Toyota

Since the Dilly, Dally, Delay & Stall Law Firms are adding their billable hours, the Toyota U.S.A. and Route 44 Toyota posts have been separated here:

Route 44 Toyota Sold Me A Lemon



Monday, June 30, 2008

Middleboro Selectmen's Agenda

Some internet searchers are landing on my blog after doing a search for the Middleboro Board of Selectmen's Agenda or the Meeting Minutes.

Allow me to direct you to the appropriate site for Agendas: Selectmen's Meeting

You will note that the information is posted in an assortment of inconsistent formats: doc, tif, pdf, mht and it became frustrating to post.
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If you click on 6-30-08, you will arrive at the page that provides detailed information of the items to be discussed during the meeting: Selectmen/Meeting Agendas/6-30-08/
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This information is linked to the following page: Board of Selectmen
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Should you miss a meeting, the BOS Meeting Minutes may be found here: Selectmen/Minutes

Solar Water Heaters Mandatory in Hawaii

ENN reports the progress of other states in addressing alternative energy:

Solar Water Heaters Now Mandatory In Hawaii
RELATED ARTICLES
California Funds Solar Water Heating Systems
New Federal Law Offers Tax Credits for Energy-Efficient Purchases
California Regulators Unveil Solar Power Plan
Solar-Power Push Heats Up /top_stories/article/37518

Hawaii has become the first state to require solar water heaters in
new homes. The bill was signed into law by Governor Linda Lingle, a Republican. It requires the energy-saving systems in homes starting in 2010. It prohibits issuing building permits for single-family homes that do not have solar water heaters. Hawaii relies on imported fossil fuels more than any other state, with about 90 percent of its energy sources coming from foreign countries, according to state data.
Other states, such as California, Nevada, Washington and New Jersey, have positioned themselves as leaders by providing incentives and adopting policies that promote renewable-energy sources
California incentives can cover half the cost of photovoltaic systems.

In New Jersey, incentives can cover 60 percent of the costs.

Starting in January, a federal tax credit will knock off 30 percent of the cost of a solar-electric or solar-thermal system up to $2,000.
Are we seeing Massachusetts on any of these lists? Isn't it time for Beacon Hill to set aside politics and act in the best interests of constituents?

CFLs, Mercury and Recycling

For those reluctant to purchase CFLs due to the mercury content, ENN offers the following:

Recycling CFLs is Finally Easy to Do!


If you like the idea of energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs but worry about the mercury they contain, now you can worry a lot less. The Home Depot is selling bulbs that have cut the amount of mercury most bulbs contain in half. And when you’re finished with the bulbs, you can recycle them — along with any other CFLs you have — at any of the company’s 1,973 stores.

Simply bring in your expired, unbroken CFL bulbs, and give them to the store associate behind the returns desk. The bulbs will be handled by an environmental management company that will coordinate CFL packaging, transportation and recycling to maximize safety and ensure environmental compliance.

“With more than 75 percent of households located within 10 miles of a Home Depot store, this program is the first national solution to providing Americans with a convenient way to recycle CFLs,” said the company’s Ron Jarvis, senior vice president, Environmental Innovation.

What’s the appeal of CFLs? They use up to 75 percent less energy, last longer and cost less over time than incandescent bulbs. The average household can reduce its energy bills by $12 to $20 a month by using CFLs. The bulbs were once accused of emitting a harsh, glaring light. But many bulbs generate a softer, yellower light now, increasing the appeal of using them for any room in the house.

In addition to recycling CFLs, The Home Depot plans to introduce more dimmable compact fluorescents within the year. Home Depot’s bulbs contain 2.3 to 3.5 milligrams of mercury, which is below the National Electrical Manufacturers Association recommendation of 5 milligrams or fewer. It is a small amount, equivalent to the volume of the steel ball in the tip of a ballpoint pen. By comparison, home thermostats contain about 1,000 times more mercury than the common CFL.

The company says it sold more than 75 million CFL’s in 2007, saving Americans approximately $4.8 billion in energy costs and preventing 51.8 billon pounds in climate-changing greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere over the life of the bulbs.

The Home Depot is not only encouraging consumers to change their light bulbs. It’s doing the same in its own stores. The company expects to save $16 million in annual energy costs by switching all of its U.S. Light Fixture Showrooms to CFLs by the fall of 2008.

The CFL recycling program is an extension of The Home Depot's Eco Options program. Eco Options, launched in April 2007, is a classification that allows customers to easily identify products that have less of an impact on the environment.

Switching from traditional light bulbs to CFLs is an easy change consumers can make to reduce energy use at home. According to the EPA's ENERGY STAR(R) program, if every American switched one incandescent bulb to a CFL, it would prevent more than $600 million in annual energy costs and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from 800,000 cars.
NOTE: Consumers can also recycle CFLs at any
IKEA store.

Massachusetts: New School Building Guidelines

The following has just been released:


The Division of Local Services has just released the following new Informational Guideline Release (IGR 08-102 ) Guidelines for the Application of School Building Assistance Grants. This IGR (Supersedes IGR 06-101):
http://www.mass.gov/Ador/docs/dls/publ/igr/2008/igr08_102.pdf

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Energy Debate and Donald Lambro

Mr. Lambro:

