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Posts Tagged ‘uranium mining’

A crucial ban on mining uranium around the Grand Canyon is about to expire, and corporations have already staked more than 1,100 claims to drill.

Ripping up radioactive material around a national landmark, with its fragile ecosystem and designation as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, will cause irreversible damage to its beauty and wildlife, put nearby communities at risk (especially the Havasupai, a Native American tribe who inhabit the canyon itself) and contaminate the water supply for millions who live nearby.

Thousands have already signed a petition started by Suzanne Sparling of Arizona calling on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to extend the ban on uranium mining around the Grand Canyon.

A nationwide outcry has forced the Interior Department to extend the time window for public comment about the decision.

To read more about the impacts of uranium mining on the Grand Canyon, click here to visit the Grand Canyon Trust’s website whose mission is to protect and restore the Colorado Plateau — its spectacular landscapes, flowing rivers, clean air, diversity of plants and animals, and areas of beauty and solitude.

You can click here to send an email to your representatives in Congress telling them you support U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s new Bureau of Land Management “Wild Lands” policy.

There is just a short time to protect one of America’s most important national parks, click here to sign Suzanne Sparling’s petition.

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The proposed revisions to the state’s controversial (and according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – illegal) flexible air permitting programs submitted in June in an effort to reach a compromise with the EPA, are scheduled for a formal vote at tomorrow’s hearing of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

Under the proposed revisions, facilities with flexible permits would be subject to stricter record-keeping.  In addition, tighter caps would be placed on some emission points within affected facilities.

The EPA has ruled that Texas’ flexible permits do not comply with the U.S. Clean Air Act, and that ruling has touch off a political and legal war between the state and the federal agency. The state’s legal challenge to the EPA is pending in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The program, which has been in place since 1994 without the EPA’s formally approval, even with the proposed revisions to address the EPA’s concerns, still has provisions that the federal agency, during the public comment period, deemed “too broad.”

TENASKA Air Permit

Also on TCEQ’s agenda tomorrow is the air quality application for Tenaska Energy of Omaha’s 600-megawatt plant, Trailblazer Energy Center between Sweetwater and Abilene in Nolan County.

We expect the permit will be approved by the Commissioner, since it is a rubberstamp commission, however, the administrative law judges from the State Office of Administrative Hearings, which heard several days of testimony about Tenaska’s plans, recommended in October that TCEQ should require the plant to meet stricter limits on a range of harmful emissions that the facility would produce.

Under the ALJs’ recommendations, Trailblazer would have to demonstrate that the plant would have lower emissions for nitrogen oxide, or NOX, as measured by 24-hour and 30-day averages and lower volatile organic compound, or VOC, emissions as measured by 30-day and 12-month averages than currently projected.

The judges also asked that a special condition be imposed that would require VOC testing both when the carbon-capturing technology is being used at the plant and when the technology is being bypassed.

Goliad Uranium Mining

Also on this action packed agenda is Uranium Energy Corporation’s (UEC) proposed permit to drill for uranium in Goliad county.

An administrative law judge from the State Office of Administrative Hearings recommended in September that UEC be required to do additional testing on the fault area covered by the permit, which is about 13 miles north of the city of Goliad and nearly a mile east of the intersection of State Highway 183 and Farm-to-Market Road 1961.  If granted, the permit would allow uranium drilling in a 423.8-acre area, according to the docket.

The TCEQ hearing starts at 9:30 a.m. at the agency’s headquarters 12100 Park 35 Circle (near Interstate 35 and Yager Lane in North Austin).  If you want to watch the streaming video of this hearing, click here.  Video is also archived on this site, generally within 24 hours after a hearing and you can get to it from the same link above if you can’t watch it tomorrow while it is happening.

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, 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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Thursday, October 8th the Esperanza Peace & Justice center continues the Other and Out & Beyond film series with a day on nuclear energy and the devastating effects of uranium mining, nuclear waste and contamination. This event is Free and open to the public, though donations are appreciated.

All films will be held at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center at 922 San Pedro, San Antonio, TX 78212.  The center can be reached at 210-228-0201 or at www.esperanzacenter.org.

