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Maybe we should just let Trump take credit for Korea

by Eric Ferguson on April 28, 2018 · 1 comment

Screen grab from the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) shows Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in shaking hands at  Panmunjom.

Screen grab from the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) shows Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in shaking hands at Panmunjom.

Sure, it’s annoying when Trump claims credit for something he didn’t do, much like when Trump incoherently claimed credit for the Pyeongchang Olympics, and, it should be predictable if you’re paying any attention, Trump now wants to claim credit for North and South Korea talking peace.

 

Sure, here in the reality-based community, it’s hard to forget it was just last Winter that the offer by the North to talk peace with the South was supposed to be just an attempt to “drive a wedge” between South Korea and the US. If this is what driving a wedge looks like, drive away! Korea has been one of places World War III is most likely to break out ever since the country was divided after World War II. If they’re going to talk about formally ending the war and demilitarizing the border, the best thing we could hope for is Trump shuts up and gets out of the way.
 

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Stop fighting about global warming

by Eric Ferguson on March 12, 2014 · 9 comments

typhoon-philippines-haiyanLet me be clear as possible about that headline. No, don’t stop fighting global warming. Don’t stop trying to do something about it. Yes, stop fighting about it. Stop wasting time with science deniers. That means stop arguing with the crazy uncle at family gatherings and the dittohead at the watercooler. Don’t let the trolls hijack the comment threads and cause you to frustrate yourself trying to convince the unconvincible.

 
Why stop? Did the urgency of global warming suddenly go away like a melting glacier in a time lapse film? No. Not a bit. The urgency is actually an argument to stop trying to persuade those who have required us to learn terms like epistemic closure, motivated reasoning, and debunking blowback effect. We don’t have time to waste on the minority that will never be convinced even if the prairies become home to cacti and the lizards who served as monsters in early 50’s schlocky sci-fi. The keyword there is “minority”. That’s right, in terms of getting the public to accept that global warming is real, we’ve already won. True, it’s a minority with loads of fossil fuel industry money and a major political party under its thumb, but we already have the sort of majority that usually means you’re going to win politically. Clearly that majority hasn’t been enough, which means we have to change something we’ve been doing, like, say, spinning our wheels in pointless arguments with deniers.
 
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Why not attack Iran

by Eric Ferguson on March 14, 2012 · 0 comments

I’m really not trying to be flippant about a war, but the sales campaign for an American and/or Israeli attack on Iran reminds me of anecdotes I heard about Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), called “Star Wars” by opponents. The anecdotes involved physicists or rocket engineers or some such category of persons (forgive the vagueness, but I’m remembering back almost 30 years) who made a game out of coming up with ways to defeat SDI. Their point was that the ways to defeat it were not merely much simpler than the system they had to defeat, but numerous.

Those stories came to mind when the reasons attacking Iran is a bad idea came quickly. There are enough that even before going in depth on any of them, you’re thinking “are we seriously thinking about doing this?” Incredulity has to give way to reality: we are. Well, some of us are. Some of us can think of a bunch of reasons attacking Iran is a lousy idea. I’ve elaborated more than I intended, but the point remains that when the reasons something is a bad idea come quickly when you first ponder the question, that’s a sign it really is a bad idea.
There’s one thing I did go into in depth about recently, that Iran has good reason to want its own nukes. I won’t repeat the whole thing, so the gist is Iran faces multiple threats from nuclear nations, including us. If Iran decides it needs its own bomb, then it’s going to pursue it despite sanctions and even despite attacks to slow it down.

There’s no thought to “then what?” If bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities doesn’t stop the program, or even slow it down significantly, then what? The neocons (yes, it’s the same bunch who sold the war on Iraq) haven’t answered that.

Iranian facilities will be hard to wipe out. If the answer to what happens if an attack fails is a sustained bombing campaign, has Iran not been hardening, hiding, and dispersing their nuclear facilities? If that won’t work, then what’s left? A nuclear attack? Great, prove they needed their own bomb, and prove it to everyone who might be on our bad side. An invasion and occupation? I suspect that’s what will be required to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Anyone ready to repeat Iraq in a country three times the size? And as long as I brought up the neocons…

These are the same people who sold the war on Iraq. The neocons aren’t necessarily wrong just because they were wrong on Iraq … so terribly, horribly wrong … and I can’t think of what they got right … but if they’re the people presented as experts, and we’re supposed to trust that they’ve thought this through and analyzed everything, seems like reason enough to say “no”. That these are the people (besides the GOP presidential candidates) Obama was referring to when he talked about the people who don’t consider the seriousness of starting a war, and don’t have to pay the price, should get even the Sunday morning interview shows rethinking things. Yeah, should.

