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Snakebit Supply Chains

Ever hear of a reality show called “Snake Salvation?” Me neither, until one of the serpent-handling co-stars was bit last month by a snake during a church service and later died. How does this unfortunate incident relate to sustainability and supply chains? Overlooking the obvious can come back to bite you. We all remember the discovery that Kathy Lee Gifford’s clothing line was being made in sweat shops and, more recently, the deaths of garment workers in Bangladesh making products for global brands and retailers. And just weeks ago, U.S. Food & Drug Administration officials traveled to India to address …

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Generation Gap: Wind Opens Big Lead over Nuclear in China

By J. Matthew Roney In China, wind power is leaving nuclear behind. Electricity output from China’s wind farms exceeded that from its nuclear plants for the first time in 2012, by a narrow margin. Then in 2013, wind pulled away—outdoing nuclear by 22 percent. The 135 terawatt-hours of Chinese wind-generated electricity in 2013 would be nearly enough to power New York State. Once China’s Renewable Energy Law established the development framework for renewables in 2005, the stage was set for wind’s exponential growth. Wind generating capacity more than doubled each year from 2006 to 2009 and has since increased by …

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Obsoleting Bertha: Viaduct traffic plummets

Sightline's Clark Williams-Derry has a terrific post on the astounding decline in traffic on the Alaskan Way Viaduct since Seattle's Big Dig II began.  Trip volumes are down 40% in just 3 years!  Clark analyzes the remarkable trend and concludes: At this point, nobody knows if [tunnel-boring machine] Bertha will ever get moving again, let alone complete her job. But given these figures, maybe it doesn’t matter. Seattle has seamlessly adapted to losing the first 48,000 trips on the Viaduct. No one even noticed. No one even noticed that 40 percent of the Viaduct’s traffic just disappeared! Could accommodating the loss of another …

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Five Reasons Solar’s Win Over Gas in Minnesota is Just the Beginning

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Flickr user /\ \/\/ /\

Solar advocates were popping corks when a New Year’s Eve ruling by an administrative law judge in Minnesota said that distributed solar arrays were a more cost-effective resource than natural gas to meet Xcel Energy’s peak power needs. The energy media were aflutter for weeks, but many missed the bigger significance. If solar trumps gas for peaking power in Minnesota, there’s little reason to be building new natural gas peaking capacity anywhere in the country.  Ever again. Let’s look at the 5 reasons why solar’s triumph over natural gas is likely to stick: Solar Wins on Cost It’s not the …

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Making a Renewable Energy Revolution

What is needed if we are to have a chance of enacting a renewable energy revolution in enough time to prevent widespread and catastrophic climate disruption? Revolutions happen when: ~~A majority of people are either actively or passively in support of the changes that, cumulatively, would constitute a revolution; ~~The ruling powers-that-be are divided, unsure of how to handle rising resistance and with some going over to the side of the revolution; and, ~~The revolutionaries are organized and united. As far as the first requirement, broad mass support, results from a recent poll by the Yale Project on Climate Change …

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Western Marylanders Arrested in Stop Cove Point Protest

CUMBERLAND—A local Unitarian minister and three western Maryland residents were arrested just before noon today outside the Allegany County Courthouse in Cumberland for peacefully protesting Virginia-based Dominion Resources’ plan to build a liquefied natural gas export facility at Cove Point in southern Maryland. The protesters blocked the courthouse entrance to demand justice in the controversial federal handling of the massive $3.8 billion project, which would take nearly a billion cubic feet of gas per day from fracking wells across the Appalachian region, liquefy it on the Chesapeake Bay, and export it to Asia. “I am here today as both a …

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Are Electric Utilities Already Dead?

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Rick Payette, Flickr

For the last six months, the energy news sphere (perhaps led by the Edison Electric Institute) has been rife with a discussion about the threat to the utility business from distributed energy like local solar, as their customers shift to getting their own power from nearby renewable resources.  Reports and news stories – e.g. “Adapt or Die” – suggest changes to the electric utility business model are imminent as power generation shifts from massive to medium scale and from remote to local. For some utilities, this discussion is not a forecast, but a post-mortem. Electric utilities have always built infrastructure …

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Meet Ross Bhappu, the money behind coal export proposals on the Columbia River

The coal industry’s efforts to export huge amounts of taxpayer-owned coal from Montana and Wyoming to Asia has generated unprecedented opposition in the Pacific Northwest - tens of thousands of people have rallied, attended public hearings, and called on their elected officials to oppose coal export terminals that would disrupt and pollute communities and pose one of the biggest threats to the climate of any fossil fuel project in the world. This controversy, along with the high risk nature of these proposals, has meant that many investors have avoided backing them. A major signal of these investor concerns came in …

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Can the World Feed China?

By Lester R. Brown Overnight, China has become a leading world grain importer, set to buy a staggering 22 million tons in the 2013–14 trade year, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture projections. As recently as 2006—just eight years ago—China had a grain surplus and was exporting 10 million tons. What caused this dramatic shift? It wasn’t until 20 years ago, after I wrote an article entitled “Who Will Feed China?”, that I began to fully appreciate what a sensitive political issue food security was to the Chinese. The country’s leaders were all survivors of the Great Famine …

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New Poll, Rally Show WV, NC and Beyond are Fed Up With Coal Industry’s Pollution

West Virginians hold the coal industry responsible for air and water contamination in the state, and they are tired of the stranglehold they believe the industry's lobbyists have on state politics. That's just one of many powerful findings of a new poll out today about the aftermath of the January coal chemical spill in Charleston, West Virginia. The Sierra Club and Hart Research Associates polled West Virginia voters, and look at the results: 1) West Virginians do not view the January coal chemical spill as an isolated incident - 69 percent think the spill was a result of companies acting …

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