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EARTHblog

While Japan struggles to avert catastrophe, don't forget nuclear power's hidden costs

By Alan Septoff

March 22, 2011

Given recent events in Japan, it's impossible to remain ignorant of the potential catastrophe associated with nuclear power.

And many have rushed to condemn nuclear power because of the public health and safety risks associated with a catastrophe.

What's been almost lost in this rush:  the less obvious costs of nuclear power.  Costs that, in a truly free market, the nuclear power industry not the public would cover. 

Instead these hidden costs which in some cases are potentially so high as to be incalculable -- are borne by taxpayers, communities and the environment.

Most directly connected to the situation in Japan: private insurers will not cover nuclear power plants.  One catastrophe, and the costs could wipe out an insurance company and its reinsurer.

Unfortunately, rather than allow nuclear power to be priced out of the market as too risky and too expensive, the U.S. government has stepped in with the Price Anderson act. Essentially, Price Anderson makes U.S taxpayers the insurers of the 104 nuclear power plants around the country. Taxpayers for Common Sense recently wrote on the subject in their March 18, 2011 newsletter:

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Tagged with: mining, uranium, nuclear power, price anderson


Gold: Substance, Symbol and Significance

By Bonnie Gestring

March 22, 2011

New York A conference on gold that will examine all aspects of the metal from jewelry design to mining is scheduled to take place at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York on April 8 and 9.

Organized by Initiatives in Art and Culture, a New York-based organization dedicated to educating diverse audiences about fine, decorative and visual arts, the Friday-Saturday conference, called Gold: Substance, Symbol and Significance, will feature a number of key jewelry industry players and executives.

Those scheduled to speak include Victor van der Kwast , head of jewelry for ABN AMRO bank, Bonnie Gestring from Earthworks, Bill Williams of Barrick Gold Corporation, Jewelers of America s Robert Headley, David Lamb, managing director of jewelry for the World Gold Council, and jewelry designers such as Temple St. Clair and Marilyn Cooperman.

During the two-day event, the panelists will address topics including fluctuating gold prices and investment, modern mining and sustainable mining, the impact of the recent conflict minerals legislation and the history and development of gold coins and gold jewelry.

In addition to the speakers, the two-day event will include an evening reception at the Aaron Faber Gallery and a screening of the documentary Red Gold, which details the fight over construction of the proposed Pebble mine along Alaska s Bristol Bay watershed.

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Tagged with: gold, no dirty gold, bristol bay


Drilling industry attacks Texans' property rights on multiple fronts

By Alan Septoff

March 18, 2011

The drilling industry is really trying to give Texas communities, the environment, and property rights (!) the shaft (please pardon mixing my extraction metaphors).

Last week State Senator Tony Fraser introduced SB 875 which would exempt drilling permit holders from state nuisance law.  In a nutshell: if this bill became law, it would turn a permit into a "get out of jail free" card, allowing permit holders to pollute private property -- giving property owners no recourse to sue irresponsible drillers under state nuisance law. 

Learn more about SB 875 and tell the Texas state Senate it's a bad idea.

THIS week the drilling industry, under the auspices of the Texas Railroad Commission, is taking another shot at Texans' property rights.

A proposed change to something known as "rule 37" would widen an already iffy circumstance that allows drillers to take a property owner's mineral rights -- without prior notice, without compensation, and without recourse. 

Sounds like a horror story, right?  The Star-Telegram calls it "eminent domain by another name".  That'd be a good way to describe it, if eminent domain were at the discretion of corporations instead of elected government.

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Tagged with: fracking, hydraulic fracturing, texas, texas railroad commission, rule 37, sb 875


Equation for disaster

By Nadia Steinzor

March 17, 2011

Risk is often defined as a product of two factors: probability and impact. Yet when it comes to the endless quest for fossil fuel energy, it s become all too easy to minimize the latter.

An oil spill on the scale of what happened last year in the Gulf of Mexico was considered so unlikely that BP s drilling operations in the region were exempted from full environmental review. But now there s enough concern about the lasting impacts of what happened that the National Institutes of Health recently launched a major new study to track how residents who assisted with the clean up are faring.

Building nuclear power plants along the coast in a seismically active part of the world may have seemed like a risk worth taking to satisfy Japan s energy needs. Now that the plants are nearing meltdown after a major earthquake and tsunami, this calculation is questionable perhaps particularly from the perspective of the 140,000 people ordered not to go outdoors because of radiation and the plant workers whose lives hang in the balance as they try to prevent further disaster.

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Tagged with: drilling, natural gas, dirty energy, risk


UK MPs table Early Day Motion expressing their Pebble Mine concerns

By Lucy Pearce

March 17, 2011

Five weeks ahead of Anglo American plc's Annual General Meeting in London, MPs from Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Green parties have together co-sponsored an Early Day Motion (EDM 1606). The EDM notes MPs' concern about the proposed 'Pebble Mine' in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and calls on the Government Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to meet Anglo American plc to discuss these concerns.

Following a meeting between Alaska Natives and Martin Horwood MP (Lib Dem) in his role as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tribal Peoples (APPG) in November 2010, he has now tabled the EDM, co-sponsored by fellow APPG members Peter Bottomley (Cons), Jeremy Corbyn (Lab), and Caroline Lucas (Green), plus Mark Durkan (Social Democratic and Labour Party).

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Tagged with: gold, anglo american, pebble, copper, mine, uk


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