czar palin, crude nuke, & deceit

I’ve been picking up a new book my sis sent down from Denver post-convention. It’s about energy. More specifically, it’s a hyper-annotated challenge to these isolationist chanters enervating over energy “independence” who have have grown so pervasive of late. It’ll likely be one of those great love-hate reads that pushes me to grouse, kvetch, and argue into some new realizations.

Gusher of Lies. Recommended. If I don’t get distracted by another interpretation of UK punk (in)validity by then — how did Bush put it this week? — “this sucker’s going down.”

As talk of offshore crude mastery buzzes along with all the damage potential of a spinning sawblade in an origami camp, dirtier truths have, like those Outer Continental Shelf formations, a long way to bubble before finding the light of critical thought. These days, I’m wondering if the debate will reach even surface intelligence.

I wrote recently of the media’s role in this deception. I’m dumbfounded that post hasn’t already set the ship aright. Sure, I understand there is an economy to socialize, a “debate” to host, and increasingly bizarre clips of this funny Alaska woman to ogle, but you have to know you are just setting me up as that irritating longhair who will one day turn to you in the bread line to say, “So there. Told ya.” (Of course, you won’t remember me by then. The grime of our national decline will cling too tightly, limiting neuronic recall.)

A big part of the new view may also be obscured from the blinking “Palin: Energy Czar” neonized in the political ad-mosphere.

Not something to forget lightly, before we slip into our introspecting bar stools for another shot of painkiller.

Those forgoing anesthetic gathered in Boerne last night at the at the Texas Water Symposium to peer into the waterless future increasingly locked in by our ambitious, earth-cratering Hill Country development patterns.

These are my heroes. Somehow able to confront and discuss the monster that so soon will be eating their collective lunches. Then again… there is power in such union. Try some union yourself this week and just try to tell me otherwise.

Meanwhile… “Most sensitive” marketing of the week simply has to go to Jim’s on Broadway for advertising that “A Burger And Shake Is Hurriane Relief.” As if the industrial swill coffee weren’t bad enough.

From the nukefront

Maybe its because of local understanding of their downstream situation. Maybe the paper’s business minds have some circulation goals for surrounding counties. Whatever it is, I am one of many appreciating the regular updates from Victoria on uranium mining in South Texas

While they were quoting uber-environmental attorney Jim Blackburn on the toxic legacy of in-situ uranium mining, Uranium Energy Corp. was using the PR Newswire to alert potential investors as to their recent endorsement by Texas Parks & Wildlife.

For real?

Uranium Energy Corp is also pleased to announce that it has received official acknowledgment from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) that the Company’s proposed uranium recovery operation will not have an impact on natural resources.

Blackburn is citing TCEQ data. What exactly did Texas Parks ignoramusi consult?

Here’s where the Victoria story opens:

GOLIAD – The county needs to be concerned about the quality of its water after uranium mining is completed, a lawyer said Monday.

Texas historically allows uranium mining companies to amend the levels of minerals in restored groundwater once mining operations are complete said Jim Blackburn, Goliad County’s lawyer concerning uranium mining.

These levels are routinely greater than those established during the mining permit process, Blackburn told the commissioners court.

According to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality records, 51 requests for “amended restoration tables to make them higher” have been granted out of 80 uranium mining production areas. The data include uranium mining permits issued during the last “20 or 30 years,” Blackburn said.

“I think this study is quite important in terms of giving you information about what the past practices have been. I think this is a reason for concern about the mining process and the certainty about the administration of the mining process so far by the state,” Blackburn said.

Very different takes on what elevated uranium levels mean. With wildlife sold downriver, guess we’ll have to wait and see now what TCEQ rules on the human tolerance in Goliad’s teetering drinking-water aquifer.

Where are the candidates on stem cells, nukes, cancer research, and climate change? Check out SCIENCE DEBATE, 2008.

Then, there is this alert from Public Citizen.

Application to Expand Comanche Peak Nuclear Plant Should Not Be Accepted

Reactor Design Is Not Yet Certified

AUSTIN, Texas – Luminant Energy’s application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to build two uncertified reactors at the Comanche Peak nuclear plant southwest of Fort Worth is premature and should not be accepted, two public interest organizations said today.

Luminant, formerly part of TXU Energy, today applied to build two US-Advanced Pressurized Water Reactors (US-APWR). Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. submitted the US-APWR design for certification on Dec. 31, 2007, but the NRC has not completed the design certification process and does not expect to until 2012.

While this and other reactor designs are far from complete, the NRC recently streamlined the process for new reactor approval and licensing. Previously, companies had to apply separately for a construction license and operating license. Those two processes have been combined, and the NRC pre-approved several reactor designs from which companies could select. However, Luminant has chosen a design that has not been approved.

“The NRC is speeding reactors through the licensing process as quickly as it can, even to the point of accepting half-baked, incomplete license applications,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of the Texas office of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. “With skyrocketing construction costs, a shaky economy and dubious investor outlook, the nuclear industry and the NRC are trying to pull a fast one on the public and are setting up to pick the public’s pockets once again.”

And: Multinational Monitor’s subsidy write-up.

Nuclear’s Power Play: Give Us Subsidies or Give Us Death

Most energy analysts in the early- and mid-1990s assumed nuclear power in the United States was dying a slow death. Utilities were saddled with unmanageable debt, mainly from the $60 billion in cost overruns and plant shutdowns due to the industry’s misadventures in the 1970s (when nukes were promoted as a solution to crippling high oil prices and calls for energy independence). Components in aging plants were failing, solutions to highly radioactive waste were non-existent, and the industry was still haunted by the Chernobyl catastrophe and the near meltdown of Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island reactor. And Enron’s electricity deregulation push appeared to be the final stake in the heart of nuclear, as it was understood that the “competition” unleashed by deregulation’s “free markets” would deliver on Enron’s promise of vastly lower prices and drive expensive, antiquated nukes into the dustbin of history.

To top it off, 9/11 and its aftermath placed nuclear power facilities at-risk as targets, which prompted some to begin writing nuclear’s obituary. After all, 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others boasted that Al Qaeda had commercial nuclear reactors on their hit lists.

But a funny thing happened on the way to nuclear’s funeral. In 2008, nuclear power is on the brink of a revival, as unprecedented federal subsidies offered as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, combined with generous state incentives, have triggered a race to build the first commercial nuclear reactor in the United States in a generation.

Stay strong. Get carbon-free.

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