On 25th anniversary of Chernobyl, U.S. nuke Renaissance still dead
- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev marked the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster today with a visit to site of the power plant and announced he wanted new world rules covering safety.
- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Tuesday talked up nuclear power as the “safest” form of energy on the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl amid fears linked to the disaster in Japan….. Italy abandoned nuclear power in 1987 after the Chernobyl disaster. Berlusconi has promised to re-introduce nuclear power in order to cut power bills….
Ahh, if only new nukes could cut power bills (see Intro to nuclear power). But then Berlusconi is the Charlie Sheen of Italian leaders.
The notable U.S. nuclear event leading up to the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl was the plug-pulling on one of the few remaining vestiges of the once-vaunted nuclear Renaissance. As ABC News money reported last week:
Halliburton brings in record $5.3 billion in first quarter, credits increased U.S. oil production under Obama
Helping cause Gulf disaster doesn’t slow down oil giant
Poor little rich oil giant Halliburton gets slammed by the Spill Commission for contributing to the Gulf disaster (see BP and Halliburton knew cement was unstable “” used it anyway to ‘seal’ Macondo well and here). But they still reported a record $5.3 billion revenues in the first quarter of 2011.
But, as ThinkProgress notes, “In a severe blow to the right-wing’s daily talking points, Halliburton attributes their robust earnings to increased domestic production under Obama”:
As Shell Announces Plans To Drill Arctic, Fox News Attacks EPA For Making Shell ‘Scrap’ Arctic Drilling
Our guest blogger is Kiley Kroh, Associate Director for Ocean Communications at the Center for American Progress.
When foreign oil giant Shell announced plans to begin drilling in the Arctic Ocean next year, Fox News and Rush Limbaugh responded by promoting a months-old Environmental Protection Agency ruling that delayed Shell’s risky offshore drilling. The right-wing media machine is trying to demonize the EPA for halting domestic energy production:
Shell Oil Company has announced it must scrap efforts to drill for oil this summer in the Arctic Ocean off the northern coast of Alaska. The decision comes following a ruling by the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board to withhold critical air permits. The move has angered some in Congress and triggered a flurry of legislation aimed at stripping the EPA of its oil drilling oversight.
What Fox didn’t tell you is the EPA actually granted Shell the necessary permits last year. It was local Alaska residents, concerned about the health of their families, who challenged the decision for not fully analyzing and disclosing the risks and potential impacts. Upon review, the federal Environmental Appeals Board determined the initial air quality assessment had been too narrow. Once a full assessment was completed, the Board concluded that the amount of toxic pollutants emitted by the project posed too great a threat to the health of coastal communities and a fragile ecosystem.
The real story here is not the EPA standing in the way of Big Oil’s profit margin, rather it’s the fact that in making its initial ruling, the EPA was too quick to kowtow to the foreign fat cats at the expense of hundreds of Americans who also happen to be native Alaskans. Local resident Rosemary Ahtuangaruak recently testified against House legislation to eliminate air quality reviews for offshore drilling:
If you allow this bill to move forward, you are telling me and everyone who lives in the Arctic that we — proud Inupiats and Americans — are less important than a few foreign-owned oil companies like Shell Oil.
And air pollution is only the beginning. Just one year after the worst environmental disaster in US history, Shell insists it will be prepared to handle a worst-case spill — a claim the Anchorage Daily News, for one, finds dubious:
With no roads connecting remote coastal towns, storms and fog that can ground aircraft, no deepwater ports for ships and the nearest Coast Guard station about 1,000 miles away — it would be almost impossible to respond on the scale that was needed last year to stop the runaway oil well and clean up the mess.
Twenty-foot swells, subzero temperatures and a lack of infrastructure make a spill of any size more likely and nearly impossible to clean up — conditions that were ignored in Shell’s safety plan.
Ezra Klein: “Obama, if you look closely at his positions, is a moderate Republican of the early 1990s.”
“And the Republican Party he’s facing has abandoned many of its best ideas in its effort to oppose him.”
The WashPost’s Ezra Klein has a terrific column that places the failed climate bill into the political context that has been missing from so much of the recent debate:
If you put aside the emergency measures required by the financial crisis, three major policy ideas have dominated American politics in recent years: a plan that uses an individual mandate and tax subsidies to achieve near-universal health care; a cap-and-trade plan that attempts to raise the prices of environmental pollutants to better account for their costs; and bringing tax rates up from their Bush-era lows as part of a bid to reduce the deficit. In each case, the position that Obama and the Democrats have staked out is the very position that moderate Republicans have staked out before.
In the climate bill debate of the past two years, Obama and the Democrats embraced Republican ideas in an effort to minimize or avoid the partisanship inherent in other approaches that had been explicitly rejected by Republicans, including a tax and a massive ramp up in clean energy funding, as I’ve argued.
But Klein makes an effective case that it simply didn’t matter how reasonable or centrist or business-friendly a strategy environmentalists and progressive politicians pursued (or might have pursued). The Republicans simply were committed to stopping Obama from appearing bipartisan.
The Dems keeps getting suckered by Republicans the way Charlie Brown keeps getting suckered by Lucy. But the difference is that the GOP’s strategy wasn’t even a secret.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell told the NY Times in March 2010, “It was absolutely critical that everybody be together because if the proponents of the bill were able to say it was bipartisan, it tended to convey to the public that this is O.K., they must have figured it out.” Why? As McConnell blurted out right before the 2010 midterm elections, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
So the GOP was perfectly willing to destroy the climate, block efforts to get health care to uninsured people, and generally ruin the economy — as long as they could destroy Obama and not get blamed by the voters or the media by virtue of their superior messaging (which is a reasonable expectation given how lame progressive messaging is).
Klein has more must-read details in each of these three areas:
In 2005, President George W. Bush, a former oilman, explained that the profit potential in the oil industry drives exploration, not the subsidies: “With $55 oil we don’t need incentives to the oil and gas companies to explore. There are plenty of incentives.”
Bush added, “What we need is to put a strategy in place that will help this country over time become less dependent.” Okay, he opposed such a strategy all his life, and he was never going need Big Oil to help him run for office again, but still.
The GOP Speaker of the House just had an equally rare moment of candor on oil subsidies, but it didn’t last long, as Brad Johnson reports (with video):
April 26 news: Climate change worsens Western water woes; Gas prices slam mobility — and Obama’s popularity, too
Climate change is likely to diminish already scarce water supplies in the Western United States, exacerbating problems for millions of water users in the West, according to a new government report.
A report released Monday by the Interior Department said annual flows in three prominent river basins “” the Colorado, Rio Grande and San Joaquin “” could decline by as much 8 percent to 14 percent over the next four decades. The three rivers provide water to eight states, from Wyoming to Texas and California, as well as to parts of Mexico.
Tennessee Valley Authority plans for a clean energy future
The Tennessee Valley Authority is making important changes in its energy mix. As CAP’s Richard W. Caperton reports, the key has been a historic agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “to resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations at 11 of [TVA's] coal-fired power plants in Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee.”
Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn and CAP CEO John Podesta will be speaking, among others. Down a shot for any mention of climate change!
In a segment on Wednesday, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly praised the climate youth activists who participated in the Power Shift 2011 conference. O’Reilly’s producer Jesse Watters attended the conference and interviewed many of the attendees, mostly students from colleges and universities across the nation. O’Reilly, who has recognized that the planet is warming but is unwilling to recognize that fossil fuel pollution is responsible, supported the mission of the 10,000 Power Shift participants to build a “cleaner country” with “alternative energy.” In his own words, here’s Bill O’Reilly’s take on the youth clean energy movement: