Business & Technology

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 …

Everyone on the same page?

‘Sectoral carbon’ … Eh? Please define

At times certain words become quite fashionable, though nobody is quite sure why. Everyone wants to use them, even as they can have different meanings for different people. In the discussion of climate change in the United States, “sectoral” seems to have achieved this particular honor over the past few months. Before we start, let’s do a quick test. When policymakers use the term sectoral, what do they mean? 1. A command-and-control measure at a national level, e.g. low-carbon fuel standard or a sector-specific tax? 2. A transnational cap-and-trade sectoral agreement, e.g. aviation or maritime? 3. A commitment by a …

Fact Finding Missions

Ask Umbra on comparing green products

Q. Dear Umbra, I am a consumer who has recently convinced a friend of mine to green his business. I am now in charge of doing all of the research. My question is, how do I go about assessing the life cycle of various products? … Do you know of such a service/website? I have tried to Google things but it is very hard to get side by side comparisons. Also, do you know of a good website that rates random products according to their environmental impact? Tamara A.Munich, Germany Data, people. We need data.iStockA. Dearest Tamara, Welcome to my …

Electric cars get better mileage

From a study published in this week’s Science Express ($ub Req’d): Bioelectricity produces an average 81% more transportation kilometers and 108% more emissions offsets per unit area cropland than cellulosic ethanol… Given the limited area of land that is available to grow biofuels crops without causing direct or indirect land use impacts, bioenergy applications should maximize the efficiency with which a given land area is used to meet transportation and climate change goals. Bioelectricity is the act of making electric power by burning biomass for boilers or turbines instead of fossil fuels like coal. In a nutshell the study says …

Don't be corny

A bad idea, plus lots of cash

What’s that in your gas tank?This is a blog post about the intersection of a bad idea and lots of cash–your cash. The bad idea is this: growing crops to ferment and distill them into ethanol for internal combustion engines. A few days ago, the EPA revealed that by its calculations, use of corn-based ethanol will actually raise greenhouse gas emissions over the next 30 years compared to gasoline. And then Friday, Science published a paper by Stanford academics claiming that it makes much more sense to burn corn to produce energy for electric cars than it does to convert …

Climate Savings Bond

Pinko bastion spawns capitalist solution to solar financing

Berkeley is Fox News’ nightmare. The city’s political spectrum runs from center left to left of Lenin. Malcolm X not only has an elementary school named after him but his birthday is a public holiday. The best pizza in town comes from a workers’ collective (veggie only) located across the street from Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse — she who would smash the agricultural-industrial state. And did I mention Breast Freedom Day at People’s Park? A lot more solar panels like these could be installed across California if more cities adopt Berkeley’s model for financing installation.City of BerkeleyBut this hotbed of …

Where in the world is the junk wall?

Behind the scenes at Fortune Brainstorm Green 2009

What’s better than attending the Fortune Brainstorm Green 2009 and hearing Ford Chairman Bill Ford and Founder and CEO of A Better Place Shai Agassi speak? Shaking hands with Former President Bill Clinton, of course!  Not too shabby for a couple of days in Orange County.  Beyond the speakers and the networking, the artistic angle of the conference was phenomenal. “Ultimately, it was the most comfortable and eye-pleasing conference I’ve ever attended.” Herman Miller Who would have thought that a chair could be chique, ergonomic, and green all at the same time? Herman Miller did. “One of Fortune’s Most Admired …

daft clunk

‘Clunkers’ debunkers attack Democrats’ auto trade-in plan

Should the clunkers plan be junked?Support “cash for clunkers” as an auto-industry bailout if you must, but don’t call it green. So say the Wall Street Journal, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, and U.K. environmentalist George Monbiot, all critical of the environmental benefits of the proposal President Barack Obama endorsed yesterday. Obama and Democratic House lawmakers reached compromise on a plan that would pay drivers $3,500 to $4,500 to trade in gas-guzzling older vehicles for more fuel-efficient new ones. The idea has been tossed about as a way to give automakers a boost and retire the nation’s dirtiest …

A long Rowe to hoe

Exelon CEO: Really, we want a cap on carbon

The CEO of Exelon Corp., one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, is calling for a carbon cap in a new national TV ad. This comes just a day after Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who is leading GOP efforts to kill the House climate and energy bill, told business leaders who want climate action to “keep their powder dry.” (We wonder how that strikes Rowe, who has donated $10,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee for each of the past two years.) “I’m a utility CEO — not who you’d expect to be for a cap on carbon pollution,” says …

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