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Finding jobs at the Ceres conference

Photo courtesy Cheryl Levine Last week, I attended the Ceres conference in Boston. My table was sitting down to lunch when the person next to me whispered, "It's Al Gore!" Cool, sez I! We were already pretty excited about the prospect of hearing from Van Jones (president, Green for All), Theodore Roosevelt IV (managing director, Lehman Brothers), and Michael Eckhart (president, American Council on Renewable Energy). Having the Goracle drop in unannounced seemed like a perfect way for Ceres President Mindy Lubber to cap off an already great event. Alas, it was not to be. The should-have-been-President was actually just …

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Eco-friendly outdoor-clothing company goes under

Last year, Eric Brody of outdoor-apparel company Nau excitedly chatted with Grist readers about his new enterprise and its ambitious sustainability plans. This week, the company announced that it's closing its doors: "Just as we could not have predicted the sudden groundswell of environmental consciousness that blossomed at the time we launched our business, we did not foresee the current crisis in the capital markets. At this time, investors are loathe to invest in anything -- especially, it appears, a company like Nau that has the audacity to challenge conventional paradigms of what a business should be." The oh-so-thin silver …

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An interview with Fred Krupp, author of Earth: The Sequel and president of EDF

Fred Krupp. Fred Krupp has been piloting Environmental Defense Fund since he left private law practice in 1984. It hasn't gone badly: Under Krupp's leadership, the group has become an influential player in the deepest halls of power, with an annual budget that's ballooned from $3 million to $71.8 million. A substantial measure of EDF's success and credibility stems from its crucial role in the development of the emissions trading program to reduce acid rain, passed in the 1990 Clean Air Act. Now Krupp is trying to replicate that success on a larger scale, stumping ceaselessly for passage of a …

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Carbon costs and energy prices, NC edition

As the most ardent Gristophiles know, this site is hosting a lively debate over the degree to which prices imposed on carbon emissions will impact energy costs. To recap, if prices do impact costs, then a carbon tax provides an investment incentive. If they don't, then we need some carrots to go with the stick of a tax. Hot off the presses comes this bit of news from Greenwire ($ub req'd): Duke Energy Ohio is asking federal regulators to approve the transfer of its Ohio power plants to companies owned by North Carolina-based Duke Energy Corp. whose rates are set …

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Small cars gaining popularity in U.S. amid high fuel costs

High gasoline prices and other economic woes have driven car-buyers in the U.S. to purchase smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles lately. Last month, sales of compact and subcompact cars made up about 20 percent of total sales; in the mid 1990s, small cars accounted for only about one in eight cars sold in the country. Sales of vehicles with four-cylinder engines also outpaced sales of six-cylinder cars. "It's easily the most dramatic segment shift I have witnessed in the market in my 31 years here," said a Ford sales analyst. Meanwhile, sales of SUVs and trucks are seeing a sharp downward …

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ExxonMobil’s profits huge; shares fall anyway

You know we're living in strange and perverse times when ExxonMobil can post a $10.9 billion quarterly profit and still fall short of expectations. This past quarter marked the second most profitable quarter ever for the most profitable company in the history of the world -- a 17 percent increase in year-on profits. And like its competitors at BP and Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon managed to increase its profits despite no increase in production. (Funny what happens when the price of oil literally doubles.) Nevertheless, Wall Street was disappointed and the company's shares fell sharply in early trading yesterday. The …

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Social engineering can’t be avoided; why make it benefit only the rich?

There is passionate opposition in some circles to combining "social engineering" with fighting climate chaos. But the fact is, an emissions cut is social engineering. To cut emissions, we are trying to make some of the biggest changes in individual and social behavior ever. Putting 100 percent of that change on the backs of ordinary people by giving away emissions permits that are then sold and incorporated into the prices of consumer goods is also social engineering -- social engineering that transfers income and wealth from ordinary people to the wealthy.

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Private equity firm and green group partner up

The Environmental Defense Fund has struck a first-of-its-kind "green portfolio" deal with gigantic private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. The partnership plans to develop tools to measure and improve the environmental performance of KKR'S U.S. companies, with metrics including energy efficiency, greenhouse-gas emissions, water consumption, and toxic waste. KKR has more than $185 billion in revenue and owns 46 companies, including Toys "R" Us, U.S. Food Service, Sealy, Nielsen, and Energy Holdings (formerly TXU); EDF and KKR were involved in brokering a 2007 buyout of TXU that resulted in coal plants being canceled, and the transaction spurred partnership talks between …

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Empirical data and theory both show that emissions taxes get passed to consumers

Sean asks, "If you put a price on GHG emissions, will it raise the cost of energy?" and answers, "Mostly, no." I wish he were right, because I really dislike carbon taxes and was only gradually convinced to support them by overwhelming evidence. But pretty much every empirical study that has ever been done about sales tax and other broad-based taxes on gross revenue shows that such costs do get passed along. A fairly typical survey of such studies would be this article (PDF) in the National Tax Journal. The pass-along ranges from two-thirds of the cost (during depressions) to …

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Let’s make all jobs greener with ‘climate quality standards’

Good Jobs First held its first national conference May 7 and 8, 2008, near Baltimore. ----- "Green my job." As I track the emerging "green jobs" debate about renewable energy, energy independence, and green pathways out of poverty, I am struck by how disconnected it seems from progressive tax policy. There are some large "policy forks in the road" being taken, although environmentalists seem unaware they are making choices. As an antidote, I offer two observations and a trial balloon. Observation #1: Some new energy proposals are corporate copycat Some green-jobs policy proposals call for new economic development subsidies to promote the construction …