Showtime Documentary Series Features the Climate-Coal Connection

3p Contributor | Friday March 28th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Mary Anne Hitt (Beyond Coal Campaign) and Ian Somerhalder (IS Foundation) at Duke Energy Asheville coal plant

Mary Anne Hitt (Beyond Coal Campaign) and Ian Somerhalder (IS Foundation) at Duke Energy Asheville coal plant

By Dayna Reggero

Years of Living Dangerously, a documentary series premiering next month on Showtime, provides a compelling introduction to the people and places affected by climate change.

Sharing these stories is a roster of major film, television and news figures, including Jessica Alba, Mark Bittman, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon and many more. Actor Ian Somerhalder (Lost, Vampire Diaries) visits Asheville, N.C. and interviews Mary Anne Hitt, Beyond Coal campaign director, and Anna Jane Joyner, Western North Carolina Alliance activist, during the episode, “Preacher’s Daughter.”

Filming locations include Duke Energy’s Asheville coal plant, the Asheville Beyond Coal rally, and Charlotte, NC.

“Duke Energy’s Asheville coal plant is the largest source of climate-disrupting pollution in western North Carolina,” says Hitt. “Duke Energy must commit to phase out the Asheville coal plant and replace it with home-grown clean energy solutions.”

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EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Release New Rule To Protect Waterways

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Friday March 28th, 2014 | 0 Comments

riverThe Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a proposed rule this week to clarify which waterways are protected under the Clean Water Act.

Two Supreme Court decisions, one in 2001 and the other in 2006, made determining which waterways are protected under the CWA confusing and complex. The proposed rule doesn’t expand waterways protected under the CWA, but only clarifies which ones are protected. Or as EPA head Gina McCarthy stated in an op-ed piece for the Huffington Post, “Our proposed rule will not add to or expand the scope of waters historically protected under the Clean Water Act.”

About 60 percent of the stream miles in the U.S. only flow seasonally or after rain, and about 117 million people, one in three Americans, get drinking water from public systems that rely in part on those streams. The proposed rule would clarify that under the CWA most seasonal and rain-dependent streams are protected. It would also clarify that wetlands near rivers and streams are protected. Other waterways whose connections with downstream water are uncertain will be evaluated to determine whether the connection is significant. In addition, the proposed rule preserves the CWA exemptions and exclusions for agriculture.

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Transparent Panels Signal the Future of the Solar Industry

Mary Mazzoni
| Thursday March 27th, 2014 | 4 Comments
The ultra-thin, 40 percent transparent solar cells unveiled by German manufacturer Heliatek lend themselves perfectly to the integration between glass panes to help buildings become carbon neutral.

The ultra-thin, 40 percent transparent solar cells unveiled by German manufacturer Heliatek lend themselves perfectly to the integration between glass panes to help buildings become carbon neutral.

Imagine a world where every glass surface produces solar power. You’d wake up to the alarm on your fully-charged smartphone, pluck it off the windowsill and hop into a hot shower — courtesy of a solar water heating system powered by your enclosed patio. You stroll out to your electric vehicle and flip on the radio, powered by your sun roof, and head off to your net-zero office building — which skirts the grid thanks to its majestic floor-to-ceiling windows.

This scenario may sound like science fiction, but recent developments in solar technology suggest that it barely scratches the surface of where the industry may be headed in the coming decade. Earlier this week, German solar company Heliatek unveiled a 40 percent transparent organic solar cell that’s ideal for generating energy from windows, façades and glass car roofs.

The development holds potentially groundbreaking implications for the new generation of net-zero smart buildings, as well as the alleviation of electric vehicle range anxiety.

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Towns Impacted by Dan River Coal Ash Spill Continue to Struggle

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Thursday March 27th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Danville_VA_water_AaronHeadlyAs North Carolina regulators press to have Duke Energy stripped of protections that would have limited the company’s liability for cleanup of coal ash spills in two regional rivers, communities downstream are struggling to come to terms with the continuing impact of the cleanup and stigma from the pollution.

