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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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nuclear After Japan

Amory Lovins very clearly and simply explained the issues surrounding the fallacies of NUCLEAR ENERGY in the excerpt below, well worth reading in its entirety.

What is striking is this --

Since 2005, new U.S. reactors (if any) have been 100+% subsidized--yet they couldn't raise a cent of private capital, because they have no business case. They cost 2-3 times as much as new windpower, and by the time you could build a reactor, it couldn't even beat solar power. Competitive renewables, cogeneration, and efficient use can displace all U.S. coal power more than 23 times over--leaving ample room to replace nuclear power's half-as-big-as-coal contribution too--but we need to do it just once. Yet the nuclear industry demands ever more lavish subsidies, and its lobbyists hold all other energy efforts hostage for tens of billions in added ransom, with no limit.

Nuclear After Japan: Amory Lovins

By Amory Lovins

As heroic workers and soldiers strive to save stricken Japan from a new horror--radioactive fallout--some truths known for 40 years bear repeating.

An earthquake-and-tsunami zone crowded with 127 million people is an unwise place for 54 reactors.

The 1960s design of five Fukushima-I reactors has the smallest safety margin and probably can't contain 90% of meltdowns.

The U.S. has 6 identical and 17 very similar plants.

Every currently operating light-water reactor, if deprived of power and cooling water, can melt down.

Fukushima had eight-hour battery reserves, but fuel has melted in three reactors.

Most U.S. reactors get in trouble after four hours.

Some have had shorter blackouts. Much longer ones could happen.

Overheated fuel risks hydrogen or steam explosions that damage equipment and contaminate the whole site--so clustering many reactors together (to save money) can make failure at one reactor cascade to the rest.

Nuclear power is uniquely unforgiving: as Swedish Nobel physicist Hannes Alfvén said, "No acts of God can be permitted."

Fallible people have created its half-century history of a few calamities, a steady stream of worrying incidents, and many near-misses.

America has been lucky so far.

Had Three Mile Island's containment dome not been built double-strength because it was under an airport landing path, it may not have withstood the 1979 accident's hydrogen explosion.

In 2002, Ohio's Davis-Besse reactor was luckily caught just before its massive pressure-vessel lid rusted through.

20 Million Barrels Per day

BP destroyed the Gulf for generations to come. The

Nuclear Industry told us Nuclear Energy was SAFE as we watch the unfolding crisis in Japan.

Dirty Coal somehow insists it's CLEAN.

It's time for a sensible energy policy that doesn't include environmental destruction.

Please consider speaking out: NRDC

News: Media Center


President's Call for Energy Security Can Have a Different Outcome This Time
NRDC President Frances Beinecke: "Solutions Are Staring Us in the Face"

WASHINGTON (March 30, 2011) -- A national conversation on America's energy security could not be more timely and President Obama has taken a leadership role.

The following is a statement from Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council:

"We don't need any more wake-up calls before embracing a clean energy economy that relies on renewable sources of power that are safer, cleaner, make more economic sense and curb carbon dioxide pollution.

"The unrest in the Middle East is just one more reminder of our decades-long myopia. The Arab spring has roiled the oil markets, put our troops in harm's way, raised the cost of doing business and forced families to dig deeper into their wallets.

"The way to a cleaner, healthier and more prosperous future is staring us in the face. We can get there by driving higher gas-mileage vehicles, expanding mass transit systems, using more wind and solar, and building more efficiency into the products we use and the buildings we live and work in.

"Ending our oil addiction won't happen overnight, but it's time to put the pedal to the metal.

"We expect the president to follow up his clean-energy call-to-action as we approach the budget end-game by making clear his intention to block any and all attempts by Congress to prevent the EPA from updating Clean Air Act safeguards, which protect our health and create a level playing field for clean energy solutions."

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Occidental cheats Americans on Public Lands

PRESS RELEASE: Occidental Oil Companies to Pay $2.05 Million to Resolve Allegations of Royalty Underpayments from Federal Land Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Occidental Oil Companies to Pay $2.05 Million to Resolve Allegations of Royalty Underpayments from Federal Land WASHINGTON – Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Occidental Oil and Gas Corporation, and OXY USA Inc. have agreed to pay the United States $2.05 million plus interest to resolve claims that the companies violated the False Claims Act by knowingly underpaying royalties owed on natural gas produced from federal leases, the Department of Justice announced today. Occidental Petroleum Corporation is an international oil and gas exploration and production company headquartered in Los Angeles. Congress has authorized federal land to be leased for the production of natural gas in exchange for the payment of royalties on the value of the gas that is produced. Each month, companies are required to report to the Department of the Interior the amount of royalty that is due. This settlement resolves claims that the Occidental oil companies improperly deducted from the royalty values they reported the cost of boosting gas up to pipeline pressures, and failed to properly report and pay royalties related to a natural gas keep-whole agreement, pool pricing for gas and gas re-sold to affiliates. “Natural gas royalties provide an important source of federal and state income that is essential to support education, critical infrastructure improvements, and natural disaster protection, among other things,” said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. “The Justice Department will protect public lands to ensure that when companies are given the opportunity to extract non-renewable resources from those lands, they pay their fair share of royalties.” “We remain committed to ensuring that energy companies accurately report production and pay the required royalties,” said Chris Henderson, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Department of the Interior’s Office of Policy, Management and Budget. “We will continue to pursue every dollar due to taxpayers and the federal government from energy production that occurs on federal and American Indian lands.” The settlement arises from a lawsuit filed by Harrold Wright under the False Claims Act against the Occidental oil companies as well as a number of other companies. Under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the Act, private citizens may file actions on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery. Because Harrold Wright is deceased, his heirs will receive $91,000, plus interest, as his share of the settlement. The United States initially declined to participate in this case, but was actively involved in the discussions that led to this settlement. The current settlement brings the total recovery in the case to approximately $230 million. The investigation and settlement of this matter were jointly handled by the Justice Department’s Civil Division and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, with assistance from the Department of the Interior’s Office of Natural Resources Revenuem, Office of the Solicitor and Office of Inspector General.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Nuclear Contamination

With the Nuclear Industry and governments trotting out their best public relations folks to offer soothing assurances that the unfolding catastrophe in Japan is nothing more that a few xrays, the articles below indicate otherwise:

Radioactive contamination spreading from damaged Japanese nuclear plant
By Barry Grey

Two weeks after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeast Japan, there is mounting evidence that the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is emitting radioactivity more widely and at more toxic levels than acknowledged by the Japanese government.

On Friday, following an incident the previous day at the number three reactor in which two workers received nuclear burns, Japanese officials admitted that there could be a leak in the reactor core. During a press conference in Tokyo Friday night, Prime Minister Naoto Kan characterized the situation at the power plant as “grave.” He said: “We are doing our best to prevent a deterioration in the situation, but we are not yet in a position that allows us to be optimistic.”

Edward Lyman, a scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a telephone briefing Thursday, “It looks like there are going to be areas considerably further than 12 [miles away from the plant] that may require significant decontamination or condemnation.”

