Environmentalists are again taking aim at the company that proposed the Keystone XL pipeline — this time for another of its projects they fear would send hundreds of supertankers laden with crude oil down the Atlantic coast to refineries in Texas and Louisiana.
TransCanada is behind the Energy East Pipeline project, a 4,600-kilometer pipeline, or nearly 3,000 miles, that would carry crude oil from tar sands in Western Canada to the East Coast, where it would then be shipped to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. When completed, the project would carry 1.1-million barrels of crude oil every day from refineries in Alberta and Saskatchewan in Eastern Canada.
Plans call for converting a natural gas line for part of the route and then building a new pipeline to connect to the existing pipeline in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Eastern Ontario, Québec and New Brunswick.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and other environmental groups are concerned about potential spills of tar sands diluted bitumen along the route in Canada that goes over thousands of rivers, streams and lakes. They also warned a spill along the East Coast could prove devastating to communities that depend on tourism and fisheries and are not prepared to handle an event of this kind.
The groups held a conference call Tuesday with the media, in releasing a report, “Tar Sands in the Atlantic Ocean: Transcanada’s Proposed Energy East Pipeline,” that lays out their case against the project.
“What we have is a proposal to move nearly 300 super tankers down the eastern seaboard, and we don’t have the techniques and technology to contain and clean a spill of tar sands diluted bitumen should one happen,” said Anthony Swift, the Canada project director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
TransCanada said that the project would adhere to stringent safety standards and that it would be the responsibility of its customers of where they ship the oil, noting that “it does not own or operate ships for the delivery of oil.”
“Safety remains our top priority,” TransCanada spokesman Jonathan Abecassis said in an email to The Associated Press. He said the port in New Brunswick “will have a number of preventive safety measures” including the use of trained pilots and advanced navigational and docking technologies.
“We are working in collaboration with local authorities and first responders during the development of our emergency plan to ensure that the plan is adapted to local circumstances with resources placed strategically across the route to react quickly in the unlikely event of an emergency,” he said.
Abecassis said the project is being reviewed by the National Energy Board in Canada. Environmentalists are hopeful the United States will express its opposition to the project during this review process and enact a ban on the shipment of tar sands in U.S. waters.
The project comes less than a year after President Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL project following seven years of political wrangling, arguing it would have undercut U.S. efforts to clinch a global climate change deal. The Paris agreement last December aims to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with preindustrial times.
Environmentalists are hoping the same grassroots success they had with Keystone will bring down the Energy East project. In a sign they may use some of the same tactics, the National Resource Defense Council has already launched a petition against the project that highlights the role tar sands play in worsening global warming.
“We’re here today because the threat of climate change is increasingly dire, and we have a critical but narrow window of opportunity to take action,” Sierra Club’s Cathy Collentine said. “That includes action to stop tar sands infrastructure from being built and to take action to ban the transport of tar sands in tankers that would increase the threat to our communities, environment and our climate.”
NOW President Terry O’Neill:
“From day one, Tim Kaine will be a vice president who will work to break down the barriers that hold women and marginalized communities back. Women will face difficult and far-reaching challenges during the next four years, and Tim Kaine is a proven leader who has rightly been called “courageous, principled, and value driven.”
“Sen. Kaine is a proud co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, led the fight to restore the contraceptive coverage requirement guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act, and supports women’s access to safe, legal and medically appropriate abortion care. Sen. Kaine has also consistently championed universal pre-K, sensible gun regulation, and comprehensive immigration reform, and is an unwavering opponent of the death penalty.
“The combination of Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine stands in sharp contrast to the turn-back-the-clock, step up the war on women platform of Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Women know this is the most important election in a generation, and we also know that we have a steadfast advocate in Tim Kaine.”
EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock:
“The strongest candidacy for women and families just got even stronger …. Hillary Clinton has championed the most progressive, inclusive agenda in history, and Tim Kaine is an excellent choice to amplify this platform. Sen. Kaine has been a strong supporter of economic opportunity for women — he has stood alongside our women in the Senate and fought for equal pay for women, raising incomes of American workers, and protecting access to health care through the Women’s Health Protection Act. Sen. Kaine is an excellent choice to help move forward an agenda that benefits all Americans.
