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Covering up climate change causes?

TillersonFor years, there have been two camps of people: those who believe that the burning of fossil fuels is changing our climate, and those who believe that climate change is a bunch of hooey.

On Wednesday, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson came down on the side that believes global warming is happening and that it's a man-made problem. But, he said, it's not that big of a deal.

Ross Gelbspan, author of the book Boiling Point, would beg to differ. He was a Boston Globe reporter when he came across a concerted effort to cover up research showing the dooming effects of climate change. It scared him enough to leave his job and take on the issue full time.

CoalGelbspan writes on his web page:

Thinking about the issue, it quickly became clear that the coal and oil industries constitute one of the biggest commercial enterprises in history – and that their very survival is threatened by the imperatives of climate change. The science is unambiguous on one point: climate stabilization requires that humanity cut its consumption of carbon fuels by about 80 percent. The motivation behind the disinformation campaign was very clear – as was the reporting imperative. In this case, it was also the path into an amazing drama – a once-in-a-lifetime story -- that, unfortunately, has largely unfolded outside the spotlit arena of public awareness.

Oil

 His Web site, heatisonline.org, collects a dizzying amount of information, research and news about climate change and its effects. It also collects a fair amount of disinformation it has found in the media and elsewhere; news distorting the science around climate change and bogus studies funded by those with an economic or political interest in fostering skepticism about global warming.

Which side do you believe?

Solar Liberty extends reach.

From Business Today:

OffCampusApartments

College students looking for off-campus housing are warned to read leases carefully and not succumb to high-pressure sales tactics. One UB student's experience with a misleading salesman is indicative of a larger problem around campuses in Western New York and across the nation, experts said. Critics said housing students is such a lucrative business that some for-profit companies take advantage of inexperienced teenagers.

SolarLiberty

Solar Liberty was recently named the largest solar power installation company in New York State for 2011, based on its number of systems installed and kilowatt capacity. But the thriving business was actually created out of the owners' desire to bring power to developing nations. The business allows its owners to donate equipment and funds to the Solar Liberty Foundation, a nonprofit serving developing countries.

Lawsky

Benjamin Lawsky is the first superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services, tasked with regulating banking and insurance. Business reporter Jonathan D. Epstein was able to sit down with him and ask some pressing questions about his new role in Sunday's BizTalk Q&A.

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

From MoneySmart:

Debit

Prepaid debit cards are the single fastest-growing non-cash method of payment. But many of them come with so much fine print, even the savviest customers may have a hard time figuring out what the real costs are to use them. In a recent story, Consumer Reports magazine warns of hidden fees that can nickel and dime a user to death.

Happy Dyngus Day!

 

Cleveland BioLabs works with Russian fund, NT company offers solar-powered car charging stations, Restaurant Week starts and jet sharing company plans open house

From Business Today:

CEOMichaelFonstein

A local company is joining forces with a Russian investment fund to develop cancer-treatment and other drugs. Cleveland BioLabs and Rusnano, a $10 billion fund owned by the Russian government, will work on developing five drugs that are in the preclinical stage.

The venture, called Panacela Labs, could require up to $26 million in funding over a four-year period.

SolarCarCharger

 A North Tonawanda manufacturer is plugging into environmental concerns. Audubon Machinery Corp. has charging stations for electric cars in its parking lot.

But the company takes the stations one step further than just plugging into the electrical grid--the stations are powered by wind and solar energy. Employees with electric cars can charge their cars for free during the workday.

MikeAndrzejewski

Local Restaurant Week kicked off in Western New York Monday. More than 200 independently owned restaurants are offering a wide array of meal specials priced at $21.11.

Some pricier establishments offer just one entree for that price, while others offer several courses for two plus wine.

 

Who is getting hired, promoted and honored?

I wonder what $21.11 gets you at this restaurant:

 

 

All roads lead to Buffalo ...

