Saturday, April 23, 2011

World Car Of The Year

The world car of the year award has been announced and the winner is the Nissan Leaf. This award was announced this week at the international car show in New York. The jurors announced that the “leaf is the gateway to a brave new electric world”. Perhaps these jurors were also the jurors for the OJ murder trial. While the leaf is kind of cool and is pretty, it is expensive for how it performs and it is no gateway to a brave new electric world. It is has limited range and will have limited appeal and will likely make Nissan no money. The latest casualty in the stock market is a company called Advanced Batteries (ABAT on the NASDAQ). ABAT is a Chinese based company that had its stock listed in the USA about a year ago. There is quite a bit of concern that ABAT hyped their reported earnings in China prior to the US listing and that they actually lost money just like A 123, Valence, and Ener1 who all play in the same lithium ion battery space for plug in vehicles. All of these four listed lithium battery companies are hemorrhaging cash and eventually the US government and the State of California will end subsidies on purchases of plug in vehicles and lithium ion batteries will be used for power tools, electric bikes, and traditional hybrid cars.

Yesterday while driving, I listened to a science hour titled Science Friday on national public radio that touted the brilliance of the Bright Source Energy project for concentrated solar in the Mojave Dessert. The project makes no sense now that PV cells cost less than concentrated solar but the NPR announcer interviewed a group of experts who made wonderful claims that this project will bring green energy to Los Vegas and Los Angeles. They forgot to mention that it will bring losses to the Los Tax Payers. I wondered why NPR was so high on this project. I then heard the tribute to the foundation that supports Science Friday on NPR. The foundation is the S D Bechtel Junior foundation. Well who is the general contractor for the multi-billion concentrated solar project that Bright Source will bring to the Mojave? It is the Bechtel Corporation. Who helped Bright Source secure $1.6 billion of US government loan guarantees? I doubt it was the couple of really smart Israeli guys who run the company.

Talking about US government money, President Obama was in the Bay Area to speak to folks at Facebook and of course raise some money for the 2012 campaign. He did a town hall style meeting at Facebook and his spokesperson had this to say. "The president is looking forward to visiting Facebook and speaking directly to the American people about his plan for responsibly bringing down the deficit and continuing on the path to economic recovery," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement before the event. "This is a part of our effort to hear from the American people." Well Mr. President if you really want to bring down the deficit, let’s impose a gasoline tax of $1.00 per gallon and let’s not give Bright Source a bunch of money for an idea that makes no sense.

On the other side of isle, the king of bridge Mr. No Trump is the candidate of the day with his nonsense of how rich he is and how he can negotiate with the Chinese. Well he is rich and he can sure negotiate with the Chinese, but can he understand thermodynamics? Maybe he has some knowledge of thermo as he always shouts you are fired. Perhaps Mr. No Trump should exclaim you are about to undergo an exothermic reaction when he boots his secretary of energy.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hair Brain Schemes

Another week has passed and the price of gasoline has risen to a record high for this time of the year. We are only slightly lower than the record high reached in the summer of 2008. I am fortunate to commute to work in a van pool so I only drove 53 miles last week and my 1999 Mercedes C280 only needed 2.5 gallons of midgrade gasoline at $4.35 a gallon. In 2010 my fellow Californians still drove their cars as much as they as they did in 2009. The State Board of Equalization that levies taxes on fuels sold in the Golden State reported that taxable gasoline sales increased from 14.81 billion gallons in 2009 to 14.87 billion gallons in 2010. Gasoline consumption peaked in 2005 at 15.94 billion gallons. I believe that the slight increase in gasoline consumption in 2010 over 2009 is an anomaly and by 2015 we will be using one billion less gallons of gasoline than we did last year. Small cars are replacing large SUVs and there is no longer a mad rush to move 50 miles away from our places of work. With the record high prices of gasoline we will also see more people carpooling or taking public transportation.

