Thursday, February 28, 2008

Former Acting EPA Administrator Marianne Horinko

Marianne L. Horinko is the Executive Vice President of the Global Environment & Technology Foundation (GETF). Previously she was Assistant Administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response at the U.S. EPA and Acting EPA Administrator. The Global Environment & Technology Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation. GETF promotes the development and use of innovative technology to achieve sustainable development. For more than fifteen years, GETF has brought industry, government and communities together to address environmental challenges with innovative solutions.

AAEA President Norris McDonald is pictured with Ms. Horinko in 2003 after a Rose Garden briefing by President Bush at the White House.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lead Still In Nation's Capital Drinking Water

After high lead levels were reported in DC drinking water in 2004 the D.C. Water & Sewer Authority (WASA) launched a program to replace the lead lines that run from the street to 35,000 homes. According to published reports, $93 million has been spent but the situation has gotten worse in approximately 9,000 homes where the lines were partially replaced. The agency has also added orthophosphate to mitigate the lead leaching.

WASA replaced 14,600 lines from the street to houses. About 2,100 homeowners paid approximately $2,000 to replace lines their own lines. About 3,400 owners replaced lead pipes before WASA started its program. It appears that many homes still need their lines replaced. The EPA Office of Ground Water & Drinking Water (OGWDW) safety limit for drinking water is 15 parts per billion. Samples in the lines of almost 700 homes were 260 parts per billion. This is a very serious problem, particularly for anyone with toddlers in homes with elevated water lead levels. Everyone in the District should have their water tested and if high levels are found, they should replace the lines or find an alternative source of drinking water. (The Washington Post, 2/2/08)

Ralph Nader, Global Warming and Nuclear Power

Famed consumer advocate Ralph Nader is not serious about global warming because he opposes nuclear power. In fact, not only does he have a very long history of opposing nuclear power, he will probably continue to aggressively oppose this technology that could be an important tool in the fight against global warming. Ralph Nader is running for president again and we are including his position on this issue along with the rest of the candidates.

In the 1970's and 1980's Nader was a key leader in the anti-nuclear power movement. Ralph Nader has been described as '...the titular head of opposition to nuclear energy.' He advocates the complete elimination of nuclear energy in favor of solar, tidal, wind and geothermal, citing environmental, worker safety, migrant labor, national security, disaster preparedness, foreign policy, government accountability and democratic governance issues to bolster his position. His legacy in this area is continued by his organizational progeny Public Citizen Energy Program. (Wikipedia) ( Frontline Interview)

Ralph Nader, Environment & African Americans

We are not aware of any African American professionals who have ever worked for Ralph Nader's flagship environmental organization, Public Citizen. If anyone has information to the contrary, we will post it here. If we are wrong, we will apologize and delete this article. Admittedly, Nader is an American icon, notwithstanding his obtuse runs for the presidency. Of course, this exclusion of Blacks is par for the course in the environmental movement. In fact, it is just one more of many examples of the anti-Black participation mode of operation that clearly marks the history of the mainstream environmental movement.

UPDATE (6-12-08): [Consider this article deleted] Donna Edwards is quoted in published reports that she worked for Public Citizen. It must have been a very short employment because we never saw anything about it while she was there. And she is not shy. So they, like some of the other groups, have satisfied the 'one Black' rule so now they rarely to never have to hire another one.

Ralph Nader's avoidance of including Blacks is not only consistent with the historical discriminatory practices of traditional green groups, but appears to match the current segregated status of the environmental movement. This is part of a pattern and practice of this $6 billion sector to keep resources and attention away from Blacks and the African American community. The historical hiring practices by the leadership of environmental groups make George Bush look like Martin Luther King, Jr. and make President Bush's Administration look like the NAACP. Ralph Nader resigned from Public Citizen in 1980 and has formed or helped form over 40 other groups. We do not know about the African American composition of the other groups. Now our guess is that instead of simply hiring a Black person, Public Citizen will vilify us or simply ignore the situation like most of the other environmental groups.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

AAEA Participates In Nuclear Power Meeting in Mississippi

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a Public Outreach Meeting on Feb 21, 2008 to discuss the potential Combined Operating License (COL) application for one new nuclear plant at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station. NRC staff discussed safety and environmental review of the anticipated Entergy application for a COL for a Grand Gulf Nuclear Station Unit 3. There are already two units at the facility. They explained what the NRC does during the review of a COL and they described how the public can participate in the process. The meeting was conducted by the Division of New Reactor Licensing.

