Top Nuclear Stories (Nov. 20th – 24st)

radbullNot alot of news, but what did hit was quite important. My entire website and library was also hit last night by hackers and deleted.  Fortunately everything was backed up!

The most important news is probably the story out of Nevada that Senator Reid believes he has agreements with Obama to kill Yucca Mountain!  Groups have filed suit on Calvert Cliff 3.

And quite a few stories on energy policy.  All Yours!

Top Nuclear Stories Index

Reactors Safety NRC Fuel Cycle N-Waste
Policy Weapons DOE Energy News OpEd


Nuclear Reactor News

CA nuke plant on two fault lines – SFBG Politics Blog
Ahh, a Friday afternoon toast to science. PG&E announced today that its Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power plant is actually situated on two seismically sensitive faults, not just the one previously identified in the 1970s when the plant was sited and built. The new fault is thought to be smaller than the other fault off the plant’s coastline, the Hosgri fault, but it is closer to shore. The new fault is less than a mile offshore while the Hosgri fault is about three miles offshore, according to a story in the San Luis Obispo Tribune. / UK – Sheffield manufacturer hopes to forge £30m nuclear future
Ministers are close to giving the green light to a financial package of up to £30m which would enable a Sheffield manufacturer to build a giant machine vital to the construction of a new series of nuclear reactors.

The machine that Forgemasters wants to build is called an open-die press, capable of pressing down on metal with a force of about 15,000 tonnes, making it among the most powerful machines of this type ever built.

VY impact on state economy is vast, reports consultant – Brattleboro Reformer
If Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is closed down in 2012, the economic impact on Vermont will be immense, wrote a consultant hired to conduct one of many reviews for the state to inform the Public Service Board and the state Legislature in their decisions on whether the plant should continue operation to 2032.

Jacob Thomas, a project manager for GDS Associates, Inc., analyzed government revenues and burdens, impacts through economic activity of the plant and potential ratepayer benefits through revenue-sharing and discounted price alternatives.

Critics challenge nuclear reactor’s licensing | The Tennessean
The electric industry’s effort to fast-track a new design for nuclear reactors has triggered complaints about transparency and questions about the suitability of a TVA site in Alabama.

Just over a year ago, the Tennessee Valley Authority, backed by a consortium of other electric utilities, applied for a license to build along the Tennessee River the first of a new generation of nuclear reactors.

But the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has raised questions about TVA’s environmental assessment of the Bellefonte site about 100 miles southeast of Nashville, saying the power producer’s flooding studies couldn’t be verified.

And environmental and anti-nuclear advocates have launched a challenge with the NRC to the licensing process, saying that the commission should halt review because the never-built reactor proposed for this and other sites is still undergoing design changes.

Reliant and NRG silent on possible merger – Houston Chronicle
NRG Energy and Reliant Energy remain mum about a report this week that NRG may buy Reliant’s retail electric business, but that hasn’t stopped analysts from discussing the pros, cons and possible motives for such a move.

According to, an online energy industry news site, senior NRG executives expressed interest in buying the Reliant business during an investor dinner at a financial conference in Phoenix last week. The report cited unidentified “market watchers.”

Public Citizen – National and Maryland Groups File Legal Challenges to Proposed Calvert Cliffs-3 Atomic Reactor

MarylandDoesn’t Need a $10 Billion Radioactive Boondoggle, Groups Say

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Four environmental organizations filed a legal challenge late Wednesday against the proposed Calvert Cliffs-3 atomic reactor before the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The filing, which is a formal petition to intervene in the NRC’s licensing process, marks the latest action in an ongoing fight to stop the proposed reactor before construction starts.

The challenge asserts that the Calvert Cliffs project runs afoul of laws and regulations that prohibit foreign ownership or domination of a U.S. reactor; that the company  UniStar Nuclear, a subsidiary of Constellation Energy and Electricite de France  does not have adequate assurance that it will have the funds necessary to decontaminate and decommission the facility; that the license application does not consider the cumulative effects of adding yet another nuclear reactor’s radioactive and chemical discharges to a Chesapeake Bay already groaning under the effects of discharges from 11 atomic reactors; and that the proposed reactor does not have any place to put either its high-level or low-level radioactive waste.

Earthquake fault discovered offshore of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant – Breaking News – San Luis Obispo
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. says the presence of the fault was discovered using new computer programming that maps epicenters

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. officials announced today that they have discovered a new earthquake fault offshore of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The presence of the fault was discovered using new computer programming that allows geologists to better map the epicenters of the many small magnitude earthquakes in the area, said Lloyd Cluff, head of PG&E’s earthquake risk management program, in a summary sent to the California Energy Commission earlier this week.

Let’s get on with building new nuclear plants, says British Energy chief |
The country should press ahead with building a new generation of atomic power stations as part of a nuclear “new deal” to suck in investment and create jobs, British Energy said today.

The company, which runs most of the UK’s fleet of reactors and which reported a 50% slump in profits today, has held talks with local communities around four possible sites.

AFP: Spanish police detain 30 at Greenpeace nuclear power plant protest
Police in Spain detained 30 Greenpeace activists Thursday who had blocked the entrance to the country’s oldest nuclear power station which the environmental group is urging the government to close, the group said.

Sixty protesters, wearing bright yellow raincoats, gathered outside the entrance Garona power plant, located some 350 kilometres (220 miles) north of Madrid, just before dawn, according to Spanish television.

Lawmakers get a nuclear history lesson | The Burlington Free Press
Linda Waite-Simpson, a newly elected legislator from Essex Junction, has not been sworn in, doesn’t have an assigned seat in the House chamber and doesn’t know what committee she’ll be serving on.

Waite-Simpson, a Democrat, nonetheless had her first legislative briefing Wednesday. For four hours, she and other lawmakers learned about the region’s electric grid, the history of the state’s only nuclear power plant and their upcoming role in deciding its future.

Women oppose relicensing plant | Asbury Park Press
The League of Women Voters of Ocean County has voted to oppose the relicensing of the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in Lacey.

Blanche R. Krubner, the organization’s president, appeared before the Ocean County Board of Freeholders on Wednesday to express safety concerns over the oldest operating commercial nuclear reactor in the country. She called on the freeholders to also be more vocal about its future.

At immediate issue for the League is whether a corroded steel radiation barrier is safe enough for the plant to resume operation and continue operating until its next scheduled inspection in 2012. Officials for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission contend it is.

Two Nuclear Agency Officials Sentenced To Five Years In Jail Each : Harian Berita Sore
Two officials of the Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency (Bapeten) had been sentenced to five years in jail each by the Supreme Court in a mark-up price of a plot of land in Puncak area, Bogor district, for the building of a Bapetan education and training center.

