3p Contributor: Tina Casey

Tina is a career public information specialist and former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes. She writes frequently on sustainable tech issues for Triple Pundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, and she is currently Deputy Director of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey. Follow Tina on twitter, @TinaMCasey https://twitter.com/#!/TinaMCasey.

Recent Articles

Product Review: SunBell Solar Lamp and Phone Charger

| Monday June 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments

SunBell Solar LampThe Bell series of solar lamps was initially designed for the off-grid market, but after you use one of these a few times you’re pretty much hooked, no matter how connected you are. The Norwegian company behind it, BRIGHT Products, sent us a couple of samples to try out last week, and within a few minutes we came up with a laundry list of household uses for the desk lamp/phone charger model that could translate to businesses as well as consumers.

For small or standalone retail businesses, in particular, the Bell series offers an opportunity to add an attention-getting green touch for a relatively modest investment.

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One State is Conspicuously Absent From New ZEV Action Plan

| Tuesday June 3rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

ZEV Action PlanLast fall, eight states on the East and West coasts joined to form the Multi-State ZEV (zero emission vehicles) action plan, to kickstart the market for “the cleanest cars in the nation.” While that’s only eight out of 50 states, together they account for a whopping one-fourth of the new car sales in the entire country. However, if you look at a map of the U.S. you will see an interesting gap in the lineup.

The two West Coast partners are the contiguous states of Oregon and California, which makes sense when you take California’s long history of clean car leadership into consideration, combined with the West Coast’s mobilization for EVs (electric vehicles) over the past couple of years.

The gap occurs on the East Coast. Working downwards from Vermont, you have continuity through Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York, but then you have to leap over non-participants New Jersey and Delaware to get down to the southernmost East Coast partner in the ZEV Action Plan, Maryland. Delaware we kind of get, but wait, what happened to car-happy New Jersey?

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Bell Aquaculture: Sustaining Tradition with A Sustainable Fishery

| Thursday May 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments

sustainable fish farmingWhen the topic turns to feeding the global population boom, the main theme is how to grow more food within limited resources. However, a recent conversation with the president and CEO of Bell Aquaculture, Norman McCowan, reminded us that food is at the heart of community and ethnic traditions. Feeding the world is more than a matter of producing more calories and nutrients while consuming less resources, it is also a matter of sustaining identity.

With that in mind, when you take a close look at Bell Aquaculture’s operations you can see that sustainable seafood is more than simply a matter of food supply.

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Hanwha Embraces a Solar Profile with Office Tower Retrofit in Seoul

| Wednesday May 28th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Hanwha HQ to get solar facadeOne of the advantages of belonging to the clean tech field is that your facilities can double as a showcase for your products. So when it came to renovating its outdated headquarters in Seoul, the diversified global corporation Hanwha took the ball and ran with it. Among other energy-saving elements, the 1980s-era office tower will sport a new facade that features solar panels.

For those of you familiar with Hanwha’s roots in the commercial explosives, chemicals, defense-related manufacturing, retail, leisure and insurance sectors, the solar panel angle might seem to be a bit of a mismatch. However, the company’s most recent ventures have included a foray into the solar market in the form of Hanwha Solar,and the newly redesigned headquarters will cement that identity throughout the entire corporation.

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New EPA Refinery Emissions Rules Linked to Environmental Justice

| Tuesday May 20th, 2014 | 0 Comments

refinery emissionsThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has just issued proposed new rules for refinery emissions that will affect a total of 149 facilities and millions of residents who live nearby. According to the EPA’s demographic analysis, of the individuals most at risk from refinery emissions, about half are currently classified in minority groups. According to the EPA, that’s about twice the percentage of the general population.

We’re waiting to hear ExxonMobil’s take on the environmental justice angle — after all, none other than CEO and chairman Rex Tillerson recently joined a lawsuit seeking to block a relatively modest fossil fuel-related project in his neighborhood — but in the meantime the American Petroleum Institute had this to say about the proposed new rules:

… EPA has already concluded the risks associated with refinery emissions are low and the public is protected with an ample margin of safety.

