BC (Ben) Upham is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times, and was a writer and editor for News Communications, Inc., a local paper consortium serving Manhattan. When he's not blogging on green issues -- and especially renewable energy -- he's hiking in the Angeles Mountains or hanging out at El Matador.

“Mango Store” Brings Retail Banking to the Unbanked

There are 30-40 million American households without a bank account, according to the Center for Financial Services Innovation, a fact that could either be seen as a sad statistic – or a tremendous business opportunity. Mango Money sees it as essentially both. The financial services company, launched in 2008, provides prepaid debit cards to customers … Continued

Volt Versus Leaf: Dueling Ads Reveal Different Marketing Approaches

One has Lance Armstrong, the other has..silence. Following on the heels of the Tour d’France commercial for the Nissan all-electric Leaf, Chevrolet has begun running advertisements for its forthcoming range-extended electric car, called the Volt, in select markets. The Chevy Volt ad does not actually show the car, which may be to its advantage. The … Continued

US and Europe Added More Renewable Energy Than Conventional in 2009

For the second year in a row the United States and Europe added more energy capacity from renewable sources like wind, solar, and hydroelectric, than from conventional sources, like coal and gas, according to twin reports out Thursday from the United Nations Environment Programme and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century. In … Continued

Lloyd’s of London Warns About Peaking Oil, Energy Price Jump

Venerable British insurer Lloyd’s, known for insuring Keith Richard’s fingers and America Ferrara’s smile, has released a white paper (PDF) warning of a looming energy crunch and the significant risks to companies unprepared for it. Lead authors Antony Froggatt and Glada Lahn only touch on the controversial concept of “peak oil” in their report, which was written in … Continued

Massachusetts Moves to Tighten Biomass Rules Following Controversial Study

If you ever wondered how, exactly, a burning a pile of wood, AKA biomass energy, could possibly be carbon neutral (as has been long assumed) you’re not the only one. Last week, the state of Massachusetts moved to impose new rules on the state’s biomass industry following release of a controversial study of the carbon … Continued

Obama Announces $2 Billion For Solar Energy Projects

President Obama announced Saturday in his weekly radio address that the Department of Energy has agreed to back nearly $2 billion in loans to two solar power companies for projects in Arizona, Colorado and Indiana. The loan guarantees will go to two firms: Spanish solar firm Abengoa Solar Inc. will receive a $1.45 billion loan … Continued

Telecommuting’s Win-Win-Win-Win..Etc.

It’s a subject near and dear to my heart: as a freelance writer, the ability to set my own hours, work from home (or wherever I want) and drop everything to go for a walk or take a personal call. This is a level of freedom I am loathe to give up — even for … Continued

Are Walmart’s Sustainability Efforts Heavy-Handed?

There’s a provocative blog post up on the Harvard Business Review’s website attacking Walmart’s sustainability plans. The post accuses the mega-retailer of “regulatory vigilantism” that shifts the cost of reducing Walmart’s carbon footprint onto its suppliers and customers who have not been allowed to weigh-in on the changes. My guess is the post’s author, Bob … Continued

Ford Aims to Clear the Air, in Ways Big and Small

Ford Motor Company has been ramping up its sustainability footprint in the last couple years, making sure that we, the press/blogosphere, are aware of its efforts on a range of environmental initiatives (and no, not all car companies do that — I can’t remember the last time I saw an eco-friendly press release from Chrysler). … Continued

GE To Double Green R&D to $10 Billion by 2015

General Electric has already invested $5 billion in research and development for its ecomagination line of energy efficient and environmentally friendly products and services, and plans to double that amount by 2015, the company announced Thursday. GHG emissions from GE’s operations have been reduced 22 percent from a 2004 baseline, and energy intensity has increased … Continued

Cap and Trade Dying in the Senate; Utilities-Only Cap Possible

A nationwide cap-and-trade policy is highly unlikely to gain the 60 votes necessary to break a Senate filibuster, recent developments show. But a utilities-only version may be possible. Pundits and politicians agree that if cap and trade is going pass the recalcitrant Senate it will need the full weight of the presidency behind it. Yet … Continued

Feds Dangling Green Planning Assistance in Front of State Capitals

Does Boise dream of a neighborhood bike path? Is Little Rock hankering to do something with an unsightly brownfield? These state capitals, plus the other 48 (and the District of Columbia) can now apply for federal assistance in planning green and sustainable urban improvements, thanks to the Greening America’s Capitals program, a joint project of … Continued

Tesla’s Planned IPO Rides the Anti-Oil Wave

Electric car maker Tesla Motors probably could not have picked a better time for their initial public offering as interest in alternatives to the internal combustion engine has been growing in tandem with the oil slick off Louisiana. Even as Tesla CEO Elon Musk traveled around the country this week pitching the start-up’s $100 million … Continued

Brazil Hesitates on Deepwater Drilling

A planned stock offering to raise money for deepwater drilling by Brazilian state oil firm Petrobas has been delayed until September. Petrobas said the delay was necessary to allow Brazil’s energy regulator, ANP, more time to assess the value of the oil deposits, according to the Guardian. But the announcement comes as the BP deepwater … Continued

Canadian Firms to Design World’s First Carbon Capture Standard

In an attempt to bring some order to a fractured – and controversial – industry, two Canadian organizations have announced a partnership to develop a set of standards for carbon capture and storage (CCS). Standards organization CSA Standards and the International Performance Assessment Centre for Geologic Storage of Carbon Dioxide (IPAC-CO2) hope the best practices … Continued