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



Sunday, August 31, 2008

Abundance by Design

Enforcement and Reality

When the issue of hot bunking has been raised and attempts made to reasonably discuss, the first accusation of casino proponents is that of racism and productive discourse disintegrates.
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In Montville, CT, home of the Mohegan Sun casino, the practice is labelled hut houses.
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Regardless of the descriptive phrase employed, it is used to, generally, define a practice whereby low wage workers are housed within close proximity of their employment, in over-crowded housing, frequently sleeping in the same bed in shifts. For a variety of reasons, this type of overcrowding is exploitative, unsafe and unhealthy.
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It works successfully when workers don't speak the language and are unfamiliar with their rights and assorted legal issues.
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The customary defense offered by casino proponents is to pass by-laws, step up enforcement, and the problem will magically evaporate.
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Although the local issue arose as a consequence of the proposed mega-casino, other areas are impacted by over-crowded housing for other reasons, such as Boston and college students, as the Boston Globe reported.
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Landlords and college students are widely flouting a new Boston ordinance prohibiting more than four undergraduates from sharing an apartment, amid deep skepticism that city officials can practically enforce the measure.
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...the law is having little success in deterring thousands of students from living together in large numbers in apartment houses neighbors liken to dormitories.
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The start of the fall semester marks the first test of the housing regulation the city approved in March. The bylaw holds property owners, not students, responsible for violations, which carry penalties if not rectified.
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The housing ordinance has caused widespread resentment among undergraduates, who believe it unfairly singles them out and prices them out of the housing market. It has also angered landlords, who believe it represents a form of rent control and infringes on their property rights.
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It might seem that any attempts to determine or enforce habitation are fraught with problems.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

235 MPG, Pickens Plan and the Future

About 10 years ago, Chevrolet offered a vehicle that got 60 MPG and cost about $5,000.
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Transportation without the frills, the 3 cylinder Geo Metro was pretty zippy, but didn't produce the profit margin the widely advertised gas guzzlers did.
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As a Geo Metro owner, who watched the failure of Congress to increase CAFE for 22 years and the lobbying efforts to mandate improved fleet efficiency prevent progress, it was interesting that a regular reader sent the following:
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The VW 1L is so named because, in theory, it only consumes one liter of fuel per 100 kilometers traveled. For those of us in the US, this translates into about 235 MPG. Definitely far and above anything on the market currently. The concept, developed in 2002, actually got better fuel economy, scoring a sweet .89L/100km in VW testing. It’s likely to use more fuel in real world use, but with that kind of mileage in testing it’s unlikely that anyone would complain about an “unsatisfactory 200 MPG.”
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235 MPG?
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Our current energy crisis, that is more a matter of a wide ranging issue we have long ignored, has many solutions and options available. While I have offered the Pickens Plan as part of the solution, detractors are raising other issues.
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That means putting aside the media buzz and fawning articles and seeing the Pickens Plan for what it is: a resource power grab for a post-oil oil tycoon. Natural gas will not save us from environmental catastrophe, nor will it wean us off foreign oil. Wind farms are a great start, but they deserve to be more than leadoff pitchers for natural gas, whose implementation into our fleet will do nothing to kick-start the massive emissions reductions we are going to need. Everything from oceanic dead zones and bizarre storms to desertification and societal collapse are on the burner. And we need to cool it down, rather than heat it up.
In the end, the Pickens Plan will not make that happen, no matter what kind of deathbed conversion T. Boone Pickens is experiencing. LINK
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Regardless of your definition of T. Boone Pickens, he has opened the debate and provided some easy to understand information about energy and oil, including that we have reached World Peak Oil production and that many of the countries once considered major oil producers have declining production.
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Since each home is the rough equivalent of two vehicles in energy consumption, improved efficiency represents a permanent reduction, as well as the personal reward of money savings, I believe a major emphasis should be placed on conservation as posted elsewhere. And since the experts indicate that 20-30% of our consumption is simply wasted, it seems reasonable. Clearly, conservation alone will not wean us off foreign oil or dirty coal, but it will reduce the need for additional power plants and make alternatives more reasonable.
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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Middleboro Board of Selectmen and Progress