Can we deal with one crisis at a time? It seems a good rule of them to never create a crisis, because crises tend to come unbidden anyway. An objection I had to invading Iraq was we were already at war in Afghanistan. We’re still there, in case anyone didn’t know, but in terms of new crises, I’m thinking of Syria. Syria has an actual crisis, a “people are being killed right now” crisis, a “something has to be done right now” crisis, and American conservatives are obsessed about — Iran?

Same question about Yemen as Syria by which I mean it has a crisis too. Maybe not as immediate as Syria, but actual Al Qaida are holding territory and the country could collapse into multiple civil wars, yet American conservatives are obsessed about — Iran?

Is it good for Israel? Speaking of Syria, it just amazes me that these people obsessed with Israel, and the Israeli government itself, are so intent on attacking Iran when there’s a civil war right-fricking-next-door. The Syrian government might not attack Israel to unite the country, or undermine the opposition, or draw the Arabs into a different war so they don’t intervene in Syria? This isn’t the crisis, but Iran maybe getting a bomb, maybe literally just one bomb, that’s the crisis?

Iran will retaliate, or do the neocons just think Iran will accept the inevitable and give up? Iran doesn’t have the same conventional forces we do, and probably can’t even hit back directly at Israel, but they increase their support of terrorist groups and attack inside Israel and the US. They could increase the support for the Syrian government. They could support insurgencies against governments we support. They could crack down harder on domestic opposition. Let’s look at that last one…

This could end the democratic opposition movement. I don’t see an attack having a good outcome for the opposition. Even the people who carried photos of the murdered Neda and defied the Basiji militia will be inclined to rally around the government when their country is attacked. The government may take the chance to delegitimize the opposition, if they don’t lose all restraint about throwing opponents in prison. If you want regime change, and you’re going to undercut the people who marched in the streets of Tehran, then who do you expect to become the next government? Will those fabled “Iranian moderates” of Iran-Contra fame materialize?

Everybody better get their own bomb. I realize the point is to make the point that if you try to make your own bomb, you’ll be attacked. The lesson however might be that we’ll attack people who don’t have their own bomb — so get yours before the missiles come your way because funny thing, nobody attacks nuclear-armed nations. There are good non-nuclear reasons not to attack Pakistan and North Korea, but guess which explanation every dictator in the world is likely to seize upon?

Weren’t we supposed to get worked up about the deficit? Funny how self-proclaimed deficit hawks think no amount of money is too much when they get to indulge their inner war hawk. And their outer war hawk. The cost of Iraq is very roughly already a $trillion. That’s more than was allocated for TARP. More than the Recovery Act. It’s also much less than an invasion of Iran is likely to cost, yet American conservatives are ready to get into a conflict with no real idea of where it goes and no thought about spending the money. Well, maybe we can trim a few million from food stamps. That should pay off the national debt.

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Iran has good reason to want nukes

by Eric Ferguson on March 9, 2012 · 4 comments

During a Senate hearing last week on the situation in Syria, Sen. Bob Corker gets his turn to question witnesses, and does he start with questions, or make a statement about Syria? No. He instead says he can’t understand why that hearing isn’t about Iran. Why isn’t there a hearing about Iran every week he asked. Sure, forget the country with actual it’s-already-happening crisis. We’ve got Iran to bomb!

Though we don’t need a C-SPAN addiction to get an idea of why Iran might think having a bomb of its own is a good idea. Look at this map, paying particular attention not to Iran, but to the countries around it. If the reason it would be reasonable for Iran to be enriching weapons-grade uranium as quickly as possible isn’t obvious, I’ll elaborate after the jump. Click the map to enlarge.