Since my unimportant local blog entries seem to have provoked such interest and your comment on my simple efforts to present the facts regarding energy, instead of responding with a pot shot as your original comment seemed to indicate, maybe you could defend mountaintop removal and the videos that are posted. (For anyone interested, there are far more videos posted on YouTube if you are inclined to do a search for "mountain top removal.")
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In a recent article in the Telegram, Massachusetts Republican Senators said:
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Sen. Michael R. Knapik, R-Westfield, complained the state was ignoring the need for more power supplies.
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“Give me a break, ....The oilman in the White House? We point the finger? My constituents are paying $4 a gallon for gas. There is nothing in the bill that is going to help them,” he said, arguing new conventional energy sources were needed and not being encouraged. “Let’s not go crazy with the accolades and patting ourselves on the back. God forbid we drill,” he said, arguing for more domestic oil drilling. Mr. Knapik also complained about opposition and delays in development of a proposed wind turbine farm in Nantucket Sound that would provide clean power to Cape Cod. “Wind power — God forbid, we help the Cape. We can’t even get that right,” Mr. Knapik said.
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He said the state has the highest electric rates in the nation and there is serious worry about heating costs next winter. “This legislation does nothing to drive down those costs,” he said. Mr. Knapik, however, supported the legislation, commenting, “It does begin to move us incrementally in the right direction.”
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Another Republican, Sen. Bruce E. Tarr of Gloucester, said the bill would restrict electrical supply at a time when the state needs more power. “There is no doubt we need to be exploring renewables … but does that mean we need to restrict ourselves on our supply of energy?” he asked.
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One might make the argument that consumers are being duped by lobbyists, dirty coal, and corporate campaign contributors with a vested interest who dismiss environmental issues.
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Why do the Republicans who repeat the party line by rote sound like bobble heads?
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Coal sequestration? Now that's funny.
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Let's destroy the mountains, the towns where economically disadvantaged people live - those with no voices, those with no economic clout to fight the environmental disasters unlike any we have ever witnessed that coal companies leave in their wake as they ride off to the next mountain to destroy. The floods have caused toxic waste to flood houses, sicken families, yet those generous campaign contributions continue to flow in.
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Senator Knapik got most things wrong, but not Cape Wind, a project that has been vigorously opposed by wealthy Cape residents unwilling to see their view disturbed or their sailing race course rerouted, and Coal Company Execs and Lobbyists. The delay in approval has doubled the price. Will King Coal aka the opposition Alliance further delay this issue in court? Will the Commonwealth continue to drag its heels?
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As a footnote, since Americans consume more energy and water than their EU counterparts, that implies the potential for conservation. Cambridge is a great example that Middleboro should be copying.
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NPR had a discussion program on this AM discussing energy and ways to reduce consumption, that was only partially heard, but a gentleman from Oakland called and explained that county employees were working 4 10 hour days, successfully reducing their commuting costs and municipal energy costs 20%. (And Middleboro is doing what?)
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Energy costs are WASTED expenses. You have nothing to show for the expense. How about the novel approach of reducing that WASTED money? How about empowering people with the information, technology and comparable subsidies the US is providing to energy companies to reduce those unnecessary expenses? It's an idea whose time has arrived.
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And just maybe we wouldn't have to send our young people to be killed or maimed fighting costly resource wars.

Dirty Coal: Mountaintop Removal Section of "The Appalachians" Part 2

Dirty Coal: Mountaintop Removal in KY and WV

Dirty Coal: National Memorial for the Mountains

Dirty Coal: Toxic West Virginia - Part 2

Dirty Coal: Toxic West Virginia: Mountaintop Removal- Episode 1

When you defend coal energy, is this what you're defending?


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Energy Tips #3

Rocky Mountain Institute offers Household Energy Efficiency briefs, available for download in pdf format.
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Registration is required to download. Because everyone's lifestyle is unique, there is no 'One Size Fits All.' RMI provides a framework to adapt your family's habits and your home to reduce your energy consumption.
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About RMI includes a visitor's guide and additional information.




Cape Wind: It's Time


Business Week commented on the progress of Cape Wind and the potential to move forward to provide clean energy to Cape Cod.


For almost 8 years, wealthy Cape residents and energy lobbyists have waged a battle that has delayed approval and construction, and more significantly, forced consumers to pay more for their power.


[Jim Gordon] has methodically responded to every objection from Cape Cod property owners and sometime-vacationers, ranging from heiress Bunny Mellon and billionaire Bill Koch to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). "This is like trying to put a wind farm in Yellowstone National Park, as far as we're concerned," says Glenn Wattley, CEO of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the opposition's lobbying arm.
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Victory is by no means certain. Cape Wind could yet bog down in litigation or be nixed by the feds, Gordon concedes. Even if Washington O.K.'s the project, he must find a way to finance it. Expected costs have more than doubled in the last eight years, to over $1.5billion, by some estimates. And assuming the funding comes through, engineering and construction could drag on for three or more years.
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In Hull, Mass., a faded Victorian-era beach town just across the bay from Boston, there's already a windmill spinning above the local high school and another over the dump. Four more turbines are planned for the waters just a mile and a half from one of Greater Boston's busiest public beaches. Thanks to the two functioning windmills, power rates in the town haven't risen in seven years, although they've doubled statewide. With four more, Hull could meet all of its needs with homegrown energy, says town manager Phil Lemnios.
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The US has allowed other nations to surpass our technology and manufacturing capacity because of our failure to insist on a sensible national energy policy. Instead, we are subsidizing dirty power, like coal, to the detriment of our future.

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Where the US should be leading the world, some are still mired in the shortsighted propaganda of a failed Administration that denied Global Warming.
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Europe is some 15 years ahead of the U.S. in exploiting offshore wind. Hundreds of giant windmills already dot the North Sea, with more than 1,000 megawatts of generating capacity. This head start provides an edge to equipment suppliers such as Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems and Germany's Siemens (SI), the only two companies building offshore turbines in large volumes today.
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Isn't it time to expect aggressive support for WIND on Beacon Hill?









Coal

Greenwashing Dirty Coal Energy

If it's not your community that Dirty Coal is destroying, is it unimportant?

If their beloved mountains are being destroyed, their communities sickened and their towns flooded to feed your quest for electricity, are you more important?
I've listened and read all the hype about clean coal and sequestration. I've read all the proclamations about how many years worth of coal the US possesses. It doesn't ring true.
Consider the following:

Energy companies have made it abundantly clear that any forward movement on ccs, as well as other clean-coal technology, depends on the government's shouldering a good share of the expense. They got a fair bit of what they wanted in last year's energy bill, which jettisoned key measures to support solar and wind power (including a requirement that utilities move toward generating 15 percent of their power from renewables) but set aside billions for research into CO2 sequestration. The subsidies come on top of an even larger set of handouts found in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which included some $4 billion in direct grants, loan guarantees, and tax incentives for gasification and other clean-coal initiatives. MoJo

If photovoltaics, wind, wave/tidal, geothermal or fuel cells received $4 billion, where would we be?

