With Businesses on the Brink of Bankruptcy, How Will Automakers Respond to California’s Emission Standards?

Scott Cooney | Friday April 3rd, 2009 | 2 Comments

futurecarToastForBrekkie.jpgIn January, President Obama signed an executive order asking the courts to review a Bush era ruling that stopped California from limiting carbon emissions from passenger vehicles. When the dust settles after multiple legal hoops, California and 17 other states (called the CARB states) who have signed on to California’s plan will inevitably, it seems, dictate the federal emissions standards for one very simple reason: it will cost more to produce two lines of vehicles than to just upgrade the entire line to California’s higher standards.
Historically, Detroit’s reaction has been consistent to California’s climate protection efforts throughout the years. Without ever having won a court case directly related to the controversy, Detroit has nonetheless succeeded in delaying the inevitable for many years, presumably because their business would have plummeted as a result of the stricter emissions standards. With their businesses on the brink of bankruptcy, one is forced to wonder how effective their delay tactics were, and whether, if they had instead come to the bargaining table and worked out a compromise, they would be in better shape today.
Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) led a series of hearings in 2008 that demonstrably showed the Bush White House directly involved in overruling EPA officials, virtually all of whom favored the California standards. Aside from a couple of Michigan Democrats (Governor Granholm and Rep Dingell) and a few rogue Republicans (Governors Schwarzenegger and Utah Governor Huntsman), the issue has largely been decisively along party lines. The 18 states involved in the case include 16 blue states along with Utah (Huntsman’s influence) and Arizona (a swing state even in McCain elections).
And now, with the industry flailing and begging a largely Democratic congress and President for a helping hand, the story’s plot has certainly thickened.

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SustainLane Launches Green Collar Jobs Board

| Friday April 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

sustainlane.jpegThe online media company SustainLane has recently launched a Green Collar Jobs Board, offering a tool to help you navigate your way down the path of a green career. The site shows us the kind of opportunities that are emerging in today’s job climate and, usefully, how we can be best prepared to position ourselves for such opportunities.
SustainLane streamlines the green job hunt process through it’s comprehensive nationwide listings, offers great job searching and application tips, but it is also frank in sharing the difficulties that are encountered in finding and securing a green job.
Green jobs expert and managing partner at Bright Green Talent, Nick Ellis explains that we are ¨early-on in the transition to a green economy,¨ which makes job-hunting, skill profiling, and interviewing to mention a few, difficult processes to do well in a very competitive market. In the context of national (and global) economic restructuring, he shares with us the hard reality of the situation: ¨There are few green jobs available right now, and whats more, there are too few qualified candidates for these jobs.¨ But there are opportunities and with this new job board we can learn how to go after them effectively in the rapidly expanding green economy.

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The Holy Grail of Successful Marketing: Responsibility

| Friday April 3rd, 2009 | 3 Comments

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With so many companies jumping on the “do good” bandwagon, even more names have emerged for the concept itself — cause marketing, cause-related marketing, cause branding, green marketing, conscious marketing, marketing with meaning, social good marketing, social change marketing and a slew of others. Even the umbrella term of corporate social responsibility is often used interchangeably with cause marketing efforts. But in my ongoing quest for a clear and simple definition, I stumbled across the Responsible Marketing blog, and it all crystallized for me. The common thread isn’t social change or charitable giving. That’s merely the by-product of those types of initiatives.
What binds the myriad of terms is employing your marketing efforts in a way that’s responsible. And while that can mean aligning tactics with a cause, it is not limited to that description. It could also mean responsible use of dollars, reducing unnecessary print marketing materials, or pulling an offensive ad, even if the increased exposure could actually benefit the company. Distilling it further would probably be to simply call it “Ethical Marketing,” but the fact of the matter is that there still needs to be a strategic focus, and Patrick Byers, the mastermind behind the Responsible Marketing blog is committed to helping companies hone that strategy as an outward expression of their core values.

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Electric Cars for the Masses: Ford’s New Strategy

Shannon Arvizu | Friday April 3rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

10FusionHybrid_01_HR-1.jpgMajor carmakers are in a head-to-head race right now to offer cleaner options for consumers and fleet managers. Ford is the latest to make an announcement that it will deliver affordable electric vehicle technology at high volumes in the next few years.
At Ford’s Drive Green Media Forum in New York City on Wednesday, Nancy Gioia (Director of Sustainable Mobility) repeatedly stated, “Electrification is not an option, it is the way forward.”