“After what we saw this week, there is no question that the Donald Trump and Mike Pence ticket is the most dangerous and divisive we have ever seen. The Clinton-Kaine ticket brings hope, vision, and results that will make our country stronger together.”
Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund
“Hillary has chosen a leader who has dedicated his life to fight for equity and justice in our country. Never before has a presidential campaign or party platform had a stronger commitment to reproductive health.
“Sen. Kaine is a thoughtful running mate with integrity, whose Senate record has proven he will stand strong against politically motivated efforts to restrict patient access to critical, often lifesaving health care. Senator Kaine has made it clear that he will protect women from government interference when it comes to their right to safe, legal abortion — a position supported by Planned Parenthood Action Fund – and boasts a 100% rating on the Planned Parenthood Action Fund scorecard.
“Planned Parenthood Action Fund will be by Hillary’s side as she and Sen. Kaine make history all the way to the White House.”
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
“The AFL-CIO supports Hillary Clinton’s selection of Tim Kaine as her running mate. Tim Kaine is the son of an ironworker and a teacher, and is grounded in the values of working people.
“He has a strong record on workers’ issues, ranging from raising the minimum wage to securing equal pay for equal work. He has always been a strong leader and will be an asset to the ticket. He is moral and honest and true to the values he espouses. Clinton-Kaine is a winner for America.”
SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry:
“For working families, the 2016 election is the most consequential of our lifetimes. The stakes couldn’t be higher — nor the contrast starker — on all of the issues our families need to get ahead. In choosing Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton has tapped as her running mate the right partner to move our country forward and build a better future for all families by rebalancing our economy and democracy to work for everyone, not just greedy corporations and wealthy special interests.
“Tim Kaine is an experienced leader with a proven track record on issues from raising wages to immigration reform and racial justice. He has voted and fought for higher wages, and ensured home care workers had the ability to stand together in a union. His Senate record shows that working families have been his priority as he has worked to expand childcare, protect voting rights, address mass incarceration, preserve the Affordable Care Act, and promote opportunities for women and immigrants. He was the first person ever to deliver a speech on the Senate floor entirely in Spanish, and it was to demand action on commonsense immigration reform with a path to citizenship.
“Above all, we know what is in Tim Kaine’s heart. He is someone who is the son of an ironworker and a teacher, who served as a Catholic missionary, whose first case out of law school was representing at no cost a Black woman who had been the victim of housing discrimination. Tim Kaine’s convictions are rooted in justice for all.
“Together, Clinton and Kaine will stand with working families who have come together in the broadest modern grassroots movement to raise wages and protect opportunities for people to join together in 21st-century unions; increase access to affordable care for our children and aging parents; and advance racial, immigrant and environmental justice for all communities across our country. SEIU members will continue to come out in record numbers across the country to elect Clinton and Kaine as the next president and vice president of the United States.”
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten:
“The choice of Tim Kaine, the son of a welder who has lived middle-class values and has a long track record of progressive accomplishments, reiterates Hillary Clinton’s commitment to building a government that will level the playing field for working families. While the GOP ticket masks irrational ideas behind a morally bankrupt message of fear, bigotry and hatred, a Clinton-Kaine ticket will be focused on helping people see higher wages, lower student debt, good jobs, successful public schools, and safety and security here and abroad.
“The contrasts between a Clinton-Kaine ticket and a Trump-Pence ticket couldn’t be more stark. Donald Trump, the narcissist, believes that he alone can fix our nation’s problems and peddles fear in a campaign devoid of facts, plans or humanity. Clinton and Kaine choose to confront fear and solve problems, and they will use their vast experience to help ensure the American dream is within reach for everyone.
