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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"Global warming has emerged as a major market-moving force"

This USA Today article is a nice overview of how the global warming/alt energy movement is shaping investment decisions.

An interesting point that I've tried to make in a few of my previous posts:

"From an investors' standpoint, it doesn't matter if people believe global warming is real or if greenhouse gases are to blame..... What does matter is if consumers, regulators, governments and corporations react to the perceived threat."
Even if you are a global warming skeptic - do not overlook this issue when it comes to your portfolio - companies that adopt and innovate these clean technologies are going to have at least two things going for them:
1. They will be more popular with shareholders. A perfect example of this is TXU's fallout with the public over the construction of dirty coal plants. The controversy had a negative impact on the firm's share price which then made it a prime candidate for a takeover.

2. They will save money in the long-run and hopefully, will pass that on to shareholders in the form of buybacks and/or dividends. Yes, upfront costs for these clean technologies will be steep, but long term savings and lower threat of environmental related lawsuits

Monday, February 26, 2007

Barbarians at the Smokestacks

Due to pressure from environmental groups and citizens of Texas, the buyout group led by Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts (KKR) in the $32 billion bid for Dallas utility TXU has agreed to cancel the construction of 8 out of the 11 planned coal-burning power plants - a decision that is sure to set a president for future buyout deals. The buyout and decision to invest in cleaner technologies comes several months after TXU defied public demand for fewer coal-burning plants and the retrofitting of old plants with better technology. The deal, which if approved would surpass KKR's buyout of RJR Nabisco as the largest in history, is sure to cause "shock waves" from Wall Street to Washington, as the article noted.

A few months back, TXU's CEO had admitted that there were benefits to pollution reduction technologies such as coal gasification which burns 70 to 90 percent cleaner than the conventional plants TXU planned to build, however, he stated that due to the increasing demand for power, they were putting their plans for that technology on the back burner. Its funny how many public companies still are not grasping the new democracy led by the increasing influence and power of new media.

Gone are the days of F. Ross Johnson and other free wheeling, free spending CEOs who get away with spending shareholder dollars frivolously and only care about the bottom line. Lee Scott of Wal-mart is a perfect example of the CEO 2.0 - a leader who listens to the public's concerns and integrates the demand for change into the business model - making the shareholders, stakeholders, and the public better in the end.

Energy Consultant Geoffrey Styles said on his blog, Energy Outlook, that Al Gore and his documentary played a role in the KKR decision:

“The indirect connection is obvious: climate change has become one of the biggest issues of our times, and both of these events reflect that reality,” he writes. “At the same time, it’s tempting to see a causal link between the influence of Mr. Gore’s documentary and the recognition by KKR and its partners that stakeholder concerns about the global-warming impact of TXU’s coal power plant construction program could put their entire transaction at risk.”

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Al Gore should not run for President

I'm watching the "Green" Oscars at the moment and I think it is so great that several presenters, recipients, and even a performer were singing the praises of Al Gore and his Inconvenient Truth to the millions of viewers around the world. It is so obvious that the momentum we are currently witnessing for alternative energy - at the universities, in silicon valley, and in all of the blogs and in the media - is due to one man and his determination to be heard. I just hope Al Gore does not ruin this momentum by jumping into the 2008 Presidential race. Here is why:

When was the last time a US President, or any international leader, has had the impact on a global scale the likes that Al Gore and his Inconvenient Truth have had??

"This is not a republican issue or a democrat issue, or a red or blue issue"
- Melissa Ethridge during her acceptance speech at the Oscars

Thursday, February 22, 2007

"If you really want to reduce the amount of oil that you consume, you have to reduce the amount of gasoline you use,"

Its that easy folks! You gotta love how President Bush breaks down one of our nations most complex problems. Use less gasoline, consume less oil. Next issue!

Okay, oil problem solved. Now what happens when we replace our entire, or most of our oil based vehicle fleet with ethanol based fuel? Are we better off? Not really. The ripple effect of using the farmers corn crop for fuel rather than food is going to be felt beyond our borders. Not only will farmers need to find a cheaper source of food for their livestock, but a sharp rise in demand for corn will hurt worldwide food production. Mexicans are already feeling a sting as the price of corn tortillas, a staple in the diet of most Mexicans, has risen steeply (corn has more than doubled over past year) ever since we started using ethanol as a gasoline additive.

