Supreme Court Upholds Power Plant Carbon Emissions Limits

Mike Hower
| Thursday June 26th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 4.45.12 PMThe coal industry has been up in arms ever since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new rules to require large industrial facilities and power plants to limit their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses.

In November 2013, nearly 3,000 miners and workers from across the coal industry descended on Capitol Hill to protest President Barack Obama’s alleged “War on Coal.” The rally was organized by a group with a history of opposing climate change legislation — the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE). Some 30 members of Congress also attended the event, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and even a few coal-country Democrats.

The rules, which the EPA claimed are pursuant of the Clean Air Act, would cap carbon emissions at future coal-fired power plants at 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour (Mwh) and 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per Mwh for new natural gas power plants. With the average coal-fired power plant emitting around 1,800 pounds of carbon dioxide per Mwh, both new and existing power plants would be forced to improve their environmental performances.

Opponents of the proposed rules, which include the coal industry and some states, claim that the rules are “extreme” and “unworkable.”

Turns out, the U.S. Supreme Court disagrees. On Monday, the high court ruled 5-4 that the EPA reasonably interpreted the Clean Air Act to require large industrial facilities and power plants to limit their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses if they are also required to obtain permits due to their emissions of other dangerous air pollutants.

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Solar Leases May Scare Off Potential Homebuyers

Sarah Lozanova | Thursday June 26th, 2014 | 1 Comment

solar lease Imagine saving money on your electric bill and locking in today’s price for your future bills with no money down. Solar leases have helped fuel the residential solar market boom, with installations increasing by 60 percent from 2012 to 2013.  Now that some homeowners with solar leases are putting their homes on the market, the deal doesn’t seem as sweet. Solar leases may scare off potential homebuyers, particularly if they don’t understand them.

Some homebuyers are shying away from buying homes with solar leases, seeing them as liabilities instead of assets. The lease does require the homeowner to purchase solar electricity from the lessor, typically at a slightly lower rate than what’s provided by the utility. Homeowners typically save money from day one — while locking in the power purchase rate for years to come. SolarCity locks the electric rates for 20 years, thus serving as a hedge against rising energy costs.

Considering that home equity lines of credit have become more difficult to obtain and many homeowners can’t pay the upfront cost of a solar system, a solar lease is an appealing option to utilize solar energy, reduce electric bills and mitigate the impact of rising electricity costs.

“They’re essentially moving into a home with a lower cost of ownership, a lower cost of energy, so a solar lease shouldn’t make it harder to sell a house,” said Jonathan Bass, a spokesman for SolarCity. “It becomes a selling point instead of a point of misunderstanding.”

Why are homebuyers shying away from leasing homes with solar systems?

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The High Cost of Cheap Shrimp

| Thursday June 26th, 2014 | 1 Comment

ShrimpRptCvrThanks in large part to aquaculture, global shrimp production has increased by an average 13 percent per year since the 1980s. Prices have dropped nearly 30 percent. That’s turned shrimp from a luxury food item into one of the most popular and affordable seafood products in the world — and made shrimp aquaculture a lucrative and important industry in Asia and other developing regions.

While the benefits of lower prices and greater availability are clear for consumers to see, the social and environmental costs associated with shrimp aquaculture and fishing are often not. As a report from CSR Asia highlights, shrimp production as it’s being practiced today is associated with environmental degradation, excessive use of antibiotics and chemicals, and land grabs — not to mention scandals revolving around slavery and human trafficking.

In “Opportunities for Inclusive Business: A Case Study of the Shrimp Value Chain,” CSR Asia brings to light 10 key challenges facing the shrimp industry in three of the world’s leading shrimp producing nations, then goes on to identify “possible entry points and interventions for inclusive business opportunities.”

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San Francisco: No-Go to Sharing Economy Parking App

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Thursday June 26th, 2014 | 7 Comments

San_Francisco_parking_meter_JasonTester_GuerrillaFutureHas the sharing economy concept gone to far?

