Category Archives: alternative energy

TVA, Killing Us Softly

We need to have a little chat about the Tennessee Valley Authority, aka, TVA (and by the way, on a “you didn’t build that” note? If you live in the seven-state Tennessee Valley region — almost all Red States, let me add — you are enjoying cheap power made possible by every taxpayer in the US of A. If you’ve got a factory or a business? You didn’t build that. Think VW or Nissan would open a factory here if we didn’t have a ready and reliable supply of cheap power? Yeah, seems the free market fairies didn’t have any incentive to wave their magic wands over this part of the country and bring flood control and electricity to the hicks and hayseeds here. It took that Commie Franklin D. Roosevelt and the U.S. Congress to do that. So suck on that one, why don’t you. But I digress).

First of all, TVA is ending its Generation Partners Program at the end of September and replacing it with something less attractive. They’re touting a 20-year contract, but they’re only buying energy at a premium (retail rate plus x-cents per KwH) for 10 years, and that amount is less than what those of us currently in the program receive. So they’re locking you in for a longer contract and paying you less. I’m still unclear as to what happens after 10 years, if they’ll just pay the base rate or if they expect you to give them the energy you generate for free. Surely … not?

With that in mind, let’s look at some other facts.

1- TVA really, really needs to improve its alternative energy investment. Like, really. On my latest “Green Power Switch” newsletter (that’s where customers voluntarily buy blocks of renewable energy at a cost of $4 per unit each month. It helps pay for stuff like the Generation Partners program), it broke down by actual percent which renewables comprise that program. Solar is a paltry 8%, which considering the investment in solar in this state — and the potential in the entire TVA region — is ridiculous. The bulk, actually, is biomass biogas. I don’t even consider that a renewable, frankly.

[UPDATE:]

It’s actually worse than that. I finally found a link to the 2011 & 2012 “product content”. It’s 8% solar, 44% wind, and 48% biogas for 2012; in 2011, it was 14% solar, 32% biomass (not biogas, don’t know the difference) and 54% wind. That’s a huge shift.

I called TVA’s Renewable Energy Information Call Center and didn’t get a satisfactory answer to my question regarding the difference between biomass and biogas (both seem to be from agricultural waste?), let alone any information as to why TVA’s is purchasing less wind and solar this year versus last. I had to be transferred to TVA (that’s not who I was calling?) to get my very logcial questions answered. After getting transferred to TVA, waiting on hold, confusing another poor sop in the customer service department, waiting on hold again, and getting transferred to another person I got … voicemail.

* sigh *

Customer service FAIL.

Y’know, way, way back in another lifetime I actually worked for TVA. One thing I can tell you is that managers are forced to waste spend just ooodles amount of time going to training seminars, customer service seminars, this workshop thing, that off-site training doo-hickey. It’s amazing anyone can get anything done. And yet, you call to get two little perfectly logical questions answered and it’s like I asked them to explain the physics of a fucking nuke plant.

If I get any answers, y’all will be the first to know.

2- Right now we’re still dealing with the toxic aftermath of TVA’s December 2008 Kingston Coal Ash Spill, which dumped 1.1 billion gallons of coal slurry into the Tennessee, Clinch and Emory Rivers. That’s right, we’re still cleaning this mess up nearly four years later, and now it looks like we — oh and I do mean we, because that’s who’s paying for this, the ratepayers — will be out another $10 million for — get this — not to clean up the rest, oh no! But to “monitor” the ash and surrounding environment for 30 years. Yes because it’s just too fucking expensive to finish cleaning it up. I’m serious: they could spend up to $179 million cleaning up the “residual ash” (that’s on top of the $1.2 billion TVA estimated it would cost to clean up the bulk of the toxic mess). The rest, of course, got trucked to a landfill in the poor, predominantly African American Perry County, Alabama, where the people are so desperate for jobs they’ll happily pay the price of TVA’s dirty sins. Losses are always, always socialized by our poorest and most vulnerable. Shameful.

