Archive for category Energy Solutions

A Grand Farewell to ALEC

Was Alec Baldwin in Salt Lake? I didn’t hear anything on the news. 🙂

He/she/it wouldn’t give a single interview to the press and prefer to remain unknown. How many freedoms did we lose this week?


Terrorists Bring Deadly Nuclear Weapons Material to Utah

Depleted uranium is obtained during the process of destroying nuclear weapons. Depleted uranium was used in the first Gulf War. The United States coated with depleted uranium, 1000 anti-tank artillery projectiles and the Brit’s 100. A depleted uranium missile cuts through a tank like a hot knife through butter. At the moment of impact the missile so coated turns what was a tank into thousands of shards of radioactive porcelain, which spreads over the vast sands of that sad state, virtually forever. Now, in Gulf War II, the numbers are hugely greater. Iraqi and now Afghanistan’s people are literally, cooked. Young Iraqi and Afghan women, in their sandals, trudging though the sands, will die terrible deaths. Their children, those who live, may well be born with savage birth defects. Afghan and Iraqi peoples will suffer through endless centuries for our wars of aggression. Birth defects in Fallujah have already increased ten fold.

In simpler times, a state would declare war and thereafter the war would end. Now, we make wars upon whole nations though a very small number of combatants are our supposed enemies. These the macabre gifts that keep on giving for hundreds of years, thousands of years, and in the case of depleted uranium, for millions of years. We are, in effect, making wars that will never end. Thousands of years from now, we will still be slaughtering people in these two wars of choice gifted us by two presidents named George Bush.

Now our leaders want us to accept millions of tons of depleted uranium here in Utah. Depleted uranium is in fact already here. Much more is on the way. We are now being told that foreign waste will be on the way too. And we find that the state of Utah has no real choice in this matter. Our two Senators from Energy Solutions, Hatch and Bennett, protect their money spigot by lamenting that our cause is just but they can do nothing for us, pointing to Utah politicians. Police power, that is, the power and the obligation to protect our health and well-being, does reside here and the Governor should stop all trains with depleted uranium and demand that the train turn right around and go back where this deadly poison came from. But real power is with Hatch and Bennett. The Commerce Power of Congress will trump anything the state can do to preclude entry of this most toxic of poisons. These two villains are bought and paid by Energy Solutions. One of our congressmen has been a paid employee of Energy/Solutions. Hatch and Bennett are the only people who have the law…the Commerce Clause…by which all these issues will be judged and determined.

If Osama Bin Laden and his henchmen had planned this idea of bringing nuclear material into our country’s innards he would be captured and imprisoned. Just how do the owners and all who profit by destroying our land, water, and all life forms, and the politicians who make this atrocity possible, stay out of jail when quite obviously they are among the most successful terrorists in our history?

Ed Firmage
Salt Lake City, Utah



Energy Solutions moves one step closer to importing Italian nuclear waste

nukeOn Friday, U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart ruled that an interstate compact designed to keep nuclear waste out of the state of Utah doesn’t have authority to do so. “Congress established compacts in 1980s so states would band together to dispose of their own radioactive waste in an effort to ensure that no one state would become a national dumping ground for the toxic material. ”

Governor Huntsman had used Utah’s veto power under the compact to prevent ES from importing nuclear waste from Italy. ES sued saying the compact could not regulate a private facility. The judge agreed. It certainly begs the question what can the compact regulate?

EnergySolutions Inc. wants to import up to 20,000 tons of low-level radioactive waste from Italy. After processing in Tennessee, about 1,600 tons would be disposed of in Utah.

If approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the waste would be imported through the ports of Charleston, S.C. or New Orleans.

The company’s pending import license application drew an unprecedented number of public comments, most in opposition.

Tom Clements, Southeastern Nuclear Campaign Coordinator for the environmental group Friends of the Earth, said Saturday he’s encouraging port officials and unions to use all legal means to keep the waste from coming on shore.

“Italy and the rest of the world must deal with their own radioactive waste and not continue irresponsible attempts to dump their dangerous material here,” said Clements, who is based in Columbia, S.C.

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Bailing Out from Opportunity

The new “Bailout” talk is all about the auto industry. Should they be bailed out? Shouldn’t they? How much? What method? Why?

Here is the first question that pops into my head on the issue: When was the last time you heard good news about the American auto industry? If you can’t think of a time, do you really want to loan them money?

