National Organization of Woman Accused of Quid Pro Quo in Chevron Case

Eric Justian
| Monday October 20th, 2014 | 12 Comments

Ed note: This article and its title have been updated since this piece was first published and includes statements from NOW and Chevron.  

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So, it seems kind of weird at first glance that the National Organization of Women would come down in support of Chevron. Coincidentally, just months after Chevron donated $50,000 million bucks to the National Organization of Women, the legal arm of NOW, Legal Momentum, filed a legal brief in favor of the oil company in its legal plight in Ecuador.

This isn’t as out of left field as it might seem, since NOW has its own reasons for supporting a particular ruling on the RICO injunction. But the substantial donation and its timing  sure raises eyebrows, particularly since the toxic waste at the root of the ruling had a particularly strong impact on Ecuadorian women and their children.

Money really complicates something that should seem simple and raises questions of corruption. NOW may have had good intentions, but that donation sure makes it seem like quid pro quo. Ironically, that sort of corruption is one of NOW’s reasons for siding with Chevron, as the organization cites the integrity of RICO injunctions as their reason for getting involved at all — RICO being the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and “corruption” traditionally defined as “dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery.”

So, if NOW was motivated to urge the court to uphold the integrity of the RICO Act in part because of a healthy donation, that would be … kind of funny. And definitely ironic.

This case is complicated. Let’s back up a bit with a little history:

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American Petroleum Institute Accused of Sabotage, Trademark Infringement

Leon Kaye | Monday October 20th, 2014 | 2 Comments
https://www.chooseenergy.com/blog/municipal-energy-aggregation-expiring/

Confusion over chooseenergy.org and chooseenergy.com has led trademark litigation

Last week the American Petroleum Institute (API) was sued for trademark infringement by Choose Energy, Inc. For 10 years, San Francisco-based Choose Energy has been operating an online marketplace that allows consumers to compare home and business power options from natural gas to solar. In a lawsuit filed last week in a California federal court, Choose Energy, which operates the website ChooseEnergy.com, accuses the API’s launch of ChooseEnergy.org of confusing consumers and harming the company’s goodwill, or in layman’s terms, the company’s reputation and therefore its customers’ confidence.

The suit claims API’s site has confused Choose Energy’s potential customers, especially those who contact the firm through its chat interface, call center and via social media interaction on the Choose Energy’s Twitter account. The bulk of Choose Energy’s business is from working as a broker offering various energy options in the 10 states and the District of Columbia that have deregulated energy markets. So, API’s launch, the company insists, is having an adverse impact on its business. Considering API’s past use of fake Twitter accounts and litigation over renewable energy regulations in the past, this may not be too big a surprise to observers.

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Solving Food Waste and Hunger Through Food Rescue

3p Contributor | Monday October 20th, 2014 | 2 Comments

Editor’s Note: This summer, Tamanna Mohapatra, a master’s student in Columbia University’s Sustainability Management Program, took a ride with City Harvest and got an up-close look at food waste and hunger in New York City. This is the first post in a two-part feature detailing her experience.

10653858_10152643938156181_8329167458577434949_nBy Tamanna Mohapatra

Lincoln Hernandez, originally from the Dominican Republic, now calls Queens, New York his home. He drives a truck on the east side of Manhattan for City Harvest, a New York City-based food rescue program, every weekday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

On a Tuesday in August, he arrived at 8:30 in the morning to pick me up from Trader Joe’s grocery store on Broadway and 14th Street, so I could observe him in his rounds of food collection. Mr. Hernandez has been with City Harvest for close to four years now.

“You can remember my name because I am the 16th president of the United States,” he joked. Kidding aside, when asked about how he liked working at City Harvest, he said, “I feel more good working here than when going to church. I feel so great collecting and distributing food.”

We are both immigrants, he from the Caribbean and I from India. Food waste as a concept was relatively alien to us before arriving in the United States, especially the astronomical proportions found here.

That Tuesday morning, we both did our part in trying to make a dent in this very noticeable yet unchallenged social, economic and environmental issue by hauling bag after bag of fresh and one-day-old food, and lots of bread, into the mid-sized refrigerated City Harvest truck. Our stash at the end of just one trip was 2,600 pounds of edible, wholesome food! This is food that would have been thrown away if not for City Harvest’s food rescue program.

