Posts filed under ‘corruption’
Yesterday the SEN fellows kicked off the summer No Coal Campaign by going door to door in Jenkinsburg, GA to talk to Central Georgia EMC members about the coal-fired power plant proposal that will likely raise their electric rates significantly.
Central Georgia EMC has joined with five other EMCs under the name POWER4Georgians to finance and build the plant, which will ultimately be paid for by EMC members. Unlike municipal or GA Power customers, cooperative members have more of a voice in the decision-making process of the EMC. Members of the EMC have the power to elect the Board of Directors, request information, and meet with their Board Representative about matters that concern them.
It was a learning experience for both the members we spoke with and us fellows! We used the day to test our script and introduce the methodology and proven value of grassroots canvassing.
Two things quickly became apparent.
First, it’s HOT; water is a must! And second, the EMC’s lack of providing information shows its failure to live up to its stated principle of transparency, and is a huge disservice to EMC members. Almost all of the residents we spoke to had never heard of Plant Washington or POWER4Georgians, and were unaware that they have a voice as EMC members. They were glad to be informed of the costly proposal, and ready to take action by signing our postcard petition and/or calling the CGEMC Board of Directors directly.
In about 4 hours, we:
- Knocked on 60 doors
- Spoke to 22 people
- Got 18 petition signatures!
Overall, the campaign is off to a great start; we’ll keep you posted as the summer campaign rolls on!
Southern Energy Network Fellow
I haven’t had much of an appetite lately… With the oil spill in the Gulf Coast, confirmed reports of bio-diversities continued global decline, and another delay in adoption of a National Climate Policy, my stomaches been in knots. Fortunately, I’ve been able to keep myself from sulking, and have found some inspiration through a critical political moment.
The North Carolina Primary Election kicks off tomorrow (Tuesday May 4th). Turnout for mid-term primaries is historically low, with young people being in the lowest turnout percentage. Regardless, with everything going on in the world, I feel compelled to do my part to flip that trend in 2010! I realized more than ever that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for and we will be the ones to define this decade.. Therefore it is up to us what the future looks like.
Polls are open from 7:30a.m – 6:30p.m. To find your polling place CLICK HERE
Here are 4 reasons you need to cast your vote this mid-term election
- Almost every ecosystem and resource on the planet is in a state of decline
- We’ve got to change the political tides and we need the strongest leadership to do that
- Your voice counts and now is not the time to be silent.
- Turnout in Mid-term elections is low, that means, as young people, we can have a HUGE impact!!
- Because they are just as important, if not more so, as Presidential Elections.
Please share this Facebook link with your networks to get others to vote this Mid-term Election.
Vote and Voter Early!
UCF Students think families and local businesses shouldn’t have to pay for nuclear reactors, especially when there are safer renewables available that do not produce radioactive waste. So, at 4:30 a.m. this past Tuesday, they left Orlando to go to the Public Service Commission Early Cost Recovery hearing. The PSC heard expert testimonies all week to determine the prudence of Progress Energy and Florida Power and Light charging consumers to recoup capital costs for their proposed nuclear reactors.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), the Office of Public Council, and PCS Phosphate are all intervening in the case. Their witnesses testify that early cost recovery is not sensible and that the reactors aren’t even necessary. Peter Bradford, former Chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, one of SACE’s expert witnesses, testified that our slumping economy is reducing the demand for electricity for the first time in decades. Citing rising costs for materials and an increasing shortage of laborers with the skills to complete these projects, he concludes that the risk the utilities are asking their consumers to bear is just too great. The PSC is scheduled to make its ruling October 26, 2009.
If you think the utilities should keep their hands out of your pockets with their risky investments, make your voice heard! Tell the PSC you do not what to fund Progress and Florida Power and Light’s risky business. Urge them to read the expert testimonies offered by Peter Bradford and Arnie Gundersen that cite hard evidence that the utilities cannot justify the request to raise rates for these projects nor can they ensure that ratepayers will get anything in return for their investment.
Here’s how: Use the info below to contact PSC and reference Docket #090009,:
• PSC Contact page: http://www.psc.state.fl.us/about/contact/
• Local Consumer Assistance Line: 1-850-413-6100
• Toll Free Consumer Assistance Line: 1-800-342-3552
• Toll Free Fax: 1-800-511-0809
Gone are the days when environmentalists had only to worry about the dirty energy lobby taking our politicians on luxury cruises or using “greenwashing” to trick consumers into believing that products are environmentally friendly. No, the bad guys can’t just stop at buying out our politicians and our message, they have to hijack our tactics too. Exit grassroots. Enter “Astroturf,” a PR ploy disguised as a spontaneous grassroots effort. It may not be a new tool, but it seems to be all the rage right now. Suffice to say, things are getting dirty, as if Big Coal and Big Oil weren’t dirty enough already.
