The Next Proving Ground: Plans To Drill Off The Atlantic Coast

The U.S. Department of Interior over the past two weeks has advanced plans to drill for oil and natural gas reserves off the entire Atlantic coast from Maine to Florida. This plan has generated mostly negative reaction from residents along most of the coastal states effected, particularly in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

The federal government plans to lease out areas off the coast of the entire Eastern seaboard for the planned exploration of these energy resources despite the potential risks to a massive population if there is an operational incident.

The actions of the Department of Interior have prompted the response from the state level governments which are effected by this potential new energy strategy. The most recent was in my home state of New Jersey, where Governor Chris Christie wrote a strong letter to the Department of Interior vigorously opposing any drilling or exploration efforts off the coast of the state.

Governor Christie cited the potential threat to the marine wildlife, the water, and other natural resources as well as natural habitats. The exploration for these energy sources can have a very damaging effect and the governor maintained that his position has always been against these types of exploratory methods in coastal waters.

My own view, as a resident, is that the Atlantic coast should be off limits to this type of drilling and exploration for a variety of reasons. The first of which is that the New Jersey coast line is a huge economic driver for our state; between the tourism at the beaches, to the fishing industry.
Second, the implementation of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and other exploration methods on land have created a glut in the supply of oil and natural gas. The bigger issue now is what to do with the abundance of the supply of the resources and how to store it until the demand curve resets itself. The industry does not need more resources supplied from the Atlantic Coast, when the U.S. domestic oil and natural gas industry has other areas which currently provide supply.

Finally, I agree with the governors of the Atlantic coast states, the population density especially in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast/ New England would create an environmental catastrophe in the event of an incident in an exploration operation. The sheer volume of people and the pollution potential for such a huge area is a high-risk scenario.

We have a responsibility to protect our natural resources and in this case, the Atlantic Ocean should not be explored for energy reserves in this manner. The risks far outweigh the return. It is my hope that the residents and the state governments can appeal to the federal government on this important matter.

I have grown up at the beach in New Jersey and I have seen the first-hand impact of pollution on the shore. I have also seen the impact of a storm like Hurricane Sandy, which a similar storm system in the future could have a disastrous impact on an off -shore drilling operation.

The Atlantic coast has been immune to exploration for this long a period of time, I do not understand what there is to gain by opening it up for oil and gas exploration at this point. I am hoping that the other side of this debate can make that argument in the coming months. I am hoping that the residents will band together and inform our representatives on both the state and federal level that we are not interested in this type of activity taking place on the Atlantic coast.

NFL & Recycling: Detroit Lions “Turn It Green” Campaign

The National Football League is busily preparing for another season in about a month from today, currently the players are getting ready at training camps across the country. The Detroit Lions will be wearing new practice jerseys at camp on August 6th that are bright green in color and made from recycled materials.


The new uniforms mark the start of the team’s recycling campaign which is called “Turn It Green” and will have a social media hashtag of the same name to be used across Twitter, Facebook, InstaGram, and the other platforms.


The uniforms are made by Unifi and are part of their Repreve line of sports equipment made from recycled materials. Each jersey is made from 21 recycled bottles and the Lions will be giving away towels to fans who attend their practice session which are made from 3 recycled bottles each.


The campaign will also have a promotional contest where fans can enter to win a chance to throw the ball on the practice field with the Detroit Lions quarterbacks. The “Turn It Green” program will highlight the benefits of recycling and the team is adding several in-stadium recycling receptacles at Ford Field for the upcoming 2014 football season.


Raising Awareness


The announcement of this program featured some statistics on recycling including the fact that only 30% of the plastic bottles used in the U.S. are recycled. In fact, 75% of our overall garbage is recyclable in the U.S. but only 30% of that overall total is recycled.

Americans generate 21.5 million tons of food waste each year, which if it was composted, would be the equivalent reduction of greenhouse gases in the environment as if 2 million cars were taken off the roadways.


This campaign will raise awareness to the many benefits of recycling for our communities and the NFL and the Detroit Lions deserve credit for putting this program in motion. The NFL has more fans than any other sport in the U.S. and if this program reaches even a portion of them and changes their perception of the importance of recycling it will be a positive step in the right direction.


