Monday, March 31, 2008

Center Promoting Brazil-PG County Sister City Partnership

The Center for Environment, Commerce & Energy (Center) is proposing a Sister City partnership between Pedreira City, located in São Paulo County, Brazil and Prince George's County, located just outside of Washington, D.C. The principle basis for the partnership will be a mentor/protege recycling program and a parallel environmental education program. Secondary partnership activities will include English and Portuguese education and sports. The partnership will promote soccer in Prince George's County and baseball and football in Pedreira. (Complete Program Description)

Prince Georges County Executive Jack Johnson below left and Pedreira Aerial View below right

Pedreira currently produces 25 tons of trash per year and the local population is still unfamiliar with separating trash from reuseable materials. Pedreira City seeks to develop strong recycling and environmental education programs in order for the community to have a program to protect their environment. Some materials previously thrown into the sanitary landfill are now being recycled, but it is not sufficient to reduce the waste. Pedreira City is seeking professionals that can help to organize the collection and reprocessing of recyclable materials, the dissemination educational information to the public and training programs.

The Center will promote this Sister Cities Program between Pedreira City (PC) and Prince George's County (PGC) in order to fulfill our commitment to 'think globally and act locally.' The Center was contacted by a representative of Pedreira's Selective Collection agency and we agreed to work together to promote a Sister City Recycling program between Pedreira City and Prince George's County. Pedreira city is a small city with approximately 40,000 people and many of its inhabitants are ready to work for a better world and environment. Prince George's County has about 900,000 inhabitants.

The Christie Todd Whitman Nuclear Power Conundrum

Christie Todd Whitman, left, seems to be missing in action on the front lines of the fight to renew construction of nuclear power plants. She is the former administrator of the EPA and former governor of New Jersey. She is cochair of a nuclear industry coalition created to promote nuclear power, but we have observed that she is MIA on numerous battle fronts. Maybe the industry is assuming the nuclear renaissance many are 'talking about' will be a walk-over. We think with a very shaky economy and a possible shift in national political leadership combined with increasing plant costs and the monolithic opposition of the entire environmental movement, that an extremely small bench of active individual environmentalist supporters cannot afford to have any players on the backbench. Let's see:

Nuclear Regulatory Commission hearings and meetings: No

Network Television News Programs: No

Major newspaper articles: No

Oyster Creek (New Jersey) License Renewal campaign: No

NEI Nuclear Notes Blog: Rarely

These are just a few of more examples we could cite. Considering the nonexistent environmental activist support for nuclear power, one would think that all troops would be completely engaged in outreach. Only two American environmentalists are actively supporting nuclear power: 1) Whitman and 2) Center President Norris McDonald. Again, Whitman's role seems to be quite limited, particularly compared to her Canadian co-chair. It is probably none of our business but since our outreach arm is fighting hard on the front lines to the extent we can, it is curious to us that Whitman is not utilized more in the numerous activities related to relicensing and pending proposals for new plant licenses. Just wondering.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Angry About Our Failure To Reprocess Spent Nuclear Fuel

PRESIDENT'S CORNER. By Norris McDonald. For some unknown reason I woke up angry this morning about how our country seems to have gone soft on building state-of-the-art infrastructure. Even the Space Shuttle will be retired in 2010 and we do not have a replacement. But that is not the source of my frustration and anger. My anger originates from our country's slow pace of building new nuclear power plants, snail-like pace in licensing and opening Yucca Mountain and our country's refusal to reprocess spent nuclear fuel. France reprocesses its spent nuclear fuel. I visited their state-of-the-art facility late last year (see photo below). Well later with anger; something must be done and we have been doing it through the Nuclear Fuels Reprocessing Coalition (NFR Coalition). I am the Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of the coalition.

La Hague Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Facility - Normandy, France

Standing feet above reprocessed nuclear fuel (I'm in the middle)

[Rest of tour party not members of NFR Coalition]

The Nuclear Fuels Reprocessing Coalition was established in 2004 to promote the construction and operation of nuclear fuels reprocessing facilities. NFR promotes reprocessing commercial spent nuclear fuel that is generated by commercial nuclear power plants. Reprocessing dramatically reduces the amount of high-level radioactive waste that would have to be stored in a geologic repository. We also support reprocessing plutonium and highly enriched uranium from nuclear warheads into fuel for use in commercial nuclear power plants.