“Strong public education runs deep in the Kaine household. In the U.S. Senate, he took the lead on supporting career and technical education programs in the new federal education law, and he has fought for funding to modernize public school buildings. And as Virginia’s governor, he expanded pre-K programs by 40 percent. His wife, Anne Holton, has been dedicated to fighting for great public schools for decades — she helped integrate Richmond, Va., public schools as a child and today is Virginia’s secretary of education.
“Our nation and the world can feel confident that the Clinton-Kaine ticket will be a great leadership team that will work to break down walls, disarm hate, and make educational and economic opportunity a reality.”
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue:
“Secretary Clinton’s selection of Senator Kaine provides some much needed sanity to the out-of-control fire that was the Republican convention this week.
“The hate-filled lies, dangerous rhetoric, and mob mentality of the last four days was shocking, and today’s pick reminds us that there are adults in the room who hold American values dear and are committed to governing towards a future of inclusion and unity.
“While Sen. Kaine has been open about his personal reservations about abortion, he’s maintained a 100 percent pro-choice voting record in the U.S. Senate. He voted against dangerous abortion bans, he has fought against efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, and he voted to strengthen clinic security by establishing a federal fund for it. In the wake of clinic closures around the country due to deceptive TRAP laws, Senator Kaine has co-sponsored the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that gives federal assurances that women will be able to access their constitutional right to abortion care regardless of what zip code they live in.
“In this country, we know that the vast majority of voters — 7 in 10 — believe abortion should be legal. Some of those voters are like Sen. Tim Kaine — personally opposed to abortion but also strongly believe that this is a personal issue and not one for politicians to meddle in. This is core part of what it means to be pro-choice — supporting everyone’s individual decision making.
“When he was governor, Tim Kaine took positions we disagreed with and actively campaigned against. We’re pleased that since then, his votes and public statements have been consistently in favor of trusting women to make our own decisions. And as with all of our allies, we weren’t afraid to voice disagreement with him then and we will not be afraid to disagree, if needed, with him as vice president.
“The adoption of a Republican Party platform that will rob women — half the population — of our fundamental rights and freedoms is a clear window into the frightening agenda that will make the Trump-Pence misogyny all too real for Americans.
“Secretary Clinton’s record as a champion on abortion access, reproductive freedom and policies that support women and families could not be more stellar. She has laid out a clear agenda of expanding fundamental freedoms through repeal of the Hyde and Helms amendments and has strongly advocated for women through expanded family planning and access to contraception, providing paid family leave and assuring robust pregnancy nondiscrimination. We trust Secretary Clinton would not select Senator Kaine, and Senator Kaine would not accept the position, if he could not fully support Secretary Clinton’s robust agenda when it comes to preserving and expanding reproductive freedom and justice.”
LCV Action Fund Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld:
“Awesome choice, Hillary! We’re thrilled that Hillary has picked Sen.Tim Kaine to be her running mate. As mayor, governor, and senator, he has a proven track record as an environmental leader who has worked to combat climate change, grow our clean energy economy and protect special places in Virginia and across the country. An environmental champion with an impressive 91 percent score on LCV’s National Environmental Scorecard, Senator Kaine is a fantastic addition to the presidential ticket. LCV Action Fund could not be more excited to help elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine the next president and vice president of the United States. Onward!”
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune:
“Secretary Clinton’s selection of Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate completes the strongest environmental ticket we’ve ever seen. Together, Clinton and Kaine will build on President Obama’s legacy to safeguard our climate, air, water, and public lands, protect the most vulnerable from environmental injustice, and continue the rapid expansion of our clean energy economy.
“The Democratic ticket is in sharp contrast to the Republican’s, which features not one but two climate deniers, a first in American history. The Trump-Pence regime would be the only world leaders to hold that position. Simply put, a Trump-Pence Presidency wouldn’t be the only “TPP” that would destroy our climate.
“A leader on climate and our environment, Senator Kaine fought against the now rejected Keystone XL pipeline and continues to work to expand America’s clean energy.
“The Sierra Club applauds Secretary Clinton’s selection of Senator Kaine as her running mate, and we will work tirelessly to elect them.”
Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
“From an immigration policy perspective, Sen. Tim Kaine has a stellar voting record. But his commitment to immigrant communities goes much deeper. In April, Kaine was one of the first senators to sit down with undocumented families eligible for executive action to learn about the issues firsthand at a “DAPA Dinner.” We commend Hillary Clinton for choosing a running mate who is a true champion for immigrants and an inclusive vision for America at a time when both are under threat.”
Pili Tobar, Advocacy and Communications Director for Latino Victory Fund:
“Sen. Tim Kaine has a long history of fighting for justice, opportunity and equality. During his time in the Senate, he has worked to advance economic policies that would put more money in the pockets of hardworking Latino and American families. He has been a staunch advocate for a woman’s right to make her own health decisions, for legislation to combat climate change, and for immigration reform that will keep our families together and allow people to come out of the shadows and continue contributing to the country they love. Senator Kaine is no stranger to the Latino community — he spent time in Honduras running a technical Jesuit school, and throughout his career, as one of the few Spanish speakers in the Senate, he has consistently put emphasis on communicating with our community, hearing and addressing their concerns.
”We are proud to stand with the Clinton-Kaine ticket because they represent the values and policies that Latinos care about. Only Clinton-Kaine can move this country forward and ensure a prosperous future for our families, in which Latinos are treated with dignity and respect.”
”On behalf of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the 4.1 million Hispanic owned businesses we represent, we applaud Secretary Clinton’s decision to name United States Sen. Tim Kaine as her vice presidential choice. Our organization has followed the public service career of Sen. Kaine from his days as Mayor of Richmond, Virginia, to his days as lieutenant governor and governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. There is no doubt in our mind Sen. Kaine has the experience needed in a vice president.
“Getting elected to the Commonwealth of Virginia requires a strong record with the business community. On this measure, Sen. Kaine has passed with flying colors. In him we see a partner the business community can work with as he rolls up his sleeves to work with our next President of the United States.
“We call on our friends in the business community to listen carefully as Secretary Clinton and Senator Kaine make their case for the most important office in the land. We look forward to a spirited campaign worthy of this great nation. We wish the best of luck to the thousands of campaign staffers crisscrossing our beautiful country over the course of the next four months.”
If elected president, Donald Trump would be the only head of state in the world to contend that climate change is a hoax, according to a study.
The Sierra Club compiled public statements from the leaders of the 195 nations recognized by the State Department. An advance copy of the group’s report, released yesterday, was provided to The Associated Press.
In contrast to public statements by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee calling climate change a “con job” and a “myth,” the leader of every U.S. ally urges action to reduce climate-warming carbon emissions, including Great Britain, Germany, France, Japan and Canada.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, head of the Earth’s most populous country and the No. 1 global emitter of carbon, has called for eventually phasing out dirty coal-fired power plants and is leading an ambitious national effort to build massive arrays of solar panels and wind turbines.
The regime of reclusive North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un signed on to the Paris accord last year and is implementing a 10-year push to plant new forests as part of a “national effort to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
Even the leaders of nations economically dependent on oil production also accept the reality that the world’s climate is warming, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi King Salman.
“Being highly vulnerable to climate change and actions and plans to address it, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be engaged in several actions to address climate change and make its development more sustainable,” the Saudi state said in a statement issued last year.
Trump, meanwhile, has pledged to “renegotiate” U.S. commitments under the Paris accord and has suggested that the science of climate change is part of a plot to weaken the American economy.
“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” Trump tweeted in 2012.
He has also cited cold winter weather as evidence the world is not really warming.
“The entire country is FREEZING — we desperately need a heavy dose of global warming, and fast! Ice caps size reaches all time high,” Trump tweeted during a 2014 blizzard.
While Trump’s climate-change denial has become orthodoxy within the Republican Party, it is at odds with the overwhelming consensus of the world’s scientific community and rejects reams of data about how the Earth’s climate is changing.
