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Business & Technology


Three Wall Street banks announce funding restrictions for new coal power plants

Photo: iStockphoto Three major investment banks, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley, will announce new environmental standards today that are expected to make it more difficult for large coal-fired power plants in the United States to get funding. The standards anticipate some form of cap-and-trade program becoming law in the U.S. in coming years and seek to force utilities to plan for the inevitable; coal plants seeking funding would first have to prove they can be financially viable under a cap-and-trade system. The three banks said that they would consider funding energy efficiency measures and renewable-energy projects ahead of …


Show me the (oil) money

New tool tracks financial ties between politicians and oil companies

Check out Follow the Oil Money, a tool from the Center for Responsive Politics Oil Change International. You can find out exactly how much oil money any politician is getting (by zip code). You can also see cool charts showing the oil connections among sets of politicians. Here, for instance, is a chart of the presidential candidates -- it shows that Giuliani was clearly the biggest oil man. Here is a chart of all House members. Looks like one Stevan Pearce of New Mexico is the big winner there. Over in the Senate, on the other hand, two goliaths stand …


Whither the alternative energy market?

Q&A with Eric Janszen on whether an alt-energy bubble is in the making

Eric Janszen Eric Janszen, the founder and president of, recently argued in Harper's Magazine that the alternative energy segment is a prime candidate for a massive asset bubble, potentially dwarfing both the dot-com and housing bubbles. I wrote about Janszen's prediction last week. This week, Janszen joins us for a question-and-answer follow-up. Grist: You make a convincing argument that a financial bubble in the alternative energy industry is nearly inevitable, but the question I have is, do all bubbles have to end badly? Is it not possible for a bubble to harmlessly deflate over time? Janszen: As I mention …


Oil industry barely hangs on, thanks to brave Republican defense of subsidies

You may recall that a couple of months ago, Republicans in the Senate threatened a filibuster to defend about $13 billion in oil company subsidies. In other news, Exxon Mobil just posted the largest annual profit by a U.S. company in history -- $40.6 billion. It also set a record for the largest ever quarterly profit -- $11.7 billion. The second biggest U.S. oil company, Chevron, saw its profits rise 29% to $4.88 billion for the quarter. Clearly, this is an industry that desperately needs government help. Renewables are just going to have to wait until oil gets through this …


Green fantasy tech one step closer to reality

Lockheed Martin signs exclusive contract with Eestor for energy storage units

Oh! I forgot to pass on some interesting news that came my way recently. Defense mega-contractor Lockheed Martin has signed a contract with mysterious ultracapacitor company Eestor to use its energy storage devices in "military and homeland security applications." This seem huge. The buzz around Eestor -- more here -- has been intense, and the claims it makes on behalf of its ultracapacitors are astonishing. If they pan out, it could revolutionize the auto industry, and that's no exaggeration. The problem has been figuring out how much of it is hype. Though the company's backed by a some respected VC …


More Blankenship bashing …

... from the folks at FirstPost. Blankenship bashing on Grist here, here, and here. Why this guy isn't every progressive's bogeyman is beyond me.


Greenwashing Index

See how easy it is being Green(TM)! Just use Greenwash!

Luckily, some folks at the U. of Oregon are tracking it.


Senators include clean-energy incentives in economic stimulus bill

More than 40 senators, of both the Democrat and Republican persuasion, got behind a successful effort to include green-job boosting and renewable-energy incentives in the Senate version of an economic stimulus package. The legislation passed markup in the Finance Committee today and now heads to the Senate floor for a final vote.


Companies are greening but progress is limited, says report

Hardly a day goes by without some U.S. company touting its green credentials, but don't get too optimistic about corporate eco-friendliness. Consulting company Greener Media studied companies' performance on 20 economic and environmental indicators, from alternative-fuel vehicles to telecommuting to pesticide use, and has published the results in a new 65-page report. Only eight of the 20 indicators showed progress last year: emissions disclosure, clean-tech investment and patents, energy efficiency, green office space, recycling, quality of management, and toxic emissions. Two issues, electronic waste and carbon intensity, actually got worse in 2007, while 10 stayed about the same. Says report …


Why are American automakers special?

The Big Three attempt to persuade other states of the danger of fuel efficiency standards

Automakers are ramping up their PR effort to persuade states not to adopt California's auto emission standards, which they fear will survive the Bush administration's latest monkey wrench. But their arguments are as silly as ever: Dave McCurdy, chief executive of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers ... said the California-inspired initiative would result in a "patchwork quilt of inconsistent and competing fuel economy programs" that would lead to "confusion, inefficiency, and uncertainty for automakers and consumers." Is this supposed to persuade any of those wavering states? For one thing, it's not true, and for another, why should states care if …