IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Obama's 'new' blueprint for energy security --- not so 'new' after all; Offshore drilling --- not actually 'safer' after all; US falls further behind in the global clean energy race; PLUS: The 'Chernobyl Option' for Japan's nuclear reactors at Fukushima, as radiation continues to spike and spread ... All those disasters and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): US energy efficiency gains eclipsed by new gadgets; Dead dolphins confiscated from Gulf scientists; PA enviro chief to personally approve violation citations; PA's gas drilling commission stacked with industry; Lose the 'smart' meter, but it'll cost ya; Packaged foods raise levels of BPA; Organic farmers sue Monsanto; Aircraft contrails impact climate change; Joshua Tree NP escapes nearby landfill threat; CA approves nation's strongest clean energy standard; Student's Solarball creates drinkable water ... PLUS: At least he's honest: Pawlenty Admits 'Every One Of Us' Running For President Has Flip-Flopped On Climate Change ....
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- Obama's "New" Blueprint For Energy, Not So New After All:
- Obama Calls For Deep Cuts In U.S. Oil Imports (Reuters):
President Barack Obama on Wednesday proposed to cut U.S. oil imports by a third over 10 years, a goal that eluded his predecessors and seen as extremely ambitious by analysts skeptical it can succeed.
Previous presidents have made similar promises on energy imports that they failed to meet. And any new policy initiative can expect tough opposition from Republicans, who see high energy prices hurting Obama and his Democrats in the 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
- Obama's Snoozefest of an Energy Speech (Mother Jones)
- Obama Renews Pitch for Clean Energy To Reduce Oil Appetite (McClatchy)
- Obama Sets Goal of One-Third Cut in Oil Imports (NY Times)
- WATCH: The Obama Administration’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future (White House blog):
The Blueprint is aimed to:
* Develop and secure America’s energy supplies...
* Expand Safe and Responsible Domestic Oil and Gas Development and Production
* Lead the World Toward Safer and More Secure Energy Supplies
* Provide consumers with choices to reduce costs and save energy...
* Reduce Consumers Costs at the Pump with More Efficient Cars and Trucks
* Cut Energy Bills with More Efficient Homes and Buildings
* Innovate our way to a clean energy future...
* Harness America’s Clean Energy Potential so that 80 percent of electricity will come from clean energy sources by 2035
* Win the future through Clean Energy Research and Development
* Lead by Example so that the Federal Government models best practices and clean energy ······technologies
- Obama's Claim of "Safer" Offshore Drilling Contradicted By Actual Facts:
- US Falls Further Behind in Global Clean Energy Race
- U.S. slips behind China, Germany in clean energy (USA Today):
The United States slipped one spot to third place in clean-energy investment last year despite President Obama's push to promote non-p0lluting sources of power, says a report Tuesday.
Until 2008, the U.S. had held the top spot, but it has since been eclipsed by China, which ranks no. 1, and Germany, which has taken over the no. 2 spot, according to the report "Who's Winning the Clean Energy Race" by the Pew Charitable Trusts, an independent, non-profit group.
- China, Germany lead clean energy recovery: Investment in renewable energies has recovered from the global economic downturn, with China and Germany leading a boom in the industry. Germany is second only to China when it comes to investing in renewable energy.(Deutsche Welle News)
- China tops global clean energy table: The UK slipped outside the top 10 as investment fell by 70% in 2010. (BBC)
- ONGOING COVERAGE: Japan's Ongoing Triple Disaster & Nuclear Nightmare:
- How to Help: Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (NY Times)
- UPDATED Coverage of Japan's Nuclear Disaster at BRAD BLOG.COM (BradBlog.com)
- Updated: Japan's Nuclear Emergency Explained (Mother Jones)
- Updated Full Coverage: JAPAN NUCLEAR CRISIS (Kyodo News)
- Updated Full Coverage Page at Reuters (Reuters)
- IAEA Update on Japan Earthquake (International Atomic Energy Agency)
- Facts: Nuclear Power Safety (Union of Concerned Scientists)
- LATEST DEVELOPMENTS: JAPAN'S ONGOING NUCLEAR CRISIS:
- Radioactivity 10,000 times standard at Japan plant (AP):
Officials with the company that operates Japan's tsunami-stricken nuclear plant say radioactive contamination in groundwater underneath a reactor has been measured at 10,000 times the government health standard.
A spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. says the company doesn't believe any drinking water supply is affected.
- UN Atomic Watchdog Raises Alarm Over Japan Evacuations (AFP):
The UN atomic watchdog said Wednesday radiation in a village outside the evacuation zone around a stricken Japanese nuclear plant was above safe levels, urging that Japan reassess the situation.
- Japan Under Pressure To Widen Nuclear Evacuation Zone (Guardian UK)
- Greenpeace Says Japan Evacuation Zone Too Small (AFP)
- Germany offers Japan robots for nuclear clean-up (Reuters):
Japan has been offered German remote-controlled robots to help clean up and repair damage at its Fukushima nuclear reactors, which are leaking radiation after being hit by an earthquake and tsunami.
- Water clear-up 'urgent' at reactor (BBC)
- Japan fears radioactive contamination of marine life: Fukushima coastal waters see high levels of radioactive iodine, which could build up in seaweed commonly eaten in Japan (Guardian UK)
- 'Betrayed' Japanese Communities Might Never Go Home (Reuters)
- Japan's farmers and fishermen's future bleak due to contamination (Digital Journal)
- Low levels radiation found in milk in 2 US states (Bloomberg News)
- Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor (Guardian UK):
Fukushima meltdown fears rise after radioactive core melts through vessel – but 'no danger of Chernobyl-style catastrophe'
- Analysis: Japan's nuclear nightmare set to run and run (Reuters):
Workers struggling to prevent more radiation from escaping Japan's crippled nuclear plant face a hellish scenario --- with every attempt to get it under control seemingly creating life-threatening problems. Unfortunately they are going to have to get used to it.
A final resolution of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power station will likely take decades and experts say there could be many further setbacks and frightening moments to come. The cost in terms of money or the health of the workers is almost impossible to assess at this stage.
- Govt may spray resin on nuclear plant: Sticky material should keep down radiation (Daily Yomiuri)
- Japan crisis drags, France wants global nuclear reform (Reuters)
- Renewable energy a pillar in Japan reconstruction vision: Edano (Reuters):
Renewable energy will play an important role in Japan's reconstruction, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said on Tuesday as the country struggled to bring a damaged nuclear power plant under control.
"When considering the damage from this accident, there is no doubt we are moving toward making renewable energy sources a pillar," Edano told reporters.
- The IMPACT on U.S. Nuclear Policy & Industry:
- Senators Press U.S. Officials on Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel (NYT Green):
A Senate subcommittee pressed federal officials on Wednesday on the safety of long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel in pools, a common practice at nuclear reactors in the United States and at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan.
While some of the roughly 70,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel from American plants is now stored in concrete and steel containers called dry casks, the majority of aging fuel is still kept in pools, often for decades.
"In California, fuel removed from reactors in 1984 is still cooling in wet spent fuel pools, Ms. Feinstein said. This process may have regulatory approval, but I have a hard time understanding why the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not mandated a more rapid transfer of spent fuel to dry casks.
- US nuclear reactors required to cope with blackouts lasting a maximum 4 or 8 hours (AP)
- NY Demands Fire Safety Enforcement at Indian Point Reactors (Environmental News Service):
The Indian Point nuclear power plant is currently in violation of fire safety regulations and is seeking more than 100 exemptions from those regulations, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Monday.
- At U.S. Nuclear Sites, Preparing for the Unlikely (NY Times):
American nuclear safety regulators, using a complex mathematical technique, determined that the simultaneous failure of both emergency shutdown systems that are designed to prevent a core meltdown was so unlikely that it would happen once every 17,000 years. But 20 years ago, it happened twice in four days at a pair of nuclear reactors in southern New Jersey.
In the United States, 93 of the 104 operating reactors have batteries capable of providing power for four hours; the other 11 have eight-hour batteries. Fukushima had eight-hour batteries. It wasn't enough.
the Dresden nuclear facility in Morris, Ill., and the nearby Quad Cities plant in Cordova, both of which are north of the New Madrid seismic zone. The area registered quakes estimated to have exceeded 7.0 in magnitude in 1811 and 1812, and is known for somewhat more regular temblors of lesser intensity.
