Business & Technology

Industry groups sue Interior over polar bear

The U.S. Interior Department has been sued yet again over polar bears, this time by five industry groups that say the agency’s regulations for protecting bears unfairly single out Alaska businesses’ contribution to climate change. When the polar bear was declared a threatened species because of climate change, Interior went to great lengths to note that the ruling should not be used to block greenhouse-gas-spewing fossil-fuel development. To that end, the agency specifically exempted industrial projects from undergoing related reviews in every state — except for Alaska. The American Petroleum Institute, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Mining Association, National Association …

In landmark deal, utility will disclose climate-change risks

In a first-of-its-kind deal, utility Xcel Energy has agreed to give its investors detailed information about the risks that climate change poses to business. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo subpoenaed Xcel and four other utilities in September, asking them to determine whether their plans to build new coal plants posed undisclosed risks to investors — from lawsuits and the cost of complying with carbon regulations to the impacts of drought and rising seas. So far, Xcel is the only one that has agreed to analyze and disclose potential impacts. The landmark agreement “sets a new industry-wide precedent,” says Cuomo, …

Yakety yak, will Brita take 'em back?

Campaign calls on Brita to recycle water filters

With so many tons of disposable plastic being sent to landfills these days, six ounces doesn’t seem like a lot. Especially when you’ve bailed on bottled water in favor of a Brita pitcher and reusable bottle. But don’t you still hate throwing out that filter every three months? Beth Terry does. She wrote in her blog Fake Plastic Fish about her frustration at being unable to recycle her Brita filter cartridges, and discovered she was far from alone. Terry then joined with other activists to start TakeBackTheFilter.org, a movement to pressure the Clorox Co., which owns Brita North America, to …

Two of world’s richest men visit Canadian oil sands

The richest and third-richest men in the world made a surprise visit to an oil-sands operation in the Canadian province of Alberta on Monday. Investor Warren Buffett and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who are said to have a combined worth of $120 billion, “were exercising curiosity, basically saying, ‘Wow, this is neat,'” says Greg Stringham of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. Buffett has recently said he is interested in investing in oil sands; he invests in American oil company ConocoPhillips, which owns significant oil sands assets. If the bigwigs are interested in investing in alternatives to conventional oil, we …

Monsanto finds a buyer for its rBGH business

Pharma giant Lilly snaps up Posilac for ‘at least’ $300 million

A week or so ago, commenting on news that Monsanto was looking to unload its much-despised bovine-growth-hormone business, I offered this nugget of wisdom: Whatever company buys it probably won’t have Monsanto’s deep pockets. Hmmm. What’s that word again? Oh, yeah — W-R-O-N-G. (Hat tip to Jill of La Vida Locavore.) Today, Monsanto announced that Eli Lilly, one of the biggest of the Big Pharma companies, had bought Posilac (brand name for rBGH) for $300 million. AP reports that Monsanto could get additional cash for Posilac down the road, if it turns out to be a winner for Lilly. And …

Mayor has big clean-energy goals for NYC

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted clean energy Tuesday at, aptly, the National Clean Energy Summit. He said his city has issued a formal request to companies for ideas on how to source electricity from the wind, sun, and waves. “Perhaps companies will want to put wind farms atop our bridges and skyscrapers, or use the enormous potential of powerful offshore winds miles out in the Atlantic Ocean,” Bloomberg said, adding, “I think it would be a thing of beauty if, when Lady Liberty looks out on the horizon, she not only welcomes new immigrants but lights their way …

The SUV bubble

No schadenfreude over the death of SUVs

You know your product is in trouble when the housing analogies come out: The market for sport utility vehicles is starting to look a lot like the housing market, spreading pain to consumers, automakers and dealers … I am not sure this post qualifies as schadenfreude — since that has been defined as “largely unanticipated delight in the suffering of another which is cognized as trivial and/or appropriate.” There is nothing unanticipated about high oil prices. That is, the death of SUVs isn’t like, say, Martha Stewart going to jail. What has happened to SUVs — “Sales of SUVs are …

South Central Community Farm: Not dead yet

In L.A., Mayor Villaraigosa plays footsie with Forever 21 over site of former farm

Photo: loudtiger When I lived in New York City, I used to marvel at the weeds that would force their way up through sidewalk cracks. What a will to live, I thought: From clumps of dirt crammed between concrete slabs, these vigorous shoots fended off the hard, slapping heels of a thousand rushing city dwellers, just to claim a place in the sun. The effort to save South Central Community Farm in Los Angeles reminds me of those defiant survivors. Stepped on by the city, evicted two ago years by a developer who gained title to the land in a …

Globalization death watch, part III

Either we’ll be green or we’ll be poor

The United States trade deficit is threatening to upend globalization as we’ve known it. The rise in the price of oil has been leading to a similar result: an international trading system in which there is much less trading. Now, that may actually be a good thing, in the long-run, but in the case of the United States it might happen in a very chaotic way. This problem that has been accelerating since George W. Bush took office: The United States has been buying many more goods than it has been selling. As I hope to explain, eventually this will …

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