Read the rest of this entry »


The opportunity cost of Iraq

The New York Times reports on March 19 that whereas the Bush administration sold the Iraq war to the congress as a $50 billion investment, the actual costs are more like–

1.) ultra-conservative Pentagon estimate: $600 billion and counting

(note: this Honest Abe estimate categorically excludes “extras” such as operations in the war zone, support for troops, repair or replacement of equipment, reservists’ salaries, special combat pay for regular forces and some care for wounded veterans)

2.) Congressional Budget Office: $1 to $2 TRILLION

3.) Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz: over $4 TRILLION

–see Iraq War costs chart

Let’s stay for the moment with the most conservative estimate–that of our Honest Abe Pentagon.

Six hundred billion dollars for a war to protect ourselves from non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

With utmost caution and deference one may venture to ask: MIGHT there have been a wiser way to invest this money?

For the answer, let us turn to the book, Plan B 3.0, by Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute.

Lester Brown is a professional natural resource economist who has spent the past quarter century compiling and skillfully synthesizing massive quantities of data on global social and environmental problems and possible solutions to those problems.

His latest and most important contribution has been a lucid, rational, detailed, comprehensive plan for restoring the living environment of our entire planet, using existing, proven technology to convert, “at wartime speed”, from our wasteful, extremely dangerous and highly unstable dependency upon foreign sources of fossil fuels, to a fully sustainable and prosperous global economy–incidentally rescuing human civilization from dire threat of socioeconomic as well as environmental collapse, in the process. This plan for “mobilizing to save civilization” has been published in the book, “Plan B”, which has now gone through three releases and is becoming THE standard blueprint for a global restoration campaign.

The latest version of this classic work can be downloaded without charge from the Earth Policy Institute web site.

If you find yourself impressed enough to buy multiple copies of the paperback and distribute them to friends, you will be in good company: Ted Turner has purchased 3,600 and is passing them around like candy to heads of state, cabinet members, Fortune 500 CEO’s, the U. S. Congress, and the world’s 672 other billionaries.

So what might we have purchased with the money spent on Iraq?

Well let’s see: by the most conservative estimate Iraq has cost at least $600 billion in five and a half years, or about $109 billion per year according to the Pentagon’s calculations. But if we are to believe our own Congressional Budget Office, the true cost including “extras” has been at least $1 trillion or $181 billion per year–probably well over $200 billion per year.

And let’s note that the cost of Iraq alone is well below half of the annual U.S. taxpayer outlay for military services–$538 billion in 2006.

In that year, U.S. military spending was nearly equal to that of all other countries on earth combined ($675 billion.)

While the world’s poor go hungry and ravaged by disease, while the planet’s forests go up in smoke, while its oceans are sterilized, while supplies of fresh water are exhausted and the very crop land under our feet is dissolving away at a rate of 1,700 to 5,000 tons per square kilometer per year–the world’s preening politicians have felt obliged to spend $1.2 trillion per year on national defense. And they are calling THAT “LIFE insurance”?

That’s over six times the annual cost for restoring the entire planet–for solving the global warming problem, the food production problem, the population explosion problem, the ALREAD DIRE global water shortage problem, the soil erosion problem, the ocean fishery decimation problem, the rangeland-destruction-and-desertification problem–not to mention the poverty and economic-collapse-leading-to-world-wide-revolution, -chaos – and – terrorism – like – you’ve -n ever – even – imagined – it problems.

By the time we finally disengage from Iraq–if in fact we ever do–the cumulative cost of the Iraq war toilet-flush will have been enough to have powered comprehensive environmental, social and economic rehabilitation on a GLOBAL scale–at wartime speed– for an entire decade.

TRY to imagine how much good will our country could have generated if instead of conducting genocide in the name of democracy, it had it chosen to use our taxpayer dollars to preserve and restore forest and farmland, to repopulate fisheries, to replenish acquifers, to protect ecosystems and biodiversity, to end carbon loading and global warming, and to provide the means to feeding and educate of the poor–all across the entire planet.

Here are Lester Brown’s calculations for the annual cost of rescuing the planet and with it, human civilization, from its myriad self-imposed crises:

Table 13-2. Plan B Budget: Additional Annual Expenditures Needed to Meet Social Goals and to Restore the Earth

Goal ———————– Annual Funding (Billion Dollars)
Basic Social Goals
Universal primary education———————–10

Eradication of adult illiteracy————————4

School lunch programs for 44

poorest countries————————————6
Assistance to preschool children and pregnant
women in 44 poorest countries———————- 4
Reproductive health and family planning———– 17
Universal basic health care————————- 33
Closing the condom gap—————————– 3

Total ———————————————–77

Earth Restoration Goals
Planting trees to reduce flooding and conserve
soil ————————————————-6
Planting trees to sequester carbon—————–20
Protecting topsoil on cropland——————— 24
Restoring rangelands——————————- 9
Restoring fisheries——————————— 13
Protecting biological diversity———————- 31
Stabilizing water tables—————————- 10

Total———————————————- 113

Grand Total—————————————190

Source: Compiled by Earth Policy Institute.
This is part of a supporting dataset for Lester R. Brown, from Plan B 3.0, Mobilizing to save Civilization: W.W. Norton & Company, 2008).