Unfortunately, since the politicians must go through Iowa in the primaries, none of the Presidential candidates have acknowledged the downside of ethanol. Who gets it in Washington? I'm not sure if any of them "get it." John McCain was one of the few politicians who called out the bogus claims made by the pro-ethanol crowd, but now that he is running for President forget about it. More politicians need to jump on the Solar bandwagon. If we can get more homes using solar power, and get some electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road, you have the cleanest source of electricity powering a potentially zero emission vehicle. You can't come close to that with corn!

New LED bulb uses 3.4W and will replace 40W Incandescent.....and most likely compact fluorescents

An innovative LED bulb named Pharox has been launched in the Netherlands. Apparently, this 3.4 watt bulb is a serious replacement for a 40 watt incandescent bulb. The lumens per watt is about equal to a compact fluorescent bulb, but LEDs have a much longer life - about 50,000 hours or 35 years if the bulb is on for 4 hours a day. Now that my friends, is progress.

read more at tree hugger | digg story

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"“This plan will cut Pennsylvanians’ energy bills by $10 billion over the next 10 years"

In anticipation of Governor Ed Rendell's visit to Pittsburgh next week I've been looking over his Energy Indpendence Strategy and I have to say I like what I've read so far.

Here are some of the highlights:

Smart Metering: The Energy Independence Strategy would give consumers the right to get smart meters installed in their home to give them a new tool to reduce energy spending. If you are a stats geek like me, someone who is always checking the MPG meter on their car or hitcounter on their websites, then Smart Meters are for you. Finally, some actually proof for my wife that her leaving the refridgerator door open is indeed a huge hit on the electric bill!

30% State Rebate on Solar Installations: totaling $244 million in rebates for homes and businesses. Combined with Federal incentives up to 50% of a typical solar installion will be covered by rebates and tax credits

Incentives for Clean Energy startups: Program makes over $100 available for clean energy businesses in the form of venture capital, loans, and grants

Incentives to spur development of Clean Energy projects in the state: ·
New state resources will target up to $500 million in state funds dedicated for infrastructure improvements, construction, early project development costs and equipment purchases undertaken to attract private investment in energy-related economic development projects, including solar manufacturing; advanced coal technologies; biofuels; and energy conservation, efficiency, and energy demand management projects.

When all is said and done the Governor's initiative will cost close to $1 billion. Who is paying for this? PA residents and businesses will pay a "systems benefits charge" equal to 1/20 of a cent per kilowatt of each resident's energy bill. While most people scream bloody murder whenever a new tax is introduced (yours truly included), this one makes sense. The administration has estimated that this will cost the average residential customer an extra 45 cents each month. The benefits of both the long term cost savings and environmental impact are worth far more than what we're all paying for this.

Here is a word document with the entire strategy outlined from the Governor's website

Anyone planning on attending the lunch next week? $75 is steep for a non member but I've never attended one of these so I am going to try to make it next Friday. Hope to see you there.

More on Citizenre from Wired Magazine

Instead of making you spring for $25,000 or more in gear, Citizenrē says it will loan you a complete rooftop solar power system, install it for free and sell you back the power it generates at a fixed rate below what your utility charges. The company hopes to make back its investment with those monthly payments, augmented by federal tax credits and rebates. The big issue here is that sales agents are selling these solar systems even though the manufacuring plant hasn't even been built. I hope to hear more on the development of their 600,000 sqft "largest solar manufacturing plant in the world" as I think Citizenre needs to do alot of PR coupled with hard proof of progress to counter the controversy and skepticism surrounding this venture.

read more at Wired.com | digg story

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Governor Ed Rendell to speak about new Energy Strategy at Pittsburgh luncheon

Governor Rendell to speak at a Pittsburgh Technology Council luncheon on Friday March 2nd to outline his recently introduced Energy Independence Strategy. This sounds like good news for both green entrepreneurs and Pennsylvania homeowners like myself who are hoping for more competitive green energy incentives.

Here are the details:

This $850 million initiative aims to cut consumer energy costs; reduce Pennsylvania's dependence on foreign fuels; and expand the commonwealth's alternative fuel, clean energy and conservation sectors. The governor's proposal would provide $500 million for clean energy economic development projects, $106 million for venture capital investments and the creation of a clean energy greenhouse, and $244 million for tax credits and rebates on energy-saving household appliances and technologies. Sponsored by Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC.