AAEA President Norris McDonald participated in the meeting and discussed several issues with NRC staff (see videos). Former Congressman and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy also particupated in the meeting. It was held at the Port Gibson City Hall. About 50 people turned out for the meeting but no antinuclear activists participated.

The Grand Gulf COL Application will reference the Early Site Permit (ESP) issued by the NRC on April 5, 2007, which determined the suitability of the Grand Gulf site for construction and operation of a new nuclear plant. The Grand Gulf COL Application will reference the General Electric Hitachi design for the Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR). NRC will not issue a COL before the ESBWR design is certified. Currently two designs are certified: 1) Westinghouse AP 1000 and 2) GE Advance Boiling Water Reactor.

NRC of March 6 Public Meeting Summary

Grand Gulf Unit 3 COL Website

Mississippi Legislature Considers Utility Financing Bill

The Mississippi legislature is considering legislation that would allow utility companies to raise rates before construction begins on certain power plants. Senate Bill 2793 was approved 38-11, but the companion House Bill 1274 is having trouble getting to a vote. Opponents of the bill see it as a unnecessary gift to the utilities, but the utility companies feel they need all the upfront help they can get to finance new plants. Wall Street is balking at financing new coal plants and new nuclear plants are projected to cost as much as $4 billion. That could leave natural gas plants but it will be very expensive.

The Public Service Commission would have to sign off on any rate hike for new construction. Of course, with the economy sputtering and uncertainty all over the electricity generating industry, utilities want all the help they can get to assure reliability.

Global Warming and The Greenhouse Effect

Do you know how this works? Do you really care? The greenhouse effect is a natural process of the Earth. Heat travels from the Sun as visible light and infrared rays, which are long-wave energy. Ultraviolet rays, which burn and tan your skin, are of short wave length. Short wavelength rays pass through the atmosphere and warm the Earth's surface. Long wave infrared is radiated back out into space at night, but certain greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane and water, trap some of the heat by absorbing it. This process helps to keep the Earth warm enough to support human life. It is a natural process.

Global warming is an unnatural process that is caused by human activity putting too much carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, thus absorbing more heat and causing unnatural heating. (Education Presentation)

Africa and President Bush Enjoy Each Other

President Bush visited Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia and was celebrated by the people in each country. Although the mainstream media seemed a little reluctant to show celebratory greetings President Bush received in these countries, the people showed their appreciation for his support. President Bush has a particularly close relationship with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The U.S. has invested $1.5 billion in Liberia in the past five years.

Live Aid promoter Bob Geldof accompanied U.S. Congressional Representative Donald M. Payne (D-NJ), who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, did not accompany the president on the trip. Payne is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Neither did representatives from TransAfrica. The human rights challenges are great other African countries, including Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chd, Uganda and Kenya. Economic opportunites are plentiful in two other large African countries: Nigeria and South Africa.

Drinking Water Cheaper Than Gas, Milk & Starbucks Coffee


.33 gallons of gas (based on $3/gal.)

    .27 gallons of milk ($3.75/gal)

    .125 gallons of bottled water ( $8/gal. or $1.25 for a 20 oz. bottle)

    .08 gallons of Starbucks Coffee ($12.80/gal. or $2 for 20 oz. black coffee)

    342 gallons of WSSC water


Isn't The Chesapeake Bay Foundation On The Shoreline?