Energy independent?

MoJo:
And the push is likely to continue—at the state level, as well as in Washington. Last year in Kentucky, the governor signed a bill to provide a subsidiary of Peabody Energy, the world's largest coal company, with $250 million in tax breaks and other incentives to build a coal-gasification plant. In Wyoming, the legislature put through an exemption on the sales tax for synthetic fuel made from coal and has pursued a public-private partnership to develop it. Legislators are also looking at a new category of below-ground rights, which could provide a free, publicly controlled zone for storing sequestered carbon. Says Bill Bensel, an organizer with Wyoming's Powder River Basin Resource Council, "We're just trying to show we can be as green as we can, so we can sell more coal."





When your elected official tells you that coal sequestration is a viable solution to our energy crisis and global warming, you might want to ask the source of his information. And you might want to review his campaign contributors.
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As a footnote: I received a comment that appeared to be from Donald Lambro, the Washington Times Journalist, whose columns are superficial and indicate a lack of comprehension of complex topics, but instead repeat think tank rhetoric, designed to conceal the facts. I invite a google search for any who are interested.
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It should be noted that the Washington Times is owned by Rev. Moon and has long since ceased any journalistic standards.
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Should the comment have originated with Mr. Lambro, I would call it to your attention that since comments require approval, I am averse to publishing and responding to pot shots that lack substance. Nor will I publicize your outdated blog. Your comment was posted on an entry having to do with the environmental destruction caused by mountaintop removal in the process of obtaining coal. That process has destroyed communities, sickened residents, and left in its wake the greatest environmental degradation imaginable.
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The current Administration has trashed and disregarded bipartisan environmental regulations intended to protect the legacy left to future generations, including the Clean Water Act.
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Had you taken the time to wade through the scientific links provided, you might have enlightened yourself.
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While others might be flattered at the attention and that my blog has been emailed so vigorously, I would instead caution: make a meaningful comment and I'll consider posting it.

Greenwashing Nuclear

Many have been deliberately misled by an Administration that has failed to enact appropriate energy policy, gagged scientists, re-wrote reports and for 8 years, has denied Global Warming, even as changes were evidenced.
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The airways and media are filled with myths of CLEAN COAL and NUCLEAR POWER AS SAVIOR.
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In the nuclear power debate, folks seem to ignore, omit or forget about the disaster that was Shoreham.
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Newsday had this to say (emphasis mine -- $6 BILLION):
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The chain reaction set off by the Shoreham fight rippled far beyond the confines of the plant itself, and even beyond the nuclear industry whose decline it came to symbolize. By the time Shoreham was fully decommissioned on Oct. 12, 1994, its $6 billion price tag -- about 85 times higher than the original estimate -- had nearly wrecked the regional economy by saddling Long Island with some of the highest electric rates in the nation.
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Rep. Roscoe Bartlett commented that he supports the annual investment of $250 million to develop a breeder reactor to solve the disposal dilemma of the mountain of nuclear waste we've created.
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How far would alternatives be if $250 million had been invested annually in fuel cells, photovoltaics and tidal/wave action power generation?
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How far would alternatives be if they were as heavily subsidized as nuclear energy?
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Friday, June 27, 2008

Media Consolidation and Cuts

In response to the Boston Business Journal Boston Globe eyes consolidation; Herald steps up plans to move the following comment was made:

John Gatti Jr. June 24, 2008 9:56PM EST
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The print media is in decline, since the younger generation does not seem to read newspapers.
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As the owner of the Boston Herald has stated, today's readers do not want to pay for the news.
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The Internet, with its bloggers and instantness, is leaving the print media behind and in a state of turmoil, with few, if any, solutions.
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What we see in Massachusetts is most discouraging, with the massive layoffs of our institution newspapers with The Globe, The Herald, and even The Worcester Telegram and the Springfield newspapers leading the charge of newsroom layoffs and employee buyouts. Recently, we learned the Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram and Gazette, purchased in recent years by the New York Times Co. for $1.4 billion, now has an estimated worth of a little more than $600 million — and almost a value loss of $800 million. We see other newspapers, suffering circulation and advertising droughts, being sold or suffering similar fates.
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A calamity is to see journalism as a profession in a massive decline, with students seeking other professions and seasoned reporters leaving the vocation because of diminished job opportunities.
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Adam Reilly, media monitor guru for The Boston Phoenix, was on point when he said what concerns us is the future of the print media and its victimization by the Internet and cable TV that provide so many no-waiting alternatives, 24/7.
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The corporatization of the print and broadcast media by the "bean counters," only concerned with squeezing the bottom line for quarterly profits to satisfy carnivorous high level corporate officers, bankers and shareholders, is posing a serious threat to our system of a free press and its career journalists.
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When families like the Taylors of The Globe or the Stoddards of The Worcester Telegram owned the newspapers, dips in profits did not matter. Additionally, they lived locally and were involved with the economic and general well being of their respective communities. Many did not like their paternalistic ways and criticized the Taylor family Globe's liberalism and Mr. Stoddard's far right-wing union demonizing philosophy. However, for the most part, reporters, editorial writers and columnists enjoyed a career for life with a career ladder and job security for their families enabling them to focus on reporting with slight interference, if any.
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That has changed with the corporatization. These newsroom journalists are now nothing more than commodities enjoying no security from paycheck to paycheck. This is resulting in those reporting doing the unthinkable in years past: tuning resumes on an hourly basis and diminishing loyalty to management because of fearing being "pink slipped" without notice. The profession for journalists with its unwritten code of ethics is sinking under this disease.
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Mr. Reilly strikes a nerve when he discusses The Globe's and The Telegram's out-of-town New York ownership, which would be analogous to the Yankees owning the Red Sox and treating the Sox like a starving subsidiary farm club and bleeding its lifeblood. This is what we are observing by the continuous downsizing, outsourcing and use of independent correspondents.
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I am fearful of this continuous trend and most concerned of what will be happening to our press freedoms — especially with what is happening to a new lack of investigative reporting by print newspapers. Crusading reporting for the common good against special interests will be a relic of the past.
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John Gatti Jr.
113 Briarwood Avenue
Southbridge, MA 01550
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Each day brings new media cuts, further diminishing our access to quality news and investigative reporting.