Date: Friday, March 2
Time: 12 - 12:30 p.m. registration, 12:30 - 1:30 p.m. program
Venue: Sheraton Station Square Hotel
Member Cost: $35
Non-Member Cost: $75
RSVP: events@pghtech.org or 412.918.4229

More on Rendell's energy policies

Boston Decrees Green Building a Must

All new construction projects over 50,000 square feet have to qualify for LEED status. The LEED Green Building Rating System is a voluntary standards and certification program created by the U.S. Green Building Council that recognizes environmentally friendly construction projects. Will this mandate allow Boston to overtake Pittsburgh as the city with the most "green" certified building projects?

read more at Business Week | digg story

Monday, February 19, 2007

For or against the theory of Global Warming - Does it Matter?

I was listening to the Sean Hannity show on the way home from work and I still cannot get over how these guys politicize critical issues such as global warming and the environment. He basically said that those supporting Global Warming are "fear mongering" and that the winter storms all over the country mean that global warming is BS. What is funny to me is how the debate is less about science than it is political affiliation. If you are on the right, you most likely hated President Clinton, which means you hate Al Gore. Since Al Gore is a staunch supporter of the environment and chief proponent of the crusade to curb global warming, global warming must be BS! I have seen plenty of reports and scientific evidence supporting Gore's claims. What I haven't seen is much scientific evidence from the other side, just a few weak attempts to discredit Gore and global warming such as this recent interview from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

While I think there is far more evidence out there supporting the theory of Global Warming, does it really matter if the theory is true?

What I am asking you is this. If you do not believe in global warming, do you admit that pollution from our cars and factories such as mercury and nitrous oxide are bad for our environment as well as our health? Do you believe that it is in our best interest, as a nation, to become less dependent on foreign oil? If you are a non-believer and you answered yes to either of the preceding questions, I hope you are a supporter of green businesses and technology that strive to make green energy both practical and affordable for your average American.

Years from now I hope that my grandchildren live in a country where every new home is built with solar electricity, where any consumer can afford an electric car that is charged by the Sun's energy, and where the price we pay for petroleum products is no longer determined by OPEC. We cannot let politics get in the way of this issue folks.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Another City tries to cut energy bills with LEDs

Raleigh--in conjunction with LED manufacturer Cree--replaced high-pressure sodium lights in a downtown parking garage with LED lights. Although the LED lamps cost substantially more than regular sodium lamps, they require less electricity and need to be replaced far less often.

Raleigh Joins Ann Arbor, MI on the list of cities that are realizing the cost savings from switching to LED lighting. Raleigh is hoping to save $100,000 annually since the lights will last several years before needing to be replaced.

Can you use LED lighting in your home? Sure. The easiest way to save money with LEDs is to replace your old night lights with LED Night Lights

read more at CNET | digg story

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

GE fighting new smog controls for railroad locomotives proposed by EPA

GE, the supposed environmentally friendly company behind the Ecomagination marketing campaign, has been fighting an aggressive proposal by the EPA to cut the smog emissions in locomotives. GE agrees with the EPA that there is a need for NOx reduction but is arguing for a less aggressive limit on emissions.

The EPA estimates that the cost to reduce these emissions would be $2 to $4 billion by the year 2030 but also estimates the value of the health and environmental benefits of the smog reduction at $70 billion over the same period. Wow. So why is GE fighting the EPA's proposal?

Existing GE locamotives meet the EPA's current limit of 5.5 grams per horsepower per hour's operation. This doesn't sound like a lot at first until you read that the EPA estimates each locomotive produces as much pollution over its lifetime as 500 heavy-duty diesel trucks. Yuck. The EPA wants to set the new limit to 1.3 grams while GE is willing to meet them at 1.9 grams. Okay. GE has stated that 1.3 grams is not feasible and would require a technological breakthrough. However, one of GE's smaller competitors in the locomotive space has stated that the new limit would be a "stretch" but it is reachable using existing smog control technology used in cars and trucks.

GE, to their credit, has issued a press statement and has insisted that the press characterization of them "fighting" the EPA is misleading. Well, if that is the case then how much of the shareholder's money is GE spending on lawyers and lobbyists for this cause?