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Market Reality Bites Biofuel Companies

Bill DiBenedetto | Friday April 3rd, 2009 | 1 Comment

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The sour economy, low oil prices, the collapse of the commodity market and flight from food-based biofuel sourcing merged into in a deadly mix.
Not that long ago ethanol and related first generation biofuels were the next big thing in alternative energy. Now this segment is in danger of becoming the next big bust.
In recent days Nova Biosource Fuels, a Houston-based refiner and marketer of ASTM quality biodiesel, filed to restructure under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. And BioFuel Energy, a Denver ethanol producer, is on the verge of a bankruptcy filing of its own.

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Happy April. Enjoy 3p’s Take on the Annual Prank

| Thursday April 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

REDIRECTING….

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BetterHumanRace.com: Surf the Web, Change the World

| Thursday April 2nd, 2009 | 1 Comment

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In my recent cause marketing interview with Social Actions, I highlighted the importance of making doing good as easy as possible for consumers. In an age where time is at a premium, most people can’t expend resources researching charities or dedicate a significant amount of hours volunteering or getting actively involved with causes. But that doesn’t mitigate that the desire for change still exists, so companies who offer turnkey solutions for making a difference that don’t disrupt busy schedules or require extra effort will be able to reach and motivate today’s conscious consumer.
This was the impetus behind BetterHumanRace.com, a search aggregator that leverages routine online behaviors toward doing good. By performing your search at BetterHumanRace.com, instead of Google, or using their interface to purchase Amazon products, 100% of the profit generated goes toward a variety of causes, which are voted on by users. So, users can make contributions to worthy charitable organizations simply by doing things they would normally do online. And as more people use the BetterHumanRace.com interface to complete common online tasks, that change really adds up — figuratively and literally.
Founded by husband and wife team, Ross and Lori Shanken, BetterHumanRace.com was built with the intent to give consumers a way to personally affect change without any added effort, and by building this model, Ross quickly realized that he could generate exponentially more money for causes, and hence, create greater change, through a business than he could ever donate on his own. Tapping into the collective search and buying power of consumers, BetterHumanRace.com becomes a hub for change, making charitable giving an everyday experience.

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Dell vs. Apple vs. HP vs…. Who’s Really the Greenest?

| Thursday April 2nd, 2009 | 2 Comments

green-computer.jpgAs more companies are making a case for profits with more sustainable product offerings, who is rising to the forefront? And should we be applauding those going beyond compliance, while at the same time be concerned with their motives?

Have you heard?

In a heavily circulated press release last fall, research done by TDG showed that consumers considered Apple to be the most environmentally friendly consumer technology brand, while a study released last year by the Geneva based firm Covalence, which covers the ethical reputation of companies, lists HP and Dell number one and three respectively in the “best ethical quote score” category, whereas Apple doesn’t even fall in the top ten.

Around the same time Apple announced the release of their “greenest” laptops ever, and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen how their latest ad campaign has centered around these assertions ever since.

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Clean Dishes…by any means necessary!

Jeff Siegel | Thursday April 2nd, 2009 | 5 Comments

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In an effort to reduce water pollution, the state of Washington initiated a ban on dishwasher detergents containing phosphates. Spokane County was the first to implement the ban last year.
Now while Washington isn’t the only state to implement such a ban (Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan, Vermont, Minnesota, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York have either banned or are in the process of banning dishwasher detergents containing phosphates), Spokane, for some suspect reason, has drawn the attention of critics who are claiming that residents are actually driving out of the state to get dishwasher detergents that do contain phosphates.
Really?!!!

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Coke Looking to Lead on Sustainability

| Thursday April 2nd, 2009 | 1 Comment

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Big business, I’m talking about industry behemoths, the likes of Walmart, Chevron and Clorox, have made recent moves in the direction of sustainability. Many instantly write off any action by these companies as greenwashing. It’s easy to do with Walmart’s ban on unionized labor, Chevron’s dubious Nigerian dealings and Clorox’s toxic ingredients.
However, Walmart is now the largest supplier of Organic Milk, Chevron is spending millions asking consumers to drive less and Clorox recently launched a green cleaning product. Is it possible there has been a fundamental shift in the priorities of big business? Or has Hell just had it’s first frost?
The Coca-Cola Company seems to believe sustainability is a matter of sound business strategy in the next millennium. Which is why in August of 2008, The Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council (CCRRC) brought the worlds leading environmental experts together with the worlds 150 largest retailers – the purpose, “Responding to the Growing Concern for the Environment.”