A number of comments have been made to me about the most recent Selectmen's Meeting and offering opinions about what is transpiring.
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Recently, when discussions about Rockland Industries finally appear to have reached a potential resolution, I have reminded others that previous Boards have nodded their heads, instructed those who have kept this issue alive for 40 years to "Keep us posted," and escaped any involvement.
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In essence, each successive Board has passed along the MESS, the toxic waste that seems to be causing inexplicable neurological problems and elevated cancer risks.
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Each successive Board has ignored this, until finally forced into action by a committee created by Victor Sylvia. Vic continuously reminded everyone "I won't live forever." Praise and standing ovations are deserved for those responsible for what appears to be a forthcoming successful resolution, but I would also point out that at last year's committee meeting that Victor Sylvia helped organize, no single incumbent Selectmen attended. Mrs. Duphily, who has since been elected to the Board did not attend.
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Consideration of the Rockland Industries MESS is raised only to point out that, for whatever reason, the Middleboro Board of Selectmen apparently has an unwritten policy that is distributed in secrecy cautioning against taking any concrete action or future planning or showing any positive leadership or resolving any issue. Said policy indicates that, by postponing action successfully creates the muck and mire of continuously dealing with past problems and prevents future planning.
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Such is the case of the mobile home park issues.
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I won't dabble in the details and legalities, but point out that the Commonwealth overwhelmingly voted to rescind rent control housing in 1994 with a complex history (LINK) and Middleboro instituted rent control in 1985, but failed to enact regulations.
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The Middleboro Board of Selectmen has allowed a simmering issue to percolate, tempers to flare beyond reason by its inaction.
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At his wife's funeral, I spoke with Wayne Williams, owner of Edgeway Mobile Home Park, unaware that he had signed himself out of the hospital AMA (Against Medical Advice) to attend. During our conversation, his last words to me were "The tenants are going to kill me."
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Any who have watched the ComCast broadcasts over the years are probably as tired and worn about the issue as the tenants of both Hillcrest and Edgeway. Clearly, it's time for a resolution.
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Instead, the Board tossed the issue to the new Town Manager to resolve what 23 years' worth of inaction has caused.
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Jeff Stevens offered a great presentation of the proposed expansion of the Soule Homestead projects that would include photovoltaics, SIPs, solar collectors, composting toilets, and much other GREEN TECHNOLOGY.
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Selectman Patrick Rogers' sticking point was a review of the lease signed by the group.
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Not to get mired in this issue, but Pat, maybe if that lease was posted on the Town's Web Site, you could access it at home, prior to the meeting and not postpone endorsement of the proposal. Just maybe voters might like to have the details available for their review in an attempt at transparency. Have you reviewed the Middleborough Web Site recently? LINK And how about the Selectmen's Agendas? LINK Has anyone noticed the dizzying array of formats in which the Agendas are posted and how user unfriendly the site is?
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The Dead Horse of the Middleborough Town Web Site will not be beaten again, but maybe a few Selectpersons need to review what other towns have accomplished, offered by MMA: LINK
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At one point, Selectwoman Brunelle indicated the something should be posted on the Town's Web Site. Marsha, dear, pleeaaze! Have you looked at the SITE?
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At another point, Selectwoman Brunelle commented about the Board's prior discussions regarding Town Policies and the need to accumulate them in one collection. Weren't you Chairwoman when some of these policies went into effect? Weren't you Chairwoman when the Town's Vehicle Use Policy was amended? And by the way, where can the Town's Vehicle Use Policy be found? Is it on the Town's Web Site? Shouldn't Town Policy be available for public scrutiny?
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And Marsha, dear, how about that NEW Town of Carver customer who received water on an emergency basis? According to the IMA, wasn't that supposed to be approved by Town Meeting Vote? Weren't you Chairwoman at the time?
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And the Town's Bylaws? Zoning Regs? Planning Board Stuff? That WRPD Stuff the Selectmen talk about? The Board acts on regulations that are not available to the public for review.
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At a recent meeting, the Town's by-law governing signs was discussed. Where on the Town's Web Site are those posted? The Chairman criticized the vagueness of the by-law which forces one to wonder where his proposed amendments are. Or was the criticism just intended to defend the erection of banners which his wife, Victoria was promoting?
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OKAY, so I don't buy razzle dazzle superficial 'now you have an opportunity to speak' that other towns have offered for years.
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I'm looking for substance that I'm not seeing.
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Yeah, voters aren't being ignored as they stand at the podium, as Wayne Perkins did.
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Yeah, voters aren't being gavelled to silence as Chairwoman Brunelle did.
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But where's the substance of change?
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To me, it's SAME OLD SAME OLD until proven otherwise.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Voter Registration Deadline

The last day to register to vote in the September 16th Massachusetts State Primary is:
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Wednesday, August 27th
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All voter registration forms must be postmarked by August 27th.
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Registered Republicans may vote in the Republican primary. Registered Democrats may vote in the Democratic primary. Registered voters who are not enrolled in a party may vote in either primary.
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If for any reason you cannot vote during regular polling hours, PLEASE call your local clerk about an absentee ballot.
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Your vote is IMPORTANT.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Oil & Gas Drilling Safe?

Grist reported on a Newsweek article that questions the safety of fracking chemicals used by the gas and oil industry and the loopholes in the laws that have allowed the chemicals to escape regulation or disclosure.
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It also puts into perspective the opposition to drilling within close proximity of the New York City water supply.
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Just maybe those environmentalist are right and we should re-think our conviction that drilling is somehow an environmentally benign activity.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Southbridge: Not Forgotten











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Middleboro's Retired Town Manager left a legacy to Middleboro that consisted of Fuzzy Math, Management by Crisis, a Mega Casino Deal worth +$20 Million that he negotiated for $7 Million, Million Dollar Land Locked Swampland and much else. (LINK)
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For the sake of accuracy, some might have noticed that Milford is being primed for $50 Million as my fellow blogger, Bellicose Bumpkin noted. Ever one who knows the value of the dollar and is a ducky negotiator, Mr. Healey did a bang up job in Middleboro!
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On discovering that his Fuzzy Math legacy had followed him to Southbridge, it is rumored that he sputtered about lawsuits and much else.
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Unfortunately, Mr. Healey's Mega Casino Deal, conducted mostly behind closed doors, created internet monsters that followed him!
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In Mr. Healey's retirement, he created a Mega Monster of a landfill deal based on much the same flawed Management Style on which his previous employment was based and with many of the same characters:
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Sign on the dotted line or the town will self-destruct
This is the best deal you're going to get
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and the rest of the tired rhetoric Middleboro heard for + 20 years.
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Speak Out Southbridge is offered as a reminder of the consequences of poor decisions and voters tolerating poor management.
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And while you're at it, check out RATS.
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Thanks, Dennis for the update.

Deja Vu All Over Again?

