Hundreds tear down fences, break into Chevron site in Romania
December 7, 2013

Hundreds of protesters have broken into a Chevron site after the US oil giant resumed its search for shale gas in northeast Romania. RT’s Lucy Kafanov reports from the scene, where clashes ensued as riot police started streaming in.

Some 400 people gathered on Saturday in the village of Pungesti, according to local media.

RT’s Lucy Kafanov reports that the demonstration kicked off quite peacefully with the protesters chanting “Chevron go home.”

“The situation then escalated. Some people had run across the road towards the Chevron property, there was a bit of a commotion, and we saw the protesters run into the property; the surrounding perimeter fences were taken down,” Kafanov reports. Local media said people were able to tear down fences to 20 acres of land owned by the company.

Riot police officers were called into the area, which made the situation “very heated” as clashes between the demonstrators and the police ensued.

“We did see some demonstrators injured, as well as police officers injured. They were taken away in medical vans. We also saw probably about four or five arrests, possibly more, we’re still not confirmed on the numbers,” Kafanov says.

Following the incident, the US company later announced it was suspending activities in the area. “Chevron confirms the suspension today…due to the activities of protesters,” Chevron said in a statement.

The US energy giant has been persistent in conducting its shale gas exploration activities, and less than a week ago, riot police brutally removed a horde of villagers who had been camping out at the site protesting the company’s plan.

The site in Pungesti has been the subject of ongoing controversy. The village is believed to be sitting upon vast reserves of the natural resource.

The demonstrators also demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Victor Ponta, according to AFP. Ponta became a strong supporter of the energy source, despite apparent opposition prior to his election.

But protesters and environmentalists fear that the hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” would be disastrous for the local environment. They say that pumping water and chemicals at high pressure into deep rock formations to free oil or gas could contaminate groundwater.

In October, Chevron decided to suspend its drilling plans. To prevent Chevron from resuming the drilling, Pungesti villagers set up a camp in a privately-owned field next to the site where the well was planned to be installed.

The camp has been the scene of demonstrations for over a month and a half in total, with clashes taking place between police officers and protesters the previous week. Outraged participants were as old as 67, according to Kafanov. “There is this very tense climate, and people have a lot of anger…for what’s going on here,” said Kafanov.

Source

Idle No More rises up in the Bay Area to lead protest against Chevron & fossil fuel industry
August 13, 2013

On Saturday, August 3rd almost 3000 people marched from Richmond BART to the Chevron refinery on the first anniversary of the terrible refinery explosion last year. Toxicity spread across the city and sent thousands to local hospitals. At the protest 210 people were arrested for trespassing when they would not leave the gated entrance of the refinery.

All of this a non-violent yet direct action to call for:

• NO more toxic hazards.
• NO Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
• NO refining tar sands or fracked crude.
• YES to a just transition from dirty fossil fuels to union jobs in clean energy!

The event was called Summer Heat Richmond. Many groups, including 350.org, were involved in organizing. A new indigenous group Idle No More SF Bay Area, led the march. I was invited to walk with them. The Idle No More movement began last November in Canada when the First Nations there began to organize protests of the legislative abuses of indigenous treaty rights by the Canadian government. The Idle No More movement has spread internationally with many affinity groups forming. Why? Because violation of indigenous rights is happening all over the world.

The rally started at 9:30 AM outside the Richmond BART station where members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and Idle No More SF Bay offered prayers and sage.

Source

Navajos launch direct action against big coalJune 21, 2013
Navajo Nation members launched a creative direct action Tuesday to protest the massive coal-fueled power plant that cuts through their Scottsdale, Arizona land.
After a winding march, approximately 60 demonstrators used a massive solar-powered truck to pump water from the critical Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal into barrels for delivery to the reservation.
Flanked by supporters from across the United States, tribe members created a living example of what a Navajo-led transition away from coal toward solar power in the region could look like.
Participants waved colorful banners and signs declaring ‘Power Without Pollution, Energy Without Injustice’.
“We were a small group moving a small amount of water with solar today,” declared Wahleah Johns with Black Mesa Water Coalition. “However if the political will power of the Obama Administration and SRP were to follow and transition NGS to solar all Arizonans could have reliable water and power without pollution and without injustice.”
The demonstration was not only symbolic: the reservation needs the water they were collecting.
While this Navajo community lives in the shadow of the Navajo Generating Station—the largest coal-powered plant in the Western United States—many on the reservation do not have running water and electricity themselves and are forced to make the drive to the canal to gather water for cooking and cleaning.
This is despite the fact that the plant—owned by Salt River Project and the U.S. Department of Interior—pumps electricity throughout Arizona, Nevada, and California.
Yet, the reservation does get one thing from the plant: pollution.
The plant is “one of the largest sources of harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in the country,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
While plant profiteers argue it brings jobs to the area, plant workers describe harrowing work conditions. “We are the sweatshop workers for the state of AZ, declared Navajo tribe member Marshall Johnson. “We are the mine workers, and we are the ones that must work even harder so the rest don’t have to.”
These problems are not limited to this Navajo community. Krystal Two Bulls from Lame Deer, Missouri—who came to Arizona to participate in the action—explained, “We’re also fighting coal extraction that is right next to our reservation, which is directly depleting our water source.”
The action marked the kickoff to the national Our Power Campaign, under the banner of Climate Justice Alliance, that unites almost 40 U.S.-based organizations rooted in Indigenous, African American, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, and working-class white communities to fight for a transition to just, climate friendly economies.
Source
More stats on the conditions of Native reservations:
In addition to high poverty rates, Native people suffer many other conditions of material hardship. Nearly 10 percent of all Native families are homeless. At over 14 percent, the rate of Native homes without electricity is 10 times the national average. Twenty percent of Native households lack running water. The unemployment rate on some reservations can be as high as 75 percent, while the infant mortality rate is about 300 percent higher than the national average. The life expectancy of Native men is 50 years of age.
Indigenous women in the US experience some of the highest rates of sexual assault in the country. According to the US Department of Justice, nearly half of all Native American women have been raped, beaten, or stalked by an intimate partner; one in three will be raped in their lifetime; and on some reservations, women are murdered at a rate 10 times higher than the national average.

