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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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Coal Baron Sues Activist For Defamation

Coal Baron Sues Activist For Defamation

In late September, Robert Murray, owner of the Ohio-based coal giant, Murray Energy Corporation, filed a lawsuit against Mike Stark, an activist and journalist, and The Huffington Post. The complaint accuses Stark of defamation and invasion of privacy for his article “Meet the Extremist Coal Baron Bankrolling Ken Cuccinelli’s Campaign” about Murray’s donations to Virginia gubernatorial candidate Cuccinelli published in The Huffington Post on September 20th.

On November 1st Stark responded by filing a motion asking for the dismissal of the charges for the case. Stark is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and David Halperin, former Senior Vice President of the Center for American Progress.

In an article about the call for dismissal, Halperin writes of the motion that “We believe Mr. Murray’s case has no merit”:
“All the facts alleged by Mike Stark in his article are true, and the statements about which Mr. Murray complains are all expressions of opinion. The lawsuit, however, may have the effect of stifling debate about policy issues and about Mr. Murray and his company. So we are asking the judge to promptly dismiss it.”

In the original Huffington Post article, Stark wrote that by accepting money from Murray Energy, Cuccinelli was accepting “$30,000 from an extremist billionaire that is funding an Obama impeachment effort, that allegedly extorts money from his low-wage employees, and fires his workforce wholesale in fits of spite when electoral results disappoint him.”

The use of the word ‘extremist’ is one of the main points of Murray’s lawsuit...


How The American Coal Industry Found Itself In An Economic No Man’s Land

How The American Coal Industry Found Itself In An Economic No Man’s Land

American coal country is in a contradictory position. Increases in productivity cut the industry’s employment by tens of thousands over the last few decades, the natural gas boom that’s eaten away at coal’s share of the power sector may be about to bust, but it’s not clear coal can expand to take advantage of the opening.

So at a Congressional hearing last week — looking into the impact on coal-dependent communities of new regulations for power plants — the anger was palpable, if also confused.

Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced limits on carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants. Limits for already operating power plants will be released in 2014. Given the strictness of the rules, and the fact that coal is by far the power sector’s most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, critics have called the regulations an effective ban on new coal plants.

Many of the witnesses and Congress members at Tuesday’s hearing were ready to lay responsibility for the coal industry’s woes at the feet of the EPA’s new rules — sometimes openly agreeing that President Obama is waging a “war on coal.” Albey Brock — a judge from Bell County, Kentucky — estimated in his testimony that job losses in Eastern Kentucky’s coal mining industry over the last two years sucked $1 billion out of the regional economy. That in turn means lost revenue for state and local programs that help the quarter of the region’s population that lives in poverty.

The problem is neither ...


Solar Power to the People: The Rise of Rooftop Solar Among the Middle Class

Solar Power to the People: The Rise of Rooftop Solar Among the Middle Class
By Mari Hernandez October 21, 2013

Homeowners across the United States have begun a rooftop solar** revolution. Since 2000, more than 1,460 megawatts of residential solar installations have been installed across the country, and more than 80 percent of that capacity was added in the past four years.1 In 2012 alone, rooftop solar installations reached 488 megawatts, a 62 percent increase over 2011 installations and nearly double the installed capacity added in 2010.2

The question is: Who is buying up all of those solar power systems? Through our analy- sis of solar installation data from Arizona, Califaornia, and New Jersey, we found that these installations are overwhelmingly occurring in middle-class neighborhoods that have median incomes ranging from $40,000 to $90,000. The areas that experienced the most growth from 2011 to 2012 had median incomes ranging from $40,000 to $50,000 in both Arizona and California and $30,000 to $40,000 in New Jersey. Additionally, the distribution of solar installations in these states aligns closely with the population distribution across income levels.

But many within the electric utility industry have claimed that distributed solar is mainly being adopted by wealthy customers. Concerned by the threat that rooftop solar’s rapid growth poses to traditional utility business models, some utility execu- tives have used this claim to support a rising desire within the industry to alter existing solar programs and policies. The idea is that through solar policies such as net metering, middle- and low-income customers who cannot afford to go solar are subsidizing the wealthy customers who can.

In this issue brief, we show that rooftop solar is not just being adopted by the wealthy; it is, in fact, mostly being deployed in neighborhoods where median income ranges from $40,000 to $90,000. In the first section, we present the overall findings from our income analysis of solar installation data from Arizona, California, and New Jersey. We then discuss the implications of those results in the context of the current growth of rooftop solar and the ongoing discussion of solar policies that will affect its future growth.

California, Arizona, and New Jersey are ...


**Residential solar photovoltaic, or PV, systems—also referred to as “distributed” or “rooftop solar” in this report— consist of an array of solar panels that are roof or ground mounted to produce electricity that is either fed back into the electric grid—grid connected—or solely used onsite by the residential building—off grid.