When I read that

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it was curious that the Middleboro Board of Selectmen has shown little interest.
The southeast region of the Commonwealth is blessed with some of the dirtiest air and the highest increases in asthma.
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The concerns surrounding the proposed Brockton Power Plant are reminiscent of the issues that have impacted Middleboro that were ignored to enable the somnolent Board of Selectmen to now play the role of Victim in the lack of economic development, in spite of the businesses they deliberately chased away. Or reminiscent of surrounding towns that participated with Plymouth opposing a casino, while Middleboro Fathers dismissed the issue, at that time, because they were all knowing and didn't require the facts. (Did they have a deal on the table then?)
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Middleboro Selectmen should change their motto to: Never Present The Facts. My Mind is Already Made Up.
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Although the prevailing winds are from the southwest, does that mean all of the time? And those Nor'easters? And that rain shower of treated sewerage from the 250 foot tall smokestack? And what of the path of the delivery trucks? And what is the combined impact on air quality of the 50,000 cars per day predicted by the Casino Advisory Committee Report?
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Not to worry!
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After 40 years, untold deaths caused by the leaching chemicals, and a catatonic Board of Selectmen, the Striars will finally clean up the Rockland Industries property because they see an economic opportunity. Maybe in another 40 years, the Middleboro Board of Selectmen might question that they can't breath, if they aren't all long gone.
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Single Sentences

Sometimes single sentences in reporting are the most important.

The Brockton Enterprise reported on an Energy Summit held at Bridgewater State College entitled

Sen. Kerry was among featured speakers at energy summit
At a Bridgewater State College energy summit, the senator compares the green industry and energy independence to President Kennedy’s “Space Race” during the 1960s.


The article offers some good information, but the last sentence is telling:

Mohler-Faria noted that
conservation efforts at Bridgewater State College
have reduced the school’s energy consumption by
28 percent
proving that green environmental initiatives, are “also a
major economic engine for the state of Massachusetts.”
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Experts keep saying that we can reduce our energy consumption 20-30% and examples continue to prove it. Maybe the experts are right.

Monday, August 18, 2008

ISO-New England: What are the facts?

The Daily News Transcript reported Regional electric dispute amped up and included additional details about the surcharge dispute with ISO.

The first eye catching statement indicated that the area being surcharged extends from Norwood and Walpole to the Cape:

Under the ISO-New England grid system,
Cape Cod and Walpole are both included
in the Southeastern Massachusetts zone.
Energy costs are shared across the zone.
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Another curious comment indicated that Walpole with the surcharge is paying 11 cents per kwh:
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The price of ensuring reliability to the
Cape is costing Walpole a little more
than one cent per kilowatt hour, Boynton
said. Instead of paying 9.5 cents, the
town will pay 11 cents for every kilowatt
hour of electricity used.
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The Messenger included with the June 2008 bills indicated that the Middleboro Gas and Electric was charging 16.89 cents per kwh. That's a pretty significant disparity. Maybe someone can explain it.
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The following statement is offered in the article without attribution, even as ISO-New England argues otherwise:
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The extra charge resulted from the ISO-New England running two Cape Cod power plants in order to ensure reliable electrical service to the area.
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Although the Daily News Transcript offers a more thorough explanation than previously circulated, maybe someone can offer greater clarification. The costs being surcharged to ratepayers still seem fuzzy and undefined. Are we paying for 2 Cape Cod power plants or are we paying to upgrade transmission on the Cape? Is there so much fluff built into the pricing that we're being overcharged $17 MILLION per month?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

An Urgent Call to Energy Efficiency

Customers of Middleboro Gas and Electric received the Messenger enclosed with their bills revealing participation in complaints against ISO regarding the Canal generating plant, indicating the resolution


"...might result in saving each residential customer as much as $50 per year."



Maybe like most, I read the comment and almost accepted it believing it was real money. Then it occurred to me that that's only ~ $4.00 per month. As energy costs are rising, the percentage that $4.00 represents becomes increasingly negligible.


Further down, the same article spoke of the "Consumer Protection & Cost Accountability Act" and suggested checking out the News and Weather/News Brief section of the website http://mgandeonline.com/NewsWeather/Default.asp for the "latest information....'

I was hoping to find an explanation of the legislative act or even additional information regarding the Canal Plant, but the pdf is the Messenger. Maybe I missed something, but I could find neither covered more clearly and would appreciate the link if others are able to locate same. It would seem that if support were desired, I should know what I'm being asked to support.

Searching for the information, I also noticed that the Commissioners' Meeting Minutes that were previously posted are no longer available, so I couldn't even review those for a discussion of the Canal plant.

While I was thinking about this pittance of a savings the $4.00 represents and thinking about why our energy priorities are all wrong, I happened across the following in Cape Cod Today that just about says it all:

An Urgent Call to Energy Efficiency
08/16/08 · 6:14 am :: posted by CCToday
Canal Power plant is not just ugly, it's costly and unnecessary

$17 million a month to foul our air even when we don't need it
By
Matt Patrick

Roughly seventeen million dollars a month, $200 million a year or 1.5 cents per kWh is what we are being charged to keep the Canal Power plant in operation even though it can't be justified economically. The Independent Service Operator of New England (ISO) that has ordered the Canal Power Plant to continue to operate even though oil is so expensive that the plant can't compete with other electricity providers. ISO says it's only needed to provide reliability to the transmission system six months out of the year.

Do you have any idea what we could do to make our homes, businesses and towns more energy efficient for $17 million a month?