For more information and a free download of the book, see Earth Policy Institute on-line at


It’s SUCH a shame that neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton nor any of their staff, for all the tens of millions we have spent on their presidential campaigns, have had either the intelligence, or the courage, to make social and environmental restoration into an ECONOMIC issue.

We need a new political party. And at wartime speed.


Utah For Sale

It is apparent that Utah is for sale. Our state is the only state in the Union now identified as being willing to continue as the nation’s nuclear dump site, and now the world’s site as well, without protest and defensive acts by our political leaders.

What will Virginia do with its nuclear leftovers? It doesn’t have a landfill licensed to take them. It doesn’t have a plan to develop one. There’s only one that will take Virginia waste, and it’s in Utah.

Utah is also a one-party state. Republican leadership is obviously in the pocket, and vice versa, of EnergySolutions. Envirocare by whatever name has asked the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission for permission to bring low-level nuclear waste to Deseret from Italy, and by inference, anywhere else.

Where is the governor? So dead-set against Divine Strake? And our civic and religious organizations? This is a violation of our air, our water, our land, and our security. EnergySolutions finds ways to bring in so-called “depleted uranium” as meeting the “low level” standards. This depleted uranium is ‘depleted” only in that it can not become fissionable in the form of a bomb or missile. It remains radioactive for millions of years. Just what corporate structure, in the private or the public sector, do we possess to protect us for millions of years half-life?

Our senators, or congressmen, and our state legislature should be in unified opposition to this use of arguably the most beautiful land in the United States. I’ve heard no opposition to our becoming the dumping ground of the world from Utah’s religious leadership as well. Don’t bother me with sermons on the evils of pari-mutual betting, or of cigarettes and caffeine, if we allow nuclear cocktails in Zion. Please, at least be relevant and somewhat aware of real life issues. Every other state so threatened has organized their local and national representatives to oppose storage in their states of nuclear waste. Nuclear power likewise raises intolerable threats to our security. There is simply no way to deal with the eternally radioactive waste. Not below ground or on the surface.

I would have thought that the proposal, by members of our own legislature to build a nuclear power plant in Utah and divert our limited desert water from the Green River to cool this monster would have triggered immediate opposition from our legislative leaders. No such opposition, so far, has arisen. Our Republican version of conflict of interest seems non-existent. For sale: the state of Utah. Only an aroused citizenry can stop these threats. Clearly, our political leaders have sold out to EnergySolutions and the big bucks they envision from going nuclear. We have alternative energy solutions, real solutions, in solar, wind, and other environmentally friendly alternatives. Only organized public opinion can avert a sell-out to one or another end of the nuclear industry.


Some Like it HOT!

So it turns out that some Utah legislators stand to make big bucks on a decision they may decisively influence to bring nuclear power to Utah. We’ve done without this monstrously bad source of power all these years.

Most fundamentally, we still don’t know how to handle nuclear waste without it constituting a huge threat to humans and all other life on the planet. The hottest of the hot stuff can last for hundreds of thousands of years, half-life. The stupidity of such a decision is topped only by the venality of those who would sell such stuff to their own neighbors and their own children.

It seems that everything we have in this geologically gorgeous state is for sale. Including the votes of our legislators. Sell enormous amounts of water. Degrade forever our land, air and water. And put us all at nuclear risk in this time of terrorism. It seems our most dangerous terrorists are the clowns we send to the legislature.

We are now coming to be known not only for our legislators of easy virtue, but as the nation’s nuclear one-stop-shop state. One big nuclear mall. EnergySolutions (Envirocare) will stuff nuclear material in a tube and save it for the children of our children’s children, until now, hugely shipped here from other wiser states.

Now, with nuclear power, we can bury our own radioactive rubbish along with the rest of the nation’s garbage. The Bush administration continues to make overtures toward testing in our Southlands. Uranium is mined here as well. And though heretofore we’ve wisely left nuclear power out of our state, now, for a price we will regret forever, we will continue the degradation of that portion of the earth given us in stewardship.

If some of our legislators want to go whole hog, perhaps their constituents might want to return them to the farm, where their snouts can be in their own swill.

