AM Update
7:50 am
Fri March 30, 2012

AM Update: Whole Foods Sinks 'Red-Rated' Fish, More Apple Incentives, UT Tower Darkens for Cause

Whole Foods Bans Unsustainable Seafood

Announced today and beginning on Earth Day (April 22), Whole Foods Market will no longer carry red-rated wild-caught fish, making it the first national grocer to enact such a move. 

Just what is a "red" rating? Using guidelines issued by Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium, the designation describes marine life afflicted by overfishing, or invasive fishing methods that harm surrounding species. 

Many of the usual suspects appear on the red-rated list for the Southeast region, which includes Texas: Albacore tuna, bluefin tuna, and imported shrimp. But Whole Foods will also say goodbye to mahi mahi, shark, red snapper, and tilapia – at least until those fish rebound in numbers.

County Commissioner Questions Apple Incentives

The Austin City Council signed off on an incentives package for computing giant Apple to open its Americas Operation Center here, but the deal’s not done yet.

The Texas Enterprise Fund has offered $21 million in incentives, and the city has approved tax rebates estimated at $8.6 million. Now Travis County is being asked to pitch in, but at least one commissioner has questions.

Travis County Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt issued a press release this week noting her concerns with the deal. YNN reports the county is mulling whether to offer Apple an 80 percent break on their property taxes; KXAN notes the value of the incentive as roughly $6 million.

Eckhardt says “The best ways for county government to attract and support businesses of any size are to keep taxes low, services high and infrastructure well maintained. Preferential tax treatment of wealthy corporate citizens erodes a county’s ability to do these things.”

Eckhardt names three elements that could sweeten the deal for the county: guaranteeing jobs would be largely filled by county residents, focusing on recruiting and developing disadvantaged citizens, and offering to “participate in funding the Lone Star Rail stop servicing its campus.” She noted that she had “been encouraged” in recent conversations with the company it was considering her offerings.

The Travis County Commissioners Court will consider the incentives package at their Tuesday, April 3 meeting.

UT Tower Delays Lighting

Earth Hour takes place tomorrow night starting at 8:30 p.m. In support of the event, the UT Tower will delay its lighting until midnight. 

Earth Hour is a global event hosted by the World Wildlife Fund that aims to create awareness of global energy issues and climate change. University staff and residents at home are encouraged to participate by turning off all nonessential lights. This is the third year UT has participated.