- Critics question safety at San Onofre: It is designed to handle a 7.0 earthquake and is buffered from a tsunami by a barrier capable of stopping a 25-foot wave. Regulations for its construction were written with the disaster at Three Mile Island in mind. (San Diego Press Enterprise)
- What are the odds? US nuke plants ranked by quake risk (MSNBC):
So much for San Andreas: Reactors in East, Midwest, South have highest chance of damage
- VIDEO: Before Japan disaster, GOP mocked concerns about nuclear safety (MediaMatters.org)
- Taxpayer Meltdown?: Taxpayers, Not Utilities, Liable for Most of the Bill (National Journal)
- Cost, not Japan crisis, should scrub nuclear power (Grist)
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- Household Energy Efficiency Gains Eclipsed by Too Many Gadgets (GreenBiz) [emphasis added]:
Americans are using energy more efficiently in their households with better windows, insulation and products that meet Energy Star standards, such refrigerators and clothes washers. Yet those gains are being canceled out by the proliferation of electronic devices now used in homes, including a growing number of personal computers, DVRs and rechargeable gadgets, according to new data released Monday by the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
"You've got everything becoming more efficient, but there is just more of everything," said Bill McNary, a DOE statistician working on the Residential Energy Consumption Survey.
- Dolphin samples leaving Coast (Miami Sun-Herald):
The hundreds of samples have been stored at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies since mid-January when the animals started dying in unusually high numbers. Most of the unusual deaths came well before the normal birthing season.
The samples will be transported via commercial delivery service, he said.
“I don’t know,” Solangi said. “They have their own labs … We’ll have to let all the samples go.”
- Pennsylvania environment chief now must approve any shale-drilling citations (Philadelphia Inquirer) [emphasis added]:
In an unprecedented policy shift, inspectors in Pennsylvania have been ordered to stop issuing violations against drillers without prior approval from Gov. Corbett's new environmental chief.
"I could not believe it," said John Hanger, the last DEP secretary under Gov. Ed Rendell. "It's extraordinarily unwise. It's going to cause the public in droves to lose confidence in the inspection process."
The order applies only to enforcement actions in the Marcellus Shale.
- Industry fills majority of seats on PA's gas drilling panel:
Business and industry representatives outnumber environmental advocates by more than 3 to 1 on the governor’s new 30-member Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission.
Yet the balance of interests on the commission is tipped heavily in favor of the drilling industry, critics said, at a time when concern over the environmental impacts of drilling is higher than ever.
- Dumbing down smart meters: PG&E to let customers disable their smart meters—for a price (Grist) [emphasis added]:
On Thursday, PG&E, acting under orders from state regulators, unveiled a proposal to let customers have their smart meter's radio turned off --- for a price. PG&E would charge a one-time fee ranging from $105 to $270 and then customers would pay between $14 and $20 a month for two years. All in all, it would cost about $600 for the average customer to disable their smart meter.
"This cost is based on what it costs PG&E to disable the radio, adjust our IT system, adjust our billing system, and to manually read customers," Paul Moreno, a PG&E spokesperson, said in an email.
- Study: Packaged Food Raises Levels of BPA (SF Chronicle):
Forgoing packaged foods such as canned soups and vegetables could dramatically lower levels of a hormone-disrupting chemical that has been linked to myriad health problems, including birth defects, autism and reproductive issues, according to a study released today.
- Organic Farmers Sue, Seek Protection From Monsanto (Reuters):
A consortium of U.S. organic farmers and seed dealers filed suit against global seed giant Monsanto Co. on Tuesday, in a move to protect themselves from what they see as a growing threat in the company's arsenal of genetically modified crops.
- Aircraft Contrails Stoke Warming, Cloud Formation: Study (Reuters):
Aircraft condensation trails criss-crossing the sky may be warming the planet on a normal day more than the carbon dioxide emitted by all planes since the Wright Brothers' first flight in 1903, a study said on Tuesday.
- Joshua Tree National Park Escapes Threat of Nearby Landfill (Environmental News Service):
The U.S. Supreme Court [Monday] declined to hear an appeal from Kaiser Ventures LLC on an appeals court decision overturning a federal land exchange. The land deal would have allowed the world's largest garbage dump to be built on the boundary of Joshua Tree National Park.
- California Assembly OKs increased renewable energy requirement: The mandate, now headed for governor's desk, would require utilities to increase renewable energy sources to 33% by 2020. (LA Times)
- Student-designed Solarball creates drinkable water (Gizmag)
- At least he's honest: Pawlenty: 'Every One Of Us' Running For President Has Flip-Flopped On Climate Change (Think Progress)