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Emily Gertz sends a dispatch from a summit on climate change and investing

Emily Gertz is a regular contributor to WorldChanging.com, and an internet content and strategy consultant for nonprofits. She has written on environmental policy for BushGreenwatch, and on the intersections of environment, culture, art, and activism for The Bear Deluxe and other independent alternative publications. Wednesday, 11 May 2005 NEW YORK, N.Y. Yesterday, nearly 400 people met at the United Nations headquarters to talk about changing the world. They were upbeat and enthusiastic about their power to get corporate America's attention, and to demand that it take climate change seriously. And not just take it seriously, but do something about it. …

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High energy costs don’t get in this brewery’s way

Hey, I don't want to get a reputation. But here's more news from the beer-and-rising-energy-costs front: The New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colo., is hopping on alternative energy instead. To wit: The company uses methane captured from its wastewater to help power its facilities, and uses a biodiesel blend in its delivery trucks. No big surprise from an outfit whose employees voted, waaaay back in 1998, to make it the nation's first wind-powered brewery. When it comes to sustainability, New Belgium is "pretty impeccable," fellow beermeister Garrett Oliver of the Brooklyn Brewery told Fortune Magazine in 2003. "They're …

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Fiddler on the Hot Tin Roof

Climate scientists grow more concerned as Rome burns, Nero fiddles In most fields of science, lay opinion tends to be more alarmist than scientific opinion, says Carbon Mitigation Initiative codirector Robert Socolow. "But, in the climate case, the experts -- the people who work with the climate models every day, the people who do ice cores -- they are more concerned. They're going out of their way to say, 'Wake up!'" In part three of her magisterial New Yorker series on climate change, Elizabeth Kolbert says those calls are finding a mixed reception. In the Netherlands, a quarter of which …

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GE kicks off ambitious green initiative

Last night, General Electric Chair and CEO Jeffrey Immelt canoodled with Congress members and industry top brass at a swish cocktail party on Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C., celebrating the launch of "ecomagination," an initiative he announced earlier in the day to ramp up development of clean technologies and lighten the company's Goliath-like environmental footprint. GE's wind technology in action. Photo: General Electric. Guests nibbled organic canapés and sipped wine produced by a solar-powered California vineyard (equipped with GE's own photovoltaic panels) as they perused exhibitions of the company's new technologies -- here a life-sized model of a hybrid-engine train …

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Activists fight new round of proposed LNG terminals

While President Bush extols the virtues of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in speeches, energy companies have been at work, planning some 50 new LNG import terminals across North America, most slated for U.S. ports. Meanwhile, citizens and officials in Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island, where new terminals are proposed, are fighting to stop their construction, citing security and environmental concerns. Successful campaigns have already halted projects in Alabama, California, and Maine. In Mexico, Greenpeace and others are challenging a proposed terminal on Isla Coronado, where more than half of the endangered Xantus' murrelets nest. Just four …

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Wait — They Drilled for Gas With a Nuclear Bomb?!

Oil company hopes to drill near nuclear-blast cavity in Colorado Some 36 years ago, the Atomic Energy Commission and a Texas oil company put a nuclear bomb in an 8,000-foot shaft on Colorado's energy-rich Western Slope and detonated it, hoping to reach a reserve of natural gas lying beneath the subterranean rock. They succeeded in releasing the gas, but it was too radioactive to be used -- duh -- and a 40-acre perimeter around the blast site was put off-limits, with another half-mile added to the no-drill zone last year. But that may not stop one Texan oil company from …

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Like Apples and Radioactive Oranges

Claims that nuclear energy can reduce oil use are largely hokum President Bush hearts nuclear -- or in the argot of the day, nucular -- claiming that a boost in nuclear energy could reduce oil imports and help America reach the Shangri-la of "energy independence." But people who, um, know stuff about nuclear energy are highly skeptical. There are some ways that nuclear could make a small dent in oil use -- "indirectly, but very indirectly," says Lawrence Goldstein of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation. Thing is, nuclear is primarily used to generate electricity, and that's not what we're using …

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Sunny Size Up

World's largest solar power plant planned for Portugal The world's largest solar power station, which would cover over 600 acres and could produce up to 116 megawatts of electricity, is planned for an economically depressed yet sun-drenched corner of Portugal. The almost $550 million project, if approved by the Portuguese government, would effectively reclaim an abandoned fool's-gold (aka pyrite) mine in the country's southern Alentejo region, and include a solar panel factory on site. But the mostly German investors financing the project are no fools: The bright, barren region gets some 175 kilowatt-hours of sunlight per square foot each year. …

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Oil Really Is a Lubricant

Diverse groups, unlikely allies join fight for energy independence Military officials, environmental activists, and others from across the political spectrum are speaking up about the need for radical change in American energy policy. Over the last year, a number of labor groups and think tanks have joined the chorus, releasing detailed plans for reducing oil imports. Last month, the Energy Future Coalition -- a group of national-security "energy hawks," military leaders, and industry officials -- released a plan to use tax credits to promote hybrid and ethanol-production technology. The bipartisan National Commission on Energy Policy and the Institute for the …

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Cornerstone environmental law, NEPA, under fire in energy bill

When the energy bill sailed through the House of Representatives late last month, the media reported that it was the same old grotesquely corpulent package that the GOP leadership had previously tried -- and failed -- to pass through Congress four times in the last four years. This is true. But what flew under the radar were a few new provisions snuck in at the 11th hour by Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), chair of the House Resources Committee, which have made the bill even more environmentally threatening than previous versions, many Democrats and environmentalists say. There's more energy exploration on …