March 30, 2008
September 26, 2007
Don’t these people know that nuclear plants can have accidents? Why don’t they invite alternate energy companies to set up there instead? Is the economy so bad that they have to say yes to THIS? Egads!!!!
HOUSTON — Despite objections from nuclear energy opponents, the proposed expansion of a Southeast Texas nuclear power plant has gotten the thumbs up from many locals, who say the project will be an economic boon.
Richard Knapik, the mayor of Bay City, about 75 miles southwest of Houston, said Tuesday’s announcement that the owners of a nearby nuclear power plant want to double its size could pump as much as $6 billion into the local economy.
“Many of our citizens already work out there,” Knapik said. “It’s been extremely positive for this area.”
It takes 14 paragraphs before the Chronicle mentions any possible negative aspects.
But not everyone is as enthusiastic.
The Sierra Club has consistently opposed the licensing, construction and operation of new nuclear reactors, in part because of concerns about industry oversight and the disposal of spent nuclear fuel.
Nuclear power is produced when neutrons split the nucleus of uranium atoms, releasing heat that’s used to boil water and produce steam that drives a plant’s turbines. For now, spent fuel — which is radioactive waste — is contained inside the plants.
Watchdog group Public Citizen called the plan to build two new reactors in Texas “deja vu all over again.”
“The U.S. has been down the nuclear power path — and it has proven to be expensive, polluting, dangerous and a security risk,” Tyson Slocum, the director of Public Citizen’s energy program said in a statement.
The organization said companies like NRG and others expected to file applications with the NRC are destined to take advantage of federal loan guarantees and other subsidies at taxpayer expense.
“Public Citizen will fight these proposed reactors every step of the way,” Slocum said. “The flaws of nuclear power — excessive cost, security threats and long-lived radioactive waste — have not been solved.”
June 27, 2007
Aryeh wrote yesterday at YouThinkLeft about how Obama supported liquefied coal, which is one of the most inefficient uses of fossil fuel yet invented, and about how this will cost him among environmentally-conscious voters.
There’s better news this week out of Texas. Yes, Texas. A $20 million dollar wind power research center will be built in Corpus
Christi in order to test longer wind turbine blades and other innovations in the area of wind power.
An article from yesterday’s Dallas Star-Telegram explains that:
Texas strengthened its position as the nation’s No. 1 wind-energy state Monday when the U.S. Department of Energy selected a site near Corpus Christi for one of two $20 million research centers for next-generation wind-turbine blades.
The Lone Star Wind Alliance, which includes universities in Texas and other states as well as state agencies, has pledged $18 million to design, build and operate the research center on 22 acres in Ingleside donated by BP. The Energy Department will contribute $2 million in test equipment.
A site in Boston also was selected with a similar financial arrangement.
The centers will test blades as long as 100 meters, or about 330 feet, about 50 percent larger than the longest blades currently produced and about twice as long as the blades commonly used in new installations. The larger blades are outgrowing the research capabilities of the government’s facility in Colorado.
“These two testing facilities represent an important next step in the expansion of the competitiveness of the U.S. wind-energy industry,” Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said in a statement. The government’s contributions are subject to congressional appropriations.
The same article also notes that the United States is far behind Europe in developing this technology, but also points out that this recent decision by the U.S. Department of energy helps Texas to strengthen “its position as the nation’s No. 1 wind-energy state“.
June 5, 2007
Bryce from YouthInkLeft had a great post this morning giving his ideas for ways we can celebrate World Environment Day, June 5. As that day draws to a close, it’s time to look at what actions we can do for the environment for the days and months ahead. Bryce gave great suggestions for things people can do, and I have a few more to add.
- Get the government to require better mileage and force the auto makers to sell their efficient cars here. If they sell them in Europe, they should sell them here.
- Start a campaign to get your town or county to use solar and wind energy. Here’s an example.
- Get energy-saving products for your home, including new technology like this:
- Learn more
- Learn even more.
- This one’s my favorite, but I don’t think I’ll get one. Not this year.
What else can we do? Any or all of us?
Like most of my political posts,
May 5, 2007
Oil and coal are important industries in Texas, so it makes some sense that the state legislature wants to protect them, but global warming is real and it is happening very fast and we need to do more to counteract it. Changing 10 lightbulbs in my small apartment is a help but there needs to be a change at the level of industry, public financed infrastructure, energy planning, and and big corporations. So why is Texas going the other way? As reported on the front page of today’s Austin-American Statesman, Global warming measures on hold.
