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Author: Clark Silcox

Fooling Around with Counterfeits: Don’t

Fooling Around with Counterfeits: Don’t

The Electrical Safety Foundation International has released its 2011 Holiday Safety Toolkit, and it deserves your attention.  In addition to valuable information about cooking safely, decorating safely, and heating your home safely, there are tips for purchasing safely including the importance of consumer attentiveness to the presence of counterfeit electrical products that are in the marketplace.  The credibility of this warning is highlighted by the fact that similar warnings are voiced Read more [...]
China reduces quotas for rare earth exports (again)

China reduces quotas for rare earth exports (again)

China's Ministry of Commerce announced second-half export quotas for rare earth materials this week.   The annual quota for all of 2011 that will be available for export, when expressed in terms of tonnage, appears to be the same as 2010.  But in reality, it is not.  Just two months ago, on May 16, 2011, China announced that ferroalloys containing 10% or more rare earth minerals by weight would be added to the quota computation for the first time.  This means Read more [...]
Rogue websites and the war on counterfeits

Rogue websites and the war on counterfeits

Over two years ago I posted a piece on this blog entitled "A Letter From the Counterfeit Wars" that exposed how counterfeiters are using bogus websites to sell poorly made, counterfeit products, in that case -- hair straighteners, to unsuspecting consumers.  Over the years, the electrical industry has seen a similar phenomenon, not on fake "branded" websites devoted to selling only counterfeit items, but primarily English-language websites in China aimed at Read more [...]
The Spill and the Energy Bill

The Spill and the Energy Bill

A New York Times editorial last Saturday called on the United States Senate to take an early lesson from the Gulf oil spill catastrophe and move comprehensive energy and pollution legislation.  This seems like a no-brainer, and Congress should complete the task of addressing energy independence comprehensively in a way that makes both fiscal and environmental sense for the nation, while promoting energy independence.  But one paragraph of the editorial recommended a Read more [...]
Taking a harder look at clean nuclear energy

Taking a harder look at clean nuclear energy

Three years ago, I heard a presentation by the head of the Nuclear Energy Institute about the history and then-current status of the nuclear energy industry in the United States. I had not previously given much thought to nuclear energy and my attitudes and biases with respect to nuclear energy were largely shaped by media reporting of the Three Mile Island Pennsylvania reactor meltdown in the 1970s and the Chernobyl, Soviet Union reactor meltdown in 1986. I also remember how difficult it was for Read more [...]
Let There Be (Incandescent) Light: A Different View

Let There Be (Incandescent) Light: A Different View

An editiorial in today's Washington Post, Let There Be (Incandescent) Light, declared, "Banning traditional light bulbs as used in private homes seems an effort in the name of environmental protection that has very little payoff."  Earlier, the author, David Henderson, a teacher of environmental ethics in the philosophy and religion department at Western Carolina University, stated and asked, "Light bulbs are a poor choice for regulation. Is there an overriding reason Read more [...]
Roadblocks to energy efficiency, mercury, and a tunafish sandwich

Roadblocks to energy efficiency, mercury, and a tunafish sandwich

A July 2009 report released by McKinsey & Company entitled Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy neatly summarizes many of the roadblocks to attaining a more energy efficient economy and highlights strategies for getting around those roadblocks.  We have known about these obstacles for awhile, and we have known about the solutions as well.  One of the obstacles cited by McKinsey is the difficulty in evaluating, measuring and verifying energy savings. Behavioral patterns Read more [...]
Stimulus, Clean Energy, and Democracy

Stimulus, Clean Energy, and Democracy

In my last blog I mentioned Tom Friedman's suggestion that clean energy policy might benefit from a less than democratic policy-making process.  My own opinion was that we did not need to throw out the Constitution for one issue, but within our constitutional framework the legislature could structure the public debate proceedings --- in rulemakings and in the courts --- so that bureaucratic and litigation delay was not the devil we forgot to deal with.  Friedman, in both Read more [...]
Let’s Not Slip on the BANANA Appeal

Let’s Not Slip on the BANANA Appeal

BANANA.  The acronym, not the fruit.  Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.  I first saw the acronym in Tom Friedman's tome to clean energy development, Hot, Flat, and Crowded (2008).  Friedman's reaction to the BANANAs:   As a democracy, we in America have increasingly become that kind of Banana republic.  We need more nuclear power, no one wants the waste stored near them. We think wind turbines could provide a huge boost to our power grid, Read more [...]
Green Claims Advisory: Coming Soon to a Marketing Department Near You

Green Claims Advisory: Coming Soon to a Marketing Department Near You

I have been thinking a lot lately about the sea change in policy and the role of government we are witnessing here in Washington with the new Administration and the current Congress.  While there is a much larger story to tell on that subject, it was a small story in today's Washington Post that caught my attention.  The FDA sent a warning letter to General Mills about marketing claims in connection with its Cheerios cereal product.  Cheerios packaging claims that by eating the Read more [...]