Navajos launch direct action against big coal
June 21, 2013

Navajo Nation members launched a creative direct action Tuesday to protest the massive coal-fueled power plant that cuts through their Scottsdale, Arizona land.

After a winding march, approximately 60 demonstrators used a massive solar-powered truck to pump water from the critical Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal into barrels for delivery to the reservation.

Flanked by supporters from across the United States, tribe members created a living example of what a Navajo-led transition away from coal toward solar power in the region could look like.

Participants waved colorful banners and signs declaring ‘Power Without Pollution, Energy Without Injustice’.

“We were a small group moving a small amount of water with solar today,” declared Wahleah Johns with Black Mesa Water Coalition. “However if the political will power of the Obama Administration and SRP were to follow and transition NGS to solar all Arizonans could have reliable water and power without pollution and without injustice.”

The demonstration was not only symbolic: the reservation needs the water they were collecting.

While this Navajo community lives in the shadow of the Navajo Generating Station—the largest coal-powered plant in the Western United States—many on the reservation do not have running water and electricity themselves and are forced to make the drive to the canal to gather water for cooking and cleaning.

This is despite the fact that the plant—owned by Salt River Project and the U.S. Department of Interior—pumps electricity throughout Arizona, Nevada, and California.

Yet, the reservation does get one thing from the plant: pollution.

The plant is “one of the largest sources of harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in the country,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

While plant profiteers argue it brings jobs to the area, plant workers describe harrowing work conditions. “We are the sweatshop workers for the state of AZ, declared Navajo tribe member Marshall Johnson. “We are the mine workers, and we are the ones that must work even harder so the rest don’t have to.”

These problems are not limited to this Navajo community. Krystal Two Bulls from Lame Deer, Missouri—who came to Arizona to participate in the action—explained, “We’re also fighting coal extraction that is right next to our reservation, which is directly depleting our water source.”

The action marked the kickoff to the national Our Power Campaign, under the banner of Climate Justice Alliance, that unites almost 40 U.S.-based organizations rooted in Indigenous, African American, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, and working-class white communities to fight for a transition to just, climate friendly economies.

Source

More stats on the conditions of Native reservations:

In addition to high poverty rates, Native people suffer many other conditions of material hardship. Nearly 10 percent of all Native families are homeless. At over 14 percent, the rate of Native homes without electricity is 10 times the national average. Twenty percent of Native households lack running water. The unemployment rate on some reservations can be as high as 75 percent, while the infant mortality rate is about 300 percent higher than the national average. The life expectancy of Native men is 50 years of age.

Indigenous women in the US experience some of the highest rates of sexual assault in the country. According to the US Department of Justice, nearly half of all Native American women have been raped, beaten, or stalked by an intimate partner; one in three will be raped in their lifetime; and on some reservations, women are murdered at a rate 10 times higher than the national average.

Two radioactive goldfish were found swimming in a juice pitcher of nuclear reactor water in an underground steam tunnel at an Ohio power plant. Investigators are baffled as to how the radioactive fish remained unnoticed in the ‘secure’ facility.
May 16, 2013

Investigators from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and officials of the plant, which is operated by FirstEnergy Corp., have been looking through surveillance tapes to try to identify who was responsible for leaving the radioactive goldfish in the tunnel on May 2.

They believe one of the 700 employees and contractors who work at the plant smuggled the fish into the facility, Jennifer Young, spokeswoman for FirstEnergy Corp., told AP. The fishy tale has served as an embarrassment for the plant, which has already come under scrutiny for a case in which four contractors were exposed to life-threatening hard radiation in 2011. The plant has also been scutinized for a serious lack of security.

“Last year, Perry got into trouble with the NRC about weaknesses preventing unauthorized access to the plant,” David Lochbaum, a spokesman at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told The Plain Dealer. “Goldfish are not authorized to be inside the tunnel, yet they were there. And Perry cannot determine how they got there or who put them there.”

Officials believe the goldfish were taken through the front door and likely hidden in a plastic bag in a worker’s pocket. All workers are required to pass through security, which detects metal and bombs but not fish and water. Investigators believe the fish were left unnoticed in the tunnel for several days before scaffolding crews discovered them and filed a report.

But despite looking through surveillance tapes for more than a week, little progress has been made in identifying the perpetrator(s). “While we continue to look at the video for evidence, identifying folks in the video has been challenging,” Young told AP.

Both of the 1 ½-inch-long fish died shortly after their discovery, but officials at the plant claim that neglect and starvation may have been the cause – not radiation. Chemists found that the fish were admitting small amounts of radiation, but not enough to put anyone at risk, including the fish. “They did not have exposure to enough radioactivity to hurt them,” Young told The Plain Dealer.  “It was probably due to lack of care before they got to the plant. The radiation could not have killed them.”

Lochbaum said the story might sound funny to some, but that smuggling live animals into the plant shows a serious lack of security. The story has caused some to recall an episode of the “Simpsons” in which Blinky, an orange fish, has a third eye due to his exposure to radiation.

“What might be an amusing account of misplaced goldfish today could become tomorrow’s nightmare story if someone with an axe to grind, another Timothy McVeigh type, places a bomb instead of two goldfish in Perry,” Lochbaum told The Plain Dealer, referring to the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.

Source

We The People petition posted yesterday for solar-based energy farms in space
March 10, 2013

We mostly don’t post petitions because, you know, what’s the point?

In this case, I think it might help bring this potential energy source into the discourse about renewable energy and I think that’s a good thing. I think it could prompt a positive response from the White House, because it isn’t very controversial, liberals love “green” stuff and conservatives love space-stuff. And despite the fact that liberals & conservatives may like this, I think it’s probably a solution worth looking into (although I’m interested to read responses):

Task the Office of Science and Technology Policy to examine Space Solar Power as a new energy & space goal for the US.