The lawmakers in Texas are concerned about the owners of power plants, who contribute to their campaigns but they are not serving the needs of Texans or the planet. According to the article
A United Nations report released Friday says
policymakers around the globe should take stronger steps to address
climate change. In Texas, however, lawmakers have largely shrugged off
The state of Texas is not serious enough about this issue and the lawmakers don’t seem to realize that there can be a lot of economic growth for the state in alternative energy, such as wind and solar power. Some laws about that have been proposoed this session,
But most proposals at the Capitol explicitly
addressing climate change have languished in committees. Committee
heads say they don’t believe human activity affects climate change and
say they don’t want to put the state at a competitive disadvantage
before the federal government acts.”
Given the fact below and the huge number of coal power plants in Texas, it is time for environmentalists everywhere, and anyone who cares about the future of our planet, to help change the policies in Texas.
U.N. scientists estimate that the biggest
increases in carbon dioxide emissions could come in electrical
generation and urged policymakers to shift away from coal-fired power
plants to natural gas, nuclear and renewable sources.
March 12, 2007
If Austin can do it, then so can other cities!
City gets high marks for enviro-friendly initiatives
WEST COAST BUREAU
Monday, March 12, 2007
LAS VEGAS — In the 1970s and 1980s, cities across America bet their economic futures on recruiting banks, insurance companies and other white-collar employers to replace factory and farm jobs.
In the 1990s, it was the computer industry. Then came biotech firms. The latest rage in economic development is “clean energy” companies that do everything from building windmills and solar panels to turning cow manure into fuel.
“This is bigger” than previous growth industries, said Lara Valentine, who was hired by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce to lure clean energy companies to the Texas capital. “Everything we do in this world revolves around energy.”
Austin, which became a hub for high tech during the computing revolution, is fast gaining recognition as a nationwide leader in clean energy and other clean technology ventures.
“Austin right now is the leading city in America” when it comes to energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts, said Michael Eckhart, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy, which promotes the industry.
Austin’s Clean Energy Incubator, a joint effort involving the city, Austin Energy and the University of Texas, is the first of its kind and has garnered national accolades. Started in 2001, the center helps clean energy ventures find funding and get their ideas to market.
About 18 companies have gotten a start in the program, including businesses that make biodiesel fuel, turn waste tires into electricity, make more efficient turbines and use the Internet to reduce irrigation needs.
The city’s Climate Protection Plan, a pet project of Mayor Will Wynn, is considered among the most forward-thinking municipal programs in the country.
The plan, which officials passed last month, calls for all city buildings to be powered 100 percent by renewable energy by 2012 and for the entire fleet of city vehicles to run on either electricity or nonpetroleum fuels by 2020. It also could make Austin building codes the most energy-efficient in the nation.
City-owned Austin Energy is becoming known nationally for its clean energy efforts.
The utility plans to get 20 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020, and Wynn’s office has said he would not support a traditional pulverized coal plant if a new generating facility is needed.
Austin Energy’s Green Choice program, which lets customers choose whether they want to get their energy solely from renewable sources such as wind and solar power, claims to be the nation’s biggest and has been so successful that there’s a backlog of customers who want to join.
More recently, Austin Energy announced that it would open up its power grid to clean energy companies from across the country looking for a place to test new technologies. Besides providing new sources of clean energy for Austin Energy, the program could help recruit more clean energy companies to the city.
Last month, SustainLane Government, a group that tracks sustainable living programs in U.S. cities, named Austin the nation’s No. 1 city for clean technology.
Balcones Recycling Inc. last week disclosed plans for another clean energy first for the city.
The Austin-based company said it plans to build a 125-acre Environomics Park northeast of downtown to recruit similar clean tech companies from around the globe. Balcones eventually wants to build a plant at the site to make alternative fuel pellets from recycled paper, similar to another plant it operates in Arkansas.
The city’s leadership role in clean energy is starting to pay off by attracting new companies to the area.
Among them: DT Solar, which last month picked Austin for its Southwest headquarters, which will probably create about 25 jobs. DT Solar, which is backed by media mogul Ted Turner, develops solar energy plants.
But Austin isn’t alone.
One year ago at the annual Power-Gen renewable energy conference in Las Vegas, Austin was the only city trying to recruit clean tech and clean energy companies, Valentine said.
Last week, economic development officials from New York, Washington, Oregon, the United Kingdom, Germany and elsewhere also had booths.
“Clean tech . . . is the next big thing,” Oregon economic development liaison Glenn Montgomery said.
This month, German solar cell company Solarworld AG said it had picked Hillsboro, Ore., for a plant that will employ at least 1,000 workers.
Other states are getting into the clean energy act, too.
Florida officials last month awarded the first of $15 million in renewable technology grants for clean tech ventures. Among the winners were projects to promote solar energy use, to make ethanol from citrus and sugar cane waste and to replace natural gas in factories with gas from switch grass and other plant materials. Gov. Charlie Crist recently recommended a $68 million spending package on other ways to encourage alternative energy businesses.
