|jazzoLOG: What To Do In The Belly Of The Beast|
5 comments6 Jun 2008 @ 20:18 by quinty : That's not
a very corporate attitude.
They would tell you to smile, don't knock. Boost. Be a good team player. And conform. (Is there anything more demeaning than “Casual Friday” or whatever it’s called?)
But that it's okay, though, to be cynical about the Muzak. Everyone understands why it's there. So accept that too. And as you ride up the elevator remember that everyone on that ride is trying to reach the top too. That ceiling, whatever your gender, is hard to penetrate. But someone, with the right attitude, will surely break through. That fuels a lot of ambitious true believers. Both men and women.
What's more, no self respecting CEO has less than a billion dollars today.
If a CEO parachutes out with two or three hundred mil and the fired stockroom guy with thirty years of service goes home with nothing, well, that’s tough. The CEO knew enough, we are told, to get where he was, even if the company defaulted - for the greater good - on its pensions, healthcare, all that burdensome stuff Marxist inspired unions once imposed upon big business. (Ah, but the question is, who inspired Marx? The workers suffering in inhuman conditions? All that nineteenth century industrial squalor and greed?)
Well, if we here in the USA ever begin to commonly accept the notion that taxes are fundamentally good then we may begin to change. McCain is running on that basic Republican mantra. It’s not that he’s mimicking Bush, but that both men are Republicans, and share certain basic beliefs. Taxes, regulation, oversight, and government programs (they claim) are innately bad. Except for the military and their corporate friends. But we know all this.
At least that’s the way I see it.
Oh, a quibble. Roosevelt wasn’t a Keynsian. If he had been the country may have gotten out of the Depression before WW2 proved Keynes right. FDR was actually an economic conservative but one who believed in pragmatic solutions. He never primed the pump before the war.
26 Dec 2008 @ 19:25 by jazzolog : A Little Sludge'll Do Ya
Gary Houser is an activist, based (as opposed to "housed:" this guy sleeps wherever his backpack drops) in Athens. We're not "Harvard on the Hocking" or the Greek ideal realized in Appalachia. We're coal country.
Photo by J. Miles Cary
A retention pond wall collapsed early this morning at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston steam plant, releasing a mixture of water and fly ash that flooded 12 homes and derailed a train.
As we observe the tragedy of what may turn out to be the largest ever spill of toxic coal ash, there is something positive to celebrate this Christmas Day. Eight years ago in Martin County Kentucky, there was another dam failure and huge spill of 300 million gallons. Despite its monumental size, national media coverage never even occurred because the coal companies and local law enforcement blocked the road and kept media out. And the national environmental groups did not do enough to garner attention.
This time around, the story has turned out differently. Due to a collective effort of dedicated activists all around the country, pressure was successfully mounted on the national news networks to provide adequate coverage. At a time when the coal industry is hoping to gear up its "clean coal" propaganda campaign to the Obama administration, the last thing it wanted was a huge coal tragedy on prime time on Christmas.
NBC and CBS have already broadcast incisive reports on their evening news programs, and ABC is preparing another for tomorrow (Friday). The story was front page in the New York times today. Here are direct links for your own viewing:
NBC News: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/28382451#28382451
NY Times article "Coal Ash Spill Revives Issue of Its Hazards" : www.nytimes.com/2008/12/25/us/25sludge.html?_r=1&hp
The opening line of the NBC report describes the spill as being around 30 times the size of the Valdez oil disaster in Alaska, and there is a spokesperson for the Union of Concerned Scientists stating emphatically how this shows there is "no such thing as clean coal", that this is an "oxymoron" - like saying "safe cigarette".
The NY Times coverage points out that "the Edison Electric Institute, an association of power utilities, estimated that the industry would have to spend up to $5 billion in additional cleanup costs if the substance were declared hazardous. Since then, environmentalists have urged tighter federal standards, and the E.P.A. is reconsidering its decision not to classify the waste as hazardous." (emphasis mine)
Publicly minded citizens will have an opportunity to push Obama's EPA to make this declaration, which would place substantial additional pressure on the coal industry. This coverage of the spill will also put "clean coal" forces on the defensive at a time when the Obama transition team is debating how much economic stimulus money to direct toward clean sources. Hopefully, Obama is watching these developments on TV while in Hawaii.