Ed Firmage
Salt Lake City, Utah


Ken’s Picks: The Reality of Coal and Utah’s Future; Murray Cries But We Shouldn’t

As Utah anxiously watches modern-day robber baron Robert Murray cry to his mommy over those nasty things Governor Huntsman said about him, punitively lay off our fellow citizens and shutter his death-trap mines, we all need to read Jeff Goodell’s excellent reality check on coal: The future for Utah is not coal but the extraordinary abundance of renewable energy resources we have: solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydro, nuclear, bicycles, feet. If we could harness the hot air blowing out of the state legislature, we could light Energy Solutions Arena. Or the oral flatulence generated by talk radio to power every station on the AM band.


Crandall Canyon Disaster: Katrina Comes to Utah; Kick the Bums Out

The Monday morning quarterbacking on the Huntington mine fiasco began that first Monday morning August 6. Two Monday mornings later, the situation is worse than ever and there’s no answer in sight. Sound familiar? It’s been nearly two years since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and as my earlier post shows, the handling of the disaster by federal and state authorities was and continues to be, a disaster. However, unlike Katrina (mostly), Crandall Canyon’s disasters are not “natural” as our illustriously-ill-informed Sen. Orrin Hatch drooled yesterday.

The federal MSHA, with the mine company, has legal jurisdiction over this matter-NOT OUR OWN STATE. They’ve earnestly represented themselves as “in charge” while a dangerously zany mine owner grabbed the mic from them and told us all to “sit down and shut up” in an Alexander Haig homage (thanks for the timely resurrection of Reagan, Cliff). Yes, we’ve heard it before: “I’m in charge.” “Heckuva job, Brownie.” “Mission Accomplished.” As the days went on, it became hauntingly apparently that neither Robert Murray, the mine owner, or the MSHA were in control though they were in charge. This reality culminated in the tragic events of August 16.

As the MSHA and Murray placated the media and townsfolk, Gov. Huntsman stood painfully helpless in the background (the sling didn’t help). It’s symbolic of how helpless we the residents of Utah have been in trying to save our fellow citizens. Heck, Murray and the feds refused help from an expert team of Utah mine rescuers. They didn’t even believe our seismologists. This helplessness is no “accident” as they claim. It’s the design. As Katrina showed, it doesn’t work. It’s about them maintaining control over us. And we, the people of Utah, pay the ultimate price while they walk away with jobs and limbs intact.

Even as the nightmare continues, many Utahns, even families and friends of the trapped, injured and deceased miners, have jumped off the prayers and floodlights bandwagon and joined the pound of flesh mob. Why? Because they feel helpless. The people “in charge” let them down again without giving us even a chance to help ourselves. The MSHA promised reforms after the Sago disaster in West Virginia and little if anything has changed. Maybe the Utah legislature will do something. But what can they do if mine safety is federal jurisdiction?

Like paying for Iraq? Like paying for costly, ill-fated, federally-run “assistance?” Like watching good people die horribly and needlessly to make another old white guy rich and your children asthmatic? If we are not allowed to control our own destiny in our own state, we must expect more Sagos, Katrinas and Crandalls. In this case, the answer begins with energy independence. We must get the federal government, the Bob Murrays and other power-mad multi-national, absentee corporate creeps out of Utah’s business. It begins with developing alternative and renewable energy systems that are not lorded over by distant, incompetent government agencies and wealthy, disinterested out-of-state land owners. The more dependent we are on their coal and their oil, the more they’ve got us by the privates. The only way it will change is if we change it.


The price of winning office

In the past, I’ve written about my support for clean election laws.

According to the Lt. Governor’s Office financial disclosure site, in 2006 various Utah Reps spending ranged widely (I’m doing some rounding).  David Litvack spent almost $26,000 on his campaign; Curtis Oda spent $16,600 on his; Paul Ray spent $17,000; Aaron Tilton spent just under $5,000; Patrick Painter spent $2,400; Brad King spent $13,000; Ralph Becker spent $63,500.  The total spent by in 2006 on House races $2,864,246.22.  That’s an average of $38,000 per State House seat.  The State Senate is even more outrageous – $1,902,604.19 total in 2006 on 15 races – $126,840 per Senate seat.

All of these candidates won their respective races.  How did their spending stack up against their opponents?  (Coincidentally, this information is not easily accessible in a form that allows easy comparisons – someone in the Lt. Governor’s office should look into that.) Read the rest of this entry »

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When Has a Loser Finally Lost? Bush Drags Utah to Intersection of Common Sense and Death

When is fighting for what you believe admirable and right or just plain stupid and self-destructive? The Bush Administration and the people and leaders of Utah are finding that out right now. As the U.S. Supreme Court and other judicial entities knock down case after case of administration environmental chicanery and other abuses of power, scandals and federal debt mount, public opinion polls, Congress and insurgents swing away at the the misadventure in Iraq, Bush and his minions appear to have their feet planted not in truth- but cement.

