Where’s the local, greener beef? It’s about to get taxed in Texas

Texas ranchers are about to get hit with a tax that’s being portrayed as a benefit for the beef industry. But the money fails to help local producers when it’s put into a fund advertising meat that could come from anywhere, according to the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. The group is urging ranchers to act quickly to vote this proposal down.

Fracking threatens water supplies in several states; Texas is ‘ground zero,’ report concludes

Business investment group CERES sounded the alarm Wednesday, issuing a major report about the billions of gallons of fresh water being lost to natural gas fracking operations across the United States and in Canada. CERES researchers evaluated oil and gas water use in eight regions, concluding that gas companies need to improve their water conservation and investors should take heed of the risks involved with fracking in arid and water-stressed regions.

Texas A&M to build a ginormous solar testing facility

Texas — big and sunny — will be home to what could be the biggest, sunniest technology incubator in the world. Texas A&M University announced it was partnering with private industry to create the Center for Solar Energy, which aims to provide a photovoltaic testing ground for experts and manufacturers from around the world.

Livestock falling ill in fracking regions, raising concerns about food

In the midst of the domestic energy boom, livestock on farms near oil-and-gas drilling operations nationwide have been quietly falling sick and dying. While scientists have yet to isolate cause and effect, many suspect chemicals used in drilling and hydrofracking (or “fracking”) operations are poisoning animals through the air, water, or soil.

Good News for 2013: We may have enough farmland to feed the world

We may have reached “peak farmland” on earth, meaning we have enough cultivated land to support our bulging human population, according to a report released this week.
Even as the planet reaches a population of 10 billion people by around 2060, it will still have adequate farmland — and be able to return a sizable chunk of arable land back to nature — thanks to more efficient agriculture, stabilizing populations and changing food tastes, say the three authors of “Peak Farmland and the Prospects for Sparing Nature,” being published in Population and Development Review (PDR) in 2013

Govenors ask Congress to continue support for wind energy

A bipartisan coalition of governors has written to Congress to plead for the extension of the Production Tax Credit that has helped fuel the development of wind energy in the U.S..

The PTC, set to expire at the end of December, provides wind developers with a tax break that makes the business more profitable. Proponents say it’s needed to level the playing field for new energy, which must compete against subsidized fossil fuel industries like coal and natural gas.

Disney takes a page from The Lorax — announces a new paper policy

Disney, recognizing its heavy paper footprint as the world’s largest publisher of children’s books and magazines, has announced it will be changing its paper policies to try to stop the degradation of rainforests in Southeast Asia.

The change comes as a victory for indigenous Indonesians, rainforest wildlife and the atmosphere, which are all being harmed by the vociferous consumption of rainforests by logging in Indonesia.

Commerce action to protect U.S. solar manufacturers from Chinese ‘dumping’ gets mixed reviews

The U.S. Department of Commerce decision to hit Chinese solar panel makers with significant import tariffs has shaken up the solar community. Bonn-based SolarWorld, which maintains the largest U.S. solar manufacturing plant and had asked for an investigation of Chinese “dumping” of solar panels, was pleased with yesterday’s ruling. The anti-dumping and anti-subsidy fees announced by the government will help level the playing field between U.S. and Chinese-manufactured photovoltaic cells and panels, a company official said.

Poll: Voters strongly support solar power

A survey of likely 2012 American voters has found that they overwhelmingly support solar power, with nine out of 10 saying the U.S. should develop more solar power.

The survey, conducted by Hart Research in early September, also found that 85 percent of voters view solar power “favorably” or “very favorably;” and 78 percent said that the government should support the growth of solar power with incentives.

More efficient, earth-friendly solar panels?

Solar panels may soon be able to rely on more abundant minerals and metals, than some of the rare elements used today, scientists meeting in Philadelphia this week said.

These advances could make solar energy more affordable and easier to integrate into buildings, and hasten the day when the U.S. could get 50-100 percent of its electricity for buildings from the sun, the researchers said during a panel at the American Chemical Society meeting.

“Sustainability involves developing technology that can be productive over the long-term, using resources in ways that meet today’s needs without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their needs,” said Harry A. Atwater, Ph.D., a physicist at the California Institute of Technology, in a statement released by the ACS.

Sales of fair trade products soared in 2011

Fair Trade USA, a major third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the US, reported today that sales of Fair Trade certified goods grew by about 75 between the first and last quarters of 2011. Mainstream grocery, food and drug items grew even faster, recording a 95 percent increase in fair trade sales, a boom that was largely driven by the adoption of Fair Trade labels by major food brands like Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Honest Tea, which have increased their Fair Trade commitments.

Chinese solar panel maker Suntech wins Gigaton Prize for driving down carbon emissions

Suntech, the Chinese solar panel maker with operations in the US and Europe, has won the Gigaton Prize for helping reduce carbon emissions worldwide through its solar installations.
Suntech, the world’s largest producer of silicon solar modules, was recognized for helping its customers and business partners save on carbon-pollution by using solar power. In October, the company reached a benchmark of 5 Gigawatts of cumulative installed solar power.

US trade commission: Imported Chinese solar panels are hurting American solar manufacturers

The U.S. International Trade Commission has agreed with SolarWorld Industries America that Chinese imports are hurting the U.S. solar manufacturing industry, and will continue to investigate this issue.

The commission announced its ruling on Thursday/Friday, to the delight of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., which had asked for an inquiry into alleged Chinese dumping of solar panels and modules into the U.S. market.

U.S. to review SolarWorld’s complaint about alleged unfair PV panel imports from China

The U.S. Commerce Department has announced it will investigate SolarWorld’s charge that China is unfairly dumping cheap illicitly subsidized solar panels into the U.S. market.

Should investigators find that the allegation has credibility, it could impose duties or import fees on Chinese-made photovoltaic panels. That could level the playing field for the U.S. manufacturers of solar panels and components, such as Oregon-based SolarWorld Industries America. But it could hurt companies that depend upon those lower priced Chinese solar panels to keep afloat their businesses installing solar systems.

About $80 million goes local on Bank Transfer Day

Credit unions signed up 40,000 new members, and added $80 million in new savings account money, during last Saturday’s Bank Transfer Day, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

CUNA released those figures on Tuesday after surveying 1,100 credit unions. The survey revealed that about 80 percent of larger credit unions signed up new members on Bank Transfer Day (Nov. 5), and many extended their Saturday hours to deal with the surge in demand for new memberships.

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