Here is a link to an ongoing compilation of print media coverage of the spill (including some international):
Something very positive did happen "behind the scenes" during this very sad disaster. My heartfelt appreciation is extended to all who helped out !!!
Gary "Spruce" Houser
28 Dec 2008 @ 09:36 by jazzolog : So Where Was The EPA All This Time?
Sue Sturgis is the editorial coordinator of Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch, a project of the Durham, NC-based Institute for Southern Studies. She holds a master's degree in journalism from New York University and a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from Penn State. Sue lives in Raleigh, is an avid blogger, and now has this piece about the sludge disaster picked up by TruthOut~~~
"EMPTY PROMISE": The broken federal commitment behind the Tennessee coal ash disaster
When Earthjustice Attorney Lisa Evans testified earlier this year before a congressional committee about the looming threat from coal combustion waste, she warned that the federal government's broken pledge to regulate disposal of the potentially dangerous material threatened the health and safety of communities across the country.
Speaking before a June 10 hearing of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Natural Resources titled "How Should the Federal Government Address the Health and Environmental Risks of Coal Combustion Waste?," Evans pointed out that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in its Regulatory Determination on Wastes from the Combustion of Fossil Fuels published in 2000 that federal standards for disposal of coal combustion waste were needed to protect public health and the environment.
The federal failure to regulate the waste has put 23 states -- including Tennessee -- in a special bind, since their statutes have "no more stringent" provisions prohibiting them from enacting standards stricter than those found in federal law. Without federal action, those states can't regulate coal combustion waste disposal beyond the few obviously inadequate safeguards that now exist.
Yet the U.S. government's commitment to regulate the very real danger of coal combustion waste -- the nation's second-largest industrial waste stream with 129 million tons produced each year -- remains "an entirely empty promise," Evans testified:
"EPA and [the federal Office of Surface Mining] are fiddling while ash from burning coal poisons our water and sickens our communities. Inadequate state laws offer scant protection. Federal environmental statutes dictate that EPA and OSM must do what they promised to do and what they have been directed to do -- promulgate enforceable minimum federal standards to protect health and the environment nationwide from the risks posed by mismanagement of coal combustion waste."
Evans' testimony seems almost eerily prescient now in the wake of the disaster that befell an Eastern Tennessee community this week following the collapse of a lagoon holding coal combustion waste from the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston power plant. The resulting deluge inundated 12 nearby homes, buried more than half a square mile in four to six feet of hazardous waste, and blocked a tributary of the Tennessee River, which provides drinking water for millions of people downstream.
TVA, a federally-owned independent corporation, initially estimated the amount of coal sludge released at 1.7 million cubic yards. But after completing an aerial survey of the inundated area, it revised its estimate upward to 5.4 million cubic yards. That's more than 1 billion gallons of waste containing potentially dangerous levels of heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead, as well as radioactive elements such as uranium and thorium -- impurities typically found in coal.
While the company is downplaying the hazardous nature of the material, telling the New York Times that it's "inert" and "not toxic or anything," an assessment by the Environmental Protection Agency found that the risk of getting cancer from coal ash lagoons is 10,000 times greater than safety standards allow.
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is warning people to avoid bodily contact with the ash -- and calling on government authorities to provide the public with more information on the potential hazards.
"There are multiple pathways in which people can become potentially affected by these heavy metals, including bodily contact, drinking water, air pathways and aquatic wildlife and fish," says SACE Executive Director Dr. Stephen A. Smith, "and we feel that appropriate warnings should be expressed to ensure the safety of Tennessee residents."
* * *
In recent years, the technology for capturing the pollutants from stacks of coal-fired power plants has become more sophisticated, which means coal combustion waste contains even higher concentrations of toxins. But as the Tennessee disaster shows, neither power companies' methods of disposing of this dangerous waste nor government regulations governing the disposal methods have advanced much.
