A cautionary tale of the unintended consequences of stopping fossil fuels without addressing the problem of overconsumption and demand for energy. And yet another example of why we need to fundamentally address the system driving ecological destruction and climate change and not just promote bandaids.
In Tennessee, Time Comes for a Nuclear Plant Four Decades in the Making
By MATTHEW L. WALD
Cooling towers rise above two adjacent nuclear reactors, Watts Barr 1 and 2. Construction on the second was suspended in 1988 and resumed in 2007.CreditShawn Poynter for The New York Times
SPRING CITY, Tenn. — When the Tennessee Valley Authority first ordered Watts Bar 2, the nuclear reactor now approaching completion here, demand for electricity was growing at 7 percent a year and coal supplies were uncertain. The mercury, soot and acid rain that coal produced were simply accepted as the way things were, and many of the people who now worry about global warming had not yet been born.
But that was 1970. Today nearly all of that is reversed as Watts Bar 2, the nuclear industry’s version of a time traveler, prepares to begin operations. Now there is barely any growth in electricity demand, and plenty of coal, but most aging coal-burning plants need expensive cleaning or replacement. Thus the reactor, the T.V.A. reasons, is arriving at an opportune moment, even if almost every projection made over the last 44 years has proved wrong. With halting progress amid changing projections, construction has taken longer than that for the Panama Canal or the Great Pyramid of Cheops.
Vineyards around Seneca Lake. Wikipedia via EcoWatch.
The Finger Lakes region of NY, one of the most beautiful regions of the state, has been fighting for a while now against the development of its underground salt caverns for the storage of fracked gas from Pennslyvania. Those in the fight cite the many reasons not to store this volatile gas underneath any community, least of one of the treasures of the state.
Despite their efforts, federal regulators have approved the expansion of methane gas storage.
Brushing aside warnings of dangerous geological risk, federal regulators say construction can start immediately on a methane gas storage project next to Seneca Lake that has galvanized opposition from wine and tourism businesses across the Finger Lakes in upstate New York.
The Sept. 30 decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) represents a major breakthrough for Houston-based Crestwood Midstream. The company has been waging a five-year campaign for permission to convert long-abandoned lakeside salt caverns into a regional storage hub for both methane gas and liquid petroleum gas, or LPG, from fracking operations in Pennsylvania.
The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department made the decision to issue a voluntary evacuation within a one mile radius of the reported incident. We appreciate the cooperation of residents and encourage people to follow instructions from first responders so that we maintain a safe work area.
But Trans Canada has an info center opened now, so it’s okay. This event might seem small in many ways–no injuries, limited population affected–but it’s exactly this type of event that shows the threat to fence-line communities throughout the US and the world.
Williston, VT - Two men were arrested yesterday afternoon after chaining themselves to pipe being laid for Vermont Gas’ fracked gas pipeline. The action took place a day before the Vermont Public Service Board begins a process which could result in the revoking of the permits required for Vermont Gas to continue construction. Construction was halted around 3:45, and did not resume for the rest of the day. The two men were charged and released.
“Vermont Gas lied,” said Will Bennington, a spokesperson for Rising Tide Vermont. “They’ve lied about the climate and environmental impacts of the project, they’ve lied to landowners and broken promises, and now they’ve lied about the cost of this project. The Public Service Board, and ultimately Governor Shumlin, have no reason to believe Vermont Gas is acting in the public good.”
In July, Vermont Gas announced a 40 percent increase in the cost of construction for Phase 1 of the fracked gas pipeline. The company hopes to pass this cost on to ratepayers, increasing the price of gas at a time when many Vermonters are already struggling to heat their homes.
Demonstrators oppose the pipeline because it will lock Vermont communities into decades more of dirty fossil fuel use, at a time when a rapid transition away from fossil fuels and extreme energy use is needed. They are also concerned with impacts to local landowners and the lack of transparency surrounding the permitting process.
The Public Service Board is hosting a hearing tomorrow in Montpelier to decide whether or not to re-open the company’s Certificate of Public Good.
“This isn’t the beginning, and this isn’t the end,” Bennington said. “We are going to continue to do everything we can to stop this pipeline. It is morally reprehensible to be building new fossil fuel infrastructure in this day and age, especially in a state that has already banned fracking.”
View from the Henry David T. as it approaches the Brayton Point Power Station. (Photo: Courtesy of #coalisstupid)
On Monday, a Massachusetts DA dropped charges, including a conspiracy charge, pending on two men who blockaded a coal shipment with their lobster boat. The DA seemed to accept in advance the activists’ expected “necessity defense” when he came out of the court citing his acceptance of climate change as a very real and present danger for dropping the charges. More useful precedents for all the other climate and anti-fossil fuel activists facing courts?
Peruvian police block the way to people carrying the coffins of three of the demonstrators who died during the protests against the Conga mining project in Celendin, Cajamarca, Peru, on July 6, 2013. Source: Ernesto Benavides/AFP/GettyImages
WW4 reports on a series of violent and deadly attacks on environmental protestors in Peru, at protests against pipelines and mines in particular. This included the death of a 16-year-old boy. The UN has criticized the “disproportionate use of force” against Indigenous protestors.
The UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Sept. 2 issued a statement expressing “concern” about the “disproportionate use of force” against indigenous protesters in Peru. (Celendin Libre, AIDESEP, Sept. 2) The statement came the same day that a 16-year-old protester, Jhapet Claysont Huilca Pereira, was shot dead by National Police troops at Santa Teresa village in the Valley of La Convención, Cuzco region, during a protest against construction of the Gasoducto Sur Peruano through local lands.
Yesterday, residents of the Seattle area worked with Rising Tide Seattle to block train tracks right in front of an oil train, stalling it for 8 hours.
Rising Tide did an excellent summary of the dramatic events, also captured on their Twitter feed. Their summary, though, also puts this event into the context of the Northwest fossil fuel industry and the summer of oil train protests.
SEATTLE ACTIVISTS MOUNT TRIPOD – STOP EXPLODING OIL TRAINS
By Rising Tide North America, September 2, 2014.
Five residents of Seattle and Everett, WA, working with Rising Tide Seattle, have stopped work at a Burlington Northern Santa-Fe Rail Yard in Everett by erecting a tripod-structure on the outbound railroad tracks, directly in front of a mile-long oil train.
Seattle resident Abby Brockway – a small business owner, and mother – is suspended from the structure 18 feet above the tracks while four other residents are locked to the legs the tripod. The group is demanding an immediate halt to all shipments of fossil fuels through the Northwest and calling on Governor Inslee to reject permits for all new fossil fuel projects in Washington, including proposed coal and oil terminals.