Keeping in mind the open threats to attack Iran coming from American conservatives, look at Iran’s northeastern border and notice Afghanistan, with something like 80,000 American troops. Iraq just has some thousands of state department staff and private security contractors to guard them, probably only slightly worrying, but across Basra in Kuwait, a bunch of US bases. Across the Persian Gulf in Bahrain, a US base. Across the Persian Gulf in Qatar, another US base. Across the Southeastern border with Pakistan, some unknown number of secret US bases. On the Northwest border is Turkey, which has several — I hope you know where I’m going — US bases. Think Iran might feel we have them surrounded?

We’re not the only nuclear nation threatening to bomb Iran. A couple countries away to the West is Israel, which seems to be wavering between waiting for US permission to launch an attack and just attacking without permission. If you’re Iran though, that’s not all the nukes you’re staring at.

Pakistan doesn’t just have some unknown number of Americans, but it has bombs of its own. It also has an unstable government, and Sunni extremists who not only might someday take over the government, but also have a hobby of attacking Pakistan’s Shiite minority. If you’re a neighboring Shiite majority country, does that make you nervous?

Though US troops withdrew from Iraq, Iraq is still there along with the long hostility between Iranians and Arabs. Across the Persian Gulf is the Arabian Peninsula with a bunch of Arab nations hostile to Iran. Iran is bigger than any of them, but bigger than all of them put together? At the other end of the Caspian Sea is nuclear Russia, not particularly hostile now, but historically, the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire looked at Iran as this place getting in the way of their warm water port. The countries in between, though no longer part of the Soviet Union or Russian Empire, are still referred to by Russia as “the near abroad”. Major power with nukes looks at your border as their sphere of influence — feeling nervous yet?

If you’re Iran, you’re looking at that map and noticing you have a problem with everybody bordering or close, plus two nuclear nations openly threatening to bomb you. Why would you not want a bomb?

Not that there aren’t reasons to oppose getting your own bombs, like proving the warmongers are right in what they say about you, and scaring someone else enough to turn you into an atomic target. Developing a bomb could bring on severe economic sanctions and the regime does want to stay in power. Are those enough reasons to override what that map is telling you?

I don’t know. I do know that the map and the problems over the border don’t change if we imagine a different regime. Even if the Iranian regime ceased to be theocratic, even if stopped being Muslim, imagining that only the non-Muslim minority got to participate in government and they chose the build the most American-style secular democracy imaginable, the threats mostly remain. Maybe the Iranian-Israeli threat-down stops, maybe American conservatives get over their hysteria — maybe. Or maybe Iran remembers that the last time they had a democracy, the US government overthrew it. Everywhere else in the neighborhood — nothing changes.

What that tells me is even if the government changed, Iran would still be thinking about getting its own bomb. The incentive provided from the proximity and hostility of nuclear nations won’t have gone away. The threat from more numerous Sunnis won’t have gone away, nor the hostility of the more wealthy Arab nations across the Gulf. In other words, changing the Iranian government won’t change geography.

I imagine the conservative response would be that without the theocracy, Israel and America wouldn’t be thinking about attacking, so therefore the “any government would want a bomb” argument doesn’t hold. Fine. Let’s pretend Israel and America go away. You’re the Iranian government, as secular and democratic and peace-loving as you like. You don’t look at Russia and Pakistan, especially Pakistan, and still think having your own deterrent might be a good idea?

If that’s so, then even invading Iran and imposing a new government, whatever it’s form, will only delay the building of an Iranian bomb, because no imposed changes are going to change geography. The only way to stop a bomb being built, if any Iranian government would trust us that much, is to put Iran under the US nuclear umbrella. That means we promise to treat a nuclear attack on Iran like an attack on us and retaliate.

Skeptical that could happen? Me too.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) often says things that aren’t true.  She most likely believes them to be true, but couldn’t care less if they are actually true or not.  This is a particular weakness of hers when it comes to foreign policy.

She told the world she knew of secret Iranian plans to divide up Iraq.  These plans were so secret nobody else knew about them.  She believes the US will be cursed if we ever do anything whatsoever that Israel doesn’t like.  

She’s not very credible on foreign policy issues.  Yet, she’s a presidential candidate so ABC had her on the TV last Sunday:

Transcript:

BACHMANN: Iran has also stated they would be willing to use a nuclear weapon against the United States of America. I think if there’s anything that we have learned over the course of history, it is that when a madman speaks, we should listen. And I think in the case of Iran, that is certainly true.