Must see movies from the 70’s and 80’s:

2pm The China Syndrome

A modern nightmare nearly becomes reality in this tension-filled movie starring Jane Fonda as an ambitious TV reporter covering a story on energy sources who is present at a nuclear plant when a startling accident occurs that nearly causes the  meltdown of the reactor. 122 mins/US/1979

4:15 pm Silkwood

This dramatic film is based on the true story of Karen Silkwood, a ran and file worker at a plutonium factory, who becomes an activist after being accidentally exposed to a lethal dose of radiation.  Starring Meryl Streep. 131 mins/US/1983

Life & Land: The Hidden Costs of Nuclear

7:00 pm Climate of Hope

While the threat of climate change is now widely accepted in the community, the potential for neuclear power stations in Australia has raised questions about the best strategy to move to a low-carbon economy.  This animated doucmentary takes us on a tour through the science of climate change, the nuclear fuel chain and the remarkable energy revolution that is under wya.  30 mins/Australia/2007

7:40 pm Woven Ways

Told in their own words with no narration, Woven Ways is a lyrical testimony to Navajo beauty and hope in the face of grave environmental injustice.  For decades, uranium miing has contaminated the people, land and livestock that sustain their culuture and economy.  The film chronicles each family’s steady resolve to hold on to the land, air and water, not for themselves, but for generations that will come.

8:30 pm Platica — The evening program will be followed by a community platica on nuclear energy including local activists and experts who will share their knowledge on issues of waste, water, mining, renewable energy alternatives and local organizing.

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A message from our director, Tom “Smitty” Smith:

efficient-homeToday the House and Senate are working to reconcile their different versions of the long-awaited economic stimulus package. The stakes are now higher than ever for Texans, who stand to gain from billions that could go toward developing renewable energy and efficiency in the state, reducing pollution from diesel engines, and cleaning up abandoned nuclear waste sites.

But as much as the state needs that massive investment in our energy future, there is a troubling side to the senate version of the stimulus package: Senators amended the stimulus bill to include $50 billion in loan guarantees for new nuclear plants in Texas and elsewhere in the nation.

If Congress needs a reminder why this is a bad deal, it should just ask Wall Street why it doesn’t loan money for nuclear reactors. According to the Congressional Budget Office, nuclear loans default at a rate of 50%. Banks learned long ago that these plants simply can’t be built on budget and aren’t viable without massive taxpayer subsidies. Texans are still paying for the last generation of over-budget nuclear plants each month in a hidden charge on their electric bills. (more…)

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Nuclear power is not an answer to our collective energy problem.  Essentially, turning to nuclear power as a primary solution to the current carbon-based system is like borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.  It is not an “alternative”.  Considering that, in resource-availability terms, we could already be powering most structures in this state with solar power, and that we have not done so out of adherence to constructs and public policies rooted in economic interests, it seems ridiculous to suggest that our power problem demands we dig up metal and devise ingenious was of containing and storing radioactive dust.  For me, there are three levels upon which nuclear power as a primary power source does not work.

1)     Forming a larger industry around the mining of uranium would recreate the oil-based market system that has contaminated the global markets, has instigated war, has tainted laws.  Wind is free.  Sunlight is free.  Yes, solar panels are built with silicon-but the silicon we use comes from sand and is the second-most common element on the earth (after oxygen).  If we want to progress as a planet, we must focus not only on outcomes, but the means of attaining them.  We need a new system that is not primarily driven by mining minerals-because that system can be too easily dominated by a relatively few people with the right land.   In a wind and solar-based system, opportunity to participate and regulate is inherently more accessible.  Wind is free.  Sunlight is everywhere.  So without even considering environmental impacts, a nuclear energy-based system is a repugnant proposition to me.   This is my number one reason for opposing nuclear energy.  We must question advocates of nuclear energy and consider whether they stand to benefit from mining, conversion of coal burning plants, or processing.

2)     We need to recognize and heed the signs (the glaring billboards!) that uranium mining and nuclear power are wrong at a deeper level.  At this point in our global evolution, we know what can lay ahead when indigenous people and “progress” meet.  In hindsight of world history, we now see how many of the worst aspects of contemporary society were foreshadowed in interactions with native peoples at the outset of a progressive undertaking.  So where indigenous people react adversely to something today, we should listen.  To ignore the response of native people to uranium mining would be a monumental failure-the prospect of so doing reminds me of the Zora Neale Hurston book Their Eyes were Watching God, when the workers watched the Native Americans leaving the land only to later find themselves in the worst hurricane in the nation’s history.  Culture is the heart of the planet.  How can we advocate what causes the heart to bleed?

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