The economy of the not so golden state is still depressed. Diesel consumption is an excellent indicator of economic activity. We consumed 2.59 billion gallons of diesel in 2010. This is a quantity that is almost identical to the 2.58 billion gallons we consumed in 2009. Diesel consumption peaked in 2007 at 3.08 billion gallons. I am sure that in a decade with population growth and eventual economic recovery diesel usage will increase. Also there will be more diesel cars on the road and the Green Machine will be very happy as we substitute diesel cars for gasoline cars going forward.

Motorists in the USA drove almost 3 trillion miles last year and used approximately 9 times the amount of fuel that Californians did. The 3 trillion mile figure is some 20.5 billion more miles than was traveled in 2009 by the car crazy Americans. In 2006 we Yanks with gas in our tanks actually exceeded 3 trillion miles of vehicular travel. Every time gasoline prices increases CNN and other major news organizations bring guys out of the woodwork with new invention to improve gasoline consumption. Ravi who is a regular reader sent me a link last week from CNN of some wannabe thermodynamics king with an electrolyser that converts distilled water to hydrogen using the car’s alternator and somehow the usage of gasoline is reduced by 20%. In 2008 I wrote a whole blog on hydrogen assisted combustion and determined that these on board electrolysers may give a 1 or 2% boost to fuel efficiency as there is indeed some merit to hydrogen assisted combustion . The primary boost comes from the wide range of concentrations that hydrogen combusts in air and therefore with the proper controls on the air fuel mixture in the engine it is possible to operate the engine with less throttling of the air and improve fuel efficiency. The 20% claim of improved efficiency is spurious and the Green Machine is not endorsing this idea in any way shape or form.

Ajay another regular reader, sent me a link about another Vinod Khosla company that takes wood chips and through rapid pyrolysis converts the wood chips into diesel. I had to tell Ajay that Vinod was once again making wood out of furniture from an economics perspective. The Vinodian company will build a plant in Mississippi and will use yellow pine for feed stock. I told Ajay the folks in Miss could simply make pine planks for furniture and have far higher value than chipping the lumber into pellets for the very expensive plant to perform the pyrolysis and purification. Where I come from one gets ahead by making furniture out of wood and not wood out of furniture. The US department of entropy and the State of Mississippi have supported the plan to make wood out furniture to the extent of hundreds of millions of dollars. I guess it is a case of who you know not what you know that helps fund hair brain schemes.

Actually I bet there is some guy out there asking for US and State funding for a way to rapidly perform pyrolysis on the hair and brains of sheep to yield bio diesel. But sheep hair is worth much more as wool and sheep brains can be sold as a delicacy. The morons in the Obama administration will rather support a hair brain scheme to produce bio fuels for bio fools. Sheep brain masala is called Maghaz in Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. Perhaps old Vinod can get a serving of this soul food.

Extended Producer Responsibility Laws Reduce E-Waste

Why are Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policies an effective method for reducing hazardous electronic (e-) waste? Challenging the Chip: Labor Rights and Environmental Justice in the Global Electronics Industry1 describes EPR as policy instruments “that hold manufacturers accountable for the full costs of their products at every stage in their life cycle” (p.247). Equipment is taken back at the end of its useful life by the producer, or hired contractor, for recycling. This way, products containing environmental or health-damaging components will not contribute to pollution in landfills, incinerators, or in the informal recycling system (exposure for scrap pickers). Producers are forced to internalize the costs of disposal and, therefore, are more likely to implement product design changes to minimize non-recyclable and hazardous materials.

The European Union (EU) passed two directives in 2003 dealing with electronic wastes. The Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) made manufacturers responsible for managing e-waste disposal. The Restrictions on the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS) phased-out the use of hazardous materials in such equipment (p.265). Why does EPR work? First, these restrictions created a market opportunity for companies to sell their products in the EU and beyond. It would have been prohibitively expensive for manufacturers to have separate non-hazardous and hazardous product lines. Plus firms did not want to face bad publicity or liability for hazardous versions of their products (p.248). So they anticipated legislative changes and redesigned their entire product lines. Second, individual manufacturer responsibility rules forced companies to fully internalize the cost of e-waste disposal. This drove the innovations in design that reduced disposal costs and fostered ease of recycling (p.275).