AMANPOUR: Congresswoman, of course the United States is concerned about the nuclear program. Iran denies that it has one, so it hasn’t threatened to use them.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann was in Iowa yesterday campaigning for President.  In her remarks she said she would like to get rid of the federal departments of commerce, education and energy.

Bachmann said she supports abolishing the U.S. Department of Education “along with a few other agencies, by the way.”

She later told reporters that the free-market economy takes care of the functions of the federal departments Department of Energy, whose mission is to advance energy technology, and the Department of Commerce, which tries to make American businesses more innovative at home and more competitive abroad.

“Any place where we could abolish we should go ahead and cut back and abolish,” she said. “The private sector can handle that on their own.”
[my emphasis]

The stupid, it hurts.  Make it stop.
Here’s what’s particularly idiotic about her statement:

“The private sector can handle that on their own.”

Let’s walk this through.

Dept of Energy

Do we want the profit driven companies to oversee our nuclear industry?  

I’m sure the main way a for-profit corporation to cut costs and thereby deliver stronger earnings is by reducing expenses related to safety.

Nuclear plants are uninsurable.  The only reason that we have nuke plants is that our government passed a law back in the 70s insuring them.

Furthermore, I don’t want a for-profit company overseeing the storage of our spent fuel rods.  Calling this idea idiotic is a gargantuan understatement and an insult to idiots everywhere.

What private industry would push energy conservation and research into renewable energy solutions?  There’s no money to be made in research and development.  In addition, I’m sure conservatives and corporate Dems would push to make sure that the energy industry controlled this … and we know what would happen then.

Dept of Commerce

There’s one obvious reason Bachmann wants Commerce axed – The Census.  Bachmann is deathly afraid of it.

Also all the research that that National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration does would disappear, too.  She hates all the research they do into global climate change.

Plus, the Commerce Dept is in charge of all kinds of techie things that I’m certain she know absolutely nothing about.  Why can’t the private sector be in charge of all that techie stuff anyway?  

Finally, who better to regulate the invisible hand of the markets than the markets themselves?

Dept of Education

This has been a dream of hers and actually what got her into politics in 2001.  She co-authored this tract in 2001. She views public education …

as a threat to American liberty. In 2001, Senator Bachmann made the bizarre claim that the United States government was opposing “both free enterprise and representative government.” She also accused the United States of implementing a national public school curriculum designed to turn America and Minnesota into Soviet Union-style economies.

While her views on public education aren’t entirely rational, she certainly wants to abolish it.

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Insiders tell me that a Senate/House conference committee will meet Monday May 10 to hammer out a bill that would lift Minnesota’s ban on the building of new nuclear plants.  

THE MORATORIUM ON NEW NUCLEAR PLANS SHOULD BE KEPT IN TACT.

CONTACT ASAP the Senate and House conferees by phone or email (see below) urging them to keep the ban in place.

The Minnesota Environmental Partnership explains why the ban needs to be kept in place:  Here’s the link:  

http://www.mepartnership.org/m…

I add that now is more Mom Nature friendly energy alternatives should be the State’s goal  – not nuclear which is fraught with toxic consequences beginning with mining, cost over runs and safe disposal problems.

WHO YOU SHOULD CONTACT ABOUT SENATE FILE 2971 (bill to end the moratorium on new nuclear plants)

   Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL) – telephone: (651) 296-4188;
   Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL) – telephone: (651) 296-4191; e-mail: sen.scott.dibble@senate.mn
   Sen. Amy Koch (R) – telephone: (651) 296-5981; e-mail: sen.amy.koch@senate.mn   (Note: Senator Koch has been strongly in favor of repealing the moratorium, without conditions.)

   Rep:  Bill Hilty (DFL) – telephone: (651) 296-4308; e-mail: rep.bill.hilty@house.mn
   Rep:  Kate Knuth (DFL) – telephone: (651) 296-0141; e-mail: rep.kate.knuth@house.mn
   Rep:  Bob Gunther (R) – telephone: (651) 296-3240; e-mail: rep.bob.gunther@house.mn

  (Note: Representatives Hilty and Knuth voted “For” the Hilty amendment (to repeal the nuclear power moratorium, with conditions); Rep. Gunther voted against the Hilty amendment (presumably because he wanted no nuclear power moratorium at all!)