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‘Flourish and Prosper’ Takes Sustainability to the Next Level

RP Siegel | Monday October 20th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 10.56.19 PMThis week I had the opportunity to attend the Third Global Forum for Businesses as an Agent of World Benefit at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. The theme for this year’s forum is ‘Flourish and Prosper.’ The event, which was pioneered eight years ago by David Cooperrider — best known for his work on appreciative inquiry.

As Barbara Snyder, Case Western president said, “We’ve come a long way from talking about sustainability to talking about flourishing.” That sentiment was repeated several times on this first day — that it is time to reach beyond merely sustaining, and time to stop thinking in terms of trade-offs. We need to be smart enough to include the considerations of people, profit and planet in everything we do, to synthesize these requirements into smart solutions.

There is another dimension to this, as well. The idea of flourishing, says Cooperrider, means that the energy for innovation must come from an intrinsic caring. It must acknowledge the interconnectedness of all things. Citing the Dalai Lama, when asked about corporate social responsibility (CSR), he said that ‘responsibility’ is not the right word. It’s intimacy.

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Unpacking the Layers of Life Cycle Assessment

3p Contributor | Monday October 20th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Life Cycle Thinking, as defined by the UNEP's Click to enlarge (scroll to page 18).

Life Cycle Thinking, as defined by the UNEP’s Life Cycle Initiative. Click to enlarge (scroll to page 18).

By Jeff Yorzyk

We have all heard the old axiom that states, “What gets measured gets managed.” But sustainability practitioners are frequently confronted with a tough question: “How do I measure that?” Furthermore, the definition of sustainability metrics also runs into the challenge of recognizing how the capital “S” of Global Sustainability distills down to specific sustainability priorities for any individual organization. Life Cycle Thinking is an approach that helps answer both of these questions.

Life Cycle Thinking is defined by the United Nations Environmental Program’s Life Cycle Initiative as “going beyond the traditional focus and production site and manufacturing processes to include environmental, social and economic impacts of a product over its entire life cycle.”

While the quantitative process of Life Cycle Assessment is not explicitly required to do this, it is a strong supporting tool. The fundamentals of both Life Cycle Thinking and Life Cycle Assessment include mapping the value chain and identifying inputs and outputs at each stage – an exercise that takes an organization well beyond the “boundaries” it typically considers for its operations.

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3p Weekend: 5 Things Employers Need to Know About Millennials

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday October 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Want to learn more? Join TriplePundit, SAP and our special guests at #SAPsocent on October 23 at 9 a.m. PST / Noon EST for a special Twitter Chat about millennials and social entrepreneurship. Click here for more info.

Business MeetingWith a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

According to a study conducted in 2012 by leadership strategist Erica Dhawan75 percent of the global workforce will be made up of millennials by 2025. We all know millennials love their smartphones and are more likely to shun car-centric suburban life in favor of big cities — but those aren’t the only things that make this generation tick.

If employers are looking to attract and retain top talent, they’d be wise to learn these five things about millennials.

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Can Geoengineering Really Fix Climate Change?

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Friday October 17th, 2014 | 60 Comments

climate_change_geoengineering_NASAEveryone seems to be wracking their brains about how to combat climate change these days. From the conservatively pragmatic to the impressively ambitious, there seem to be no end of theories on what will ultimately slow the heating of the atmosphere. While most of us have already heard of, and probably implemented, solutions like less driving and paring down on landfill refuse, there’s a whole lot of other ideas on the table these days that take a more imaginative tact.

One concept that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has proposed is called geoengineering: a fascinating collection of brainstorms that would mostly be relegated to the extreme of impressively ambitious goals. One approach that you probably heard about a few years ago involved wrapping Greenland in a huge blanket to reduce glacier melt.

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DOE and Abengoa Launch Biorefinery in Kansas

Leon Kaye | Friday October 17th, 2014 | 1 Comment
Abengoa, Department of Energy, biofuels, clean energy, cellulosic ethanol, corn stover, Hugoton, Kansas, food vs fuel, Leon Kaye, Chris Standlee

The new Abengoa biorefinery in Kansas.

Kansas is a political mess right now, and its leaders have hardly been hospitable to sustainable development, but a new biofuels project underway, close to the border with the Oklahoma panhandle, shows that new clean energy technologies do have a future. This morning the Department of Energy and the Spanish multinational Abengoa are officially kicking off the company’s first commercial-scale biorefinery in Hugoton. Once known as Kansas’s natural gas capital, this town of 4,000 may very well become known as the catalyst for next-gen biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol, finally scaling and becoming cost-competitive with other fuels.

