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Archive for December 23rd, 2009

The San Antonio Nuclear Expansion Soap Opera plot thickens.  Today’s update brings the shocking news that South Texas Project Reactors 3 & 4 could actually cost, not $13 Billion, not even $17 Billion… but $18.2 Billion!

With all the trouble CPS has gotten into recently regarding transparency (a gentle term we’re using that translates roughly to “lying to the public and covering up bad news”), you’d think that they would’ve come forward and made this estimate public as soon as humanly possible.

But you’d be wrong.  Instead, they presented the numbers to their board in a closed session last week (read: NOT public, you’re not invited).  Sometime later, the San Antonio Express-News got wind of the update, “based on numbers provided by the South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Co”, and published the results.

When will CPS learn that they have got to be honest with the public, the mayor, and city council? They told folks all summer long that the plant would cost $13 Billion, even though insiders knew since late June that it could very well be $4 Billion more.  CPS has led a lengthy and sloppy cover-up campaign of STP and nuclear power’s “inconvenient truth” that culminated in resignations, an internal investigation, and several firings and demotions.

Am I going to fast for you? Did you miss a few episodes, and are confused that CPS’ prize project could so quickly fall to pieces? Let’s do a recap.

Previously, on Amores Nucleares:

With just days before San Antonio City Council was to vote to approve $400 million in bonds for new nuclear reactors, it was leaked that the project could actually cost $4 Billion more than CPS had been saying all summer (according to Toshiba, who would actually be building the plant).  The vote was postponed, there was an impromptu press conference, and it came out that CPS staff had actually known about the cost increase for more than a week — Oops! Oh, and the “leak” wasn’t that CPS came out with the truth, an aide from the mayor’s office only found out after confronting CPS about a rumor he’d heard. But how did the mayor’s office find out? NRG, CPS’ partner in the project was the “Deepthroat”, because they were going to announce Toshiba’s $17 Billion cost estimate at a shareholder’s meeting soon after the city council vote and thought, geez, that could look really bad for CPS! Meanwhile,  CPS reps flew to Japan in a hurry to figure things out.  Steve Bartley, interim GM for CPS, resigned.  Furious that CPS had hidden the ugly truth from City Council, the mayor demanded the resignation of two key CPS board members, and got City Council to vote unanimously that they get the boot.  Chairwoman Aurora Geis agreed to go, but Steve Hennigan said “No Way, Jose.” THEN CPS completed an internal audit of the whole shebang to figure out what-the-hell-happened, which found that Steve Bartley was to blame, and everyone else was only guilty of failure in their “responsibility of prompt disclosure”.  And then this week it came out the project could be even more way way expensive than anyone thought (except of course Energia Mia, Public Citizen, SEED Coalition, the Center for American Progress, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, and analysts Arjun Makhijani, Clarence Johnson, Craig Severance, and Mark Cooper to name a few).

That about brings us up to speed.

So what is next? December 31st, Toshiba should come out with a new, “official” cost estimate, which CPS will use to come up with their own cost estimate mid-January. City council is slated to vote January 15th, once and for all, on $400 million in bonds to continue the project.  But clearly, enough is enough.  Tell City Council to stop throwing good money after bad, and to cut their losses before its too late.  Tell them to vote “no” to nuclear bonds January 15th, and start the year off fresh and free from the “ghost of nuclear projects past.”

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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By Kirsten Bokenkamp

During his campaign, President Obama said “change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” As individuals, we need to internalize this, and act on it. This is the last blog in the Green-up Your Life! series, a series dedicated to the many ways we, as individuals, can reduce climate change.

Unfortunately, the environmentally-friendly changes to our daily lives is just the first step to securing a livable planet for future generations.  In addition, we must demand that our government adopt laws to protect our planet.  While the science behind climate change is well established, our leaders will not act until we make them.  The importance of government action to combat climate change was made clear in a recent Washington Post op-ed by Mike Tidwell titled To really save the planet, stop going green.  In the op-ed, Tidwell argues that “going green” is tricking many people into actually thinking that there is major change happening, when in reality, only a very small percentage of people buy compact florescent light bulbs and fuel efficient cars, have a compost pile, and eat vegetarian diets, etc.  “Going green”, in effect, is creating a false impression of change, which is actually hindering the real process of change.  If we care, we should adopt a “green” lifestyle and incorporate the above activities into our lives – but doing all of these individual things does not dismiss us from taking political action to demand large-scale change.

What does this mean for us?  It means learning the details about climate change legislation, and calling/writing/visiting our state and federal representatives to demand that they take action.  Not sure what to ask for?  Here are a few things to get you started:

•    A bill that achieves emissions cuts of at least 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80-95% by 2050 (right now, the Waxman-Markey Bill cuts emissions by only 4% of 1990 levels.  Unfortunately, the Waxman-Markey Bill deceptively uses 2005 levels, and thus the 17% reduction in emissions seems to be near the scientific requirements.  But, as Congress well understands, the rest of the international community and climate scientists use 1990 levels as their base.  Thus, the 17% emissions cut at 2005 levels turns out to be only 4% of 1990 levels, a number far from minimum 25% necessary to save our planet.)
•    Stopping the construction of new coal plants.
•    Increasing funding for renewable energy and creating green jobs

We all have the tools and knowledge necessary to create change on a personal and political level.  The next steps are advocacy, action, and maintenance. We are facing a huge crisis, and taking only small and popular steps are not enough. Obama said it himself – we are the change that we have been waiting for.  So let’s do it!

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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