Under the Radar

GLOBAL WARMING -- COURT REFUSES TO SET DEADLINE ON EPA ENDANGERMENT RULING:
Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously denied a petition to order the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make a finding "whether greenhouse gases and global warming threaten public health and welfare." The petition had been filed by officials of 18 states exactly a year after the Supreme Court issued its decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, ordering the EPA to issue an endangerment finding and issue emissions regulations. The New York Times revealed that the Bush administration has resorted to extraordinarily absurd methods to stonewall the process, including an incident last December. For example, White House officials refused to open the e-mail from the EPA that concluded "climate change endangers the public" and recommended regulating greenhouse emissions. Yesterday's ruling underscores that "the Bush administration has not done anything, will not do anything, and has stood in the way of anyone else doing anything," said David Bookbinder, chief climate counsel for the Sierra Club. Meanwhile, as the EU reached a landmark deal to cap airline emissions and reduce the threat of climate change, the EPA is preparing to issue a report that "will seek comments only on 'whether' it poses such a danger." AmericanProgress

Administration Freezing New Solar Projects

At the same time scientists are alarmed about the effects of global warming and the inaction by the US, reports predict the possibility of ice melting on the North Pole:

It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year.

The disappearance of the Arctic sea ice, making it possible to reach the Pole sailing in a boat through open water, would be one of the most dramatic – and worrying – examples of the impact of global warming on the planet. Scientists say the ice at 90 degrees north may well have melted away by the summer.

"From the viewpoint of science, the North Pole is just another point on the globe, but symbolically it is hugely important. There is supposed to be ice at the North Pole, not open water," said Mark Serreze of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado.
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The polar regions are experiencing the most dramatic increase in average temperatures due to global warming and scientists fear that as more sea ice is lost, the darker, open ocean will absorb more heat and raise local temperatures even further. Independent
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The current Administration, filled with energy lobbyists, has taken the following action according to the NYT:
DENVER — Faced with a surge in the number of proposed solar power plants, the federal government has placed a moratorium on new solar projects on public land until it studies their environmental impact, which is expected to take about two years.
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The
Bureau of Land Management says an extensive environmental study is needed to determine how large solar plants might affect millions of acres it oversees in six Western states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.
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From an Administration that fought to keep arsenic in drinking water and mercury in coal-fired power plants, have they suddenly experienced an environmental conscience?
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NYT further locates the land to provide greater understanding of the importance of the locations:
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Much of the 119 million surface acres of federally administered land in the West is ideal for solar energy, particularly in Arizona, Nevada and Southern California, where sunlight drenches vast, flat desert tracts.
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Galvanized by the national demand for clean energy development, solar companies have filed more than 130 proposals with the Bureau of Land Management since 2005. They center on the companies’ desires to lease public land to build solar plants and then sell the energy to utilities.
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According to the bureau, the applications, which cover more than one million acres, are for projects that have the potential to power more than 20 million homes.
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20 MILLION HOMES?
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All involve two types of solar plants, concentrating and photovoltaic. Concentrating solar plants use mirrors to direct sunlight toward a synthetic fluid, which powers a steam turbine that produces electricity. Photovoltaic plants use solar panels to convert sunlight into electric energy.
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Reports seem to indicate that Concentrating PhotoVoltaics may cost 3 cents a KW, so is cost competitive with fossil fuels and nuclear, without the pollution or federal subsidies.
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To those who doubt the feasibility of solar, the following seems to support it:
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Much progress has been made in the development of both types of solar technology in the last few years. Photovoltaic solar projects grew by 48 percent in 2007 compared with 2006. Eleven concentrating solar plants are operational in the United States, and 20 are in various stages of planning or permitting, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
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So one is left with lingering doubts about the sincerity of an Administration that has trashed bi-partisan environmental legislation and whether their aim is to stifle green energy sources and inflict ever increasing energy costs on consumers.
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Surely there are ways to expedite the process were they so inclined to support construction of solar power generation.
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It should be noted that this action is being taken at the same time COC 73064 through COC 73094 propose gas and oil exploration by the BLM on 55,000 acres in Colorado.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett: Peak Oil

A google search of Rep. Roscoe Bartlett produces a wealth of information and speeches offered over the years in which he refers to Hubbert's Peak Oil theory.
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The information is known and has been widely publicized which makes it that much more disappointing that our elected officials disregard the information, discard consumers, ignore the environmental impact and instead support lobbyists and large campaign contributors in their votes for energy policy.



It has been predicted that home heating cost next winter will double.
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Isn't it time for the Commonwealth to ACT on wind and solar energy?

US Water Consumption

As Americans, we sometimes allow the lack of information to misguide our opinions or the vacuum of the corporate media to fill in a few voids and look no futher at the rest of the world.

The per capita energy consumption and the GDP to CO2 emissions were included here:
Hot in here?


The following statement was included by ENN:
With a single flush, you put as much water down the drain as an average person in the developing world uses all day.
Where does the water piped into our homes go? The average American uses about 100 gallons of water a day. The French and Germans use about 60 gallons a day per capita, and people in some tribal communities use fewer than 10.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Let's End the Myth of Coal Energy

It is baffling that the Federal Government would provide $40 million for an unproven technology instead of supporting proven alternative energy generation like wind and solar.
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The Carbon industry has provided generous campaign contributions to earn that support at the expense of sensible policy.
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It is disappointing that some in the Massachusetts Senate are blinded by that propaganda, at the expense of consumers.

With an 80% Federal subsidy like the FutureGen carbon sequestration plant, how profitable would solar, wind or tidal wave energy generation be?