Institute Calls for More Intensive Contingency Planning by Japanese Authorities;
U.S. Should Move as Much Spent Fuel as Possible to Dry Storage to Reduce Most Severe Risks and Suspend Licensing and Relicensing during Review

The Nuclear Nightmare Continues
By Alex Smith

Interview with world-famous anti-nuclear campaigner Dr. Helen Caldicott on the Fukushima Japan nuclear accident

Alex Smith: As Japan suffers multiple reactor accidents, with radiation of the land and sea, sadly, one woman is vindicated again. Dr. Helen Caldicott is a physician, author, and speaker known throughout the world for her clear warnings about the dangers of nuclear weapons, and nuclear power.

Helen Caldicott woke us up with the film and book "If You Love This Planet" - now the title of her own weekly radio show.

...follow Helen through her web site,, and her weekly radio show at

The prospect of reducing energy by 40-50%

The 'experts' in the field continue to tell us we can reduce our energy bills with available products and the article below, that includes a Massachusetts builder provides some interesting ideas to achieve it --

‘Net zero’ house to be built in Maryland should produce as much energy as it uses

...Fanney says much of the “net-zero” building approach is within many homeowners’ grasp. Betsy Pettit, president of Building Science Corp., who served as the architect and building sciences consultant, agrees.

Pettit’s firm recently built a 4,000-square-foot traditional Cape Cod net-zero home in Concord, Mass., for $600,000. High-end finishes, she says, can “easily add $50 to $100 a square foot” to the price.

“In most buildings, you can lower energy usage by 40 to 50 percent by using existing
off-the-shelf technology, if it’s selected properly, installed properly and maintained properly, and attention is given to detail,” Fanney says.

To reach net zero, the test house will have state-of the art energy-saving insulation, windows, ductwork, efficient heating and cooling units, Energy Star appliances, a solar photovoltaic array and solar thermal panels on the roof. They generate electricity by capturing energy from the sun during the day and feeding excess energy to the electricity grid. At night, the house can draw power from the electric grid.

Scientists and policymakers are zeroing in on buildings — commercial and residential — because they represent the biggest end user of energy, accounting for 40 percent of U.S. energy use, more than the transportation or industrial sectors. “People are taken aback when they learn this,” Fanney says.

Buildings are also the fastest-growing sector, according to government researchers. They account for “73 percent of all the electricity used in our nation,” electricity that could be better directed elsewhere, Fanney says. “It’s important that we cut down on consumption in general, and it’s even more important as we transition to electric cars that we free up electricity from buildings.”

Even if the United States moved toward using commercially available technology to cut energy use rather than net-zero, “it would make a huge difference,” says Jerry Therrien, president of contractor Therrien Waddell. “If you can get 70 percent of this, you’ve gone a long way.”

Energy polls and new PV Window

Jetson Green always has great information about new products and energy efficiency, a timely topic with soaring energy costs, such as the photovoltaic window from Pythagoras --

Ingenious PV Glass Window Hits Chicago
By Preston

Below, are links 2 energy polls that provide some interesting insights --

Survey: Saving Energy is Top Priority
By Preston

Most Americans Improving Energy Efficiency at Home
Fewer are knowledgeable about energy issues and sources of electrical power

NEW YORK , N.Y. - March 22, 2011 - While oil prices rise in response to unrest in oil producing nations and increased demand from growing nations, Americans continue to discuss and consider alternative energy options and lifestyle changes amidst a slow economic recovery. Six in ten (61%) Americans describe themselves as knowledgeable about energy issues, including sources of electrical power and energy efficiency. This is relatively unchanged since 2009 when 59% of Americans described themselves as knowledgeable about energy issues.

Improving Energy Efficiency at Home

Eight in ten Americans (84%) say they turn off lights and appliances when not in use to conserve energy. Americans are also replacing incandescent bulbs with fluorescent bulbs (60%), using power strips (60%), using low-wattage bulbs (56%), purchasing Energy Star™ appliances (53%), and reducing hot water usage (51%). When it comes to more complex tasks such as weather stripping, sealing gaps and installation of products, the responses drop to between 29% and 38% for each behavior. Even fewer (11%) conduct home energy evaluations or audits and 5% say they engage in none of these activities.

This survey fielded prior to the recent Japanese earthquake, tsunami and resulting nuclear power plant issues. U.S. nuclear power plants are similar in design and function to those in Japan so it is unclear what effect the Japanese incident will have on American perceptions of nuclear power. But, this poll makes clear that Americans believe nuclear waste is a national issue to resolve.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Another Gulf Spill

Large new oil spill under investigation off Louisiana's coast

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating a large oil sheen off the Louisiana coast about 20 miles north of the site where the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew up last April.

Hurricane Creekkeeper John Wathen of the Waterkeeper Alliance first heard reports about the slick on Saturday and flew over the site for a firsthand look. He shot the photo at right, and more images from his flight can be seen

"It was hard to believe I was seeing as much oil in the South Louisiana area again," he
wrote on his blog yesterday. "It was even harder to believe that our so called government watchdogs have not closed these fishing grounds!"

Wathen says he hasn't seen so much oil in the Gulf since last July. Rocky Kistner of the Natural Resources Defense Council reports that a helicopter pilot sighted the slick on Friday, and a fishing boat captain who sailed through it that same day said it was strong enough to make his eyes burn.

Nuclear deception

While the Nuclear Industry and their lobbyists conduct their public relations campaign to convince the American public that nuclear is SAFE, their record proves otherwise.

The article below is worth reading in its entirety:

Nuclear deception
By Phil Mattera, Dirt Diggers Digest

After hearing the term "meltdown" used so often as a metaphor for the financial crisis, it is shocking to confront the prospect of a literal meltdown at some of Japan's nuclear reactors in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami. There is something the two situations have in common: corporate misconduct.

The company that operates the heavily damaged reactors, Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), is one of the most unethical large corporations that I have ever examined. It has an astounding history of deceptions and cover-ups made all the more egregious by the grave risks inherent in the business of generating nuclear power in a country prone to earthquakes.

A Nuclear WOW!

The Center for Public Integrity offered the article below that challenges the current U.S. Nuclear Industry public relations campaign.

Events Get Ahead of the Regulators

Earthquakes can occur in all sorts of locales. In January 1986, a late-morning quake measuring 4.96 on the Richter scale was blamed for cracks in the Perry Nuclear Power Plant on Lake Erie near Cleveland. At first, people thought it wasn’t a quake; speculation focused on an explosion somehow related to the Challenger space shuttle disaster or an attack on New York City. The newly licensed plant’s reactor was to be fueled for the first time the next day. Officials and the public were caught by surprise; few suspected Northeastern Ohio was in an active seismic zone. But it is. Experts determined that the quake’s epicenter was 11 miles from the plant, which has been dogged by controversy ever since.