MPR link
http://minnesota.publicradio.o…

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Bussed In Energy Rally

by Grace Kelly on September 1, 2009 · 2 comments

The business of imitating grassroots activism by very rich companies for their own interests continues. Today, a public rally was manufactured. From Marathon Oil and possibly other sponsors, four busloads of people were brought in to a small room to make it look like a popular rally. The Marathon company switchboard kindly told me about the event, when I explained that I had forgotten what was going on today. The Richfield bus company confirms that these four buses would hold about 224 people, costing about $2000. The crowd was polite but did not have the usual rally energy that one would normally expect.

This “Rally for jobs and Affordable Energy” event screamed big money: very expensive sign up billboards, t-shirts for everyone, the best video camera setup,special lighting, huge displays, at least 7 support staff and tailor made movies! They even gave me a t-shirt even though I explained that I was media and could not wear it. Thanks, by the way! I wore a media pass, giving my real name and setting up a video camera. I heard that Jeremy Kalin was turned away, which is strange since it was suppose to be a public open non-partisan rally. Hmmmmm.

The speakers spoke the very traditional conservative talk mantras:

  • Annette Meeks, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota
  • Sheila Kihne, soccer mom and activist from Minneapolis
  • Kevin Paap, president, the Minnesota Farm Bureau
  • Dirk Bak, president, SDQ Ltd.
  • David Strom, talk radio host AM 1280 The Patriot
  • Patricia Anderson, Minnesota Free Market Institute
  • (from a handout)

    David Strom graciously granted me an interview. He believes that they will be able to entirely gut the cap-and-trade bill to a name-only bill. He believes the health-care bill will also be gutted to a name-only bill. David also said that this was a 50 state tour!
    Perhaps the strangest part was a conversation in the parking lot. I joined a group of friendly people. I asked what group they were from, which was Marathon oil. It was a good place to work and they were happy to have jobs in this economy. I asked why they were worried and the answer was losing jobs.

    I said that I thought they would be grandfathered into any energy bill just like coal energy companies were. Then a kindly gentleman said that new business would not be able to then compete. I responded that new business would have new technology that would be about to meet new standards while old business did not have this advantage.

    At this point, a very young person lurched the conversation into talking points. So I asked what job he had, answer “commerce analyst”. So I asked how the company would be doing for the next five years, a commerce question. He didn’t know. Then the group rather abruptly broke up.

    More info and a possible video will be coming later.

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    Why Nuclear Energy is the Worst Choice UPDATED

    by Grace Kelly on August 14, 2009 · 0 comments

    A new group “Sensible Energy Solutions for Minnesota” ought to be renamed “Stupid Energy Solutions for Minnesota” for proposing to build nuclear power plants that would start producing just when the demands for uranium would outpace the the supplies of uranium. The costs of that nuclear power would then be skyrocketing!

    To make this easier I have added the red lines on the original graph of supply and demand of uranium from Oil Drum. Ten years is a reasonable timeframe for building a nuclear plant. At that time, the top red arrow showing demand is now way above the lower red arrow showing supply. The various other lines and hills show that no matter how optimistic, that the new nuclear plants would start operating right when the costs for nuclear power source of uranium starts soaring!
    The time estimate of ten years to build a nuclear plant is a compromise. There are claims of 36 months for the new Westinghouse AP600/AP1000. The last reactor unit to come online in the United States took 25 years to build. A accelerated reasonable guess would be five years, which leads me to a normal expectation of ten years. This is right at the point in the timeline of the beginning of peak nuclear, where the costs of uranium go up dramatically.

    The sensitivity of uranium supply and demand to price has already been demonstrated by this graph.

    The defense to peak scenarios is that we can explore and find more uranium. The trick of it is that we are unlikely to find more uranium where it costs less energy to get the uranium out than the energy that the uranium provides!

    So economically, nuclear energy makes no sense. Then add the high upfront building costs, the lack of places to store wasted fuel forever, the risk of Chernobyl type disaster and the possible terrorist risk of nuclear plant, and one wonders who could recommend such an idea?

    A clue comes from the very word “sensible” which has been used for public relations efforts for energy interests before.

