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



Friday, February 27, 2009

"Get clean coal clean!"


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From This Is Reality --

A lot has happened since we launched the Reality Campaign to call out the coal industry for their dirty lies. The devastating coal ash spill in Tennessee last December was a painful reminder that using "clean" to describe coal doesn't make it true. And last week, the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to reconsider carbon dioxide regulation was a tremendous wake-up call to the coal industry.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

March 1 Stop Dirty Coal Demonstration

Stop the Plant Now is planning a demonstration at the Dirty Coal Power Plant --
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Please join us for the demonstration against coal and dirty fuels at noon on March 1st outside the Dominion Energy station for Salem Harbor. This demonstration will coincide with other demonstrations across the Commonwealth.Speak out for clean energy! Let's tell the politicians and the world that we are ready for Dominion to clean up this plant. With the change in Washington, we are all hoping for a cleaner energy future. This plant should be closed down for good--
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Please join Healthlink and find out more at
http://www.healthlink.org/.
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Outraged at Stop the Plant Now!!

Rep. Rahall? Where Have I heard That Name Before?

In view of the sudden interest in the recent SCOTUS decision, it came as no surprise when CCT reported --
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"While the full ramifications of this decision are not yet known, it has the potential to throw a shroud over the sovereign nature of land held by untold numbers of Indian tribes," U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-West Virginia, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement issued Wednesday. "In the near future, I will convene my committee to hold a hearing on this most pressing issue."
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The little known Rep. from West Virginia has been in the thick of it this year.
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Rep. Rahall developed a sudden interest in Cape Wind whose opposition, Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, has been generously funded by Dirty Energy --
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"A project like Cape Wind, which would be the first offshore wind energy installation in United States waters, has a precedental value that requires extra caution." - Rep. Nick Rahall II .
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Rep. Rahall signed a letter opposing regulation of Coal Ash as "HAZARDOUS" in 2000 that would have prevented the recent environmental devastation caused by Coal Ash spills that included, in part --
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“[Coal] combustion wastes have long been recognized as posing little if any environmental compliance problems. No one can seriously claim that the states have failed to act responsibly in this area, or that Federal intervention is necessary.”
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In 2007 and 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, power companies donated
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$16 million to federal lawmakers’ political campaigns
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— split between Republicans ($8.1 million) and Democrats ($7.9 million) — and
spent

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$269.6 million on lobbying efforts.
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Previously posted on Cape Wind Opposition In Perspective are some of Rep. Rahall's campaign donors with a focus on Dirty Energy, so the list may not be complete. A click on the links provided will provide the complete annual reports. ---

The following represents some political campaign contributions
in excess of $1,000 for 2007-2008:
ISLE OF CAPRI CASINOS INC. POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE $1000
AMERICAN INDIAN SOVEREIGNTY SELF-DETERMINATION $2000
INTERNATIONAL GAME TECHNOLOGY (IGT) PAC $2500
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The following represents political campaign contributions
in excess of $1,000 for 2005-2006:
INTERNATIONAL GAME TECHNOLOGY (IGT) PAC $1000
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The following represents political campaign contributions
in excess of $1,000 for 2003-2004:
None found directly related to gaming
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We can also count on Senator McCain entering the fray.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Nuclear Energy: Not A Solution #2

For the last decade, watching the stealth of the nuclear industry and the long overdue eruption of energy and Climate Change on the consciousness of Americans, I have long advocated the necessity of doing the evaluation of the energy issue on a personal level to reach sensible solutions, rather than absorbing and repeating industry PR, like the spin of Entergy.
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Were weatherization and energy efficiency or renewables (solar or wind or geo-thermal or tidal/wave generation), subsidized at the levels of nuclear or fossil fuels, this would be a Congressional No-Brainer.
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And were the costs of disposal and decommissioning included, this would be a Congressional Non-Issue.
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I happened upon an article the clearly explained the chronology of the nuclear public relations and lobbying campaign in Washington Monthly.
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Excerpts of the massive subsidies, loan guarantees and exemption from liability and major lobbying efforts follow, but it is important to recognize that renewable are cost competitive.
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Nuclear only makes sense if $7,500 Per Kilowatt makes sense. That does not include disposal and decommissioning.
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In 2001, the Bush administration took office and began working to overhaul government agencies to make them friendlier to the industry. Layers of NRC regulation were stripped away. At the DOE, the top position in the Office of Nuclear Energy was promoted to an assistant-secretary-level appointment, and a host of new programs were added to promote the resurgence of atomic energy—among them Nuclear Power 2010, under which the government pays half the cost of site selection, planning, and licensing for new nuclear reactors.

The industry, meanwhile, worked to shift public perception, through an aggressive PR campaign that involved, among other things, planting ghostwritten op-eds advocating nuclear energy in local newspapers under the names of prominent local personalities, and setting up front groups that appeared to be independent environmental organizations, such as the New Jersey Affordable, Clean, Reliable Energy Coalition. It also began pressing Congress for subsidies and, starting in 2001, federal loan guarantees. But nuclear advocates made little headway on this front until 2003, when Republicans regained control of the Senate and Domenici was appointed chairman of the Energy Committee. He rehired Alex Flint, who had gone on to work as a nuclear power lobbyist, to direct the committee’s work. Flint spent the next two years wrangling with politicians, often in secret, over a new energy bill.

... [President George W. Bush] signed the Domenici-sponsored Energy Policy Act of 2005 into law. The act fulfilled many of the industry’s key legislative ambitions. Most importantly, it provided unlimited federal loan guarantees to cover up to 80 percent of project costs for next-generation nuclear plants and other "innovative technologies" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also included a twenty-year extension of the Price-Anderson Act, which limits the liability of nuclear power plant operators in case of accidents, and $13 billion in direct subsidies for nuclear power, including $2 billion in "risk insurance" to pay extra costs caused by delays in construction and licensing for the first six new reactors.