I for one, think this is a PR blunder on GE's part as they have been a leading company in green technology, and, with their sketchy past, have come a very long way. When you're the second largest company in the world (by market cap) with as many businesses as GE has, 100% of the company is not going to get it right the first time around. I just hope that we do not see GE making empty promises like the ones we have seen from the energy companies.

read more at the WSJ | digg story

Exxon Chief Cautions Against Rapid Action to Cut Carbon Emissions

Rex Tillerson, who leads the world’s largest publicly traded company, gave an unalloyed defense of the oil industry and predicted that hydrocarbons would dominate the world’s transportation as energy demand grows by an expected 40 percent by 2030. At an industry gathering Mr. Tillerson, like President Bush, finally admitted that we are experiencing climate change due to global warming. However, Tillerson brushed off alternative fuels during talks with reporters at the "major industry gathering" and said "There is no significant alternative to oil in coming decades and Exxon will continue to make oil and natural gas its primary products."

This is in-step with the empty rhetoric I have read on the corporate websites and heard coming from the mouths of managers and recruiters from Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and even Exxon who come to recruit graduating MBAs at top business schools each year.

While I do believe Exxon has a right, as publicly traded company, to pursue profits, I also agree with the late great Peter Drucker that the pursuit of financial profits and social responsibility go hand in hand.

Full coverage at NYT.com

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

CitizenRE - hope for Solar Power?

Citizenre offers a service for homeowners where the company rents you a PV solar panel installation and you only pay for the cost of the electricity generated. There is alot of buzz around this offering........and, with anything that sounds too good to be true - plenty of skepticism.

I have a good friend over in NY who shares the same passion I have for green energy. He is currently exploring the possibility of joining the firm as a sales manager. I have posted a while back that the lack of infrastructure on the service/installation end of the value chain was hurting solar's penetration rate. Here is a brief summary from friend Jon, there is plenty more information on the program and service at Citizenre's website.

"Main points are this !!!

1. No upfront Cost, where normally solar panels were around 40 k and up to buy equipment not including installation or anything else.2

2. Energy savings and stability that increase exponentially the longer you sign up for (1 yr., 5 yrs., 25 yrs.)

3. Feeling good about actively reducing greenhouse gases (equivalent of 25 cars per yr. estimated), reducing reliance on foreign oil, taking real steps to save the environment.

The main point is that all this is done with no investment and provides savings for the customer!"

Since this is a hot topic and there is plenty of debate out there, please leave any comments if you've heard anything different on this service or if you know of anyone involved in the sales or marketing of Citizenre.

read more from thesietch.org | digg story

The emerging Alternative Energy City is............Houston??

I was as surprised as you were if you read Tuesday's Wall Street Journal Energy Report article on Houston becoming a leading alternative energy city.

Basically, the article describes how Houston has all the necessary ingredients to become to alternative energy what Boston is to Biotech. First - Houston has the major corporations to invest in and nurture the energy startups. It already has a number of emerging technology companies spanning the green energy spectrum - from Horizon Wind Energy to a number of biofuel players. The Houston area's universities provide the research expertise while green friendly government regulations and availability of specialized law and investment firms provide the support structure that is necessary for a flourishing technology hub.

People often wonder why Pittsburgh cannot become a major player in biotech, well, we have two powerhouse universities and a top notch medical center (U. of Pitt Med Center) but the industry does not have enough support from the major corporations or the local investment capital required to grow Pittsburgh from a mid to a top tier biotechnology cluster.

Anyways, I digress. If you look at the following highlights from the WSJ article, its pretty clear that Houston is on its way. In the future, when "H-town" is the topic of conversation, will we think of alternative energy before we think of the oil industry, "Kenny Boy" Lay and the Enron debacle, or the ridiculous number of sprawling highways and strip clubs? Maybe not, but if only a small number of these energy ventures pan out it would go a long way in making Houston a true "clutch city."

From WSJ:


Oil giants like Royal Dutch Shell, which has about 50 full-time Houston employees working in hydrogen and wind energy, house some of their U.S. alternative energy divisions in the city. GE bases its coal-gasification team in Houston, with 160 workers who specialize in new-product development and engineering. The industrial giant also houses major work in its burgeoning alternative-energy division elsewhere, such as in Schenectady, NY.