   OK, follow this bouncing ball: Two guys [pictured] who grew up and received most of their education in Russia, started working together in the Netherlands and now live in England will be traveling to Norway to pick up the Nobel Prize in physics they won Tuesday.
   In Buffalo, a scientist from India and an attorney who Nobelwinners just returned home from a stint in Canada have already launched a company to commercialize the stuff that the Russian-Dutch-British scientists get credit for isolating.

   Yep. Gotta secure those borders.

- Nobel news encourages UB spinoff - George yle/The Buffalo News
   A University at Buffalo spinoff company that already has won more than $600,000 in state and federal grants to develop an ultra-thin carbon material for industrial uses might find even more interest now that the scientists who first isolated the substance have won the Nobel Prize in physics.
   "It's great news," said Sarbajit Banerjee, the UB chemist who leads a team that has been developing means to commercialize a substance called graphene. "It's almost like hitting the lottery."
   Related:
- Nobel Worthy: Best Graphene Close-Ups - Wired
- Thinnest Material Bags the Thickest Prize - Huffington Post
- The Nobel Prize that was made in Manchester - The Independent [U.K.]
- Graphene: Thin stuff is a big fat deal - MSNBC
- Nobel Prize winner was rejected by Russian university - The Moscow News
- Nobel prize for physics goes to Manchester University scientists - The Guardian
   Britain's latest Nobel prizewinner has warned that cuts to research budgets could force good scientists abroad and damage universities' efforts to recruit from other countries.
   Konstantin Novoselov, a professor of physics at Manchester University, said the country risks losing senior figures and rising stars in science if funding cuts materialise in the government's spending review.

   John Simpson couldn't have said it better.

   But Tom Lehrer can:

 

Green from green

   Again, a greenish tint to Business Today:

- Solar power to shine during annual tour - Matt Glynn/The Buffalo News
    Homes and buildings incorporating solar power and other "green" features will have their moment in the sun Saturday.
   The region's annual Tour of Solar Homes and Green Buildings will let owners and users talk up their energy-saving advantages, and give members of the public a chance to see the features up close and 2010_Solar_homes_tour_logo gather ideas.
   The self-guided, free tour is part of the 15th annual American Solar Energy Society National Solar Tour, billed as the world's largest grass-roots solar event. The tour includes properties using such green features as wind or geothermal energy and straw bale construction.
   "The biggest thing is, seeing is believing," said James Walters, marketing manager for Solar Liberty, which installed systems for some participating properties. "It helps to actually see a solar energy system that is operating, that is providing enough solar energy to power an entire home."
   The region's tour covers about two dozen properties from Youngstown to Jamestown and east to Akron, said Elizabeth Nichols, chairwoman of the Western New York Sustainable Energy Association, which organized the local tour.
   Homeowners can learn how to make their homes more energy-efficient, while businesses can see how other companies are applying energy-saving features, Nichols said.
   Some participating locations, including Ecology & Environment's Lancaster headquarters, are well-known for their green elements. "They have an example of everything on their site," Nichols said.
   The tour includes the Buffalo City Mission, where solar power provides about 16 percent of the electrical usage ...
   A kickoff event at 10 a.m. at 95 Perry St. in the Cobblestone District will honor three buildings for their energy-efficiency.
   At noon at PUSH headquarters, 271 Grant St., architect Kevin Connors will conduct a workshop on making a home energy-efficient.
   Also at noon, Tim Ryan of Apex Wind will make a presentation at Dug's Dive at the Small Boat Harbor, 1111 Fuhrmann Blvd., on the Steel Winds urban wind farm.