The two officials are project officer of the project and infrastructure director Sugiyo Prasojo and bureau chief of general affairs Hieronimus Abdul Salam. The sentence was read by the judge here on Tuesday. Sugiyo and Hieronimus were also fined Rp200 million (about US$16,800) each.


Nuclear Health and Safety News

Feds won’t accept exposure data that could help ailing Rocky Flats workers : Deadly Denial : The Rocky Mountain News
The federal government has failed to act on information that could help sick and dying Rocky Flats workers – or their survivors, the Rocky Mountain News has learned.

A year ago, the Rocky reported that Colorado officials have data showing thousands of Flats workers were exposed to the type of radiation that was supposed to automatically qualify them for medical care and compensation if they developed certain cancers. At the time, federal officials dismissed the data as nothing new.

Mururoa o tatou welcomes nuclear tests compensation plan
French Polynesia’s nuclear test veterans’ group, Mururoa o tatou, has welcomed news that the French government plans to introduce a law to set up a compensation fund for those suffering poor health as a result of the French nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific.

Such a law is expected to be tabled early next year and could pave the way for France to recognise a causal link between the tests and the prevalence of conditions such as thyroid cancer.

X-ray boosts breast cancer risk – study
A new study published in the Dec 2008 issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment suggests that early exposure to x-ray may be a risk factor for breast cancer in BRCA1 carriers.

The study found women with a BRCA mutation ever receiving a chest x-ray before age 30 were at an 80 percent increased risk of breast cancer compared to those with the mutation.

Gronwald J and colleagues of International Hereditary Cancer Center, Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin, Poland examined if there is an adverse effect of early chest x-rays on breast cancer risk in women with breast cancer susceptibility gene 1 or BRCA1.

Keeping Presidents in the Nuclear Dark (Episode #1: The Case of the Missing Permissive Action Links) – Bruce G. Blair, Ph.D.
Last month I asked Robert McNamara, the secretary of defense during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, what he believed back in the 1960s was the status of technical locks on the Minuteman intercontinental missiles. These long-range nuclear-tipped missiles first came on line during the Cuban missile crisis and grew to a force of 1,000 during the McNamara years the backbone of the U.S. strategic deterrent through the late 1960s. McNamara replied, in his trade-mark, assertively confident manner that he personally saw to it that these special locks (known to wonks as “Permissive Action Links) were installed on the Minuteman force, and that he regarded them as essential to strict central control and preventing unauthorized launch.

Lightning strike shuts down two nuke reactors | The Japan Times
Lightning struck an electric power cable Thursday at the nuclear plant in Mihama, Fukui Prefecture, automatically shutting down operations at two reactors and causing a small amount to nonradioactive steam to leak inside one of them, prefectural officials said.

A false alarm for a sodium coolant leak occurred at the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, at about the same time, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency said.

Lockheed agrees to temporarily relocate Tallevast families –
Lockheed Martin Corp. will temporarily relocate any family or individual in Tallevast who wants to leave town while two buildings that sit on a contamination spill are dismantled, company spokesman Tom Greer announced Wednesday.

So far, 35 households have asked to be relocated and Lockheed is paying to move them into local hotels that offer extended stay accommodations, Greer said.

Greer estimated that the dismantling of the two buildings should be complete by Christmas, and then the families are expected to return to their Tallevast homes.

The contamination has been traced back to a spill at the former Loral American Beryllium plant at 1600 Tallevast Road

allAfrica: Nigeria: U.S., Govt Searching for Missing Nuclear, Radioactive Sources
The Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA) and the United State Embassy in Abuja are collaborating to search for nuclear and radioactive substances scattered in the country. US Ambassador to Nigeria, Robin Renee Sanders yesterday donated nuclear radiation detection equipment to the Nigerian government worth $100,000 (about N1.1billion) to search for the sources.

Evidence Of Many More Radioactive Particles Near Beach (Herald )
The number of radioactive particles from Dounreay threatening to contaminate a public beach two miles from the plant is six times greater than previously thought, according to experts.

The Dounreay Particles Advisory Group, which advises the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) on the hundreds of thousands of particles believed to have been dispersed from the Caithness plant in the early-1960s, said that around 400 or 500 particles were extending into Sandside Bay on the north coast.


NRC News

Purpose The purpose of this strategy is to articulate the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) approach to promote government-to-government relations between itself and Federally-recognized Indian tribes that have a known interest in, or may be potentially affected by, NRC’s regulation of uranium recovery facilities.

NRC – NRC Licensing Board to Webcast Portion of Hearing on Davis-Besse Enforcement Case
The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB), an independent judicial arm of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, will provide a live video stream of the first day of its hearing concerning the NRC’s Enforcement Order against former Davis-Besse employee David Geisen. The live video stream is part of an ASLB pilot program examining how information technology can enhance the public’s ability to observe the Board’s activities.

The video stream, which will be archived for 90 days, will be available at this Web site: The video, scheduled to start Dec. 8 shortly before 9:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, will be available in Windows Media and QuickTime formats.

The hearing will begin Dec. 8 at 9:30 a.m. and could last the entire week; the commencement of the hearing on subsequent days will be determined during the course of the hearing. The public may observe the proceeding in person, except for any closed sessions, in the ALSB Hearing Facility, Room T-3B45 of the agency’s Two White Flint North building, at 11545 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Md.

SNL Interactive: California: Nuclear plants may need $5.6 billion in cooling retrofits

The California Energy Commission on Nov. 20 adopted a report warning that the state’s two nuclear plants may be required to conduct more than $5.6 billion worth of cooling system retrofits if another state agency adopts regulations to outlaw the “once-through” cooling systems both plants use.

“A restriction on the use of once-through cooling in California is likely to be implemented in the future,” the report said. “If the [State Water Resources Control Board] preliminary draft policy is adopted, Diablo Canyon and [San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station] would need to either adopt closed-cycle cooling systems or reduce the negative effects of their once-through cooling systems to a level comparable to the effects of a closed-cycle system.”

NRC – NRC Approves License Renewal for Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant for an Additional 20 years
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the operating license renewal of the Wolf Creek Generating Station in Kansas for an additional 20 years.

The Wolf Creek nuclear power plant is located about 4 miles northeast of Burlington, Kans. The operator, Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp., submitted its license renewal application Sept. 27, 2006. With the renewal, the license is extended until March 11, 2045.

