Tuesday AM November 27th, 2007

EPA holds hearing on refinery emission standards...KBR wins Canadian gasification unit contract...Sugar Land-based Imperial Sugar Company forms joint venture with Mexican sugar processor...

The Environmental Protection Agency is holding a hearing on its proposed rule for the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Petroleum Refineries today at the Hartman Park Community Center on East Avenue. The EPA sets emission standards for hazardous air pollutants—a class of 189 chemicals known or suspected of having adverse effects on health. The carcinogens Benzene and 1,3 butadiene from refinery emissions are of particular concern in the Houston area, particularly in east Houston. The EPA says the chemicals are linked to increased rates of childhood leukemia in the Ship Channel area.

KBR has been awarded a $225 million contract to construct a gasification unit in Canada, according to the Houston Business Journal. The project is for Lurgi, a subsidiary of French industrial gases company Air Liquide. KBR will fabricate about 100 modules for the Edmonton, Alberta, project, beginning next year.

Information sessions about the Louisiana Road Home program are being held in Houston through this week at the Louisiana Road Home office on West Park. Those who owned a home damaged by Hurricane Katrina or Rita can apply for assistance from the program created by Governor Kathleen Blanco, the Louisiana Recovery Authority and the Office of Community Development. The program affords eligible homeowners up to $150,000 in compensation for their losses to get back into their homes. Information is on their Web site.

Sugar Land-based Imperial Sugar Company has formed a joint venture with Mexican sugar processor Ingenios Santos, according to the Houston Business Journal, to market sugar in Mexico. Imperial says the deal, which includes sugar produced in Mexico or imported from the U.S., is made possible by the full implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement on January 1st.

A survey by ExecuNet reveals that retention strategies designed to reduce voluntary executive turnover may be losing ground. According to a survey of 151 executives in the pay range of $200,000, about 76 percent report they are not satisfied or are somewhat dissatisfied with their current job. Among those unhappy at work, 75 percent are actively searching or preparing to search for a new opportunity. The top reasons for dissatisfaction include lack of challenge/personal growth, limited advancement opportunity, boss not a good match, restricted managerial responsibility and differences in culture.

The American Staffing Association says staffing industry employment was at an all-time high in the third quarter, according to the Houston Business Journal, growing to an average of about 3.1 million jobs. That's 2.3 percent higher than in the same period last year.

Houston-based Savage Design Group has changed its name to Savage. The 34-year-old firm specializes in branding and corporate design.

Michael Gaertner worried he could lose his company. A group called the Business Software Alliance had written him to claim that his ten-person architectural firm in Galveston was using unlicensed software. The letter demanded $67,000 or else the BSA would seek more in court. That amount of money represents most of one year's profit at Gaertner's firm. An analysis by the Associated Press reveals that targeting small businesses is a lucrative strategy for the Business Software Alliance. That's the main global copyright-enforcement watchdog for such companies as Microsoft, Adobe Systems and Symantec. Of the $13 million that the BSA reaped in software violation settlements with North American companies last year, the AP found that almost 90 percent came from small businesses. The BSA is well within its rights to wring expensive punishments aimed at stopping the willful, blatant software copying that undoubtedly happens in many businesses. And its leaders say they concentrate on small businesses because that's where illegitimate use of software is rampant. But technology managers and software consultants say the picture has more shades of gray than the BSA acknowledges. Companies of all sizes say they inadvertently run afoul of licensing rules because of problems the software industry itself has created. Unable or unwilling to create technological blocks against copying, the industry has saddled its customers with complex licensing agreements that are hard to master.

Tags: News


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