William Sloan is of counsel with the law firm Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco. He sits on the Climate Change Advisory Committee for the California Manufacturers and Technology Association. He formerly held positions in the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Justice BF: Assuming “cap-and-trade” legislation now before Congress becomes law, what will be the primary impact on major industrial concerns? Will this force companies to significantly change the way they evaluate decisions about expansions, relocations or new facilities? WS: If the legislation does reach the finish line, it tells us a lot about the new regulatory regime that will govern major industrial concerns, but it doesn’t quite get us to the “Holy Grail” for business decisions-namely, the price of carbon. For example, a price of $6 per ton, as opposed to $60 per ton, will drastically change how businesses make strategic choices for their operations. Once businesses know what it will cost to emit a ton of carbon, then businesses can meaningfully evaluate the cost of expanding operations or relocating to other countries with a different regulatory landscape. BF: Will businesses be able to adjust quickly to the reality of carbon credits? WS: For businesses that feel behind the curve, perhaps one of the best steps they can take now, for risk assessment purposes, is to comprehensively evaluate their carbon footprint, and be sure to include a supply chain/lifecycle analysis of their business operations. Even if a business itself doesn’t produce significant emissions, it can still be vulnerable to new regulation if its suppliers will be a target of regulation, if its waste disposal costs are already a substantial expense, or if its operations are energy intensive. In the end, it all comes down to who will ultimately be saddled with paying for the cost of the emissions. BF: Do you expect state economic development agencies to broker large-scale agreements among key players regarding carbon-credits, or will each company negotiate on its own behalf? WS: In terms of credits, the primary center of market activity will be on exchanges selling at whatever is the current trading price, so I don’t see large-scale novel agreements proliferating. Depending on how the offset marketplace shapes up, you could see some new alliances and partnerships created for the purpose of developing large offset-generating projects. I have been involved in CDM projects and voluntary-offset projects where a variety of players have all collaborated, bringing their own unique expertise whether it’s finance, real estate, agriculture or energy. These collaborations have included […]
From the Desk of the Editor in Chief
”Don’t cry for me, Ben Bernanke.” ”You were supposed to be a genius. That’s all we asked for–” ”You mind your business.” ”We kept our promise.” ”You keep your distance.” The beleaguered Federal Reserve chairman is scheduled to appear before a Congressional committee this afternoon to offer a belated explanation for the government’s handling of Bank of America’s troubled merger with Merrill Lynch. Mr. Bernanke is rapidly running out of fig leafs and deodorizer to conceal the dubious nature of the forced marriage in January between the banking giant and the bankrupt speculative house on Wall Street. Sooner or later, we all are going to know whether the Feds ordered BOA’s former chairman to swallow Merrill while concealing its staggering losses from his shareholders, or if BOA squeezed $100 billion in TARP booty from the government by threatening to take the entire financial system down. The suspense is palpable, but there’s no need to wait until this afternoon to find out what Gentle Ben is going to say. We’ve obtained an advanced copy of his testimony. Put on your favorite Zamfir flute CD and pour yourself a lukewarm glass of Chardonnay, and enjoy. Bernanke: ”First and foremost, I apologize to the nation. I have made decisions that have hurt and will continue to hurt you, and for that I’m sincerely sorry. Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner have stood by me through bailout after bailout, through hard time after hard time, and neither of them deserve this. Please offer them your prayers.” Committee Chairman: ”What exactly are you apologizing for, Mr. Bernanke?” Bernanke: ”I apologize to my staff. I misled them about this whole thing, and as a result the people of the United States believed something that wasn’t true. I want to make absolutely clear that over the past six months at no time did anyone on my staff intentionally relay false information to other federal officials or the public at large. What they’ve said over the past six months they believed to be true, and I’m sorry to them for putting them in this position. There are many people out there right now who are hurt, angry and disappointed with me, and rightfully so. Over the time that I have left in office, I’m going to devote my energy to building back the trust the American people have placed in me. I ask for your forgiveness, and your prayers for everyone who I’ve hurt.” Committee Chairman: ”Mr. Bernanke, please get to the point. Tell us how this merger came […]