A previously unknown fault line also runs near the Indian Point plant, 24 miles north of New York City. Indian Point’s two units are up for relicensing by the NRC in 2013 and 2015, respectively, and a fierce battle is expected. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, while campaigning last year, called for Indian Point to be closed. Now he has ordered a safety review of the plant. In a 2008 paper, four researchers from Columbia University reported that “Indian Point is situated at the intersection of the two most striking linear features marking the seismicity and also in the midst of a large population that is at risk in case of an accident at the plants.” Indian Point’s two reactors, the researchers noted, “are located closer to more people at any given distance than any other similar facilities in the United States.”

The plant’s operator, Entergy Corp., issued a statement saying all its nuclear plants “were designed and built to withstand the effects of natural disasters, including earthquakes and catastrophic flooding. The NRC requires that safety-significant structures, systems and components be designed to take into account the most severe natural phenomena historically reported for each site and surrounding area.”

[Entergy is the company that operates the Plymouth, MA nuclear power plant.]

The article is worth reading in its entirety:

Regulators aware for years of understated seismic risks to nuclear plants
Despite six years of study, industry collaboration, and a missed deadline, no decision on reactor fixes
By Jim Morris and Bill Sloat

Nearly six years before an earthquake ravaged Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, U.S. regulators came to a sobering realization: seismic risks to nuclear plants in the eastern two-thirds of the country were greater than had been suspected, and engineers might have to rethink reactor designs.

For more information on each nuclear reactor in our map, download the list.
Thus began a little-noticed risk assessment process with far-reaching implications despite its innocuous-sounding name: Generic Issue 199. The process, which was supposed to have been finished nearly a year ago, is still under way. It is unclear when it will be completed.GI-199, as it is known, was triggered by new geophysical data and computer models showing that, as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission put it in an August 2010 summary document, “estimates of the potential for earthquake hazards for some nuclear power plants in the Central and Eastern United States may be larger than previous estimates.”

Data from the U.S. Geological Survey and other sources suggest, for example, that “the rate of earthquake occurrence … is greater than previously recognized” in eastern Tennessee and areas including Charleston, S.C., and New Madrid, Mo., according to the NRC document. There are 11 reactors in Tennessee, South Carolina and Missouri.

The world marches on.....leaving U.S. behind

The rest of the world has incresed their renewable sources of energy, increased photovoltaics and wind.

The U.S. is content to sit idly by, allow lobbyists and dirty energy to dictate energy policy and continue to pay to subsidize dirty energy.

Pretty interesting what Americans will believe!

Germany’s solar panels produce more power than Japan’s entire Fukushima complex
by Christopher Mims

Germany is the world leader in installed solar photovoltaic panels -- and they also just shut down seven of their oldest nuclear reactors. Coincidence? Maaaaybe ... Anyway, it's worth noting that just today, total power output of Germany's installed solar PV panels hit 12.1 GW -- greater than the total power output (10 GW) of Japan's entire 6-reactor nuclear power plant.

U.S. Nuclear Industry Goes Nuclear

At the prospect of the Japanese Nuclear Disaster, the U.S. Nuclear Industry and its Lobbyists and supporters moved into overdrive to assure Americans that nuclear was somehow SAFE and sensible.

Setting aside all of the realistic safety issues and numerous other arguments AGAINST nuclear energy, Nuclear is ONLY cost effective because the American taxpayers subsidize it.

From Nuclear:

Consider this -- Nuclear Energy costs

$7,500 per kilowatt to build

That’s more than double the capital costs for solar power and three and a half times the cost for wind.

the most heavily subsidized industry in the energy sector.

In 2005, Congress handed the nuclear power industry $13 billion in federal aid, and two years later went on to approve an additional $20.5 billion in loan guarantees, making U.S. taxpayers the cosigners on loans for new nuclear projects -- half of which are expected to end in defaults.

Wind is already more competitive than electricity generated from new nuclear and coal-fired power plants.

When policy makers toss reason, sanity and judicious fiscal decision aside, one can only conclude that the U.S. Nuclear Industry got its $600 million dollars' worth.

The article below, written by Amory Lovins, explains nuclear energy in simple terms:

Nuke nukes
[Click on the link for additional information]
What we can learn from Japan’s nuclear disaster

Cross-posted from the
Rocky Mountain Institute.

As heroic workers and soldiers strive to save stricken Japan from a new horror -- radioactive fallout -- some truths known for 40 years bear repeating.

An earthquake-and-tsunami zone crowded with 127 million people is an unwise place for 54 reactors. The 1960s design of five Fukushima-I reactors has the smallest safety margin and probably can't contain 90 percent of meltdowns. The U.S. has six identical and 17 very similar plants.

Every currently operating light-water reactor, if deprived of power and cooling water, can melt down. Fukushima had eight-hour battery reserves, but fuel has melted in three reactors. Most U.S. reactors get in trouble after four hours. Some have had shorter blackouts. Much longer ones could happen.

Overheated fuel risks hydrogen or steam explosions that damage equipment and contaminate the whole site -- so clustering many reactors together (to save money) can make failure at one reactor cascade to the rest.

Nuclear power is uniquely unforgiving: As Swedish Nobel physicist Hannes Alfvén said, "No acts of God can be permitted." Fallible people have created its half-century history of a few calamities, a steady stream of worrying incidents, and many near-misses [PDF]. America has been lucky so far. Had Three Mile Island's containment dome not been built double-strength because it was under an airport landing path, it may not have withstood the 1979 accident's hydrogen explosion. In 2002, Ohio's Davis-Besse reactor was luckily caught [PDF] just before its massive pressure-vessel lid rusted through.

Regulators haven't resolved these or other key safety issues, such as terrorist threats to reactors, lest they disrupt a powerful industry. U.S. regulation is not clearly better than Japanese regulation, nor more transparent: Industry-friendly rules bar the American public from meaningful participation. Many presidents' nuclear boosterism also discourages inquiry and dissent.

Nuclear-promoting regulators inspire even less confidence. The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) 2005 estimate [PDF] of about 4,000 Chernobyl deaths contrasts with a rigorous 2009 review of 5,000 mainly Slavic-language scientific papers the IAEA overlooked. It found deaths approaching a million through 2004, nearly 170,000 of them in North America. The total toll now exceeds a million, plus a half-trillion dollars' economic damage. The fallout reached four continents, just as the jet stream could swiftly carry Fukushima fallout.

Fukushima I-4's spent fuel alone, while in the reactor, had produced (over years, not in an instant) more than a hundred times more fission energy and hence radioactivity than both 1945 atomic bombs. If that already-damaged fuel keeps overheating, it may melt or burn, releasing into the air things like cesium-137 and strontium-90, which take several centuries to decay a millionfold. Unit 3's fuel is spiked with plutonium, which takes 482,000 years.

Nuclear power is the only energy source where mishap or malice can kill so many people so far away; the only one whose ingredients can help make and hide nuclear bombs; the only climate solution that substitutes proliferation, accident, and high-level radioactive waste dangers. Indeed, nuclear plants are so slow and costly to build that they reduce and retard climate protection.

