(March 30, 2011)
The White House Blog
In a speech at Georgetown University Wednesday, President Obama pledged that in a little more than a decade from now, the US will have cut the 11 billion barrels of oil imported daily when he took office by one third. He put forth a plan to produce more oil at home and reduce overall dependence on oil through alternative fuels and increased efficiency. To help achieve this, the Obama Administration has released a Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future (pdf), aimed to:
- Develop and secure America’s energy supplies
- Provide consumers with choices to reduce costs and save energy
- Innovate our way to a clean energy future
(Published March 16, last updated March 30th)
New York Times
This article continually updates the situation of each of the 6 reactors at the Fukushima Power Plant. Four of the building have been damaged from explosions, and none have operated since the quake. The danger now concerns the melting and radioactive release of fuel and spent fuel in the reactors and buildings.
(March 21, 2011)
New York Times
Just one month before the earthquake and tsunami that proved disastrous for the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, a 10- year extension was granted by government officials for the oldest of 6 reactors, despite warnings for its safety. The Tokyo Electric Power Company admitted that it failed to inspect 33 pieces of equipment related to the cooling system, and has since the earthquake struggled to “keep the reactor and spent fuel pool from overheating and emitting radioactive materials.” This extension also reflects “a global trend in which aging plants have been granted longer lives.”
Nuclear Power Situation in the US
The recent nuclear disaster in Japan has caused many nations to take a closer, harder look at nuclear energy and alternatives. Here are some of the recent happenings, releases, updates, and a comic, from the US:
(March 31, 2011)
New York Times, by Peter Behr of ClimateWire
“The nuclear crisis in Japan provides an impetus for Congress to confront a failed national policy on dealing with spent fuel from U.S. reactors, witnesses told a Senate subcommittee yesterday.” Current policy concludes that spent fuel can be stored at sites for up to a century. Witnesses called the treatment of spent fuel “unfathomable”, stated that proper risk management of spent fuel has “utterly failed”, and found a lack of national policy troublesome.
(March 30, 2011)
New York Times
In his speech at Georgetown University, President Obama called for a 1/3 reduction in American consumption of oil over the next 10 years. He asserted that nuclear power will remain an important part of this plan as it provides one fifth of current electricity supplies and does not emit carbon dioxide. He stated that he was determined to make sure that it was safe, and that “he had directed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to undertake a comprehensive safety review of the 104 reactors now operating in the United States.”
(March 29, 2011)
The Associated Press
The potential for increased public interest and government subsidies in alternative and renewable energy sources in the wake of the recent nuclear disaster may represent increased opportunity for the “fast-growing solar industry.” After mass anti-nuclear protests in Germany following the quake, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced new investments in renewable energy and a planned phase-out of nuclear power. Last week, US based solar stocks rose above average, and Kaufman Bros. analyst Jeffrey Bencik predicts renewed public support for the development of renewable energy technologies, a decrease in the relative price of solar and wind energy as more investment enters the market, and an overall benefit to solar companies.
(March 22, 2011)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) is calling for closure of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, located 38 miles from New York City, stating “This plant in this proximity to the city was never a good risk.”
CNN has released a map showing the nuclear power plant locations throughout the US.
March 21, 2001
(March 30, 2011)
The Senate votes Wednesday on measures to block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. Many Republicans and businesses support the bill, while many Democrats and environmental groups do not.
McConnell-Inhofe-Upton (R-KY,OK,MI), Amendment #183 would gut the Clean Air Act indefinitely for carbon pollution, overturning EPA’s scientific finding that climate change is a threat to public health. Inhofe has stated that he plans to attach the proposal to as many bills as he can.
Rockefeller (D-WV), Amendment #215 – guts Clean Air Act provisions that regulate big polluters like coal plants. It’s branded as a two-year “delay,” but it would likely result in an indefinite halt to coal plant regulations.
Baucus (D-MT), Amendment #236 – weakens climate rules for industrial polluters and big agriculture.
Stabenow (D-MI), floated last night, this measure would include similar rollbacks to Rockefeller, but with extra exemptions for big ag, and funds for manufacturing. It’s unclear whether or not this bill will receive a vote.
Gas price snake oil: Fred Upton’s EPA-blocking bill will put more of your money in oil industry pockets.
(March 14, 2011)
Natural Resources Defense Council Staff Blog
While Republicans are claiming that EPA regulations will raise gas prices at the pump, Natural Resources Defense Council’s David Doniger states that the opposite is true. Nullifying the EPA’s clean car standards will result in more gasoline consumption by all vehicles and a higher price at the pump.
Along similar lines, a Grist article: Bingaman tells the truth about gas prices, is lonely in doing so highlights a statement by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) that emphasized that the only real way to ease the burdens of high domestic gas prices is to become less vulnerable to oil price-changes, which can only happen by using less oil.
(February 24, 2011)
USDA Agricultural Research Service
In experimental wheat fields in Maricopa, AZ, infrared heaters were installed to simulate expected growing conditions in the year 2050. The increased heat had effects on a variety of necessary growing conditions, but effects on yield depended on when the wheat was planted. Full results are “published in Global Change Biology, [and] will provide guidance to growers on how to adjust planting schedules as the climate warms.”