...in less than a decade, the nuclear power industry had gone from energy pariah to political heavyweight. Its lobbying operation was now among the most formidable on Capitol Hill, thanks to a generous infusion of cash. (Since the mid-1990s, the energy and nuclear power sector has spent at least $953 million lobbying Congress and the executive branch, according to the Center for Responsive Politics—more than any group except the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.) That money helped the industry to meet most of the goals laid out at the 1998 forum and win tens of billions of dollars in new subsidies. All told, the nuclear power sector has secured more than $100 billion in federal support, at least $25 billion of it in the last four years alone, according to the nonpartisan group Taxpayers for Common Sense.
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That’s far more than renewable energy sources.
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Nuclear Energy Institute... was estimating $1,100 and $1,500 per kilowatt capacity—roughly on par with natural gas plants and cheaper than coal.
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In October 2007, Moody’s Investor Services piled on with a report projecting that new reactors would cost $5,000 to $6,000 per kilowatt to build, or up to $12 billion per unit.
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...Moody’s, ... now predicts
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new nuclear power plants will cost $7,500 per kilowatt to build.
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That’s more than double the capital costs for solar power and three and a half times the cost for wind.

Nuclear Energy: Not A Solution #1

As SCOTUS has dashed the imminent threat of Scot Fearsome's inevitable casino for now, my focus returned to energy issues that the President addressed in his speech last night.
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A number of regular readers have accepted the well funded Nuclear PR, so it seemed worthy to note
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A number of U.S. institutions with licenses to hold nuclear material reported to the Energy Department in 2004 that the amount of material they held was less than agency records indicated. But rather than investigating the discrepancies, Energy officials wrote off significant quantities of nuclear material from the department's inventory records.
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Auditors found that Energy could not accurately account for the quantities and locations of nuclear material at 15 out of 40, or 37 percent, of facilities reviewed. The materials written off included
20,580 grams of enriched uranium,
45 grams of plutonium,
5,001 kilograms of normal uranium and
189,139 kilograms of depleted uranium.
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It's curious that the US invaded a Sovereign Nation in 2003 based on false information of an imminent nuclear threat, forged Niger yellow cake documents and Condoleezza Rice's images of Mushroom Clouds, but in 2004, the US simply wrote off the above quantities of nuclear materials.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Steven Spataro and Text Messages

Cape Cod Times included --
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Billerica bans texting by selectmen at meetings
BILLERICA — Members of the Billerica board of selectmen will have to TTYL.
The board voted 3-2 Monday night to ban its members from sending text messages and e-mails during its public meetings.

Selectman Bob Correnti said he proposed the ban after a resident complained to him that it was annoying to see fellow Selectman Marc Lombardo texting while others were speaking.
Correnti also said he was
concerned that text messages could become public records.
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Middleboro isn't the only town that has immature members on their Board.
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Next time you see Middleboro Selectman Steven Spataro text messaging during a BOS meeting, keep in mind that it MAY be public record.

A Day To Celebrate!

This is truly a day for casino opponents in Middleboro and surrounding towns to celebrate the stake being driven through the heart of the casino vampire with the SCOTUS decision in Carcieri v Kempthorne!
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Friend and fellow blogger, Gladys Kravitz has kept up with the memorable articles and comments -- The Dreams That You Dare To Dream...
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To Gladys,
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We salute you for always being there with humor and ALWAYS believing.
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To Scotty,
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Inevitable, you say?
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To Glenn,
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You're going to prison for committing crimes to get a casino built that now has a snowball's chance in Hell of being built.
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I hear they teach how to build widgets in prison.
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Let the indictments begin!
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Here's what other fellow bloggers had to say about the victory --

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SCOTUS rules in favor of Carcieri
Carl's Casino Quotes
New Court Ruling: Slams Doors Shut on New Casinos

Mythbusters

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Much Ado About A Casino That Isn't Coming

As each town appointee and elected official is sworn in, they receive a copy of the Open Meeting Law for which they are required to sign with the Town Clerk who maintains a signature log.
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When a Middleboro Resident rose to call it to the attention of the Board of Selectmen that they failed to include any indication in the Meeting Minutes that they had approved for the previous meeting that they had discussed the gifts they had received, all hell seemed to break loose!
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The Open Meeting Law isn't creative writing to allow Marsha Brunelle to interpret as she chooses.
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Marsha, you need to go back and read the law and not depend on your sometimes foggy memory. You were incorrect in your comments. And Marsha, you may recall that you were wrong when you discussed the Fire Chief/Police Chief thing in Executive Session. You wrongly believed you only had to hold the vote in public. You violated the Open Meeting Law then and you misquoted it now.
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And Marsha, let's not get all huffy about having to hear about issues endlessly when you have more important things to do. I was the one who said during the last election that too much time was being spent on your casino obsession (that isn't coming!) and not enough attention was focused on the budget disaster that I foresaw 2 years ago that is now upon us.
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Steven Spataro, who is up for re-election in April, was irate at the accusation questioning his integrity, even though he had failed to inform himself of the Ethics statutes.
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The fact is that Mr. Spataro received gifts, participated in social events of a business partner of the Town. He hadn't even bothered to investigate the dollar limit of the statute. Mr. Spataro didn't return those gifts until he was told to do so.
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As a footnote, the Tribe was believed to be a 'business partner' of the Town, but Carcieri v Kempthorne has just dashed their hopes! There will be NO CASINO in Middleboro! The Dreams That You Dare To Dream...
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Marsha Brunelle, Middleboro's own Gavel Queen, indicated that she had reviewed the statute and the limit was $50, but was cumulative, seeming to indicate that it would include all the little incidentals, like maybe a few free meals that the Tribe has provided, and maybe some limo service, and maybe who knows what else since they are convinced they've done nothing wrong.
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Mrs. Duphily was assured by Town Counsel that there was no "Conflict of Interest."
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Mimi, Hon, did you think to ask Town Counsel if by accepting gifts and free meals you might be violating certain Ethics rules? Instead of wasting taxpayer money by asking Town Counsel each time you do questionable things, you can call the Ethics Commission yourself. They have attorneys on duty to answer your questions. Or better yet, you might consider reading the information that's posted on their web site first. This isn't to pick on you, dear, but we all know you are a single issue candidate who really has no interest in anything other than the casino that we know isn't coming now! Did you think to ask Town Counsel about the conversation you had with Stephen Graham who appears about to be indicted?
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Give SCOTUS some hugs and kisses from Middleboro and the surrounding Towns for that decision!!!!!
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When residents of the Town ask questions and raise issues, even though as Steve Spataro would say they sit in the CHEAP SEATS, they deserve to be treated with respect and not irrational outbursts of Mr. Spataro's often seen temper.
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Mr. Spataro habitually arrived to BOS meetings late, until I sent a letter of protest to the BOS and to Mr. Spataro's home address (you may recall that he has a non-published phone number so he can't be bothered by voters, the press). Chairwoman Marsha Brunelle would waste everyone else's time recapping the meeting that Mr. Spataro had missed. It was rude, inconsiderate and not consistent with the BIG LEAGUES Mr. Spataro for bizarre reasons feels he is part of. Mr. Spataro has eaten his supper at meetings. Mr. Spataro has spent meetings text messaging.
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Give me a break! It's time to use your vote wisely in April and replace Mr. Spataro. If he had to be told to return gifts he received, he shouldn't be on the Board. And if he verbally attacked a voter for calling an error to his attention, the man's got an anger problem.
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When Pat Rogers feels the need to attack a voter with his 'your caliber' comment, Pat, you need an attitude re-adjustment!
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3 Members of Middleboro's Board of Selectmen conducted themselves in an unethical manner. They accepted gifts. They attended social functions. 2 of those members had private conversation with Stephen Graham regarding the conduct of Town business.
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This needs to stop and the Board needs to recognize their illegal conduct! Or let's replace them beginning in April.
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Middleboro deserves better!
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There will be NO CASINO IN MIDDLEBORO!!!!!