With regulators' blessing, TVA was simply putting ash from its massive Kingston plant -- where nine burners consume 14,000 tons of coal a day -- into a nearby lagoon where it was mixed with water, allowed to settle and then pumped into what's known as a dredge cell. The company reports that the ash level in the dredge cell at the time of the collapse was unusually high: 55 feet above the water level in the nearby ash pond, with a spokesperson describing the level as "a lot higher than any other internal dredge cell that we have in TVA."
The collapse of the earthen wall holding back the coal sludge came following days of heavy rain. But this was no natural disaster: The company and regulators already knew the structure was prone to failure, with official inspection reports showing at least two other breaches of the same ash lagoon in the past six years.
Because of the toxins in the coal ash sludge, there are now serious concerns about the spill's environmental and public health impacts. TVA says its own preliminary tests indicate there's no danger to water quality in the nearby Tennessee River, though the environmental group United Mountain Defense reports that people living near the plant -- many of whom rely on private wells -- have experienced prolonged vomiting after drinking their water.
It's still too early to know exactly what the long-term extent and impact of the contamination from the Kingston disaster will be, since authorities have said cleanup could take months and even years. But as Evans testified earlier this year, environmental health threats related to coal combustion waste -- particularly wet waste stored in lagoons like the one at the Kingston plant -- have already been documented at sites around the country, including:
* contaminated public and private drinking water supplies in at least eight states, including Georgia;
* fish consumption advisories issued in Texas and North Carolina; and
* documented infertility and other abnormalities in nearly 25 species of amphibians and reptiles inhabiting coal combustion waste-contaminated wetlands in South Carolina.
Evans also noted more recent news reports of coal combustion waste contamination discovered in Maryland, Indiana and Montana. And when developers used 1.5 million tons of coal ash to build a golf course over a shallow aquifer in Chesapeake, Va., nearby wells almost immediately began showing elevated boron levels -- a marker for coal combustion waste contamination.
Given the clear danger that poorly regulated coal combustion waste presents to the public, it's time for the federal government to take action to prevent another disaster like the one now facing Eastern Tennessee.
Next time you flip that light switch or turn on your computer, give a thought to and have a care for where that electricity comes from and what people who live in coal country have to go through for you. Hyperlinks are sprinkled through Sue's article, and these photos are from the TVA aerial video of the site, which I guess you can watch on YouTube.
8 Jan 2009 @ 11:44 by jazzolog : TVA Sued
This is from Verena Owen of the Sierra Club National Campaign:
The 60-day notice was filed today.
Pls also see Bruce's newest blog entry at http://sierraclub.typepad.com/compass/2009/01/tvas-example-of-dirty-coal.html
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 6, 2009
Contact: Oliver Bernstein, Sierra Club, 512-477-2152
Kathleen Sutcliffe, Earthjustice, 202-667-4500
Massive Coal Ash Spill Leads to Chal lenge of Tennessee Valley Authority
Local Residents, Environmental Advocates: “Coal is Not Clean”
Knoxville, Tenn.: A coalition of local residents and environmental groups has put the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) on notice today for its negligence surrounding the tragic December 22 coal ash spill at the Kingston Fossil Plant in Roane County , Tennessee . In collaboration with dozens of neighbors whose property was directly affected by the spill, the groups Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment, Earthjustice, Public Justice, and Sierra Club are requesting that a federal court oversee the cleanup and remediation and that the responsible parties compensate local residents.
“This catastrophic spill was a colossal tragedy, and the Tennessee Valley Authority could have avoided this disaster had it taken its responsibilities seriously,” said Bruce Nilles, Director of Sierra Club’s National Coal Campaign. “This massive spill reminds us that coal is not clean, and coal is not cheap.”
On December 22, 2008, an earthen dam for a coal ash waste impoundment failed at the Kingston Fossil Plant, releasing hundreds of millions of gallons of coal ash sludge and contaminated water into the Emory and Clinch Rivers and onto more than 300 acres of nearby land. Most of this potentially toxic waste remains in or near those waters. The spill left behind piles of coal ash waste that will continue to leach and channel toxic chemicals into those two rivers and other groundwater whenever it rains.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) testing found more than 100 times the maximum Arsenic level allowed by the federal government in the Emory River near the spill site. The metals in this coal ash sludge may also become airborne as particulates when the ash dries out.