    A new group is gearing up to try to repeal Minnesota’s moratorium on new nuclear power plants. The moratorium was put in place 15 years ago, when Xcel Energy was allowed to store more nuclear waste at its Prairie Island plant.
    The Legislature came close to repealing it last year, and this new group is promising to push harder in the coming session.

    The new group is called Sensible Energy Solutions for Minnesota, and it has labor and business representatives on its board of advisors.

    The president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, David Olson, says the moratorium is outdated.

    (MPR)

    The only people who would possibly benefit from Minnesota building nuclear energy plants are people who have invested their money in the few uranium reserves left. So I would ask all the people in the Sensible Energy group to make all of their finances totally public before I trusted them!

    Update: Just so you don’t think that I am overbilling Sensible energy, here is a copy of a press release:

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Wednesday, August 13, 2009

    Contact:

    Matt Burns

    Email: Matt@EnergySolutionsMN.org

    POWERFUL COALITION AIMS TO SECURE MINNESOTA’S ENERGY, ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC FUTURE

    Sensible Energy Solutions for Minnesota (SESM) Pushing for Repeal of State’s

    Moratorium on Constructing Nuclear Energy Facilities

    (Saint Paul, Minn.) – Sensible Energy Solutions for Minnesota (SESM), a newly formed non-profit group advocating repeal of the state’s moratorium on constructing nuclear energy facilities, today named a distinguished, bipartisan group of labor, business and environmental leaders to its board of advisors.  Organizers recently filed paperwork with the Minnesota Secretary of State and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to operate as a 501(c)(4) non-profit.

    The broad-based coalition underscored the safe, clean and reliable nature of nuclear energy, coupled with its indisputable job-creating potential, as key reasons for repeal.  In calling on the state legislature to reverse the moratorium, SESM also pointed out that President Obama, Senator Klobuchar, Governor Pawlenty and many other key leaders consider nuclear energy to be an important part of the solution in addressing global climate change and reducing our reliance on foreign oil.

    “While states from South Carolina to Maryland are looking forward and considering 21st century designs and other new nuclear power technologies, Minnesota is marching steadily toward a shortage of base-load electricity,” said Minnesota Chamber of Commerce President and SESM Board Member David Olson.  “As we look ahead, we must put nuclear power – the most sensible and carbon-free base-load electricity source in existence – back on the table as an energy option.”

    “Currently, there are more than twenty applications with the Department of Energy for construction of nuclear power plants in the United States,” said Minnesota Pipe Trades Association President and SESM Board Member Carl Crimmins. “These plants would supply carbon-free, low-cost, base-load power for the energy grid, as well as offer good-paying jobs during the construction phase and during day-to-day operations. Each plant would stimulate the local economy and spur economic growth around the plant in supporting workers, their families, the state and local municipalities.”

    A November 2008 national public opinion survey by Bisconti Research, Inc. found that 69 percent of Americans believe the U.S. should build more nuclear power plants.  An unscientific poll taken at the 2008 Minnesota State Fair found that more than 60 percent of respondents believe the state’s ban on new nuclear power facilities should be lifted.

    “SESM’s mission is simple: ‘To help secure Minnesota’s energy, environmental and economic future by urging repeal of the antiquated moratorium on constructing nuclear power facilities within the state,'”
    said Scott Melbye, president of Cameco, Inc. and SESM board member.  “As the diversity of our board shows, this issue transcends traditional political divides.  It is not merely a Democratic issue or a Republican issue.  It’s a Minnesota issue.”

    SESM Board of Advisors:

    ·         Carl Crimmins, president, Minnesota Pipe Trades Association, Saint Paul, Minn.

    ·         Cynthia “Cyndi” Lesher, retired president and CEO, Northern States Power Company

    ·         Harry Melander, executive secretary, Saint Paul Building & Construction Trades Council

    ·         Scott Melbye, president, Cameco, Inc.

    ·         David Olson, president, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce

    ·         Richard J. Vetter, Ph.D., Professor of Biophysics

    ·         Dr. Don McMillan, president, Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance

    ·         Dan Puhl, CPA

    Lesher said, “Nuclear power is a safe, proven technology that keeps energy prices competitive, while protecting our environment for future generations.  This discussionand considering viable options, not partisan politics.  Now is the time to remove hurdles standing between our state and a secure energy future.
    Now is the time to act.”