Here's how. Each dollar spent on a new reactor buys about two to 10 times less carbon savings, 20 to 40 times slower, than spending that dollar on the cheaper, faster, safer solutions that make nuclear power unnecessary and uneconomic: efficient use of electricity, making heat and power together in factories or buildings ("cogeneration"), and renewable energy. The last two made 18 percent of the world's 2009 electricity (while nuclear made 13 percent, reversing their 2000 shares) -- and made over 90 percent of the 2007-08 increase in global electricity production.

Those smarter choices are sweeping the global energy market. Half the world's new generating capacity in 2008 and 2009 was renewable. In 2010, renewables, excluding big hydro dams, won $151 billion of private investment and added over 50 billion watts (70 percent the total capacity of all 23 Fukushima-style U.S. reactors) while nuclear got zero private investment and kept losing capacity. Supposedly unreliable wind power made 43 to 52 percent of four German states' total 2010 electricity. Non-nuclear Denmark, 21 percent wind-powered, plans to get entirely off fossil fuels. Hawaii plans 70 percent renewables by 2025.

In contrast, of the 66 nuclear units worldwide officially listed as "under construction" at the end of 2010, 12 had been so listed for over 20 years, 45 had no official startup date, half were late, all 66 were in centrally planned power systems -- 50 of those in just four (China, India, Russia, South Korea) -- and zero were free-market purchases. Since 2007, nuclear growth has added less annual output than just the costliest renewable -- solar power -- and will probably never catch up. While inherently safe renewable competitors are walloping both nuclear and coal plants in the marketplace and keep getting dramatically cheaper, nuclear costs keep soaring, and with greater safety precautions would go even higher. Tokyo Electric Co., just recovering from $10-20 billion in 2007 earthquake costs at its other big nuclear complex, now faces an even more ruinous Fukushima bill.

Since 2005, new U.S. reactors (if any) have been 100+ percent subsidized -- yet they couldn't raise a cent of private capital, because they have no business case. They cost two to three times as much as new wind power, and by the time you could build a reactor, it couldn't even beat solar power. Competitive renewables, cogeneration, and efficient use can displace all U.S. coal power more than 23 times over -- leaving ample room to replace nuclear power's half-as-big-as-coal contribution too -- but we need to do it just once. Yet the nuclear industry demands ever more lavish subsidies, and its lobbyists hold all other energy efforts hostage for tens of billions in added ransom, with no limit.

Japan, for its size, is even richer than America in benign, ample, but long-neglected energy choices. Perhaps this tragedy will call Japan to global leadership into a post-nuclear world. And before America suffers its own Fukushima, it too should ask, not whether unfinanceably costly new reactors are safe, but why build any more, and why keep running unsafe ones. China has suspended reactor approvals. Germany just shut down the oldest 41 percent of its nuclear capacity for study. America's nuclear lobby says it can't happen here, so pile on lavish new subsidies.

A durable myth claims Three Mile Island halted U.S. nuclear orders. Actually they stopped over a year before -- dead of an incurable attack of market forces. No doubt when nuclear power's collapse in the global marketplace, already years old, is finally acknowledged, it will be blamed on Fukushima. While we pray for the best in Japan today, let us hope its people's sacrifice will help speed the world to a safer, more competitive energy future.

Physicist Amory Lovins is Chairman and Chief Scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute and Chairman Emeritus of Fiberforge, Inc. Published in 29 books and hundreds of papers, he advises governments and major firms worldwide on advanced energy and resource efficiency.

For some interesting information and background about Chernobyl, consider this:
At Chernobyl, it was all under control

Stop the slaughter of Yellowstone's buffalo

The Interior Department has a mixed history of appropriately fulfilling its responsibilities and the policy below needs to cease:

Please send the message to Secretary Salazar:

Stop the slaughter of Yellowstone's buffalo

This winter, hundreds of Yellowstone buffalo that roamed outside the Park have been captured, and many could ultimately be slaughtered. Please send a message demanding that Interior Secretary Salazar call a halt to the senseless harassment and killing of these magnificent animals.

Your message will be sent to:
Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior

Subject line:
End the harassment and slaughter of Yellowstone's buffalo

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Koch as Organized Crime

Offered by: Reader Supported News

Published on (

Koch And Native-American Reservation Oil Theft
By Dave Johnson

Just what is this Koch Industries? Should it be called a "company?" If so we need to re-think the idea of what a company and a business is supposed to be. Even the brother of Koch Industries owners David and Charles Koch called the company an "organized crime" operation.

Koch money is a key driver of the conservative movement. Almost every [1] conservative-movement
rock [2] you turn over [3] has Koch money [4] crawling around [5] under it. As the movement becomes more and more of a pay-to-play operation, conservatives of every stripe do more and more to protect and enrich the Koch operation. This has included blocking, disrupting and avoiding official investigations of accusations. It also includes funding front groups to advance the political and financial interests of the company and its owners.

Theft Of Oil From Reservations

Oppose The Future [6] has the story of how Koch Oil [7] was caught stealing oil from an Indian Reservation, reducing or removing the incomes of so many poor residents.

At some point in 1987, Thurmon Parton’s royalty checks for the three oil wells he inherited from his mother suddenly dropped from $3,000 a month to a little over $1,000. He and his sister, Arnita Gonzalez, members of the Caddo tribe, lived near Gracemont, Oklahoma, a town of a few hundred people on a small grid on the prairie.

Those modest royalties were the only source of income each of them had.

. . . What happened to Mr. Parton, Ms. Gonzales and Ms. Limpy had nothing to do with the wells or how they were producing. Their oil was being stolen. And all of the evidence pointed to the same culprit: Koch Oil, a division of Koch Industries.

This is an important story today because it helps us understand the nature of the Koch operation, which has so much influence over our politics and even livelihoods today. It also helps us understand why our government not only appears to be influenced, but often to be outright corrupted. From the story,

In the spring of 1989, a Special Committee on Investigations of the United States Senate’s Select Committee on Indian Affairs was formed to look into concerns that the path to tribal self-rule was impeded by fraud, corruption and mismanagement from all sides.

... Within a span of months, the Special Committee determined that “Koch [Oil] was engaged in systematic theft, stealing millions in Oklahoma alone.” BLM, even with a tip that Koch was behaving improperly, hadn’t done a thing.

Oppose The Future [7] lays out the story and details of the oil theft. There is also story of the years following.

"A Broad Pattern Of Criminal Behavior"

Back in 1996 Business Week looked into the relationship between then-Senator and Presidential Candidate Bob Dole and Koch Industries and an apparent pattern of influence by the company, in BOB DOLE'S OIL-PATCH PALS [8]. Here are some excerpts from their investigation, [emphasis added]

Koch has had a history of run-ins with the Justice Dept. and other federal agencies. In 1989, a special congressional committee looked into charges that Koch had routinely removed more oil from storage tanks on Indian tribal lands ... Dole tried to influence the Senate committee to soft-pedal the probe. Nevertheless, after a yearlong investigation, the committee said in its final report, "Koch Oil, the largest purchaser of Indian oil in the country, is the most dramatic example of an oil company stealing by deliberate mismeasurement and fraudulent reporting." The report triggered a grand jury probe. The inquiry was dropped in March, 1992, which provoked outrage by congressional investigators.

