel cars," says Ford America President Mark Fields. The new generation of diesel cars, which are dramatically cleaner than old-school diesels and are at least 30 percent more fuel-efficient than gas-powered vehicles, haven't managed to shake Americans' longstanding aversion to the fuel: only 3 percent of cars in the U.S. are diesel-powered. But other automakers are betting that Americans can …

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Phoenix NBA team to add solar system to arena’s roof

Going solar is a slam dunk for the Phoenix Suns, who are installing a 196 kW solar system on their arena's roof. This installation was made possible by the state's Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff, which was implemented by the state's Corporation Commission and is currently under threat on several fronts. Arizona's primary was last Tuesday, and it appears that those would-be commissioners who were running on a platform of junking the renewable rules will not make it to the general election. Results here, blog item here. Barry Wong, who appears to have won the third spot on the GOP …

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Conservative heavy-hitters discuss what makes for a safer world

Kate and I mostly spent our time at the RNC seeking out energy/environment-related events, but I wanted to go to at least a few on other subjects, just to see if our issues popped up anywhere outside their normal silo. In that spirit, on Wed. afternoon I attended a panel discussion called "Building a Better, Safer World: What Would a McCain Presidency Do?" The panelists: Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), McCain adviser (and lobbyist) Randy Scheunemann, Ambassador Richard Williamson, Ambassador (and trade lobbyist) Robert Portman, and Bud McFarlane, former National Security Advisor to President Reagan. That's a pretty heavy-hitting line-up, one …

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Half of GM’s manufacturing plants to go “landfill-free” by 2010

Automaker GM is planning to make half of its 181 manufacturing plants worldwide "landfill-free" by 2011 through initiatives to reuse or recycle some 90 percent of its waste, according to USA Today. The not-reused, not-recycled portion of the waste would potentially be incinerated to produce energy. GM has yet to formally announce the program, but USA Today reports that the company already has 10 "landfill-free" plants in operation and a spokesperson told the paper that another 80 plants will likely meet the no-landfill-waste goal sometime in 2010. GM, along with other U.S. automakers, has been struggling financially lately as high …

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Benitez of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers says deal imminent with Whole Foods

I'm a lame blogger when it comes to breaking news at conferences, when my brain typically reaches explosion point with all the information zooming in. I should have live-blogged this Saturday, while I was taking in Slow Food Nation's "Toward a new, fair food system" panel: Coalition of Immokalee Workers leader Lucas Benitez revealed that Whole Foods is on the verge of agreeing to pay an extra penny per pound for the Florida-grown tomatoes it buys. As part of its "Campaign for Fair Food," CIW is urging all major corporate buyers of Florida tomatoes to agree to the extra-penny-per-pound deal. …

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Honda rolls out new cheap hybrid with familiar name

At the Paris International Auto Show next month, Honda will unveil a prototype of its new low-cost hybrid: the Insight. A lot has changed since 1999, when the company debuted the first hybrid to hit American roads: the, um, Insight. Has Honda exhausted its supply of car names? Nay, says the company: "The name Insight was chosen to denote Honda's 'insight' into a new era in which hybrid vehicles come within reach of most car buyers." Indeed, when the new Insight hits showrooms in spring 2009, it's expected to be priced around $18,500; the base retail price for the 2009 …

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Biofuels: not cost-effective or lucrative for climate change or business

According to this article in Mongabay, a study from a British think tank is calling for an end to subsidies for biofuels based on -- not biodiversity loss and high food prices -- cost effectiveness. The economics is startling -- if developed countries spent the same amount of money on preventing deforestation and the destruction of peatlands as they do on biofuel subsidies (US $15 billion), this would halve the total costs of tackling climate change. In addition to this, the protection of these habitats yields a plethora of valuable eco-system services, particularly in the poorest countries." Normally, a third …

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New HP laptop packaged in messenger bag instead of box

Don't take Grandma to Wal-Mart: the big-box store's new Hewlett-Packard laptop "will be displayed on shelves wearing only the HP Protect Messenger Bag." Scandalous! But actually, there's no need to avert your eyes: the HP Pavilion dv6929 is served up in a recycled, reusable messenger bag instead of a box, cutting cardboard and plastic packaging by 97 percent. Thinking outside the box helped HP win Wal-Mart's Home Entertainment Design Challenge, which judged suppliers' products on attractive design, environmental innovation, and less-wasteful, less-toxic packaging. Wal-Mart says 25 percent less truck space is now needed to schlep the computer to stores, cutting …

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Offshore wind power in U.S. poised to take off

There are no offshore wind turbines generating electricity in U.S. waters yet, but that's expected to change soon if wind-power advocates and wind developers have their way. The first U.S. offshore wind turbines could be spinning in as little as three to five years if all goes well. The U.S. Interior Department is already conducting environmental impact studies for offshore wind farms at 10 sites in federal waters off the U.S. East Coast, and the agency is expected to finalize its rules for offshore alternative-energy production by the end of the year. For their part, wind-energy companies are especially excited …

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RNC: Bipartisanship trumps renewable energy, at least party-wise

Kate and I did the party circuit tonight, and it was ... weird. Our first stop was a party thrown by the Bipartisan Policy Center. Grist readers will be familiar with the BPC via its founder and current president Jason Grumet, who is Barack Obama's top energy and climate adviser. The BPC also threw a party in Denver at the DNC. That one was relatively modest -- in a smallish bar, with maybe 50-75 people. This one, however, was huge. It was held in a ginormous chi-chi bar/restaurant called the Bellanote, which is apparently the hip spot in Minneapolis right …