This is an untenable situation, not just for the people in Tennessee but for people far away who never used one kilowatt of the Kingston Fossil Plant’s energy. Seems like there could be a better way of generating electricity, one that doesn’t come with all of these social and financial costs. Oh, wait! There is! The program TVA is in the midst of killing.

TVA Invested In Clean Coal & All I Got Was A Billion Gallons Of Coal Sludge In My Living Room

And don’t think you can breathe a sigh of relief if you don’t live near Kingston. TVA operates 11 coal-fired plants and in 2009, storage problems were found at every one of them.

3- The NRDC has ranked Tennessee the 11th-worst state in the nation for coal-based air pollution. And we’re not even the worst in the TVA region! (click on the image to enlarge):

Hey Kentucky! You’re Number One!

The breakdown of where TVA states rank in this list is as follows:

1- Kentucky
8- North Carolina
9- Georgia
11- Tennessee
12- Virginia
14- Alabama
15- Mississippi

Yay, Mississippi! You’re finally last on a list that you want to be last on! Of course, you really don’t want to be on this list at all! (We keed, Mississippi. We keed because we lurve.)

So wrap your head around this one: every single TVA state is in the top of the “toxic 20” for electricity generation-related air pollution. TVA, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Really.

So let’s connect dots 1, 2 & 3 here: TVA’s anemic renewables program is getting less attractive to participants. But the way TVA currently generates electricity is toxic, costly and unsafe to both humans and the environment (and need I point out how redundant that is, because anything toxic to the environment is by default also toxic to humans. We cannot unhook ourselves from our planetary life support system).

Okay, anyone think this makes sense? No? Good.

The good news is that TVA is a quasi-public organization. The board is set by Congress. You can write your congress critters and tell them you want the board to reflect more sensitivity to renewables and environmental safety. Also, if you live in or near Knoxville, maybe you can sign up to speak at their August 16 board meeting. Maybe they need some Occupying to nudge them in the right direction.

Tell ’em Southern Beale sent ya.

11 Comments

Filed under alternative energy, ash spill, energy future, energy production, environment, Tennessee, TVA

>Because Our Other Wars Are Going So Well

>I can’t pretend to speak knowledgeably about what’s happening in Libya right now. I just know when I hear we’re dropping milion-dollar bombs on a poor country while our infrastructure crumbles and we tell teachers and kids they must sacrifice so we can give millionaires tax cuts… well, something has gone horribly wrong.

I know lots of liberals on The Twittah say this is the right thing to do. I heard Howard Dean on Thom Hartmann’s show last week say we couldn’t sit by and let those fighting for democracy get slaughtered by Qaddafi. But of course we are standing by while those fighting for democracy in Yemen and Bahrain are slaughtered by their regimes, so there goes that claim.

All of this just seems so media-created. It’s hard not to watch the breathless coverage of bombs bursting in air and the ghastly-green night-vision images and not remember the media’s wicked stiffy for carnage in Iraq. It’s a sickness, and I don’t have the cure.

One of the best things I’ve read on Libya is at Pastor Shuck’s place. This is yet another oil war, he says, another burp after our global petroleum feast. The pantry is about empty but instead of using what time and resources we have left to grow new food, we decide to bully anyone else who comes near the pantry door.

This, in the same week that Japan suffers a nuclear meltdown, while a 100-mile long oil slick has been spotted in the Gulf of Mexico near the site of the Deepwater Horizon rig. Oh great diviner Pat Robertson, what could the Almighty be trying to tell us? Pray tell, what?

I’m just tired of it, I really am. Is our default solution for every problem to drop bombs? (And by “our” I mean the West, not just America.) Call me a tree-hugging DFH spouting crazy liberal stuff like “war is not the answer,” I’m just feeling like we’re in a tailspin and I’d rather we devote our energy to getting off the oil tit. Three trillion dollars wasted in Iraq would have been more than enough money to put a solar panel on every roof in America, upgrade the electrical grid, and put an electric car and charger in every garage.