Physics Today: Japan’s Fukushima site is an ongoing morass

Japan’s Fukushima site is an ongoing morass
Toni Feder
November 2013

The world-scale nuclear disaster needs to be addressed by worldwide expertise, critics say.


“They have got it wrong from A to Z,” says Paris-based international energy consultant Mycle Schneider. “The wrong tanks [for storing contaminated water], the wrong materials, the wrong site preparation and monitoring. A big worry is that a new earthquake would destroy one or more tanks or a reactor building with its spent fuel pool and we’d get massive releases into the environment.” The most pressing issues are dealing with the contaminated water—400 000 tons and counting—and ensuring that the reactor cores and the 15 093 fuel-rod assemblies onsite are kept under water. A failure to cool the fuel could lead to a buildup of decay heat, spontaneous combustion of the fuel cladding, and uncontrolled release of radioactivity.

The six boiling water reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant all suffered structural damage in the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami and the several reactor hydrogen explosions that followed. When backup generators flooded and failed, the cores of the three reactors that were working at the time melted through their primary containment vessels. Two and a half years later, some 400 tons of groundwater becomes contaminated daily as it flows into the site; pumping it out expands the onsite storage farm, currently around 1000 tanks, by two tanks every five days. And tons of radioactive water leaks into the Pacific Ocean each day. The government now admits this, says Mitsuhei Murata, a former ambassador to Switzerland. “And there is no immediate solution in sight.”


The physical and technical complexities are exacerbated by the management of the remediation, which so far has been TEPCO’s responsibility, and by the breakdown of public trust in TEPCO and the government. In his research, Aldrich found that public trust in the government and national authorities plummeted from 85% in 2010 to 8% some three months after the March 2011 disaster. The distrust is the “biggest problem,” says Schneider. He and others note that it’s unrealistic to expect TEPCO, a utility company, to have the know-how to deal with a nuclear accident.


“The nuclear accident cannot be solved by a single state or company,” says Murata. “If the world does not learn the lessons of Fukushima, this tragedy will take place again.” Still, he points to a few positive developments. The formation last year of the Nuclear Regulation Authority as a separate government body may lead to better oversight of nuclear power plants. And an official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry shares the “sense of crisis,” says Murata. “Many ideas are sleeping. If a real task force is established, the Fukushima crisis will become more manageable.”


Much more at: http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/magazine/physicstoday/article/66/11/10.1063/PT.3.2173;jsessionid=6nm6an32e9ibt.x-aip-live-02

In Louisiana, a former Army commander goes to war against Big Oil

In Louisiana, a former Army commander goes to war against Big Oil

With the trial of BP for its 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster still underway, and with controversy raging over a lawsuit filed against oil companies for eroding Louisiana's coast, the industry is facing growing scrutiny for its impact on the region.

Among those speaking out in surprisingly strong terms about the need to rein in out-of-control oil companies is a man who might seem an unlikely messenger for environmental justice: retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, a Point Coupee Parish native and Republican since the Reagan administration who gained national fame for serving as commander of Joint Task Force Katrina following the 2005 disaster. He now works to promote disaster preparedness.

Earlier this month, Honoré gave a talk before two dozen civic and environmental leaders who gathered at a New Orleans restaurant to talk about how to hold the industry responsible for the damage it's done.

Mark Moseley of The Lens, a public-interest news website, reports that Honoré's talk was "about the nuts and bolts of building a successful political movement" by bringing disparate groups and individuals together to work toward a common goal:
Like a general plotting battlefront logistics, he pinpointed the enemy's points of vulnerability and used military metaphors to illustrate strategies that could lead to victory.

Honoré gave a related ...


What a wonderful demonstration of the content of this pro-industry film

You've made 3 posts in this thread (counting the OP) and already you've made 2 false arguments on behalf of the nuclear industry.

1) You say critics of nuclear power point out that " there are no insurance companies that will insure a nuclear power plant".

That's a 'red herring' DrGreg. The actual claim made by critics of nuclear power is that the nuclear industry couldn't operate if it were required to meet the same liability standards the rest of the energy industry is faced with.

Underwriting by the ANI provides a limit of $375 Million per plant, so using Fukushima as an example, where the losses are estimated to be between $250-500 Billion, we can see that at around 1/1000th of actual damages, this "commercial insurance" is totally inadequate from the view of both investors and the likely affected general public. Without the special treatment afforded under the Price Anderson Act, the nuclear plants cannot be built or operated.

The self-insurance fund ($12B) of the nuclear industry is little better from the public's point of view, since it not only has a maximum payout that is only equal to the approximate cost of one nuclear plant, but it also is structured in a way that makes it nearly useless as a fund for compensating off-site damages to the public around the plant. Again, using Fukushima as a baseline (and it avoided damage to heavily populated areas like Tokyo) this self insurance fund raises the level of industry funded liability protection from the approx. 1/1000th of damages afforded the ANI policy to perhaps 2% of actual damages from a Fukushima level accident. Again, without the special treatment afforded under the Price Anderson Act, which would make the government liable for the remaining 98% of damages, the nuclear plants cannot be built or operated.