To kick off their efforts to perpetuate the petroleum industry in response to new climate legislation coming from Congress, a group called Energy Citizen held a rally in Houston to fight back. Or did they? Says Climate Progress: “Despite signs and T-shirts, the Houston rally of more than 3,000 people – which was sponsored by a group calling itself Energy Citizens — actually had a boatload of funding and logistical support from the oil and gas industry, according to an American Petroleum Institute (API) memo leaked late last week by the environmental group Greenpeace.” Click here for the full article.
The coal industry has chimed in with their own citizen front group as well: the Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security or FACES. My question: who exactly are these people anyway? Grist tried to find out, but upon emailing the only contact on FACES’ website, which listed no funders or members of the group, their inquiry bounced back. You can check out the full article here.
As a grassroots organizer, I have always taken comfort in the idea that there are two major forms of power: money and people. The bad guys might have the former, but when we come together, we’ve got the latter. My question: how do we keep it this way? Watch what real activists did in North Carolina.
– Rebecca Van Damm
Submitted by: Kathryn Hilton
There is a coal war in South Carolina. A fight where a main energy provider, Santee-Cooper, our state regulatory agency, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), and many legislators are trying to take our rights away! We, the citizens of South Carolina will NOT stand for this injustice. In our efforts to bring a clean energy future to South Carolina we face many hurdles, fighting in South Carolina is a difficult battle. Things that are our God given rights as human beings are taken from us. February 12, 2009 was no exception.
On this day many citizens from across South Carolina assembled in front of DHEC headquarters to rally for clean energy and make our regulatory board take notice of those of us opposed.
After the rally there was an appeal hearing for the Air Quality Permit DHEC granted to Santee-Cooper. Many organizations and individuals filed appeals. Our request was heard and we were given a chance to present our case.
I was there on this day. I listened to both sides. I heard the negative impacts on the environment and our health this new coal-fired power plant would bring. I heard DHEC defending their decision and Santee-Cooper downplaying the negative effects. I had hope the department in charge of protecting our health and environment would admit their mistake in granting an Air Quality permit to Santee-Cooper, not defend their error. I was wrong. Their decision was made before any of us walked into the board room that morning. Santee-Cooper still has their Air Quality permit, concerned groups will appeal this decision in court.
This is not right! My health and my future are important to me! This is my call to action! We may have lost a battle, but we will not lose the war.
I ask you all to join me in protest of this coal-fired power plant in South Carolina and for coal power everywhere.
Take a stand! Join in solidarity and be part of this change in power. No longer will corporations be allowed to have unlimited say in what comes and goes in our lives. This is our home and our life, we must fight to save it, and we must do this now!
This week, the South Carolina Public Service Commission ignored all reason and public sentiment in granting South Carolina Electric & Gas a blank check to start charging rate payers for the construction of two new nuclear reactors that are not near fully permitted. Two reactors that may never be fully built, that may never come online, and still we will pay the 37% rate increase (which could inflate to as high as a 75% as costs inevitably increase) with no hope of redress. It’s a pathetically premature move on behalf of the PSC and one that reveals their unwavering loyalty to the utilities and big industry. After an extensive, and at times painfully lengthy hearing process, in which citizen after citizen testified, demanding that SCE&G be required to actually address the potential of energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy in their application before the PSC, that the PSC in no way allow the utility the right to charge its ratepayers for such a boondoggle of a project, the commissioners put on their most patronizing smiles to thank the public for its participation and input. They then, promptly and unanimously voted against the public and in favor of SCE&G.
Prepared citizens dressed in costume as “nuclear bailout victims” and “fleeced ratepayers” in hopes that they’d look foolish when the PSC made the right decision. Unfortunately, our theater wasn’t the only one at play in the PSC meeting room and, ultimately, we weren’t the ones looking foolish. Puppets of industry, seven supposed public servants sold SCE&G ratepayers down the river. To check out footage of the hearing/protest, visit: WISTV Columbia and to read more about the decision, visit: The State. And to fight back, visit the SCE&G Ratepayers Strike group.
This Monday marked the beginning of what is planned to be a week long hearing before the South Carolina Public Service Commission in which South Carolina Electric & Gas is requesting a 37% rate increase (to be implemented over ten years), to pay for the construction of two new nuclear reactors in Jenkinsville, SC. The 37% figure is somewhat dubious, as it is based on shockingly low cost estimates for the reactor project (half of what other utilities and the Department of Energy are forecasting as the cost for the very same reactor design).