It's an incredible lack of forethought on the part of ISO NE and our utility grid owner, NStar. It is a ridiculous policy that must be changed and that is why Senator O'Leary and I are intervening in the case brought by the municipal utilities against ISO at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. But it serves to illustrate a much broader perspective on energy. We could be spending all that money to make ourselves energy independent.

Do you have any idea what we could do to make our homes, businesses and towns more energy efficient for $17 million a month? In a year's time every town in the Cape Light Compact could get a wind turbine to power their municipal needs. We could radically insulate thousands of homes on Cape Cod to reduce their heating and cooling energy needs by 80 percent or more. We could begin to put a photovoltaic array and a solar hot water system on every south facing roof on Cape Cod or we could install generating units at every hospital, school and nursing home to run when we are at peak load during the hottest summer months. That's what 1.5 cents per kWh will get you and that's what you are paying now to get more pollution from the Canal Power plant.

We could significantly reduce our energy requirements in ten years with that kind of money. Is it possible you ask? Not only is it possible but it may be the only thing that keeps us from returning to the pre industrial/fossil fuel era without an inordinate amount of human suffering.

For decades people have told me that energy programs to reduce our exposure to high priced fossil fuels are too expensive and the improvements took too long to pay for themselves. Well here we are paying the price that could make us energy independent and all we are getting for it is more heavy metals, more NOX and more SOX in our air (and water) of our already intensively polluted peninsula - what has been called the tail pipe for the northeast with air pollution levels above major cities according to the EPA.

Cape Codders, this is a call to prepare for inevitable future of ever increasing energy costs.

This is why I'm reaching out to the rest of my fellow Cape Codders. This is a call to prepare for inevitable future of ever increasing energy costs. If we are prepared we will weather the energy shortages gracefully. If not, there is no predicting the level of human suffering there will be.

What this saving would mean to YOU

For example: We made it through the heating season with heating oil between about $90 and $125 per barrel. Oil dealers have told me that they have never seen accounts payable so high. People just can't pay in full to fill their oil tank for $800 to $1000 for the normal 3 or 4 fill ups a winter. The fuel Assistance Program will not help very much because it is drastically underfunded. Many of oil heat customers are running out of oil and there is no leniency mandated by law for the oil dealers like there is for the utilities. Oil dealers, who for the most part are small family owned businesses, are struggling to meet cash flow. When they go to the wholesaler to fill their trucks they need upwards of $40,000 dollars. My question is what happens when oil hits $150 or $200 per barrel? Heating oil averaged over $4.00 a gallon across the Commonwealth in May.

Many of us who are over 45 remember the oil shocks of 1973 and 1979. We remember odd and even days to buy gas. We remember long lines waiting for gas and fist fights with the guy who wanted to cut in line. Every winter senior citizens were found frozen to death in their homes because of a lack of heat. Employment and the economy suffered terribly. It was not a happy time in our history. But the nation rallied to make our economy stronger and more impervious to the shocks of high energy costs.

At that time our nation's difficulties were caused by the cost of energy leaping so high yet it was the policies implemented at the time that gave us the reduction in energy costs in the late eighties and then the nineties. Congress implemented tax credits for weatherization of homes plus solar and wind energy. They also mandated higher miles per gallon fuel standards for cars. People don't realize it but we had more than twice the cars on the road in the 1990's using about the same amount of gasoline we used in the 1970's only because of the CAFÉ standards implemented by Congress.

The Cape Light Compact can be the vehicle or agency to help us do it. What do you think?

While we might see a short term reduction of oil prices as the market corrects for speculation, experts agree that we will see the price of oil continue to rise in the long term because of supply and demand. The world produces about 80 million gallons of oil a day but the world is consuming all of that because of the growing economies of India, China and Brazil. We are reaching peak oil where consumption of oil outpaces production. This will lead to ever increasing prices for not only oil but all other forms of fossil energy. It also has an impact on the price of food because of the fuel spent growing, fertilizing, harvesting and transporting it.

So, what can we do to prepare for the future? We can decide to continue to pay a portion of the 1.5 cents per kWh after the Canal Power Plant is shut down. We can then use it to make ourselves less dependent of fossil fuels. The Cape Light Compact can be the vehicle or agency to help us do it. What do you think? Is it worth the effort? Or, should we just sit back to see what happens?

Either comment below, or write me to let me know what you think here.

Matt Patrick is presently serving his fourth term as State Representative of the 3rd Barnstable District. He is a driving force on the energy front pushing legislation to create energy efficiency standards for many household products, and he has been working with House leadership to create legislation to address the rising costs of energy and the effect it is having on our most vulnerable populations now and in the long term. He is also working on new sources of funding for public schools. Mr. Patrick is a former Falmouth Selectman, environmental activist and the former Executive Director of Self-Reliance Corporation.

Can we work in a sensible direction to use those funds wisely? Will we have the wisdom to consider that $4.00 a month for its wisest use? I have long argued that ONLY conservation is the solution. Your thoughts?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Middleboro Gazette: Still Only 50 Cents!

