Environmental Entrepreneurs and evangelical group support EPA plan to curb coal pollution

Coal-fired power plants are the biggest single category of carbon pollution emitters. The EPA wants to tighten coal power emissions standards, and these two groups, one composed of business enterprises and the other a large evangelical group support the EPA’s move. Find out why.

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.

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.

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.

New York approves enviro-friendly B Corps; Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Illinois could be next

B Corps, or benefit corporations, have arrived in the state of New York.
Earlier this month, the legislature passed, and Gov. Cuomo signed, a bill (S.79-A) approving this new type of corporate structure in which companies promise to have a positive impact on the environment and watch out for the rights of workers and communities.
State officials then immediately registered 13 companies as B Corps on Feb 10, the same day the law was enacted.

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.

China plays tug of war with U.S. inspectors over drywall

by Joaquin Sapien, ProPublica, and Aaron Kessler, Sarasota Herald-Tribune

A federal investigation into contaminated Chinese-made drywall has been a long, hard tug-of-war for U.S. investigators trying to pry information from Chinese government officials and manufacturers. When a team of investigators traveled to China last year, the tug-of-war became physical, with a Chinese official trying to wrest a piece of drywall from an American’s hands.

The federal probe is the largest defective-product investigation [1] ever conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. But almost two years after it began, the CPSC still hasn’t been able to figure out what materials in the Chinese drywall are triggering the release of sulfur gases. The gases have a chemical smell and have corroded wiring and appliances in thousands of U.S. homes. They’ve also been linked to respiratory ailments, nosebleeds and sinus problems

Great Lakes Wind partners with BlueGreen Alliance to create more U.S. jobs

GLWN, also known as the Great Lakes Wind Network, has teamed up with the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation to help bring more small and medium manufacturers into the developing U.S. wind energy business.

The partnership will help these smaller firms build capacity so they can supply parts for North American wind turbines, and in turn, strengthen growing U.S. wind markets.

Part of the money for this joint project will come from the National Institute of Standards and Technology‘s (NIST) Clean Energy Manufacturing Center, which is trying to help U.S. manufacturers find a place on the production chain for wind power.

Furniture Row finds cost savings with Cree LED lighting

Who says it too expensive to change out the bulbs?
Not the Furniture Row Companies, a large family-owned retailer with 330 stores across the U.S., which is switching its showroom lighting to Cree Inc. LED lights
So far, Furniture Row has installed about 13,000 Cree LRP-38 LED spotlights, out of more than 80,000 planned, at its stores, which include the Sofa Mart®, Oak Express®, Bedroom Expressions® and Denver Mattress Company®.

Biochar: Panacea or peril?

Biochar has emerged over the last couple years as a ray of hope on the otherwise bleak horizon of the planet’s environmental future. It has been hailed as a possible solution to climate change, world hunger, and rural poverty — though doubts are being raised in some quarters.
Last year, some of the world’s most eminent biochar experts gathered for a biochar conference at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst to discuss this ancient technology that is getting a new look by scientists, governments and investors. To the packed audience, this promising technology sounded like a panacea for a whole host of problems. Biochar, the speakers said, could soak up large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, supercharge soil fertility to feed the world’s hungry, promote jobs and economic opportunities for farmers, safely get rid of animal and plant waste, heat buildings greenly, and slash the kind of fertilizer use that is creating vast dead zones in coastal waters from nitrogen runoff.

California sues mortgage companies over PACE loans

California Attorney General Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. is suing mortgage companies over their refusal to allow PACE funding for clean energy improvements on homes.
PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) money allows homeowners to finance energy efficiency projects like solar panels through their property taxes. Cities that offer the plans can sell bonds to generate the money for PACE loans, which are then attached to a homeowners’ property tax bill. The plan provides homeowners with the upfront money they need for big improvements, and allows them to stretch out their payments over 20 years, making large capital improvements like solar arrays possible.

J.R.’s back and he’s not promoting oil

Solar World AG, one of the largest solar PV manufacturers in the world with factories in California, Oregon and Washington, has scored a dream advocate for its products: J.R. Ewing. Actually, the spokesman is Larry Hagman, who played the oilman on the long-running Dallas series. Hagman reprises his oil baron role in an ad for Bonn-based Solar World, where someone obviously decided the possibilities were too rich to leave untapped.

Wind and labor leaders unite to push for jobs and clean energy

Clean energy advocates and labor leaders are calling on the U.S. to step up its commitment to wind energy and wind-related manufacturing — or risk losing thousands of jobs to China, Europe and India.

American wind urgently needs strong supports, such as long-term investment tax credits and a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), to show investors and domestic and global companies that it believes in the sector, the leaders said at a Monday news conference. A RES would signal that the U.S. wants to incubate developing firms and build everything it needs — from wind towers and blades to the highly evolved nacelles that keep the turbines turning.

Clinging to green products

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

This just in from the inaugural Greenwashing Forum in Portland: Four out of five people say they’re still buying green products, even in the midst of the U.S. recession, according to a new opinion poll.

And they thought we were clinging to our guns and religion out here in the hinterlands!

The study, commissioned by Green Seal, a green certifier, and EnviroMedia Social Marketing, which founded the Greenwashing Index, looked at opinions and green behaviors.

It found that:

  • About 50 percent of the 1,000 people survey say they are buying just as many green products now as before the economic downturn