Didn't the Chesapeake Bay Foundation move from downtown Annapolis, Maryland to the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay in 1999? Yes they did. Yet wasn't much of their mission to prevent people from moving to the bay shoreline? Now Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) has introduced legislation that would increase penalties for those who illegally build near the bay shoreline. Here is what The Washington Post said:

"In 116 cases since 2005, houses have been illegally built within a protected buffer zone near water, state records show. In two-thirds of the 81 cases city or county officials have allowed the rule breakers to keep what they built."
Maryland passed a 'Critical Areas' law in 1984 to protect Chesapeake Bay shoreline within 1,000 feet of the water. So if African Americans are red-lined along the shoreline, then take the example of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and figure out how to get down there close to the water anyway.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Heating Bills Busting Household Budgets in 2008

Mortgages aren't the only problem. Heating bills are straining U.S. households and putting utilities at the front of the bill collector line. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration (EIA), households are heated:
58% with natural gas
30% with electricity
7% with heating oil
5% with propane
And the average cost of heating a home is:

$ 2,019 for heating oil
$ 1, 691 for propane gas
$ 884 for natural gas
$ 832 for electric heat
AAEA supports the production of a mix of energy types that are used as efficiently as possible and sold at reasonable prices. In order to accomplish this America needs abundant supplies and the installation of appropriate technologies. Price should never be used as a conservation tool. America's might comes from operating on abundant supplies of energy provided at reasonable prices.

Hillary Clinton Promotes Green Jobs

Hillary outlined her Green Jobs plan on Feb 11 at the General Motors Allison Transmission Plant, in White Marsh, Maryland. Hillary's Green Jobs Plan will:

1) Modernize 20 Million Low-Income Homes to Improve Energy Efficiency.
2) Provide emergency energy assistance for Maryland families facing skyrocketing heating bills.
3) Invest $5 billion in accelerated energy efficiency and alternative energy investments to jumpstart green collar job growth.
4) Create a $50 Billion Strategic Energy Fund and Demand that Oil Companies Invest in Clean Energy.
5) Raise Fuel Economy Standards. Hillary has proposed a plan to raise fuel economy standards to 40 mpg by 2020 and 55 mpg by 2030.
6) Help Automakers Retool Plants.
7) Promote Plug-In Hybrids (PHEV).
8) Create a Green Building Fund to Make Public Buildings More Energy Efficient.
9) Train "Green Collar" Workers.

Hillary believes our climate crisis presents us with a significant opportunity to lead us to an energy independent future, of which green-collar jobs are the cornerstone. Senator Clinton already cosponsored legislation that was part of the Energy Security & Independence Act, the Green Jobs Act of 2007. Read more on Hillary's plan to create a Green Jobs revolution. (See also: Climate Change & Energy Plan)

Barack Obama Promoting Green Jobs


Invest In a Clean Energy Economy and Create American Jobs: Invest $150 billion over 10 years to advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of commercial scale renewable energy, invest in low emissions coal plants, and begin transition to a new digital electricity grid. A principal focus of this fund will be devoted to ensuring that technologies that are developed in the U.S. are rapidly commercialized in the U.S. and deployed around the globe.

Create New Job Training Programs for Clean Technologies: Increase funding for federal workforce training programs and direct these programs to incorporate green technologies training, such as advanced manufacturing and weatherization training, into their efforts to help Americans find and retain stable, high-paying jobs. Create an energy-focused youth jobs program to invest in disconnected and disadvantaged youth. This program will provide youth participants with energy efficiency and environmental service opportunities to improve the energy efficiency of homes and buildings in their communities, while also providing them with practical skills and experience in important career fields of expected high-growth employment. Participants will not only be able to use their training to find new jobs, but also build skills that will help them move up the career ladder over time.

New Jobs Through a New National Infrastructure Investment: Rebuild America's national transportation infrastructure – its highways, bridges, roads, ports, air, and train systems – to strengthen user safety, bolster our long-term competitiveness and ensure our economy continues
to grow. Investing in national infrastructure is especially important in our efforts to bolster our homeland security to meet international terrorism and natural disaster threats. Additionally, a robust federal infrastructure investment program today will help strengthen the U.S. economy and provide at least one million more U.S. jobs at a time when the housing and construction industries are slowing. Create a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank to expand and enhance, not supplant, existing federal transportation investments. This independent entity will be directed to invest in our nation’s most challenging transportation infrastructure needs. The Bank will receive an infusion of federal money, $60 billion over 10 years, to provide financing to transportation infrastructure projects across the nation. These projects will create up to two million new direct and indirect jobs per year and stimulate approximately Paid for by Obama for America $35 billion per year in new economic activity. (Obama's Global Warming Mitigation Plan)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Broadband Can Help Reduce Global Warming is promoting broadband as a environmental tool to reduce global warming. Broadband is a transmission method where multiple pieces of data are sent simultaneously to increase the effective rate of transmission and can handle a wide range of frequencies that can be divided into channels. Think using multiple email and surfing multiple websites using Windows, Skype webcam and text, editing a blog and uploading videos to YouTube all at the same time. That's what broadband does.
NextGen has a Broadband is Green page that makes the following points:
  1. Increased deployment of high-speed broadband is likely to increase telecommuting by workers,
  2. Use of broadband applications reduce greenhouse gases by 1 billion tons over 10 years,
  3. Broadband saves the equivalent of 9-14 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year,
  4. Telecommuting can reduce greenhouse gas emission by 248 million tons due to less driving