While the EU was successful in instituting the EPR directives above, similar policies face implementation obstacles in the United States. Powerful industry associations, like the Electronics Industry Alliance (EIA), have argued for voluntary recycling programs and defended the use of certain materials in electronic products (p.266). The American Electronics Association (AEA) resisted sharing up-front costs of recycling. They also claimed material bans would undermine the functionality, reliability, and safety of their products (p.248). Furthermore, they sought help from the federal government’s U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) who put counter pressure on the EU, saying the regulations violated the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and were “unnecessary barriers to trade” (p.248-9). In a later affront to EPR, the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) prohibited the federal government from adopting preferences for environmentally sustainable products (p.257).

EPR’s success in the U.S. depends on organizations’ ability to attract more industry support, like that won from Hewlett-Packard and Dell in the 2001 Computer TakeBack Campaign (p.250). In addition, strong state (and eventually national) laws that reflect the true spirit of EPR must be enacted to force manufacturers to internalize the costs of toxic materials in their bottom lines.

~Mark Bremer, Green Explored Contributor


[1] Smith, T., Sonnenfeld, D., Pellow, D. Hightower, J (2006). Challenging the Chip: Labor Rights and Environmental Justice in the Global Electronics Industry. Temple University Press. Philadelphia, Pa.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Child Labor in E-Waste

The basis of environmental injustice is the unfair exposure of the defenseless to environmental harm. Perhaps there is no greater injustice than impoverished children around the world who earn pennies a day scavenging scrap metals from heaps of electronic (e-)waste. As part of the so-called informal recycling network, children as young as five years old work full days in the presence of toxic metals and dangerous chemical solvents without basic health and safety precautions. What social and economic conditions allow this problem to exist? What obstacles need surmounting to remedy child labor in e-waste? Challenging the Chip: Labor Rights and Environmental Justice in the Global Electronics Industry1 provides some reasons and insight.

Old televisions are broken up for parts in Tijuana, Mexico. Used batteries are hammered apart for metals recovery in Dhaka, Bangladesh2. Circuit board scrap metal is collected in Delhi, India. Circuit boards are disassembled in Guiyu, China. Rural migrants travel to cities in hopes of better jobs and are absorbed into e-waste recycling because the skills needed for entry are low. Dealers often provide shelter for workers who have nowhere else to go. Both parents’ low wages in factories or scrap yards often do not cover the family’s basic needs, so the children are sent to work, too.

Producers of electronics avoid responsibility for their waste by passing liability along with the physical e-waste from formal to informal networks (p.237). Disposal costs are externalized in illegal exports, creating disincentives for toxics elimination during production (p.230). On the importer side, weaker economies lack institutional capacities for protecting workers (p.229). Hazardous e-waste work occurs in unregistered, often hidden parts of industrial or residential areas and is difficult to regulate. Although employing children is illegal nearly everywhere, local authorities do not enforce the laws because they understand child workers supply cheap labor for employers.

International agreements have done little to stop the harmful practices of child labor in e-waste. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, tariffs on importing used computer equipment were eliminated in 1994 (p.158). In the same year, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Disposal Ban Amendment called for the halt of all exports of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries (p.227). However, a well-established and lucrative system of international trading in e-wastes still exists and is supported by dealers, international banking, shipping, customs, recycling industry associations, and electronics industry bodies. Government bans on exporting/importing of e-wastes cannot do much because of weak enforcement capacity.

The e-waste situation requires creative solutions on the producer side. Market-based instruments emphasizing the “polluter-pays principle,”3 like steep e-waste taxes, would encourage electronics producers to design alternatives to toxics in their products. Extended producer responsibility policies would also help internalize costs, potentially reducing downstream impacts on the e-waste trade and child laborers.