The NFR Coalition is working to amend the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 with the Nuclear Waste Management Agency Act of 2008 to establish the United States Nuclear Waste Management Agency to manage all Federal and civilian spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste management programs currently under the control of the United States Department of Energy; to establish and operate low-level radioactive waste receipt, supplementary segregation, treatment and burial or monitored/retrievable storage facilities on a fee basis; and to promote spent nuclear fuel reprocessing as a viable technology to aid in achieving and maintaining our national security and National Energy Policy goals, and for its potential to significantly reduce the total volume of radioactive waste designated for disposal in a Federal geologic repository.

The importance of our proposal is clearly illustrated by recent events. In 2007 the U.S. Department of the Interior decided to disapprove the Goshute Private Fuels Storage LLC (PFS) lease and the use of public lands for an Intermodal Transfer Facility (ITF) in Utah. The ITF would have been a temporary facility to store spent nuclear fuel rods. The DOI was jointly sued by PFS (a consortium of eight electric utility companies) and the Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians in the federal court. Utilities are also suing over the delay in opening Yucca Mountain.

The U.S. Court of Claims decided in favor of Xcel Energy (formerly Northern States Power) for the sum of $116.5 million in Xcel's lawsuit against the Department of Energy over the federal government's failure to open the Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility on time. Northern States Power originally filed the suit in 1998. DOE failed to provide suitable off-site commercial spent nuclear fuel (SNF) disposal to the commercial nuclear utilities per the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1987; yet to date, over $30 billion dollars (including interest) has been paid into the Nuclear Waste Fund by the electric utility ratepayers.

Unfortunately, the projected date for completion of the geologic repository by the DOE to begin emplacement of SNF has recently been revised from 2010 to a new projected date of 2017, while the original Congressionally mandated date for having a geologic repository available was 1998. A fee of 1/10th of one cent (one mil) per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by each nuclear power plant is paid into the fund. All settlements against the DOE are paid by the Judgement Fund, which is funded by our tax dollars. Understand why I am angry?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Russian Steelmaker Buys Old Bethlehem Steel Site

Severstal, Russia's largest steelmaker, run by billionaire Alexei Mordashov, is purchasing the Sparrows Point steel mill southeast of Baltimore for $810 million, fulfilling an antitrust mandate that Arcelor Mittal divest itself of the Mittal Steel plant. The purchase places Severstal among the five largest U.S. steel producers.

Sparrows Point is the only integrated flat-rolled steel plant on the East Coast and is the only such plant with its own deepwater port. Sparrows Point has a capacity of 3.6 million metric tons of crude steel and shipped 2.3 million metric tons of finished steel products in 2007. Mittal Steel, owned by Indian billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, merged with Luxembourg-based Arcelor in 2006 to form Arcelor Mittal, the world's biggest steel company. It agreed to relinquish the Baltimore plant to resolve Justice Department antitrust concerns.

Bethlehem Steel owned Sparrows Point from the early 1900s until the company declared bankruptcy. In 2003 the plant was purchased by International Steel Group (ISG), which merged with LTV Steel to create the largest U.S. steel producer. Mittal bought ISG for about $4.5 billion in 2004, merging it with his Ispat International and LNM Holdings. Then in 2006, Mittal merged with Arcelor, prompting the divestment. (The Washington Post)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Verizon & AT&T Win Government Airways Auction

The auction for cellphone airways space, overseen by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), attracted a record $19.6 billion in bids. The top two bidders were the nation's two largest cellphone carriers: Verizon and AT&T. Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon Communications and the British telecom giant, Vodaphone Group.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Our Carbon Dioxide Reduction (CDR) Program

The Center for Environment, Commerce & Energy (Center) has established a Carbon Dioxide Reduction (CDR) Program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles by recruiting companies and individuals to participate in a flexible work schedule that will primarily include telecommuting, but could also utilize other practices and technologies. Total emissions of carbon dioxide in the United States and its territories were 5,795.6 million metric tons in 2002, according to the Energy Information Administration . Carbon dioxide emissions from the transportation sector, at 1,849.7 million metric tons, accounted for 32.3 percent of total U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2002. (EIA)