So why would a €7.8 billion (US$10 billion) company be bothered with this corner of the prairies? A conversation I had with Chris Standlee, Abengoa’s executive vice president of global affairs, shed some light on the future of cellulosic alcohol—which could finally play a role in diversifying our country’s energy portfolio, reduce carbon emissions and generate revenue for farmers. According to Standlee, Albengoa’s investment in the Hugoton plant reflects the company’s confidence that cellulosic alcohol is finally becoming a more cost effective option.

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The Mustang Gets an EcoBoost for Its 50th Birthday

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday October 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

2014-10-14 14.44.29I’ve always wanted a Ford Mustang. As a youngster, I often daydreamed about cruising down the highway with the top down and the wind in my hair. Many a homeroom game of MASH ended in disappointment — not because I got stuck living in a shack or married to a boy who pushed me down at recess, but because the luck of the draw left me with something other than a Mustang.

I never would have guessed that the first time I’d sit behind the wheel of my dream car would be as an environmental journalist — about to punch the pedal of the most fuel efficient Mustang ever made.

For the model’s 50th birthday, the folks at Ford Motor Co. decided to do things a bit differently by launching the first Mustang with EcoBoost. Available with both manual and automatic transmissions, the EcoBoost model promises 32 miles per gallon on the highway. Now, before you get too excited, I’m not talking about the V8 version — or even the V6. The 2015 Mustang EcoBoost comes equipped with a 4-cylinder engine. But at 2.3 liters and 310 horsepower, it still has a good deal of pep. The 320 pound-feet of torque doesn’t hurt performance either. In fact, the EcoBoost produces more horsepower and torque than the Mustang GT engines did just 10 years ago.

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Retailers Cite Low Wages as Major Threat to Business

Eric Justian
| Friday October 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

burger king home of the whoperTwo-thirds of America’s largest retailers, most of which pay minimum wage, are citing “flat or falling disposable incomes” as a serious risk factor to their business models. This according to a report by the Center for American Progress. The report isn’t based on squishy personal corporate responses from public relations staff. No … It’s based on the actual Securities and Exchange Commission filings for these companies as they cite risk factors to their businesses. These 10-K filings show that major retailers are highly concerned about how low and stagnant wages among consumers are a threat to business.

Median household incomes are not doing well. In 2013 they were 8 percent lower than in pre-recession 2007 which, according to the report, “leaves the median married couple with two kids with $5,500 less to spend annually on food, clothes and other essentials that retailers sell.”

Low estimates are that the middle class accounts for 30 percent of the 115 million American households. That’s about 35 million households, times $5,500 less per year, for a total of about $193 billion less in available funds each year that could be going to Walmart, Burger King, Kohl’s, Sears or whatever favorite retailer you might have. That’s a huge hit to America’s retailers, and it’s got Wall Street worried. While our leaders in Washington, D.C. keep insisting on the merits of trickle-down economics, retailers, restaurants and Wall Street economists are starting to notice that not only is money not trickling down — but it’s also no longer trickling up.

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Method’s New Factory to Host World’s Largest Rooftop Farm

Alexis Petru
| Friday October 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments
A drawing of Method's planned manufacturing plant.

A drawing of Method’s planned manufacturing plant.

Back in March, eco-friendly cleaning supply company Method broke ground on its first U.S. manufacturing plant, set to be built on Chicago’s South Side. Now the San Francisco-based company has revealed more details about the green roof planned for the factory: Through a partnership with urban farming company Gotham Greens, the facility will boast the largest rooftop farm in the world, producing up to 1 million pounds of produce each year.

Gotham Greens will design, build and operate the 75,000-square-foot greenhouse, the Brooklyn-based company announced in a joint press release with Method in early October. The pesticide-free produce harvested from the urban rooftop farm will be distributed through local Chicago retailers, restaurants, farmer’s markets and community groups – bringing fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables to the food desert that is the Windy City’s South Side. The greenhouse can also provide full-time green collar jobs for residents in the community, Gotham Greens’ Marketing and Partnerships Manager Nicole Baum told Method in an interview on its blog.

