Business & Technology

Take it with a grain of salt

SolarReserve’s 24/7 solar power plant

Photo: SolarReserveAt Rocketdyne’s San Fernando Valley headquarters outside Los Angeles there’s a whiff of the right stuff — of crew-cut guys in short-sleeve white shirts and skinny black ties — in a vast room that holds the massive rocket engines that propelled John Glenn and the Apollo 11 crew into space. In one corner of this corporate space museum stands something different, though. It’s a scale model of a solar power tower, technology Rocketdyne developed a couple of decades ago as a spinoff of its work for NASA. Here’s how it works: An array of mirrors called heliostats focuses sunlight …

Media stunner

Newsweek partners with oil lobby to raise ad cash

In September, I wrote a post “Newsweek gets duped by Big Oil — for real — in worst Big Media story of the year.”   The Newsweek piece by Rana Foroohar was titled “Big Oil Goes Green for Real” with greenwashing lines like “So how should we take the spate of new green announcements from the world’s major oil firms?”  Not. What I didn’t realize is that Newsweek was not getting duped by Big Oil — it was getting cash from the American Petroleum Institute in return for “access,” as journalism and ethics experts told E&E News (subs. req’d). Newsweek …

Another coal plant bites the dust

This post was co-written by Mary Anne Hitt, deputy director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign. We’re celebrating great news out of Minnesota and South Dakota this week: After almost five years of planning and permitting efforts, the participating utilities in the proposed Big Stone II Project announced … Monday that they will end their quest to build the project’s large coal-fired power plant and associated transmission facilities. We echo our own Cesia Kearns, a Sierra Club staffer from Minnesota, in what the halting of Big Stone II means for the region. The failure of this enormous proposed coal …

More clunker debunkers

Cash for Clunkers brought us … more clunkers!

So how did Cash for Clunkers work out from an environmental standpoint? You don’t want to know. The $3 billion federal program was kinda sorta supposed to send inefficient, high-polluting, belchy vehicles to an early grave. Instead it put a lot of new large, inefficient vehicles on the road, according to an AP investigation of new government records. The most common deals swapped old Ford or Chevrolet pickup trucks for new pickups that got “only marginally better gas mileage,” the analysis found. Old Ford F-150 for new Ford F-150 was the most common exchange. Buyers were 17 times more likely …

A Crawl to Arms

Seventh Generation launches anti-toxics campaign with wee gimmick

Seventh GenerationAt first blush, one’s enthusiasm for the Million Baby Crawl would seem to depend largely upon three things: 1) enthusiasm for babies, real and animated; 2) a penchant for baby-related puns (we’re going to rattle Congress!); and 3) interest in frittering away time on the interwebs. But that does a disservice to the intention behind this effort, which is to rally support for reform of the nation’s chemical policies. You don’t have to have babies — or even wuv them! — to want the feds to better regulate the toxics that find their way into our homes and bodies. …

Paul Krugman Versus Matt Taibbi

I love reading Matt Taibbi. I mean, who else puts together a sentence like this?: The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. Funny and righteous at the same time. Good stuff. But in a piece he wrote for Rolling Stone this past July, he made some awfully curious — and curiously unsupported — allegations about carbon markets: …if the Democratic Party that [Goldman-Sachs] gave $4,452,585 to in the last election manages to push into existence a groundbreaking new commodities bubble, disguised …

Fashion for the Forests

Gucci Group commits to saving Indonesia’s rainforests

Photo: Shi! There’s a new fashion trend this fall: saving Indonesian rainforests. The Gucci Group, the prestigious conglomerate of fashion and luxury brands that owns Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, and Balenciaga, has decided to eliminate all paper made from Indonesian rainforests. That includes everything from its letterhead to the pretty paper bags with ribbon handles that they give to shoppers to hold their new couture. A paper policy, you say? That’s not really fashionable, is it? Turns out it is. Gucci Group’s policy puts it at the front of a list of major companies — including Tiffany …

weasel in sheep's clothing

If you can’t beat ‘em, cheat ‘em

Photo: Kat… via FlickrConsider the weasel: so unassuming, even sweet — on the outside. But put them near their prey and watch out! I’ve got weasels on my mind, of course, thanks to Ohio Issue 2, which goes before voters tomorrow. Issue 2 is the Ohio livestock industry’s attempt to head off restrictions on their worst practices, such as tail docking, battery cages and gestation crates, and, purely coincidentally I’m sure, to keep the Humane Society of the United States from doing in Ohio what they’ve done in California, Michigan, Florida and Colorado just to name a few — either …

Why Does Oklahoma Want To Drown New York?

As the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee began hearings on carbon regulation, debate ran along traditional battle lines, but with a new script. Democrats Barbara Boxer (CA) and John Kerry (MA) moved away from discussing the environmental impacts of climate change – – and the reason, therefore, to take action to reduce carbon emissions – – and focused instead on the economic benefits of a domestic clean energy economy. Meanwhile, Republicans James Inhofe (OK) and Lamar Alexander (TN) complained that energy bills would rise and Americans would lose jobs. It’s a good thing that Congress is finally looking at …

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