The NRC’s environmental review for this license renewal is described in a site-specific supplement to the NRC’s “Generic Environmental Impact Statement for License Renewal of Nuclear Power Plants” (NUREG-1437, Supplement 32), issued in May. The review concluded there were no environmental impacts that would preclude renewal of the license for environmental reasons. Public meetings to discuss the environmental review were held near the plant Dec. 19, 2006, and Nov. 8, 2007.


Nuclear Fuel Cycle News

BBC NEWS | UK | Nuclear clean-up’s £22bn contract
An international consortium is signing a multi-billion pound contract to clean up the Sellafield nuclear plant.

Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) is taking over the shares in Sellafield Ltd formerly held by BNFL.

The £22bn contract, which promises improved performance and efficiency, is expected to last up to 17 years. The deal is being struck on Monday.

The Nuclear Push: Mining lobby wants uranium ban lifted | The Dominion
Mining lobby wants uranium ban lifted

HANTS COUNTY, NOVA SCOTIA As the global demand for energy increases and resources dwindle, a collusion of provincial government and extractive industry officials are pushing to establish a uranium mining industry in rural Nova Scotia through a “voluntary planning process.

The Mining Association of Nova Scotia (TMANS), whose board of directors represents a variety of mining companies, has been promoting an end to the 1982 moratorium on uranium mining in the province.

Independent: Hearing draws mostly pro-uranium speakers
About 175 people showed up Thursday night in Grants to the public hearing on the proposed exploratory drilling project in Marquez Canyon by Neutron Energy, Inc. The crowd was overwhelmingly in support of the project and a revival of the uranium mining industry.

The meeting was part of the permitting requirements of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, Mining and Minerals Division.

BBC NEWS | BNFL is history as consortium steps in
In a grand old house on the outskirts of Whitehaven in Cumbria, a small team of international managers are preparing to take on the task of cleaning up the most intricate nuclear complex in the world.

Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) – a consortium representing companies from the US, France and the UK – has been awarded a multi-billion pound contract that could turn into the biggest procurement deal ever signed by the UK government.

Nuclear Management Partners are taking charge of Sellafield

The task ahead: to sort out the mess left behind after more than half a century of nuclear energy and weapons production at Sellafield.

ALP shift in nuclear minefield :
If you were to strap a lie detection unit on senior Federal Labor MPs and start asking them about nuclear power you’d undoubtedly get some interesting results.

You’d probably find that some senior members of the Federal Cabinet and many backbenchers are not as ideologically opposed to the idea of a domestic nuclear energy industry as their public statements suggest.

People such as Kevin Rudd and Martin Ferguson would be able to launch arguments about the prohibitive economics of nuclear power without disturbing the polygraph, but their vital signs might quiver if they swore blind they were against it.

Ranger reassessing procedures after radiation scare (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
An independent radiation safety expert from Queensland, who was called in to speak to Ranger uranium mine employees this week about exposure levels, says management is reassessing its procedures.

The mine’s union expressed concern after a dirty clean up job at the mine three weeks ago.

Uranium enricher LES to double capacity of New Mexico plant
Uranium enricher Louisiana Energy Services on Friday said it plans to increase the capacity of its National Enrichment Facility in New Mexico to 5.9 million separative work units, a standard measure of enrichment, nearly double the original plan of 3 million SWU. The plant is currently under construction. In a press statement, LES, a Urenco subsidiary, said that with the expanded capacity, the plant would be able to provide the equivalent of about 50% of US enrichment demand. The total investment in the plant is now expected to be more than $3 billion, LES said.

NBC Newschannel 6 – DOE Wants Public Comment on Plan to Recycle Nuclear Fuels
The United States Department of Energy wants nuclear power to be a part of our country’s strategy, when it comes to supplying Americans with energy.

There have been public hearings all over the country about the D.O.E.’s latest draft proposal. Thursday night there was a meeting in Idaho Falls.

Chadron Record: Teahon says uranium mine highly regulated, safe
Larry Teahon, manager of health safety and environmental affairs for Cameco Resources’ Crow Butte Operation near Crawford, touted the benefits of uranium mining during the fall’s final installment of the Graves Lecture Series at Chadron State College on Tuesday, Nov. 11.\n Teahon, who is one of 12 employees at the mine who focus on safety, said safety and environmental safety are two of Cameco’s foremost values. He also said the company works to support communities and make money for its shareholders.

Cumberland News: New Sellafield firm exempt from Freedom of Information laws
The new operators of Sellafield are to be exempt from Freedom of Information (FOI) laws, it has been revealed.

Energy and climate change secretary Ed Miliband has ruled that Nuclear Management Partners (NMP), a US-led consortium that will take control of the site on Monday, will not be subject to the legislation.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) said the decision was taken because NMP is a private company.

Uranium contamination concerns at Ranger (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
The Australian Conservation Foundation says another contamination incident at the Ranger uranium mine should stop the Fed and NT Governments from allowing the operation to expand.

Mining company, ERA has admitted several workers were contaminated clearing up a big yellow cake spill three weeks ago.

Earlier this week, it announced a new possible 30,000 tonne deposit.


Nuclear Waste News

The Daily Observer – AECL making plans for new radioactive waste storage system in Chalk River
Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. has started work on the next generation of above-ground radioactive waste storage systems.

While still in the preliminary-design stage, the New Dry Storage System will be used to safely store spent fuel rods and other waste generated at its Chalk River site until such a time as it can be permanently disposed.

Brodie Whitelaw, project leader, said the project is just getting started, with a preliminary design expected to be completed next year. Ideally, construction for the facility would start in 2013, with it becoming operational in 2015.

EnergySolutions Signs Agreement to Dispose of Large Components – MarketWatch
EnergySolutions, Inc. today announced it has signed a contract with a major east coast nuclear utility company to package, transport and dispose of eight retired steam generators from its site, a project valued at $23.8 million.

EnergySolutions worked together with its customer to identify and secure an appropriate funding mechanism for the disposal of these large components that does not rely on NRC-regulated decommissioning trust funds. The state utilities commission approved the use of funds from a decommissioning trust fund under its purview for this project.

Owen Sound Sun Times – Nothing found to stop radioactive waste plan
Ontario Power Generation is halfway through the drilling and geological studies for its Deep Geologic Repository project and nothing has been found so far to stop the project.

Less waste, but landfill still key for EnergySolutions – Salt Lake Tribune
EnergySolutions Inc. is burying fewer trainloads of radioactive waste in its Tooele County landfill these days. But the site remains a critical asset to the multinational business, according to recent papers filed with federal regulators.