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SXSW Eco Interview: Jeff Cheney, Earth911

| Friday October 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This post is part of Triple Pundit’s ongoing coverage of the SXSW Eco conference. For the rest, please visit our SXSW Eco page here.

earth-911-tv-229x150We’ve been fans of Earth911 since back in the day when they were merely a recycling services directory.  Now the site has grown into a major player in eco-friendly news and information and has just launched their first ever eco-marketplace, YouChange.

By encouraging consumers to “vote with their dollars,” the YouChange platform will offer thousands of vetted products that will not only make you feel better about where your money goes, but will also reward companies that are doing the right thing vis a vis the environment.

I had a chance to talk to the “president of earth” himself, Jeff Cheney, last week in Austin…

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Green Building Questions: What Makes Fiberglass Windows Energy Efficient?

3p Contributor | Friday October 17th, 2014 | 1 Comment
New fiberglass windows for apartments

There’s a lot of talk about fiberglass windows, but just how energy efficient are they?

By Paul Kazlov

As more people, homeowners especially, push to go green at home, many are turning to eco-friendly products such as energy efficient windows. As a result, fiberglass windows are gaining popularity due to their energy efficient material.

Have you ever wondered what makes fiberglass windows, or fiberglass in general, so energy efficient? A variety of factors serve as the foundation for the material’s uncanny ability to save home and business owners thousands on heating and cooling bills. Some of the fundamental causes of fiberglass’ flawless energy conservation range from a long lifecycle performing at optimal functionality and a prolonged degradation process. In addition, the materials that comprise fiberglass windows are cheaper to produce and require less raw goods, as compared to vinyl and wood products.

In fact, fiberglass requires very little natural resources to be consumed, if any at all. Furthermore, fiberglass is certainly more eco-friendly when compared to wood which requires the utilization of trees. Here are some of the features of fiberglass windows that make them remarkably environmentally friendly and energy efficient.

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Text Messaging Can Get You a Job (In Brazil)

Sherrell Dorsey
| Thursday October 16th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Join TriplePundit, SAP and our special guests for a Twitter Chat about millennials and social entrepreneurship. Follow along at #SAPsocent on October 23 at 9 a.m. PST/Noon EST.

woman cell phoneDespite massive growth throughout the years and big companies testing the waters for market opportunities, Latin America still faces historically high unemployment rates and a dismal GDP. For working-class Brazilians, the default means for finding employment — newspaper ads and word-of-mouth — are slow and ad hoc. However, finding work is now becoming as simple as responding to a text message, thanks to entrepreneur Jacob Rosenbloom, founder of Emprego Ligado.

Backed by high-profile investors including 500 Startups, Qualcomm and a new round of Series A funding to increase geographic expansion, Emprego Ligado is successfully taking over São Paulo as a virtual staffing firm that’s connecting blue-collar workers to millions of job opportunities each month.

Launched in 2011, Emprego Ligado serves as a job marketplace for working-class Brazilians with limited access to the Internet. Job applicants simply upload their resumes and filter job opportunities to the system via text message. The process takes as little as 2 minutes to complete, and accepted candidates are able to arrange interviews with potential employers all through the convenience of their mobile device.

I sat down with Rosenbloom via Skype to discuss his venture, the growth opportunities that exist in Brazil, and how he’s charting a new path for economic empowerment that affects on the ground environmental and quality of life issues for the country’s most vulnerable workers.

Here’s an edited version of our conversation:

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Vast Methane Cloud Confirmed Over the American Southwest

Eric Justian
| Thursday October 16th, 2014 | 6 Comments
The red spot in the Southwest is the single largest concentration of methane emissions in the US.

The red spot in the Southwest is the single largest concentration of methane emissions in the US.

At first NASA scientists didn’t believe it, thinking it was an instrument error. But then came the confirmation. They had found a Delaware-sized methane cloud over the American Southwest at the Four Corners. At 2,500 square miles, it is the largest concentrated area of methane emissions in the United States.

Methane, also known as natural gas, is a powerful greenhouse gas — 20 times more potent than CO2.

The gas isn’t coming from hydraulic fracturing well leaks, which are indeed a source of methane emissions. The data shows the Four Corners methane cloud pre-dates the fracking boom. So, it’s not from fracking or cow farts. This methane cloud is believed to be coming from leaks from coalbed methane extraction.

Leaks. It’s because of such inevitable leaks that it’s worth taking it with a grain of salt when natural gas is billed as a solution to climate change for its lower CO2 emissions.

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