The use of social media and the contest are great ways to interact with their fans which is so important in marketing any type of campaign today. The program was certainly well thought out, and I will be interested to see if other NFL teams follow suit with similar initiatives in their community affairs and stadium operations.


I know the sight of the Lions taking the practice field in bright green uniforms will be a big change from their usual appearance, but it is for a very important reason, to raise awareness of the importance of recycling to protect our environment and conserve our natural resources.


(Background courtesy of CBS, statistics courtesy of and

Follow Up: EPA Regulations on Power Plants

I recently covered the EPA ruling on the regulations for new power plants in order to curb the further emissions of greenhouse gases. This story was prevalent in the news again today with coverage by both The Associated Press and USA Today.

Those news agencies reported that the EPA ruling will be reviewed by The Supreme Court to determine whether or not the EPA has the authority to regulate the emissions of the power plants (


The main issue is whether the 2007 Supreme Court ruling which allowed the EPA to regulate the emissions from automobiles under The Clean Air Act could be used to extend their authority to regulating the emissions from power plants (


Both Sides


The environmental groups are downplaying the decision today by The Supreme Court to hear the case. They feel that the unanimous decision the EPA received supporting the regulation in the federal appeals court will help their position.


The EPA believes they have a strong case as well, reporting to the AP that they have the right to protect the general public from pollution within the scope of The Clean Air Act.



The environmental groups also point to the fact that the Supreme Court rejected calls to overturn the 2007 decision as a good indication that the Supreme Court is setting the boundaries of the argument by the energy industry into a very tight frame (


Conversely, the energy industry feels that the decision by The Supreme Court to allow the case to be heard is a positive development in their cause. In my first article on this matter, I detailed the C.C.S. technology and the high cost it would require for implementation in a new power plant. In addition, the energy industry contends that the technology is unproven and they should not be required to implement it until it has been proven to be an effective technology.


The energy industry also feels that the Supreme Court could use this case to rule that the EPA has no right to regulate emissions from standing sources, such as power plants, at all (


The Stakes


According to reports, the EPA was going to use the cap on emissions for new power plants as a measuring stick for extending regulations of emissions on other standing sources of pollution. The Supreme Court ruling could either greatly enhance the EPA in this process, or greatly inhibit the EPA moving forward in that regard.


The AP reported that President Obama was giving the EPA a year to come up with standards for emissions on existing power plants. Subsequently, the Court decision could have drastic ramifications on that process as well. If it rules against the EPA, then they will have a tough legal battle trying to regulate existing power plants.


The energy industry has a great deal at stake here as well. If they lose their case, they obviously cannot appeal it any further, and it would have to follow the EPA regulations in any new plants by installing the C.C.S. system.


Moreover, they would be faced with certain new regulations on the existing power plants and the emissions from those facilities. Other standing sources of pollution would face similar regulations by the EPA, except this time it would be backed by Supreme Court precedent and The Clean Air Act.


These regulations, as I detailed in my earlier article, would have an impact on the American consumer, as it would drive up the cost of energy.


Environmental Implications


The environmental implications are very steep here as well. The evidence is there to suggest a link between greenhouse gas emissions, particularly of carbon dioxide, and climate change.


All of these other implications aside, we have a responsibility to our environment and we need to be much more effective at lowering carbon emissions and other pollutants. We need to protect our planet for future generations. It goes beyond the courts, the costs, and the designation of the role of government.


This issue is an issue of humanity, a question of:  what kind of conditions in our environment do we want for our children and our grandchildren? That is a big question, one which will transcend this case and needs to be a part of a much deeper conversation.

EPA Limits on New Power Plants

Analyzing the Issue from Both Sides


The recent EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) ruling regarding the future requirements for the energy industry to build new power plants in the U.S. has reinvigorated the issue of “clean” energy. Both the environmental groups and the interest groups and executives representing the energy industry have very strong feelings on this issue. This article will explain the ruling, compare the new requirements to the current standards used in the energy industry and detail the potential ramifications of the changes as they would impact the consumer.