California, the leader in solar energy and other alternative energy use, is investing heavily too. Late last year, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a $95 million package to support research, and this year, he launched an unprecedented solar power initiative.
In a major coup, the state and the University of California at Berkeley in February landed a $500 million clean energy research program funded by petroleum industry giant BP.
Whenever a new solar power company comes to town, whenever an ethanol refinery opens up, whenever a new wind turbine operation starts spinning, it creates jobs, Eckhart said.
Running a wind energy farm or installing solar panels doesn’t take as many workers as a factory churning out personal computers or semiconductors. And for now, clean energy initiatives are absorbing subsidies from states and cities, not creating tax revenue.
But governments are making the investment because they see the new businesses as requiring less infrastructure, polluting less and providing energy rather than consuming it.
“For every kilowatt of energy produced by renewable energy, about five jobs are created,” Valentine said.
What’s different about clean energy today is that it’s not just environmentalists talking about the benefits, Eckhart said. It “has now become a positive growth industry.”
Top cities for clean technology
1. Austin: Although cited specifically for its Clean Energy Incubator and Austin Energy’s plans to open up its grid to clean energy companies that want to test innovations, the city’s ambitious green energy plans also count.
2. San Jose, Calif.: Got good marks for its abundant venture capital sources and its major push into solar technologies.
3. Berkeley, Calif.: Could become a hotbed for biofuel research after the University of California at Berkeley landed a $500 million grant from petroleum giant BP and additional state funding to create an Energy Biosciences Institute.
4. Pasadena, Calif.: Got accolades for its Entretech high-tech development group and energy research being done at the California Institute of Technology, or Caltech.
5. Boston: Besides California, it leads the nation in clean technology venture capital investments. Programs such as the Ignite Clean Energy Competition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also are fostering clean energy industry growth.
Runners-up: San Francisco, New York, Seattle, San Diego and Houston.
Source: March rankings by SustainLane, which tracks sustainable living and clean technology initiatives
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Also check out: GreenChoice® Energy Sources from AustinEnergy.
March 9, 2007
It’s been almost a year since I took US history, but I am pretty sure i remember something in there about freedom of speech.
Unless you work for the government?? Was that in there?? Can somebody check for me?? They stole the constitution pages out of my history book!
By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment CorrespondentThu Mar 8, 5:27 PM ET
Polar bears, sea ice and global warming are taboo subjects, at least in public, for some U.S. scientists attending meetings abroad, environmental groups and a top federal wildlife official said on Thursday.
Environmental activists called this scientific censorship, which they said was in line with the Bush administration’s history of muzzling dissent over global climate change.
But H. Dale Hall, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said this policy was a long-standing one, meant to honor international protocols for meetings where the topics of discussion are negotiated in advance.
The matter came to light in e-mails from the Fish and Wildlife Service that were distributed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center for Biological Diversity, both environmental groups.
Listed as a “new requirement” for foreign travelers on U.S. government business, the memo says that requests for foreign travel “involving or potentially involving climate change, sea ice, and/or polar bears” require special handling, including notice of who will be the official spokesman for the trip.
The Fish and Wildlife Service top officials need assurance that the spokesman, “the one responding to questions on these issues, particularly polar bears” understands the administration’s position on these topics.
Two accompanying memos were offered as examples of these kinds of assurance. Both included the line that the traveler “understands the administration’s position on climate change, polar bears, and sea ice and will not be speaking on or responding to these issues.”
ARE POLAR BEARS ‘THREATENED’?
Polar bears are a hot topic for the Bush administration, which decided in December to consider whether to list the white-furred behemoths as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, because of scientific reports that the bears’ icy habitat is melting due to global warming.
Hall said a decision is expected in January 2008. A “threatened” listing would bar the government from taking any action that jeopardizes the animal’s existence, and might spur debate about tougher measures to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that spur global warming.
Hall defended the policy laid out in the memos, saying it was meant to keep scientists from straying from a set agenda at meetings in countries like Russia, Norway and Canada.
For example, he said, one meeting was about “human and polar bear interface.” Receding Arctic sea ice where polar bears live and the global climate change that likely played a role in the melting were not proper discussion topics, he said.
“That’s not a climate change discussion,” Hall said at a telephone briefing. “That’s a management, on-the-ground type discussion.”
The prohibition on talking about these subjects only applies to public, formal situations, Hall said. Private scientific discussions outside the meeting and away from media are permitted and encouraged, he said.
“This administration has a long history of censoring speech and science on global warming,” Eben Burnham-Snyder of the Natural Resources Defense Council said by telephone.
“Whenever we see an instance of the Bush administration restricting speech on global warming, it sends up a huge red flag that their commitment to the issue does not reflect their rhetoric,” Burnham-Snyder said.