Much criticism has been rendered about the decline of the media nationwide, in particular the newspapers. With the advent of the internet, declining revenues, escalating debt with consolidation, and the litany of complaints, inter alia, the greatest sacrifice that has gone largely unnoticed has been local coverage.
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While I have differed with the editor of the Middleboro Gazette and sincerely promise to continue to do so (and Ms. Lopes would expect no less), it should be noted that the reporting has surpassed that of other competitors in the local markets.
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Where else is Middleboro reported in the depth that the Gazette provides?
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And the editor, herself, actually attends those godawful Board of Selectmen's Meetings that put you to sleep at home. (Were it not for those uncomfortable antique chairs, perhaps she would succumb to a similar fate!)
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And what other towns receive the coverage with any dedicated newspaper? Very few and those are declining in numbers.
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So, Kudos to the Middleboro Gazette and Kudos to the editor for her persistence in reporting, whether or not we agree with her.
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Her coverage and her editorials have allowed us all to hone our positions and consider our opinions.
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That being said, thanks for including my name in the last two issues of the Gazette.
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Of course, that still doesn't explain the secret Sacred Ceremony on land owned by others, but at least Ms. Lopes got the tongue in cheek part that others missed. (Who is the Jetpuffed Marshmellow Man? )
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As my friend, Bellicose Bumpkin pointed out that there is no such thing as bad press, so your comments, as always, are appreciated.
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While the unintended consequences of the JetPuffed Marshmellow Man post has been skyrocketing readership, more importantly, those new readers are paging through and reading other issues, maybe even learning something, which is of greater import. They are even reading, get this, the energy conservation stuff!
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I tossed an idea out in embryonic form on nemasket, as follows (link) :
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Newspapers are filled with the threats of this winter's heating costs and the cuts in funding for the heating assistance program (LIHEAP).
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The Middleboro Veteran's Outreach Center is offering raffle tickets for heating fuel (oil or gas) and will subsidize needy veterans with the proceeds.
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Although the Massachusetts delegation is calling for increased funding for weatherization, is there anything we can do locally?
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Does it make more sense to help those who can't afford their heating bills to reduce them?
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I would prefer to make a donation to help John Anonymous insulate his home to reduce his heating costs and keep him warm and comfortable in addition to contributing to his heating costs.
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I would volunteer to help John Anonymous caulk his windows and weatherstrip to reduce his costs. And I would gladly donate and install CFLS or power strips.
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There must be some Scouts working on their badges who might participate. There must be others who have additional ideas about how we might help one another on a local level and I would be interested in hearing them.
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To me, this is much like the oft quoted “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”—Author unknown
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Give a man fuel assistance and you have helped him survive this winter. Help him make his home more energy efficient and you have reduced his energy cost forever.
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What ideas are out there?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Abramoff and Wampanoag Connections...Again!

The unfolding soap opera of Abramoff with its ingredients of riverboat gambling, Native American casinos, lavish trips, mob murder, bankruptcy, campaign contributions for votes and corruption, uncovered by a Washington Post investigative reporter who waded through the public bankruptcy filings in Florida, was a fascinating saga of tangled political webs that involved large sums of money from online gambling, casino gambling and Native American Tribes.
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It also involved Glenn Marshall and the Mashpee Wampanoags and I have previously blogged about the connection.
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Ralph Reed, a born-again hypocrite who opposed gambling, accepted gambling money laundered through Grover Norquist. and subsequently lost an election because of his gambling ties.
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That a Presidential Candidate of either party would in any way directly connect himself to the tangled web of corruption created by Jack Abramoff is surprising. That Senator John McCain would do so, as he represents himself as opposed to that conduct is reprehensible.
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Here's what's reported (link):
McCain will attend a fundraiser with Abramoff crony Ralph Reed in Atlanta on August 18, despite pressure from watchdog groups. McCain's own Senate committee obtained e-mails clearly linking Reed and Abramoff during its investigation. The Hill reported [1]:
The Senate probe discovered $4 million in payments Reed accepted to run a bogus anti-casino campaign aimed at reducing gambling competition. An Indian tribe with a competing casino made payments to Reed, which according to the Senate investigation's final report,
were "passed through" Abramoff's firm, Preston, Gates, Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds, and another organization, Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform.

The following are some earlier blogs that commented on the Wampanoags' connections at the request of a regular reader (additional posts were deleted, but there's plenty on information available online):
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Home-heating disaster looms

A friend called last night to ask about information she was unable to locate on the Town's Web Site. We've both been busy and haven't spoken in months, but it's the kind of friendship where you can speak in abbreviated sentences and communicate. We only got to know each other as one of the very positive results of the casino opposition, but that's another blog.
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After we offered a condensed version of news, I asked if she had been reading my blogs about energy. She hadn't, but proceeded to tell me she wasn't going to pay those high energy prices next winter. So I explained that there was information posted on this site with links to help her reduce her expenses. And then she huffed that last winter they used 200 gallons of oil and she wasn't going to do that again!
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Well, my friend has a pretty large home, so while that was impressive, we reviewed the check list of things she could do to reduce her consumption further:
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CFLs? Years ago. Power strips? Years ago.
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I knew her applliances were all fairly new and the most efficient available. We found several items that she's going to tackle and she's considering solar hot air collectors, maybe even hot water collectors for domestic hot water, and maybe even additional insulation in the attic.
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It was pretty disappointing to find the following in the Boston Globe that downplays the importance we, as a region, need to place on Weatherization. Because of the aging housing stock, particularly in urban areas, there is a great deal that could be accomplished with aggressive action of the simple basics, like insulation.
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Home-heating disaster looms
The [Massachseutts] delegation is also seeking an increase in funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program. But while weatherization and replacement of inefficient heating units are useful ways to cut fuel use, the focus this year has to be on getting much more assistance to households as quickly as possible. State and municipal officials must also plan for the possibility that aid does not arrive by preparing emergency sites where families without heat can spend the nights.