The Ruling


The EPA announced a ruling where the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants would be capped ( The coal-fired plants will not meet this new standard without costly technology enhancements to capture and store carbon emissions.


This new technology is called the Carbon Capture and Sequestration (C.C.S.) system. This technology has never been used in a coal plant, though two plants with this technology are currently under construction in Canada (


Two sides to the issue


The EPA stated in the announcement that the cap on the emissions from these power plants is a “necessary step to address a public health challenge”.


The coal industry responded, and it was widely reported in the media, that it is not legal for the EPA to require the use of technology that is commercially unproven.


The coal industry leaders continued by explaining that the EPA usually requires that new technology be cost effective and that the C.C.S. system is not cost effective (


I have a vested interest in the environment, and these statements and reports in the media clearly signal to me a growing potential conflict between the EPA and the coal industry.


In my past dealings with the EPA, I have found their representatives to be very fair and professional. I found that I generally agree with their assessments regarding the changes we need to make to our business practices to increase sustainability. The agency has made great strides to improve the compliance of the federal government with regard to their product procurement protocols by introducing more green alternative products into the purchasing system.


The C.C.S. System


The C.C.S. system is a technology which utilizes equipment to capture the greenhouse gas emissions. It then compresses the captured carbon. Then, the compressed material is sequestered by being transported via pipeline and stored underground (


The energy industry is balking at the price tag associated with the installation of the C.C.S. system, and the EPA maintains that the government will not allow the construction of new power plants without this system in place.


The Cap


The EPA cap on the emissions from power plants is now being set at 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour ( The measurement for emissions for a new power plant without the C.C.S. technology is 1,800 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour.


Therefore, every new plant is going to be required to install the C.C.S. technology in order to be compliant with the new emissions cap. The coal industry intends to take legal action to fight this new emissions ruling.


The coal industry has stated to the USA Today that the C.C.S. rules will lead to coal plant closures and a halt in new coal plant construction. This combination will lead to higher electric bills for the consumer.


It is widely known that the coal plants are responsible for the majority of electric energy produced in the U.S. and that this ruling from the EPA could have a drastic effect on the supply of that energy, which will lead to an increase in electric energy prices.


The Future


This is a potentially contentious issue because you have the EPA, which is clearly trying to follow their mandate and enforce some type of standards to limit the amount of carbon emissions from these plants. Those same carbon emissions can have a dramatic impact on the environment and our ecosystems.


The energy industry has some reservations about the cost and also the implementation and the effectiveness of the C.C.S. technology. They contend that they could install this system and it may not work to adequately address the issue, and they could be then forced to pass along some of the install costs to the consumer.


The consumers are caught in the middle and many are dealing with rising costs for everything, flat wages, a sluggish economy, and many are also concerned with our environment. Now, those consumers are going to be told that the cost of electricity could increase, and that will have a dramatic impact on their everyday lives.


I am very concerned about the environment, and I think the carbon emissions cap is a good idea. I think the federal and state governments need to get involved and mediate this situation to protect the environment, make sure that the new technology works by incentivizing a few plants to install the equipment, and to protect the consumer from an increase in energy costs.


This is an issue that concerns our environmental sustainability and could have big implications on how we continue to consume energy for our everyday living activities. I hope a resolution can be reached that will be satisfactory to all parties involved. If not, we are all in for some long, difficult days ahead.

The E.P.P. and Green Products Marketing

The issue of environmental protection is one in which we all have a vested interest. The federal government and their respective agencies and entities are enormous purveyors of a huge range of products for use within their operation.


The Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (E.P.P.) program was started by the federal government under the umbrella of the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) to oversee the purchase of “green” products. The E.P.P. program was designed to improve the compliance of the federal government agencies with regard to the purchase of environmentally friendly products.


The E.P.P. program was started in 1993 with the following main functions:

  1. Find and Evaluate green products and services
  2. Identify Federal green buying requirements
  3. Calculate the cost and benefits of purchasing choices
  4. Manage the green purchasing processes



The role of the E.P.P. is very important because the federal government is such a huge entity requiring a wide variety of products within its operation.