From its headquarters in downtown Houston, Horizon Wind Energy is building new sites around the country and expects to have 1,350 megawatts on line by the end of 2007. The seven-year-old company, formerly known as Zilkha Renewable Energy, was bought by Goldman Sachs in 2005 and is reportedly up for sale. The Houston region is a popular venue for new biodiesel facilities. Besides the Galveston Bay Biodiesel site, which is partially owned by Chevron, and a pair of new sites in the Houston Ship Channel, Imperial Petroleum Recovery is building a site 35 miles north of the city.


Leading law firms and energy financiers like Baker Botts have stationed alternative-energy experts in Houston. The city is also home to Standard Renewable Energy Group, an alternative-energy investment firm that is backing a variety of projects, including Trulite Inc., a company that develops electric generators that run on hydrogen. Standard Renewable is led by former Enron trader John Berger.

Scientists at Rice University are hard at work on a variety of innovations in power delivery, biodiesel, hydrogen and other areas. The university hopes to garner more direct financial support soon from major oil companies. With a staff of 45 researchers and administrators, the nonprofit Houston Advanced Research Center in the Woodlands houses a 3,000-squarefoot life-sciences laboratory and works with other consortia on biofuels and hydrogen technology.

Though some in the research community say more aggressive action is needed to keep up with other states, wind energy and biodiesel-industry players praise Texas' comparative support of new energy facilities. Houston's mayor, former Deputy Secretary of Energy Bill White, has pointed to alternative energy as a major priority and pursued a variety of initiatives to ensure that more of the city's power comes from renewable sources.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Phipps Conservatory - The Green Heart of Pittsburgh

So after all these years living in Pittsburgh (9 out of the past 10 yrs), and after several attempts by my wife to get me to go, today I finally went to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. The place was amazing. Not only did it have trees and plant species from all over the world, but it was a conservationists dream.

The welcome center (pictured above) and greenhouses had several green design features that make it one of the most, if not the most, self sustainable greenhouses. One of the highlights of the center's green design - energy efficient cooling and heating with underground "earth tubes" which are used to create a natural air conditioning.

Another cool thing was the presence of a Fuel Cell (pictured)which was used to power the conservatory's Thailand rain forest exhibit. Although Fuel Cells do emit some emissions, they are much better than any power coming from a coal or gas fired electric plant.

So, not only did I get to witness some awesome green technology in action, but I got to breath in some nice fresh air free of pariculate matter, and I gained some hope that Pittsburgh can become a leading "Green" city, at least when it comes to green building initiatives like the conservatory and convention center.

Oh, and one last thing - a plug for the conservatory's cafe. I had no idea they had a cafe that sold several varieties of micro brews. I went to school just up the street at CMU for two years, had I known there were micro brews at Phipps that would have been one of our favorite lunch spots.

Friday, February 9, 2007

NPR Podcast - Compact Fluorescent Bulbs and the one billion bulbs campaign

NPR had an interesting segment on CFLs and onebillionbulbs.com. Check out the podcast of the show here.

onebillionbulbs.com is a great site that is tracking individual and group efforts to switch from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs. The following if from www.onebillionbulbs.com:

The goal of OneBillionBulbs.com is to be a catalyst for positive, meaningful environmental change by:

  • educating people about the environmental and economic benefits of replacing standard incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient compact flourescent (CFL) light bulbs
  • encouraging a large number of people to replace standard incandescent light bulbs with CFL light bulbs
OneBillionsBulbs.com hopes to reach its goals by:

  • * persuading people that CFL light bulbs make environmental and economic sense
  • * collecting, calculating and presenting pollution-reduction and energy-savings data in a fun, interesting way in order to encourage action and attract media attention
  • * providing promotional tools which encourage viral and word-of-mouth growth
  • * introducing a limited amount of advertising which (a) educates our site visitors about online purchase options for CFLs and other environmentally-friendly products and (b) supports the ongoing development, maintenance, hosting and promotion of OneBillionBulbs.com.

So, please check out that website and if you are a proponent of CFL's such as myself enter the number of bulbs you've switched to CFLs. The website is tracking results by state and is also keeping track of the totals energy savings in terms of CO2 emissions as well as the savings by using the more efficient CFLs. Oh, and lastly, go buy some CFLs!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Pollution is bad for children..........and Iranians

Following up my post on Pittsburgh air quality and its potential link to increased asthma rates here are a few recent stories on the health consequences of air pollution:
Traffic pollution can stunt lung development: study

New figures showed a sharp rise in pollution-related deaths in Iran

The first one, regarding the correlation of traffic pollution and lung problems in children, is further proof that the Pittsburgh region's poor air quality is behind the region's, or part of the region's above average asthma rates. (Hey Harold - here is another link for you).