According to NASA, 97 percent of the climate scientists agree that the world is getting hotter and that man-made carbon emissions are to blame. Ten of the warmest years in history have occurred in the past 12. Studies show the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass, while the world’s oceans have risen on average nearly 7 inches in the last century.
Despite his public stance, there is evidence that Trump the businessman may be hedging his bets. Earlier this year, the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel in Ireland cited the threat of sea level rise in a permit application to build a nearly two-mile-long stone wall between it and the Atlantic Ocean.
Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks did not respond Monday to requests for comment.
John Coequyt, the Sierra Club’s director for global climate policy, said Trump’s failure to acknowledge basic climate science would leave him isolated on the world stage as president, adding, “Trump’s climate science denial would make him a global laughingstock if it wasn’t so dangerous.”
The Sierra Club has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, saying she is an environmental champion needed to lead the country.
The environmental group’s endorsement was explained by executive director Michael Brune, who said Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, has referred to climate change as a hoax, a con job and a “concept crafted by the Chinese.”
The following is Brune’s statement:
“We firmly believe Secretary Clinton will be the strong environmental champion that we need to lead our country, which is why the Sierra Club is proud to endorse her and her vision for America.
“Over the last eight years, our country has made enormous advancements in cutting carbon pollution, transitioning away from dirty fuels, and increasing clean energy deployment. Secretary Clinton has a long record on the environment and is the leader we need to build on this progress made by President Obama and the climate movement. She has listened to the grassroots and crafted detailed plans to safeguard our climate, air, water, and public lands, to protect the most vulnerable from environmental injustice, and to continue the rapid expansion of our clean energy economy.
“Senator Bernie Sanders and his millions of supporters ran a hard-fought campaign and helped elevate climate change and protecting our environment while reducing inequality as key issues in the Democratic Primary. Senator Sanders and his supporters brought the passionate, principled advocacy that we need, and we are eager to work together to raise these issues in every campaign–not just the presidential race.
“Together, Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton made this an election about the issues and finding real solutions. Solutions like protecting our oceans and public lands from fossil fuel development; rejecting dangerous trade deals such as the Trans Pacific Partnership; and transitioning onto 100 percent clean, renewable energy.
“Contrasted with that, we have a reckless and misinformed candidate in Donald Trump, who has called climate change a ‘hoax,’ a ‘con job’ and a ‘concept created by the Chinese.’ Trump’s record setting contradictory statements includes his “energy plan.” Trump claims he’ll protect clean air and water but has pledged to dismantle the EPA. He offers vague promises to create jobs but would stifle growth in wind and solar, which are among the fastest growing sectors of the U.S. economy. And when he gets to specifics, Trump makes rash promises, like ripping up the Paris Climate Agreement, a landmark agreement that brought 196 countries together for the first time in history. The gap on environmental and climate issues between Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump is the largest in U.S. political history.
“The Sierra Club, like so many Americans, not only wants to protect President Obama’s legacy — we want to expand it. That is something we can accomplish with a Clinton White House, and it’s why the Sierra Club’s members and supporters will work tirelessly to make sure she’s elected this November. We have a historic opportunity to build a clean energy economy that puts millions of people to work, and there’s no turning back.”
Conservation groups are suing to block the development of a massive master-planned community in southern Arizona in the hopes of protecting the last major free-flowing river in the Southwest.
The Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity and five other groups filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against a pair of federal agencies for allowing El Dorado Holdings Inc. to fill in desert washes without adequately studying the development’s effect on the environment.
Their attorney said his clients want to ensure the San Pedro River and the wildlife it supports are protected.
“They can’t just plow ahead and allow this to go through without considering the effect it’s going to have,” said Chris Eaton, attorney for Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm.
The river, which flows north from Mexico through southeastern Arizona until its confluence with the Gila River, supports a cottonwood-willow forest and is an important corridor for migratory birds. It also is home to endangered species including the ocelot, the yellow-billed cuckoo and the northern Mexican garter snake.
