3p Contributor: Bill DiBenedetto

writer, editor, reader and general good (ok mostly good, well sometimes good) guy trying to get by

Recent Articles

UPS Backs Down—Cancels Move to Fire 250 Drivers

| Monday April 14th, 2014 | 3 Comments

UPS truck2UPS is rescinding its move to fire 250 Queens, N.Y. Teamsters Local 804 drivers, who took part in a 90-minute walk-out on Feb. 26, after city and state officials urged the company to negotiate with the drivers’ union or face the prospect of canceled contracts.

Teamsters Local 804 announced on its website last week that UPS agreed to abandon plans to pink slip drivers who had walked off the job to protest the firing of an employee, Jairo Reyes. Reyes was let go over an hours dispute, a UPS spokesman told Business Insider, but the union said he was terminated without a hearing he was contractually entitled to. It also described the mass firings as “arbitrary discipline.” But UPS maintains that the February walkout jeopardized its ability to serve customers and that the Teamsters’ contract includes a no-strike clause, a company spokesperson told the Huffington Post

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Greenpeace Slams Amazon on Dirty Energy Use

| Wednesday April 9th, 2014 | 3 Comments

clickcleanreport-coverA Greenpeace scorecard on green internet companies cites Amazon Web Services as one of the worst dirty energy transgressors.

The 84-page report released this month, “Clicking Clean: How Companies are Creating the Green Internet,” notes that AWS “provides the infrastructure for a significant part of the Internet.” But it is “among the dirtiest and least transparent companies in the sector, far behind its major competitors, with zero reporting of its energy or environmental footprint to any source or stakeholder.” Twitter is also a culprit in many of the same areas, the report continues.

Amazon gets failing grades from Greenpeace on energy transparency; renewable energy commitment and siting policy; and renewable energy deployment and advocacy. The company also received a “D” on energy efficiency and mitigation. Amazon Web Services relies heavily on nuclear and coal energy to run data-guzzling services like Netflix, Spotify, Tumblr and Yelp, the report states.

Twitter weighs in with three “fails” and a “D” – the latter in renewable energy commitment and siting policy.

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Extreme Action: UPS Fires 250 in New York After 90-Minute Protest

| Tuesday April 8th, 2014 | 8 Comments

UPS truckIn a demonstration of the power of corporations over workers, unionized or not, UPS began firing 250 Teamster drivers in Queens, N.Y. last week after they dared to stage a 90-minute protest of the firing of long-time employee and union activist Jairo Reeves.

According to news reports from Business Insider and the New York Daily News, which broke the story, the unionized drivers at UPS’s Maspeth facility got their walking papers because they walked off the job briefly on Feb. 26.

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Alaska Air Group Sets Aggressive Sustainability Goals

| Monday April 7th, 2014 | 0 Comments

AlaskaAir_jetAlaska Air Group, which operates Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, has committed to reduce aircraft fuel consumption by 20 percent and use a sustainable aviation biofuel at one or more airports by 2020.

The Seattle-based group’s 93-page sustainability report for 2013, “Innovating for Our Future”—only its second such report—said that since the last report in 2011 fuel efficiency improvements have saved more than 10 million gallons of fuel. The two airlines also cut waste by 50 percent per passenger, saving nearly 2,900 tons of recyclables. Alaska and Horizon are the only airlines that recycle on every domestic flight.

The two airlines have also reduced greenhouse gases by 30.4 percent per revenue mile since the 2004 baseline year.

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Supply Chain Worker Rights: From Good Intentions to Implementation

| Wednesday April 2nd, 2014 | 1 Comment

manifesthope_arrietaNot that long ago worker rights were a given, labor unions were strong and powerful, as was the American middle class where a large part of the work and the need to enhance and protect workplace rights, benefits and progress was most in evidence.

Sure, it was a simpler time. Today’s globalized economy and its extended supply chains, rising income inequality, and stagnant economic and trade conditions makes the preservation of worker rights more problematic and difficult. This is especially true for supply chains in manufacturing and retail apparel sectors.

Today, worker rights might even be considered an oxymoron. But it’s a struggle well worth engaging as both a holding action and in efforts to bring workers across the globe living wages, safe working conditions and better standards of living.

Driven by globalization, supply chains are rapidly evolving across every industry sector, and the vendors in those supply chains are often a moving target as multinational corporations search for the lowest cost suppliers. Another unfortunate result of globalization is a race to the bottom by resource-poor, developing nations that are eager to secure sourcing contracts from wealthier countries. Concerns also center on how labor standards can best be monitored and enforced throughout these evolving organizational structures.

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ExxonMobil to Report Publicly on Carbon Asset Risk

| Monday March 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

3095052057_cc7c23a1c2_zFinally, ExxonMobil is agreeing to publicize the risks that stricter carbon emissions rules and limits will have on its business.

In doing so, the largest publicly traded international oil and gas corporation in the world became the first such company to do this.

It seems like a huge deal for a several reasons: The oil major is publicly acknowledging the potential impact of carbon emissions limits on its business model and revealing how it assesses the “risk of stranded assets” from climate change, and it did so at the behest of two shareholder groups.

The landmark agreement with shareholders was disclosed—without comment from ExxonMobil—in a PR Newswire release from Arjuna Capital and As You Sow. Arjuna is the sustainable wealth management platform of Baldwin Brothers Inc., and As You Sow is a nonprofit that promotes environmental corporate responsibility.