New concepts make it possible for solar energy to be harvested in space and delivered 24/7 to markets in the US & globally. SPACE SOLAR POWER (SSP) could supply vast new energy while addressing climate concerns. SSP is now being pursued by other nations (e.g., China, Japan), and energy determines preeminence in space as on Earth.

But SSP falls between the charters of US technology & space agencies (DOE, DOD, NASA), so it’s “no one’s job.” These agencies have existing responsibilities & stakeholders; they are not looking for new goals.

Only the White House (OSTP) working with Congress can change the policy gridlock in the US and develop a plan to lead international R&D in this game-changing energy/space endeavor.

If you agree the US should lead R&D on SSP, please support this petition.

Source (The Petition) - it needs 100,000 signatures & as of right now it has 450.

Click, sign, reblog.

America’s most contaminated: Radioactive waste leaks into northwestern river 
February 23, 2013

Radioactive waste is leaking from six underground tanks at America’s most-contaminated facility in Washington, the state’s government announced on Friday. Just how much toxic stew got into the Columbia River’s underground basin is unclear.

The leak at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation has so far not posed an immediate health risk to the public, Governor Jay Inslee said, because it will take a long time, years perhaps, for the waste to reach the groundwater. But the leakages have not been stopped yet.

The US Department of Energy spokeswoman Lindsey Geisler promised federal officials will to collaborate with Washington State to deal with the emergency.

US Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon, who chairs the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said that “This should represent an unacceptable threat to the Pacific Northwest for everybody. There are problems that have to be solved, and the Department of Energy cannot say what changes are needed, when they will be completed, or what they will cost.”

The troubled Hanford nuclear facility is situated very close to the border of Wyden’s native Oregon State.

The US Department of Energy had earlier said that toxic radioactive liquid level was decreasing in one of the 177 tanks at south-central Washington’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The leakage was estimated in between 150 to 300 gallons (560-1,100 liters) a year, posing a real threat to groundwater and rivers in the region, state officials acknowledged.

Monitoring wells near the tank have not detected higher radiation levels, AP reported.

After the news about the leakage made into the headlines Governor Inslee visited Washington, DC, for consultations with federal officials, where he learnt that actually six tanks were leaking.

He called the development of things as “disturbing” and promised to “vigorously pursue” a course of new actions “in the next several weeks.”

America’s most contaminated facility

Established in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation facility was constructed very quickly on the bank of Columbia River holds millions of liters of a highly-radioactive stew left from decades of plutonium production for nuclear weapons. All of the radioactive waste storage tanks at Hanford Nuclear Reservation are long past their intended 20-year lifespan.

Those tanks have a long story of unreliability. The documentary ‘Waste: The Nuclear Nightmare’ by filmmaker Eric Guéret and producer Laure Noualhat, filmed in 2009, maintained that the first leakages were registered in 1960s and by now up to 67 out of 177 tanks with radioactive waste have failed. An estimated nearly-4,000 tons of liquid radioactive waste have contaminated the environment over the decades as a result.The water from the Columbia River has always been used in technological cycle at the Hanford nuclear facility. The systems’ pumps used river water to cool down reactors and then returned it to the river.In 2002 test of Columbia River fish exposed presence of radioactive Strontium 90 in samples.

In spite of the leakage problem reported as being fixed in 2005, the latest developments exposed that “only a narrow band of measurements’ was evaluated, acknowledged Inslee. This means that falls in the levels of radioactive waste in the tanks is an established fact, but nobody knows exactly how much the levels have been changing over time.

“It’s like if you’re trying to determine if climate change is happening, only looking at the data for today,” he said, calling it a “human error”. In any case, the most important thing at the moment is“to find and address the leakers,” the governor pointed out.

The overall quantity of radioactive waste in the tanks is estimated at 200,000 tons, enough to fill dozens of Olympic swimming pools. The quantity of solid radioactive waste piled there is close to 710,000 cubic meters.

A work for future generations

Governor Jay Inslee insists the Hanford Nuclear Reservation must be cleaned of radioactive waste, which would take decades and cost billions of dollars.

Washington is already allocating for Hanford site $2 billion annually, actually a third of the national nuclear clean-up budget. But as the latest emergency expose this money is definitely not enough to ensure radioactive contamination security.A new report entitled ‘2013 Hanford Lifecycle Scope, Schedule and Cost’ by the US Department of Energy estimates the remaining environmental cleanup at Hanford at $114.8 billion, a step up from 2012’s $112 billion forecast. The DOA promises to increase the annual clean-up budget at Hanford to over $3 billion.At such a pace the operation will possibly continue till 2070 with post-clean management needed till 2090. And costs usually tend to increase with lengthy projects.

America’s nuclear ordnance workshop

The site, near the town of Hanford in south-central Washington, used to be home to the B Reactor, the world’s first full-scale weapon-grade plutonium production reactor.

Plutonium produced at the facility was used in the first nuclear bomb, tested at the Trinity site, as well as in the Fat Man, the 21-kt bomb detonated over Nagasaki, Japan.Several reactors commissioned at the Hanford facility produced most of plutonium (57 tons) for the American nuclear arsenal (60,000 warheads and bombs at the peak). Production continued for over 40 years and was stopped in 1987.The site was constructed in what was considered a poorly-populated mountain area, but today there is a Tri-City metropolitan area (towns Richland, Kennewick and Pasco) just miles downriver from the facility. The population of the metropolitan area exceeded 250,000 as of the 2010 census. There are also at least six Native American reservations situated close to the site.The new project of the US Energy Department implies constructing a plant that will transfer all of the radioactive liquid at the Hanford facility into glasslike logs for secure storage. But the estimated $12.3 billion cost of the factory has surpassed the budget by billions of dollars already and lags behind schedule. The new program is expected to be operable no earlier than in 2019.Meanwhile the authorities have to utilize a limited budget to build additional tanks to prevent an environmental disaster until the new technology is in place.

