Posts filed under ‘southeast’

US EPA Holds Mercury Hearing in Atlanta – Join us May 26!

US EPA is holding a public hearing in Atlanta, GA on May 26, giving us the opportunity to testify in support of a new rule to regulate toxic mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. Sign up here!

A few weeks ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed rule to set national emissions standards for mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants. The environmental community has been waiting for nearly 20 years for this rule. It’s a necessary step toward reducing toxic mercury emissions from coal plants nationwide.

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May 4, 2011 at 3:50 pm Leave a comment

Oil continues to dump into the Gulf

<cross-posted on It’s Getting Hot in Here>

They said it was safe. BP’s environmental impact statement from February 2009 stated that it was,  “unlikely that an accidental surface or subsurface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities”, and that “due to the distance to shore (48 miles) and the response capabilities that would be implemented, no significant adverse impacts are expected [1].” Now, millions of gallons of oil have dumped into the Gulf of Mexico since April 20thand more continues to poor into the waters every day. Yesterday President Obama visited Louisiana to assess the threat posed by this growing oil spill [2].

An oil containment boom is swamped by waves along the Louisiana coast at South Pass of the Mississippi River Thursday, April 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Bill Haber) via Boston.com

The Earth is now bleeding. Unfortunately a run to the pharmacy wont supply the Band Aids needed for this injury. Five thousand feet under the sea a pipe is spilling unknown volumes of oil straight into the Gulf. Attempts to recap it have been unsuccessful. Stopping the spill now looks like it could take weeks if not months, as a giant dome is developed to capture the oil and a “relief” well is drilled [3].

Oil, bottom right, is seen approaching the Louisiana Coast, top left, in this aerial photo taken 8 miles from shore, Wednesday, April 28, 2010. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) Via Boston.com

Oil has already covered over 3,800 square miles of ocean [4]. At risk are the fragile ecosystems of birds that are just beginning to build nests and mate, fish, shellfish, and countless threatened species are found in and around the ten wildlife preserves that are likely to fall in the path of the oil spills as it continues to disperse [5]. The economic impacts of this spill will spread far as fisherman who weathered Hurricane Katrina are seeing Gulf fisheries shut down that are America’s biggest source of seafood.

They are lighting the Gulf on fire. Burning the fuel off is one of many efforts being used to contain the spill. Rough seas for the past few days however, have stymied many efforts at burning the oil off and sending it into the atmosphere. Already 34 miles of boom have also been deployed to form a skirt around a small part of the Gulf Coast to protect the shore from oil. Dispersal agents are another method being used, though in untested ways as they are released in unprecedented volumes both underwater and above.

Dirty energy is jeopardizing human survival. This incident has cost 11 lives and comes in the wake of several other fossil fuels related disasters in the past month including, the methane explosion in West Virginia that killed 29 miners, the collapse of a mine in Kentucky that killed 2, and the wreck of a coal carrying ship that spilled oil across the Great Barrier Reef [6][7][8].

People hold the solutions. Hair salons with the organization, Matter of Trust are beginning to collect hair clipping, that can be made into mat to soak up oil [9]. People are submitting ideas for ways to clean up oil spills that can be readily implemented to the website InnoCentive [10]. Fishermen are signing up to lend their boats and time to the clean up effort as the oil begins to come ashore. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Sierra Club and a number of other organizations are calling on people everywhere to call the White House and their Congressmen to put an end to offshore drilling, fossil fuel subsidies, and move to clean energy options [11]. If we don’t move away from our dependence on fossil fuels these accidents will continue to occur.

Let’s stop being fuelish and get to work building a clean energy future.

