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Markey and the FTC

Rep. Markey asks the Federal Trade Commission to investigate voluntary carbon offsets

Rep. Markey has asked the FTC to investigate whether or not the sale of voluntary carbon offsets violates the Guides for the Use of Evaluating Environmental Marketing Claims, as laid out by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has responded and agreed to commence an investigation, noting that: The FTC staff has been monitoring this nascent market as part of the Commission's ongoing consumer protection programs in the energy and environmental areas. The carbon offset market poses potential consumer protection challenges. Carbon offset claims may present a heightened potential for deception because it is very difficult, if not impossible, to …

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Founder of The Body Shop dies of a brain hemorrhage at age 64

Anita Roddick, the pioneering founder of The Body Shop, has died. Roddick was dubbed the "Queen of Green" for her trailblazing environmentally friendly, humane business practices that made her a leader in her native England and around the world. "Businesses have the power to do good," Roddick wrote on the company's website. Roddick opened her first Body Shop store in 1976 in Brighton, southern England, before fair trade and eco-friendly businesses were fashionable.

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Greentech and EEStor

Ultracapacitor company claims it will revolutionize electric cars

The AlwaysOn Network has selected its GoingGreen 100 -- the 100 top companies in greentech, based on "innovation, market potential, commercialization, stakeholder value creation, and media attention or 'buzz.'" Here's the category I'm watching: Energy Storage A123 Systems Bloom Energy Cobasys Deeya Energy EEStor GridPoint Jadoo Power Lilliputian Systems ZPower (Gridpoint was the top company in AlwaysOn's overall rankings. Good to see a smart grid company win the gold medal!) Note the enigmatic EEStor, which doesn't even have an operational website. It claims to have developed an ultracapacitor that will revolutionize the plug-in hybrid and electric car markets and render …

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Norway disallows manufacturers from advertising cars as “green”

We've got a thing for Norway -- really, nothing beats a good fjord. And nobody can literalize like the Norwegians, who next month will begin prohibiting automobile manufacturers from advertising their vehicles as "green," "clean," or "environmentally friendly." Says one national official, "If someone says their car is more 'green' or 'environmentally friendly' than others then they would have to be able to document it in every aspect from production, to emissions, to energy use, to recycling. In practice that can't be done." We completely agree. And did we mention our list of 15 green cars?

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Wal-Mart’s eco-initiatives turning Arkansas into sustainability hotspot

Attention shoppers: we bring you news of the latest sustainability hotspot, none other than Fayetteville, Ark. Green start-ups are flocking to town, the University of Arkansas has established an Applied Sustainability Center, and the mayor rides an electric bike to work. Why? Because of a certain retail giant whose headquarters lies half an hour away. Say it with us now: Wal-Mart. The mega-store's recent efforts to be green are apparently luring like-minded (and hungry) companies to the area, including ventures that are experimenting with non-petroleum plastic and fuel-efficient shipping. As a result, Fayetteville has begun to market itself as an …

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Coca-Cola announces big recycling initiatives

Speaking around gulps of carbonated, corn-syrupy beverage, Coca-Cola executives announced two environmental initiatives this week. By next year, the company plans to redesign its 20-ounce bottle to use 5 percent less plastic, and will open a gigantic recycling plant in South Carolina. Coca-Cola currently recycles or reuses about 10 percent of its U.S.-sold plastic bottles; the company hopes to raise that number to 30 percent by 2010, and has a long-term goal of not contributing to the U.S. plastic waste stream at all. But when can we expect to see Coca-Cola Green, hued with organic food coloring?

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The wrong kind of bulk discount

Washington state caps the cost to pollute, rather than the pollution

The Sightline Institute (formerly Northwest Environment Watch) picks up a Seattle P-I report on yet another counterproductive incentive: making it cheaper to pollute in bulk. The more hazardous waste you produce in Washington, the better the deal you can get from the state. Companies that make chemicals, oil, paint, paper and airplanes must pay a Hazardous Waste Planning Fee for the toxic substances that they pump into the air and water or send to landfills. But because the fee is capped, the top five producers pay less than $8 a ton for their dangerous waste, whereas companies producing smaller amounts …

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Four cents a kilowatt-hour

The high price of electricity deregulation

In David Cay Johnston's NYT article "A New Push to Regulate Power Costs," he writes about the fact that many states are rolling back their deregulatory initiatives. The main reason, he says, is price. Ahh, price. That magic number at the nexus of supply and demand. The problem with price in electricity markets is that it is not determined by supply and demand, as in a free, deregulated market -- even in those states where there was, supposedly, deregulation. In fact, we've long argued that deregulatory initiatives, as they were designed and implemented, had nothing to do with what most …

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It's about damned time

ConAgra: No more toxic fake butter

Clearly not responding to my post from yesterday -- but rather to steady pressure from the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy and other groups -- ConAgra announced it would stop using diacetyl in its Orville Redenbacher and Act II microwave popcorn brands. Diacetyl, a fake butter flavoring, has been known for years to cause severe lung damage among food-industry workers who inhale it in vapor form. New evidence suggests that it also harms consumers. The question is, why did the food-processing giant wait so long to pull diacetyl? According to the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy, …

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Upgrading capitalism's operating system

A review of Peter Barnes’ Capitalism 3.0: A Guide to Reclaiming the Commons

Peter Barnes' Capitalism 3.0: A Guide to Reclaiming the Commons (also available as a free PDF at Barnes' site) suggests that flaws in capitalism lie at the root of the environmental and social problems we face today; his solution, as a retired corporate CEO, is not to discard capitalism, but fix those flaws. As he puts it: Eventually, after retiring from Working Assets in 1995, I began reflecting on the profit-making world I'd emerged from. I'd tested the system for twenty years, pushing it toward multiple bottom lines as far as I possibly could. I'd dealt with executives and investors …