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Global Desalination Challenge Aims For ‘Big Outcome That Changes the World’

| Wednesday May 7th, 2014 | 0 Comments

GE and Saudi Aramco issue global desalination challengeGeneral Electric (GE) has partnered with oil giant Saudi Aramco to launch a global search for low cost, high efficiency innovations in the field of water desalination — with the ultimate goal of tapping the seven seas to supplement the world’s increasingly stressed freshwater resources. Along the way, the two corporate behemoths just might end up tipping the global energy balance more steeply, and more quickly, in favor of renewable energy sources.

The global desalination innovation challenge involves a soup-to-nuts approach in which all aspects of desalination are open to improvement, including carbon emissions related to the vast amount of energy required by typical desalination processes.

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California Joins Push For National Fuel Cell EV Network

| Tuesday May 6th, 2014 | 2 Comments
California joins H2USA

California FCEV hydrogen fueling stations planned through the H2 USA partnership.

California has just joined the Obama administration’s new public-private partnership H2 USA, and that should go a long way towards helping fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) secure a place in the electric vehicle market of the future.

H2 USA was created last year in order to kickstart the FCEV market, which right now faces a classic chicken-and-egg problem. FCEVs promise greater range and flexibility than their lithium-ion battery cousins, but very few public FCEV refueling opportunities exist right now (that’s the chicken), and the private sector is reluctant to start building them until more FCEVs are on the road (that’s the egg).

Given California’s history of leveraging its huge auto market in support of new clean technology, it looks like the logjam is about to break.

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Tackling the Next Nexus: Food Waste and Energy

| Wednesday April 30th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Food Waste Reduction Alliances launches new toolkitThe food industry organization Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA) has just released a new toolkit for improving the bottom line by reducing food waste, and one major theme to emerge from those strategies is the nexus of food waste and energy. That relationship is most clearly evident in the waste disposal area, since food scraps are generally wet and heavy, leading to high transportation and landfill costs.

The food waste-energy nexus is also at work more subtly throughout the new toolkit. Think of the relationship between food waste and energy as a corollary to the water-energy nexus, and you can see how this massive challenge can be leveraged as a positive bottom line benefit that sets off a ripple effect through civic and environmental issues as well.

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Fuzzy Math on Pennsylvania Fracking Jobs

| Wednesday April 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Fracking wastewater impoundment surrounded by wind turbines in Bradford County, Pa.

Fracking wastewater impoundment surrounded by wind turbines in Bradford County, Pa.

Incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania has been campaigning for re-election on a platform that touts the 200,000 jobs created through his support for natural gas fracking, but the Pennsylvania fracking boom is not all that it’s cracked up to be. A provocative article newly published in The National Journal casts some serious doubts upon Corbett’s representation of the number of jobs created by fracking, an unconventional method of extracting natural gas from shale formations.

The National Journal makes a good case that the fracking industry accounts for less than 1 percent of current Pennsylvania job creation, which gets us to thinking that the number of jobs actually created by the Pennsylvania fracking industry is offset by the jobs at risk in the state’s rich and varied historical tourism, recreation and agricultural sectors — all of which are threatened by fracking operations.

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Shell Joins Pledge For Drastic Cuts In Greenhouse Gases, But…

| Wednesday April 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Shell signs TTC but it could be an empty promiseLast week, the Royal Dutch Shell company got a lot of nice publicity for signing the  Trillion Tonne Communiqué (TTC), a climate action project of the Prince of Wales’ Corporate Leaders Group. However, when we took a quick look at the group’s FAQ page and put that together with a news item from our friends over at TheHill.com, two things jumped out at us: coal and carbon capture.

When you put coal and carbon capture together with TTC, the most you can say about Shell is that the energy company is using the declaration more as publicity leverage for its existing oil and gas operations, rather than a meaningful step toward transitioning its business model into renewable sources. So, let’s take a closer look at TTC and the answers to those frequently asked questions (FAQs).

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New Solar Cell Doubles As a Touch Screen

| Tuesday March 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

new solar cell material doubles as touch screenA new finding from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) demonstrates yet again how the flexibility and wide-ranging applicability of solar power provides it with advantages that are impossible to achieve with fossil forms of energy. NTU’s breakthrough is a new solar cell material that could also be used to make the now-ubiquitous touch screens for electronic devices, information kiosks and many other display forms.