President Bush & First Lady Laura Bush Off To Africa

Mrs. Bush:

"American business leaders are working to provide safe drinking water for children in Zambia. American schoolteachers are holding book drives to rebuild libraries in Liberia...Across Africa, American citizens like Steve are giving the very personal gifts of their talent and their energy -- and they're saving lives. They represent one of America's most distinguishing characteristics, and that is our sincere desire to see other people succeed."
The President:

"We're going to Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia. Each of these countries is blessed with natural beauty, vibrant culture, and an unmistakable spirit of energy and optimism. Africa in the 21st century is a continent of potential. That's how we view it. I hope that's how our fellow citizens view Africa. It's a place where democracy is advancing, where economies are growing, and leaders are meeting challenges with purpose and determination. Our visit will give me a chance to meet with people who are making the transformation on the continent possible. I'm going to witness the generosity of the American people firsthand. It will give me a chance to remind our fellow citizens about what a compassionate people we are. And I will assure our partners in Africa that the United States is committed to them today, tomorrow, and long into their continent's bright future."
(Full Statement)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

PRESIDENT'S CORNER: Bush's Black History Month Ceremony

By Norris McDonald. President Bush had his annual African American History Month ceremony in the East Room of the White House this afternoon. I was delighted to get an invitation and attend this event, which was also attended by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Transportation Alphonso Jackson, and Rev Al Sharpton, among others. President Bush recognized the contributions of Carter G. Woodson, Congressman John Lewis, William Coleman, and Otis Williams. Entertainment was provided by The Temptations, who sang, The Way You Do The Things You Do, Aint Too Proud To Beg, Ball of Confusion, I Wish It Would Rain, Just My Imagination, Papa Was A Rolling Stone, I Can't Get Next To You and My Girl.

I am always impressed that President Bush takes the time to put on a Black History Month program each year. He calls it African American History Month, which is just fine with us. His statement was very powerful and he put emphasis on the noose issue. See excerpt and link to the full statement below:
"For decades, the noose played a central part in a campaign of violence and fear against African Americans. Fathers were dragged from their homes in the dark of the night before the eyes of their terrified children. Summary executions were held by torchlight in front of hateful crowds. In many cases, law enforcement officers responsible for protecting the victims were complicit in their deeds [sic] and their deaths. For generations of African Americans, the noose was more than a tool of murder; it was a tool of intimidation that conveyed a sense of powerlessness to millions.

The era of rampant lynching is a shameful chapter in American history. The noose is not a symbol of prairie justice, but of gross injustice. Displaying one is not a harmless prank. And lynching is not a word to be mentioned in jest. As a civil society, we must understand that noose displays and lynching jokes are deeply offensive. They are wrong. And they have no place in America today." (Full Statement)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Chronic Electricity Blackouts in South Africa

South Africa is suffering from chronic blackouts and brownouts due to inadequate supply and conflicts between the central government and the country's only real utility company, Eskom. This conflict probably involves post apartheid adjustments, competition for power industry control and incalcitrance on both sides.

South Africa needs an accelerated power plant construction program and increased privatization of the utility industry. The electricity shortages are being attributed to a post-apartheid economic boom. Unfortunately, government prescribed conservation and efficiency programs will not work in providing adequate electricity in a rapidly expanding economy.