    McMillan said, “Hunters, Fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts believe in conserving and protecting our wildlife and environment.  We also believe that nuclear energy is the most environmentally friendly source of energy on this planet.  We encourage the Minnesota Legislature to lift the moratorium on building nuclear energy plants in Minnesota to help save and conserve our environment.”

    Vetter said, “Nuclear power does not produce carbon dioxide emissions, a key greenhouse gas tied to global warming.  In addition, nuclear power is one of the world’s safest sources of energy, and it doesn’t produce mercury emissions, another harmful pollutant.  Nuclear power needs to be included in our future armamentarium of energy sources.  This requires Minnesota to overturn the moratorium on nuclear power plant construction, which currently hinders our utilities from developing options that don’t contribute to global warming.”

    SESM expects to ramp up in the months leading up to the 2010 state legislative session, conducting an aggressive grassroots campaign to push for the moratorium’s repeal.  Minnesotans interested in getting involved are encouraged to visit SESM online, www.EnergySolutionsMN.org.
    SESM is also on Facebook and Twitter.

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    NOTE:  THE FOLLOWING ARE BELOW:

       * “How Did Lawmakers Vote?  Summary of Previous Votes on Repealing Moratorium”
       *  “Nuclear Energy Quick Facts”
       * “What They’re Saying About Nuclear Energy”

    HOW DID LAWMAKERS VOTE? SUMMARY OF PREVIOUS VOTES ON REPEALING MORATORIUM

       * http://www.votesmart.org/issue…
       * http://www.votesmart.org/issue…

    NUCLEAR ENERGY QUICK FACTS

    Environmental:

    In 2007, Minnesota’s existing nuclear power plants prevented the emission of:

             o 46,300 tons of SO2 (Acid Rain)
             o 13.8 million metric tons of CO2 (Global Warming)
             o 25,100 tons of NOx (Ground-level Ozone and Smog)

    The NOx emissions prevented is equal to that produced by 1.3 million cars.  Minnesota has about 2.5 million registered cars. (Source: NEI/EPA)

    Economic:

       * Annually, the average nuclear plant generates approximately $430 million in sales of goods and services in the local community and nearly $40 million in total labor income.

       * The average nuclear plant generates total state and local tax revenue of nearly $20 million each year. These tax dollars benefit
    schools, roads, and other state and local infrastructure. Federal tax payments of approximately $75 million annually are also generated

       * Approximately 2,400 workers will be needed at a single site during peak periods of new nuclear plant construction.  Once new plants are
    built, 400 to 700 people will be needed to run each plant.

    Reality:

       * The U.S. Department of Energy projects the United States will need 21 percent more electricity by 2030.

    WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT NUCLEAR ENERGY

    President Barack Obama:  “We must harness the power of nuclear energy on behalf of our efforts to combat climate change, and to advance peace and opportunity for all people.” (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office Remarks-By-President-Barack-Obama-In-Prague-As-Delivered)

    U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.):  “Our energy future must be based on a combination of renewable energy resources, advanced clean-energy technology and high-efficiency vehicles,buildings and appliances, along with safe nuclear energy…”(http://klobuchar.senate.gov/energy.cfm)

    Rep. Erik Paulson (D-Minn.): “If we’re going to be serious aboutsecuring our energy future, we need to focus on having nuclear energy be a part of that.”
    (http://www.edenprairienews.com/Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.):  “We need to get our hands on all the
    energy that we can. From my standpoint, we need to have more nuclear power…”

    (http://www.swamppolitics.com/news/politics/blog/2008/07/pawlenty_lets_govern_like_sams.html)

    Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.): “In Minnesota, we unfortunately have a law that prohibits the expansion of nuclear energy in our state.  I support repealing that law.” (University of Wisconsin news conference, 8/18/09)

    U.S. Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio): “Nuclear energy is the best source that we have available to serve our energy needs while also curbing greenhouse gas emissions.”
    (http://www.nei.org/newsandevents/policymakers)

    John Sweeney, president, AFL-CIO: “To achieve a balanced energy policy and promote investments in technologies and reduce greenhouse emissions, we believe Congress should make loan guarantees to the construction of nuclear power plants.”
    (http://www.nei.org/newsandevents/businessleaders/businessleadersextended)