~Mark Bremer, Green Explored Contributor
[1] Smith, T., Sonnenfeld, D., Pellow, D. Hightower, J (2006). Challenging the Chip: Labor Rights and Environmental Justice in the Global Electronics Industry. Temple University Press. Philadelphia, Pa.
[2] Nick Owens. Children of the Black Hole. Sunday Mirror. 9/9/07.
[3] Carter, Neil (2007). The politics of the environments: ideas, activism, policy. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, UK. p.332-3.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Not So Brave New World

Last week it was brought to my attention that one of Vinod Khosla’s startup companies in the green energy space is in big trouble. The company is Range Fuels that was to convert wood to ethanol. I have previously opined that Vinod is a thermodynamic clown and perhaps the dumbest VC in the energy space. His partner who was home on the range is one David Aldous. Old Dave is the author of a new book titled “Not So Brave New World” and has the nom deplume of David Aldous Huckster. The following are two articles from the online version of the Wall Street Journal. The first is the report on February 10 2011 of the problems at Range Fuels and the second is the letter to the editor of the WSJ from Vinod and David in response to the article. Last week Tesla disliked the BBC report on them this week Vinod dislikes the Wall Street Journal. Again I have to come down on the side of the press.
From the WSJ Online

“President Obama's budget next week is expected to include even more subsidies for renewable energy. Before Congress bellies up to that bar one more time, it ought to dissect the fate of Range Fuels and the wood chips fad.
As taxpayer tragedies go, Broomfield, Colorado-based Range Fuels has all the plot elements—splashy headlines, subsidies and opportunistic venture capitalists. Range got its start in 2006 when George W. Bush used a State of the Union address to extol wood chips as a source for cellulosic ethanol that would break America's "addiction to oil." Mr. Bush pledged that with government funding cellulosic ethanol would be "practical and competitive within six years."
Vinod Khosla stepped in with his hand out. The political venture capitalist founded Range Fuels and in March 2007 it received a $76 million grant from the Department of Energy—one of six cellulosic projects the Bush Administration selected for $385 million in grants. Range said it would build the nation's first commercial cellulosic plant, near Soperton, Georgia, using wood chips to produce 20 million gallons a year in 2008, with a goal of 100 million gallons. Estimated cost: $150 million.
The media and political class swooned. Bush Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman attended the plant's groundbreaking in November 2007, hailing Range as a private-sector "pioneer" that would "reduce our dependence on foreign oil." Range was celebrated in the New York Times and Forbes.
In 2007, Congress doubled down by mandating that the U.S. use 100 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol yearly by 2010, and 250 million gallons by 2011—though not a single commercial facility existed at the time. The Environmental Protection Agency explained in a subsequent report that the bulk of that initial 100 million gallons would come from Range Fuels and another Khosla-funded venture, Cello Energy.
By spring 2008, Range had also attracted $130 million of private funding, the largest venture investment in the nation in the first quarter of that year. Investors included such prominent VC firms as Blue Mountain and Khosla Ventures and California's state pension fund, Calpers. The state of Georgia kicked in a $6 million grant, and all told Range raised $158 million in VC funding in 2008.
The result has not been another Google. By the end of 2008 with no operational plant in sight, Range installed a new CEO, David Aldous. In early 2009, the company said production was not expected until 2010. Undeterred, President Obama's Department of Agriculture provided an $80 million loan. In May 2009, Range's former CEO, Mitch Mandich, explained that the problem was that nobody had figured out how to produce cellulosic ethanol in commercial quantities. Whoops.
In early 2010, the EPA said Range would finally produce some fuel in 2010—but only four million gallons, not 100 million, and of methanol, not cellulosic ethanol. So taxpayers have committed $162 million (along with at least that much in private financing) to produce four million gallons of a biofuel that others have been making in quantity for decades. This politically directed investment might have gone to far more useful purposes.
As a closely held firm, Range Fuels doesn't disclose financial details. But Range technical adviser Bud Klepper told Georgia Public Broadcasting last month that the company would create only one batch of cellulosic ethanol of unspecified size—then shut the Georgia plant and lay off all but four employees as it seeks to raise still more money and work through some technical issues. A Range Fuels spokesman didn't return calls seeking more details.
As for current Range CEO Mr. Aldous, he's blaming this failure on—brace yourself—Washington's failure to impose a tax on carbon via cap and trade. "The critical issue is really that there's no mechanism to price carbon today," he told a Colorado newspaper. He also blamed "public apathy toward green fuels."
Apathy? How many other products get the Presidential seal of approval, taxpayer subsidies, forced-purchase mandates and glowing media attention?
As for Mr. Khosla's other great cellulosic hope, Cello Energy filed for bankruptcy last year. The EPA, which had projected that Cello would create 70 million gallons, has dropped Cello from its list of potential suppliers. More broadly, the EPA last year had no choice but to reduce the government's 100 million gallon target for 2010 to 6.6 million gallons. It is also fiddling with the definition of what qualifies as a "cellulosic" fuel. Perhaps Newt Gingrich will ask EPA to let corn ethanol make the cut.
If there's a silver lining here, it is that the folly of this exercise in corporate welfare has been exposed so quickly. There is no excuse now for throwing more money after bad, or to listen to more self-serving pleas from superrich investors who want taxpayers to finance their politically correct attempts to get even richer.”