I mean, I know that’s not the final answer but it would have been a start, and for crying out loud we have to start somewhere. Maybe someday we’ll have the hydrogen fuel cell thing figured out, or we’ll be masters of efficiency, hell maybe we’ll have figured out a way around the Laws of Thermodynamics. The point is, we don’t need to have the entire puzzle figured out to start putting the first pieces together.

We have to start somewhere. We have to make those first steps. Fighting wars to preserve a dying industry and a doomed way of life just strikes me as the kind of thing kids will read about 100 years from now and wonder, “Gee how could they have been so stupid?”

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Filed under alternative energy, Libya, peak oil, war economy

>Stacking The Deck

>Yeah, such a shame that renewable energy isn’t competitive. If only solar and wind could stand on its own, you know like how oil does:

But an examination of the American tax code indicates that oil production is among the most heavily subsidized businesses, with tax breaks available at virtually every stage of the exploration and extraction process.

According to the most recent study by the Congressional Budget Office, released in 2005, capital investments like oil field leases and drilling equipment are taxed at an effective rate of 9 percent, significantly lower than the overall rate of 25 percent for businesses in general and lower than virtually any other industry.

And for many small and midsize oil companies, the tax on capital investments is so low that it is more than eliminated by various credits. These companies’ returns on those investments are often higher after taxes than before.

When your return on investment is higher after taxes, that’s what I call a giveaway.

Here’s the part I love:

The American Petroleum Institute, an industry advocacy group, argues that even with subsidies, oil producers paid or incurred $280 billion in American income taxes from 2006 to 2008, and pay a higher percentage of their earnings in taxes than most other American corporations.

Um, so? So what? You’re supposed to pay twice or three times what you do, but you want a lollipop for paying something? What, are we supposed to say thank you? Sorry dudes, that’s not how it works. Oil companies are insanely profitable. So pay what you owe and shut up.

You know, one thing I really can’t stand is hearing how solar and wind energy simply are not competitive. Right. Let’s give renewable energy the same tax deal that oil gets, ‘mmkay? And while we’re at it, let’s factor in the true cost of fueling our economy on dead dinosaurs. Let’s include the cost of the environmental damage from air pollution and climate change and oil spills. Don’t forget the $167 billion a year we spend on war to secure our access to oil in the Middle East.

Here is something worth considering:

Some of the tax breaks date back nearly a century, when they were intended to encourage exploration in an era of rudimentary technology, when costly investments frequently produced only dry holes. Because of one lingering provision from the Tariff Act of 1913, many small and midsize oil companies based in the United States can claim deductions for the lost value of tapped oil fields far beyond the amount the companies actually paid for the oil rights.

Once upon a time, oil was a new technology and the American government felt it worthwhile to encourage this nascent industry with tax incentives and tax breaks. That was a long, long time ago but it’s generally how we do things. But oil is no longer a new technology, it’s now the big bully on the block. Other nascent industries are coming up and the American government should be encouraging these energy technologies with comparable tax incentives and tax breaks. But any attempt to do so is met with manufactured outrage from people like the American Petroleum Institute. We have to fight tooth and nail for the smallest crumbs, and it’s not anything close to comparable to what Big Oil gets.

It’s time to demand some parity here.

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Filed under alternative energy, Big Oil, taxes

>Good News, Bad News

>First, the good:

KNOXVILLE — TVA is reversing course and resuming new enrollments in its Generation Partners pilot project to encourage renewable energy use throughout its service territory after being criticized by area alternative energy contractors.

The federal utility made the announcement this afternoon after meeting with contractors who have complained that TVA’s recent decision to suspend the Generation Partners program will harm their business.

This is great news. Momentum continues to build for alternative energy in the Tennessee Valley, and TVA has decided to stick with its successful, though modest, incentive program. It only makes sense; as was pointed out here, TVA is spending $3 billion cleaning up the Kingston Fossil Plant’s coal sludge spill, yet devotes just $50 million to its solar program. Sorta like BP spending $20 billion to clean up the Deepwater Horizon mess, when it could have spent $500,000 on a blowout preventer. Very, very stupid.