About 30 years ago, you could walk into just about any self-respecting saloon in America and get the same response to a word-association game matching beers and the towns that made them famous. Such as: Schlitz — Milwaukee, WI, Iron City — Pittsburgh, PA, Rheingold — Brooklyn, NY, Rolling Rock — Latrobe, PA– and so on and so forth. Not any more. This week, the historic red-brick brewery in Pittsburgh that has been churning out Iron City beer since 1861 will produce its last few drops of the Steel City’s favorite golden liquid. The brewery, which survived the Civil War, two World Wars and a Great Depression, is closing—but Iron City will not disappear. It soon will emerge from the taps at a brewery in Latrobe, PA, that used to produce Rolling Rock. Rolling Rock is now produced in Newark, NJ. And the last time we checked on Rheingold, the long-defunct New York staple was briefly produced at Schmidt’s Philadelphia brewery (although they still attempted to market it as a ”great New York beer”). Confused? Well, here are some sobering statistics that may clear things up for you. In the mid-1990s, the Iron City brewery cooked up about a million barrels of suds annually. According to reports, this year’s output at the Pittsburgh landmark will total less than 171,000 barrels. By comparison, industry titans like Anheuser-Busch InBev and Miller each put more than 50 million barrels of beer on the American wall every year. For several decades now, about two dozen large regional breweries have waged a valiant fight for survival against these giants, who pour out an ocean of industrial-strength lager each day at 20 mega-breweries throughout the U.S. But the continued dominance of the national beer icons is not putting the final nail in the coffin of our favorite local brands. This is being hammered home by the emergence of the craft beer and microbrewery business, which has grown exponentially throughout the country. According to www.beertown.org, there now are more than 1,500 craft breweries operating in the U.S., including 65 small regional breweries, 446 microbreweries and 990 brewpubs. A craft brewery is an outlet that produces less than 2 million barrels annually (with at least 50 percent of its volume malt beer); a microbrewery produces less than 15,000 barrels per year (with 75 percent or more of its product sold offsite); a brewpub is a restaurant/brewery that sells 25 percent or more of its beer on site (i.e. — the beer is brewed primarily for sale in the […]
”Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” These words are etched in stone atop the nation’s largest post office building in midtown Manhattan. For well over a century, they have served as a credo repeated with pride by mail carriers throughout the land. Unfortunately, this famous motto soon may require a dismal addendum — ”However, an economic downturn and the widespread use of electronic communications have necessitated severe cutbacks which may curtail your service at certain times and places.” The U.S. Postal Service has been on a downward trajectory for the past 20 years. As use of the Internet for primary communications, including payment of bills, has increased exponentially, the overall number of postal workers has shrunk dramatically. In 2000, there were more than 800,000 postal workers. Today, the total is barely more than 636,000. The seemingly annual increase in postage fees has worked to accelerate this trend, rather than stabilize it. Throughout this downsizing, the Postal Service has managed to keep its commitment to deliver the mail six days a week and to maintain post offices in just about every community in the United States. This commitment is now being challenged by the economic downturn, and it may be down for the count. According to reports, the Postal Service currently is evaluating at least 3,100 of its 36,700 post offices and retail outlets for closure or consolidation. It also is considering eliminating Saturday mail delivery. A decision is expected by Oct. 1. The numbers confronting the government’s decision-makers are grim: the nation’s mail-carrying service reported a $2-billion loss for the quarter ending March 31; mail volume is down almost 15 percent from last year. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, postal officials are predicting the agency will handle about 180 billion pieces of mail during this fiscal year, about 32 billion pieces less than the volume handled just two years ago. Predictably, the American Postal Workers Union has pledged to fight the proposed cuts, calling them ”desperate.” A spokesman for the local dog population told us his brethen would join the postal workers in opposing the curtailing of Saturday service. ”Yeah, I know we’re mortal enemies and all that, but the weekend is going to be very dull if we don’t get a least one shot at the mailman,” he said. We were going to ask his opinion of electronic bill-paying services, but he rolled over on his back and started snoring […]
The leading provider of health-care services for chronic kidney disease patients is moving its home base from California to Colorado.
The embattled automaker’s Warren tech center, along with facilities in New York and Germany, will spearhead the development of power units for electric vehicles.
Belgium-based Umicore chose Oklahoma over Arizona and New Mexico to build its $51-million, 40,000-square-foot germanium production plant.
Brown Shoe Company, Inc. recently marked the completion of its 350,000-square-foot Famous Footwear Distribution Center in central California.
Gwinnett Chamber Economic Development announced that NCR, a Fortune 500 technology company, will relocate its headquarters to Gwinnett County, Georgia, creating 1,250 new jobs.