Source

With no way to process it, US will bury 70,000 tons of nuclear waste
February 3, 2013

With two decades to go before it can reprocess spent nuclear fuel, the US will have to bury nearly 70,000 tons of it, a research lab reports. It comes after Congress and the Obama administration defunded a planned nuclear waste repository in 2011.

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a facility that does research for the Department of Energy (DOE), said that “about 68,450 [metric tons] or about 98 percent of the total current inventory by mass, can proceed to permanent disposal without the need to ensure retrievability for reuse or research purposes” in its report, published near the end of 2012. The rest of the waste, the report said, could be kept available for research on fuel reprocessing and storage.

The report was fairly obscure until being cited in a DOE document that showed plans to find a new permanent waste dump after Congress and the Obama administration cut funding for the Yucca Mountain repository in 2011.

Reprocessing has little support in Washington due to concerns that spent fuel could fall into the wrong hands. Nevertheless the DOE started looking into reprocessing methods in 2005.

But following the March 2011 disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, US officials became wary of recycling radioactive waste. The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, co-chaired by Energy Secretary Steven Chu, said that “no currently available or reasonably foreseeable reactor and fuel cycle technology developments — including advances in reprocessing and recycling technologies — have the potential to fundamentally alter the waste management challenges the nation confronts over at least the next several decades, if not longer” in a report.

Reprocessing was not taken off the table following the report, though, with American officials saying it was “premature for the United States to commit, as a matter of policy, to ‘closing’ the nuclear fuel cycle given the large uncertainties that exist about the merits and commercial viability of different fuel cycle and technology options.”

The method is seen as a dangerous cash grab by anti-nuclear activists.

“Recycling is a euphemism for reprocessing which is one of the worst polluters of the atmosphere and the ocean, and is a direct conduit to proliferation,” Mali Martha Lightfoot, executive director of the Helen Caldicott Foundation, told Forbes. “It is not really a solution to anything except how can the industry get more of our money. It also ups the ante for reactor accident danger, as in the case of Fukushima, because MOX fuel has plutonium in it.”

So-called MOX fuel, short for mixed-oxide, is used in nuclear warheads and usually consists of a mix of plutonium and uranium. 

The stock of used nuclear fuel currently held at 79 temporary locations in 34 US states “is massive, diverse, dispersed, and increasing,” according to the Oak Ridge report.

Source

The question no one is asking about the Keystone XLJanuary 30, 2013
Right now in Texas, a foreign corporation, TransCanada, is using our government’s 5th Amendment right of eminent domain to confiscate private land belonging to Americans, to build a massive oil pipeline so TransCanada can ship oil from the Gulf of Mexico to non-Americans around the world. Oil, by the way, that will accelerate our planet’s plunge into global warming-induced catastrophe.
So the question is, “Why?”
Last year, President Obama approved the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will transport deadly Canadian tar-sands oil from Oklahoma down to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas where it will be refined and then promptly placed on oil rigs to be sold in South America, Europe, and Asia. They get the oil; we get the poison coming out of the refinery smokestacks.
Odds are little of oil from the Keystone XL pipeline will make it into American markets. According to TransCanada itself, this project will NOT reduce the price of gas in the United States (it will actually increase gas prices in the Midwest). It will not reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It will create only a few thousand temporary jobs. And it will put our land and underground aquifers at risk of oil contamination, while presenting to terrorists a sweet little thousand-mile-long target they can take out with a bit of dynamite.
And rather than slowing climate change, this pipeline will take us over the tipping point. Environmentalists like Bill McKibbin call it a “ticking time bomb” for the environment. And NASA scientist James Hansen calls completion of the pipeline “game over for the planet.”  
So, again, why is construction of this pipeline allowed to continue?
Why would a foreign corporation push so hard that people like 78-year-old great grandmother Eleanor Fairchild was arrested last October for trespassing on her own property as she tried to stop TransCanada’s bulldozers from ripping a hole through her 300-acre ranch?
Why is the state of Texas allowing a foreign corporation to seize land through eminent domain to build an oil pipeline, when in 2002 the state transportation department forbid the use of eminent domain to build new roads across Texas?  
And why is it that we’ve allowed this foreign corporation, TransCanada, to launchnumerous SLAPP lawsuits against peaceful activists and property owners, threatening them with “losing their homes and life’s savings” if they continue protesting further construction of the pipeline?
And, most importantly, why, residing on a rapidly warming planet, are we doubling-down on 19th Century dirty energy sources like fossil fuels, when we should be focusing on 21st century clean energy sources like solar and wind?
Consider this: 
Last week in Chattanooga, Tennessee a massive solar power facility comprising of over 33,600 individual solar modules capable of producing 13.1 gigawatt hours of electricity every year was turned on. It’s big enough to power 1,200 homes, but will be used to power a Volkswagen manufacturing plant. And it’s the biggest solar installation ever built in the state of Tennessee.  
This solar farm was built by an American company, Silicon Ranch. No Canadian tar oil necessary. 
So, instead of letting foreign companies build terrorist-target oil pipelines across our entire country, shouldn’t we be supporting homegrown companies that could make America the worldwide leader in renewable energy?
Another “for-example”: Did you know that the United States just passed Germany as the number-two country in the world when it comes to producing wind power? Did you know that the largest wind farm in the world, the Alta Wind Energy Center, is located right here in the United States in Kern County, California?
The Department of Energy estimates that 20 percent of our national energy could be produced by wind come 2030. But that’s only if our government embraces wind power with the same enthusiasm that we embrace Canada’s tar sands oil.
It’s a no-brainer. And it’s what the rest of the world is doing, too.
The world is rushing toward clean energy, from the 1.3 million solar power systemscurrently online in Germany producing 28 billion kilowatts of energy annually, to theLondon Array off-shore wind farm (the largest of its kind),  producing 630 enough electricity to power more than 470,000 homes.
So given all of this, tell me again why we’re building the Keystone XL pipeline? Why, with all this potential for clean and renewable energy, are we arresting Americans for trespassing on their own property?  It sure looks like it’s just so a foreign corporation can get rid of their toxic oil, and a handful of billionaires in Texas can make big profits refining and exporting it.
Our clean energy success stories are hidden from the news media, and our lawmakers are doing the bidding of Big Oil, turning our nation into the place where foreign corporations can do the dirty work of fossil fuel refining far, far away from their own populations. The President spoke about climate change in his Second Inaugural. But he’ll have a chance to do something more than give a good speech come March when the rest of the Keystone XL pipeline is set to be approved.
So, let’s keep the pressure on our lawmakers and our news media. All around the world, and right here at home, we see the potential for clean energy use on a massive scale. We have 21st Century energy solutions that work now, today; we don’t need another 19th Century oil pipeline.