The Energy Challenge Mounting Costs Slow the Push for Clean Coal

In January, the government canceled its support for what was supposed to be a showcase project, a plant at a carefully chosen site in Illinois where there was coal, access to the power grid, and soil underfoot that backers said could hold the carbon dioxide for eons.
The highest-profile failure involved a project known as FutureGen, which President Bush himself announced in 2003: a utility consortium, with subsidies from the government, was going to build a plant in Mattoon, Ill., testing the most advanced techniques for converting coal to a gas, capturing pollutants, and burning the gas for power.
About $50 million has been spent on FutureGen, about $40 million in federal money and $10 million in private money, to draw up preliminary designs, find a site that had coal, electric transmission and suitable geology, and complete an Environmental Impact Statement, among other steps. NYT
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Wind is already more competitive than electricity generated from new nuclear and coal-fired power plants.
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More Wind Mills or Hot Air?
Coal generates 54% of our electricity, and is the single biggest air polluter in the U.S.

Beacon Hill's Snails' Pace on Energy

Following the Beacon Hill progress or lack thereof regarding energy legislation in the Commonwealth, one can't help disappointment in the uninformed comments on elected officials and the lack of real progress:

Some objected to parts of the bill that would allow utilities to use ratepayer funds for financial incentives to develop electrical generation from coal gasification.
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State Sen. Marc R. Pacheco, D-Taunton, who has proposed other legislation to cap and gradually reduce global-warming emissions, said legislation on the state level cannot replace better energy policy on the national level. He blamed the Bush administration for failing to develop alternative energy.
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“If the oil men vacate the White House, we may have an energy policy that makes sense for the future of America, and what makes sense is to become independent of foreign oil and fossil fuels and getting us into a position where we can become competitive again,” Mr. Pacheco said.
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“It is an environmental issue and an economic issue.” He said the state should support production of biofuels such as ethanol and other alternatives as supported in the legislation, but he criticized what he called “subsidies for coal” in the bill. “I’m going to have to swallow it, I guess, because it is one piece of a bill that has so many good pieces,” he said. Telegram
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Senator Pacheco, let's not blame Washington for the failure of the Commonwealth to take more aggressive action. Where is the leadership when it comes to Cape Wind and other wind projects?

The following represent words of James Hansen (link to total comments at end):

I testified to Congress about global warming, 20 years after my June 23, 1988 testimony, which alerted the public that global warming was underway. There are striking similarities between then and now, but one big difference.

Again a wide gap has developed between what is understood about global warming by the relevant scientific community and what is known by policymakers and the public. Now, as then, frank assessment of scientific data yields conclusions that are shocking to the body politic. Now, as then, I can assert that these conclusions have a certainty exceeding 99 percent.

The difference is that now we have used up all slack in the schedule for actions needed to defuse the global warming time bomb. The next president and Congress must define a course next year in which the United States exerts leadership commensurate with our responsibility for the present dangerous situation.

Otherwise it will become impractical to constrain atmospheric carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas produced in burning fossil fuels, to a level that prevents the climate system from passing tipping points that lead to disastrous climate changes that spiral dynamically out of humanity’s control.

Changes needed to preserve creation, the planet on which civilization developed, are clear. But the changes have been blocked by special interests, focused on short-term profits, who hold sway in Washington and other capitals.


The shocking conclusion, documented in a paper2 I have written with several of the world’s leading climate experts, is that the safe level of atmospheric carbon dioxide is no more than 350 ppm (parts per million), and it may be less. Carbon dioxide amount is already 385 ppm and rising about 2 ppm per year. Shocking corollary: the oft-stated goal to keep global warming less than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) is a recipe for global disaster, not salvation. CounterCurrents

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nuclear: A Solution?

A number of people have suggested that nuclear is the solution to our energy problems and global warming. RMI offers the following (full reports available on links):

RMI :
Nuclear Power
RMI's position on nuclear power is that:


It's too expensive. Nuclear power has proved much more costly than projected — and more to the point, more costly than most other ways of generating or saving electricity. If utilities and governments are serious about markets, rather than propping up pet technologies at the expense of ratepayers, they should pursue the best buys first.

Nuclear power plants are not only expensive, they're also financially extremely risky because of their long lead times, cost overruns, and open-ended liabilities.

Contrary to an argument nuclear apologists have recently taken to making, nuclear power isn't a good way to curb climate change. True, nukes don't produce carbon dioxide — but the power they produce is so expensive that the same money invested in efficiency or even natural-gas-fired power plants would offset much more climate change.

And of course nuclear power poses significant problems of radioactive waste disposal and the proliferation of potential nuclear weapons material. (However, RMI tends to stress the economic arguments foremost because they carry more weight with decision-makers.)
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Forget Nuclear
Nuclear power, we’re told, is a vibrant industry that’s dramatically reviving because it’s proven, necessary, competitive, reliable, safe, secure, widely used, increasingly popular, and carbon-free—a perfect replacement for carbon-spewing coal power. New nuclear plants thus sound vital for climate protection, energy security, and powering a growing economy.

There’s a catch, though: the private capitalmarket isn’t investing in new nuclear plants, and without financing, capitalist utilities aren’t buying. The few purchases, nearly all in Asia, are all made by central planners with a draw on the public purse. In the United States, even government subsidies approaching or exceeding new nuclear power’s total cost have failed to entice Wall Street.

This non-technical summary article compares the cost, climate protection potential, reliability, financial risk, market success, deployment speed, and energy contribution of new nuclear power with those of its low- or no-carbon competitors. It explains why soaring taxpayer subsidies aren’t attracting investors. Capitalists instead favor climate-protecting competitors with less cost, construction time, and financial risk. The nuclear industry claims it has no serious rivals, let alone those competitors—which, however, already outproduce nuclear power worldwide and are growing enormously faster. RMI

Energy: Vision and Passion

According to Bernie Karl, vision and passion are needed to solve our fossil fuel problem.


Energy: Ride the Waves?