Vinod andDavid reply

“Regarding your editorial "The Range Fuels Fiasco" (Feb. 10): I have never publicly uttered the word Cello, nor classified it as a "great cellulosic hope." In fact, I have never owned any shares or options on Cello Energy, or even evaluated the technology directly or indirectly. A fund I invested in paid Cello a small amount for a nonequity relationship to buy blind "insurance," a tiny amount compared to our biofuels portfolio. A paper company called P&W was the principal backer of Cello but the Journal failed to report that. And I have not invested in E3 BioFuels, as others have reported. These facts have been widely misreported in the press.
Also, Range did not receive $76 million from the Department of Energy. Only about half was used to build phase one of the project, roughly as projected in the original grant application. The company voluntarily chose not to take the rest of the money as phase two as originally defined was superseded by new technology developments. The goal was never 100 million gallons for a $150 million project—those numbers would make it less capital intensive than corn ethanol projects—and it was not a figure Range ever planned.
Phase one was completed mostly as planned with 60%-plus equity match by Range, in spite of the financial crisis of 2008-2009, which affected everyone. The DOE project was the only one of the six DOE grants that has been built and met most of its goals in my view. The biggest failure was a wood feed supplier Metso Corp., not the new technology.
The editorial chose to call it a fiasco, but Range is in active discussions with alternative biofuels companies to use their gasification facilities with biochemical syngas catalysis companies and other biofuels technology companies. These combinations pencil out to be economic with good internal rates of return but success is never assured in high-risk projects, contrary to journalistic expectations. The project did let us assess what was economic and what was not and how it compared to other technologies. I would not invest in less economic technologies if better combinations were available but it does not lessen the contribution the DOE program made.
Most of the investment was spent on the Range gasifier, the front end of the biofuels project. This gasifier is valuable and can be used with newer biofermentation-based backend processes, an advancing technology that has superseded the chemical catalysis backend originally planned by Range. We should applaud the continued progress, and that entrepreneurs iterate as superior technology becomes available. This is how innovation happens, but the Journal does not really understand innovation.
The editorial fails to critique the heavily subsidized fossil oil business on its access to sub-market-rate royalties and other direct and indirect subsidies, nor the over $7 trillion spent over 30 years on carrier groups in the Middle East to protect our oil lanes! This is a version of incumbency capitalism, where incumbents and their lobbyists have tilted the playing field away from innovation capitalism. Creating competition for fossil oil through biofuels or alternatives like electric cars should be treated as a vital strategic goal for the country, and in the case of biomass, a critical rural jobs engine.
I believe it is far more important than our efforts in Iraq and deserves resources. We've spent trillions protecting our oil interests, so it seems reasonable to spend a tiny fraction of that on technologies that help end our oil addiction. We cannot achieve that with a 100% guarantee of success, just as we cannot guarantee that our policies in Afghanistan will be successful. We must take risks: That means course corrections and even failures, and we have to be tolerant of that.
Government support aims to fill the commercialization gap in many nascent industries. About $100 billion was used to support the nuclear industry as it was getting started, support that continues through efforts like subsidized loan guarantees, decommissioning funds and subsidized insurance. Government support of nascent industries drives more innovation capitalism, creates competition and ensures global competitiveness. Though most legislation is imperfect, let's not throw the baby out with the bath water and throw out all government efforts. There are abuses, and as an example I have written against continuing corn ethanol, biodiesel and even wind subsidies. There is a balanced position between "support every green thing" and the bigotry of "government shouldn't do anything."