In fact, the Federal government is the largest purveyor of goods and services in the U.S. with spending on goods and services totaling
$350 billion per year (



The Five Guiding Principles


The central components of the E.P.P. program were divided into five principles to streamline the focus for the other federal government entities to consult the system when making decisions on product purchasing.


The 5 Guiding Principles of the E.P.P. program are:

  1. Environment + Price + Performance
  2. Pollution Prevention
  3. Life Cycle Perspective/ Multiple Attributes
  4. Comparison of Environmental Impacts
  5. Environmental Performance Information



These five principals must be given consideration by the federal procurement or purchasing agent when making a decision on a product or a service. In my own experience with marketing “green” products to the federal government, I have found that all of these principals are important.


However, the two principals that I found to be the mitigating factors are: price = performance, and the life cycle perspective/multiple attributes principal.


The environmental protection of a product could be great, but if it has performance differentials that lag behind the “non-green” or standard product alternative, that is a big issue.


The sensitivity to a given price point is always a consideration with green products. It can have a great environmental protective quality, and it could be an efficient, high performance product as well. The price has to be in line with the other products available on the market; if the price point is too high then it is going to be problematic to sell to the federal government.


Furthermore, the life cycle perspective/ multiple attributes principal is a critical component to federal government purchasing decisions. In my experience, the requests from federal entities were made for information on the performance of our product throughout its life cycle.


The federal procurement officers wanted to see data on how the product performed in certain conditions over certain intervals of time (30 days, 60 days, 120 days etc.) and during certain weather conditions.


They would study or inquire as to whether the product could do multiple green functions, for instance, if the product could be used on both land and water. The products with versatility and multiple uses, or attributes, will fare better in potentially gaining a federal government sales order.


Executive Order 13514


The E.P.P. program was given further significance with the implementation of Executive Order 13514, which essentially orders federal agencies to use sustainable practices when buying products or services (


In my own experience in the green products area, working for a distributor, this executive order changed everything when dealing with the various federal government agencies. I could sense a change in the approach of the procurement officers that they felt it was important for them to take a more comprehensive look at the green product alternatives available.


The cost benefit analysis was, and always will be, an important factor in the decision making process as well. The difficulty with certain green alternatives is that their price point may be higher than a standard product with no environmental benefit.


The reasons for this higher price level are variable but could include the sourcing of certain commodity ingredients which are made from sustainable sources. Due to limited supply those ingredients will be more expensive, thus driving up the cost of the finished green product.


Role of E.P.P. and small businesses


The role of the E.P.P. can be very helpful to small businesses which are attempting to gain a foothold within a federal government agency. Any small business that is trying to market products to the federal government has to be familiar with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) guidelines.


The FAR guidelines are a uniform policy for the acquisition of supplies and services by federal agencies ( Two important decisions occurred which provided further credence to the E.P.P. program and FAR:


  • In 2007: The Secretary of Agriculture announced that procurement preference be afforded to biobased products within certain designated items (
  • In 2008: The Department of Agriculture published rules designating 27 biobased products for federal preferential procurement within the following areas: personal & facility cleaning products, greases, oils, lubricants, and construction products (


In the event, you were a small business with production and/or distribution rights to any of the above mentioned products, then your business had a good chance to make a sale with the federal government.


The E.P.P. program has a great section of the website called Information for Vendors which provides valuable information to businesses who are looking to market green products or services to the federal government (


This section of the website contains critical information on how to sell green products to the federal government. The section also provides a link to U.S. Business Advisor, which lists all the information on federal agencies: contact information and current procurement opportunities.


The benefits for a small business to work with E.P.P. are numerous and should be a strong consideration if you are in the green products market, or if you are looking to gain entry into this very important market.


The E.P.P. program was introduced to increase the availability of green products into the operations of the federal government. The goal being to minimize the environmental impact of their activity and to create opportunities for small businesses to partner with the federal government to implement these new products or services.


I think we can all agree that the focus on bringing more sustainable products into the marketplace is a very positive development for our future. I encourage you to visit their website for more information.