This week San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera issued a cease-and-desist demand to the mobile-to-mobile bidding app that’s been gaining a popular footing in the parking-poor Bay Area, MonkeyParking. The service, which is currently used on iOS devices, allows drivers to auction off their public parking places. As of this week, it was still available on the Apple Store, with the tagline that the app “lets you make money every time that you are about to leave your on-street parking spot.”

And that, says the city, doesn’t fly.

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Bill’s Passage Boosts California Distributed Energy and Storage

| Thursday June 26th, 2014 | 1 Comment

PNM_Prosperity_Energy_Storage_Project_picCalifornia Gov. Jerry Brown signed a wide-ranging Public/Natural Resources trailer bill into law this past weekend. Among a host of significant new measures and amendments, Senate Bill 861 (SB 861) adds impetus to the California state government’s pioneering energy storage initiatives, which extend down from utility-scale energy storage mandates to incentives for small- and medium-sized companies to deploy intelligent solutions.

More specifically, enactment of SB 861 maintains annual funding of $83 million of California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), allocating a total $415 million in state funds to assure its operation through 2019. Run by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), SGIP provides “rebates for qualifying distributed energy systems installed on the customer-side of the utility meter.”

In addition to wind turbines, waste heat-to-power systems, pressure reduction turbines, internal combustion engines, micro turbines and fuel cells, qualifying SGIP technologies also include advanced energy storage systems, which are poised to play a significant role in the emergence of a clean energy ecosystem in California.

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Symantec Bets on Next Generation of Cyber Security Workers

| Wednesday June 25th, 2014 | 1 Comment
In 1983, the field of Cyber Security didn't exist, but if it had, it would have prevented Matthew Broderick's character in War Games from hacking the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

In 1983, the field of cyber security didn’t exist, but if it had, it would have prevented Matthew Broderick’s character in “War Games” from hacking the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Cyber security sounds awfully complicated, and, well, dashing, doesn’t it? The type of thing a hacker-meets-James-Bond fellow might do during the day to cover expenses while he builds the next BitCoin at night?

Symantec wants you — and the young people of America — to know that not only is this career path well-paying and approachable, but also, in many cases, it doesn’t even require a college degree.

The security software giant isn’t just getting the word out, it’s launching an initiative to educate young people and train them for the field. The Symantec Cyber Career Connection (SC3) launched yesterday to address the global workforce gap in cyber security positions.

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Climate Change Isn’t Man Made? Prove It for $10,000

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday June 25th, 2014 | 323 Comments

earth_climate_change_NasaNaysayers, you’re on. If you’re convinced that climate change isn’t man-made, a physicist in Texas wants to hear from you. Bring your virtual chalk, polish up your math, hone your argument and prove your point. Your time won’t be misspent: If you can irrefutably prove your hypothesis, he’ll pay you $10,000.

Dr. Christopher Keating, author of “Undeniable: Dialogues on Global Warming,” has offered the challenge to anyone who can “prove, via the scientific method, that man-made global climate change is not occurring.” Keating, who is well versed in climate change research, has taught at the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

He’ll also pay $1,000 “to the first person to show there is any scientific evidence that refutes the conclusion of man made climate change.”

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Here Comes Entrepreneur Barbie: Will Women Buy It?

Leon Kaye | Wednesday June 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Entrepreneur Barbie, Barbie doll, Mattel, entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs, Leon Kaye

Entrepreneur Barbie is ready to take on Silicon Valley

She’s been around for over a half century, has aged less than the late Dick Clark, and has been in high demand by countless girls (and some boys)—while suffering criticism by many others. But Barbie is still proving that life in plastic is fantastic—even at age 55, for which now she can score some senior citizen discounts.

Now Barbie is going full-on MBA with the launch of Entrepreneur Barbie, available online or at a toy store near you. Based on what I can see, she is the combination of a business leader, diplomat and of course, entrepreneur—as in part Sheryl Sandberg, part Hillary Clinton, but mostly Kim Kardashian.

Going entrepreneurial is a hugely positive step for Barbie during her (what some would say is too long of a) life. After all, she suffered through a 45 year relationship with Ken, only to have no children—though the fault was clearly Ken’s. She has had a love-hate relationship with her owners, even suffering “maiming and decapitation,” as a leading British study revealed. On the sustainability front, she has even been accused of causing deforestation in Indonesia. And of course, there is the long standing criticism that she sends mixed messages to women, from past dieting tips including “Don’t Eat!” to bathroom scales maxing out at 120 pounds (54.5 kilos).