Energy Sites #1

Recently, several friends asked me for environmental/energy articles and sites to which they could subscribe and I agreed to compose a list to post here for all to review. It's certainly not the entire list, but this is a good beginning that I'll keep adding to:

They posted the following article from the Guardian:
Ice at the North Pole melted at an unprecedented rate last week, with leading scientists warning that the Arctic could be ice-free in summer by 2013.
Satellite images show that ice caps started to disintegrate dramatically several days ago as storms over Alaska's Beaufort Sea began sucking streams of warm air into the Arctic.

Grist offered: The Swede Hereafter
IKEA invests in cleantech, may soon stock solar panels

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Renewable Energy offers a great deal of current information.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Who is the Jetpuffed Marshmellow Man?

It was publicized after the fact, that the Mashpee Wamponoags held a Sacred Ceremony on land that appears not to belong to them on Precinct St., as commented on by fellow blogger, Bellicose Bumpkin Indian country?

Although the purpose of the Sacred Ceremony is unclear, as it is unclear that permission was obtained to trespass or to ignite an outdoor fire in what is generally a very dry month, the Jetpuffed Marshmallow Man has previously indicated that he is a Reverend and has included Biblical quotes in his signature when posting on a toxic forum. As such, it is curious that he would bring marshmallows to a Sacred Ceremony that included fire.
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These are the comments that others offered that prompted the post:

What kind of ......... brings marshmallows to a quasi-Indian rite? Does he take a sleeping bag and pillow to a mosque? Propeller beanie to a synagogue?

It really is shameful. I attended Native American ceremonies and "earth blessing" rituals of several different tribes and they are serious and beautiful. What I saw from the pictures is mockery of what should be considered their religion. It would be like taking whiskey to a Catholic baptism or me wearing a pentacle to a Catholic Church. It is unheard of to take marshmallows to something like this. Naive and stupid.




Sunday, August 10, 2008

LEED Certification

In the Middleboro Gazette article discussing the 'green technology' committee, it was noted that Joseph Ranahan, who is currently serving the Town as a Middleboro Gas & Electric Commissioner is a LEED Accedited Professional.

Since the significance was not explained and someone asked me about it, allow me to provide some pertinent information.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, sets standards and design for sustainable, efficient construction of buildings and established a rating system for certification.

Although the standards began with new construction, the information can be applied to older buildings and home renovations. The following sites provide additional information:





A City Rebuilds: Greening The World Trade Center

In 2006, five years after the 9/11 attacks, Gov. George Pataki announced that the Freedom Tower, World Trade Center Office Towers 2, 3, and 4 and World Trade Center Memorial and Memorial Museum would all be designed to achieve LEED Gold certification. Nearby, 7 World Trade Center has already earned LEED Gold and will house one of the largest fuel-cell installations.

Local Transformation: Bold Steps into the Future

In 2005, New York City enacted Local Law 86, which requires most city-owned and city-funded buildings to achieve LEED Silver certification. One of the strongest in the United States, the law was passed in part due to advocacy by the USGBC – New York and is expected to green more than $12 billion worth of city construction by 2017.

In December 2006, Mayor Michael Bloomberg committed the City of New York to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. Meeting this challenge will require substantial changes to building infrastructure. This makes the city's commitment to LEED — and the New York chapter's ongoing support — all the more important.
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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Energy Tips #5

Information has previously been posted about my pet peeve - Junk Mail, but the following offer creative uses:
Ways to Use Junk Mail and ProQuo

The following offer some additional energy saving information:
New American Dream
Texas Energy Partnership
WorldWatchInstitute
NESEA
Energy Story

And the following by Bill Scher:
Yes Conservatives, Inflating Tires Beats Coastal Drilling

How Stuff Works: Vampires

Some Things Aren't Funny!

The Arc offered the following commentary (click links to read the articles in their entirety):

Help The Arc Fight Offensive Portrayal of People with Intellectual Disabilities
Background
Tropic Thunder is an action/adventure/comedy scheduled for nationwide release on August 13 and promises to be one of the blockbusters of the summer. DreamWorks is the film's producer and Paramount is its distributor. The premier will be held in Los Angeles, California on Monday, August 11.
The film features popular actors Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black as self-absorbed actors filming a big-budget war movie on location. Through a series of freak occurrences, they are forced to become the soldiers they are portraying. Stiller plays Tugg Speedman, a fading action star who earlier failed in his bid for an Oscar as "Simple Jack," a man with an intellectual disability. "Simple Jack" is featured as a film-within-a-film, with Stiller sporting a classic institutional bowl haircut and bad teeth (see poster below). The film within-a-film's slogan is "What he doesn't have in his head, he makes up for in his heart." A satirical plot synopsis quotes a critic as saying that Speedman's Jack was "one of the most retarded performances in cinema history."
There are those who view the word “retard” as offensive and demeaning, and think it fuels social stigma against vulnerable people. And there are others, like perhaps the R-rated film’s star, director and lead writer Ben Stiller (at left in an image from one of the studio’s marketing websites), who may think the word is inoffensive and a good complement to the film’s other gags, stunts, explosions and gross-out jokes.