Source
Of course the answer to this “why?” question is because it is profitable for TransCanada to build the pipeline. Millions of lobbying dollars are spent to see the Keystone XL be built.
The biggest push back against the Keystone XL has been led by environmental groups engaging in direct action to stop this dirty energy. The Tar Sands Blockade is hosting another training camp in Oklahoma March 17 to 22. Check it out if you’re in the area! 

The question no one is asking about the Keystone XL
January 30, 2013

Right now in Texas, a foreign corporation, TransCanada, is using our government’s 5th Amendment right of eminent domain to confiscate private land belonging to Americans, to build a massive oil pipeline so TransCanada can ship oil from the Gulf of Mexico to non-Americans around the world. Oil, by the way, that will accelerate our planet’s plunge into global warming-induced catastrophe.

So the question is, “Why?”

Last year, President Obama approved the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will transport deadly Canadian tar-sands oil from Oklahoma down to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas where it will be refined and then promptly placed on oil rigs to be sold in South America, Europe, and Asia. They get the oil; we get the poison coming out of the refinery smokestacks.

Odds are little of oil from the Keystone XL pipeline will make it into American markets. According to TransCanada itself, this project will NOT reduce the price of gas in the United States (it will actually increase gas prices in the Midwest). It will not reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It will create only a few thousand temporary jobs. And it will put our land and underground aquifers at risk of oil contamination, while presenting to terrorists a sweet little thousand-mile-long target they can take out with a bit of dynamite.

And rather than slowing climate change, this pipeline will take us over the tipping point. Environmentalists like Bill McKibbin call it a “ticking time bomb” for the environment. And NASA scientist James Hansen calls completion of the pipeline “game over for the planet.”  

So, again, why is construction of this pipeline allowed to continue?

Why would a foreign corporation push so hard that people like 78-year-old great grandmother Eleanor Fairchild was arrested last October for trespassing on her own property as she tried to stop TransCanada’s bulldozers from ripping a hole through her 300-acre ranch?

Why is the state of Texas allowing a foreign corporation to seize land through eminent domain to build an oil pipeline, when in 2002 the state transportation department forbid the use of eminent domain to build new roads across Texas?  

And why is it that we’ve allowed this foreign corporation, TransCanada, to launchnumerous SLAPP lawsuits against peaceful activists and property owners, threatening them with “losing their homes and life’s savings” if they continue protesting further construction of the pipeline?

And, most importantly, why, residing on a rapidly warming planet, are we doubling-down on 19th Century dirty energy sources like fossil fuels, when we should be focusing on 21st century clean energy sources like solar and wind?

Consider this: 

Last week in Chattanooga, Tennessee a massive solar power facility comprising of over 33,600 individual solar modules capable of producing 13.1 gigawatt hours of electricity every year was turned on. It’s big enough to power 1,200 homes, but will be used to power a Volkswagen manufacturing plant. And it’s the biggest solar installation ever built in the state of Tennessee.  

This solar farm was built by an American company, Silicon Ranch. No Canadian tar oil necessary. 

So, instead of letting foreign companies build terrorist-target oil pipelines across our entire country, shouldn’t we be supporting homegrown companies that could make America the worldwide leader in renewable energy?

Another “for-example”: Did you know that the United States just passed Germany as the number-two country in the world when it comes to producing wind power? Did you know that the largest wind farm in the world, the Alta Wind Energy Center, is located right here in the United States in Kern County, California?

The Department of Energy estimates that 20 percent of our national energy could be produced by wind come 2030. But that’s only if our government embraces wind power with the same enthusiasm that we embrace Canada’s tar sands oil.

It’s a no-brainer. And it’s what the rest of the world is doing, too.

The world is rushing toward clean energy, from the 1.3 million solar power systemscurrently online in Germany producing 28 billion kilowatts of energy annually, to theLondon Array off-shore wind farm (the largest of its kind),  producing 630 enough electricity to power more than 470,000 homes.

So given all of this, tell me again why we’re building the Keystone XL pipeline? Why, with all this potential for clean and renewable energy, are we arresting Americans for trespassing on their own property?  It sure looks like it’s just so a foreign corporation can get rid of their toxic oil, and a handful of billionaires in Texas can make big profits refining and exporting it.

Our clean energy success stories are hidden from the news media, and our lawmakers are doing the bidding of Big Oil, turning our nation into the place where foreign corporations can do the dirty work of fossil fuel refining far, far away from their own populations. The President spoke about climate change in his Second Inaugural. But he’ll have a chance to do something more than give a good speech come March when the rest of the Keystone XL pipeline is set to be approved.

So, let’s keep the pressure on our lawmakers and our news media. All around the world, and right here at home, we see the potential for clean energy use on a massive scale. We have 21st Century energy solutions that work now, today; we don’t need another 19th Century oil pipeline.

Source

Of course the answer to this “why?” question is because it is profitable for TransCanada to build the pipeline. Millions of lobbying dollars are spent to see the Keystone XL be built.

The biggest push back against the Keystone XL has been led by environmental groups engaging in direct action to stop this dirty energy. The Tar Sands Blockade is hosting another training camp in Oklahoma March 17 to 22. Check it out if you’re in the area! 

Worried about citizens at risk from dangerous nuclear power, Belgium plans artificial island to store wind power
January 23, 2013 

Belgium is planning to build a doughnut-shaped island in the North Sea that will store wind energy by pumping water out of a hollow in the middle, as it looks for ways to lessen its reliance on nuclear power.