HOORAY!!!!!!!!!
Now, let's change the Board of Selectmen one at a time and elect qualified and competent candidates.
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Middleboro BOS: Misplaced Indignation #1
Middleboro BOS: Misplaced Indignation #2
Middleboro BOS: Misplaced Indignation #3
Middleboro BOS: Misplaced Indignation #4
Middleboro BOS: Misplaced Indignation #5
Middleboro BOS: Misplaced Indignation #6
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As a footnote, anyone who didn't see this mess of pending indictments coming was pretty dumb. Check out Abramoff.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Middleboro Green Committee

On January 30, 2009, I posted Middleboro Green Committee because so many had inquired about the 'Green Committee' that was initially posted in August 26, 2008 LINK and August 26, 2008 Press Release from PTWS.
During the February 23, 2009 Board of Selectmen's Meeting, Mr. Cristello announced the following candidates for the "Green Energy Committee" who were subsequently appointed --
1. Steve Bonfiglio
2. Charles Chace
3. James Cook
4. Julie Gould
5. Brian Kowalski
6. Joseph Ranahan
7. Jeff Stevens
As far as the candidates, I might offer the following of the few I am aware of --
Mr. Ranahan has LEEDs certification. (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - definition)
Jeff Stevens has been involved in the alternative energy projects at the Soule Homestead projects, as well as energy efficiency with the public school system.
Steve Bonfiglio has constructed energy efficient homes and netzero homes for years.
That the process required August through February to accomplish when the applications were in the Town Manager's hands much earlier .... ???
That it required so much time for the Town Manager to act needs to be remembered to ascertain if this is a consistent pattern of management.
Middleboro has an abundance of untapped resources and talents within its boundaries.
For now, let's rally behind the Committee and attend the meetings and offer any assistance possible to move this process forward expeditiously. We're years behind other communities and need to catch up.

Did you see....?

If you didn't watch tonight's BOS meeting, you really need to.

ComCast will rebroadcast the meeting on Tuesday, February 24. You need to watch.

A Middleboro resident, taxpayer and active citizen who has been paying attention to the antics of this ........ Board of Selectmen raised the issue of an omission in the Selectmen's Meeting Minutes for February 9, 2009 that failed to indicate the gifts that were received.
It was only because the issue was raised that Mr. Spataro returned gifts that he received from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. Regardless of their value, he never thought to check state law. He allowed his ego to be stroked by appreciative Tribe members and was just tickled at the attention.
The Gavel Queen, Marsha Brunelle was clearly frustrated that the gavel was not in her hand!
But .... you need to watch the irrational outrage of Steven Spataro, up for re-election!
Yet another irrational outburst by Mr. Spataro! We've seen this before.
This is NOT appropriate conduct when addressing the respectful comment of a Middleboro Taxpayer .......
This man needs to be voted out of office.
Watch the exchange.
The Middleboro Resident was respectful in spite of the rudeness of the Board of Selectmen.
This needs to stop.
Mr. Spataro yelled at the Middleboro voter that he should take out papers and run for office.
Mr. Spataro, if you don't like the questions and the challenges, maybe you shouldn't run for office. You've slept through most of your tenure. Or you've been text messaging. Or eating your supper. Or you've arrived late or been absent. You haven't done your homework.
Remember, this is the Big Leagues, Steve. If you can't handle the questions, get out of the hot seat!
If Middleboro voters continue to tolerate this level of unprofessional conduct by Board Members, you have a serious problem!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Stimulus and Weatherization

Every one's talking about the high price tag of the economic stimulus package, but if used properly and if we take advantage of the personal tax credits for energy projects, we can benefit on a personal level by pocketing the savings and, more importantly, live more comfortably. Investments in "energy savings" have been termed 'pre-payments' because the savings continue long after the initial payback.

Because so much of US housing stock predates efficiency standards, there's an abundance of opportunity to reduce consumption and have a major economic effect of freeing up income for better uses.

The GOOD/blog offered this of the economic stimulus bill --

“The most important high tech tool of the new green economy,” Van Jones likes to say, often pausing for dramatic effect, “is the caulk gun.”