Then in April, 1995, the Justice Dept. filed a $55 million civil suit against Koch for causing more than 300 oil spills over a five-year period. Dole and other Senators, however, sponsored a bill ... that critics charge would help Koch defend itself ... legal sources say the government's ultimate goal is to use evidence in the two actions to establish that Koch has engaged in a broad pattern of criminal behavior.

... From Apr. 19, 1991, through Nov. 2, 1992, David Koch and the Koch Industries political action committee together contributed $7,000 to Nickles' campaign war chest. Around the same time, [Oklahoma Republican Senator Don] Nickles sponsored Timothy D. Leonard, an old friend of Nickles, for the post of U.S. Attorney in Oklahoma City. ... initially, questions were raised in the U.S. attorney's office about whether Leonard should recuse himself because Koch Industries purchased oil from wells in which Leonard and his family had royalty interests ... Then-Deputy Attorney General William P. Barr granted him a waiver to participate in the case ... In March, 1992, after an 18-month investigation, the U.S. Attorney's office terminated the grand jury probe and informed Koch it anticipated no indictments. ... As the grand jury investigation was winding down, Nickles sponsored Leonard for a federal judgeship. He was nominated by President Bush in November, 1991, and confirmed by the Senate the following August.

Business Week lays out the evidence [8] in detail. The timing, with Republican administration/committee/agency/department after administration/committee/agency/department impeding and/or dropping investigations into Koch activities is also clear.

In 2000, CBS' 60 Minutes ran a segment, Blood And Oil And Environmental Negligence [9] looking at the activities of the Koch brothers and their private company Koch Industries,

As we told you when we first reported this story last November, the Koch family of Wichita, Kansas is among the richest in the United States, worth billions of dollars. Their oil company, Koch Industries, is bigger than Intel, Dupont or Prudential Insurance, and they own it lock stock and barrel.

William Koch, brother of company owners David and Charles, called the company an "organized crime" operation:

Koch says that Koch Industries engaged in "(o)rganized crime. And management driven from the top down."

"It was – was my family company. I was out of it," he says. "But that’s what appalled me so much... I did not want my family, my legacy, my father’s legacy to be based upon organized crime."

In March, 2001 the incoming Bush administration repealed the "responsible contractor rule" that barred companies that chronically defraud the government and/or violate federal pollution, wage and other rules from receiving federal contracts.

Then, in 2002 the Bush II administration awarded Koch the contract [10] to supply oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. (There were accusations that the government bought oil when prices were high, and sold it when prices were low.) The contract was renewed in 2004. Koch received tens of millions [11] in other government contracts during the Bush years.

The story [12] and timeline of the Koch operation (and its front-groups) go on [13] and on [14], organizing and funding [15] climate-denial front groups [16], front-groups run and funded by the Koch Brothers [17] organizing and funding the Tea Party [18]. (Please click the links.)

Think Progress [19] in particular has been following the activities of this "company" [20] and its front groups [21], and it is certainly worth taking a look. See REPORT: How Koch Industries Makes Billions By Demanding Bailouts And Taxpayer Subsidies (Part 1) [22],

Koch funds both socially conservative groups and socially liberal groups. However, Koch’s financing of front groups and political organizations all have one thing in common: every single Koch group attacks workers’ rights, promotes deregulation, and argues for radical supply side economics.

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

A nation of fools grows its dependence on fuel

Brian O'Neill offered an interesting perspective on our folly:

A nation of fools grows its dependence on fuel
By Brian O'Neill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It's been said that one reason for the decline of the American middle class is that, unlike Europeans, we live in places where second and even third cars are necessities. Ken Joseph of Dormont pointed me to a book that makes that point: "Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream,'' by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and Jeff Speck.

I grabbed the book and found statements that Americans drive twice as many miles as we did just a couple of decades ago, spend twice as much per capita on transportation as other developed nations, and that an inexpensive second car such as the Ford Escort still costs more than $6,000 a year (including gasoline, insurance, parking, etc.).

"At conventional mortgage rates,'' the authors say, "that figure translates into more than $60,000 in home purchasing power.''

We must like this setup. We're still building for more driving, not less. The Pennsylvania Turnpike intends to spend $200 million rebuilding the eight-mile stretch between the Butler Valley and Allegheny Valley interchanges, widening it from four lanes to six, which is part of the turnpike's Total Reconstruction Initiative.

Such an ambitious upgrade stands out with the state cutting costs almost everywhere else, but all that toll money needs to go somewhere.

The waggish authors of "Suburban Nation'' described high school as "a place where we store our children while earning the money to pay for their cars.'' Let's hope some of those kids grow up to help us figure out some cheaper ways to get around.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

U.S. Nuclear Policy Governed by Lobbyists & Campaign Contributions

Nuclear Energy is extremely expensive, riddled with cost overruns and subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.

From a strictly cost/benefit analysis, Nuclear Energy has never made any sense, and that's before we consider the cost of 'waste.'

Consider this -- Nuclear Energy costs

$7,500 per kilowatt to build

That’s more than double the capital costs for solar power and three and a half times the cost for wind.

the most heavily subsidized industry in the energy sector.

In 2005, Congress handed the nuclear power industry $13 billion in federal aid, and two years later went on to approve an additional $20.5 billion in loan guarantees, making U.S. taxpayers the cosigners on loans for new nuclear projects -- half of which are expected to end in defaults.

Wind is already more competitive than electricity generated from new nuclear and coal-fired power plants.

From Democracy Now:

“Serious Danger of a Full Core Meltdown”: Update on Japan’s Nuclear Catastrophe

From the Institute for Southern Studies:

Duke Energy's nuclear ambitions face fallout from Japanese crisis
[worth reading in its entirety]
With the nuclear crisis in Japan growing more alarming by the hour, Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers appeared before the North Carolina Utilities Commission yesterday to ask for permission to spend an additional $267 million for the planning of two new reactors at its Lee plant in South Carolina. If approved, the request would bring the amount Duke will pay for pre-construction work there to $459 million -- money it's expected to seek to recoup from ratepayers.