2) Your second regards treating the toxic emissions into the Pacific as if they were uniformly distributed. They aren't.
Based on a large number of variables, areas of concentration in the food chain can be expected. It is a complete misframing of the science involved in the consequences of the emissions to gloss it over with the claims you are making.

See these links for more information:



Yes, I'm betting you've provided the perfect preview to Pandora's Promise.

Nuclear/shale oil hybrid system recommended for AGW solution by MIT Nuclear Science Dept

'Hybrid' nuclear plants could make a dent in carbon emissions
Combining nuclear with artificial geothermal, shale oil, or hydrogen production could help slow climate change, study shows.

David L. Chandler, MIT News Office

Many efforts to smooth out the variability of renewable energy sources — such as wind and solar power — have focused on batteries, which could fill gaps lasting hours or days.

But MIT’s Charles Forsberg has come up with a much more ambitious idea: He proposes marrying a nuclear powerplant with another energy system, which he argues could add up to much more than the sum of its parts. Forsberg, a research scientist in MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, describes the proposals in a paper published in the November issue of the journal Energy Policy.


The paper outlines three concepts, which Forsberg says could have potential in the coming decades. They involve pairing a nuclear plant with an artificial geothermal storage system, a hydrogen production plant, or a shale-oil recovery operation.

The last of these ideas would locate a nuclear plant near a deposit of oil shale — a type of deposit, technically known as kerogen, that has not been used to date as a source of petroleum. Heated steam from a nuclear plant, in enclosed pipes, heats the shale; the resulting oil can be pumped out by conventional means.



Diablo Canyon needs to spend up to $12B to stay open

Diablo Canyon faces state deadlines to change its cooling system
Published: November 2, 2013

This rendering shows what cooling towers might look like at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. COURTESY PHOTO

TRIBUNE SPECIAL REPORT: To extend the plant’s operating life, PG&E and regulators must find a way to halt or mitigate marine damage from its cooling system

By David Sneed — dsneed@thetribunenews.com

...Plant manager PG&E and state officials will decide soon whether the plant will spend up to $12 billion to change its cooling system, which damages the ocean ecosystem by killing fish larvae and discharging billions of gallons of unnaturally warm seawater.

Some options, such as building 600-foot-tall cooling towers, would permanently alter the landscape around Diablo Canyon and certainly face stiff local opposition.

PG&E has until the end of 2024 to make required changes to the plant, but on Monday a review committee will hold a public meeting in Sacramento to discuss the issue. Then in December, that committee will make its final recommendations to the state Water Resources Control Board.

PG&E says the cost of any required changes will be passed on to its customers.

What’s at stake?

Every day, Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant circulates 2.5 billion gallons of seawater...

Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2013/11/02/2763083/diablo-canyon-faces-deadlines.html#storylink=cpy

Germany Hits 59% Renewable Peak, Grid Does Not Explode

Germany Hits 59% Renewable Peak, Grid Does Not Explode
Eric Wesoff October 30, 2013

Electricity prices plunge to 2.75 cents per kilowatt-hour as renewable energy dominates on Germany’s Reunification Day.

Wind and solar power peaked at 59.1 percent of German power generation earlier this month. It happened at noon on a very windy and sunny October 3, which is the German holiday commemorating reunification. (Germany also hit peaks of 61 percent, a record, and 59 percent earlier this year.)

Solar and wind provided 36.4 percent of total electricity generation over the entire day, with PV accounting for 11.2 percent...


Hanford nuke plant’s earthquake risk underestimated, group says

Hanford nuke plant’s earthquake risk underestimated, group says


Seismic studies since (initial construction 30 years ago -k) have uncovered more faults, extended the length of previously known faults and challenged the assumption that large quakes are not likely in the area, says the report from the Washington and Oregon chapters of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). Geologists now believe one fault passes a scant 2.3 miles from the 1,170-megawatt plant called the Columbia Generating Station (CGS).

The new evidence suggests that the region could be rocked by shaking two to three times stronger than the plant was designed for, said Terry Tolan, the veteran geologist who prepared the report for PSR.

“No seismic structural upgrades have been made at the Columbia Generating Station despite all of the geologic evidence that has been assembled over the past thirty years which has dramatically increased the seismic risk at this site,” Tolan wrote...


The NRC Chair Macfarlane said in September that the NRC concludes "that CGS has been designed, built and operated to safely withstand earthquakes likely to occur in its region". This, in spite of the fact that they've also tasked Hanford to perform by 2015 much the same analysis as they've just been provided. Even admitting the existence of all recent knowledge, along with the public safety issue involved, will apparently have to be deferred until the affected industry determines if there is a risk the industry needs to spend money on.

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