The editorial complains that "the result has not been another Google." Unfortunately, not every venture is a Google and as President Kennedy said, "only those who dare fail greatly can ever achieve greatly." Range's original formulation may not have been successful, but such risk-taking deserves applause, not derision. I invested more in Range than the DOE or anyone else, because I believed in the technology.
I may be wrong often, but over the last 25 years my efforts have generated about $14 billion in profits from under $1 billion from investors. In biofuels we have generated hundreds of millions in profits for our limited partners. I started in this country with less than $300 in my bank account and no other support. I would like to compare this record with your editor's accomplishments before he chooses to trash my efforts and classify me derisively as the superrich. I will keep taking large risks and shoot to solve large problems.
When we first invested in biofuels, I expected up a 70% to 90% chance of failure (and went on record saying so), and today I'm pretty confident that 50% to 60% of the technologies will succeed. Those are better odds than wildcatting for oil. Intelligent dialogue about when government support is for the social good and when it is a gravy train is necessary. But bigotry only shuts down intelligent dialogue.
Vinod Khosla
Palo Alto, Calif.
Solutions to the monumental U.S. energy, environmental and economic challenges will not be solved by small private companies alone. It will take broad private and public collaboration. It requires continuity of policy and strategy to provide a consistent business climate that will attract long-term investment to this capital-intensive industry. It will require a wide range of solutions and technologies across the energy and environmental spectrum.
Range Fuels employees have put heart and soul into trying to change the way America produces energy. Commercializing first of a kind technology is difficult work. Converting wood waste and on-purpose energy crops into high quality syngas on a commercial scale had not been done before Range did it. This syngas can be converted via a number of technologies into methanol, ethanol, other transportation fuels and chemical building blocks. This is a significant step in the advancement of numerous cellulosic biofuels technologies.
Cellulosic biofuels and chemical building blocks will ultimately be successful. As with many other industries, our early production begins at the peak of the cost curve. Economies of scale and operational excellence will dramatically drive down costs in the future. The financial crisis has slowed our industry progress but it continues to move forward. Innovation in energy solutions can either happen in the U.S. or we can wait and import the technology and associated products from China. China already invests more than double the amount of the U.S. each year in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
In the words of Teddy Roosevelt: "It is not the critic who counts . . . the credit belongs to the man in the arena . . . who spends himself for a worthy cause."
When gasoline hits $4.50 per gallon, let's chat again.
David C. Aldous
Range Fuels, Inc.
Broomfield, Colo. “

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Doomed to Perpetuate Environmental Injustice?

As Mark Twain once said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” Are we doomed to perpetuate environmental injustices of the past? In Chronicles from the Environmental Justice Frontline1, authors Roberts and Toffolon-Weiss documented the struggles of two low-income, ethnic minority Louisiana communities plagued by toxic contamination. The residents of Grand Bois couldn’t stop oilfield wastes from being dumped in open pits outside their town. Gordon Plaza residents were unable to gain relocation compensation or a proper cleanup of toxic landfill contaminants. Local and state governments were unwilling or unable to change laws or regulations to protect communities affected by existing contamination. These communities also didn’t have enough outside help from national organizations or media attention to pressure governments to change. Class-action law suits didn’t get them what they wanted either. They are still trapped.

