There are wonderful stories from all over the world that Greentech Media comes across in the realm of clean energy and sustainability. On Our Reading List highlights our favorite recent finds.

  • President Obama just halted an EPA initiative that would tighten smog regulations, contending that it would cost businesses at a time where Americans need jobs. But ozone pollution from cars and fossil-fuel power plants have a high human cost, according to a recent story (and cool infographic) in Scientific American, and this is a burden that translates into higher health costs for all of us. The silver lining is that the White House is addressing some of the sources of the pollution -- Obama recently tightened car and truck fuel efficiency standards and mercury regulations for power plants. Maybe there’s more than one way to skin a cat.  
  • Here at Greentech Media, we have discussed the need for more engineers, a refrain that is often touted by many CEOs and thought leaders in the clean tech sector. But maybe we’re looking at it the wrong way, according to an interesting piece by Vivek Wadhwa, who is currently the Director of Research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at UC Berkley. It’s not that there’s a lack of engineers, but market forces and a “cool” factor are producing them in the wrong sectors.
  • The EPA is taking a beating from Republicans lately. It doesn’t help that the president bowed to pressure to reject controversial smog regulations that were on the table (see above). Well, the EPA isn’t just lying down and taking it. Lisa Jackson, Administrator for the EPA, recently took the agency’s case to Huffington Post. She takes to task critics who argue her agency is a job killer, which is a common refrain these days. The piece was published just two days before Obama shut down her agency’s controversial ozone regulation in the face of heavy lobbying. However, the more stringent mercury standard -- which will affect coal plants -- is still on the books, for now.
  • The 900-pound gorilla in the room is always China. But there is actually a positive trade balance between the U.S. and China when it comes to at least one item: solar panels. Talking Points Memo Idea Lab recently wrote about the latest GTM Research and SEIA report that looked at the U.S. solar market. And while we liked this piece for its quality analysis of the report, we like it even more because rather than just looking at China and the U.S. -- and the nearly $2 billion net exports the U.S. had -- it took a truly global view of a truly global industry.
  • The finger pointing over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico just doesn’t end. This time it’s Halliburton accusing BP of fraud, the Fuelfix reports. Halliburton, which has been embroiled in plenty of controversies, argues that BP provided inaccurate information about the Macondo well that led to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. This will be one to watch in court.
  • Does Willie Nelson know that his cover of a Coldplay song is in a commercial touting a company whose growth was fueled by McDonald’s? Chipotle, the slightly-green fast food company (is that a thing?), which promises to locally source “responsible” meat (again, what does that mean?) has a new commercial that pines for a sustainable food system. It pulls on heartstrings and smacks of greenwashing, since meat production, even of the sustainable and local variety, is largely unsustainable if everyone is eating pork burritos every day for lunch. Sure, it’s a step forward when large chains demand higher standards from their suppliers (when it comes to sourcing everything from chickens to timber), but a cheap burrito is still a cheap burrito, which calls into question how much sustainable, small farmers are really benefiting from Chipotle.
  • Flooding has ravaged the Northeast in the wake of Hurricane Irene, but one result the affected regions haven't endured is landslides. The American Geophysical Union blog has amazing and heartbreaking pictures of a garbage dump landslide triggered by Typhoon Nanmadol in the Philippines. The deadly landslide is a reminder that we need more than just cleaner energy options across the globe -- solutions for every type of waste we produce are also urgently required.