The second story on Iran highlights an alarming trend in developing economies around the world. Globalization, increasing ranks of the middle class(more automobiles), and little or no environmental oversight mean cities such as Tehran and smaller industrial towns in China (see story on Leifeng and Puxing ) are experiencing deadly pollution levels, levels that we haven't seen in the US since the days of Carnegie and Frick.

If this Global Warming thing is as bad as it seems - and if the US and our allies get their act together - will it matter? How could an energy independent, less polluting US and its 300 million citizens offset the damage being done by the economic run-away freight train known as China? These countries are basically where we were at the turn of the 20th century, our democratic made those pollution levels by the major industries unsustainable (although not enough has been done in the following 100 years!). China's economy will eventually surpass ours, but the lack of free speech makes it difficult for the type of sea change necessary to halt the dangerous effects of global warming.

The Global corporations, led by GE, a major sponsor of the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, need to step in and lend their expertise and clout to help curb this problem.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Is this why my wife has Asthma??

A New England Journal of Medicine study finds that increased heart risk is linked to air pollution. The WSJ also has a nice writeup on the a study, and being a resident of Pittsburgh - the city at the top of the list of highest annual levels of outdoor fine particulate matter,(in other words, the bad stuff that comes from soot), I have a vested interest in this subject.

I have read advisories against daytime jogging in other large cities, (Los Angeles, Atlanta come to mind) and I have known for years that Pittsburgh had a higher than normal level of particle pollution, but I've never really pinpointed why we still have poor air quality with the steel industries being long gone and why nothing has been done about it.

First of all, what exactly is particulate matter and where does it come from? Why should Pittsburghers care about this? Here is the wikipedia definition, lots of good info here on this and it also states the health effects of particulate matter in our air:

"The effects of inhaling particulate matter has been widely studied in humans and animals and include asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular issues, and premature death."

Getting back to the source of our pollution problem in Pittsburgh, a city our young mayor wants to be known as "Green" Pittsburgh. The most likely primary source of this pollution is our fossil fuel burning vehicles, but I think a major factor in Pittsburgh being the highest on the list is our inefficient highway system. Pittsburgh does not have a beltway. Everyone driving from the eastern suburbs to our airport must drive through a tunnel on the parkway, through the east end of the city and then through downtown, across a bridge, and then through another tunnel to continue on the parkway to the airport. This is the way it is to get from one quadrant of the metro area to another - you must go through the city of Pittsburgh.

While having to drive through the city to get from suburbs out East to West, North to South, etc, is a pain and probably contributes a great deal to our poor air quality, I think the source is not necessarily automobiles, but the hundreds of soot emitting diesel trucks and buses that have to drive through the city each and every day. How many recall driving next to a truck like the one in the picture above that was was emitting black soot into our air? I see it just about everyday as I commute through the Liberty Tunnel, through downtown to get to my workplace in the northern suburbs. Thinking about it makes my blood boil because there is nothing I can do except watch the soot spread out through the air. I know the driver of the truck either does not care or has no idea what his truck his putting in our air. And why should it be his problem? This has been an issue for years now and I doubt little has been done beyond this EPA funded research study at Carnegie Mellon University.

So why am I so up at arms about this? We do not have children but my wife and I have both recently begun to experience breathing problems. My wife's is more severe as she seems to have some of the symptoms of asthma. We both love to go into the city to go out to eat or take walks in the parks by ourselves or with our dogs. Will it get to a point where we can no longer take walks in the city? Or not want to raise our children in a city that puts them at high risk for asthma or cardiovascular disease? Are people who walk or jog on the Eliza Furnace trail (the jail trail) putthing themselves at risk? And what the heck is with those Ozone Days anyways?

If our current mayor, or whoever is elected this spring, is serious about making Pittsburgh a leading edge city, a city that truly embraces the environment and cares about the health of its citizens, then they will do more than Green Building initiatives and running public works vehicles on vegetable oil.

Our leaders at the local and state level must impose clean burning diesel standards on all trucks and buses in the region. This would be a mandate that we usually see coming out of California, so why not....Pennsylvania ??