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Food Companies Rally to Protect Bees, While Pesticide Giants Dispute the Evidence

Sarah Lozanova | Wednesday June 25th, 2014 | 3 Comments

Whole Foods beesU.S. honey bee colonies are declining by an annual rate of 30 percent.

Experts believe pesticides, parasites and habitat loss are likely culprits. Since bees and other pollinators are needed for more than two-thirds of all crop species, the lives of bees and humans are intricately connected. In fact, even cheese, milk and butter depend on bees.  They are even essential to the reproduction of clover and alfalfa — staples in the diet of grazing animals.

“Honey bee pollination supports an estimated $15 billion worth of agricultural production, including more than 130 fruits and vegetables that are the foundation of a nutritious diet,” says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The future security of America’s food supply depends on healthy honey bees.”

The bee crisis is already impacting some types of crop production, including almonds. Large orchards in California bring in numerous bee colonies to pollinate the flowers.

“Other crops don’t need as many bees as the California almond orchards do, so shortages are not yet apparent, but if trends continue, there will be,” said Tim Tucker, vice president of the American Beekeeping Federation. “Current [bee] losses are not sustainable. The trend is down, as is the quality of bees. In the long run, if we don’t find some answers, and the vigor continues to decline, we could lose a lot of bees.”

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New CSR Report Shows Ford Takes Climate Change Seriously

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday June 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

FordFord‘s latest corporate social responsibility (CSR) report really caught my attention.

I read at least two or three CSR reports a month. When you read as many as I do, one that devotes a lengthy section to climate change stands out. In most reports, climate change is a sub-section tucked within the section on environment. It may get a few paragraphs, or maybe even a whole page. But Ford devoted an entire section to “Climate Change and the Environment.” Clearly, Ford takes climate change seriously.

Ford’s position on climate change is that reducing emissions “calls for an integrated approach — a partnership of all stakeholders, including the automotive industry, the fuel industry, government and consumers.” The company states that reducing emissions can “only be achieved by significantly and continuously reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over a period of decades in all sectors of the economy.” For the transportation sector, that requires improving vehicle economy, developing lower carbon fuels, and working with the government on measures to encourage consumers to buy more fuel efficient vehicles and lower carbon fuels, according to the report.

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Joule Assets Targets First $90 Million for Energy Efficiency Contractors

| Wednesday June 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

led-lit-bridgeJoule Assets on June 18 announced that it is targeting an initial $90 million of an anticipated $270 million in funding for 10 U.S. energy efficiency and demand response contracting companies.

Opening up the mid-tier energy efficiency and demand response markets to accredited investors across the U.S., co-founders Mike Gordon and Dennis Quinn launched Joule Assets’ Energy Reduction Assets (ERA) Fund in late January. The fund enables investors to earn a share of the returns generated by energy efficiency and demand response projects carried out among U.S. small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

“In a given year, a typical energy efficiency contractor may see $2 million to $3 million worth of projects stall due to a customer’s budget constraints for upgrades. The lines of credit from Joule Assets enable those small-to-mid-sized contractors to offer financing options, radically shortening sales cycles and extending their project pipelines,” Joule Assets stated in a press release.

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How Much Energy Will the 2014 World Cup Consume?

3p Contributor | Wednesday June 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Oilprice.com.

4753446833_5c9d768114_zBy Nick Cunningham and James Stafford

Along with 3 billion other viewers around the world, I plan to tune in for the month-long World Cup to see whether the 22-year-old Neymar can withstand the colossal pressure that has been put upon his shoulders to deliver a win for team Brazil.

Every time I turn on my television set, I’m using World Cup-related energy. And that’s just the start. Flying in teams, trainers, equipment, World Cup personnel and the estimated 500,000-plus fans will use enormous volumes of jet fuel.

Add to that powering the stadiums on game days, moving millions of spectators around host-country Brazil, and transmitting the event to billions of viewers worldwide, and you end up with millions of tons of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere.