INSTITUTE INDEX - U.S. nuclear-powered politics

Amount the nuclear power industry spent on lobbying from 2000 to 2010:
$600 million

Amount the industry spent during that same period on campaign contributions:
nearly $63 million

Amount the Nuclear Energy Institute -- an industry trade group whose members include the company that owns the imperiled Japanese nuclear plant -- spent lobbying the federal government during the past three years:
$6.12 million

Number of federal lobbyists on the NEI's roster:
more than 20

Amount that Atlanta's Southern Company, which has major nuclear investments and is seeking to build new reactors, has spent on federal lobbying efforts each year since 2004:
at least $10 million

Amount that the PAC for Duke Energy, which is also planning to build new nuclear reactors, spent during the 2010 election: $1.45 million

Percent of Duke Energy PAC's money that went to Democrats:

Amount of credit line that North Carolina-based Duke Energy recently guaranteed for the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Charlotte: $10 million

Under new Democratic Party rules, amount at which corporate contributions for the convention are supposed to be capped:

Amount Duke Energy plans to spend building new reactors that still need state and federal approvals: $11 billion

Date on which the German government called for a "measured exit" from nuclear power and a speedy transition to renewable energy: 3/17/2011

Date on which the Chinese government said it would suspend approvals for nuclear power plants so it can conduct safety checks:

Since the Japanese crisis erupted last week, number of U.S. lawmakers who have been briefed by NEI lobbyists seeking to head off any restrictions on nuclear power:
about 50

Date on which Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the Obama administration would press ahead with efforts to encourage new reactor construction:

Total amount the White House is seeking in taxpayer-backed nuclear loan guarantees, $8.3 billion of which have already been set aside already for two new reactors at Southern Co.' s Plant Vogtle in Georgia.:
$54 billion

Amount the nuclear power industry has received in federal subsidies since its inception in 1948:
tens of billions

Problematic design of Japan's imperiled nuclear reactors common in U.S.
The nuclear power disaster triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on Friday is worsening by the day and raising concerns about nuclear safety in the United States.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Public Broadcasting proves its worth

Coverage of the unfolding catastrophe in Japan does not lend itself to MSM, more capable of providing in-depth sports reporting and gossip than facts.

WBUR and WGBH have done a stellar job of providing explanations in laymen's terms and presenting experts who offer information.
It's at times like these, when answers are needed that public broadcasting proves its worth.

UCS has provided this information:
All Things Nuclear

Saturday, March 12, 2011

And Good Night, American Nuclear Power

And Good Night, American Nuclear Power

This is not to minimize the horror or the suffering of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, but for our purposes here the headline is a stark and inarguable one: Japanese Power Company Says It Has Lost Control Of Three Nuclear Plants.

There is really very little else to say. The perfected, flawless, clean-operating, state-of-the-art, ideal future of energy has in 32 years given us Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and now the nightmare scenario of one company saying there is rising pressure at three of its nuclear facilities and it really doesn’t have a damn thing it can do right now except tell everybody to run.

Time to shut down this nation’s nuclear energy program. For good.Already, nuclear energy apologists are formulating their “yeahbuts” – yeah but… it’s not like we’ll ever have an 8.9 earthquake in the U.S. (check your U.S. Geological Survey and CalTech data for earthquake probabilities in Southern California, The Bay Area, and elsewhere, and you’ll realize the proverbial “Big One” in each area is overdue, in some cases by decades). Yeah but… the real damage here was from the tsunami and we don’t have tsunamis in this country (that’s why Hawaii and Northern California were on alert this morning – after an earthquake halfway around the world). Yeah but… our American safety technology is so much superior and there’s American Exceptionalism and let’s wave the flag and it’s for the economy and and and…

There are no words of solace

that can be offered in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that have devastated Japan. Untold numbers have been killed and families, lives, villages destroyed.

The rescue is overwhelming.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who have suffered and rescuers working to save those who may be trapped.

What we do know is that the nuclear reactors, proclaimed as 'safe' and capable of withstanding calamity of this magnitude, threaten us all by spewing invisible clouds of contaminants far and wide.

Official: 'We see the possibility of a meltdown' --Radioactive cesium, radioactive iodine in the air Saturday night 13 Mar 2011 A meltdown may be under way at one of Fukushima Daiichi's nuclear power reactors in northern Japan, an official with Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency told CNN Sunday. "There is a possibility, we see the possibility of a meltdown," said Toshihiro Bannai, director of the agency's international affairs office, in a telephone interview from the agency's headquarters in Tokyo. "At this point, we have still not confirmed that there is an actual meltdown, but there is a possibility." Though Bannai said engineers have been unable to get close enough to the core to know what's going on, he based his conclusion on the fact that they measured radioactive isotopes in the air Saturday night.

Japan's TEPCO preparing to release radiation from second reactor

Tokyo Electric Power Co has begun preparation to release radioactive steam from a second reactor at its quake-struck Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility, a spokesman said on Sunday. The TEPCO spokesman said preparation work for the release began at 7:30 a.m. (5:30 p.m. EST). An official from Japan's nuclear safety watchdog said earlier on Sunday that it had received a report from Japan's largest power producer at 5:10 a.m. that the facility's No. 3 reactor had completely lost its emergency cooling function.

Emergency at second reactor, Japan's nuclear agency reports

Japan's nuclear safety agency is reporting an emergency at a second reactor in the same complex where an explosion had occurred earlier. The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said early Sunday that the cooling system malfunctioned at Unit 3 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. The agency said it was informed of the emergency by Tokyo Electric, the utility which runs the plant.

Second nuclear reactor at Japanese power plant loses emergency cooling --Authorities scrambling to prevent possible meltdown, radiation release

A new danger arose late Saturday at the nuclear power plant damaged by the strongest earthquake in Japan’s history when a second reactor lost its emergency cooling system, widening the possibility of a core meltdown and radiation release. That came as government and power company officials were resorting to an unprecedented measure -- flooding it with seawater -- to stabilize the reactor that had lost its emergency cooling system earlier Saturday local time.

Meltdown Caused Nuclear Plant Explosion: Safety Body --

Cesium and iodine, by-products of nuclear fission, were detected around the plant. 13 Mar 2011 The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said Saturday afternoon the explosion at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant could only have been caused by a meltdown of the reactor core. The same day, Tokyo Electric Power Co., which runs the plant, began to flood the damaged reactor with seawater to cool it down, resorting to measures that could rust the reactor and force the utility to scrap it. An explosion was heard near the plant's No. 1 reactor about 3:30 p.m. and plumes of white smoke went up 10 minutes later. The ceiling of the building housing the reactor collapsed, according to information obtained by Fukushima prefectural authorities.

Meltdown May Be In Progress At Fukushima No. 1 Nuke Plant

A meltdown of the reactor core may be in progress at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s No. 1 nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, which was hit by a devastating earthquake on Friday, the Japan's nuclear safety agency said at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency made the announcement as cesium and iodine, two by-products of nuclear fission, were detected near the plant. If a meltdown of the reactor core is confirmed, it would be the worst-ever nuclear accident in Japan and the first time a meltdown has occurred in the country.

Up to 160 may have radiation exposure in Japan nuclear accident

The number of individuals exposed to radiation from the quake-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan could reach as high as 160, an official of Japan's nuclear safety agency said on Sunday. Nine individuals had already shown possible exposure to radiation from the plant, based on information from tests by municipal authorities and other sources, and estimates from the authorities suggested the figure could rise as high as 70 to 160, the official from the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency told a news conference.