One of the biggest problems with electricity is that it is difficult to store and the issue is exaggerated in the case of renewable energy from wind or sun because it is intermittent depending on the weather.

"We have a lot of energy from the wind mills and sometimes it just gets lost because there isn’t enough demand for the electricity," said a spokeswoman for Belgium’s North Sea minister Johan Vande Lanotte.

"This is a great solution," she said, adding she thought it could be the first of its kind.

Excess energy would be used to pump water out of the centre of the island, and then the water would be let back in through turbines when demand outpaces supply.

Vande Lanotte revealed the plans during a presentation at the Belgian port of Zeebrugge late on Wednesday.

Belgium plans a complete exit from nuclear power as soon as enough energy from alternative sources becomes available, but last year it postponed the closure of its oldest reactor for a decade over energy supply worries.

In 2011, around 57 percent of Belgium’s energy came from nuclear power.

Belgium hopes eventually to generate 2,300 MW from its network of North Sea wind farms, which could replace a significant part of either of its two nuclear sites, Doel and Tihange, which each generate about 3,000 MW.

The island is still in the planning stages, but will be built out of sand 3 km off the Belgian coast near the town of Wenduine if it gets the final go-ahead.

The island, which would also work as an offshore substation to transform the voltage of the electricity generated by wind turbines, could take five or more years to plan and build.

It won’t be until Elia, Belgium’s power grid operator, strengthens the power lines leading out to the coast.

"One of the driving elements is the reinforcement of the grid onshore towards the coast," a spokeswoman for Elia said.

Belgium’s nuclear power operator Electrabel, a division of France’s GDF Suez, shut down two of its reactors last year while it investigates cracks found in the reactor casing.

Source

EPA allows uranium mining that pumps toxic waste into Wyoming drinking waterDecember 26, 2012
On a lonely stretch at the edge of the Great Plains, rolling grassland presses up against a crowning escarpment called the Pumpkin Buttes. The land appears bountiful, but it is stingy, straining to produce enough sustenance for the herds of cattle and sheep on its arid prairies.
“It’s a tough way to make a living,” said John Christensen, whose family has worked this private expanse, called Christensen Ranch, for more than a century.
Christensen has made ends meet by allowing prospectors to tap into minerals and oil and gas beneath his bucolic hills. But from the start, it has been a Faustian bargain.
As dry as this land may be, underground, vast reservoirs hold billions of gallons of water suitable for drinking, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Yet every day injection wells pump more than 200,000 gallons of toxic and radioactive waste from uranium mining into Christensen’s aquifers.
What is happening in this remote corner of Wyoming affects few people other than Christensen u2014 at least for now.
But a roiling conflict between state and federal regulators over whether to allow more mining at Christensen Ranch u2014 and the damage that comes with it u2014 has pitted the feverish drive for domestic energy against the need to protect water resources for the future. The outcome could have far-reaching implications, setting a precedent for similar battles sparked by the resurgence of uranium mining in Texas, South Dakota, New Mexico and elsewhere.
Twenty-five years ago, the EPA and Wyoming officials agreed that polluting the water beneath Christensen Ranch was an acceptable price for producing energy there.
The Safe Drinking Water Act forbids injecting industrial waste into or above drinking water aquifers, but the EPA issued what are called aquifer exemptions that gave mine operators at the ranch permission to ignore the law. Over the last three decades, the agency has issued more than 1,500 such exemptions nationwide, allowing energy and mining companies to pollute portions of at least 100 drinking water aquifers.
When the EPA granted the exemptions for Christensen Ranch, its scientists believed that the reservoirs underlying the property were too deep to hold desirable water, and that even if they did, no one was likely to use it. They also believed the mine operators could contain and remediate pollution in the shallower rock layers where mining takes place.
Over time, shifting science and a changing climate have upended these assumptions, however. An epochal drought across the West has made water more precious and improved technology has made it economically viable to retrieve water from extraordinary depths, filter it and transport it.
“What does deep mean?” asked Mike Wireman, a hydrologist with the EPA who also works with the World Bank on global water supply issues. “There is a view out there that says if it’s more than a few thousand feet deep we don’t really care u2026 just go ahead and dump all that waste. There is an opposite view that says no, that is not sustainable water management policy.”
Federal regulators also have become less certain that it is possible to clean up contamination from uranium mining. At Christensen Ranch and elsewhere, efforts to cleanse radioactive pollutants from drinking water aquifers near the surface have failed and uranium and its byproducts have sometimes migrated beyond containment zones, records show.
In 2007, when the Christensen Ranch mine operator proposed expanding its operations, bringing more injection wells online and more than tripling the amount of waste it was injecting into underground reservoirs, Wyoming officials eagerly gave their permission, but the EPA found itself at a crossroads.
If the agency did what Wyoming wanted, it could destroy water that someday could be necessary and undermine its ability to protect aquifers in other places. If it rejected the plan, the agency risked political and legal backlash from state officials and the energy industry.
The EPA declined interview requests from ProPublica for this story and did not respond to a lengthy set of questions submitted in writing. After learning that ProPublica contacted several EPA employees directly involved in the debate over Christensen Ranch, the agency instructed staffers not to discuss the matter without agency approval.
For the last five years, as regulators have vacillated over what to do, John Christensen has experienced a similar ambivalence.
His property is speckled with thousands of small, mysterious black boxes. From each dark cube, a mixture of chemicals is pumped into the ground to dissolve the ore and separate out the uranium so that it can be sucked back out and refined for nuclear fuel.
Horses graze behind a gate on a dirt road that winds across this 35,000-acre tract, 50 miles south of Gillette. Nearby, a small metal sign is strung to a cattle guard with chicken wire: “Caution. Radioactive Material.”
Full article
From Alberta to Wyoming to Texas & beyond, this fight for environmental justice must continue to grow because of these dire consequences. 