As most Americans abandon the burning Bush bandwagon and proclaim themselves Democrats, the majority of Utahns stand behind our president, his elliptical logic and crumbling policies. A new Deseret News poll shows that may be changing but history proves logic and doing what’s right are not what party politics are about. Nowhere is Utah’s belligerence and misguided loyalty seen clearer than through our unclear, unhealthy air. As I wrote here the other day, a group of doctors called the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment has warned of the calamity that is already upon us in the form of ever-worsening air quality due to vehicle use, coal-burning power plants and other CONTROLLABLE HUMAN FACTORS. They’ve already met with Gov. Huntsman who appears to be on their- and our- side.

But the problem is not Huntsman or maybe even most Republican Utahns. It’s the Republicans in charge of our state agencies and legislature and their well-paid and paying compadres in the private sector. They ignored last January’s sickening inversion, attempted to cut the state’s air quality budget, wasted their precious time and our money on frivolous, non-public issues like major league soccer, abortion and teen tanning while ramming through anti-environment legislation encouraging increased vehicle use and old, polluting energy sources. Utah’s political leadership even sided with Bush in fighting the lawsuit by other states forcing the E.P.A. to take responsibility for regulating vehicle emissions, even though such regulation would HELP CLEAN UTAH’S AIR. Yesterday, Bush’s own Supreme Court ruled against them in the most stinging rebuke of W’s destructive and self-serving environmental policies yet.

The combination of the physicians’ emergence and growing public and official concern over Utah’s air quality has created a perfect storm of philosophical clarity: Why do Utah’s political leaders continue to fight a losing battle against facts, laws, public opinion and health? To defend Bush? Defend the Republican Party, car dealers and energy monopolies? Because they enjoy inflicting asthma and heart disease on our children and seniors, or shortening every Utahn’s life by an average of two years? Let’s take advantage of this moment of incredible clarity to make the right decisions for ourselves and our children. Let’s make sure starting now that our representatives represent us- not their sugar daddies and a White House full of irrationally arrogant losers who are only taking our state down with their sinking, stinking garbage scow.


Utah Senate Cedes All Power of Utahns to Energy Solutions

New Energy Solutions sign on Delta Center Salt Lake City, UtahToday, the Utah Senate voted 23-6 in favor of Senate Bill 155, exempting EnergySolutions from the oversight of the Legislature, the Governor, and Tooele County for any nuclear waste expansion on its current dumpsite.

SB 155 carves out exemptions to state law specifically for EnergySolutions so that the company can undergo massive expansions without getting the approvals of the Legislature and governor that current law requires.

Senate Bill 155 rewrites state law for EnergySolutions
What’s the big deal? Senate Bill 155 removes the Governor, the Legislature, and Counties from decisions to expand nuclear waste on EnergySolutions’ current dumpsite, the largest commercial nuclear waste dump in the U.S. No elected leader in Utah will ever be able to say “Enough” to EnergySolutions expansions.

Why change the law for one company? Right now EnergySolutions wants a license to pile its nuclear waste twice as high. Utah law says the legislature and governor must approve expansions of 50% or more. EnergySolutions doesn’t want to have to get these approvals because Gov. Huntsman has said “No” to a prior expansion. To avoid this, Sen. Peterson (R-Nephi) has introduced Senate Bill 155 to exempt EnergySolutions from the law.
Who’s behind this? Besides nuclear waste, Steve Creamer, CEO of EnergySolutions, has also given Utah cracked windshields (Syncrete), burst dams (Quail Creek Dam), and campaign contributions to 76% of incoming legislators.

What others are saying:
· “Basically there would be no public accountability for EnergySolutions…no public oversight, no elected accountability, and nothing from the legislature.” –Patrick Cone, Utah Radiation Control Board member.
· “It would be political folly for Utah to approve expansion of EnergySolutions’ low-level nuclear waste dump without a thorough public debate that includes both the legislature and governor.” –Salt Lake Tribune Editorial, “Waste Elevated,” February 1st, 2007.
· “Hazardous waste disposal needs to be handled with greater care than do other matters because it could have long-lasting effects on the state, its image, and the legacy bequeathed to future generations. When even low-level radioactive waste is deposited here, it renders parts of the state unusable for generations.” –Deseret Morning News Editorial, “Don’t Change Waste Process,” Jan. 25th, 2006.

KSL’s coverage of the Senate vote and the connection to EnergySolutions’ campaign contributions.

Wanna help fight this? Read the rest of this entry »


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