Energy discussions remain fixed around familiar sources, most of which created the global warmng problems.
One estimate indicated that a nine square mile ocean power generation plant would provide power for the entire state of California.
Since most Americans, and most world populations inhabit coastal areas, this is a pretty exciting source.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Peak Oil 50th Anniversary

National Geographic: End of Cheap Oil

Congressman Roscoe Bartlett Notes Peak Oil 50th Anniversary

Congressman Roscoe Bartlett has joined a tribute to M. King Hubbert on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his first speech identifying peak oil, that has come to be known as “Hubbert’s Peak.” “There is no other single name so connected with energy and oil as M. King Hubbert,” says U.S. Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD). “His pioneering work has been quoted by just about everyone who is interested in the subject. His influence cannot be overestimated. He was a giant.” FTW






Off Shore Drilling: Are Americans Being Snookered?

The discussion surrounding removing the offshore drilling ban instituted by President G.H.W. Bush is filled with misinformation, leading consumers to believe such action will alleviate the current pain at the gas pump.
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Informed comments indicate that at best, the panacea of offshore drilling is decades in the future in alleviating current issues.
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Energy has become a political issue filled with industry lobbyists and campaign contributors that cloud factual discussion.
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The following represents a potpourri of opinion:

Florida CFO: Don't End the Oil Drilling Ban

Alex Sink, Florida Chief Financial Officer, said Friday she is not in favor of offshore drilling because of the negative effect it would have on Florida’s $60 billion tourism industry.
“I think this is a very shortsighted approach to put our economy at risk for oil drilling along the coast when we all know that the first drop of oil wouldn’t even come for ten years,” Sink said. CNBC


Sink makes numerous points in the video, including that Americans are being snookered by oil companies about offshore drilling, as well as the need for a national energy policy and improved fuel economy.

In California, MercuryNews reported Offshore oil drilling: fighting words in California?
From Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to the state's Democratic leaders, California reacted with a swift thumbs down Wednesday to President Bush's proposal to lift a ban on new oil drilling in coastal waters.

EIA: The projections in the OCS (Outer Continental Shelf) access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.
Something that takes 22 years to deliver significant results hardly qualifies as a "short-term" solution.
Why would it take so long? To vastly oversimplify: First, the government has to identify properties to be leased and hold a lease sale. Then, winning bidders need to contract with drilling rigs (all of which are booked for the next five years, according to the
New York Times), drill exploratory holes and analyze core samples - "They drilled 75 holes in the North Sea before they figured out the geology" sufficiently to begin drilling productive wells, says Lucian Pugliaresi, president of the oil industry-funded Energy Policy Research Foundation Inc. And then, if oil is found, companies would have to order and put in place production equipment, build pipelines to get the oil to shore, and get various permits and environmental analyses every step of the way.

The point is that drilling for more offshore oil, aside from the potentially catastrophic effects it can have on shoreline communities and the climate, doesn’t make any immediate economic sense. It won’t alter rising gasoline prices. And if supporters of the clean energy, good jobs economy are doing their job to point that out, it shouldn’t make any political sense either.

Regarding other energy sources (emphasis mine):
Wind is already more competitive than electricity generated from new nuclear and coal-fired power plants. In the first quarter of 2008 some 1,500 more megawatts of wind power was put online across America, bringing total wind generating capacity to more than 18,000 megawatts, second only to Germany’s wind capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
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Oil Together NowPrez candidates tout new policies to lower oil prices

Presented by ExxonMobil: McCain Proposes $300 Million Energy Prize
Ariz. Senator Wants To Give $1 Per American For Developer Of New Auto Battery

“Because I believe so strongly in this, I favor Senator Obama’s position, which is to go to 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gasses over Senator McCain’s position, which is to go to 70 percent,” Mr. Clinton said, according to Reuters. “But that’s light years ahead of where Republicans have been.” NYT


MercuryNews:
The United States and other nations argue that oil production has not kept up with increasing demand, especially from China, India and the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries say there is no shortage of oil and instead blame financial speculation and the falling U.S. dollar.

Light, sweet crude for August delivery rose $1.20 to $136.56 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Business chiefs urge carbon curbs

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BBC
Aviation is the fastest rising source of emissions, despite efficiency gains
A coalition of 99 companies is asking political leaders to set targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and to establish a global carbon market.

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Discussions of energy, global warming and alternatives require more than a knee-jerk response accepting current policy and a superficial understanding. It makes greater sense to work to understand complex issues and move toward a sustainable future that solves the global warming issue. Since the US consumes per capita + 30 % more than our EU counterparts, conservation seems the most sensible beginning.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Everyone's Talking About Green Energy

The rising cost of energy and the actions available to reduce those costs continues to make news.

Courtesy of a nemasket participant, the following Brockton Enterprise article posted:

Kingston restaurant to unveil solar panels on longest day of the year
Charlie Horse to power up on sunshine
KINGSTON —
Just in time for the summer solstice, the Charlie Horse Restaurant will power up 54 rooftop solar panels today that are expected to pay for themselves in three-and-a-half years.

Charlie Horse operating partner and general manager Mark Beaton estimates the Evergreen Spruce solar panels will save the restaurant $3,150 in annual energy costs and prevent about 511,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from being pumped into the atmosphere over the 20-year lifetime of the system. Enterprise

Both the manufacturer and the installer are Massachusetts companies.

CapeCodToday offers the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) report that predicts continuing increases in energy costs, but includes:

The report says that consumers and the market likely will respond with demand response measures that help reduce energy consumption during times of peak prices, energy efficiency and conservation measures, and technological innovations that could usher in changes that help reduce costs and improve value, as they did in other competitive industries such as telecommunications.

CapeCodToday reports on the favorable ruling for Cape Wind:
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Major victory for Cape Wind against Alliance, others

As energy costs hit all-time record highs

Barnstable Court ruling favors Cape Wind
The relentless opposition to America's first offshore energy project by a group of super-rich owners of shore front homes as news reports indicate the heating the average home here will nearly double this winter, from $3,000 to $6,000, and as the cost of driving to work doubles as well, received negative reactions from many on Cape Cod yesterday. Some asked "where will I find the extra $6,000 next year?"

Hopefully, those lamenting the high cost of energy will empower themselves and reduce those costs within their control by employing the tips and techniques readily available to all.