El Dorado Holdings Inc. has proposed a 28,000-home master-planned community called the Villages at Vigneto near Benson, with an 18-hole golf course, parks and hiking trails. The development would be about 2 miles from the San Pedro River.
El Dorado Holdings Inc. — founded by Diamondbacks co-owner Mike Ingram — is not a party to the lawsuit and plans to move forward with the development, but it has not yet set a date to break ground, said Mike Reinbold, a partner at the company.
“We are in compliance with all local, state and federal laws,” he said.
The lawsuit says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Fish and Wildlife Service failed to look at how the community would affect the environment under the Clean Water and Endangered Species acts. Both agencies declined to comment.
The Army Corps of Engineers previously issued a permit in the same spot to a different master-planned community called Whetstone Ranch in 2006. El Dorado bought the land in 2014, and the permit along with it.
Eaton, the Earthjustice lawyer, said the environmental groups have a responsibility to ensure the development does not adversely affect the river’s endangered species, vegetation and watershed.
“We’re going after both agencies, and the duty to consult is put on both agencies. But it’s up to the Army Corps to make the first effort,” he said. “But it’s also up to the Fish and Wildlife Service to make sure the consultation is meaningful.”
Sandy Bahr, director of Arizona’s Sierra Club chapter, said the development could destroy vital habitat for many imperiled species dependent upon the river.
“We’ve dried up a number of other rivers in our state, and the San Pedro is already a threatened river,” Bahr said. “We don’t want the next development. That will be the nail of the coffin in the San Pedro.”
A second lawsuit is underway in Cochise County, along a different section of the San Pedro, over a developer’s access to groundwater rights that could affect the river near the city of Sierra Vista.
Jane Kleeb, leader of the group Bold Nebraska, will address Midwest tar sands pipeline issues at the University of Wisconsin–Madison on April 13.
Former state Rep. Spencer Black and landowner Mark Borchardt also will speak at the “The Enbridge Tar Sands Invasion” community forum set for 6 p.m.
Kleeb played a crucial role in stopping the Keystone XL pipeline, which was rejected by President Obama last November.
The pipeline, proposed by Canadian company TransCanada, would have transported 830,000 barrels a day of tar sands oil from the boreal forests of Alberta to the Gulf Coast.
Kleeb, according to a news release, built a diverse coalition of ranchers, tribal members, environmentalists and others to push the federal government to reject the pipeline.
Now, Kleeb is bringing her campaign to Wisconsin, according to the release from 350 Madison and the Sierra Club.
The groups said the timing could not be better: Wisconsin already has the Line 61 pipeline, which cuts through the heart of the state.
Enbridge, the Canadian company that owns Line 61, is now proposing to add another pipeline through Wisconsin, variously called the Line 61 “twin” or Line 66. Together, the two pipelines could transport three times as much oil as the failed Keystone project would have carried.
At the forum, Black will discuss the risks the pipelines pose in Wisconsin. The pipelines cross some of Wisconsin’s most important waterways, including the St. Croix River, the Wisconsin River, and the Rock River. Moreover, expanding tar sands oil pipelines will exacerbate climate change at a time when we need to be moving quickly toward a clean energy economy.
The Enbridge expansion would require widening the existing pipeline corridor. Recent law changes in Wisconsin have made it easier for pipeline companies to take land through eminent domain.
Borchardt will speak about how Wisconsin landowners are coming together to fight Enbridge’s expansion. Nebraska’s experience proved that when a group of property owners refuse to let a foreign corporation seize land that has been in their families for generations, they can effectively block the expansion of pipelines.
The event will be at the Lowell Center, 610 Langdon St.
Click here for more information or tickets to the free event.
Hearing in Enbridge case on April 11
A hearing was set to take place April 11 in Dane County Circuit Court on Enbridge Energy Company’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a group of landowners who live adjacent to the company’s Line 61 Waterloo pump station.
The landowners are suing for injunctive relief to enforce the spill cleanup requirement imposed on Enbridge by Dane County’s Zoning and Land Regulation Committee.
