Posts filed under ‘nuclear’
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!
The fight to prevent new nuclear reactors from being built in the Southeast was in Georgia this week with lots of excitement around President Obama’s tour of Savannah Technical College where he discussed jobs, economic recovery, and the $8.3 billion in conditional loan guarantees he has allocated to Southern Company for the expansion at Plant Vogtle. I joined Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND), Friends of the Earth (FoE), Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) colleagues and local activists to advocate for a carbon free and nuclear free future and against a taxpayer-financed future riddled with more radioactive nuclear waste.
I was energized for the rally, having just spent time with members of the Shell Bluff Community in Waynesboro (where Plant Vogtle is located) to hear their concerns, answer their questions, and discuss real solutions for their impoverished rural community. Their main concerns centered around jobs, health, and their lack of faith in the industry to provide the former or protect the latter. It was so inspirational to meet a few of the folks who remain strong in their faith and sense of community, despite hard economic times and experiencing a high incidence of recent cancer deaths in their families.
I joined members of groups like Savannah River Keepers, WAND, FoE, SACE and others who are involved in the legal interventions to the proposals for two new reactors at the existing Plant Vogtle site. President Obama justifies the $8.3 billion in loan guarantees for this plant with promises of jobs, but the community has heard this before. They cite stories of a boon and bust that surrounded the construction of the first two reactors in 1980’s, pointing to closed businesses and rotting trailer homes scattered about the county. These folks need real, lasting, sustainable solutions and their skepticism of the nuclear industry’s role is well founded by their experience.
At the end of January, Southern Energy Network staff traveled to San Antonio, Texas, for a week-long training with the Energy Action Coalition. Many of us had never been to Texas, and the opportunity to visit a new place and escape colder climates was welcome!
Our allies and partner group the Southwest Workers’ Union – http://www.swunion.com – were our gracious hosts, connecting us with local organizations and activists, including Fuerza Unida, http://www.lafuerzaunida.org/, a union which formed after Levi’s shut down its local factories. The women of Fuerza Unida prepared delicious Mexican-inspired meals for us throughout the week, but the highlight of the trip was the Toxic Tour and rally, organized with SWU.
Southwest Workers’ Union has been fighting toxic chemical contamination in the groundwater near Kelly Air Force Base, now closed and occupied by private corporations. The Base is practically surrounded by residential neighborhoods. Referred to as the “Toxic Triangle,” the majority of these neighborhoods are occupied by lower-income Latino families, many of which speak Spanish as their primary or only language. Two residents from the area joined us for the tour, sharing their story of what is has been like to raise a family near the base.
Residents suffer abnormally high rates of certain diseases, especially cancer. After realizing there was likely a pattern of disease, SWU organizers went door to door, asking people if a family member, or members, had suffered from a serious illness. The results were heartbreaking. People of all ages had been diagnosed with serious health problems, including many neighborhood children who suffered from leukemia or other cancers.
SWU organizers asked impacted families to place a purple cross on their homes or in their yards – creating a powerful visual of how deeply effected so many in the neighborhood are by the contamination from the base.
Government officials and health authorities have been reticent to take action, insinuating that the illnesses were caused by poor diets and other health habits.
The Air Force has refused to take responsibility as well; though they admitted to using toxic chemicals, they claimed there was no proof that the chemicals had left Air Force property to contaminate the water. SWU and the local residents knew better. They launched a multi-year campaign to force Kelly Air Force Base to stop the use of toxic chemicals and clean up the contamination in the groundwater.
The campaign continues today, even though Kelly Air Force Base has closed and is now used by private corporations, including Boeing. Still, problems persist.
Though the communities are still threatened by contamination and industrial processes, Southwest Workers’ Union’s campaigns have been impactful, and in many ways, successful. Many residents responded to the purple cross campaign, and after seeing how many of their neighbors are suffering, people across San Antonio recognized that Kelly Air Force base was causing harm providing a critical shift in public opinion.
After finishing the Toxic Tour, we learned more about the Southwest Workers’ Union campaigns against new nuclear reactors in the area, and their work to bring more clean energy to San Antonio. SWU has been successful in preventing the construction of a new reactor, organizing communities across the region and exposing the deceitful behavior of the nuclear utility. The company had lied about how much the new reactor would cost consumers, and people were angered to learn that over the long term, nuclear would be much more expensive than anyone had bargained.
Now, SWU is focusing on bringing green-collar jobs to the San Antonio metro area. To show our solidarity with SWU’s campaigns, Energy Action Coalition staff and members joined SWU supporters in a rally outside City Hall, calling on Mayor Julian Castro to move forward with their plan for clean energy, energy efficiency, and reducing our Global Warming pollution. Representatives from SWU, including several high school students and other SWU members, met with the Mayor’s office during the rally.