The fact that residents of Grand Bois and Gordon Plaza were allowed to be exposed to toxic contaminants is a testament to corporate greed and ineffectual government oversight. The Environmental Protection Agency passed responsibility for regulating oilfield waste down to the states. Louisiana determined these toxic wastes to be non-hazardous (p.146). Oil firms found rural Louisiana was a cheap place to dump their drilling fluids without having to pay for disposal of hazardous waste. In the former Agricultural Street landfill case, local government officials had ties with those who benefitted financially from the public housing construction deal. Developers of the Gordon Plaza neighborhood failed to adequately cover the site with sand prior to construction, which cut costs and increased short-term profits (p.171). Government officials never ordered testing of the soil for contaminants prior to construction. Corporations and governments colluded in allowing these contaminations to occur.

Class-action legal approaches didn’t work in contamination cases partly because communities let the lawyers handle the cases alone. “Lawyers need protests and activism to keep the lawsuits moving” (p.207). Support from national organizations allowed other communities fighting environmental injustices cited in Chronicles to put pressure on government agencies to make regulatory changes. Sustained media coverage helped expose cases of injustice and pressure politicians for solutions. Of course, class-action legal settlement outcomes were sealed by request of the defendants, frustrating further organizing and future cases (p.163, 207).

Legal backlashes occurred due to the contamination fights in Louisiana, making it even more difficult for victims of existing contamination to gain relief. Business and government leaders conspired to limit low-income client access to Tulane University environmental law clinic (p.201). Governor Foster worked with the Louisiana legislature to pass an oil industry-sponsored bill that stopped the ability of plaintiffs to sue for medical monitoring expenses (p.162). Then Louisiana Senate Bill 709 passed, preventing researchers from withholding data from public health officials (p.153). This backlash was a reaction to Louisiana State University researcher Dr. Patricia Williams' decision not to share medical information collected during her independent study of heavy metal poisoning in the residents of Grand Bois.

Communities that gained outside help from national organizations and substantial national press coverage were successful in stopping proposed siting of polluting facilities. However, where contamination had already occurred, residents were unsuccessful in changing existing regulations to get relief and encountered serious legal setbacks as a result (p.210). It seems once the pollution occurs, the economic and political interests of the business and government elite is too strong to overcome. For the residents of Grand Bois and Gordon Plaza, environmental injustice still lingers.

~Mark Bremer, Green Explored Contributor


[1] Roberts, J. Timmons, & Melissa Toffolon-Weiss. 2001. Chronicles from the Environmental Justice Frontline. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Tesla Motors Sues The BBC

Tesla Sues The BBC

Yeah the legal team at Tesla has sued the British Broadcast Corporation for false reporting on the performance of the Tesla Roadster. I am not one to defend the British Biased Conspirators often as their reporting on the Middle East is so anti Israel that I simply tune them out, but in this case of the need to support thermodynamic truth I come down on the side of the BBC.

Here is the Bloomberg article that reported the filing of the false reporting case

"Carmaker Tesla Sues BBC’s ‘Top Gear’ TV Show Over Electric Roadster Test
By James Lumley - Mar 30, 2011 8:27 AM PT