Although this is an oversimplification, it's not the sexy blades of wind turbines turning in the wind on the horizon that are the beginning of energy independence, but the caulking gun and weatherstripping and insulation, the grunt work of weatherization.

For residents, the program’s benefits are clear—the typical house that’s taken advantage of this publicly-funded weatherization service sees a 32 percent drop in gas or oil heating energy consumption, a savings to the tune of about $350 every year. For the low-income American families that spend about 16 percent of their income on energy costs (the national average is 5 percent), this is a significant chunk of change.

The public benefit is tougher to figure, but it’s real. Weatherization creates good jobs locally and keeps dollars in the community, it lowers the overall cost of heating fuels by lowering demand, and it cuts carbon emissions and reduces our dependence on oil. The DOE has run some calculations (pdf)—ones that I won’t pretend to fully understand—that plainly state that for every $1 invested in the program, weatherization returns $2.60 in energy and non-energy related benefits.

Where could we achieve a better return on investment of tax dollars?
Tax cuts produce a return of less than $1 for every dollar spent.

Last year, the Weatherization Assistance Program served about 140,000 homes with a budget of $250 million. The problem is, the DOE estimates that there are nearly 34 million homes eligible for weatherization funds. So at the current rate, it’d take roughly 243 years to reach every house that could use a better seal. With the passing of the stimulus bill, however, the program gets a $5 billion shot in the arm, with the aim of achieving President Obama’s stated goal of weatherizing one million homes every year.

Answering criticisms from the right that these funds were nothing more than pork-barrel spending, Obama bluntly rebutted: “We’re going to weatherize homes. That immediately puts people back to work. And we’re going to train people who are out of work, including young people, to do the weatherization. As a consequence of weatherization, our energy bills go down and we reduce our dependence on foreign oil. What would be a more effective stimulus package than that? I mean, you’re getting a three-fer. Not only are you immediately putting people back to work but you’re also saving families on your energy bills and you’re laying the groundwork for long-term energy independence. That’s exactly the kind of program that we should be funding.”

The Washington Post offered these energy saving tips --

...green building experts urge you to start with the low-hanging fruit and your "building envelope," or all the surfaces exposed to the outside. First, get an energy audit of your house from an energy specialist. (For more on this, go to Home Improvement at the Energy Star Web site, http://www.energystar.gov.) Some things can be done by handy homeowners, but many require professionals.

Every hole in the wall, including those for light switches, outlets and ceiling light fixtures, is an opportunity for air to get in and out. As much as 25 percent of your heating and cooling energy can be lost through these often tiny, pinhole-size leaks.

"In 99 of 100 houses in the U.S. on a cold, windy day, you can put your hand in front of a light switch or outlet and feel cold air coming in," said Ron Jones, editorial director of Green Builder magazine and a life member of the National Association of Home Builders board of directors.

Air leaks in the walls can be plugged with caulk or an expansive foam sealant, Johnston said. The cold air streaming in around the doors and windows can be eliminated with a combination of caulk and weatherstripping. This is one cure that most homeowners can do themselves.

The duct system used with forced-air furnaces and central air conditioning can also have leaks. These can account for as much as 25 percent of total household energy consumption. In older houses, the ducts can be sealed from the inside, using special equipment that sprays a liquid resembling latex paint, Johnston said.

The next item on your home energy checklist should be the energy lost or gained through your walls. Start in your attic; the greatest amount of heat can be lost there because hot air rises, Johnston said. Adding insulation here will make a huge difference during the summer as well as the winter. When the sun beats down on your roof in the hot season, the attic can get up to 140 degrees.

If your attic has ducts running through the roof truss rafters, they should be insulated as well. If it gets hot where you live, you can also benefit from adding a radiant barrier -- essentially a sheet of mylar -- to the underside of your roof rafters or the top chord of your roof trusses. This will also reduce the amount of heat passing through your roof to the attic space below.

The next stop is your basement or crawl space, Johnston said. A common complaint from owners of older houses is cold feet in winter because the underside of the floor in the main living areas is not insulated. The cure: insulation. If you regularly use your basement as a rec room or a home office, you should also insulate the walls and floor, Johnston said.

The last place to check for thermal heat loss is your walls. In the likely event you need more insulation, the solution is blown-in cellulose, made from recycled newspapers. As with the duct sealing, you will need to engage a professional with special equipment to do this.

Once you've plugged the air leaks and added insulation, your house may be so airtight that you need to bring in fresh air mechanically. The simplest solution is a small vent with a flap coupled with a continuously running exhaust fan in a bathroom to pull the air through the house and expel it. If this is inadequate, you may need an air exchanger, a device that pulls in fresh air while it exhausts stale air. In cold climates, a more sophisticated heat exchanger extracts the heat before exhausting stale air and transfers it to the incoming air.

Deseret News offered --

No furnace required: Energy-efficient passive houses' gaining steam

In his first weekly address, the president said his economic recovery plan would save the average working family $350 a year on its energy bills by "weatherizing" 2.5 million homes. Experts say the days of relying on a furnace in winter could soon be over.

"I would predict that many of our homes in five to 10 years will start to achieve performance levels of passive house design," said Ren Anderson, manager of residential research at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

But reaching that level is demanding. Technically, Blunk's house, which uses a water heater as a backup heat source, does not meet the strict German definition of a passive house, which is to use no more than the equivalent energy of running a hair dryer.

Passive houses have exploded in popularity in Germany, in large part because the country has increased taxes on gasoline, heating oils and natural gas.



Tony Lawrence posted this on OakPointCommunity.org --

Recently, we taped up bubble wrap on our large slider doors and the windows at the back of the house (see picture). That still lets light in, but blocks quite a bit of heat loss. You can buy boxes of bubble wrap in rolls at the UPS Store and most other shipping outlets.


He got the idea here --

Bubble Wrap Window Insulation which is part of this site -- BuildItSolar. There are some practical and inexpensive ideas on the site if you take a few minutes to wander.

