Environment Forum

Utilities may win big from energy bill

The sun rises over electric power lines in Encinitas, California in this file photo from September 4, 2007.   REUTERS/Mike Blake

–Andrew Leckey is President of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Communication at Arizona State University in Phoenix. Any views expressed here are his own.-

Having spent the past two weeks in record high temperatures in Beijing and Shanghai, with global warming being noted publicly by Chinese officials as the primary cause of severe weather, I find the situation faced by U.S. companies somewhat ironic.

The now-grounded U.S. climate legislation, rather than clearing a general or modest environmental path for U.S. companies and emerging nations, underscored the significant differences of opinion over the environment and the economic impact of regulation.

Other countries may be first to take direct steps, since so many do not require the consensus that the U.S. does and aren’t facing recessionary pressure.

Plenty of money was spent lobbying on both sides of U.S. climate legislation because stakes are high. With the currently unfavorable prospects and likelihood of a less-green Congress next year, new EPA regulations or new Congressional legislation are the possibilities. Most businesses realize that this issue can be stalled but won’t disappear entirely.

from Entrepreneurial:

Hot Prospects: Alex Kinnier, Khosla Ventures

-- The following profile is an abbreviated version of Venture Capital Journal contributor Deborah Gage's piece for the the VCJ's series on "Hot Prospects" within the venture capital industry. --

At age 33, Alex Kinnier was rising quickly through the ranks at Google, but he didn’t feel fulfilled. The chemical engineer wanted to help the world with clean technologies. A phone call with popular venture capitalist Vinod Khosla that lasted several hours put him on the path to happiness.

Kinnier took a pay cut to join Khosla Ventures, but he was thrilled to be back in the cleantech arena. When he got the urge to leave to start a company, Khosla talked him into staying and becoming a venture capitalist.

from Commodity Corner:

Getting down to business at U.N. climate talks a hard task

A U.N. concession to delegates at this week's climate talks in Bonn to take off jackets and ties due to recent high temperatures may be going to some participants' heads.

Breaking the back of negotiations for a new climate pact after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 is proving hard work even though the talks' chair hopes to have a new negotiating text on the table by the end of the week.

Developing nations are still blaming the rich for global warming and the issue of who will contribute most to climate financing is still a matter for debate.

Crustaceans rule!

Mex_00-hrEver wondered what kinds of wildlife dominate the world’s seas and oceans? Now there’s an answer, at least in terms of the number of species in different categories. It’s not fish. It’s not mammals. It’s crustaceans!

A mammoth Census of Marine Life has revealed that nearly one-fifth, or 19 percent, of all the marine species known to humans are crustaceans — crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill, barnacles and others far too numerous to mention here. The census didn’t count the actual numbers of animals beneath the waves — that would have been impossible — but it did count up the number of species in 25 marine areas. The aim is to set down a biodiversity baseline for future use.

Car_00-hrIt took 360 scientists to figure this out. Their findings were posted on Monday in PLoS ONE, an open-source peer-reviewed online scientific journal. An even more fulsome list will be out in October.

Dalian oil spill is all cleaned up

A laborer cleans up oil at the oil spill site near Dalian port, Liaoning province July 23, 2010. China's Xingang oil port has resumed some refined fuel loading for the domestic market, but fuel exports remain temporarily halted, industry officials said amid continuing efforts to clean up an oil spill at the country's major port of Dalian. REUTERS/Stringer

The Chinese government this week announced the oil spill is all cleaned up in Dalian harbor, off the north coast of Liaoning province in China.

That was fast.

Not even two weeks ago, on July 17, a blast hit two oil pipelines and spread an estimated 1,500 metric tons of crude oil (462,000 gallons) into the Yellow Sea.  (Update: Greenpeace on July 30 said as many as 60,000 metric tons could have been spilled.)

It’s a minute fraction of the amount of crude that has spilled into the Gulf of Mexico since the BP Deepwater explosion of April 20, with an estimated 414,000–1,186,000 tons — but it’s still significant enough for 8,000 workers and 800 fishing vessels to dive in to clean-up efforts, some literally.

How green are your gadgets?

A Blackberry mobile device, made by Research in Motion (RIM), is seen on a shelf in Toronto, July 13, 2010. The company will hold its annual general meeting of shareholders today. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

global_post_logo
This article by Teri Schultz originally appeared in GlobalPost.

Do you know how much of your beloved BlackBerry can be absorbed back into nature? Have you envisioned the end-of-life plan for your precious new iPad? Considered cradle-to-cradle care for your webcam?

High-tech entrepreneurs Marc Aelbrecht, Jean-Pierre D’Haese and Xavier Petre are betting that if you haven’t factored these questions into your purchasing choices yet, you soon will — and you’ll go looking for companies like theirs.

The three Belgians are the brains and consciences behind United Pepper, the first electronics producer in the world to receive certification for “fair trade,” signifying the sustainability of its production process and good working conditions in its manufacturing facilities in Vietnam.

from Tales from the Trail:

What does an oiled pelican look like?

OIL-SPILL/You've probably seen the disturbing images of pelicans so badly mired in leaking oil in the Gulf of Mexico that they can barely be distinguished as birds at all -- they look like part of the muck.

But nearly three months after the blowout at BP's Deepwater Horizon rig, there are other pelicans touched by the oil where the impact is far less apparent, though still real.

Take a look at some video I took during a boat trip on July 15 along West Pass, a long channel stretching out into the ocean from Louisiana's southern-most tip:

The Green Gauge: Sinar Mas under fire

An aerial view is seen of a cleared forest area under development for palm oil plantations in Kapuas Hulu district of Indonesia's West Kalimantan province

Indonesia’s Sinar Mas came under heavy fire last week from non-government organization Greenpeace as a report named and shamed some of its biggest clients for their role in the destruction of rainforest and peatlands.

Following is a breakdown of the companies that made headlines July 3 to 16 for winning or losing credibility based on environment-related activity, led by Indonesian conglomerate Sinar Mas.

Selections of companies were made by Christopher Greenwald, director of data content at ASSET4, a Thomson Reuters business that provides investment research on the environmental, social and governance performance of major global corporations. These ratings are not recommendations to buy or sell.

“The other oil disaster”

billboard

Forget the BP oil spill for a moment. An international PR war is heating up this week between environmentalists and the oil industry over an entirely different sore spot: The Alberta oil sands in northern Canada.

Billboards targeting the region with the largest crude reserves outside the Middle East sprang up in four major U.S. cities this week in the launch of a multi-million dollar, multi-year campaign led by NGO Corporate Ethics International.

The campaign, supported by a network of foundations including Polaris Institute, Friends of the Earth and Earthworks, is scheduled to also run in Europe and Asia.

Power utilities want less of your business

Tarya Seagraves-Quee loads laundry into the washing machine at a laundromat in Cambridge, Massachusetts July 8, 2009.    REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Avoid mopping your floor, laundry and washing your dishes during the day and save energy in the process – that’s what power utilities in the U.S. are telling customers this summer.

Heard this before?

The difference is this year, heat waves have already caused blackouts and power-grid strain across the country, and it’s only mid-July. This begs the question: Do power utilities want less of your business?

Heat waves last month meant increased cooling needs – up as much as 76 percent in some regions – which adds in turn to the threat of power outages.

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