Toxics and clean energy are linked, though perhaps not directly in the Toxic Triangle. Dirty energy has a cost, and often these costs are disproportionately shouldered by communities who lack the ability to prevent, or escape from, serious environmental health hazards. The Southern Energy Network fully supports the Southwest Workers’ Union campaigns to address toxic contamination and bring clean energy jobs to
With new nuclear reactors proposed in South Carolina, Georgia, and other Southeastern states, we’re working to make sure our neighbors aren’t paying too much for dirty energy that will put our communities at risk. For more information or to learn about how you can stop dirty energy in your area, visit http://www.climateaction.net.
Earlier this month, Florida Power and Light (FPL) was denied the $1.3 Billion rate increase they requested last fall, only getting $75 million. The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) unanimously ruled against the huge increase, citing a struggling economy and questioning FPL’s exorbitant corporate spending habits and high profit margins.
This week, the Public Service Commission ruled once again to serve the public, rejecting Progress Energy’s $500 million rate increase. Both utilities were also forced to reduce their profit margins a couple percentage points.
With much of the rate increase slated to fund the utilities’ proposals to build a total of four new nuclear reactors at the Turkey Point plant and in Levy County, many citizens are taking action. Engaging the PSC since last October, thousands commented on Early Cost Recovery and nuclear. Their message is simple, “Don’t nuke Florida, we need solar in the Sunshine State!”
Public opposition is mounting against increasing rates and forced consumer investment into projects that are financially risky and literally create tons of radioactive waste. The AARP and numerous environmental groups have building grassroots pressure on the Public Service Commission, urging them to protect the customers pocket and the environment.
FPL and Progress Energy now say that they will be “suspending” their risky nuclear plans . Because their main funding mechanism was Early Cost Recovery, the utilities claim they need the rate increases to attain capital investment from their consumers. Check here for an interesting analysis of how the utilities are crying wolf about job losses when their true interest is protecting their sharholders.
Although the PSC decisions are good news, the utilities are still pursuing permitting for the new reactors, which is an extremely expensive process. Utility executives are also claiming huge lay-offs will follow the decision to deny the rate increases. This is questionable, to say the least. Even Governor Crist, a supporter of nuclear who opposed the rate increases, thinks the utilities misleading the public about jobs. You can read his statement here.
Stay tuned for more exciting updates as the nuclear fiasco continues to unfold in Florida. Folks in communities and on campuses all over Florida are taking on the nuclear industry in 2010!
Teaming up with the Guacamole Fund, Southern Energy Network had the awesome opportunity to promote its our anti-nuclear work in Florida, raise some money, and hang out with Bonnie Raitt. And what a great night it was!
SEN’s Field Director, Stephanie Powell and I worked with 3 amazing volunteers from University of West Florida to inform fans about the nuclear issues currently facing Florida. We encountered tons of folks who were already engaged on the issues and a few more that were in process of going off the grid with solar power installations at their homes. During the show, we took turns going in to enjoy the music. Personally, watching Bonnie perform was quite an experience! Her music has been in my life since I was pretty young, and seeing it live was phenomenal.
Bonnie Raitt, along with a number of other artists, founded a group called Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) that opposes nuclear power in favor of safer, renewable options like solar. To help the cause, they build fundraising into their ticket sales, giving fans the choice to purchase special V.I.P. tickets. At this Pensacola show, there was a small dessert reception afterward. Bonnie was so careful to spend a few moments with each of the folks there, chatting with them and taking a photo. At the end of it all, we had the pleasure of spending a few minutes with her as well. She is such a genuine person and was very knowledgeable about the complex intricacies of nuclear power, as well as the details of Florida’s specific challenges in the face of this risky industry. It’s great to have folks with such public access on our side, spreading real information to folks about issues that affect us all!
Now, more than ever, Floridians need to stand up and show we are ready to usher in a brighter energy future. An energy future that is just and safe for all and uses truly renewable sources. An energy future that neither relies on fossil fuels nor creates a legacy of radioactive waste for tens of thousands of years. Want solar in the Sunshine State? Florida needs a POWER SHIFT!
Right now, Washington is leading us in the wrong direction. Check out what Senators John Kerry and Lindsey Graham have to say in their NY Times Op Ed yesterday.
The emphasis Kerry and Graham place on expensive risky nuclear, the mythical “clean coal,” and coastal drilling leaves Florida wondering when the sun will shine on our economy? The United States as a whole needs bold action to protect our climate and secure our energy. Drilling does neither–instead it maintains our dependence on dirty oil, and it does little to reduce our need for foreign oil. Nuclear is the ‘thirstiest‘ energy out there, requiring millions of gallons of water per day. These technologies do not bring the jobs we need, but renewables will!