There are some great ideas out there if we look for them. And there's no better time than now.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Coal Ash: Dirty Coal's Dirty Little Secret

When the topic of energy is discussed, there is a truism about certain forms of energy being cheaper than renewable energy (wind, solar, geo-thermal, tidal/wave and so on) because of subsidies, hidden preferential treatment, loan guarantees (such as ones being demanded by nuclear), or, as in the case of Dirty Coal, the exemption from the monetary consequences of environmental devastation caused by Mountain Top Removal, air pollution, the slipshod disposal of ash and spills.
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Of course Dirty Coal is cheap when you can blow up mountains, push the debris into streams, contaminate drinking water, allow ash spills to sterilize ecosystems, allow soot and mercury to foul the air, and generous campaign contributions have assured no corrective action.
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A BostonGlobe editorial offered --
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COAL is the cheapest source of electricity. One major reason why is that mining companies and coal-burning utilities have managed to pass many of its health and environmental costs - from the dust miners breathe to greenhouse gases - onto society at large.
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In Massachusetts, where fly ash from the Salem power plant once contaminated the Lake Wenham water supply of Beverly, ash that is not reused in concrete production or other beneficial applications ends up in lined and covered landfills. Even in this state, though, there is no law mandating safe disposal. A bill co-sponsored by Representatives Lori Ehrlich of Marblehead and Mary Grant of Beverly would do so.
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Kudos are owed Reps. Ehrlich and Grant for stepping forward for much-needed legislation to protect the Commonwealth from the hazards created by plants such as the coal-burning Salem power plant.
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The Center for Public Integrity offered a report, Coal Ash: The Hidden Story, that includes a map of Ash Country positioning waste ponds and landfills nationwide. The report is worth the read in its totality.
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Just as the TVA destroyed Harriman, Tennessee with a massive coal sludge spill on December 22, 2008, ...the U.S. coal industry engages in a massive publicity campaign pitching “clean coal” as a solution to both global warming and energy independence.
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According to CPI --
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Each year, power companies generate approximately
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130 million tons of coal ash

That's --
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130,000,000 TONS



OMG!



THAT'S



260,000,000,000 POUNDS

If I got my zeroes correct --

TWO HUNDRED SIXTY TRILLION POUNDS


EACH YEAR




In 2000, when efforts were made to regulate coal sludge, Browner sent the draft determination --
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March 5, 2000, to the OMB for review, which set off a frenzy of lobbying by the utility industry. The White House was inundated with letters from trade organizations such as the Edison Electric Institute and the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group (USWAG) — the industry’s voice on coal-ash disposal — criticizing the draft. One letter, signed by then-USWAG chairman Fred McGuire and 13 other industry representatives, warned that “the high costs of [hazardous] regulation… will ultimately be shared nationwide by employees, taxpayers, ratepayers, investors, and customers.” Another letter, from the presidents of 16 energy companies, blasted the proposal as “over-regulation and an unwarranted intrusion into an area of primary state responsibility.”
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In other words, don't force us to be environmentally responsible because it will cost too much!
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Industry refused to take the necessary steps to avoid the December 22, 2008 TVA disaster at Harrimon, Tennessee that devastated the environment.
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And let's pretend that it's the STATE'S RESPONSIBILITY when 23 states have provisions that prevent them from having laws that are more strict than federal standards.
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Seventy-seven members of Congress wrote letters to senior officials at the EPA, OMB, and the White House opposing the proposal [TO LABEL COAL-ASH HAZARDOUS]. One letter, signed by 11 representatives, summed up the tone. “[Coal] combustion wastes have long been recognized as posing little if any environmental compliance problems,” it reads. “No one can seriously claim that the states have failed to act responsibly in this area, or that Federal intervention is necessary.” Among the signers was Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia, who currently serves as chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources.
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No one can seriously claim that the states have failed to act responsibly???
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23 states have provisions that prevent them from enacting laws that are more stringent than federal law. That needs to change, but DIRTY COAL knows those laws.
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Explain that to the folks in Harrimon, Tennessee whose homes and lives were destroyed. Explain that to the ecosystem that was devastated. And when downstream drinking water is discovered to be contaminated because TVA failed to sequester the coal sludge, explain it away.
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Remember Rahall? He's the one who has suddenly expressed such great interest in the environmental impact of Cape Wind. You remember Cape Wind? The offshore wind project whose opposition has been mightily funded by DIRTY ENERGY.
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One analysis commissioned by USWAG pegged the costs as high as $13.8 billion annually.
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Remember USWAG is Utility Solid Waste Activities Group -- a Coal Industry Group. They're saying that to be environmentally responsible with coal ash disposal is simply too expensive.
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Industry representatives still argue that the states have adequate regulations. ....