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Link Between Fracking and Earthquakes Grows With Surge of Quakes in Ohio

| Thursday March 20th, 2014 | 2 Comments

frack-ohioEvidence is mounting that there is a connection between the hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—method for extracting natural gas and earthquakes.

Consider this item from EcoWatch this week: “On Monday, Northeast Ohio experienced at least four earthquakes in Mahoning County, just south of Youngstown. Can anyone guess what was nearby? – A fracking site with seven drilling wells. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ordered the Texas based energy company, Hilcorp, to halt all fracking operations in the area.”

Also on Monday, a ClimateProgress article explored the idea that as fracking operations grow in Ohio, “so do earthquakes.”

Coincidence? It’s possible, but quite possibly not. Ohio is merely the latest place to make this connection: Other sightings on the fracking-earthquake circuit have occurred in the U.K., the Netherlands, British Columbia, East Texas, Oklahoma and even California.

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Minnesota Crafts a Formula to Calculate the Value of Consumer-Generated Solar Power

| Tuesday March 18th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Rooftop solar panelsYes, everyone values solar power—except maybe Big Oil—but how much is it actually worth in terms of dollars and cents? At least the start of an answer came last week from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

Minnesota is the first state in the nation to craft a “value-of-solar” formula for calculating the value of solar power generated by consumers. The big deal is that the methodology is not just about how much solar power is worth to the utility company and its customers, but to society and the environment, according to a ThinkProgress article.

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Distill Those Used Plastic Shopping Bags for Fuel

| Monday March 10th, 2014 | 0 Comments

plasticbagsResearchers at the University of Illinois have developed a way to make those ubiquitous plastic shopping bags that litter both land and seascapes useful — by converting them into diesel, natural gas and other petroleum products.

According to a ScienceDaily article, the conversion “produces significantly more energy than it requires and results in transportation fuels — diesel, for example — that can be blended with existing ultra-low-sulfur diesels and biodiesels.” Other products, such as natural gas, naphtha (a solvent), gasoline, waxes and lubricating oils such as engine oil and hydraulic oil also can be obtained from shopping bags, researchers said.

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Carbon Capture Technologies More Welcome in U.S., Norwegian Firm Says

| Thursday March 6th, 2014 | 0 Comments

TCMCarbon capture and storage technologies designed to reduce emissions are getting a better reception in the U.S. than in Europe, according to Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM), a Norwegian firm that tests CCS technology.

A CNBC report based on interviews with TCM executives says the U.S is a “more welcoming place” for CCS technology, at least at the moment, because Europe is recovering from a debt crisis and recession.

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Seattle Company Plans First Offshore Wind Farm on Pacific Coast

| Wednesday February 26th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Windfloat-large_03The nation’s first offshore wind farm on the Pacific Coast cleared a crucial federal hurdle after Seattle’s Principle Power received approval to move forward on a commercial lease for the proposed $200 million, 30-megawatt project.

Principle Power received the go-ahead this month from a Department of the Interior agency to lease 15 square miles of federal waters, 18 miles from Coos Bay, Ore. If the lease request gets final approval, the WindFloat Pacific project would anchor the first offshore turbines in federal waters on the West Coast. It also would be the first in the nation to use triangular floating platforms instead of single piles driven into the ocean floor.

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ExxonMobil CEO Cites Fracking Concerns in Homeowner Suit

| Monday February 24th, 2014 | 2 Comments

Rex TillersonMaybe we should just file this one from the continuing fracking saga under the “just do as I say, not as I do” file.

But it’s still pretty delicious: According to various news reports, including the Wall Street Journal, Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil’s chairman and CEO, is part of a lawsuit seeking to block construction of a 160-foot water tower adjacent to his and his wife’s Bartonville, Texas home. The tower will supply water to a nearby hydraulic fracturing site.

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Lockheed Martin Riding a Big Wave Energy Project

| Monday February 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Power_Buoy2 Lockheed Martin has hooked up with Australia’s Victorian Wave Partners LLC to begin the development of what’s billed as the world’s largest wave energy project.

The 62.5-megawatt peak power wave energy generation project will be built off the coast of Victoria, Australia, using the PowerBuoy wave energy converter technology of Ocean Power Technologies (OPT).

Project construction will occur in three stages, with the first stage producing approximately 2.5-megawatt peak power. Once completed, the project is expected to produce enough electricity to power 10,000 homes. Because it also contributes to Australia’s goal of 20 percent renewable energy by 2020, the project is getting “significant grant support” from ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency).

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Chew on This: WSU Researchers Sticking Gum to Lithium Batteries

| Friday February 7th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Battery+ZhongIt’s usually a bad thing to “gum up the works,” but in the case of the safety issues confronting lithium ion batteries, maybe gum is the solution.

Washington State University researchers have developed a chewing gum-like battery material that could dramatically improve the safety of lithium ion batteries.

A WSU group led by Katie Zhong, Westinghouse Distinguished Professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, recently reported on their work in the journal, Advanced Energy Materials. And they have filed a patent on the substance.

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Is Solar Hot or Not?

| Wednesday January 22nd, 2014 | 0 Comments

crawfordsville solarThe conventional wisdom these days is that solar is a very hot play indeed. A list of cleantech stock picks for 2014 has First Solar (a solar manufacturer) and SolarCity (a solar installer) at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, and further down the list are a solar holding company, Renewable Energy Trade Board, and a solar equipment company, Meyer Burger.

There are many reports that the solar market is heading for a “second gold rush” this year; there’s little to dispute the fact that solar is definitely in, especially for investors.

It could be that the gold rush is already on.

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