Officials of the Salt Lake City-based nuclear waste company underscored the site’s value in a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The mile-square site accounted for about 14.2 percent of company revenues last year and 7.4 percent this year, they said in the Nov. 13 earnings report. – Demise of Yucca project predicted
President-elect Barack Obama and Sen. Harry Reid have had several discussions about the Yucca Mountain Project since the election, with Reid saying this week the nuclear waste burial plan will “bleed real hard” before being halted.

Reid said the most recent conversation, covering the waste repository program and other issues, took place Tuesday.

He declined to give details, but hinted that the plan to bury 77,000 tons of highly radioactive material in Nevada could die a slow and painful death.

Potential Consequences of a Successful Sabotage Attack on a Spent Fuel Shipping Container
Prepared for the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects
Marvin Resnikoff, Ph.D. and Jackie Travers Radioactive Waste Management Associates

PDF – 33 pages

#14 Mainstreaming Nuclear Waste | Project Censored
Radioactive materials from nuclear weapons production sites are being dumped into regular landfills, and are available for recycling and resale. The Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) has tracked the Department of Energy’s (DOE) release of radioactive scrap, concrete, equipment, asphalt, chemicals, soil, and more, to unaware and unprepared recipients such as landfills, commercial businesses, and recreation areas. Under the current system, the DOE releases contaminated materials directly, sells them at auctions or through exchanges, or sends the materials to processors who can release them from radioactive controls. The recycling of these materials—for reuse in the production of everyday household and personal items such as zippers, toys, furniture, and automobiles, or to build roads, schools, and playground is increasingly common.

The NIRS report, “Out of Control on Purpose: DOE’s Dispersal of Radioactive Waste into Landfills and Consumer Products,  tracks the laws, methods, and justifications used by the DOE to expedite the mandatory cleanup of the environmental legacy being created by the nation’s nuclear weapons program and government-sponsored nuclear energy research. One of the largest and most technically complex environmental cleanup programs in the world, the effort includes cleanup of 114 sites across the country to be completed by the end of 2008.

NV official challenges ethics complaint – Las Vegas Sun
Attorneys for a state official facing a Nevada Ethics Commission hearing into allegations that he gave himself and his staff unauthorized pay increases say he acted properly and didn’t seek “unwarranted advantages” for himself.

Attorneys Judy Sheldrew and Tom Perkins made the comments in a formal response to the accusations against Bob Loux, who recently resigned as head of the agency fighting federal plans for a nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain. He’s staying on until a replacement is selected.


Nuclear Policy News

Coleman pushes nuclear power in visit to Big Lake
Sen. Norm Coleman says the U.S. needs to catch up with advances in nuclear power technology and build more plants.

The Republican senator says nuclear power would reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and help combat global warming because it doesn’t produce emissions.

FR: President: executive order with UAE on nuclear energy
Proposed Agreement for Cooperation Between the Government of the United States of America And the Government of the United Arab Emirates Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy

Kyiv Post» Yuschenko opposes privatization of Turboatom
President Viktor Yuschenko opposes privatization of the Turboatom turbine company (Kharkiv), the largest turbine manufacturer in Ukraine.

Yuschenko announced this on November 19 at a meeting with employees of Turboatom.

“We will not give the factory to anyone. It is an enterprise that is operating successfully,” said Yuschenko.


Nuclear Weapons News

Meeting the Challenges of 2025 – by Gordon Prather
The previous Clinton-Gore administrations  acting at the behest of various well-funded groups of activists in this country and the complicit Best Congress Money Can Buy attempted to convert various regimes (Muslim and otherwise) in other nation-states to regimes more sympathetic to those activists’ beliefs.

First, by the imposition of sanctions. And if that didn’t work, by bombing them from 20,000 feet.

BBC NEWS | US global dominance ‘set to wane’
US economic, military and political dominance is likely to decline over the next two decades, according to a new US intelligence report on global trends.

The National Intelligence Council (NIC) predicts China, India and Russia will increasingly challenge US influence.

It also says the dollar may no longer be the world’s major currency, and food and water shortages will fuel conflict.

David Cortright on the 50th Anniversary of the peace symbol, and on ideas in his celebrated new book, PEACE: A History of Movements and Ideas (Cambridge University Press 2008) – Peace and Collaborative Development Network
Can the theories of peace address current global conflicts and counter terrorism?

Can we use the lessons of peace to counter nuclear proliferation?

What is realistic pacifism?

It is fitting that in a year celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the peace symbol, veteran scholar and peace activist David Cortright offers a definitive history of the human striving for peace and an analysis of its religious and intellectual roots. This balanced and highly readable volume also explores the underlying principles of peace–nonviolence, democracy, social justice, and human rights–all placed within a framework of “realistic pacifism.” Peace brings the story up-to-date by examining opposition to the Iraq War and responses to the so-called “war on terror.” This is history with a modern twist, set in the context of current debates about ‘the responsibility to protect, Darfur, nuclear proliferation, and conflict transformation. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan calls PEACE, “A hopeful but realistic book that deserves to be read and studied widely.” Bishop Desmond Tutu calls it “an exploration of the essential principles and practical means of preventing war and resolving conflict without violence.” Father Theodore Hesburgh, C.M.C., calls PEACE “A crowning achievement.”

GOV: Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions in Iran
1. On 15 September 2008, the Director General reported to the Board of Governors on the implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007) and 1803 (2008) in the Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran) (GOV/2008/38). On 27 September 2008, the Security Council adopted resolution 1835 (2008) on the same matter. This report covers relevant developments since September 2008.

Missile-defense advocates on edge – Jen DiMascio –
Missile defense advocates are scrambling to shield a system proposed for Eastern Europe from budget cuts or delays in the Obama administration.

During the Bush administration, the plan to place missile interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic to protect Europe against possible missile attacks from Iran has enjoyed the Pentagon’s full support.

But the road hasn’t been smooth. Russia has been outraged by missile defense plans, and it has and pledged to move missiles closer to Poland if the United States proceeds.

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Newsletter

Barack Obama’s missile defense challenge
Stabilizing U.S. stabilization and reconstruction efforts abroad
Acting to educate life scientists
The need for an Arab presence in international negotiations with Iran
The security benefits of a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty
Can the U.S. military move to renewable fuels?


Department of Energy News

State, US in dispute over Rocky Flats data –
State and federal officials are in a dispute over data that could determine whether some former workers at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant are eligible for benefits if they develop certain cancers.

The Rocky Mountain News reported Monday that federal officials haven’t acted on information gathered by a state health department researcher that could make some of the workers automatically eligible.

Senators prepare to tutor Obama on Hanford| Tri-City Herald
Six months ago, then Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama told a crowd in Pendleton he wasn’t familiar with the Hanford nuclear reservation and didn’t have a clue what was going on there.