The question isn’t whether we should regulate coal ash,” Roewer [USWAG Spokesperson] argues, “but who should be regulating the materials. We support the state regulations in place today.”
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There are NO state regulations in place.
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To hear congressional observers, the drama of the Tennessee spill has shifted the dynamic of the coal-ash debate enough to sway some who once doubted the severity of the problem. Case in point: Congressman Rahall, who so vigorously opposed the hazardous label, but who now remains open to the prospect. “We wouldn’t be opposed to it,” says Jim Zoia, Rahall’s staff director, explaining: “The amount of toxic material has changed with the advances of air-pollution control technologies over the last 20 years… We see coal ash as more of a threat [today].”
Rahall sent a letter dated Feb. 3 to the new EPA administrator, urging the agency to “expeditiously move forward with a rulemaking governing the disposal of coal combustion wastes under the auspices of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act,” although he does not push for a specific approach.
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In other words, let's pretend we'll take action to protect the environment, drinking water, and prevent coal ash leakage, but when YOU, the public forget about Harrimon, Tennessee and the potential threat to YOUR community, we'll bury it for another 10 OR 20 years.
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“The utilities are very well entrenched in Congress,” is how Stant puts it. In 2007 and 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics,
power companies donated $16 million to federal lawmakers’ political campaigns — split between Republicans ($8.1 million) and Democrats ($7.9 million) — and
spent $269.6 million on lobbying efforts.
USWAG alone — the industry organ on coal-ash disposal — has reported spending about $360,000 on influencing the EPA, the White House, and both houses over the past nine years. “There may be a lot of citizens who are up in arms about [coal ash],” Stant says, “but we don’t have nearly as much power as [the utilities].”
Industry representatives, for their part, don’t seem especially worried. USWAG’s Roewer says he’s had not one conversation with anyone pushing for hazardous-waste regulations, although he warns that, “if there were a draft [from EPA] saying as much, we’d certainly mount a campaign.” He suspects the agency will at some point propose to follow through on its delayed rulemaking regarding non-hazardous federal guidelines. And “those would still be implemented by the states,” he points out, “which is what we support.”
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The industry will support state regulations of coal ash that 23 states have no power to regulate?
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Before we all become potential victims of coal sludge spills, contaminated water and environmental destruction from collapsed dams and mountaintop removal, maybe we should review the campaign contributions of Representatives such as Rahall. Maybe we should support candidates who aren't prostitutes to Dirty Coal.
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COAL IS DIRTY. There is NO CLEAN COAL.
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Let's leave this planet better than we inherited it. Let's support alternative energy, phase out dirty coal, and leave a legacy of CLEAN ENERGY.
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Bill McKibben: I’ll Get Arrested to Stop the Burning of Coal
Cape Wind Opposition & the Power of Koch & Oil

Friday, February 20, 2009

John F. Healey: Interim Town Administrator, Kingston

Kingston: A permanent administrator by May 1

The [Kingston] board decided to give the search committee a timeline for choosing candidates to fill Donovan’s position. Donovan is leaving today (Friday). John F. Healey of Middleborough was named interim town administrator until a permanent administrator is selected (see related story).


Note to Kingston: Watch out for Jack's Fuzzy Math!

Previous Posts

South Coast Route

More interesting than the uninspiring NIMBYISM of the 2 Middleboro Selectmen, Patrick Rogers and Steven Spataro, is the following fact based justification for the rail route --

Study: Stoughton rail route would draw most new riders

FALL RIVER —
A study of the proposed South Coast transit line to Boston released this week shows that a route through Stoughton, criticized by some groups for its potential environmental impact, would attract the most new riders.
South Coast Rail, the state project planning the transit line, gathered census information, other data and studies to find where people live and work and how they travel. It concluded that an electric-powered commuter train on the Stoughton route would attract 6,300 riders a day, almost half of whom would be people who otherwise would have driven to Boston.
The Stoughton line would extend through Easton, Raynham, Taunton and Berkley, where it would split into two lines ending in Fall River and New Bedford.
Such a trip would take 73 minutes from Fall River to South Station in Boston, a shorter commute than expected if the rail line went through the existing Attleboro or Middleboro lines.
A trip from Fall River through the Middleboro line would take an estimated 87 minutes. An express bus trip, another option under consideration, would take about 62 minutes.
Trip time was a main factor in figuring how many commuters would ride, said Christina Egan, the South Cost transit manager. The study also considered how many cars each option would take off highways.
Electric trains on the Stoughton route, for example, would remove an estimated 241,900 miles driven by cars each day. Electric-powered trains are faster than diesel, attracting more potential riders, Egan said.

Middleboro Rail Line

In evaluating the cost/benefits of a southcoast connection to New Bedford and Fall River, the following was presented --
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...the Middleboro route would only attract an estimated 700 new riders. Egan said a bus line would be even cheaper and attract 1,750 riders. Both the Attleboro and Stoughton lines would add more than 2,000 new passengers. The Middleboro route would cost an estimated $1 billion; Stoughton an estimated $1.4 billion; and the Attleboro line, $2 billion. Egan said the Middleboro line would rise to $3 billion if it included a one-mile tunnel through Quincy.
Few riders if rail line goes through Middleboro
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What is interesting about the article is the opinion of Mr. Saquet --
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Middleboro businessman Robert Saquet lobbied for a downtown station, calling it a “tremendous opportunity.”
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Mr. Saquet seems to have an opinion of all things Middleboro, including the hiring of a new Town Manager, you may recall --
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D'Agostino
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Mansfield's current Town Manager came with his own law suit and judgement. The court documents are available on the TalkMansfield site for any unwilling to accept Mr. Saquet's explanation that only a few in Mansfield opposed Mr. D'Agostino.
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In the course of considering the new Town Manager, in the last round, both Patrick Rogers and Steven Spataro would have voted for Mr. D'Agostino because they failed to conduct even a basic internet search that would have revealed the lawsuit, judgement and the Recall Election.
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What's even more interesting about the conduct of this dynamic duo, is that in the previous Town Manager search, the following was also a candidate who was being considered --
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CARVER
Animal Control Officer Sheila Seery has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the town and Town Administrator Richard LaFond of civil rights violations, sexual harassment and retaliation.
Seery, in 2007, filed complaints with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. Those suits have been withdrawn and re-filed in federal court by her attorney, Joseph Gallitano.
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That was the Town Manager search during which Mr. Spataro made his insulting and embarrassing scene at one of the candidate's interviews.
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That they continue in lock-step regardless of facts presented to them defines their leadership and their lack of consideration of Middleboro's future.
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Board of Selectmen Chairman Patrick E. Rogers and Selectman Steven P. Spataro both oppose a station in Middleboro. Spataro nixed the idea of busing “casino-bound” riders through neighborhoods and Rogers said a line through town would be “terrible.”
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Earlier this month, Mr. Rogers had a bout of NIMBYISM. Trains Won't Smell In Everett Square
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Someone needs to tell Mr. Spataro the Bingo Parlor isn't coming. (He could start with carverchick, Gladys Kravitz, Carl's Casino Quotes, Bellicose Bumpkin or Fiferstone if he wanted the facts.)
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Neither of these Selectmen has expressed concern of the issues surrounding the proposed Brockton Power Plant that threatens to adversely affect air quality in a region with already poor air quality.
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Middleboro needs leadership that reserves opinion until the facts are in and formulates decisions based on what's best for the future.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cape Wind Opposition & the Power of Koch & Oil