Of course, SCE&G’s application for the permits to build the two new reactors are woefully inadequate in researching the potential for energy efficiency programs or renewable energy. Instead of investing our money in a clean, safe, healthy energy future, SCE&G is trying to make ratepayers subsidize their dirty energy facilities.
During the two public comment periods, in which anyone could sign up to testify before the Public Service Commission, the opposition far outnumbered the support for this rate increase. Young people and concerned citizens came out in droves to speak out in defense of rate payers, our planet and our people. The final public comment period on Wednesday had to be extended by more than two hours to accomodate all that wanted to speak. In addition to all the public comment made, dozens of written comments were submitted by concerned citizens all across the state.
Now we will have to wait for the PSC to deliberate before we know if SCE&G will be granted their requested rate increase. Once this decision is made, it is final and will allow SCE&G a blank check and the option of increasing the rates even further to pay for their construction. Even if the two new reactors are never built or never come online, the ratepayers have no way of recovering their money, thanks to legislation passed in South Carolina last year.
Regardless of the decision, though, South Carolina will not go down without a fight; we will continue to organize in opposition of this nuclear project even if we can’t protect our pocketbooks from a “Public Service” Commission with a questionable track record.
BOONE, NC and WASHINGTON, DC – Advocates for the mountains and coalfield residents today opened a new front in the fight against destructive coal mining, filing suit in Washington, D.C. District Court to stop federal investment in new power plants that would enshrine coal for another generation.
The suit, filed by the North Carolina-based Appalachian Voices and Canary Coalition, states that the federal government shouldn’t be in the business of subsidizing coal plants without knowing the true environmental costs – including impacts of ultra-destructive mountaintop removal coal mining. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 included $1.65 billion in tax incentives for new coal plants, $1 billion of which has been allocated to nine projects around the country.
“The fact is that there’s no such thing as clean coal as long as our mountains are getting clear-cut, blown up and bulldozed down,” said Mary Anne Hitt, Executive Director of Appalachian Voices. “Right now, the electricity that powers your home may well come from mountaintop removal coal. We need fewer coal plants, not more.”
Mountaintop removal coal mining is an extremely destructive form of strip mining found throughout Appalachia, with some mines as big as the island of Manhattan. Coalfield residents say that it tears apart communities, poisons water supplies, pollutes the air and destroys our nation’s natural heritage – while only making the climate crisis worse.
“Members of the Canary Coalition and all people who live, work or vacation in western North Carolina are feeling the impact of existing coal-burning power plants on our health and the environment,” said Avram Friedman, Executive Director of the Canary Coalition. “Asthma related to ozone pollution is the largest cause of absenteeism in our public schools. Emphysema plagues the elderly in this region. Heart and lung disease related to fine particulate sulfur dioxide has been documented by the American Lung Association. We are threatened by tropical diseases migrating north due to global warming caused by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. The status quo of air quality in western North Carolina is unacceptable. Building and operating a new coal-burning power plant such as Duke Energy’s planned expansion at Cliffside is unacceptable.”
Of the nine experimental coal facilities that have received tax incentives, none have conducted an environmental impact assessment (EIA) looking at the impact of coal on the environment – as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The nine facilities include a Duke Energy projects in Edwardsport, IN and in Rutherford and Cleveland Counties, NC; a Mississippi Power Company project; an E.ON U.S. & Louisville Gas and Electric project in Bedford, KY; a Carson Hydrogen Power project in Carson, CA; a TX Energy project in Longview, TX; a Tampa Electric project in Polk County, FL (that is currently delayed); and two anonymous coal gasification projects.
The effort to end mountaintop removal has been gaining steam over the past year. As of today, the leading Congressional plan to end the practice has 129 co-sponsors – dozens more than last Congress, and only halfway through this session. (more…)
March 2, 2008
Coal companies fight bill to ban mountaintop strip mining
By ERIK SCHELZIG
A proposal to ban most mountaintop removal mining and to toughen other environmental standards for the coal industry in Tennessee is running into stiff opposition from state coal producers.
National Coal Corp. President Dan Roling told the state Senate Environment and Conservation Committee last week that passing the measure would have dire effects on the industry in the state.
“Prohibiting mining above 2,000 feet elevation in the case of National Coal alone would basically force us — or almost force us — to close our doors,” Roling told the committee.
Roling said about 28 million tons of the company’s coal reserves worth about $700 million would be affected by the measure.
Knoxville-based National Coal currently produces about 1.4 million tons of coal a year, according to its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.