Florida has a lot to lose in the face climate change, but so much to gain from real solutions. We need solutions that are safe, clean, renewable, and create jobs! Join hundreds of other engaged and passionate young people as we demand a Power Shift in Orlando, FL Oct 23-25 at University of Central Florida campus Arena.
Have 15 minutes? Here are 2 things you can do Right Now:
Attend Florida Power Shift! We were 6,000 strong in DC back in 2007. In March of this year, we doubled that number and really showed our legislators that young people in our country are serious about climate change and are here to support strong action toward real solutions. Now, we are bringing it home to Florida to demand safe and renewable energy. Don’t miss the early Registration Friday 10/16!
Contact the Florida Public Service Commission and tell them you won’t pay for their nuclear reactors! Email email@example.com and Reference Docket # 090009. Progress Energy and Florida Power and Light want to charge you now for reactors that may never be built. Please contact them today! Need talking points? Check this out.
Please contact me with any questions!
Hope to see you next weekend in Orlando!
Florida Organizer, Southern Energy Network
This past weekend at University of Florida, over 70 young people from 9 universities across the state joined forces with Southern Energy Network at the Florida Youth Energy Sustainability (YES) Summit. It was an action packed day and a half of workshops and strategizing sessions interspersed with great energy and fun!
The goals of the summit centered around building relationships, increasing communication, and strategizing upcoming campaigns. The Green Fee campaign got a make over. Students from several schools are creating a committee to escalate the campaign and develop a plan to take on the Florida legislature, this time for a win! The anti-nuclear campaign gained more steam and will be one of the networks primary campaigns this year with plans under way to increase pressure at the state and national levels.
Last, but certainly not least, we talked about the Power Shift campaign and how Florida is going to raise their voices to join the chorus of young people demanding bold climate legislation before United Nations Climate Negotiations in December. Florida is ready to have an awesome event in Orlando on October 24th, just in time for the 350.org International Day of Action. Our state has a lot to lose in the face of climate change and we are stepping up to the challenge!
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
Southern Energy Network represented at the Institute for Environmental Energy Research Carbon Free Nuclear Free workshop last week in Washington, DC. Jessica Burris, one of our interning volunteers, and I spent 5 days learning all sorts of technical information about nuclear energy. We covered a broad range of topics, everything from reprocessing and uranium enrichment to nuclear disarmament. We held strategy sessions to further the Carbon Free Nuclear Free campaign, and then we all had the opportunity to make a presentation to the panel of scientists that work at the Institute. We also heard from experts (from France even!) about why nuclear in France isn’t the love affair we understand it to be.
Jessica and I worked together on a presentation that begins the initial research phases of a larger project that will become her Master’s thesis. She is looking at the Environmental Justice implications of nuclear energy in Florida. Our initial findings were that the existing nuclear reactors in Florida, as well as the new reactor proposals, are all located in communities that have a combination of the following characteristics: well below the average median income for the state, majority minority, well over median age, and very high unemployment. Other characteristics of the areas in which these reactors exist or are proposed: high rates of asthma, high infant mortality, high cancer rates, high percentages of Spanish language homes, and low rates of high school or equivalency attainment. Although we had to revisit some of the science that supported our initial conclusions, our overarching and supported conclusion was that the communities that have nuclear reactors in their backyard are full of people that already have a lot of socio-economic factors to contend with in their daily survival, and that the additional burden on their health and environment is a serious environmental racism and justice issue.
If you are still undecided about nuclear energy, here are some things to consider:
**Nuclear reactors produce tons of spent fuel, which is high-level radioactive waste that is harmful to all life for over 10,000 years.
**There is currently no long-term storage for all of this waste.
**Nuclear reactors also produce tons of low-level waste that creates another “safe storage” problem.
**Nuclear reactors are VERY THRISTY. In a world with increasing water shortages, we need less water intensive alternatives.
**Nuclear energy is risky business. Wall Street won’t invest in it, why should you? Many states, including Florida, are passing the capital costs onto you with “Early Cost Recovery” and “Construction Work in Progress” rate-increases on your energy bill. See Regress Energy for more information on how this is playing out in Florida.
**Thermal discharge from reactors endangers surrounding marine eco-systems.
For more on the science behind this madness, check out www.ieer.org
The Southeast currently has 13 new nuclear reactor proposals. There are a number of local, state, regional, and national groups getting organized to keep these expensive, risky, water intensive, dangerous energy sources out of our communities. Here are some organizations that you can plug into to take action:
Southern Energy Network–We are looking to build a team of passionate youth to organize our region out of risky nuclear and into renewables! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Institute for Environmental and Energy Research
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.