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USCRAP

The media was all abuzz when a bunch of big corporations got together to form USCAP, a coalition supporting the implementation of a mandatory cap on carbon emissions in the U.S. Why, big business has gone green! So the headlines said. However, as a great BusinessWeek story today explains, many of those same companies are working hard behind the scenes to thwart or neuter the very efforts USCAP claims to support. Trust but verify, as they say.

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Fidel Castro’s resignation may boost biofuels in Cuba

Fidel Castro's step down after 49 years as Cuba's leader may have implications for biofuels in the country. Castro was outspokenly critical of U.S. biofuel policy, and blocked a proposed expansion by ag giant Archer Daniels Midland into Cuba in the 1990s. But Fidel's brother Raul, who will assume leadership of Cuba, is a biofuels supporter. Industry analysts have projected that Cuba has the potential to produce up to 3.2 billion gallons of sugar-cane ethanol per year, and the country recently began overhauling its 17 ethanol refineries. Some see a Brazil -- with less internal demand for biofuels, and thus …

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Massey incest

Mining CEO so insinuated in W. Va. politics that they can’t find judges to hear his case

So, you may recall that loathsome mountaintop-removal mining outfit Massey was hit with a $50 million judgment a while back. They appealed it up to the W. Va. Supreme Court, which overturned it. Later, it turned out that Massey CEO Don Blankenship (an evil bastard) had been photographed frolicking with one of the judges in Monte Carlo, accompanied by, um, female consorts. So that judge dropped out of the case. Now the WSJ brings word that another judge is recusing himself -- Justice Larry Starcher had criticized Massey and Blankenship publicly, so Blankenship bullied him off the case. Said Starcher: …

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CBS to pay $31 million to clean up Indiana Superfund sites

The media giant CBS has agreed to pay $31 million to clean up six ultra-polluted Superfund sites around Bloomington, Ind. CBS is the corporate successor of Westinghouse, which ran industrial operations in the area that polluted streams and groundwater with high concentrations of PCBs. An agreement to clean up the contamination in the 1990s was abandoned; CBS has been negotiating another deal with the state and U.S. EPA ever since. "The citizens of Bloomington have lived for too long with fish advisories because of the high concentrations of PCBs in fish in local streams," said the EPA's Mary Gade. "The …

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Hire definition

How do we define the green-job economy?

Photo: iStockphoto If my inbox and recent headlines are any indication, the green jobs bandwagon is rolling on jet fuel and it's "game on" for labor market consultants. Having announced the imminent arrival of the green economy, we're scrambling to define exactly what that means and to generate hard data about job descriptions, training requirements, hiring rates, salaries, and career paths. These days, it seems like everyone is planning a "green jobs" study -- but each will provide a much-needed service. These studies are helping employers, policymakers, and educators sort out hype from reality so that we can provide clearer …

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NYC mayor says he’ll veto an electronics-recycling bill

The New York City Council overwhelmingly passed a bill last Wednesday that would require electronics manufacturers to take back products for recycling. But on Friday, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he'll veto it -- and that if his veto is overridden, he'll choose not to enforce the law. The council estimates that more than 25,000 tons of TVs, computers, cameras, and other products are thrown out by NYC residents each year. Bloomberg, generally a greenish kinda guy, admitted that e-waste is a concern, but likened requiring manufacturers to take back electronics to publishers being responsible for readers recycling newspapers. Councilman …

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A trillion here, a trillion there

Another day, another trillion dollars for the clean-tech industry

It seems that a day doesn't slip by without someone raising the stakes in the alternative-energy poker game. The most recent bombshell wager: Cambridge Energy Research Associates report that alternative energy investments will -- hold on to your hats! -- top $7 trillion by 2030. That's an audacious number by any measure, and normally it would be enough to suck the oxygen right out of a convention of wind-farm enthusiasts. But that's not the half of it. The most startling aspect of the report is that it barely raised a ripple in the investment community. And why should it? There's …

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Cadbury eggs will come with less packaging

Cadbury Schweppes, the maker of the Easter season's omnipresent sugar-yolk-in-a-chocolate-shell, has unveiled an alleged "eco-egg." No, the goopy white innards aren't organic; no, the chocolate isn't fair trade. The "eco" aspect comes merely from the eggs being sold unboxed, reducing packaging waste. So which came first, the greenwashing or the egg?

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Mattel, Toys “R” Us to phase out cadmium batteries, citing toxicity

Toy giants Mattel and Toys "R" Us have announced they will phase out cadmium batteries due to their toxicity and the associated health problems they can cause at the factories in China that produce them. Scores of factory workers have been sickened by cadmium, which can cause lung cancer, bone disease, and kidney failure, but cadmium batteries are still used in toys like remote-controlled cars because they're cheaper to produce than less-toxic nickel-metal-hydride batteries. The phase-outs are part of the toy industry's wave of reassurance in the face of last year's epic toy recalls. Mattel said it would phase out …