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Carbon Negative Development in Tennessee Aims to Reduce Earth’s Temperature 1 Degree

| Thursday April 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

Mantria Corporation is a “diversified by necessity” $79 million company which focuses on green community development, socially responsible investing, distressed real estate fund management, mortgage banking, renewable energy and biorefinery management, music and entertainment, and philanthropy. Headquartered in Philadelphia with 63 employees, Mantria describes itself as the world’s first “life brand.” I spoke with CEO Troy Wragg, who founded the company in 2005, to get the scoop on all that’s going on with Mantria. I learned that amidst a whole host of interrelated programs, the concept of carbon negative development sits at Mantria’s core.
It sounds like you do a lot of different things. Tell me, what is Mantria Corporation?
Mantria was founded in 2005, when my partner and I put together $5,000 in student loan money and bought property in Tennessee and started developing. When the economy turned and real estate options became more limited, we were forced to diversity by necessity, and created a number of entities to branch us into other industries: mortgages, investor relations, investments, ultimately renewable energy.
Within biorefinery, we have started a joint venture with Carbon Diversion Inc (CDI) biorefinery to turn waste into bioproducts like biochar (biomass charcoal material used for soil amendment in industrials) and biofuels.
We are developing Mantria Place in Tennessee, the largest master planned community which consists of up to 6200 acres, on top of the Cumberland Plateau. We are developing 4500 home sites, which will be ready in 2011. This will be a sustainability themed community, which will also include an eco-village which will house carbon fields.

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Purpose vs Profit : Stakeholder Management

| Thursday April 2nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

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The concepts behind stakeholder management seem to be so obvious, yet have been largely ignored for a long time by corporations that are now beginning to see the error of their ways. Taking into account all those that can impact your business as well as those your business impacts would seem to be common sense, if not for a 40-plus-year push from Milton Friedman followers which decided that economic success can only come from focusing on increasing shareholder value above all else.
The theory was that, if reaching out to communities, dealing with the media, developing stronger employee relations, and engaging competitors, special interest groups and NGOs would help increase shareholder value, then and only then would it be pursued by the company. Otherwise, if a direct line to profit could not be shown, these relationships were insignificant to the overall directive of increasing profits.

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Triple Pundit Acquires News Corporation

| Wednesday April 1st, 2009 | 3 Comments

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In a surprise but carefully planned move, Triple Pundit LLC has acquired News Corporation in a deal backed personally by Warren Buffett. News Corporation, one of the world’s largest media conglomerates, is comprised of Fox News, 20th Century Fox, MySpace, and the recently acquired Wall Street Journal.
According to 3p Founder, Nick Aster, who met the Oracle of Omaha during his most recent backpacking trip through Argentina, “3p got into the business to change everything in business and media. Yet, we hadn’t the slightest idea that we’d be doing it this literally.”
Sources within News Corporation state that the hostile takeover battle was effectively won when Triple Pundit writers and followers stormed the Avenue of the Americas New York Headquarters with Super Soakers, far outmatching the McCain-Palin 2008 stress balls possessed by News Corporation staffers. Triple Pundit engaged in a fierce bidding war for News Corp with the Onion, backed by actor Robin Williams, but Warren Buffett’s financial position and negotiation tactics (Buffett himself carefully planned the Super Soaker-armed takeover) proved insurmountable.
Triple Pundit plans to make drastic changes, detailed below, to the media empire built by Rupert Murdoch, the major shareholder and Chairman of News Corporation. Murdoch did not make himself available for comment, but is rumored to be planning a face-saving comeback on next season’s Dancing with the Stars.

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US Senator Inhofe Blames UFOs for Shrinking Ice Caps

| Wednesday April 1st, 2009 | 2 Comments

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L_Ron_Hubbard.jpgTriple Pundit News Brief Washington DC – Senator James Inhofe (R) of Oklahoma, a long time global warming skeptic, seems to have taken his polemic in a new direction. In 2003, Inhofe shot to the front of the line among global warming naysayers with his now infamous speech on the Senate floor when he claimed: “The threat of catastrophic global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”
But in his speech on the Senate floor today, April 1, Inhofe surprised many of his fellow Senators by claiming the disappearance of the polar ice caps could possibly be attributed to “ice pirates from another solar system.” Inhofe offered no further explanation of his comment during the speech. But in a press conference following the Senate session, he promised to provide “credible evidence” from “reputable scientific sources” that space ships are stealing our ice caps for reasons “not understood at this time.” He also emphasized that his claims are consistent with his belief that climate change cannot be blamed on human activity.

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Famous Greenies Flocking to LEED-Certified Idaho Hotel

Richard Levangie | Wednesday April 1st, 2009 | 0 Comments

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The good folks in Bugtussle, Idaho have a green accomplishment that is turning a few heads in trendy California – a certified LEED Double Platinum, carbon-negative luxury hotel that has become a home away from home for many celebrity greenies, including Richard Branson, Al Gore, Neil Young, and Gavin Newsom.
It’s an inspiring story. About one year ago, the flea-bitten Palace Motel was a 42-room roadside inn that catered to truck drivers swinging down from Alberta, and to locals looking for a quick howdy-do in the broom-closet sized rooms.

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