Now, the bad news:

But about three miles off the coast of Alaska, BP is moving ahead with a controversial and potentially record-setting project to drill two miles under the sea and then six to eight miles horizontally to reach what is believed to be a 100-million-barrel reservoir of oil under federal waters.

All other new projects in the Arctic have been halted by the Obama administration’s moratorium on offshore drilling, including more traditional projects like Shell Oil’s plans to drill three wells in the Chukchi Sea and two in the Beaufort.

But BP’s project, called Liberty, has been exempted as regulators have granted it status as an “onshore” project even though it is about three miles off the coast in the Beaufort Sea. The reason: it sits on an artificial island — a 31-acre pile of gravel in about 22 feet of water — built by BP.

Well that’s special. BP doesn’t exactly have a proven track record, yet they were allowed to dump a 31-acre pile of gravel in the water to classify their risky, untested drilling operation as “onshore”? That just screams Bush Administration-style shuck and jive, doesn’t it?

It gets worse:

Rather than conducting their own independent analysis, federal regulators, in a break from usual practice, allowed BP in 2007 to write its own environmental review for the project as well as its own consultation documents relating to the Endangered Species Act, according to two scientists from the Alaska office of the federal Mineral Management Service that oversees drilling.

The environmental assessment was taken away from the agency’s unit that typically handles such reviews, and put in the hands of a different division that was more pro-drilling, said the scientists, who discussed the process because they remained opposed to how it was handled.

“The whole process for approving Liberty was bizarre,” one of the federal scientists said.

The scientists and other critics say they are worried about a replay of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico because the Liberty project involves a method of drilling called extended reach that experts say is more prone to the types of gas kicks that triggered the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon.

I’m sorry, but why are we allowing this to move forward? Now that we know BP ain’t exactly honest brokers here, that their accident “response” plan for the Gulf of Mexico included such impossible scenarios as walruses in the Gulf of Mexico, that they cut corners and were blinded by the dollar signs in their eyes. That pretty much proves they aren’t paying close attention to stuff like safety and environmental protection. And we’re going to let yet another “never been done before” drilling operation move forward?

I’ve said it before a thousand million gazillion times but I’ll say it again: the easy oil is gone. All that’s left are oil reserves that are more difficult, more expensive, and riskier to tap. This means for a company like BP to make money, they will cut corners and they will take unnecessary risks. Their business model depends on it.

Look, now that we know what we know, it is unconscionable to allow this project to move forward without, at the very least, a more thorough review of safety and risks. C’mon, people. Don’t be stupid.

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Filed under alternative energy, Big Oil, solar energy, TVA

>My Job Is More Important Than Your Job

>[UPDATE]:

Hey Mary Landrieu I wrote this post for you.

——————————————-

One of the most frustrating things about the whole offshore oil drilling debate which has surged to the frontburner thanks to BP is this notion that we need to keep drilling offshore because of jobs.

It’s been simmering on the back-burner during the oil spill crisis, occasionally hitting the headlines: a worry about lost oil jobs from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, or a similar concern from Louisiana Democratic Congressman (and Senate candidate) Charlie Melancon. This week it came to full boil as those sidelined by the moratorium on offshore oil drilling gave voice to some grave concerns about their livelihoods.

And I’m sympathetic, I really am. It’s a terrible thing that happened. Our economy is still in the shitter and then along comes a disaster caused by a company’s concern for profits over safety and now everyone is having to pay the price. It’s awful that these folks are having to deal with this at a time in our country’s history when finding another job is going to be pretty darn impossible. So I’m sorry. You have a right to be scared, and I’m scared for you. You have a right to be angry, and I’m angry along with you.

But here’s the deal: the oil spill has killed off a big bunch of the commercial fishing industry in the Gulf. I hate to be the one to break it to you folks but the shrimp and oysters aren’t coming back, not for years. Maybe not ever. Sport fishing is gone. Tourism will come back, but not this summer, not as long as oil and chemical dispersants and gas fumes pollute the beaches.