Due to the South African government's attempted privatization of Eskom in the late 1990s, Eskom's budget requests to build new stations were denied. Thabo Mbeki admitted in December 2007 that this was an error, and it is now adversely affecting the South African economy. Eskom has introduced load shedding to the country where electricity is cut in different areas on a daily basis based on a rotating schedule. There is also criticism that Eskom exports electricity to neighbouring African states when they don't have the capacity to meet South Africa's demand. The crucial mining industry was forced to shut down for several days at the beginning of 2008 when Eskom warned that it could not guarantee enough power for the service elevators that move miners in and out of the deep shafts. (Wikipedia) (Wash Post)

Friday, February 08, 2008

BioFuels Are Under Attack

Two new studies indicate that biofuels production will make global warming worse.

1) A study by Princeton Univesity, Woods Hole Research Center and Iowa State University concluded that use of corn-based ethanol would produce twice as much greenhouse gas emissions as regular gasoline.

2) A study by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the University of Minnesota found that converting rainforests, peatlands, savannas or grasslands in Southeast Asia and Latin America to produce biofuels will increase global warming.

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) disagrees with the findings of the reports.

One assumption the Princeton report refuted was that biofuels are better than fossil fuels because the carbon released when they were burned was balanced by the carbon absorbed when the plants grew. But the Princeton reports says that the refining and transport process of turning plants into fuels causes its own emissions.

The TNC report says that clearing land causes more greenhouse gas emissions than tradition fossil fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these fuels are taken into account. The destruction of rain forest in the tropics or grasslands in South America releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when they are burned and plowed. Cropland also absorbs far less carbon than the rain forests or scrubland that it replaces. The TNC study also shows that the purchase of biofuels in Europe and America will cause more new land in South America to be cleared as farmers in developing countries try to get in on the profits, so as crops from old fields go for biofuels, even more new fields are cleared to feed people at home.

The recently passed Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) mandated the production of 36 billion gallons of biofuels annually by 2022, compared with about 7.5 billion gallons today. To achieve these volumes, EPA annually calculates the percentage-based standard, which applies to refiners, importers and non-oxygenate blenders of gasoline. Based on the standard, each of these parties determines the minimum volume of renewable fuel that it must use. The RFS program creates new markets for farm products, increases energy security, and promotes the development of advanced technologies that would expand the production of renewable fuels.

Now EPA is raising the 2008 renewable fuels standard (RFS), which determines how much non-petroleum fuel will power your vehicle to 7.76 percent. The move is in response to the EISA, which President Bush signed in December. Last November, EPA announced a RFS of 4.66 percent, based on the Energy Security Act of 2005, that mandated at least 5.4 billion gallons of renewable fuels be blended into the nation's transportation fuels this year. However, EPA is now increasing the standard to 7.76 percent to comply with the new minimum of 9.0 billion gallons of renewable fuel that EISA requires. (More Information) (Wash Post), (NY Times)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Response To Nuclear Leaks Was Very Good By Barack Obama

The New York Times ran an extensive article today on Senator Barack Obama's response to tritium leaks at the Braidwood nuclear plant in his home state of Illinois in 2005. AAEA believes Senator Obama did everything in his power to positively address the leaks at the plant and to protect the public from future leaks. As the article says, when he heard about the leaks

"Mr. Obama scolded Exelon and federal regulators for inaction and introduced a bill to require all plant owners to notify state and local authorities immediately of even small leaks."
Obama led the effort in the Senate to require utilities to notify the public of any unplanned release of radioactive substances. Senator Obama introduced the Nuclear Release Notice Act of 2006 (S 2348), which stated that nuclear plants “shall immediately” notify federal, state and local officials of any accidental release of radioactive material that exceeded “allowable limits for normal operation.” A revised bill passed out of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, but did not pass the full Senate. The revised bill eliminated the requirement for reporting repeated accidental leaks that fell below allowable limits and kept enforcement authority with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and not state or local governments.

AAEA supports the revised legislation (S 2224). AAEA also has a 'zero leak' policy. Nuclear plants should work to assure that there are no accidental radioactive discharges, but where there are unplanned, accidental or unintentional radioactive leaks that exceed allowable Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) limits and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limits, plants should immediately notify state and local authorities and nearby residents. (See also:"Barack Obama On Nuclear Power: Groundwater Leaks.) (AAEA Tour of Clinton, Ill Nuclear Plant)