Danville, Va. is just miles downstream from where a pipe connected to a coal ash pond owned by Duke Energy failed and spewed toxic sludge into the Dan River in February. The city of 43,000 has been working hard in recent years to revitalize its image and its future. A former tobacco and textiles town, its growth has depended on this waterway, which served at times not only as a resource for drinking water, but as a disposal site for nearby industrial waste and rinse water. It’s a history that Danville has gradually been moving away from.

These days, the Dan River fulfills another, more elegant purpose as one of Virginia’s state-designated Scenic Rivers. Approved last October, the designation encompasses a 15-mile stretch in the vicinity of Danville. The scenic recognition is expected to draw in much-needed tourism dollars from travelers interested in seeing Virginia’s rural beauty. Danville’s economic development, and its transition away from an industry that once painted the river currents in color, is now dependent upon that designation — and the tourism that is meant to follow.

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Housing the Homeless Saves Taxpayers Money, (Another) Study Shows

Eric Justian
| Thursday March 27th, 2014 | 0 Comments

3795168896_98b8242c60_zA new analysis from Charlotte, N.C. once again shows what we’ve learned from many other case studies: It costs taxpayers less money to house the homeless than it does to leave them to the elements.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina examined Moore Place, a housing complex with 85 units, constructed in 2012 specifically to meet the needs of homeless individuals in the Charlotte area. Moore Place requires residents to pay 30 percent of their income (which includes things like veterans and disability benefits) toward the cost of rent. The remaining housing cost per person, per year is about $14,000 — which Moore Place pays for through Federal and local grants.

If that $14,000 seems like somebody is soaking the system, keep in mind it costs about $30,000 per year or more to imprison somebody. Sometimes a lot more. Which is one important reason that giving the homeless a place to live can save taxpayers money. The population at Moore Place saw a 78 percent drop in arrests and 84 percent fewer days in jail compared to living on the streets. That’s fewer people in expensive prisons, less police work, a reduction of caseload for the courts, and the aversion of a whole range of taxpayer costs that occur when people run afoul of the law. 

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The Quick & Dirty: A Tale Of Two Cities — Rankings, Awards and Other Popular Myths

Henk Campher
| Thursday March 27th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Worst Company in America 2014“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”

Wow… And I thought this was the opening paragraph of “A Tale Of Two Cities.” Maybe it was, but it best describes how I feel about rankings, ratings, awards and everything else the experts do when they try to tell us which company just passed sliced bread as the best sustainable thing ever. Better than the real thing. Better than all the rest. Simply the best.

This time it wasn’t the usual daily-inbox-flooding set of Top 100 or Best Of or Greenest or Most Loved lists that got me going. This time it was one of my favorite morning reads, the Consumerist — usually the place I go for a quick chuckle about who got into what trouble while I was sleeping. But this time it got me a bit worked up because it is the start of their 2014 Worst Company In America competition.

There were a few names on there that I don’t like and would put on my personal list, too. But the thought that hit me first when I read the list was the Twitter joke #firstworldproblems.

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Nest ‘Protect’ Raises the Bar on Smoke Alarms

RP Siegel | Thursday March 27th, 2014 | 0 Comments

NestLast month, Google paid $3.2 billion to acquire Nest Labs, Inc., the maker of upscale home gadgets with high-tech interfaces, most notably the Nest Learning Thermostat (NLT). Most observers feel the acquisition was to help Google participate in the home energy management market, which is becoming increasingly connected to the “Internet of things, which Cisco estimates to be worth some $14.4 trillion over the next decade.”

Nest had only recently announced it’s take on the smoke alarm, the Nest Protect, which is a combination smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detector, done-up with the same kind of panache that made their thermostat stand out from the crowd.

The Nest Protect has a variety of features, providing the kind of performance that you might expect from a “smarter” smoke alarm.

Starting with the same kind of elegant styling as its thermostatic cousin, as well a similarly premium price ($129), it’s clearly aimed at a discriminating market. Here’s what your investment will get you.