So to the oil rig workers and those businesses who depend on that industry: you aren’t alone. This disaster has affected your neighbors, your family, your brothers and sisters who work in other industries that also depend on the Gulf of Mexico. And those people need the Gulf of Mexico to be healthy for their jobs to survive.

So when folks like myself call for a permanent ban on offshore oil drilling, it’s not without the full knowledge of what we are proposing. We understand there are families who need these oil jobs. But at what point does one industry trump another? At what point does it make sense to say, oil drilling may be risky and unsafe but we are willing to put other industries at risk anyway? We are willing to put fishing and shrimpers and tourism in a precarious place for this one unsafe, polluting, dirty industry?

This makes no sense to me whatsoever. Especially when I know that the people who work on oil rigs could easily be put to work building an offshore wind farm or an offshore solar farm. Why not? Has a solar spill ever killed off the oyster beds? Has a wind spill ever destroyed the summer tourist season?

I’m sorry oil people are hurting right now. You want your lives back. Well guess what: so does everyone else. So do shrimpers and the folks who operate tourist restaurants and hotels in the Gulf. So does the guy who rents beach umbrellas and the lady who sells seashells at the gift shop down by the seashore. You’re not the only ones who make a living down there.

Here’s the good news: you folks really could, theoretically, be put to work building offshore wind farms and the like. You have options in the green energy economy. If the state and federal governments could show some freaking leadership and clear the way for clean energy to begin replacing oil platforms now, not at some future “after we transition” date, you guys will be okay.

You know who won’t be okay? The people who harvest shrimp and oysters. The motel owners on the beach. Those people are screwed. They have no fallback.

Just something to think about.

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Filed under alternative energy, energy production, Gulf oil spill

>Because There’s Always Money For War

>I love how everyone talks about cutting federal spending especially on things like healthcare and unemployment benefits, but there’s always money for war:

The House on Thursday voted to keep funding a second engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, defying the White House and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Gates has repeatedly threatened that he would personally recommend that President Barack Obama veto any defense bill containing funding for an engine made by General Electric-Rolls Royce that the Pentagon does not want. The Office of Management and Budget on Thursday followed up with its own veto threat in a statement of administration policy. 


Both GE-Rolls Royce and primary engine maker Pratt & Whitney mounted vigorous lobbying campaigns in recent weeks aligning congressional supporters on each side. But when the House cast a vote on an amendment to strike funding for the second engine, the supporters of a second engine prevailed by a vote of 231-193.

The Pentagon doesn’t want this engine but Congress is going to make sure it gets built anyway. Of course they will. The Penatgon, as Rep. Jim Cooper pointed out a year or so ago, has become a de facto hometown jobs program. Didn’t Eisenhower warn us about this a generation ago?

Never mind. Congress will continue to mouth platitudes about cutting the deficit while refusing to touch the second largest item in the Federal budget:

At over $700 billion this year, total military spending rivals Social Security as the largest item in the federal budget. We are spending more than at any time since World War II, yet our principal enemy has no multi-million person army, no air force, no navy, no sophisticated anti-aircraft systems – in short, none of the kinds of weapons our arsenal is best designed to fight against. And of that $700 billion per year, the vast bulk – over $500 billion – goes towards the Pentagon’s base budget, not the wars in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. A forthcoming report from the Sustainable Defense Task Force  – a group of defense and budget experts convened with the encouragement of Rep. Barney Frank – presents a menu of options for making cuts in the Pentagon budget without undermining our basic security. Look for details within the next two weeks.

There are plenty of savings to be had from eliminating unneeded weapons systems and cutting waste, fraud and abuse, but it is important to note that any substantial reduction in Pentagon spending will have to involve reducing U.S. global commitments. We can’t and shouldn’t continue to structure our forces as if they should be able to go anywhere and do anything. This is directly relevant to the new National Security Strategy.

$700 billion year, much of it devoted to weapons for fighting the Cold War which, last I checked, St. Ronnie won for us over 20 years ago. This makes no sense.