The comment caused a stir in the Tri-Cities and set off alarm bells with the state’s two Democratic senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.

It remains unclear whether the former community organizer from the south side of Chicago who spent three years in the Senate and is now the president-elect has learned anything about the $2 billion-a-year Hanford cleanup or the long-standing commitment from the federal government to clean up one of the most toxic sites on Earth.

knoxnews | The DOE cleanup dilemma, Oak Ridge and elsewhere

Big cleanup projects at Dept. of Energy sites, including those (such as Oak Ridge) with roots that go back to the Manhattan Project or the rush-to-build bombs 1950s and ’60s, are often sabotaged by their sheer size and scope.

As such, with their enormous price tags, they often get put on a slow track because of the raucous competition for dollars in the federal budget. In turn, these cleanup tasks become harder over time, because buildings deteriorate and pollutants migrate and so for and so on. Even the best of efforts to monitor and maintain can’t equal the forces of Mother Nature, and the situation gets worse.

GAO Report: Department of Energy Needs to Strengthen Its Independent Oversight of Nuclear Facilities and Operations
HSS falls short of fully meeting GAO’s elements of effective independent oversight of nuclear safety: independence, technical expertise, ability to perform reviews and have findings effectively addressed, enforcement, and public access to facility information. For example, HSS’s ability to function independently is limited because it has no role in reviewing the “safety basis a technical analysis that helps ensure safe design and operation of these facilities for new high-hazard nuclear facilities and because it has no personnel at DOE sites to provide independent safety observations. In addition, although HSS conducts periodic site inspections and identifies deficiencies that must be addressed, there are gaps in its inspection schedule and it lacks useful information on the status of the safety basis of all nuclear facilities. For example, HSS was not aware that 31 of the 205 facilities did not have a safety basis that meets requirements established in 2001. Finally, while HSS uses its authority to enforce nuclear safety requirements, its actions have not reduced the occurrence of over one-third of the most commonly reported violations in the last 3 years, although this is a priority for HSS.

knoxnews |After 15,700 truckloads, Witherspoon cleanup nears end
Four years after cleanup work began at the notorious David Witherspoon scrap operations in the Vestal community of South Knoxville, the job is almost done. That’s the word from Bechtel Jacobs Co., the Dept. of Energy’s environmental contractor.

So far, about 235,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and debris have been removed from two Witherspoon sites off Maryville Pike and hauled to Oak Ridge for disposal at DOE’s nuclear landfill. Bechtel Jacobs spokesman Dennis Hill said that’s enough to cover a football field (including the end zones) to a depth of 100 feet.

Bechtel Jacobs said work should be completed in early 2009, possibly as early as January.


Other Energy News

Efficiency & renewables | Energy Bulletin

The American Physical Society has just released a report on improving energy efficiency in the transportation and buildings sector:

Energy = Future Think Efficiency

There are links from the above to an Executive Summary and the full report (100 page PDF). This is not just a “change your light bulbs” document, but rather a comprehensive, information-filled challenge to the status quo with regards to government inaction with regards to energy conservation. It is also not a document on energy production and future difficulties in being able to do enough of this to keep the lights on — even with better efficiency. But it is well worth a read, with lots of data on energy use and great graphics.

New Energy Economy: Part 3, The Next Transition Team
Barack Obama has created a top-notch team to guide his transition into the White House (see Obama fills key posts on environment, energy teams). Next, he should create a team to guide America’s transition to a new energy economy.

I’m not talking about the prestigious group of economic advisors Obama already has assembled to help him identify solutions to the economic meltdown. I’m talking about a team that includes experts in sustainable energy technologies, climate mitigation and adaptation, capital investment, state and local government, business, industry and labor.

Knowledge gaps hinder energy-efficient building transition: ENN
Technology to deliver “dramatic” cuts in emissions already exists, but knowledge gaps and old habits mean progress in being made “at a snail’s pace,” argues the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in a new report.

Energy savings in buildings could deliver larger CO2 cuts than the entire emissions of the transport sector based on 2050 projections, says the global business association in the latest progress report for its ‘Energy Efficiency in Buildings’ project.

Peak Energy: Electricity from Waste Heat
Technology Review has an article on a new system from Ener-G-Rotors which harvests energy from low temperature waste heat – Electricity from Waste Heat.

Factories, data centers, power plants–even your clothes dryer–throw off waste heat that could be a useful source of energy. But most existing heat-harvesting technologies are efficient only at temperatures above 150 C, and much waste heat just isn’t that hot. Now Ener-G-Rotors, based in Schenectady, NY, is developing technology that can use heat between 65 and 150 C.

Peak Energy: Low Temperature Geothermal Power
The ABC recently had a report on plans to power north-west Queensland with low temperature geothermal power using hot water from the Great Artesian Basin.

A Brisbane-based company says it could supply geothermal power to all of north-west Queensland. Clean Energy Australasia wants to build a $50 million geothermal power station near Longreach. But it has now also revealed plans to build a pilot geothermal project near BHP’s Cannington mine at McKinlay, south of Cloncurry. The company’s Joe Reichman says the Mount Isa region needs about 500 megawatts of power a year and geothermal resources could easily provide that. “It’ll change the region into a powerhouse,” he said. Mr Reichman says the company has applied for federal and state government grants and has support from the major mining companies in the region. If the projects proceed they would be the first geothermal power plants in Australia.

Peak Energy: The Clean Energy Economy
Technology Review has a post on the benefits and challenges facing a new clean energy economy – The Clean Energy Economy: A New Industrial Revolution Rising From Challenging Times.

In the last five years, many venture capitalists (myself included) have committed to backing entrepreneurs who aspire to build the next generation of clean energy companies that will endure. Thousands of companies have formed to harness alternative forms of energy like wind, solar and biofuels; and to reduce man’s carbon footprint. Billions of dollars have been poured into this fledgling entrepreneurial ecosystem with the vision of creating significant wealth, millions of jobs, and energy security for our nation.

When the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was passed, entrepreneurs focused on the communications sector, and within a decade companies like Google, Yahoo and EBay became household names and changes heretofore unseen since the Industrial Revolution occurred. It’s time for another Industrial Revolution, fueled by clean energy.

No electricity? Island now energy independent –
Energy independence is still only a hypothetical goal for the U.S., but the owner of a tiny island off the coast of Connecticut says he has already achieved that feat and is offering his work as a model.

Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway and numerous medical devices, jokingly refers to his North Dumpling Island as an independent nation and himself as Lord Dumpling. Kamen claims to have his own currency and offers visas to visitors to the tiny island a few miles from Mystic, where he is the only resident.