—————-

[1] Burdeau, Cain; Holbrook Mohr (2010-04-30). “Document: BP didn’t plan for major oil spill”. Associated Press. Retrieved 2010-04-30.  http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g5gnWbqZ9SqBHvSYqJeE2AT5KebwD9FDNQR00

[2] http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/02/obama-visits-louisiana-oil-spill

[3] BP (2010-04-30). “BP Steps Up Shoreline Protection Plans on US Gulf Coas”. Press release. Retrieved 2010-04-30.  http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.do?categoryId=2012968&contentId=7061565

[4] “Gulf Oil Spill, by the Numbers”. CBS News. 2010-04-30. Retrieved 2010-04-30. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/04/30/national/main6447428.shtml

[5] http://www.deccanherald.com/content/66822/oil-spill-reaches-us-coast.html

[6] http://itsgettinghotinhere.org/2010/04/23/preventing-the-next-mine-disaster-unionize/

[7] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/30/us/30mine.html

[8] http://itsgettinghotinhere.org/2010/04/05/coal-and-oil-destroying-great-barrier-reef/

[9] http://www.matteroftrust.org/

[10] https://gw.innocentive.com/ar/challenge/overview/9383447

[11] http://www.cleanenergy.org/www.sierraclub.org/oilspill

May 3, 2010 at 1:00 pm 2 comments

On World Water Day, Recognizing the Water and Energy Nexus

Growing up in Florida, I probably spent 75% of my childhood in and around water. Be it swimming in clear cool springs, fishing along black bottom creeks, playing in the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean or just running through the sprinkler in the backyard, water played a huge role in my childhood.

I didn’t really think much about water beyond how fun it was to go to Kingsley Lake or tube down the Ichetucknee River. As I got older, I became more aware of the impacts we have on our local waterways and how much our lives depend on them -not just for staying cool in the summer time, but for our overall survival and livelihood.

It wasn’t until my family moved to Georgia when I was in middle school that I realized the threats facing Southern water resources. As I have grown older, I’ve become increasingly aware of how important, yet fragile our waters truly are. I remember all too well driving back home for a visit in the summer of 2007 (I was living and working in New Orleans at the time).  It was surreal to see the impacts of the drought – to witness what were once floating dock sitting on the mud flats of a shrinking Lake Lanier. That same summer, the Browns Ferry nuclear power plant in Alabama had to be temporarily shut down because water in the Tennessee River was too hot to cool the reactors. And then in the fall the University of Georgia had official “flushers” in bathrooms at football games in order conserve limited water supplies in Athens.

Today, on World Water Day, it’s important to look at the full impacts dirty energy and global warming have on our lives. Across the world and particularly here in the South, global warming is shifting rain patterns and temperatures. Creating an interesting mix of increased rain (except in South Florida) as well as prolonged and more severe droughts.

Not only is our region one of the largest contributors to the problem of global warming, our power is extremely water intensive. For example, here in Georgia the energy sector is the largest consumer of water statewide. It’s troubling to think that one day flipping on the lights could compete with turning on the faucet.

For the future of our region, it’s critical to begin the transition away from dirty, water intensive power sources and towards a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.

In celebration of World Water Day, take time to support the Define Our Decade campaign, and vote for a clean, renewable, water-responsible energy future.

March 22, 2010 at 8:27 pm 3 comments

Georgians Raise Concerns Over New Nuclear Reactors – Taking the Message Direct to Obama

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.

Can I get my future Carbon Free and Nuclear Free, please?

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.

Southern Company wants to add another 2 reactors to this site.

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.

No Nuclear Pork! Without our money, nukes don't stand a chance...


March 9, 2010 at 6:51 pm 1 comment

Your Voice Needed! Make a Call for Climate

This week, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham was quoted in the New York Times, saying, “I have been to enough college campuses to know if you are 30 or younger this climate issue is not a debate. It’s a value.” (Source: The New York Times)

Pat yourself on the back, because this is a victory for Southern youth! When you’re done, get ready, because we need your voices again.

We expect a new climate bill to be introduced in the Senate some time in the next week, and if we don’t take action, this bill could stall and get lost as Senators start campaigning for re-election. To keep this bill moving, we need YOU!


Click HERE to make a phone call.

The Southern Energy Network is partnering with the Clean Energy Works campaign to help create a groundswell of support for climate solutions in the next 3 days.

It’s called 72 Hours of Clean American Power. For the next 3 days, we need as many people as possible to call in to your Senators, tell them who you are, where you live or attend school, and why you support strong climate legislation. If you’re in South Carolina, you can even thank Senator Graham for his commitment to climate legislation!

The best thing you can do is to make a phone call today, and ask your friends and family to make a phone call by Thursday, March 4.

Click HERE to use our cool, easy online calling tool. This tool saves you calling charges and helps us track the phone calls we’re generating in to Senate offices.