From MSNBC, a commentary on state policy that has hampered development of alternative energy production:

State talks a great green energy game, but leaves production to neighbors

At last count, some 800 megawatts of renewable-energy projects were languishing in Massachusetts due to onerous permitting laws as well as public and political opposition.

For example, a 300-megawatt wind farm off Buzzards Bay -- first proposed in 2006 by a subsidiary of Jay Cashman Inc. -- is still waiting on the state to author an oceans-management plan to move the project forward.

Likewise, a decade-long battle over permits for a 15-megawatt wind farm on Brodie Mountain in the Berkshires has left a coalition of local utilities, the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co., in limbo. A 50-megawatt biomass project in Russell faces similar problems, as it has struggled to secure some 25 permits and allay locals' concerns over transportation issues.
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And Global Warming Solutions is offered by Environment Massachusetts and explains the lack of speedy action on Beacon Hill.
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It is curious that Beacon Hill could address casino gambling so expeditiously, but fails to act on an issue of such grave importance to consumers to reduce the costs of energy and to reduce the impacts of global warming.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Energy Tips #2

The following are a few ideas from the EDF web site that includes additional information and links:


Heating and cooling

In summer, keep shades drawn to keep the cool in.
In winter, open shades to let the sunlight to help warm rooms.
In winter, keep your thermostat cooler at night or when the house is empty.
Install a programmable thermostat to heat and cool rooms only when necessary.
Plant trees around your house to cut cooling costs in summer.
Insulate your walls and ceilings.
Install a light-colored or reflective roof.


Appliances

After heating, refrigerators and freezers are generally the home's next two big energy eaters. Other appliances follow closely. Together, these items account for nearly eight tons of heat-trapping emissions per household per year.

Upgrade to Energy Star products. Not all appliances are equal. Whether you're in the market for a new fridge, toaster or air conditioner, look for Energy Star choices, which offer the best energy savings.

Size counts. When in the market for an appliance, make sure you buy what suits your needs. Items too large or too small waste electricity and your money.

Unplug. Your electric meter is often adding up kilowatt hours when you don’t think you’re using an appliance. Unplug toasters and cell phone and other chargers when they’re not in use. Don't use air fresheners that have to be plugged in.

Use power strips. Cable boxes and video game boxes, and to a lesser extent TVs and VCRs, use almost as much energy when they're off as when they're on. Make it easy to turn them all the way off—plug them into a power strip and turn off the whole strip.
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Lighting

Lighting accounts for about 21 percent of commercial energy consumption and about 12 percent of home energy consumption. In terms of heat-trapping pollution, that means the lights in the average household produce just over a ton of carbon dioxide each year. Here are a few steps to lower those numbers.

Use energy-efficient lights. Changing just one 75-watt bulb to a compact fluorescent light cuts roughly 1,300 pounds of global warming pollution. They also last up to 15 times as long and save you money. (Learn how to pick the best bulbs.)

Turn off lights. A good chunk of lighting expenses is from rooms that stay unnecessarily lit.
Use natural light. Open shades and use sunlight to help light rooms.

Install motion-sensors so that lights automatically turn on when someone is in the room and turn off when empty.


Energy Tips #1

MMA Compensation Database

The following was recently posted on the MMA site and seems to streamline the information review process and have great potential for time savings:
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MMPA to offer online municipal compensation database
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Monday, June 02 2008
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Starting next month human resource professionals and municipal managers across Massachusetts will have access to a new online municipal compensation database.
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The online database, which will require a username and password to access, will be available to communities that belong to the Massachusetts Municipal Personnel Association.
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The new service, created based on feedback from local officials, aims to provide quick and detailed salary and total compensation information.
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Detailed reports can be prepared and printed in minutes for quick meeting preparation, union negotiations, and compensation studies. The system will feature data from Massachusetts municipalities as well as other cities and towns across the country.
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The MMPA has produced police and fire compensation and benefits surveys for more than 20 years and the Benchmark Titles Salary Survey for more than 60 years. All three of these print publications have provided a valuable compensation resource for communities, but the need for enhanced and more up-to-date comparison data has led to the creation of the new online system.
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All MMPA publications for fiscal 2008 and earlier are still available for purchase (while supplies last), but beginning in fiscal 2009 all comparative compensation data for Massachusetts municipalities will be collected and made available online.
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Fiscal 2008 compensation information, collected from more than 200 communities, has already been moved to the Web-based system.
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MMPA members will update their fiscal 2009 salary and benefit data directly into the system.
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The new online database aims to save time and money for municipal managers by offering easy access to data for compensation projects. It will also reduce the need for outsourcing data collection.System features include:
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• Expanded municipal compensation data
• Capsule descriptions for all benchmark positions
• Search and sort capabilities
• Access to as many as three years of achieved data for trend analysis
• Data about total compensation packages, including insurance and leave benefits
• Print or export capabilities
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MMPA primary membership provides access to the system for multiple users in each registered municipality, but only one user will have a secured access password for data entry, ensuring the validity of the data. MMPA paid members who participate in the database will have 24-hour full access to the online system.
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The MMPA will hold four free training sessions in different regions of the state late this month to help members learn to access the system and enter and retrieve data. Details about these sessions will be available at www.mma.org.
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Assistance will also be available through webinars, phone support, and a part-time dedicated system staff person.

Hit the Road Jack?

What could this mean?

I mean, after all Mr. Healey did for Middleboro?