Time to turn our swords into plowshares. Instead of spending $485 million to build an engine the Pentagon says it doesn’t want, why can’t these workers be retrained and factories retrofitted to build things this country does want: things that are even more important to our national security than weapons for a war no one is fighting anymore? Things like components for wind turbines and solar panels and parts for electric vehicles and the like?

Why do we keep making the same mistakes over and over again? It boggles the mind.

16 Comments

Filed under alternative energy, budget, Pentagon

>What BP Does Not Want You To See

>Shocking video from Philippe Cousteau Jr. and ABC News, a dolphin’s eye view of the oil spill in the Gulf:

Please call your Senators today and tell them we need to pass robust, meaningful legislation that finally gets us off of fossil fuels, so we never again have to witness a disaster like this. We’ve been hearing about how oil is a “transitional fuel” for 30 years (and President Obama repeated that tired line again today). No, it’s not “transitional,” not when your entire economy is still dependent on it, not after oil shocks like the Arab Oil Embargo and on and on. This isn’t transitional, this is a giveaway to multinational corporations trying to make gobs of money.

Enough.

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Filed under alternative energy, climate change bill

>Lamar Alexander Destroys The Landscape

>Paging Sen. Lamar Alexander! Yes, I’m talking to you, buddy. You’re shameless, you know that?

Your pitiful performance at yesterday’s TVA ash spill hearings are made all the worse when one remembers your previous jihad against wind power because you thought turbines “destroy the landscape.” Of course, it’s hard not to remember that and immediately think of your opposition to the CapeWind project on Nantucket Sound that would have interfered with the view from your $800,000 Cape Cod land.

You wanna talk about destroying the landscape? Check this out:

The first one is how they get the coal, by removing the tops of mountains.

And here’s a coal sludge pond on a good day, you know, a day where it hasn’t busted its dike and flooded a community. Do you like that landscape Sen. Alexander? Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

As guess as far as those hearings yesterday goes, Alexander forgot what the word “oversight” means, because that’s what they were supposed to be about. Instead we got questions from the Senator on the cost per kilowatt hour to generate electricity, comparing coal to other means such as hydro, solar and, ooopsie daisy, wind. Guess who came out on the top end of that cost analysis? Of course, that doesn’t include the $100 million+ clean-up costs associated with an accident at just one coal fired plant. And even TVA CEO Tom Kilgore admitted that those costs are for older coal-fired plants, not new ones.

Look, I’m not a big proponent of wind power per se. I’m more of a solar girl, truth be told. But I’ve seen wind farms out West and I don’t find them especially ugly; they can be quite beautiful in a hi-tech sort of way. Not everyone has the same taste, I get that. But if you’re going to oppose a form of alternative energy, doing it on aesthetic grounds is pretty moronic when the one you’re touting is probably the ugliest blight on a landscape one could imagine, from start to finish. And let’s face it, Alexander’s economic argument just doesn’t hold water.

I’ve long believed that Lamar Alexander is one of those people who is riding a “moderate” image that is completely undeserved. He talks the talk but when push comes to shove he doesn’t walk the walk.

Here’s a brief look at his record on energy:

• Voted NO on tax incentives for energy production and conservation. (Jun 2008)
• Voted YES on removing oil & gas exploration subsidies. (Jun 2007)
• Voted YES on making oil-producing and exporting cartels illegal. (Jun 2007)
• Voted NO on factoring global warming into federal project planning. (May 2007)
• Voted NO on disallowing an oil leasing program in Alaska’s ANWR. (Nov 2005)
• Voted NO on $3.1B for emergency oil assistance for hurricane-hit areas. (Oct 2005)
• Voted NO on reducing oil usage by 40% by 2025 (instead of 5%). (Jun 2005)
• Voted NO on banning drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Mar 2005)
• Voted YES on Bush Administration Energy Policy. (Jul 2003)
• Voted NO on targeting 100,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles by 2010. (Jun 2003)
• Voted NO on removing consideration of drilling ANWR from budget bill. (Mar 2003)
• Keep efficient air conditioner rule to conserve energy. (Mar 2004)
• Rated 0% by the CAF, indicating opposition to energy independence. (Dec 2006)
• Open the Outer Continental Shelf for oil & gas leasing. (Jun 2008)
• Establish energy security strategy with domestic production. (Jul 2008)

And now we’re stuck with him for another six years.