Oral argument was scheduled for 1:30 in Courtroom 5D at the county courthouse before Judge Richard Niess, according to 350 Madison.
From WiG reports
Gov. Scott Walker has signed into law a bill lifting Wisconsin’s ban on new nuclear plants.
Under prior law, regulators could not approve a new nuclear plant unless a federal facility for storing waste existed and the plant didn’t burden ratepayers.
The new bill, signed five years after the meltdowns at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, erases the storage and ratepayer clauses from the state law enacted in 1983. That was four years after a meltdown at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania and three years before the explosion and fire at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine.
The bill’s Republican authors argued nuclear power is a renewable energy source and the ratepayer language duplicates other sections of state law that require regulators to determine that any new power plant won’t burden customers.
Republican state Rep. Kevin Petersen, in a memo introducing the bill, described nuclear power as affordable, clean, safe and necessary.
Proponents argue Wisconsin needs nuclear options to comply with the Obama administration’s clean power plan requiring energy producers to reduce carbon emissions.
That’s the very argument being made by Koch Industries and other fossil fuel giants who vehemently oppose wind and solar energy. The industry’s sway over Walker and the state’s GOP majority is widely believed to be the reason why green renewables in Wisconsin lag other states in the region.
Since 1997, the Koch brothers have personally spent at least $80 million persuading the public that climate change is a hoax, and Exxon-Mobil and other energy companies have spent many tens of millions more.
Meanwhile, environmentalists view nuclear energy as an unmitigated disaster.
“Nuclear energy is a distraction from realistic, cost-effective methods to reduce carbon emissions in Wisconsin: energy efficiency and renewable energy,” the Clean Wisconsin environmental group said in a statement on AB 384. “Nuclear is exorbitantly expensive and new plants take decades to get up and running.”
According to the Sierra Club, nuclear power has a huge carbon footprint, despite the carbon industry’s claims to the contrary. Carbon energy powers uranium mining, milling, processing, conversion and enrichment, as well as the formulation of fuel rods and construction of plants.
The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters also opposed the law, referring to it as the “Nuking Wisconsin’s Energy Priorities Law.” The group urged the public to lobby legislators against allowing nuclear power plants in the state.
The Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter opposed the measure, as did the national Sierra Club, which remains “unequivocally opposed to nuclear energy.”
“Although nuclear plants have been in operation for less than 60 years, we now have seen three serious disasters,” a statement from the environmental group reads. “Nuclear is no solution to climate change and every dollar spent on nuclear is one less dollar spent on truly safe, affordable and renewable energy sources.”
The Sierra Club’s nuclear-free campaign emphasizes:
• The issue of what to do with the long-lived waste created by the fissioning of uranium remains unresolved.
• Uranium mining has contaminated large sections of the southwestern United States and many other areas in the world.
• Older nuclear plants sit in areas more densely populated than when they were built and almost all leak tritium and other radionuclides into groundwater.
• Newer nuclear plants remain expensive and need enormous amounts of water.
An additional concern in Wisconsin, according to the Carbon-Free, Nuclear-Free Coalition, is passage of the pro-nuclear bill could lead to the state becoming a depository for nuclear waste.
The coalition has warned passage of the bill could “send a strong message to the Department of Energy that Wisconsin is open to hosting a nuclear waste repository. In the 1980s, the DOE ranked Wisconsin’s Wolf River Batholith as No. 2 for a second high-level nuclear waste repository. A 2008 Department of Energy study on the Need for a Second Repository listed Wisconsin as one of the top potential states based on our granite geology. After the cancellation of the potential Yucca Mountain repository, the DOE is desperate to find an alternative.”
Wisconsin currently has one operational nuclear power plant, Point Beach, north of Two Rivers.
About 15.5 percent of Wisconsin’s electricity is nuclear, 62.3 comes from coal, 13.2 percent natural gas, 3.4 percent hydroelectric and 5.5 percent renewable.
Find more environmental news at www.wisconsingazette.com.