Speak Out Southbridge



For some background information, check out RATS

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Unleash the Future

Although friends are quick to point out how polluting China is as a nation, the following articles point out that the US still has the highest per capita production by almost four to one:

Pump Up the Volume
China's carbon emissions highest in the world last year, study says
China's carbon emissions were the highest in the world in 2007, exceeding those of its closest rival, the United States, by 14 percent, according to a new study from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. The NEAA also found in a study
last year that China was the world's top polluter in 2006, a finding some other energy agencies disputed. However, the emissions increase in 2007 was so massive -- 8 percent, according to NEAA -- that there's now little doubt China's in the lead in overall carbon emissions. Its booming economy, terrible energy efficiency, and substantial appetite for coal are thought to be the main drivers of the increase. According to the study, China's emissions jump last year accounted for about two-thirds of the world's total greenhouse-gas increase in 2007. Some things haven't changed, though. The U.S. is still the world's pollutingest nation on a per-person basis; its citizens out-polluted the Chinese by nearly four to one. GRIST
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In spite of the level of pollution, it appears China is working to address its energy and pollution issues:
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Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change .... added that China had been “acting progressively on environmental policy” in the past year, developing plans to shut down highly polluting small- and medium-size industries and to find more alternative energy, for example. NYT
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Bloomberg had this to say:
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China now accounts for almost a quarter of global emissions, followed by the U.S. with 21 percent, the EU-15 countries (12 percent) and India (8 percent), according to preliminary estimates from the Dutch agency. Bloomberg
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What the Bloomberg comment fails to point out is that the EU-15 has a comparable population and GDP to the US.
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Even Wal-Mart, with its slim profit margin, is working to reduce energy costs in transportation and packaging:
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Wal-Mart reaching fuel goals for truck fleet: exec
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc is on track to reach its goal of increasing the fuel efficiency of its truck fleet by 25 percent this year and has already reached a 20 percent improvement, an executive said on Friday.

The world's largest retailer also plans to introduce hybrid trucks into its fleet of more than 7,000 trucks later this year, said Matt Kistler, senior vice president of sustainability for Wal-Mart.

"With gas at $4 a gallon, we're keenly working on reducing costs," Kistler said at a conference on climate change at the British Embassy.

Kistler said to reach the goal of increasing fuel efficiency, Wal-Mart has reduced the size of its diesel tanks to lighten the truck load and has outfitted the trucks with more fuel-efficient tires.

Wal-Mart has worked on more high-tech initiatives such as a system that allows a driver to turn off the engine but keep the refrigeration component running.

"I think we're on plan to hit the target" of 25 percent increased fuel efficiency by the end of 2008, Kistler said. "We're hoping to roll out some more things."

Wal-Mart has set a goal of one day using only renewable energy and creating zero waste, and it has challenged its suppliers to remove nonrenewable energy from their lives.

Because of its status as the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart is considered one of the few retailers with enough heft to make direct changes to global energy consumption. Reuters


We have a future filled with rapidly improving technologies and great potential that excludes fossil fuels.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Massachusetts Media: A Downward Spiral?

The recent shuffling and cuts of eminently qualified "journalists" in both newspapers and local television outlets forces a discussion of the fate of the future of reporting.
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The following appeared on Blue Mass. Group and is worthy of consideration of the loss consumers of those news products suffer:

Massachusetts Accountability and Oversight Dealt Another Blow
by:
John Gatti Jr

Award winning investigative journalist Joe Bergantino of WBZ CBS Boston's Channel 4 Investigative I-Team has departed the station after 22 years. This departure is most shocking and the meaning not only to viewers but to those who want to report, waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption and are considered sincere "whistleblowers". This loss of a key confidential ally is immense and will not easily replaced. Bergantino's departure has shaken the underground advocates network of "whistleblowers". A major ally in the lonely battle against government, business, labor, and consumer waste, fraud, and abuse is being lost.

Bergantino was a consummate trusted professional with a deep heart and soul that went to extremes to shield his sources always protecting and never exposing. His longtime associate Paul Twomey and later Maggie Mulvihill were always considerate and sensitive to conscientious persons having the courage to talk and come forward.

Joe Bergantino's many investigative stories ranged from Boston's Central Artery "The Big Folly", political corruption, to business scams, and the priest sex abuse scandals.

Under his leadership, Bergantino was one few Boston investigative reporters regardless of impact on his career who dared to take on the sham of the Boston Big Dig from the outset standing up to the Democratic Administration of Governor Michael Dukakis and later of succeeding Republican Governors of Weld, Celluccci, Romney, Swift, and even the current Governor Deval Patrick. From the $2.3 billion mismanaged project to the over $16 billion today, Joe Bergantino had the courage to expose waste and abuse often alone.

Bergantino was dismissed, belittled, attacked. and dismissed for his reporting on the Big Dig from the special interests of the Big Dig Artery crowd of developers, contractors, labor bosses, local and national politicians, consultants, and vendors.

Joe Bergantino's formula was accuracy and cutting through rhetoric of falsehoods. Bergantino was always willing to meet with sources around the clock to listen, process information, and determine the right course of action. If the information being received would result in gross or additional economic harm, he would advise and step back always working to protect the person coming forward. Bergantino if determined the information was not presentable to the broadcast medium would advise other methods.

However, in the era of the Big Dig various federal and state designated oversight agencies could not be trusted. This ranged from the local FBI undergoing the fallout of the Whitey Bulger Scandal to the political appointees of both Democratic and Republican local US Attorneys and State Attorney Generals. Their track records of prosecutions, recovery, and oversight are almost non existent.

Bergantino continued on exposing the Big Dig always giving sanctuary to any and all who contacted him or his usual staff of one in a no nonsense professional manner. Boston CBS4 even in years of high revenues never gave adequate resources to Bergantino to do his stories. Yet, he continually moved on achieving excellence and high quality journalism.

The current economic difficulties facing both the broadcast and print media is making investigative journalism harder to achieve. Information being received in the 21st century is much different than before. The citizens are not reading newspapers and watching news programs or holding government accountable at all levels. The instantaneous ability of the internet to give us the now now coupled with cable news has made the dissemination of our news different as newspapers, magazines. radio, and local television stations struggle to survive.
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A question remains where will conscientious people who want to report improprieties and wrongdoing go to a place of trustworthiness? What is Joe Bergantino going to do now? Will CBS4 Boston continue the heritage of Bergantino and how their confidence will be restored. Hopefully, Broadcast and Newspaper Managers and Journalists will take action to preserve our press freedoms as the time is becoming too late and journalism as an honorable profession is eroding to commercialism and the special interests
John Gatti Jr :: Massachusetts Accountability and Oversight Dealt Another Blow