Energy: How low can you go? – Times Online
To take the heat out of global warming we must take radical action, learning to live on half the energy we currently consume. John-Paul Flintoff tries the low-watt diet.

The Washington Independent» EPA Moves to Ease Pollution Rules
The Environmental Protection Agency seems on the brink of issuing a new regulation that would make it easier for power plants to operate longer hours — and emit more pollution.

Under the proposed rule, power plants would be able to measure their rate of emissions on an hourly basis instead of their annual total output. As long as the hourly emissions stay at or below the plant’s established maximum, the plant would be treated as if it were operating cleanly even if its total annual emissions increased as plant managers stepped up output.

Under the current policy, power plants that seek to operate longer must install pollution-control equipment. The proposed rule, expected to be finalized in the next two weeks, would increase the life span of older power plants without owners having to install costly new pollution-control equipment.

Robert Redford: Americans Rejected ‘Drill, Baby, Drill’ — Bush Should Respect Our Choice
Part of the change Americans just voted for in overwhelming numbers was to move away from the failed energy philosophy of “drill, baby, drill” to a more farsighted strategy, emphasized by Barack Obama, based on clean, renewable energy and efficiency. Yet on the very day that we raised our voices for change, the Bush administration dragged us in the opposite direction.

The Bureau of Land Management cynically chose November 4 to announce a last-minute plan to lease huge swaths of majestic wilderness in eastern Utah for oil and gas extraction one month before President-elect Obama takes office.

Coal power projects on hold over CO2 – Climate Change-
The fate of scores of new coal-burning power plants is now in limbo over whether to regulate heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

The uncertainty resulted when an Environmental Protection Agency appeals panel on Thursday rejected a federal permit for a Utah plant, leaving the issue for the Obama administration to resolve.

Can Renewable Energy Be Sustained?
Engineers and entrepreneurs are rushing to explore alternative sources of efficient and renewable energy in New Jersey and elsewhere in the country. A Rutgers School of Business—Camden professor has strong words of caution as projects involving wind farms and photovoltaic cells proliferate.

Solar panels on graves give power to Spanish town – Yahoo! News
A new kind of silent hero has joined the fight against climate change.

Santa Coloma de Gramenet, a gritty, working-class town outside Barcelona, has placed a sea of solar panels atop mausoleums at its cemetery, transforming a place of perpetual rest into one buzzing with renewable energy.

Flat, open and sun-drenched land is so scarce in Santa Coloma that the graveyard was just about the only viable spot to move ahead with its solar energy program.

The power the 462 panels produces equivalent to the yearly use by 60 homes  flows into the local energy grid for normal consumption and is one community’s odd nod to the fight against global warming.

The System Implodes: The 10 Worst Corporations of 2008 |
Constellation Energy: Nuclear Operators

Although it is too dangerous, too expensive and too centralized to make sense as an energy source, nuclear power won’t go away, thanks to equipment makers and utilities that find ways to make the public pay and pay.

Case in point: Constellation Energy Group, the operator of the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant in Maryland. When Maryland deregulated its electricity market in 1999, Constellation – like other energy generators in other states – was able to cut a deal to recover its “stranded costs” and nuclear decommissioning fees. The idea was that competition would bring multiple suppliers into the market, and these new competitors would have an unfair advantage over old-time monopoly suppliers. Those former monopolists, the argument went, had built expensive nuclear reactors with the approval of state regulators, and it would be unfair if they could not charge consumers to recover their costs. It would also be unfair, according to this line of reasoning, if the former monopolists were unable to recover the costs of decommissioning nuclear facilities.

In Maryland, the “stranded cost” deal gave Constellation (through its affiliate Baltimore Gas & Electric, BGE) the right to charge ratepayers $975 million in 1993 dollars (almost $1.5 billion in present dollars).

Deregulation meant that Constellation’s energy generating assets – including its nuclear facility at Calvert Cliffs – were free from price regulation. As a result, instead of costing Constellation, Calvert Cliffs’ market value increased.

Newsvine – A Better America Without the Automobile
Fellow Americans we must stop investing in roads, highways and parking lots. The automobile must go the way of the horse as an antiquated way of getting around. Find a better way now, before desperation forces us to do so. Let’s lead the world to a better future, not follow the status quo into pollution and sprawl.

I worked in the oil and gas exploration and production industry for 25 years. Few citizens fully understand the scope of the current oil and gas production infrastructure in this country. There are tens, if not hundreds of thousands of oil and gas wells across this country all pumping oil and gas continuously around the clock. Pipelines criss-cross the sea bottom and the landscape carrying millions of gallons of fuel, yet the domestic production meets only a fraction of the current demand for the products. No amount of domestic drilling can meet the country’s demand. This world must change its energy infrastructure and transportation systems, and America should lead the way.

Newsvine – “All wars are fought over natural resources”
Driving home from a visit to a community gardening project this controversial statement was made by the local permaculture guru. A bit over-simplified I thought to myself. Well, I’ve been keeping an eye open…

Since July 2007 I have been posting to Ecowar, a blog at Blogspot, whenever I encountered news and information supporting (or countering) the statement linking human conflict to spoils of the Earth. And I have actively sought out this type of information. Still am too.

An Alternative to the Auto Bailout |
As the Big Three US automakers ramp up their pressure on Congress to cough up $25 billion in bailout money, the absence of a long term vision for economic recovery has never been more clear.

The outgoing Bush administration and Congress are careening from bailout proposal to bailout proposal, putting hundreds of billions into the hands of the same people that created this toxic economic brew. Naomi Klein has recently detailed the horrifying parallels between the “free-fraud” zone created by the Bush administration in Iraq and the Treasury Department’s handling of the bank bailout (

As tempting as it is to offer bailout money to the US automakers in return for fleet-wide mileage reductions, changes in the mix of their fleets to include more hybrids and electric vehicles, and to support labor, it would be the wrong thing to do under current conditions. Imports from foreign automakers have backed up in American ports over the last few months and now represent roughly double the normal inventory, so the difficulties faced by automakers are not limited to US firms. US automakers, however, have additional problems because their fleets are dominated by too-large, fuel-inefficient models. That fleet makeup cannot be quickly changed.

Newsvine – A Better America Without the Automobile
Fellow Americans we must stop investing in roads, highways and parking lots. The automobile must go the way of the horse as an antiquated way of getting around. Find a better way now, before desperation forces us to do so. Let’s lead the world to a better future, not follow the status quo into pollution and sprawl.