The Institute for Southern Studies reports --


INSTITUTE INDEX - The power of oil

Number of signatures collected on a petition against the stimulus plan by Americans for Prosperity: 400,000

Year the group was founded by the Koch family of Koch Industries, a Kansas-based oil and gas company: 2003

Rank of Koch Industries among the largest privately held U.S. firms: 1

Koch Industries' annual revenues: about $90 billion

Years during which Nancy Pfotenhauer directed Koch Industries' Washington office: 1996-2001

Year in which Pfotenhauer became an economic advisor to former GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain: 2007

Date when McCain reversed his opposition to expanded offshore oil and gas drilling: June 2008

Amount in contributions McCain's campaign received that month alone from big oil companies, including Koch employees: $1.1 million

Date when Pfotenhauer stated on TV that offshore oil drilling was safe because there were "no significant spills" caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita: August 2008

Total number of oil spills -- both offshore and onshore -- caused by the storms: 595

Estimated amount of oil spilled in just one post-Katrina incident at the Murphy Oil refinery near New Orleans: 1 million gallons

Year in which the U.S. Senate Committee on Investigations said a Koch subsidiary was the most dramatic example of an oil company stealing by deliberate mismeasurement and fraudulent reporting: 1989

Number of illegal acts of pollution Koch was charged with under the Clinton administration: 315

Number of counts of covering up evidence Koch was charged with relating to a benzene spill in Corpus Christi, Texas: 97

Number of Koch employees who faced criminal charges over the spill: 4

Amount by which Koch eventually settled the case just before trial: $20 million

Amount Koch donated to George W. Bush's election fund and to other GOP candidates during that time: $800,000

Total amount donated by the Koch Industries PAC to federal candidates during the 2008 election cycle: $1.2 million

Percentage of the total amount that went to Republicans: 85

Number of Senate Republicans who voted in favor of the compromise stimulus bill: 3

Number of House Republicans who voted for the measure: 0


And where have we heard that name before?

Cape Wind Opposition

And from DailyKos

'unfit for food'

Maybe we rallied around the mantra of removing inspections and regulations that inhibited corporations, but after the Peanut catastrophe that killed people, wisdom might force a re-consideration. This bears watching because it isn't at its end ---

Scheme admitted to distribute 'unfit for food' tomato paste

A former employee of one of the nation's largest growers and processors of tomato products admitted Wednesday in Sacramento federal court she engaged in the years-long distribution and mislabeling of tomato paste that contained unlawful levels of mold and was "unfit for food."

Jennifer Lou Dahlman, who was dismissed this week as a reports and business analyst at California-based SK Foods, L.P., pleaded guilty to one count of the "introduction of adulterated and misbranded food into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud and mislead."

She admitted that for more than three years - from Nov. 23, 2004 to Jan. 21, 2008 - she caused the shipment of tomato paste with legally excessive mold content from SK Foods to customers in Wisconsin, Utah, Pennsylvania, New York, Kentucky, Maryland and Ohio.

She also admitted attaching false labels to the paste showing mold counts far below the actual levels and percentages of "natural tomato soluble solids" materially higher than the actual percentages.

Dahlman, 48, admitted these practices were carried out "at the direction of senior leaders and directors of SK Foods.

Her plea introduces a new element in the government's ongoing investigation of SK Foods. Before Wednesday, there were no public charges pertaining to adulterated food.

The plea belies a primary plank in the company's previous public statements: that the investigation has nothing to do with the quality of its products.

SK immediately issued a prepared statement through its attorney, Malcolm Segal.

"There was no problem with the commercial products Dahlman reviewed and no need for any recalls," the company insisted. "The ultimate products were all appropriately labeled and of excellent quality.

"The guilty plea ... is disappointing news. She was previously suspended and now has been terminated."

Segal, who was in the courtroom Wednesday observing the plea hearings, said, "Tomatoes come from Mother Nature, not from Barbie dolls. They are not all perfect. Commercial labeling is often the subject administrative disputes with the government, but it is important to appreciate that the government itself has said there were no health hazards with these products."

A prepared statement issued by Dahlman attorney Robert Wilkinson, says his client "apologizes to her family and the public for here involvement in the wrongs set forth in the plea and cooperation agreement."

"She is saddened that the leadership of SK Foods set a course for the company that was unlawful and that she was compliant in that course," Wilkinson's statement says.

SK Foods is headquartered in Monterey and has plants in Williams, 50 miles north of Sacramento, and Lemoore, south of Fresno. It is one target in an ongoing nationwide federal investigation of bribery and price-fixing that could be jacking up the cost of groceries.

In the matter just before Dahlman's on U. S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton's Wednesday calendar, a former Frito-Lay Inc. employee pleaded guilty and admitted taking bribes from a former SK Foods broker to rig bidding and hike prices in connection with SK Foods' sales to Frito-Lay.

James Richard Wahl Jr. admitted receiving $160,000 "on behalf of SK Foods" from former SK broker and director Randall Lee Rahal between 1998 and April of last year.

In return, Wahl admitted, he ensured that Frito-Lay purchased SK's products and he provided SK with information that allowed it to sell certain products to Frito-Lay at inflated prices.

Wahl, 58, is the second senior purchasing manager for a national company who has admitted receiving bribes to steer contracts to SK Foods and to buy its processed tomato and other food products at inflated prices.

Robert L. Watson, 59, of White Plains, N. Y., once a senior purchasing manger at Kraft Foods, pleaded guilty last month to receiving $158,000 in bribes from Rahal.

Kraft and Frito-Lay were unaware of the scheme.

Rahal, 59, of Ramsey, N. J., pleaded guilty in December to racketeering, price fixing, bid rigging and contract allocation conspiracies, all allegedly on behalf of SK.

