Tag Archives: Electricity

5/31/2011 NRDC Would You Like Cancer-causing or Brain-poisoning Pollution With That Electricity?

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) Staff Blog by Pete Altman: Hundreds of people have said no to toxic pollution from power plants near them by attending U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hearings. The last one is today in Atlanta — if you can’t make it, support the EPA’s proposals to make power companies cut the amount of mercury, arsenic, chromium, acid gases & other nasty stuff they release into the air by TAKING ACTION: http://b/ Next time you flip on the light switch, how would you respond if a little voice asked you “Thanks for your order. Would you like cancer with your electricity? How about some brain-poison?” Weird question, right? Unfortunately, power companies are one of the biggest toxic polluters in the US, dumping millions of pounds of cancer-causing, brain-poisoning toxins like arsenic and mercury into the air each year. The toxins are found in the coal that is burned to supply about ½ of our nation’s electricity.

This week, hundreds of people have shown up to hearings in Philadelphia and Chicago organized by the US Environmental Protection Agency to say “no thanks” to toxic pollution from power plants, and support the EPA’s proposals to make power companies reduce the amount of mercury, arsenic, chromium, acid gases and other nasty stuff they release into the air.

(To let the EPA know you support reducing toxic pollution from power plants, take action here.)

As the Associated Press explained,

Several hundred people, from environmentalists and physicians to mothers and fishermen, testified before a panel of federal environmental officials on Tuesday to urge the passage of proposed new standards to limit the amount of air pollution that coal-fired power plants can release into the atmosphere.”

One those physicians was Dr. Kevin Osterhoudt, medical director of the poison control center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who said

Young children are uniquely vulnerable to the toxic effects of environmental poisons such as mercury and arsenic. These compounds are especially dangerous to the developing brain and nervous system.

Some of the speakers pulled no punches. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported,

Rabbi Daniel Swartz leaned toward the microphone at Tuesday’s hearing on proposed federal rules to limit mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

By allowing emissions to continue, “we have, in effect, subsidized the poisoning of fetuses and children,” the Scranton rabbi said.

In Chicago, a similar scene unfolded, as the Chicago Tribune reported, with supporters of limiting toxic air pollution coming out in force, as noted by Chicago radio station WBEZ:

Midwesterners who testified at a public hearing in Chicago Tuesday afternoon were overwhelmingly in favor of the proposed EPA plan.”

One of those speaking in Chicago was NRDC’s Shannon Fisk, who focused on the critical need for EPA to act swiftly to reduce toxic pollution, saying,

[Some] in industry are pushing EPA to delay …my question to these agents of delay is how much is enough. How many lives are they willing to sacrifice in order to have even more time to install pollution controls that have been available for decades?”

Polling shows that throughout the nation, Americans strongly support reducing toxic air pollution from industrials sources. A February 2011 survey by Public Policy Polling revealed that 66% of Americans support “requiring stricter limits on the amount of toxic chemicals such as mercury lead and arsenic that coal power plants and other industrial facilities release.”

The EPA’s final hearing on the toxics rules is in Atlanta today. But going to a hearing isn’t the only way for concerned citizens to weigh in.

If you’d like to say “no thanks” to cancer-causing and brain-poisoning toxins from power plants, send a comment directly to the EPA in support of the toxics proposals by using our quick and easy action page.

5/30/2011 New York Times, Germany to Halt Nuclear Power Production by 2022

Germany to Halt Nuclear Power Production by 2022 By JUDY DEMPSEY and JACK EWING, New York Times, May 30, 2011 BERLIN — The German government agreed on Monday morning to phase out nuclear power by 2022 in a move that could have far reaching consequences for Europe’s largest economy. “It’s definite,” Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen said after marathon talks held at the chancellery. “The latest end of the last three nuclear plants is 2022.” The government said the country’s oldest nuclear power plants will remain permanently closed. Seven plants were shut down in March after the in Japan and one plant had been taken off the grid earlier. The government intends to phase out the remaining nine plants according to their age with the older facilities shutting down over the next few years and the newest ones by in 2022.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been trying to cope with a sharp shift in public attitudes toward nuclear power since the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant after the March 11 Japanese earthquake and tsunami was reacting to a report submitted Monday by the so-called Ethics Commission for Secure Energy. “We want the electricity of the future to be safe, but also to remain reliable and affordable,” she said in a statement on the government Web site.

Plans to withdraw from nuclear energy are likely to be popular with the German public — the reactors had already been scheduled to be taken out of service by 2036 in the face of widespread aversion to nuclear power — but will be greeted apprehensively by German manufacturers, who fear that the cost of energy could rise.

On Friday, state environment ministers agreed that the seven older nuclear power plants, that were taken out of service after the Japanese disaster, should remain shut down. The commission endorsed that recommendation, and said the other 10 plants should be phased out gradually.

However, in a report Friday that illustrated a national debate that is likely to ensue, the federal agency that regulates the power industry said that without the seven plants Germany could have trouble coping with a failure in some part of the national power grid. The shutdown “brings networks to the limit of capacity,” the Federal Network Agency said.

The report submitted Monday to Ms. Merkel said the commission was “firmly convinced that an exit from nuclear energy can be achieved within a decade.”

Germany must make a binding national commitment, the commission said in a 48-page report. “Only a clearly delineated goal can provide the necessary planning and investment security,” the commission said.

“The exit is necessary, and is recommended, in order to rule out the risks of nuclear power,” the commission said. “It is possible, because there are less risky alternatives.”

The commission added that “the exit should be designed so as not to endanger the competitiveness of industry and the economy.”

It identified wind, solar, water as alternatives, as well as geothermal energy and so-called biomass energy from waste, as alternative power sources.

Judy Dempsey reported from Berlin, and Jack Ewing from Frankfurt.