Business & Technology

Bank of America will stop funding mountaintop-removal mining

In a big win for environmentalists, Bank of America agreed Wednesday to “phase out financing” to coal companies “whose predominant method of extracting coal” is mountaintop-removal mining. Green groups recently persuaded several BoA execs to visit ravaged Appalachian mountains. Ironically, the U.S. EPA just this week approved a rule change that makes mountaintop removal easier.

BofA disses MTR

New policy would divest bank from mountain obliteration

In light of the crappy news from the EPA, which seems ready to make mountaintop removal coal mining easier by loosening restrictions on burying Appalachian streams with mining rubble (when’s the “protection” part of this agency going to speak up?), there’s this bit of hope in NRDC’s blog about Bank of America, which just revised its “coal policy” [PDF] after some execs visited the region and did some flights over the affected areas. The policy says in part that it will "phase out financing of companies whose predominant method of extracting coal is through mountain top removal. While we acknowledge …

A little of the direct action Al Gore called for

Taking on corporate America’s faves

Activists occupy Environmental Defense’s offices.

Tomato concentrate

Time to slice up the tomato industry?

What happens when a few large buyers dominate a market? Anyone who keeps up with my posts — still there, mom? — knows what’s coming next: The buyers gain the power to dictate to dictate terms and conditions to sellers. For farmers, the results of concentrated markets are devastating. As a few giant companies like Smithfield and Tyson came to dominate meat packing, they managed to drive down the farmgate price of chickens, pigs, and beef cows. As a result, hundreds of thousands of farmers were driven out of business. Survivors took on debt and scaled up, in a desperate …


What should be done with the empty big box?

Last month, Circuit City announced that it would close 155 of its stores, most of them big boxes: those 50,000- to almost 300,000-square-foot warehouse-like structures, often built far from city centers. By one estimate, there are almost 3,000 vacant big boxes littering the American landscape, with more to come as major retailers falter. Makes Wal-Mart’s logo, that “Always” emblazoned on their façades, seem ironic: what’s really permanent is the big box as retail grave. The environmental impacts of big box stores are well documented — among other things, they consume green space, encourage driving, and soak up public funds. But …

One in three toys tested has worrisome levels of toxic chemicals, group says

A study of some 1,500 popular children’s toys sold in the United States found that one in three tested contained “medium” to “high” levels of a range of toxic chemicals including arsenic, lead, mercury, and others, according to green group the Ecology Center. “Our hope is that by empowering consumers with this information, manufacturers and lawmakers will feel the pressure to start phasing out the most harmful substances immediately, and to change the nation’s laws to protect children from highly toxic chemicals,” said EC’s Jeff Gearhart.

You can call a rip-offset a CDM project, but it's still a rip-offset

U.N. climate change body has suspended clean energy auditor DNV

Like landfills, oil sands, and “occasional irregularity,” the term Clean Development Mechanism is in the euphemism Hall of Fame. But once a rip-offset, always a rip-offset. Reuters reports: The U.N. climate change body has suspended one of the largest auditors of clean energy projects under Kyoto Protocol, a move highlighting problems long aired by critics of the climate pact’s greenhouse gas trading scheme. Norway’s DNV had their accreditation as project auditors suspended late last week for five “non-conformities” relating to its practices, the U.N. said after performing a spot check of the company’s operations in early November. Speaking of euphemisms, …

Media eats crow

Green tech is still selling

I have been quite critical of the mainstream media for using the global recession to attack clean tech. One reason the storyline was lame is that a recession this deep is going to hit all new capital projects. A second reason is that there had been no evidence that clean tech was being harder hit than any other sector and some reason to believe it would be hit less hard. And, of course, the election of a Barack Obama means there is going to be a massive infusion of funding for clean tech. While it is premature to say that …

Conspiracy theory or economic theory?

Is cheap gas OPEC’s way of robbing Obama of his clean energy initiative?

Why have gas prices dropped so low, so quickly, and so soon after endless proclamations of a future of $200/barrel oil? The New York Times thinks that it has something to do with a drop in demand and a lack of unity amongst OPEC member-states. My friend Gregorio has no time or such naivete. According to him, the reason gas prices are so low is that OPEC is afraid that Obama might, you know, actually do something about jumpstarting a transition away from petroleum. Cheap gas is OPEC’s way of pre-preemptively sucking the wind out of Obama’s clean-energy sails. Discuss.

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.