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Filed under alternative energy, ash spill, clean coal, environment, Sen. Lamar Alexander, TVA

>Not The First, Won’t Be The Last

>[UPDATE]:

Sludge spill now estimated at 1 billion gallons. For perspective, the ExxonValdez spill was a mere 11 million gallons.
——————————-
News flash: This was not the first time a coal ash pond flooded. Nor will it be the last.

The East Tennessee coal ash disaster should be ringing alarm bells from coast to coast. Just as Three Mile Island put the kabosh on nuclear power in this country, the Kingston sludge spill should serve as a warning to everyone who uses electricity.

All coal fired plants produce waste ash. All of them must dispose of this ash in some way. The Bush Administration has been dismantling all sorts of environmental regulations at the behest of Big Coal and Big Oil. At the same time, new coal-fired power plants are in the works for Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana, proposed–and battled–in Ely, Nevada, north of Las Vegas (coincidentally the location of a proposed new transmission line), and is being debated in the Pacific Northwest. And that’s just off the top of my head.

According to the American Coal Foundation, half of all electricity produced in this country comes from coal. If you use electricity, then chances are very good you use coal.

That’s a lot of coal ash. Anyone wonder how that’s disposed of? I have to admit, until this incident in East Tennessee, I never gave it all that much thought. But now we must.

It urge everyone to contact their local representatives and ask them to do everything in their power to ensure there is sufficient oversight, regulation and enforcement of their local power plants so this doesn’t happen in your region. And we must be working on clean energy technologies to make sure we can phase out coal-fired power plants and replace them with cleaner, less dangerous fuel sources. Ask your local utility if they offer green power alternatives; the Nashville Electric Service’s Green Power Switch program allows customers to buy blocks of Green Power; Mr. Beale and I have bought 10 green power blocks each month for the past year. If your local utility doesn’t offer such a program, ask them to.

And if seeing the destruction in East Tennessee hasn’t convinced you that coal is crap, not king, then here’s a movie that may convince you.

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Filed under alternative energy, ash spill, clean coal, environment, TVA

>Mission Accomplished!

> I never thought I’d see the day ….

Meanwhile, look what your Republican Senators have done:

Republicans Block Extra Taxes On Oil Companies

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans blocked a proposal Tuesday to tax the windfall profits of the largest oil companies, despite pleas by Democratic leaders to use the measure to address America’s anger over $4 a gallon gasoline.

[…]

Separately, Democrats also failed to get Republican support for a proposal to extend tax breaks for wind, solar and other alternative energy development, and for the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation. The tax breaks have either expired or are scheduled to end this year.

[…]

The windfall profits bill would have imposed a 25 percent tax on profits over what would be determined “reasonable” when compared to profits several years ago. The oil companies could have avoided the tax if they invested the money in alternative energy projects or refinery expansion. It also would have rescinded oil company tax breaks — worth $17 billion over the next 10 years — with the revenue to be used for tax incentives to producers of wind, solar and other alternative energy sources as well as for energy conservation.

The legislation also would:

_Require traders to put up more collateral in the energy futures markets and open the way for federal regulation of traders who are based in the United States but use foreign trading platforms. The measures are designed to reduce market speculation.

_Make oil and gas price gouging a federal crime, with stiff penalties of up to $5 million during a presidentially declared energy emergency.

_Authorize the Justice Department to bring charges of price fixing against countries that belong to the OPEC oil cartel.

Way to go, GOP! Thanks for being so responsive to Americans in need. The wingnut welfare gravy train chugs on!

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Filed under alternative energy, gas prices, GOP