I worked in the oil and gas exploration and production industry for 25 years. Few citizens fully understand the scope of the current oil and gas production infrastructure in this country. There are tens, if not hundreds of thousands of oil and gas wells across this country all pumping oil and gas continuously around the clock. Pipelines criss-cross the sea bottom and the landscape carrying millions of gallons of fuel, yet the domestic production meets only a fraction of the current demand for the products. No amount of domestic drilling can meet the country’s demand. This world must change its energy infrastructure and transportation systems, and America should lead the way.

Can You Really Run Your Car on Water? | DIY Vertical Wind Turbines and Solar Power Systems
Is it Possible to Increase Your Vehicle Gas Mileage Today, To Convert Your Car To Run On Water And Save Over 40% Of Fuel Cost Every Month?

The real Truth: Water can be used as a supplement to gasoline that will extend your gas millage 40% or more. In fact, using water and gas together can not only increase your vehicle’s fuel efficiently it can improve emissions quality, and save you money. Check out the video below to see how you can run your car on water.

Recent Announcements Will Spark Electric Car Sales – Seeking Alpha
The last couple of days have given us major announcements of electric car infrastructure projects.

As the keynote speaker at the L.A. Auto Show, Nissan (NSANY) CEO Carlos Ghosn announced a partnership with the Oregon Transportation Department and Portland General Electric to install charging stations around the state. Nissan will provide a fleet of electric vehicles to the state, and Oregon will offer a tax credit to buyers of electric vehicles.

The mayors of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose met with Shai Agassi, CEO of Better Place, an electric car infrastructure company. The mayors announced at the meeting that they will roll out policies in December to promote the purchase and use of electric cars in the Bay Area, such as the expediting of permits for the installation of charging stations. They are also hinting at tax incentives, although no details have been released. Better Place hopes to have the first round of charging infrastructure in place in 2010. Better Place’s first two clients are Israel and Denmark, and a deal is pending with the state of Hawaii.

San Francisco to Detroit: Go electric – Green Wombat
It was a day when the shift from the past to the future was almost palpable.

It started Thursday morning in Berkeley where Green Wombat was moderating a panel of tech luminaries gathered at the University of California’s Global Technology Leaders Conference. As Shai Agassi, founder of electric car infrastructure company Better Place, makes the case for harnessing Silicon Valley’s technological innovation to Detroit’s manufacturing might to create a sustainable car industry, dispatches from the automotive apocalypse roll down my BlackBerry: Ford (F) shares sink to $1.01 GM’s (GM) stock falls to its lowest level since World War II U.S. automakers beg for a bailout California Congressman Henry Waxman ousts Michigan’s John Dingell  the Duke of Detroit  from his 28-year chairmanship of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Agassi slips out of the conference and an hour later I catch up with him across the Bay at San Francisco City Hall where he and representatives of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the mayors of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland announce a $1 billion project to build a regional network of electric car charging stations. Better Place has signed similar deals with governments in Israel, Denmark and Australia, but California is the company’s first foray into the U.S. market. Planning for the Bay Area network begins in 2009 with construction scheduled to start in 2010 and commercial rollout set for 2012.

Federal Court Bans Shell Drilling Project –
A federal appeals court on Thursday blocked Royal Dutch Shell from drilling oil wells off Alaska’s North Slope after finding that the Interior Department had failed to conduct an environmental study before issuing the company’s drilling permit.

In a long-awaited ruling, the court said that the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency in charge of offshore leasing, had violated the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act by failing to take a hard look at the impact that offshore drilling would have on bowhead whales in the Beaufort Sea as well as indigenous communities on the North Slope.

GreenTech: Cool Projects to Save the Planet – LIME
The designers, engineers, and others tackling the environmental problems we face never cease to come up with amazingly imaginative ideas. Here are some of our favorite recent projects:

Dissident Voice: The Auto Bailout Shows the Failure of Corporate-Government More than the Failure of Detroit
And, Solving it Presents Opportunities for a New Economy

While the automobile companies deserve some blame for the problems in their industry, there is blame to spread around. The root cause of the biggest problems is the alliance between big corporations and government which has led to poor decision-making in Washington. It is embarrassing to hear Congress put all the blame on the Detroit triopoly and not acknowledge their irresponsible behavior in bowing to corporate pressures.

Solving the auto industry problems is an opportunity to begin to shape a more effective new economy that changes the relationship between corporations and government as well as share’s the wealth more equitably.

The Causes of the Auto Crisis

China’s Coal Fires Burn 20 Million Tons of Coal Per Year : TreeHugger
It’s known for being the world’s cheapest fuel, but Chinese coal is actually more expensive than ever: a new report estimates that the environmental and social costs of China’s coal usage hit RMB1.7 trillion ($248 billion) last year, or about 7.1% of the country’s GDP.

The other key numbers, according to the report, by Greenpeace, the Energy Foundation and WWF: coal is the source of 70% of the country’s energy, 85% of China’s sulphur dioxide emissions, 67% of its nitrogen dioxide emissions, 80% of its carbon dioxide emissions, and creates 25% of China’s waste water. China’s coal mines are the world’s deadliest, killing an average of 13 miners a day. For some cough-worthy visual evidence, take a look at the city of Linfen. The Obama-Biden Transition Team | Energy and the Environment
Tens of thousands of Americans have written in with questions, ideas, and suggestions about what the Obama-Biden administration should do on this important issue.

In this short video, Heather Zichal, a member of the Energy and Environment Policy Team, responds to some of those questions and ideas.

Watch the video below — then use the form at the right to submit your own thoughts on energy and the environment.

Unsustainable Energy Trends
I’ve been getting a lot of calls and e-mails from people asking about the falling prices for oil in recent weeks. The immediate explanation is that world economic activity is decelerating. Demand is falling. OPEC announced cuts in output. But the markets still believe that economic decline will trump the ability of OPEC to prop up the price of oil. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Just over the horizon, things are about to become dicey. This week, the International Energy Agency (IEA) will release a new report on the future of world energy. In its World Energy Outlook, the IEA will state categorically that “Current global trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable.”

There’s not much wiggle room in that statement. According to the IEA, despite the recent fall in oil prices, the medium- and long-term outlooks for energy supply are grim. Conventional oil output is destined to decline. Demand will still grow, however, especially in the developing world. And the twain shall only meet by prices rising to clear the market. “It is,” as our Arab friends like to say, “written.”

Earth 4 Energy
If You are Interested in Learning Exactly How to Generate Power and Reduce your Power Bill then This is the Perfect Resource for You!