EPA allows uranium mining that pumps toxic waste into Wyoming drinking water
December 26, 2012

On a lonely stretch at the edge of the Great Plains, rolling grassland presses up against a crowning escarpment called the Pumpkin Buttes. The land appears bountiful, but it is stingy, straining to produce enough sustenance for the herds of cattle and sheep on its arid prairies.

“It’s a tough way to make a living,” said John Christensen, whose family has worked this private expanse, called Christensen Ranch, for more than a century.

Christensen has made ends meet by allowing prospectors to tap into minerals and oil and gas beneath his bucolic hills. But from the start, it has been a Faustian bargain.

As dry as this land may be, underground, vast reservoirs hold billions of gallons of water suitable for drinking, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Yet every day injection wells pump more than 200,000 gallons of toxic and radioactive waste from uranium mining into Christensen’s aquifers.

What is happening in this remote corner of Wyoming affects few people other than Christensen u2014 at least for now.

But a roiling conflict between state and federal regulators over whether to allow more mining at Christensen Ranch u2014 and the damage that comes with it u2014 has pitted the feverish drive for domestic energy against the need to protect water resources for the future. The outcome could have far-reaching implications, setting a precedent for similar battles sparked by the resurgence of uranium mining in Texas, South Dakota, New Mexico and elsewhere.

Twenty-five years ago, the EPA and Wyoming officials agreed that polluting the water beneath Christensen Ranch was an acceptable price for producing energy there.

The Safe Drinking Water Act forbids injecting industrial waste into or above drinking water aquifers, but the EPA issued what are called aquifer exemptions that gave mine operators at the ranch permission to ignore the law. Over the last three decades, the agency has issued more than 1,500 such exemptions nationwide, allowing energy and mining companies to pollute portions of at least 100 drinking water aquifers.

When the EPA granted the exemptions for Christensen Ranch, its scientists believed that the reservoirs underlying the property were too deep to hold desirable water, and that even if they did, no one was likely to use it. They also believed the mine operators could contain and remediate pollution in the shallower rock layers where mining takes place.

Over time, shifting science and a changing climate have upended these assumptions, however. An epochal drought across the West has made water more precious and improved technology has made it economically viable to retrieve water from extraordinary depths, filter it and transport it.

“What does deep mean?” asked Mike Wireman, a hydrologist with the EPA who also works with the World Bank on global water supply issues. “There is a view out there that says if it’s more than a few thousand feet deep we don’t really care u2026 just go ahead and dump all that waste. There is an opposite view that says no, that is not sustainable water management policy.”

Federal regulators also have become less certain that it is possible to clean up contamination from uranium mining. At Christensen Ranch and elsewhere, efforts to cleanse radioactive pollutants from drinking water aquifers near the surface have failed and uranium and its byproducts have sometimes migrated beyond containment zones, records show.

In 2007, when the Christensen Ranch mine operator proposed expanding its operations, bringing more injection wells online and more than tripling the amount of waste it was injecting into underground reservoirs, Wyoming officials eagerly gave their permission, but the EPA found itself at a crossroads.

If the agency did what Wyoming wanted, it could destroy water that someday could be necessary and undermine its ability to protect aquifers in other places. If it rejected the plan, the agency risked political and legal backlash from state officials and the energy industry.

The EPA declined interview requests from ProPublica for this story and did not respond to a lengthy set of questions submitted in writing. After learning that ProPublica contacted several EPA employees directly involved in the debate over Christensen Ranch, the agency instructed staffers not to discuss the matter without agency approval.

For the last five years, as regulators have vacillated over what to do, John Christensen has experienced a similar ambivalence.

His property is speckled with thousands of small, mysterious black boxes. From each dark cube, a mixture of chemicals is pumped into the ground to dissolve the ore and separate out the uranium so that it can be sucked back out and refined for nuclear fuel.

Horses graze behind a gate on a dirt road that winds across this 35,000-acre tract, 50 miles south of Gillette. Nearby, a small metal sign is strung to a cattle guard with chicken wire: “Caution. Radioactive Material.”

Full article

From Alberta to Wyoming to Texas & beyond, this fight for environmental justice must continue to grow because of these dire consequences. 

The People’s Record Daily News Update - Whose news? Our news!

November 22, 2012 

Here are some stories you may not otherwise read about today:

Follow us on Tumblr or by RSS feed for more daily updates. You can also like our Facebook page for related content. 

Rice unveils super-efficient solar-energy technology

November 21, 2012

Rice University scientists have unveiled a revolutionary new technology that uses silicon dioxide/gold nanoshells and N115 carbon nanoparticles to convert solar energy directly into steam. The new “solar steam” method from Rice’s Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP) is so effective it can even produce steam from icy cold water.

The technology has an overall energy efficiency of 24 percent. Photovoltaic solar panels, by comparison, typically have an overall energy efficiency around 15 percent. However, the inventors of solar steam said they expect the first uses of the new technology will not be for electricity generation but rather for sanitation and water purification in developing countries.

“This is about a lot more than electricity,” said LANP Director Naomi Halas, the lead scientist on the project. “With this technology, we are beginning to think about solar thermal power in a completely different way.”

The efficiency of solar steam is due to the light-capturing nanoparticles that convert sunlight into heat. When submerged in water and exposed to sunlight, the particles heat up so quickly they instantly vaporize water and create steam.

Halas said the solar steam’s overall energy efficiency can probably be increased as the technology is refined.

“We’re going from heating water on the macro scale to heating it at the nanoscale,” Halas said. “Our particles are very small — even smaller than a wavelength of light — which means they have an extremely small surface area to dissipate heat.

This intense heating allows us to generate steam locally, right at the surface of the particle.”

Steam is one of the world’s most-used industrial fluids. About 90 percent of electricity is produced from steam, and steam is also used to sterilize medical waste and surgical instruments, to prepare food and to purify water.

Most industrial steam is produced in large boilers, and Halas said solar steam’s efficiency could allow steam to become economical on a much smaller scale.