- Unclaimed cash revives appliance swap out - Samantha Maziarz Christmann/The Buffalo News
   New York’s Great Appliance Swap Out, which began offering cash rebates to consumers buying energy-efficient appliances earlier this year, is suddenly flush with cash again.
   Until recently, customers who bought qualifying appliances were relegated to a waiting list to see if there were enough available funds to qualify them for a rebate. But a recent tally found 25,000 people who had originally signed up for rebates failed to follow-up with the required paperwork.
   That meant roughly $4.85 million — or almost 30 percent of the program’s total funding — that had been earmarked for earlier rebates has been returned to the pot and will be disbursed to qualifying consumers on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Finally, a song to get stuck in your head while you take the solar tour:

 

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Help wanted, wanted, wanted

   Jobs are bustin' out all over:

- Buffalo Niagara gets major boost in jobs - Stephen T. Watson/The Buffalo News
   For a region used to losing jobs like we lose Super Bowls and free-agent hockey players, Tuesday brought a trophy-worthy dose of good economic news.
   Four companies announced plans to hire more than 650 people in separate projects in an area still Localedge struggling to recover from the recent recession.
   This comes as some rare good news for job seekers in a region where plant closings and job cuts remain all too common.
   "It's very serendipitous that a bunch of very different companies is announcing these job increases at the same time," said Andrew J. Rudnick, president and chief executive officer of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. "There isn't a common reason for them, but each of them is a precious asset."
   Walmart, the publisher of the Talking Phone Book and a reborn fire truck maker all said they are seeking workers.
   And a fast-growing pharmaceutical business announced plans to move to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and start hiring, the latest boost to a life-sciences sector that carries the high hopes of local officials.

   Related:
- Walmart hiring 350-400 for new store in Lancaster - Matt Glynn/The Buffalo News
  Increasing its local footprint, Walmart has started hiring 350 to 400 people to staff its new Town of Lancaster store.
   The store, at 4975 Transit Road, north of William Street, is set to open Sept. 15. The majority of the new hires will start working there next month. [Hiring website here]
- Call center in Amherst to boost jobs - Dino Grandoni/The Buffalo News
   Amherst’s status as a call center hub got a boost Tuesday when the White Directory Publishers announced plans for a telephone sales center that will employ 150 by the end of the year.
   The company — which publishes LocalEdge, formerly known as the Talking Phone Book — said it will continue hiring for telephone sales positions at its Amherst-based office. [Hiring website here]
- New center coming to medical campus - Samantha Maziarz Christmann/The Buffalo News
   Chalk up another addition to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
   OncoMed Pharmaceuticals of Great Neck will occupy 4,500 square feet at the CampusInnovation Center come September, and it will bring new jobs with it. The company provides bio-oncology pharmaceutical care management and pharmacy services. [Hiring website here]

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Building up. Cracking down. Stripping clubs [of their licenses].

   Local Business Today:

- Growth in local life sciences boosted by familiar voices - Matt Glynn/The Buffalo News
   As the local life sciences industry attempts to grow, having a booster such as Terry McGuire [right] in its Terrymcguire corner is a plus.
   He is co-founder and managing general partner of
Polaris Venture Partners. The $3 billion venture capital fund with offices in Boston and Seattle helps develop life sciences and information technology companies.
   McGuire is a
Lancaster High School alumnus who several years ago started the BioNetwork, a group featuring former Western New Yorkers interested in revving up the region’s life sciences industry. ...
   McGuire and his fellow BioNetwork members gathered in Buffalo this week for the fifth
BioNetwork Summit. The group has grown over time, with early support coming from Bruce A. Holm, executive director of the University at Buffalo’s Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics. The Bio-Network has also attracted locally based businesspeople interested in bolstering life sciences.
   See video below.

