Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Category Archives: Energy

Historic Survey of Financial Services Professionals Reveals Widespread Disregard for Ethics

News release: “Labaton Sucharow LLP, which established the nation’s first practice exclusively dedicated to representing SEC whistleblowers, today announced the results of its collaborative survey with the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business: The Street, The Bull and The Crisis. The survey, the most expansive of its kind, polled more than 1,200 U.S. and UK-based financial services professionals to examine views on workplace ethics, the nexus between principles and profits, the state of industry leadership and confidence in financial regulators. With findings pointing to a continued disregard for ethical engagement and alarming new tactics to silence potential whistleblowers, the industry appears to be faltering in its reform efforts. Profits, Not Principles In one of the most concerning findings, 47 percent of total respondents feel it is likely that their competitors have engaged in illegal or unethical behavior to gain an edge. While nearly one in five professionals feels it is at least sometimes necessary for financial services professionals to engage in illegal or unethical activity in order to succeed, a full 32 percent feel compensation structures or bonus plans pressure employees to compromise ethical standards or violate the law. Of those surveyed, 27 percent don’t agree that the industry puts the interests of clients first.  How severe is the ethical breakdown? An astonishing 22 percent of respondents say they have observed or have first-hand knowledge of actual wrongdoing in the workplace. On an individual level, a quarter of those surveyed say they would likely engage in insider trading to make $10 million if there was no chance of being arrested. Employees with less than 10 years of experience are more than two times as likely to use non public information than those with over 20 years of experience, reporting 32 percent and 14 percent respectively. “Most disappointing is the lack of change in many of the results when compared to surveys from previous years. Despite significant energy and efforts, it appears we need to continue to think about how to improve the culture of ethics in the financial services industry and most likely, in other sectors as well,” said co-author Ann Tenbrunsel, Ph.D., David E. Gallo Professor of Business Ethics at the Mendoza College of Business and a co-author of Blind Spots: Why We Fail to Do What’s Right and What to Do about It.” Secrecy Agreements Mask a Corrupt Culture – Perhaps the most disturbing findings relate to efforts to stifle reports of misconduct. Despite the unwaivable right to report potential wrongdoing to law enforcement, and the federal government’s public effort to identify and punish organizations that illegally attempt to silence employees, a shocking 16 percent of those polled say their company’s confidentiality policies and procedures prohibit reporting potential illegal or unethical activities directly to law enforcement. One out of every 10 respondents report they have signed or have been asked to sign a confidentiality agreement that specifically prohibits reporting potential illegal or unethical activities directly to law enforcement. For those who make over $500,000 annually, that number rises to 25 percent. Of the total sample, 19 percent feel it is likely that their employer would retaliate against them for reporting wrongdoing.  “When corporate whistleblowers are prohibited, discouraged or retaliated against for reporting crime to cops, we should all be scared—very scared,” said Jordan A. Thomas, Chair of the Whistleblower Representation Practice at Labaton Sucharow and co-author of the report. “The widespread, systematic and previously unknown scope of gag orders in Corporate America is a wake-up call for the SEC and other law enforcement authorities. These tactics are particularly insidious because they keep local, state and federal law enforcement organizations in the dark about all types of wrongdoing—everything from large-scale corporate frauds, environmental accidents and public safety concerns.”

EIA China Country Analysis Brief

China is the world’s most populous country with a fast-growing economy that has led it to be the largest energy consumer and producer in the world. Rapidly increasing energy demand, especially for petroleum and other liquids, has made China influential in world energy markets. China is the world’s second-largest consumer of oil and moved fromContinue Reading

The City Energy Efficiency Scorecard

“Mayors and local lawmakers in America’s largest cities continue to take innovative steps to lower energy costs for consumers and businesses, increase their resilience, and reduce pollution through increased energy efficiency, according to the 2nd edition of the City Energy Efficiency Scorecard, released today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).  Available onlineContinue Reading

2015 Cars Gain MPGs, CAFE Goals in Reach if Gains Continue

“According to a new Consumer Federation of America analysis of 1,163 of this year’s new vehicles, fuel efficiency continues to increase for 2015 on a model by model basis. However, individual car company fleets, are backsliding on their overall fuel economy performance. From 2014 to 2015, the percent of vehicles with an Environmental Protection AgencyContinue Reading

Energy Report – Home Idle Load

Natural Resources Defense Council – Devices Wasting Huge Amounts of Electricity When Not in Active Use “Always-on” energy use by inactive appliances, electronics and miscellaneous electrical devices translates to $19 billion a year — about $165 per U.S. household on average. The average always-on load uses the same amount of electricity as brewing 234 cupsContinue Reading

EIA’s CBECS – nation’s only comprehensive survey of commercial buildings

“The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) is the only nationally representative source of statistical information on energy-related characteristics, consumption, and expenditures for the nation’s 5.6 million commercial buildings totaling 87 billion square feet of floor space. Building characteristics information from the 2012 survey is being released in stages through theContinue Reading

How Is NOAA Preparing for Future Oil Spills?

NOAA: “Crude oil production from North Dakota’s Bakken region has more than quadrupled [PDF] since 2010, and responders must be prepared for spills involving this lighter oil (note: not all oils are the same). Bakken crude oil is highly flammable and evaporates quickly in the open air. Knowing the chemistry of this oil can helpContinue Reading

U.S. Climate Change Policy

Directorate-General for Internal Policies (EU)  – U.S. Climate Change Policy – April 2015 “This document reviews and updates the previous 2013 report providing an overview of the climate change policy in the United States. Starting with the emissions trend it then make some general remarks about policy making in the U.S. before entering into concreteContinue Reading

CRS Report – Civilian Nuclear Waste Disposal

Civilian Nuclear Waste Disposal, Mark Holt, Specialist in Energy Policy. April 24, 2015. “Management of civilian radioactive waste has posed difficult issues for Congress since the beginning of the nuclear power industry in the 1950s. Federal policy is based on the premise that nuclear waste can be disposed of safely, but proposed storage and disposalContinue Reading

Potential Macroeconomic Impact of Unconventional Oil and Gas Boom in US

The Potential Macroeconomic Impact of the Unconventional Oil and Gas Boom in the United States, Ben Hunt; Dirk Muir; Martin Sommer. May 1. 2015. WP/15/92. “This paper uses two of the IMF’s structural macroeconomic models to estimate the potential global impact of the boom in unconventional oil and natural gas in the United States. TheContinue Reading

Study on Pollution: Long-Term Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter

Long-Term Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter, Residential Proximity to Major Roads and Measures of Brain Structure – Elissa H. Wilker, Sarah R. Preis, Alexa S. Beiser, Philip A. Wolf, Rhoda Au, Itai Kloog, Wenyuan Li, Joel Schwartz, Petros Koutrakis, Charles DeCarli, Sudha Seshadri, and Murray A. Mittleman. Stroke, 2015 DOI: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.114.008348 “Background and Purpose—Long-term exposure toContinue Reading

The Chernobyl Story – 29th Anniversary

Andrew Leatherbarrow: “At precisely 01:23:40 on the morning of April 26th, 1986, a control room operator named Alexander Akimov made his fateful decision to press the Emergency Shutdown button at Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power station. The reactor exploded, annihilating its containment building and sending a lethal cloud of radioactive particles across Europe. This unprecedented accidentContinue Reading