Japan to distribute iodine among people

Japan has informed the UN nuclear body that following an explosion in a nuclear power plant, it plans to distribute anti-radioactive medicine to the people in the area. Earlier on Saturday, an explosion occurred in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, blowing the roof off one facility and destroying its walls. The explosion led to the increase of radiation leak and has caused fears of a meltdown as the radioactivity in the area is now 20 times higher than normal levels.

Moment we feared another Chernobyl: Thousands undergo radioactive screening after explosion in nuclear power station

Thousands undergo radioactive screening after explosion in nuclear power station --Three workers treated for radiation sickness after explosion in reactor building --Authorities evacuate thousands of people from 12-mile radius of plant --People offered iodine to help protect against radiation exposure --Plant's cooling systems damaged by earthquake 12 Mar 2011 People were evacuated within a 12-mile radius after an explosion at one of Japan's nuclear power plants. The building housing one of Fukushima Dai-ichi's reactors was destroyed in the blast and a cloud of white smoke could be seen pouring from it. Four workers suffered fractures in the explosion, and three were treated for the symptoms of radiation sickness.

Japan evacuees scanned for radiation

Evacuees are scanned to check for possible exposure to radiation resulting from an explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, after an 8.9 magnitude earthquake shook the region. (CBS News video)

Agency forecasts 10% chance of radioactive fallout hitting Taiwan

The chances of radioactive fallout from two Japanese nuclear power plants crippled by Friday's massive earthquake are not high, the Cabinet-level Atomic Energy Council said yesterday in a statement. If two plants in Japan's Fukushima prefecture release large amounts of radiation, the probability of it reaching Taiwan is only 10 percent, the council predicted. The area most likely to fall victim to radiation from Japan would be Taiwan's northeastern coast and Monday would be when it would most likely arrive, the council said.

Exodus from Japan nuclear plant
An estimated 170,000 people have been evacuated from the area around a quake-damaged nuclear power station in north-east Japan that was hit by an explosion, the UN atomic watchdog says. A building housing a reactor was destroyed in Saturday's blast at the Fukushima No.1 plant... On Sunday morning, concerns were raised about the safety of a second reactor at the plant after operator Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) said the cooling system of another reactor had failed.

Japan evacuates 50,000 after nuclear power plant explosion --NHK:
At least three residents among 90 tested showed excess exposure to radiation 12 Mar 2011 More than 50,000 people were evacuated Saturday after an explosion at a Japanese nuclear plant hurled plumes of smoke over the Pacific Ocean... Japanese authorities hastened to assure the public there was no danger of a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant along the lines of the 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine, but they were unable to explain why excess levels of radiation were detected outside the plant's grounds. Japan's NHK television reported that at least three residents among 90 tested at random showed excess exposure to radiation.

Japan expands evacuation around nuclear power plant
The Japanese government said on Saturday it has expanded the evacuation area around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to a 20 kilometre radius from 10 km.

'1,000 dead' in Japan quake; nuke plants overheat
More than 1,000 people were feared dead and authorities scrambled to prevent meltdown at two nuclear plants after a monster tsunami devastated a swathe of northeast Japan. Reactor cooling systems failed after Friday's record 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit, unleashing a terrifying 10-metre (33-foot) high wave that tore through coastal towns and cities and destroying all in its path. Radiation 1,000 times above normal was detected in the control room of one nuclear plant, although authorities said levels outside the facility's gates were only [!?!] eight times above normal.

How many Congressmen does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

The rest of the world is reducing their energy consumption, addressing both Climate Change and Peak World Oil, increasing their alternative energy production, and the Party of No simply regroups and insists we need to continue to live in 19th Century technology and guzzle energy and strap of household budgets paying for wasted energy.


Recent articles in the Middleboro Gazette highlight the potential for energy savings, beginning with the school department's 'cost avoidance' in both electricity and natural gas of + 30%, and Meadowbrooke Farm, an energy efficient subdivision.

Those dastardly 'experts' tell us we can reduce our energy consumption 30% with little effort and cost. Imagine what we could accomplish!

Stephen Colbert Learns How To Screw In a Better Light Bulb

Last night, NRDC’s Dale Bryk was invited on the Colbert Report to debate one of the most pressing concerns of some members of Congress these days. Not the deficit, jobs or climate change, but light bulbs. That’s right, the things we all take for granted when we switch on the lights.

Watch NRDC's Dale Bryk's interview about energy saving light bulbs on the Colbert Report.

Turns out that some members of Congress think American freedom is at stake. Congressmen like Texas Congressman Joe Barton, who
appolgized to BP last year for what he termed a $20 billion “shakedown,” claim the light bulb energy saving legislation is dangerous and expensive.

But Barton doesn't have his bulb screwed on right. Studies show the legislation will
save Americans up to $200 on energy bills each year and reduce US energy consumption by more than $10 billion a year. Not only do most members of Congress support the legislation, but Americans support the switch because it makes economic sense. And it will create jobs in the process. How’s that for deficit reduction?

And the new energy efficient light bulbs no longer look any different that the ones we've been using for decades. Some of these new bulbs are already on store shelves. Can you tell the difference below?

So what’s wrong with sticking with 19th century inventions like the incandescent bulb and steam powered boats, Colbert quizzed Dale?

That’s a question everyone needs to ask members of Congress who want to roll back energy efficiency legislation. It will not only save us money but lower greeenhosue gas emissions and protect our children’s health.

On Thursday, the
Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is holding a hearing on legislation similar to the House that would eliminate these energy efficiency savings. That’s not a bright idea. The brightest bulbs in Congress know we need to embrace 21st century solutions that solve our energy needs and shine a sustainable light on our future.

For a few more silly Republican comments, try this:
GOP Lawmakers Target Efficient Light Bulb Mandate

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Senator Scott Brown ........

From Cape Cod Today [in case you missed it]:

Senator Scott Brown just voted to cut 17,100 jobs in Massachusetts

Republican Plan Defeated in the Senate Today Aimed to Slash Education, Cancer Research Instead of Cutting Corporate Welfare and Would Have Brought Economic Recovery to a Grinding Halt

U.S. Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) stood with Corporate America over middle-class families today,
voting for a funding bill that would slash 17,100 jobs in Massachusetts according to a recent study by the U.S. Senate’s Democratic Policy Committee. Nationwide, the study found that the plan to fund government through September 2011, which leaves in place billions in corporate welfare and tax loopholes for billionaires, would cost 700,000 American jobs. Fortunately, the measure was defeated in the Senate by a 44-56 margin.

Numerous nonpartisan economic experts, including a team from Goldman Sachs, have similarly found that the plan approved by virtually every House Republican and no Democrats in the
dead of night on February 19, would bring our fragile economic recovery to a screeching halt. Moody's chief economist and former McCain adviser Mark Zandi projected that the House Republican proposal would cut real GDP growth by 0.5 percent in 2011 and 0.2 percent in 2012. That, in turn, would lead to 400,000 fewer jobs being created than expected by the end of this year and a total of 700,000 fewer jobs by the end of 2012.