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Women in CSR: Suzanne Apple, World Wildlife Fund

| Thursday March 27th, 2014 | 0 Comments

women-csr-banner
Welcome to our series of interviews with leading female CSR practitioners where we are learning about what inspires these women and how they found their way to careers in sustainability. Read the rest of the series here.

Suzanne Apple Official PictureTriplePundit: Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the business.

Suzanne Apple: I am Senior Vice President of Private Sector Engagement at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world’s leading conservation organization. I lead our corporate engagement with major U.S.-based companies and their supply chains to ensure that the natural resources and ecosystems which are essential to their operations are managed sustainably.

I joined WWF almost 11 years ago following more than 10 years at The Home Depot as Vice President of Community Affairs and Environmental Programs where I oversaw the company’s CSR and sustainability initiatives.

3p: How has the sustainability program evolved at your organization?

SA: I think what has been most satisfying in my career is to have seen the conversation about sustainability evolve from the right thing to do, to a business imperative. Sustainability is now front and center on many boardroom agendas, becoming integrated into companies’ core business strategies. Previously, many companies saw the environment as something separate from their business, but they are beginning to see the bigger picture and now understand that responsible environmental practices are essential to the long-term viability of business and the license to operate.

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Sustainability is Important to Most American Food Shoppers, Survey Finds

| Thursday March 27th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Food shoppingA new survey of American consumers provides some potentially surprising findings that indicate American food shoppers are very mindful about what they place into their shopping carts, and it’s not just about price and taste.

While food commercials on television constantly bombard Americans with offerings that focus on price-point and convenience, a 2014 survey by Cone Communications found that people care about where their food comes from and how it is produced. In a poll of more than 1,000 people from a broad cross-section of the shopping public, 77 percent of respondents said sustainability was an important factor in deciding what to buy, while 74 percent said buying locally was a significant factor.

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Carson City, Calif. Puts a Temporary Ban On Oil and Gas Drilling

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday March 27th, 2014 | 1 Comment

CA frackingThe five members of the Carson City Council in California voted unanimously to put a 45-day ban on new oil and gas drilling. During that time, the city council will consider enacting a one-year ban. Occidental Petroleum would like to develop 200 wells in the Carson City area, located in Los Angeles County. Occidental reportedly said back in 2012, when it first proposed drilling the wells, that it plans to use hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking. However, the company now says it no longer plans to use fracking.

The council is not taking the word of Occidental Petroleum. As one councilman, Albert Robles, told Reuters, ”There are too many questions, too many unknowns and too many possible bad consequences that could result from the city engaging in this activity.” Robles added, “These questions significantly outweigh any possible benefit to the residents of Carson.”

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Making the Food Trade Work for All

Fair Trade USA | Wednesday March 26th, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Daniel Gonzales, Fundación AVINAFarm worker sifts corn kernels at his home in Central America

This Monday, March 31, we celebrate Cesar Chavez Day, and remember the challenges faced and battles fought by farm workers across the country. It’s also a time to discuss the fight that lives on today in the U.S. and abroad—a fight for fair wages and safe working conditions in an industry held up by a population of laborers whose rights are often difficult to protect.

In North America, most farm workers come from Latin America. The U.S. Department of Labor, for example, says that close to 90 percent of farm workers are Spanish-speakers, and more than half of immigrant farm workers nationwide do not have legal protection. More indigenous workers from rural Mexico and Central America are arriving, as well as guest workers from Asia. Although they pay payroll taxes and contribute anywhere from $6 billion to $7 billion in Social Security funds, migrant farm workers do not come to the United States to get welfare because of the simple fact that they are not eligible.