Earth 4 Energy (from creator and renewable energy enthusiast Michael Harvey) Can Show You How to Cut Your Power Bill by up to 80% using Solar Power and Wind Energy System that You Can Build on Your Own. This complete step-by-step fully illustrated manual will have you generating your own electricity for less then $200! With the ever increasing costs of living there is no better time then right now to start producing our own electricity.

Whether you want to simply reduce your power bills or completely eliminate them – Earth 4 Energy will be your light and your all in one energy saving guide to create your own self electricity source. This guide will show you the simplest and easiest way to have power for less. Click Here for More Info on Earth4Energy

Planet Ark : Aussie Miners Turn To Solar Tower Power
Australian mining firms, hit by high fuel costs and falling commodity prices, could soon swap their diesel generators for 24-hour, solar-power systems, the head of a private renewable power firm said on Thursday.

Mining firms are also worried about an emissions trading scheme set to begin in Australia in 2010, Steve Hollis, CEO of Sydney-based Lloyd Energy Storage, told Reuters in an interview.

Wind power is coming our way
f a project isn’t sold to the community it will struggle to gain public acceptance.

There are suddenly plans for a lot of wind-based power generation blowing into Washington’s Pacific County, possibly a hint at what may occur in many of the coastal counties of Oregon and Washington in the years ahead.

A “joint operating agency” of Washington state electricity providers is planning an 82-megawatt wind turbine farm in the Naselle area, with completion of up to 45 wind turbines eyed in 2011. A smaller, very interesting four-turbine project is getting started in northern Pacific County and southern Grays Harbor County. In total, all this may be enough to power some 40,000 average-sized homes.

ProPublica Midnight Regulations – ProPublica
Here is a rundown of rules and regulations that the Bush administration is pushing through the rulemaking process in its waning days. We will update the list regularly by adding new rules, inserting links to breaking news on each rule, and tracking each rule through the rulemaking process. If you know of other rules we should add to this list, please send us an email here. You can use our tip-sheet to get started on your rules research.

Toward a New Energy Economy: Part 1, Action in 100 Days
There is no lack of ideas for what President Obama and the 111th Congress should do to address three of the most pressing issues they will face when they take office in January global climate change, the energy crisis, and economic transformation. It may be winter in Washington, D.C., but it’s springtime in national politics. Policy agendas are blooming like cherry blossoms.

For example, last week alone, Washington, D.C. was introduced to three comprehensive plans to address economy, energy and climate. Two were issued by the Center for American Progress, headed by John Podesta, co-chair of President-elect Obama’s transition team, including an excellent strategy for green recovery by Bracken Hendricks and Benjamin Goldstein.

Hope and Lovins
On Applied Hope and Optimism:

Applied hope is not mere optimism. The optimist treats the future as fate, not choice, and thus fails to take responsibility for making the world we want. Applied hope is a deliberate choice of heart and head. The optimist, says RMI Trustee David Orr, has his feet up on the desk and a satisfied smirk knowing the deck is stacked. The person living in hope has her sleeves rolled up and is fighting hard to change or beat the odds. Optimism can easily mask cowardice. Hope requires fearlessness.

A huge win for environmentalists and energy progress
Earlier today California Representative Henry Waxman defeated Michigan Rep. John Dingell in a secret ballot vote to claim Dingell’s seat as the head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. From Politico:

The ascension of Waxman, a wily environmentalist, recasts a committee that Dingell has chaired since 1981 with an eye toward protecting the domestic auto industry in his native Michigan. The Energy and Commerce Committee has principal jurisdiction over many of President-elect Barack Obama’s top legislative priorities, including energy, the environment and health care.

Wave Power With a Twist: Searaser Pumps Water Into Storage Ponds for On-Demand Ocean Hydropower : TreeHugger

Here’s a wave power technology which you may not have heard of: It’s called the Searaser and (though only in prototype stages, I’ve got some reservations about how well it may scale up, as well as the name which somehow I always see as ‘Sea Eraser’) it may be worth watching.

The principle is fairly simple and proven in a different context: Use the Searaser to pump quantities of sea water up a hill where it can be stored in ponds until needed and then released downhill to drive hydroelectric turbines to create power. This is how the Searaser works:

Hydropower on China’s Nu River, Alternatives to Huge Dams (Video Clip) : TreeHugger
You may have seen the TreeHugger interview with Goldman Environmental Prize winner Yu Xiaogang where he talks about hydropower in China and the tradeoff between increasing power supply and the environmental and community concerns of doing so.

For some more info on the issues surrounding developing hydropower on the Nu River, including an overview of the traditional, micro and small-scale hydropower usage on the river, check out this video clip from China’s Green Beat. Good stuff, with applicability to any number of different types of big-push style projects in the developing world.

1000 Football Stadiums Filled With Oil = 1 Year of Global Energy Consumption : TreeHugger
Got your attention now? That amount of oil equivalent, three cubic miles, is how much the world uses in a year if you take into account all sources of energy, says Ripudaman Malhotra of SRI International’s Chemical Science and Technology Laboratory in Greentech Media. What’s more, is that by 2050 at current rates of increase the world will consume nine cubic miles of oil.

Pretty sobering, but what is more sobering (it does indeed feel like cold water thrown on the renewable energy industry) is that to replace that amount of energy usage with renewable sources is nigh impossible. Here’s Malhotra on the challenge laid before us in a nutshell:

Daily Observer – ‘Clean’ energy promise a dirty lie, say green groups
The federal government used the throne speech to promise it will switch Canadians on to clean energy by balancing the need for power with climate change.

To achieve that goal, it pledged to ensure 90% of all Canada’s electricity comes from “non-emitting sources” such as hydro, nuclear, clean coal and wind by 2020.

“The key is nuclear and also other clean energy sources,” Environment Minister Jim Prentice said. “Clean coal is a part of that. We need to see improvements in terms of technology there, but this is a realistic objective.”

Environmentalists, however, say describing energy sources such as nuclear and coal as clean is misleading.


Nuclear Editorial and Opinions

Is costly nuclear energy too big a risk for San Antonio?
Sometime in the near future, Topic A in San Antonio will be whether or not to move forward with a several-billion-dollar investment in additional nuclear energy.

CPS Energy has invested $206 million on preliminary design and engineering to build two new nuclear reactors in Bay City and that money will run out at the end of the year. The debate over whether to move forward will be divisive because of the high costs of the project, which will almost certainly increase electric bills.

The fact is that San Antonio, like every other city in America, is at a crossroads: Do we bet our future on the old energy drivers coal, fossilized fuels and nuclear or do we invest substantially in energy efficiency and renewable sources such as wind and solar? Put another way, how green, both economically and environmentally, is our future?

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