- Cuomo reveals warning letters to 181 ‘mortgage rescue’ companies - Dino Grandoni/The Buffalo News
   State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced Wednesday that his office has sent cease-and-desist letters telling 181 “mortgage rescue” companies to stop misleading customers and end any illegal activity.
   The Attorney General’s Office said that many of the companies are defrauding consumers by making unreasonable promises but providing no services. ...
   Cuomo, a Democrat
running for governor, took his message on an upstate tour Wednesday, speaking at 10:30 a.m. in Buffalo and in the afternoon in Rochester and Syracuse.
   He urged consumers to avoid companies that ask for upfront fees, offer to make payments on the homeowners’ behalf or advise homeowners to stop making payments. Other warning signs include promises made in exchange for a home’s deed and company names that suggest a government affiliation. ...
   “If you think you have been scammed,” Cuomo said, “contact our office.”
   He directed New Yorkers to www.nyprotectyourhome.com , a Web site set up by his office. He also warned residents that they need to look after their own interests.
   “There is never a substitution for people informing themselves.”
   Related:
- Peddling Relief, Firms Put Debtors in Deeper Hole - The New York Times
- 75% of modified home loans will redefault - CNN
- Loan Mod Program Still Sputtering - ProPublica   

- Strip clubs lose liquor licenses in raids’ wake - Dan Herbeck/The Buffalo News
   The State Liquor Authority on Wednesday revoked the liquor license of Rick’s Tally Ho strip club in Cheektowaga and canceled the license of another strip club, 24KT Gold in Hamburg.
   Both establishments were raided by police and federal agents March 2 after an investigation into drug trafficking and prostitution allegations involving dancers and patrons at the clubs.

   Now, here's how Terry McGuire does it:

   What's that? This one is Jerry McGuire.
   Sorry.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

Clean energy vs. dirty

   Today's business news, like yesterday's, shows hope for clean energy and reasons why we should hope.

- Honeywell's local lab to benefit from grant - Matt Glynn/The Buffalo News
   As interest grows in lithium-ion batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles, Honeywell International's Buffalo laboratory will play a key supporting role in advancing the battery technology.
   The
Peabody Street site will benefit from a $54 million joint investment by the federal government and Honeywell in producing electrolyte salt, a critical component of lithium-ion batteries.
   [Video here]
   Related:
- State shows off green-car clout with conference - Ted Evenoff/The Indianapolis Star
   About 100 representatives from FAW and several other Chinese automakers and trade groups are scheduled to be in Indianapolis for an electric-car conference Friday.
- Electric-car maker picks central Ohio for battery plant - Dan Gearino/The Columbus Dispatch
   A former telecom-equipment factory on the Far East Side might return to life soon making batteries for electric cars, holding out the promise of 1,000 new jobs.
   Electric-car manufacturer Coda Automotive said yesterday that it has chosen to open a battery plant in central Ohio, a move that is contingent on the approval of federal and state aid.

- Coke plant in Erie, Pa., told to shut; has local tie - David Robinson and Mark Sommer/The Buffalo News
   The owner of the embattled Tonawanda Coke plant was ordered Monday to shut down a similar plant in Erie, Pa., by Pennsylvania regulators, who charged the company with violating the state’s air quality laws.
   The order, issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, gives Erie Coke three days to shut down after revoking the foundry’s air quality permit in a move that state officials described as a “last resort.”
   Later Monday, the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board granted Erie Coke’s request for a stay of the order until next Tuesday, according to Freda Tarbell of the Department of Environmental Protection. A hearing is scheduled Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

- Offshore drilling here to stay, but changes coming -  Chris Kahn/AP/Buffalo NewsPelican
   BP's massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has focused attention on the petroleum industry's loose regulation and failure to plan for the worst.
   That is going to change, experts say.
  
Regulators are likely to make permitting, inspections and equipment requirements for rigs more stringent. Lawmakers want to extract more money from the industry to help pay for any future cleanups. And insurers are bound to raise rates for underwriting this risky business.
   The increased scrutiny - and cost of doing business - is all worth it, says longtime oil analyst Fadel Gheit of
Oppenheimer & Co.
   "This is a vital industry, and we just can't allow it to self-destruct," Gheit says.
- Obama administration conflicted about relying on BP to stop gulf oil spill - Washington Post
   Since the oil rig exploded, the White House has tried to project a posture that is unflappable and in command.
   But to those tasked with keeping the president apprised of the disaster, Obama's clenched jaw is becoming an increasingly familiar sight. During one of those sessions in the Oval Office the first week after the spill, a president who rarely vents his frustration cut his aides short, according to one who was there.
   "Plug the damn hole," Obama told them.
- As Spill Gets Bigger, So Does White House PR Problem - Mara Liasson/NPR
- White House takes heat over spill response - Politico
- BP is only oil company able to halt Gulf of Mexico spill, Coast Guard boss says - N.Y. Daily News

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News   

In case you don't have enough to worry about...