And a recent Goldman Sachs analysis also concluded that Republicans' 2011 cuts would be detrimental to the economic recovery. The House GOP's plan, the analysis found, could cut the nation's economic growth by 1.5 percent to 2 percent during the second and third quarters of this year.

Read the Americans United story

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Senator Scott Brown for sale

CCT offers --

Brown off and running for '12, hustles Koch for money

Sen. Scott Brown fawns over David Koch at MIT dedication ceremony Friday reports that at the public dedication of MIT’s David H. Koch Integrative Cancer Institute last Friday, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) effusively thanked conservative billionaire David Koch for supporting his election in 2010 and made a plea for help in his re-election campaign next year.

Update The Boston Globe's
Mark Arsenault notes:

In public appearances, Brown says that he's not interested in politicking right now, that there will be time for it in 2012, yet in the video, he tells Koch he's politicking right now. See The Globe here.

David Koch directly gave the National Republican Senatorial Committee
$30,400 in November 2009, and the Koch Industries PAC threw in $15,000 to NRSC plus $5,000 more directly to Brown right before Brown’s special election.

In the following exchange, Brown thanks Koch and his wife Julia (off-camera) for their support, saying “I can certainly use it again”:

BROWN: Your support during the election, it meant a ton. It made a difference and I can certainly use it again. Obviously, the –

KOCH: When are you running for the next term?

BROWN: ’12.

KOCH: Oh, okay.

BROWN: I’m in the cycle right now. We’re already banging away.

Brown then lavished praise on the Kochs and MIT president Susan Hockfield for establishing the research center with $100 million, about 0.5 percent of Koch’s toxic petrochemical fortune. Koch’s Tea Party politicians in the House are working to negate his contribution by cutting
$1.6 billion in federal funding for the National Institute of Health.

Brown has been a good Koch foot soldier, voting to
protect Koch’s carbon pollution and complaining about the “onerous” estate tax.


BROWN: Your support during the election, it meant a, it meant a ton. It made a, it made a difference and I can certainly use it again. Obviously, the uh . . .

KOCH: When are you running, uh, for the next term?

BROWN: ’12.

KOCH: Oh, okay.

BROWN: I’m in the cycle, I’m in the cycle right now. We’re already banging away. But you guys should all be very proud. I mean this is amazing. I’ve actually taken the tour and uh just the things you aim to attack this issue is, is huge.


BROWN: Thank you, for your leadership.

KOCH: Susan was the main uh uh person who created the idea of combining the uh the bioengineers with the cancer researchers and then uh, so she’s a brilliant lady and a leader here.

HOCKFIELD: Hi, David. David’s enthusiasm, Tyler’s [Jacks, Koch Institute director] genius, and I just said, sure, let’s do it.

KOCH: Ha ha ha!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Time to end the insane practice of lacing chicken feed with arsenic

Grist offered the article below that's certainly food for thought --

Don’t be chickensh*t
Time to end the insane practice of lacing chicken feed with arsenic

As a jaded observer of the meat industry, even I'm flummoxed by this fact: It's standard practice on factory chicken farms to dose those unfortunate birds with arsenic. The idea is that it makes them grow faster -- fast growth being the supreme goal of factory animal farming -- and helps control a common intestinal disease called coccidiosis.

The industry emphasizes that the arsenic is applied in organic form, which isn't immediately toxic. "Organic" in the chemistry sense, that is, not the agricultural sense -- i.e., molecules containing carbon atoms as well as arsenic. Trouble is, arsenic shifts from organic to inorganic rather easily. Indeed, "arsenic in poultry manure is rapidly converted into an inorganic form that is highly water soluble and capable of moving into surface and ground water,"
write Keeve E. Nachman and Robert S. Lawrence of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.

Inorganic arsenic is the highly poisonous stuff -- see the absurd and wonderful Cary Grant classic
Arsenic and Old Lace, or the EPA's less whimsical take here and here [PDF]. The fact that the organic arsenic added to feed turns inorganic when it makes its way into manure is chilling, given the mountains of concentrated waste generated by factory poultry farms.

Unfortunately, one of the few places the poultry industry has chosen to concentrate itself is on the Delmarva Peninsula, a tri-state (Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia) land spit that juts out into the Chesapeake Bay, historically one of the nation's most productive fisheries and now nearly an ecological wasteland. Some 1,700 chicken operations produce 11 million chickens per week on this relatively small spit of land. As Nachman and Lawrence point out, the Delmarva poultry industry generates a shit-ton (my word, not theirs) of manure: between 12 million to 39 million tons every year. How much inorganic arsenic makes it into Delmarva groundwater from that fecal onslaught? Food and Water Watch

Researchers estimate that between 11 and 12
metric tons of arsenic are applied to agricultural
land there every year via poultry waste.
Groundwater tests on both sides of the Chesapeake
Bay's Coastal Plains found arsenic in some household
wells reaching up to 13 times the Environmental
Protection Agency's (EPA) tolerance limit.

Then there's the question of arsenic traces in industrial chicken meat. In 2006, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) tested chicken samples from supermarkets and fast-food joints -- and found that 55 percent contained detectable arsenic. Citing the EPA, IATP reckons that 55 percent of arsenic found in poultry meat is inorganic, i.e., toxic. And here's another way arsenic from poultry feed gets into the food supply: the jaw-dropping, mind-boggling practice of feeding chicken shit to cows. But that's a topic for another post -- one, in fact, that I've already written.

So how did the practice of dosing poultry with arsenic come to pass -- and what are the regulatory agencies doing about it? Food and Water Watch's Patty Lovera
explains that the practice got the green light during the FDR administration, when the science on arsenic was much less advanced. According to Lovera, the government hasn't revised its standards for arsenic levels in poultry, "even as chicken consumption has increased dramatically." As for testing, well, it's so lax as to be functionally nonexistent:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's
program for testing broiler chickens for
arsenic residues conducts startlingly few
tests. Between 2000 and 2008, the USDA
tested only 1 out of every 12 million domestically
produced chickens (or .00008 percent).
In 2005 and 2008, the department conducted
no tests for arsenic residues in domestically
produced broilers.

Perhaps in despair over the blasé attitude of federal regulators toward arsenic, members of the Maryland legislature, joined by state Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, are pushing a bill to ban the state's poultry giants from treating feed with arsenic, The Baltimore Sun reports. Predictably, the legislature's more agribiz-aligned elements are resisting. "We seem to be in a mode where the state policy is to drive these guys [giant poultry factories] out of Maryland," one poultry-fied state rep told The Sun.

But that's absurd on its face. Some corporate poultry producers including Purdue, sensing that arsenic-laced feed might not send a great marketing message, have already banned it from their feed. In other words, the old industry line that it's simply impossible to raise chickens without arsenic is nonsense. Here's hoping that the Maryland arsenic-banning bill passes -- and that it shames the federal government into following suit.

Tom Philpott is Grist’s senior food and agriculture writer.