“We need to remember that TVA operates ten other coal-fired power plants, each with its own ash waste disposal problems,” said Axel Ringe, Sierra Club Tennessee Chapter Vice Conservation Chair. “Although TVA deservedly gets primary blame for this disaster, all the agencies involved must improve the oversight and permitting processes.”
The Tennessee River is the source of drinking water for the City of Kingston, Tennessee, and the Watts Bar Reservoir downstream is used by several communities for their drinking water supply. This poses a substantial health risk to persons who cons ume contaminated water, eat contaminated fish, or breathe airborne dust.
“We are talking about an environmental crisis of epic proportions,” said Earthjustice attorney Lisa Evans, who is representing Sierra Club in the case. “Not to mention the slow-motion disaster taking place at coal ash dumps all over the country, where 130 million tons of this toxic waste pile up each year and threaten to seep into drinking water supplies.”
“This spill has contaminated the land and water near the spill and threatened the health of dozens of families who own property, use the river, and breathe the air near the plant,” says Mary Parker, a Nashville attorney (and former President of Public Justice) who is representing dozens of local residents whose property is affected by the spill. “The TVA needs to clean up this mess and compensate the residents for their losses.”
The groups sent the TVA a formal notice of intent to sue today. The Sierra Club is represented by Joe Lovett with the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment, Jim Hecker with Public Justice, Lisa Evans and Deborah Goldberg at the nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice. Mary Parker at Parker & Crofford represents the local residents.
The Sierra Club's National Coal Campaign is working to ensure coal is mined responsibly, burned cleanly and does not contribute to global warming. This involves addressing the entire coal cycle, including mountaintop removal mining and its devastating impact on communities. Sierra Club supports efforts to invest in clean energy solutions. This coal ash spill is a painful reminder that there is no such thing as “clean coal.” For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org/coal.
My take on this: I suppose, since Obama campaigned for "clean coal," it's not premature to slap a suit on him about this issue. Maybe Bush and his cronies, as they pack their bags, could be convinced to leave a little cash in the Treasury to pay off the thousands of lawsuits pending against his government.
MSNBC is carrying an Associated Press story that says, "The nation's largest government-run utility ignored two small leaks that could have provided a warning years before a coal ash pond collapsed, flooding a neighborhood with a billion gallons of sludge, a former federal regulator contends." http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28526041/ And take a look at the photos.
Also McClatchey has this to report on the topic: "The coal ash spill in Tennessee last month is putting a spotlight on whether the ash from 450 other power plants around the country could be contaminating the nation's drinking water supplies.... The EPA in 2000 decided that coal ash wasn't hazardous waste and left regulation up to the states. Now, however, environmental activists say the Tennessee spill shows the need for federal standards for how coal waste is handled at the coal-fired power plants around the nation." http://www.mcclatchydc.com/260/story/59116.html Maybe the EPA should be cited in the suit too.
8 Jan 2009 @ 14:53 by quinty : Can we leave
the nineteenth century and enter the twenty first?
Though I see, listening briefly to NPR this morning, the American Enterprise Institute (home base for Neocons if you're not familiar with this "think tank") is already complaining about the "waste of money" if the government invests in green.
I suppose this may have nothing to do with their corporate and business interests, would it?
Other entries in Diary
20 Aug 2009 @ 10:04: Time To Go, Part 2
20 Jan 2009 @ 11:39: Time To Go
11 Oct 2008 @ 12:43: Obama In Ohio
7 Mar 2008 @ 09:59: Energy Efficiency Makeover: One Homeowner's Story
24 Dec 2007 @ 08:25: A Child Is Given
19 Aug 2007 @ 11:07: Heavy With Child
17 May 2007 @ 09:45: We've Changed Earth's Climate: Now What?
1 Mar 2007 @ 10:27: Episcopal: The Way We Do It
5 Dec 2006 @ 10:05: Alone And Angry: If Bush Were In AA
3 Sep 2006 @ 10:02: Pictures And Prose For 9/11