So while the 2014 World Cup is going to be bigger than ever — it’s shaping up to be the most watched,most lucrative and expensive tournament in soccer history — it’s also going to be one of the biggest energy-consuming, greenhouse gas-spewing World Cups in history.

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6 Tips for Making Your First Crowdfunding Campaign a Success

| Wednesday June 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: A version of this post originally appeared on Green Impact.

Screen-Shot-2014-06-17-at-2.34.30-PM-217x300

Today, more and more nonprofits and universities are turning to online crowdfunding to support projects, research, and entrepreneurship. In January a Forbes article reported that 2013 “yielded an estimated $5 billion in global crowdfunding with about 30 percent of that total going to social causes.”  When many people make a small donation, magic can happen.

In the spring of this year, Green Impact had the opportunity to support the Haas School of Business Center for Responsible Business (CRB) design and launch its first crowdfunding campaign.  The campaign was a great success, raising over $125,000, which was matched by an alumnus, bringing the total support to over $250,000 for the Haas Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Fund.  As reported in Haas Newsroom,  “The crowdfunding platforms aim to attract engagement and financial support for research and innovation, community activity, and entrepreneurial ventures that typically fall between the campus normal funding methods and models.”

Is crowdfunding for you?  A crowdfunding campaign might make sense if:

  • You want to raise money for a specific project or campaign;
  • You can create a sense of urgency within a specific period of time—for example, matching funds will be offered for the next six weeks;
  • You have an existing network of supporters you can tap into; and
  • You have the staff capacity to manage the campaign.

Haas chose the ScaleFunder platform, a crowdfunding provider that focuses on nonprofit, university, and technology funding. UCLA is also using the platform for UCLA Spark, an online crowdfunding platform aimed at providing critical fundraising support for innovative projects by UCLA faculty and official student organizations.Other popular platforms include Kickstarter,Indiegogo, and CauseVox. Check out How to Use Crowd-Funding Sites to Raise Money for Your Non-Profit for more details on the different platform options.

As I reflect back on the campaign, I offer six tips to help you maximize the success of your first campaign:

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Ending Illegal Fishing is Crucial to Ensure a Healthy Ocean

3p Contributor | Tuesday June 24th, 2014 | 4 Comments

TrawlerBy Susan Jackson and Michele Kuruc

Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry brought together some of the world’s leading thinkers to chart a path for securing the future of our planet’s oceans and the communities and economies they support. Leaders from more than 80 countries delved into the most pressing issues facing our oceans, including marine pollution, climate change and unsustainable fisheries.

While the discussions were vibrant, one of the biggest announcements was made by President Barack Obama as he announced a new initiative to address illegal fishing. Through a government-led strategy, federal agencies — along with industry, NGOs and other key stakeholders — will work together to build a framework that ensures seafood products can be traced from “bait to plate.” This is a critical step by the U.S. to combat illegally caught fish from reaching U.S. markets and ending up on dinner tables and on store shelves across the country.

One common theme that was presented throughout the “Our Ocean” conference was the role of cooperation and the need to work together, across governments, industry and with NGOs to address this shared problem.

To this end, some industry leaders are already rising to meet this challenge.

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Germany Sets Three National Solar Records in Two Weeks

| Tuesday June 24th, 2014 | 3 Comments

8158394785_59dd13c524_zA core facet of Chancellor Merkel’s historic “Energiewende” clean energy transition, Germany has led the world in driving adoption of solar energy technology and systems. Although it is now pulling back hard on incentives, the market momentum created by its precedent-setting solar energy feed-in tariff (FiT) persists.

Three national solar energy records were set in Germany over the past two weeks. According to the Fraunhofer ISE solar energy research institute:

  • Solar met more than 50 percent of Germany’s total electricity demand for the first time;
  • A new solar peak power production record was set; and
  • Weekly total solar power output hit new highs.

That’s not all. With prospects for new, cheaper and more effective energy storage solutions improving, sales of solar power storage systems are “set to skyrocket in Germany,” according to German economic trade and development agency GermanyTrade & Invest

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