A global workforce

What this tells us is that the realities of agricultural labor in the U.S. are not confined within its borders. Whether it’s a coffee farm in Brazil, a pineapple farm in Costa Rica, or an apple farm in North America, farm workers can often find themselves a part of a globally marginalized, transient and largely invisible workforce that brings us our food each day. Just as the issues in our global food systems cannot be addressed by problem-solving in one region alone, restoring pride and dignity to the American farm worker also requires a far more global perspective and approach. It requires the equitable appreciation of all farm workers, wherever they may be. Their skills, dedication and sweat are all human.

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Clean Energy Trends 2014: New Solar Energy Capacity Exceeds Wind For First Time

| Wednesday March 26th, 2014 | 12 Comments

CleanEnergyTrendsLogoThe landscape of the global renewable energy market continues to shift with changes in economic and social conditions and policies. While some renewable energy sectors – notably, solar photovoltaic (PV) deployment – experienced “dazzling growth, success and rising stock prices,” others saw a drop in deployments, as well as challenges on the policy and finance fronts, according to a global clean energy market report from Clean Edge released March 26.

Last year marked a turning point for solar PV, according to Clean Edge’s, Clean Energy Trends 2014 report, as newly installed solar PV generating capacity exceeded that of wind power for the first time since the market research company began tracking global markets in 2000. Newly installed solar PV generating capacity totaled 36.5 gigawatts (GW) while that for wind totaled 35.5 GW, according to Clean Edge’s count.

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How Loving Your Clothes Can Make the World a Better Place

3p Contributor | Wednesday March 26th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Appalatch co-founders Grace Gounin (right) and Mariano deGuzman work on pieces for their line.

Appalatch co-founders Grace Gouin (right) and Mariano deGuzman work on pieces for their line.

By Grace Gouin, Creative Director of Appalatch

It’s easy to get frustrated and blue when you start paying attention to all of the problems facing sustainability in the apparel industry. Once you learn about the environmental harm and the social inequity caused by the industry as it stands today, you find yourself a little stumped when it comes time to get dressed. As a very astute 12-year-old asked me today as we tried to do some shopping: “What am I supposed to do? I can’t go naked!” It’s hard to discuss the problems within the apparel industry without somebody asking, very reasonably, for a solution. We think the solution lies in everybody loving their clothes a little more.

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Caribbean Island of Barbados To Get Waste-To-Energy Plant

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday March 26th, 2014 | 1 Comment

wastetoenergyOne day soon the Caribbean island of Barbados will have part of its electricity needs supplied by a waste-to-energy plant.

Cahill Energy, based in Guernsey, announced the signing of an agreement with the government of Barbados on March 15 to build and operate a waste-to-energy plant. The company plans to invest up to $240 million in the plant which will be built in Vaucluse, St. Thomas. The plant is predicted to create up to 350 jobs, plus stimulate economic growth on the island and save the government of Barbados several hundred million dollars during the 30-year contract, according to estimates from Cahill Energy.

The waste-to-energy plant will use plasma gasification to transform up to 650 tons of solid waste a day into renewable energy. It will save all of that waste from ending up in a landfill and provide a domestic power source for Barbados which will reduce the country’s reliance on imported fossil fuel. It is expected to provide up to 25 percent of Barbados’ total energy needs and reduce energy cost. Westinghouse Plasma Corp., owned by AlterNRG, will supply the plasma gasification technology.

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8 Reasons Socially Responsible Businesses Survive and Thrive

3p Contributor | Wednesday March 26th, 2014 | 3 Comments

3344142642_c4d3bfa042_zBy Zack Rosenberg

Business leaders act, not react. By nature they are forward thinking and innovative– a ballast on a ship. But never before has leadership been a more critical tool, with billion dollar brands being built overnight and distribution trending in ways we never imagined.

It’s the Internet, of course. Consumers are interacting with brands in ways that could never have been done before. Twenty years ago our choices were limited to whatever was on the shelves at our local supermarket or pharmacy. Now, every brand and product is available at anytime and anywhere.

So how do we as leaders distinguish ourselves? The key is to understand how our brands can provide solutions to problems as well as to communities (our own or others). Here are eight reasons that business leaders who incorporate social responsibility into their business models will survive and thrive.

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