Business & Technology

Local chambers going their own way

U.S. Chamber of Commerce split grows wider

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is famous for punishing officeholders and other political candidates who have the temerity to disagree with the Chamber’s views. But what happens when the U.S. Chamber’s own members and affiliates reject its “predictably stalwart” opposition to reasonable policies on climate change and green jobs? One “solution” is to try to pooh-pooh the problem, as Chamber staff have been doing over the last several days. Confronted with a story about Johnson & Johnson and Nike asking the Chamber to change its position on climate, Bill Kovacs, the Chamber’s vice president for the environment, technology and regulatory …

Chamber vs. Chamber

It’s hard to listen to someone complain about getting dumped. “Why won’t she come back? Doesn’t she know I can change? Just give me one more chance!” Lots of difficult questions with painful answers you’d really rather not get into. Which is why it was really hard to sit at the US Chamber of Commerce’s energy “dialogue” Wednesday morning in Washington, listening to polluters bemoan America’s momentum towards climate action amid the Chamber’s public split on the issue. Johnson & Johson, Nike and other members delivered a stinging rebuke on the Chamber’s climate obstruction last week. Then on the day …

You Can Go Your Own Way

California plans no exit from hydrogen highway

California is planning to invest millions to support the rollout of new hydrogen fueling stations. Pictured here is a station near Los Angeles Int’l Airport that was built by a partnership that included BP, Praxair and LAX.Courtesy Hydrogen Assn. Energy Secretary Steven Chu may want to slam the brakes on future hydrogen funding, but California will continue to pay its own way down the Hydrogen Highway, infuriating electric vehicle advocates in particular. Obama’s top energy official cut more than $100 million slated for hydrogen fuel-cell research from next year’s federal budget, arguing that in tough times, tough choices had to …

The Skyline's the limit

In solar biz, simple and cheap are keys to success

Skyline Solar is betting that its High Gain Solar technology will beat competitors on total costs and speed to market.Photo courtesy Skyline Solar There is, it seems, always something new under the sun in Silicon Valley. Which is why I’m standing behind a chain-link fence at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority bus depot, wedged between the sprawl of tech giant Cisco Systems’ mile-long corporate campus and, incongruously enough, a mobile home park. Before me are four 120-foot-long parabolic solar troughs. They’re similar to those you’d find in the middle of the Mojave Desert at a massive solar thermal power …

It's not easy dating green

Meet your eco-mate with Planet Earth Singles

Three weeks, max.planetearthsingles.comAt last, there is a green-friendly dating site for environmentally, socially and spiritually conscious singles! Not making this up: Types of Dating: • Earth Dating• Eco-Friendly Dating• Conscious Dating• Vegetarian Dating• Vegan Dating• Raw Foods Dating• Environmentally Conscious Dating• Eco Conscious Dating• Yoga Dating• Animal Rights Dating• Conscious Single Dating• Planet Earth Dating If you can tell us what the hell any of these mean, we should, you know, maybe get coffee or something sometime.

The what revolution?

NPR: Industrial ag and India’s ‘cancer train’

Spraying pesticides: how green a revolution? Last month, NPR’s excellent Dan Zwerdling filed two reports (here and here) on the ecological and economic upshots of industrial agriculture in India. Starting in the 1960s, U.S. agronomists–backed by U.S. foundation cash and blessed by the Indian government–introduced farmers in India’s then-fertile Punjab region to the glories of monoculture, imported petrochemical inputs, and heavy irrigation. The adoption of chemical agriculture in India became known as the “Green Revolution,” and is still hailed today in some circles as a great success. But 40 years after the Green Revolution took root, Zwerdling showed in his …

Straight Talk about Corporate Social Responsibility

Critical thinking about “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) is needed, because there are few topics where discussions feature greater ratios of heat to light.  With this in mind, two of my Harvard colleagues – law professor Bruce Hay and business school professor Richard Vietor – and I co-edited a book, Environmental Protection and the Social Responsibility of Firms: Perspectives from Law, Economics, and Business. At issue is the appropriate role of business with regard to environmental protection.  Everyone agrees that firms should obey the law. But beyond the law – beyond compliance with regulations – do firms have additional responsibilities to …

News of the beard

Seattle chef Maria Hines wins James Beard Award for her organic creations

Photo: Ron WurzerSeattle chef Maria Hines has cooked up an award-winning recipe for success: serve sustainable, organic foods from your local area in a welcoming atmosphere with a neighborhoody feel. The resulting dish? Tilth. Nestled in small green home in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, it’s only the country’s second restaurant to receive organic certification from Oregon Tilth, a distinction that promises 95 percent organic offerings and eco-responsible business practices. And its savory sups just won Hines a coveted James Beard Award — essentially the Oscars of the foodie world. Curious about her strong commitment to sustainable foods and her advice for …

Let's all go to the lobby

Dirty energy interests have spent $79 million this year lobbying Congress

The oil, gas, and electricity sectors spent tens of millions more to lobby Congress in the first quarter of 2009 than their renewable-energy counterparts. Big whoop, right? You could have guessed that. But the disparity between their spending — at a time when Congress is seriously considering far-reaching climate and energy legislation — is striking. According to the latest lobbying data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, the oil and gas industry spent nearly $44.6 million lobbying Congress in just the first three months of this year, and ranked second only to the health care and pharmaceutical industries in …

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