Your voice matters. These next 72 hours matter. Please join us!

For our climate,

Jenna

March 2, 2010 at 5:14 pm Leave a comment

On the Toxic tour with the Southwest Workers’ Union

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
San Antonio.

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.

February 12, 2010 at 9:14 pm Leave a comment

Florida Public Service Commission Serves the Public

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.

Check out more info on FPL here, and get more of the backstory of the whole scene 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!

January 27, 2010 at 9:27 pm 3 comments

SEN and Bonnie Raitt Rock Out Against Nukes

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!

 

PA200038

No Nukes, We Need Solar in the Sunshine State!

 

 

November 4, 2009 at 6:52 pm Leave a comment

Are You Hearing This, EPD?

by Maura Friedman, UGA Student Organizer

Though Power4Georgians, a coalition of Georgia electric membership corporations, is quick to tout dirty coal, on October 20th, the real source of power was the people.

About a third of the students and youth who took the hearing by storm.

About a third of the students and youth who took the hearing by storm.

At Tuesday’s Environmental Protection Division hearing, Georgia citizens had the opportunity to publicly voice comments on the proposed coal-fired power plant to be built in Sandersville, GA. People hailing from all backgrounds and corners of the state came out in full force to represent what they wanted the future of Georgia to look like. Nearly 8 out of every 10 who spoke agreed that the future should include clean air, fresh water, healthy kids, and, subsequently, no coal.

Members of communities across the state came together to remind the EPD that coal’s pollutants and health effects don’t just stay within city limits, they’re felt upwind and downstream as well, while Sandersville residents made it clear their livelihood wasn’t up for discussion either.

Most striking about the content of the hearing was the human component. Many who spoke included stories of their personal connection to the land. Sometimes we forget that polluting streams means a granddaughter can’t play in the water or a family can’t eat the fish their son catches. Polluting the air means residents can’t enjoy their own property or a young person leaves to raise a family somewhere safer. Using 16 million gallons of water a day to run a coal fired power plant means wells go dry, but more than that, it means a specific family loses their water access.

Although the promise of jobs to accompany the construction of the coal plant glimmered like fool’s gold, many had their eye on an even more economical prize. The resounding preference at the hearing was for renewable energy and green jobs, the creation of which provides an average of 6 jobs to every 4 jobs fossil fuel-dependent industry contributes. Moreover, sustainable energy does not ask communities to make the tremendous choice between jobs and health.

On Tuesday, the people spoke and their message, one against the damage coal brings to communities, resonated clearly. Now their fate, as well as that of their land and future generations is in the hands of the EPD as Georgia waits with bated breath.

-Maura Friedman

October 22, 2009 at 3:48 pm Leave a comment

Power Shift Carolinas is here!

Power Shift Carolinas is here! Weeks of planning have culminated in hundreds of students gathering at the campus of UNC Chapel Hill this weekend. This morning we heard inspiring speakers that reminded us that we must take this movement beyond conferences and meetings. They reminded us that the climate movement is not so unique from any other social movement. We are all seeking a new paradigm that addresses issues of domination and oppression of people’s livelihoods. Students braved crisp October weather as we sat in an outdoor theater and were reminded that being green is not always easy, despite what retailers often make us think.

Stephanie Powell, of the Southern Energy Network, rallies the crowd.

Stephanie Powell, of the Southern Energy Network, on stage.

I have now stepped away from the workshop halls where my peers are learning skills that they will take home with them to teach to others.  Away from the Power Shift hub-bub I find myself on a plush sofa in the UNC Chapel Hill student union with a TV blaring beside me and students munching on disposable platters that will soon disappear into a waste stream that terminates in an unknown place. I remember that I’m responsible too, we all are.  Seeking climate justice is going to be a long winding path that won’t end with a federal climate bill and won’t end in Copenhagen.

Here at Power Shift I join some of the most amazing people I know. These are friends who constantly motivate and inspire me with their passion and energy and make me believe that it is possible. As Marcie Smith, said this morning, “it is the incremental steps and actions that are building to a tipping point in this movement and that will lead us to the future we seek.”  Power Shift Carolinas is proving that people throughout the U.S. Southeast are ready – are you?

October 17, 2009 at 5:11 pm 1 comment

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