The Carbon Dioxide Reduction Program is designed to reduce emissions of the primary greenhouse gas from vehicles by promoting the use of broadband telecommuting to take vehicles off of the road, thus eliminating the CO2 that would have otherwise been emitted during the drive to and from work. The Center will work with other companies, institutions and organizations to recruit participants for the program. The Center will partner with a primary partner companies (PCP) that are promoting a broadband-based climate change program to serve as a verification entity for our participant recruiting. The Center will market CDR Program allowances through our Carbon Mercantile Exchange (CMX)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Verizon Examines Broadband For Climate Change Mitigation

Verizon is examing how broadband can be used 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. Broadband makes it possible to use multiple applications at once, such as email, surfing multiple websites using Windows, Skype webcam and text, editing a blog and uploading videos to YouTube all at the same time. Broadband makes it possible for you to work from home or even run a virtual office from home.

The Verizon Policy Blog has an article by Link Hoewing, Vice President, Internet & Technology Issues, that illustrates the possibilities for the wide adoption and use of broadband as an important tool in addressing major environmental issues like climate change. Mr. Hoewing identifies various studies that describe how broadband can be an effective tool for environmental protection. One study shows how:

"intelligent technologies" that more precisely calibrate energy use; make cars, appliances, buildings, airplane engines, and industrial processes more energy efficient; and assist in reducing the need for energy-intensive travel can significantly cut back on the use of carbon based fuels. Many of the examples in that report rely on broadband and communications networks to produce results.
Another study:

identifies ways in which broadband can reduce or avoid energy use – totaling up to 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions - over the next 10 years.
Hoewing cites other studies that:

point to the positive and significant impacts widespread broadband deployment and use could have as part of the solution to our environmental problems. Indeed, as the strategy for achieving deep reductions in greenhouse gas is developed, it would make little sense to overlook the role of a national and global network that is, even today, changing the way we live, work and play—and how that has fundamentally effected energy usage.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

President Bush Speaks At Renewables Energy Conference

Today, President Bush spoke to the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference and discussed the importance of renewable and alternative energy technologies to increasing America's energy security and addressing the long-term challenge of global climate change. The more sources of energy we have, the less influence any one of them, such as oil, has over the United States' security and prosperity. Renewable energies are some of the most promising new sources for energy because they are clean and because their supply can be regenerated. The Washington International Renewable Energy Conference brings together government, civil society, and private sector leaders to address benefits and costs of the global deployment of renewable energy technology.

In December, President Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, which responded to his "Twenty in Ten" challenge in last year's State of the Union Address to improve vehicle fuel economy and increase alternative fuels.

· The Renewable Fuels Mandate will increase the use of renewable fuels by 500 percent – requiring fuel producers to supply at least 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel in the year 2022.
· The Vehicle Fuel Economy Mandate specifies a national mandatory fuel economy standard of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, which will save billions of gallons of fuel and increase efficiency by 40 percent.

Additionally, the Act advances the following efficiencies:

· The Lighting Efficiency Mandate will phase out the use of incandescent light bulbs by 2014, and improve lighting efficiency by more than 70 percent by 2020.
· The Appliance Efficiency Mandate sets over 45 new standards for appliances.
· The Federal Government Operations Mandate will reduce the energy consumption of Federal Government facilities 30 percent by 2015. Additionally, all new Federal buildings will be carbon-neutral by 2030.


U.S. EPA Launches Multimedia Portal

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched a new Multimedia Portal, which is its one-stop location for environmental video, audio/podcasts, and photography. The portal also includes interactive features such as “Ask EPA” and the Deputy Administrator's blog, “Flow of the River.” Another feature called"EPA in Action" goes behind-the-scenes; following the diverse jobs performed by the EPA workforce and examines some of the most pressing environmental issues facing our nation today.

Viewing video is integrated into the site using flash player, while photos of events and EPA work will be posted in a series of online galleries. Users may also subscribe to several podcast series or select from a number of individual podcasts featuring EPA experts and senior officials. This new multimedia portal is an important resource for the public, journalists, academia, local governments and the environmentalcommunity. The portal will help increase awareness of important news items through an intuitive, media-rich focus, rather than through traditional electronic print.