U.S. electric carmaker Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) sued the British Broadcasting Corp.’s “Top Gear” show alleging libel and malicious falsehood.
Tesla claims the show, one of the broadcaster’s most successful programs, faked a scene that appeared to show Tesla’s Roadster car running out of energy, according to papers filed at the High Court in London yesterday.
Tesla, which has lost money every year since it was founded in 2003, is seeking to become the leader in battery-powered cars, aided by supply agreements with Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) and Daimler AG. (DAI) The Palo Alto, California-based company said last month its fourth-quarter net loss widened to $51.4 million from $23.2 million a year earlier as it increased investment in the Model S, an electric sedan due in 2012.
In the Top Gear report, first broadcast in December 2008, presenter Jeremy Clarkson said that, even though the car is “biblically quick,” and “the first electric car you might actually want to buy,” its range is limited.
“Although Tesla say it will do 200 miles, we worked out that on our track it would run out after just 55 miles and if it does run out it’s not a quick job to charge it up again,” Clarkson said, according to a transcript of the show included in the filing.
The report showed the car being pushed into a hangar, according to the suit. Tesla said the Roadster that was pushed into the hangar hadn’t run out of power and didn’t need to be pushed. Top Gear’s allegation that the car’s range is 55 miles is defamatory because it suggests Tesla “grossly misled potential purchasers of the Roadster,” the filing said.
International Audience
Top Gear has a U.K. audience of around 6 million viewers and an international audience of 350 million, the broadcaster says. It is viewed in more than 100 countries and has been the most-viewed show on BBC2 for a decade.
This is the second time in less than a year the program has become involved in a High Court lawsuit. In August, the BBC sued News Corp. (NWSA)’s HarperCollins to block it from disclosing the real name of the “Stig,” the race driver who tested cars on the show with the visor of his helmet down to hide his identity.
“We can confirm that we have received notification that Tesla have issued proceedings against the BBC,” the broadcaster said in an e-mailed statement. “The BBC stands by the program and will be vigorously defending this claim.”
Nigel Tait, a partner at London law firm Carter-Ruck, said in a message that he made the claim on behalf of Tesla.
The case is: HQ11D01162, Tesla Motors Limited & ors vs. British Broadcasting Corp.
To contact the reporter on this story: James Lumley in London at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at"

Per Jeremy Clarkson of Top gear the “biblically quick” car will only travel 55 miles on a charge. The Old Testament actually does mention a biblically quick car. It states that Moses came down from Mount Sinai in a Triumph.. Going back to the point of the Teslacle only getting 55 miles on a charge when raced on the track that Top Gear used to challenge the roadster. The battery pack on the roadster holds 54 kilowatt hours of charge. My guess is that the batteries will use 90% of their charge before needing a push into the hanger. Therefore the BBC is reporting that when challenged to perform like a race car on a race track the Tesla uses about 50 kilowatt hours to travel 55 miles of about 0.9 kilowatt hours per mile. I did some rather tedious calculations of how the Tesla would use up energy on a Formula 1 race track. I used the F1 track in Melbourne Australia as an example. The track has 18 turns of which 12 are hairpin and the track is about 3.1 miles long. If one takes the mass of the Tesla and the energy needed for the acceleration to 125 miles per hour from 30 miles per hour that the car will need to slow down to in the hairpins and the energy needed to move at the average velocity of a 100 miles per hour one can calculate the range on a formula 1 track of about 30 miles. I then calculated the energy the Tesla might recover if the regenerative braking system can regenerate under these severe driving conditions. Tesla claims 64% of the energy can be reclaimed so I used this figure to give the Tesla the full advantage. I then came up with a range of some 50 miles. I therefore have to concur with the BBC that when the Teslacle is challenged on a race track its range approximates 50 miles.

The other gonadwhere company in the lithium vehicle space, AONE has seen its stock tank. It now trades at $6 a share and it will raise more money by selling many millions of shares at this price of $6 a share. This company is a disaster and its IPO of two years ago was at a price more than double of the price now needed for the secondary offering. Tesla got a price boost this week when some thermodynamic moron who is a wall street insider gave TSLA a price target of $70 a share. This moron most probably predicted back in 2007 that the average price of a US home would increase to half a million dollars based on his cash flow model. TSLA is a dog and its range may be 250 miles when it is driven on the Iditarod course in Alaska. But alas at such cold temperatures the heating of the cabin of the car and the heating of the lithium ion batteries would also rob it of precious range. The British Biased Corporation (BBC) should prevail in their defense against Teslacle in the great courts of the UK provided the judge applies the laws of thermodynamics.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Big Pharma Bids For Ireland

Financial and diplomatic circles alike are abuzz with the news that the industry's leading pharma and biotech firms have opted to forgo further corporate acquisitions and will instead just acquire their own country. While acquisition targets are believed to include Puerto Rico, Ireland and Singapore, many see Ireland as the most likely due to its lower valuation.