$189,000 Better Spent

The long awaited Spectrum Report is finally available. As predicted, it overstates job creation that was previously discredited and understates impacts in the Executive Summary. Because of the report's length, some time will be required to digest the additional details, but the summary itself seems to render the details worthless.
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Governor, $189,000 could have been better spent.
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The report also misstates the inevitability of the Mashpee Wampanoag Bingo Hall in Middleboro.
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Those who have followed the legal intricacies are aware that Carcieri v Kempthorne will be heard this fall and will likely render this a non-issue.
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And fellow bloggers have raised other pertinent issues, like those new little pesky BIA regulations that prohibit casinos more than 25 miles from the initial reservation because it's called Casino Shopping (a practice employed by wealthy casino investors to construct a profitable casino in an area in which the Tribe has no historical ties) or the minor little detail that the Mashpee Wamponoag have no historical ties to Middleboro, nor did they claim as much in the application for recognition. And that's before we even mention that casino gambling is NOT legal in the Commonwealth and was recently defeated. The list of obstacles is impressive: 1. The Tribe doesn't own the land. Is it because the investors don't trust the Tribe? 2. That silly environmental review? 3. The casino investors may file bankruptcy in Rhode Island where they own Twin Rivers. How does that work? 4. And my friend, Gladys gave you some more The Top Ten Wheew! Just too much to include for $189,000!
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Then there are those silly controversies about nasty little criminal charges, spousal abuse, steroid abuse, Contempt of Congress, that Stolen Valor thing, the legal challenges by those SHUNNED members about the missing $10 million, Tribal finances and other gossipy issues that must make the wealthy investors gasp.
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The failure of the Middleboro Board of Selectmen or CRAC (Casino Resort Advisory Committee), even at this late date, to retain experts to present accurate cost projections of the potential impacts to the Town speaks for itself. So Middleboro doesn't even have any REAL numbers to throw into the discussion. What are they waiting for? To demand recompense in a state compact for figures they're too lazy to prepare in more than a year?
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Middleboro's sham of an Agreement that locks Middleboro into $7 million IF the Mega Casino ever opens its doors, over repeated threats about the INEVITABILITY, is loosing value as we speak. The flaws of the Agreement, negotiated by our CRAC Selectman Adam Bond, as Chairman Wayne Perkins continued to nod his head, praise the venture and proclaim that towns in Connecticut with casinos don't pay taxes, have been addressed by others.
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Hhhmm! Towns in Connecticut with casinos don't pay taxes? Sounds like a great epitaph, Wayne!
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For Spectrum to lump the phony proclamations of INEVITABILITY of a Tribal Casino into the Commercial Casino discussion/report is to deliberately mislead.
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Hopefully, the media will get their facts correct this time!
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The Middleboro Casino is NOT inevitable. The Middleboro Casino is UNLIKELY.
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And get those calculators out and run some numbers to calculate what the additional state employees will cost, and maybe run some of the education costs.
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And while you're at it, take a look at the current fiscal problems of states that have casino gambling. When the un-involved tell us that for every $2 that casino gambling contributes to state coffers cost $3, maybe they're right.
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These are some of the comments of fellow bloggers:
From Media Nation:
Casino study fails laugh test
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From Ryan Adams:
My Nickname for the Spectrum Casino Report:
The BS Report
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Friday, August 8, 2008

Brockton Power Plant

In response to previous comments about the proposed Dirty Brockton Power Plant in, a friend with respiratory problems sent the following comment:

And BTW, Middleboro air quality is below the state average.

Asthma rates are the fastest growing in our region????

Why are all the athletes in China wearing masks?

We cannot afford to add 55,000 vehicles for a Middleboro Casino? Dirty Air! How Much More Can the Body Take?


At this late date, the Middleboro Board of Selectmen seem not to have noticed that the proposed Dirty Power Plant will effect already poor air quality.

The Brockton Enterprise offered the following 2 recent articles about the progress:
Mayor pledges to take Brockton plant fight all the way
Brockton Mayor James E. Harrington vows to appeal to the state’s highest court if a siting board approves the facility. Brockton Enterprise

Testimony against Brockton power plant gets noticed Brockton Enterprise

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The proposed Dirty Brockton Power Plant will burn DIESEL FUEL, have a 250 foot tall smoke stack and create 1,600,000 GALLONS of WASTEWATER MIST DAILY. LINK Will that air stay in Brockton?
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The following are previous pertinent blogs:
Energy Conservation: It's Time

Brockton Power Plant

Increased Air Quality Standards

Brockton Power Plant

Middleboro: Impressive Choices! referenced the following:
Media Nation reports:
Oh, but not to worry, says search committee member Wayne Perkins, a former selectman and casino backer. Yunits may be taking money from a firm funded in part by the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe and the South African casino moguls who are behind all this, but his work with Liberty Square is "strictly" limited to lobbying for a power plant in Brockton.
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While you're at it, please sign the petition to support the closure of the Dirty Coal Burning Salem Power Plant: Petition

Paris and New Energy

Apollo Alliance offers some insight into the energy war being waged by Presidential candidate, Senator John McCain. Can we afford to make a joke of such a weighty issue? (Ssshh! I didn't even know who Paris Hilton was until Senator McCain's campaign ad. Thanks, Senator McCain.)





Thursday, August 7, 2008

Kudos to the Middleboro Gazette and Jeff Stevens

Kudos to the coverage by the Middleboro Gazette (still only 50 cents) of town energy issues.
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The School Department selected Jeff Stevens as Energy Manager to spearhead the school's energy saving efforts. Mr. Stevens is a great choice for his personal commitment to the issue and his education skills. Kudos to the school for their choice as well!
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Included in the article, a statement by Mr. Stevens:
"Leaving a computer on overnight, for instance, is a small thing, .... It might cost 50 cents. But when you realize there are probably 1,500 computers in the system, you're talking about hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of inefficient use. "
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Simple math? Get out those calculators.
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1500 computers X $.50 = $750 PER DAY
X 30 days in a month = $22,500
X 12 months = $270,000 Annual cost if every computer were left on overnight (which surely is not the case)
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Hopefully, the School Department will make arrangements to post the information and reports so taxpayers can monitor progress and employ any cost savings techniques that are appropriate for homeowners. If we all work together and share information, we can help reduce our energy costs while still enjoying the same amenities.