People in developing countries will be among the first to see the benefits of solar steam. Rice engineering undergraduates have already created a solar steam-powered autoclave that’s capable of sterilizing medical and dental instruments at clinics that lack electricity.

Halas also won a Grand Challenges grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create an ultra-small-scale system for treating human waste in areas without sewer systems or electricity.

“Solar steam is remarkable because of its efficiency,” said Neumann, the lead co-author on the paper. “It does not require acres of mirrors or solar panels. In fact, the footprint can be very small. For example, the light window in our demonstration autoclave was just a few square centimeters.”

Another potential use could be in powering hybrid air-conditioning and heating systems that run off of sunlight during the day and electricity at night. Halas, Neumann and colleagues have also conducted distillation experiments and found that solar steam is about two-and-a-half times more efficient than existing distillation columns.

Source

The few times I come across optimistic/positive news worth posting, I really enjoy posting it. 

From Food & Water Watch:
“Although he’d like to ignore it, Governor Cuomo’s inbox keeps piling higher and higher with mail urging him to ban fracking. 
This week we and our New Yorkers Against Fracking friends delivered more than 160,000 ban fracking petitions to his office, on top of more than 250,000 delivered this summer. The mail sure does pile up! 
Help make sure Governor Cuomo never sees the bottom of his inbox by signing a petition telling him to ban fracking now. We’ll be sure to deliver it.”

From Food & Water Watch:

Although he’d like to ignore it, Governor Cuomo’s inbox keeps piling higher and higher with mail urging him to ban fracking.

This week we and our New Yorkers Against Fracking friends delivered more than 160,000 ban fracking petitions to his office, on top of more than 250,000 delivered this summer. The mail sure does pile up!

Help make sure Governor Cuomo never sees the bottom of his inbox by signing a petition telling him to ban fracking now. We’ll be sure to deliver it.”

Six arrested in front of Duke Energy HQ during DNCSeptember 8, 2012
Six protesters were taken away in handcuffs earlier Thursday near the corporate headquarters for Duke Energy. They had locked arms and were sitting on top of a banner claiming that the energy company was harming the environment.
Two dozen officers surrounded them and eventually lifted up the protesters, who refused to move. They then put them into prisoner transport vans.
Just before her arrest, 26-year-old Christina Mounce of Casper, W. Virginia,criticized the utility company for burning coal and running nuclear power plants.
“We want President Obama to stop accepting their campaign money,” said Mounce, a marine biologist. “The president is setting a horrible example by being linked with them.”
The demonstrators at Stonewall and Tryon streets said they were demanding an audience with Jim Rogers, the CEO of Duke Energy.
The others arrested were Amelia Campbell, 22, of Boulder, Colo.; Audrey Campbell, 22, of Boulder, Colo.; Richard French, 39, of Farmington, N.M.; Matthew Goodsell, 56; and Michael Joseph Stewart, 25, of Lakewood, Colo. All were charged with impeding traffic.
Counting Thursday’s detentions, a total of 25 protesters were arrested or taken away in handcuffs during the three-day convention, which ended Thursday night.
SourcePhoto

Six arrested in front of Duke Energy HQ during DNC
September 8, 2012

Six protesters were taken away in handcuffs earlier Thursday near the corporate headquarters for Duke Energy. They had locked arms and were sitting on top of a banner claiming that the energy company was harming the environment.

Two dozen officers surrounded them and eventually lifted up the protesters, who refused to move. They then put them into prisoner transport vans.

Just before her arrest, 26-year-old Christina Mounce of Casper, W. Virginia,criticized the utility company for burning coal and running nuclear power plants.

“We want President Obama to stop accepting their campaign money,” said Mounce, a marine biologist. “The president is setting a horrible example by being linked with them.”

The demonstrators at Stonewall and Tryon streets said they were demanding an audience with Jim Rogers, the CEO of Duke Energy.

The others arrested were Amelia Campbell, 22, of Boulder, Colo.; Audrey Campbell, 22, of Boulder, Colo.; Richard French, 39, of Farmington, N.M.; Matthew Goodsell, 56; and Michael Joseph Stewart, 25, of Lakewood, Colo. All were charged with impeding traffic.

Counting Thursday’s detentions, a total of 25 protesters were arrested or taken away in handcuffs during the three-day convention, which ended Thursday night.

Source
Photo

Natural gas pipeline explodes near Alice, Texas
September 6, 2012
A natural gas gathering pipeline exploded on Thursday about 10 miles north of Alice, Texas, said a spokesman for pipeline owner Copano Energy LLC.
No injuries were reported from the afternoon blast in the 10-inch (25.4-centimeter) Bradshaw pipeline near a compressor station, said Copano’s Craig Brown.

The section of pipeline that ruptured in the explosion has been isolated and the remaining gas and condensate in the pipe is being allowed to burn off, Brown said. Copano expects the fire will be out and the area around the pipe cool enough for the company to begin seeking a cause for the blast Friday morning.

"While it’s premature to speculate on the cause, I can tell you there were no outward signs of vandalism," Brown said.

A gathering line collects natural gas from a field where the gas is being produced and sends it to a storage facility.
Alice is located 239 miles southwest of Houston.
Source

Natural gas pipeline explodes near Alice, Texas

September 6, 2012

A natural gas gathering pipeline exploded on Thursday about 10 miles north of Alice, Texas, said a spokesman for pipeline owner Copano Energy LLC.

No injuries were reported from the afternoon blast in the 10-inch (25.4-centimeter) Bradshaw pipeline near a compressor station, said Copano’s Craig Brown.

The section of pipeline that ruptured in the explosion has been isolated and the remaining gas and condensate in the pipe is being allowed to burn off, Brown said. Copano expects the fire will be out and the area around the pipe cool enough for the company to begin seeking a cause for the blast Friday morning.

"While it’s premature to speculate on the cause, I can tell you there were no outward signs of vandalism," Brown said.

A gathering line collects natural gas from a field where the gas is being produced and sends it to a storage facility.

Alice is located 239 miles southwest of Houston.

Source