Anthony Ray Manuel, 57, of Turlock also pleaded guilty last month to embezzling $975,000 from Morning Star Packing Co., where he was a sales representative and packaging manager before going to work for SK Foods in 2005. He was terminated at SK the day before his guilty plea.

Morning Star is a manufacturer and marketer of bulk tomato products with facilities in Williams and Los Banos, in western Merced County. The company is one of SK's competitors.

Rahal, Dahlman, Wahl, Watson and Manuel have all agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and agents in the ever-widening probe.

Beacon Hill & Plastic Grocery Bags: About Time!

We stopped using plastic grocery bags awhile ago because they were a nuisance to recycle or dispose of, in my Pet Peeve category right next to Junk Mail, besides the environmental consideration.
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From 2004 --
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Plastic Left Holding the Bag as Environmental Plague
Nations around world look at a ban
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There is a growing international movement to ban or discourage the use of plastic bags because of their environmental effects. Countries from Ireland to Australia are cracking down on the bags and action is beginning to stir in the United States.

Although plastic bags didn't come into widespread use until the early 1980s, environmental groups estimate that 500 billion to 1 trillion of the bags are now used worldwide every year.

Critics of the bags say they use up natural resources, consume energy to manufacture, create litter, choke marine life and add to landfill waste.

In Australia, about 90 percent of retailers have signed up with the government's voluntary program to reduce plastic bag use. A law that went into effect last year in Taiwan requires restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores to charge customers for plastic bags and utensils. It has resulted in a 69 percent drop in use of plastic products, according to news reports.

One of the key concerns is litter. In China, plastic bags blowing around the streets are called "white pollution." In South Africa, the bags are so prominent in the countryside that they have won the derisive title of "national flower."

Plastic industry trade associations were unable to provide estimates of plastic bag use in the United States. However, based on studies of plastic bag use in other nations, the environmental group Californians Against Waste estimates Americans use 84 billion plastic bags annually.


WCVB reports --

WEST BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Looking to find funds in a down economy, West Bridgewater Selectmen have proposed a new tax that is drawing criticism from some residents.
Video: Town Mulling Tax On Grocery Bags


NewsCenter 5’s Jack Harper reported that the town will seek approval for a 5-cent tax on both paper and plastic grocery bags. Selectmen say the fee would help fund landfill and recycling programs in the town.

A measure pending on Beacon Hill would impose a 2- to 15-cent tax on plastic bags across the state. Selectman Jerry Lawrence said that levying a fee within the town will help keep tax dollars within the local economy.


However, opponents of the measure say the tax will only compound the financial troubles of burdened families.

“I think it’s a bad idea,” said one man doing his grocery shopping at a West Bridgewater grocery store. “I mean, with the economy right now -- I mean, the cost of everything. And then charging more for bags -- it’s crazy,” he said.


A similar measure was rehashed in Leeds, Maine, this week, where one legislator proposed a 10-cent tax on plastic bags at all retailers.


Several countries already charge a fee for bags, including Ireland, where a 33-cent-per-bag fee is credited with cutting use of disposable bags by more than 90 percent.

The Beacon Hill move may be the right legislation for the wrong reasons, but let's hope it moves ahead. Several store chains already offer a 5 cent discount if you don't use a plastic bag.

Kudos to the sponsors!

It's simple to get in the habit of taking reusable bags into the store, any store, with you.

Mr. MR used to get concerned that taking another store's bag into the store would constitute a faux pas of etiquette. It's becoming so trendy, no one notices.

And if you don't choose to participate? You're making a contribution to your town's coffers!

Way to go Beacon Hill! Maybe we can get this accomplished this year.

Dr. James Hansen on Coal



Greenpeace had this to add --

Make no mistake: coal is dirty.

From the destruction of mountaintops to the poisoning of our water and air to global warming, coal is a threat to our health and environment. To secure a safe climate and healthy future, we must end our dependence on coal. The good news is that with clean, renewable energy, we can get off coal while creating jobs, saving consumers money, and growing our economy.


Coal Fuels Global Warming

Global warming is a clear and present danger to America's public health, economy, and environment. One record-breaking hurricane season follows another. Declining mountain snowpack is aggravating water shortages in the West. California's destructive wildfire season has become longer and more destructive than ever before. This is what global warming looks like.

Coal is the most polluting of all fossil fuels and the largest single source of global warming pollution in the world. Currently one-third of all CO2 emissions comes from burning coal. To curb global warming pollution to the levels needed to minimize the risk of catastrophic global warming, we must end our use of coal in the U.S. within the next 30-40 years.

Unfortunately, governments around the world are allowing, and in some cases subsidizing, the construction of hundreds of new coal-fired power plants. If these plants are built, CO2 emissions from coal are expected to rise 60 percent by 2030, severely undermining efforts to tackle climate change. Here in the U.S., according to a Coal Moratorium NOW! survey, nearly 100 coal plants are currently under construction or in the planning process.


Coal is NOT Clean

After multi-million-dollar PR campaigns by the coal industry, many in government have become seduced by the illusion of “carbon-free coal.” The industry wants Americans to believe that coal can be made safe for the environment by capturing and permanently storing the global warming pollution. This technology, Carbon, Capture and Storage (CCS) is a false hope. Despite tens of billions in public subsidies, it has never been made to work. The idea that the same coal industry that spilled enormous amounts of coal ash sludge last December in Tennessee will be able to permanently store billions of tons of a clear, odorless gas with no leakage is hard to imagine, to say the least. Yet vague promises of CCS are being used to justify building new coal-fired plants. But any new coal-fired power plant will contribute massively to the climate crisis.
Demand Real Change

The world doesn't need more coal—we need an Energy Revolution. The world has enough technically accessible renewable energy to meet current energy demand almost six times over. Renewable technologies, such as wind, solar, sustainable bioenergy and more can revolutionize the ways we produce energy and prevent dangerous global warming. People across the world are taking on the struggles themselves. Across the world environmental activists, students, doctors, church leaders and many more are mobilizing against coal. Greenpeace joins these activists in their efforts to save the climate and quit coal.