The McCain Plan: Homer Simpson without the Donut

It wasn't necessary to read Greg Palast's article, The McCain Plan: Homer Simpson without the Donut , to reach the previously posted conclusions, but additional issues about nuclear power plants are raised and I would encourage all to read it in its entirety.
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I've previously posted about the travesty that is Shoreham and would also encourage an internet search of the ripoff that epitomizes the industry:
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Nuclear plants are cheap until you actually try to build one. Not one of the last 49 nuclear plants cost less than $2 billion apiece. I’m looking down the road at the remainders of the Shoreham nuclear plant which took nearly 20 years to build at a cost of $8 billion – or close to $7,000 per customer it was supposed to supply. When I say “supposed to,” it was closed for safety reasons after operating just one single day.
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Nuclear Energy is the most subsidized energy available and maybe it's time for energy consumers (that means most of us) to begin to question if the dollars are well spent. And that's without considering what we're going to do with the waste that will be radioactive for lifetimes.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Greenwashing Nuclear Power #3


Republican presidential candidate John McCain toured a nuclear plant in Michigan on Tuesday, using the opportunity to renew his call for the U.S. to build 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030. At the plant, McCain said that his love affair with nuclear power began when he encountered nuclear ships and submarines in the Navy. "I knew it was safe then, I know it's safe now," he said. However, the backdrop for his nuclear-safety claim was less than ideal. The nuke plant McCain was touring has been the site of a number of nuclear accidents: one reactor had a partial meltdown in 1966 and briefly caught fire this May. Another reactor leaked in 2005, temporarily shutting down the plant. Grist

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A presidential candidate just somehow KNOWS nuclear power is SAFE and picks a site with a questionable safety record?
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On waste disposal:

Expanding Waste
Estimated cost of Nevada nuke-waste dump soars
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On capital markets:

"Smart investors walked away from new nuclear power plants decades ago," Block said. "There's no reason to use taxpayer dollars to sweeten the pot for nuclear power, especially when renewable energy sources hold so much promise for the economy and the environment. After half a century, the nuclear power industry should be able to do without massive government subsidies." UCS

Chinese Fur Farms

A friend sent the following to me:
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I saw a video recently, that will haunt me forever.
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Please forward.
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If you have a pet, do it for their sake...for all the times you cuddled or found comfort and solace with them.
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"Animals" are intelligent. We are animals, although our intelligence is questionable sometimes. For some, barbarism prevails.

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Animal Cognition





Chinese Fur Farms

China supplies more than half of the finished fur garments imported for sale in the United States.

Unfortunately, the Chinese fur industry continues its unrepentant slaughter of dogs and cats, whose skins are often deliberately mislabeled as "Asian Jackal" or "rabbit" when sold overseas. While the attention of the world is on the Olympic Games, we want to spotlight this cruel practice and invoke worldwide pressure against the Chinese fur industry.

Greenwashing Nuclear Power #2


Because US consumers have ignored the lack of national energy policy, while others have moved forward, invested in research, created jobs, reduced consumption, the solutions are complex and urgent.
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There are no simple answers, but to nuclear proponents, it seems a little homework is necessary before proclaiming nuclear as part of the solution.

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The simple-minded solutions (offered in the Washington Post article) that Senator McCain touts to satisfy Big Energy are disappointing, like the following that neglects reality:

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On the stump, McCain talks frequently about electric power, a subject that energy experts say will do little to affect gas prices. His plan to build 45 nuclear power plants, which he will highlight with a visit to a Michigan plant Tuesday, would take decades.
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Previously posted information on Greenwashing Nuclear does not bode well, but that ignores the industry in the US.

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Vermont Yankee Nuclear failures and Entergy's plans to distance itself from an aging nuclear plant close to 'decommissioning' should give taxpayers pause because they'll bear the costs of the hundreds of billions needed to address the cleanup and storage issues --- and they'll receive no power to boot!
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... rather than getting top-notch industry expertise and management, Vermonters saw a spate of mishaps at the plant. Just last year a spent fuel rod went missing and there was the spectacular collapse of cooling tower sections. The bad news led Republican Governor Jim Douglas to say that it seems as if “Homer Simpson is running the place.” CorpWatch (emphasis mine)

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How does one misplace a fuel rod?




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To those who argue that nuclear power is benign, this seems to substantiate arguments otherwise:

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In Vermont, some of those stakeholders are less than pleased with hosting an aging nuclear power plant with a shaky safety record. When Vermont Yankee was built in 1972, its life expectancy was 40 years. With 2012 looming, it is seeking an extension to operate an additional 20 years. In 2006, despite protests, it was granted permission to produce 20 percent more power than it was originally designed to generate. That output boost means it sucks in more water from, and pumps hotter water out into, the nearby Connecticut River. Some critics have pointed out that the original plant was not designed to run so hard for so long, and, indeed, a recent study fulfilled predictions that radiation emissions would increase along with power. CorpWatch (emphasis mine)

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Before we accept and believe propaganda offered by others to support ANY source of energy, let's consider the impending bailout Entergy will leave for taxpayers with a staggering price tag.

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And someone needs to explain that nuclear is finite.