   From this morning's Business Today:

- Power grid is inefficient, expensive and vulnerable - George Pyle/The Buffalo News
   If inventor Thomas A. Edison came back to life today, he might be amazed by such inventions as the cell phone and the Internet.
   "But," one of New York's premier experts on electric power noted Wednesday, "if Thomas Edison were to come back to Earth today, he not only could recognize the power grid, he probably could repair it."Smartgrid
   And that, said
Robert B. Catell, chairman of the New York Smart Grid Consortium, is the problem.
   A system so crucial to nearly every aspect of modern life has advanced very little in more than a century, when Edison was one of its creators and Western New York was the location of the first power grid, connecting the hydroelectric plant in
Niagara Falls with the street trolley system in Buffalo.
   What New York and the nation are now struggling with, Catell said, is a power delivery network that is expensive, inefficient, vulnerable to failure or sabotage and unable to bring the benefits of new sustainable and nonpolluting energy sources to the homes, businesses and public buildings that need them.
   The answer to that is the so-far theoretical idea of a smart grid — decentralized, computer-controlled, interactive, two-way system of power distribution that will take full advantage of clean power sources and information technology. It was the subject of discussion Wednesday as academics, engineers, power company executives and attorneys gathered for the latest seminar in the University at Buffalo-sponsored series called "The Business of Energy."

   More than one person to comment on this morning's story notes that this article fails to give proper cred to the other genius of electricity's early days, Nikola Tesla.


-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News 

  

Fracking. Muckraking. Muckraking about fracking.

   Two articles on The Buffalo News Business Today cover have more in common than meets the eye:

- Drillers defend ‘fracking’ - The Philadelphia Inquirer/The Buffalo News
    The procedure known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is designed to liberate gas locked in the Fracking shale by injecting pressurized fluid into a well to shatter the rock. ... Officials in New York City, worried that gas drilling threatens the city’s watershed, have banned Marcellus drilling while they review new environmental regulations proposed for the new technique. In northeastern Pennsylvania, opposition has stalled Marcellus drilling in the Delaware River basin.

- Muckraking role getting harder for newspapers - The Associated Press
   Nonprofit groups that specialize in investigative reporting have had some big scoops, cracking the front page of such newspapers as the Washington Post and forcing officials out of their jobs. Now the question is whether these organizations can stay afloat on donations.

   The link? One of the new investigative reporting nonprofits is ProPublica.org [Motto: Journalism in the public interest. Slogan: Steal Our Stories]. And one of its major investigative pushes in the last several months has been the practices of the natural gas drilling industry including, you guessed it, fracking.
   Other examples of independent, non-profit reporting [Internet-based, mostly, because you save all that messy ink and expensive paper] include The Center for Investigative Reporting and its California Watch porgram. Another is The Center for Independent Media, with projects up and running in Minnesota, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico and Washington.

   Bookmark 'em. I have.

   Meanwhile, the top story on our business page today:
- Opposing compulsory health insurance - McClatchy Newspapers*/The Buffalo News
    Michael Sertic, a college senior studying economics, is young and healthy, and he doesn't want the government forcing him to buy health insurance.
   should be read with this, also from ProPublica:
- What Health Care Reform Means for: ‘Young Invincibles’

  * McClatchy remains one of the big dogs in the investigative reporting game. It is not, however, nonprofit. At least, not yet.

-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News

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