The integrated solar cell/touch screen concept parallels the emergence of building-integrated solar cells, as well as solar cells that can be incorporated into fabrics and other wearable or portable items.

In addition to the potential energy cost savings related to consumer products, NTU’s new solar cell material could also provide businesses with a low-emission platform for colorful lighting displays, especially when combined with a storage system that enables night-time use.

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‘War on Coal’ is Not the Real Reason Your Utility Rates Will Go Up

| Monday March 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments

7681112366_6e465d4d17_zWith new EPA regulations for coal-fired power plants looming ahead, the coal and utilities industries have issued sharp warnings about the impact of another “war on coal.” The argument goes that the cost of installing pollution-scrubbing equipment, and/or shutting down outdated coal-fired power plants, is passed directly along to the consumer in the form of higher rates. The U.S. economy also feels the impact, so the argument goes, in terms of higher business costs, lost employment opportunities and a competitive advantage for coal-using companies overseas.

However, given the past record of accuracy for those warnings, it looks like a bad case of déjà vu all over again. According to a history of similar warnings about coal regulation compiled by the Center for American Progress (CAP), those predictions fail to account for the positive impact of innovation, as well as the economic counterbalance of improved public health.

Meanwhile, within the broader issue of U.S. infrastructure, CAP draws out an important point: In the coming years, the main driver of utility rates will not be the power plants or the fuel they use, it will be the urgent need to overhaul the nation’s aging, badly outdated electricity distribution and transmission grid.

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New “EPA” Report Trashes LEED Standards… No, Really!

| Monday March 10th, 2014 | 3 Comments

PR company linked to new LEED reportWhen the EPA releases a research report claiming that LEED-certified buildings don’t perform as well as their non-certified counterparts, that’s bound to turn heads in at least some sectors of the blogosphere so consider this mission accomplished. Last Friday, a group called the Environmental Policy Alliance (EPA, what else?) released a bombshell report claiming that LEED (Leadership in Environmental Engineering and Design) certified buildings “actually use more energy than uncertified buildings.” The report has been making waves around the tubes all week long.

That’s all well and good if you’re only interested in culling information from their press release. However, if you are interested in whether the Environmental Policy Alliance is an organization with a solid track record in research or if it’s just another one of those PR efforts masquerading as a think tank, you can follow the links to their website and your answers are right there.

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Illinois Clean Energy Report Shows the Power of Community Choice

| Monday March 10th, 2014 | 1 Comment

91 Illinois communities get 100% clean powe, Chicago gets more windThe tubes have been buzzing over a new report announcing that 91 Illinois communities now get 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, but that’s just the tip of a very large iceberg. According to the report, “Leading from the Middle,” more than 500 other communities in the state have signed on to the same community choice program that the “clean 91″ have used, and several have already begun using it to improve their electricity footprint.

Within that larger group is Chicago, which is highlighted in the report. Though it still relies heavily on natural gas, Chicago has already used community choice to get from 40 percent coal down to zero in practically the blink of an eye.

As for how that is possible, let’s take a remark by Chicago’s chief sustainability officer, Karen Weigert, who sums it all up in “Leading from the Middle” with this comment: “[Electricity] is a market, and when you ask a market for something, they can provide it.”

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Tension Mounts as U.S. EPA Comes Out Swinging in Support of Bristol Bay

| Thursday March 6th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Pebble mine sockeye salmon bristol bay epaHow’s this for timing: Just a few weeks in advance of a special Triple Pundit series on sustainable fisheries, last Friday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a strongly–and we mean strongly–worded announcement that it will use its authority under the Clean Water Act to to protect the sockeye salmon fishery in Bristol Bay, Alaska, which just happens to be the largest sockeye fishery in the entire world.

Triple Pundit took note of the EPA announcement earlier this week (here’s that article), and it’s worth revisiting the topic to make a point about the growing tension between renewable and non-renewable resources in an increasingly globalized economy.

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