    National Association of Manufacturers: “Nuclear energy helps stabilize the price of electricity…As the demand for electricity in the United States continues to grow, the National Association of Manufacturers supports the construction of additional nuclear power plants that have been approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to maintain a diverse portfolio of generating resources.” http://www.nei.org/newsandeven…

    Ron Ault, president, AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department: “This isn’t a Republican issue. It isn’t a Democratic issue. It’s an American issue.”
    (http://www.nei.org/newsandevents/businessleaders/businessleadersextended)

    Glen Casey, legislative director, International Brotherhood of Electric Workers: “Let’s face it: We need the low-cost power and environmental benefits that nuclear power provides.”(http://www.nei.org/newsandevents/businessleaders/businessleadersextended)

    Patrick Moore, co-founder, Greenpeace:  “A more diverse mix of voices are taking a positive second look at nuclear energy-environmentalists, scientists, the media, prominent Republicans and Democrats and progressive think tanks. They are all coming to a similar conclusion: If we are to meet the growing electricity needs in this country and also address global climate change, nuclear energy has a crucial role to play.”
    (http://www.nei.org/newsandevents/environmentalists/environmentalistsextended)

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    Madia vs. Paulsen on Energy

    by Joe Bodell on August 15, 2008 · 4 comments

    Now that both DFLer Ashwin Madia and Republican Erik Paulsen have published position papers on energy, it’s possible to compare the two platforms head-to-head.  We’ll begin after the break, but here’s the bottom line:

    If you’re a Third district voter and gas prices and energy are your most important issues this year, Ashwin Madia is the clear choice.
    Here’s the basic outline of Paulsen’s plan:

    I. Promoting the use of Wind, Solar and Nuclear Energy.

    Wind. The U.S. Department of  Energy reports that approximately 20% of America’s electricity could be generated from wind. In fact, the Greater Plains area alone could produce at least one-fourth of all wind power.

    Solar. Solar energy continues to provide promising breakthroughs for individuals and businesses.

    Nuclear. Nuclear energy is our nation’s largest source of cleaner energy. It is the only option available that provides significant production without emitting harmful greenhouse gases. No other source of energy today can provide the wholesale benefits of nuclear energy: large-scale energy with clean air benefits. Congress must eliminate barriers to the expansion of emission-free nuclear power production while at the same time ensuring the continued safety of existing and future facilities.

    [Emphasis added for use later]

    II. Increasing the Supply of American-made Energy.
    This can be done by using the energy-rich ocean resources in a way that protects the environment, while providing an additional 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion additional cubic feet of natural gas. While this is not the only solution, it must be part of a comprehensive energy plan.

    [Emphasis added for use later]

    III. Making Investments in Research & Development. Congress must increase Research and Development (R & D) in alternative energy sources to enhance current technologies and discover new ones.

    IV. Creating Incentives for Individuals and Businesses. Congress must provide individuals and business with tax incentives for specific behavior that encourages the use of alternative energy sources.

    Paulsen’s platform positions on encouragement of green energy production are inoffensive enough. However, these positions conflict with his voting record on energy issues in the State House:  earlier this year, Paulsen voted against Minnesota’s participation in a regional greenhouse gas reduction program. He has opposed requiring that 20 percent of the state’s energy be produced from renewable sources by 2020, and also voted against requiring that renewable energy make up at least a minimum share of the electricity that utilities sell in Minnesota.

    So a campaign-season conversion is a tad disingenuous, even if it is ultimately good for the public discourse on energy issues. The more candidates who admit that Democratic positions are the right positions, the better chance we have of effecting real change in our country’s direction  on the issue.

    However, on the emphasized points above, what Paulsen doesn’t say is as important as what he does.

    Paulsen advocates an expansion of nuclear power production, citing its emission-free potential.  While this is true, he makes zero statements about the disposal of nuclear waste, which drastically more dangerous in the short term than greenhouse emissions.

    In his bullet point on increasing the supply of domestic energy, Paulsen talks about “energy-rich ocean resources.” In campaign-speak, that means “off-shore drilling,” which are harmful to the environment, end of story, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Later in his plan, Paulsen advocates “drawing down” the Strategic Petroleum Reserve from its current level of 700 million barrels, but when American drivers use 20 million barrels of oil every day in their cars alone, it’s difficult to see how drawing down a short-term shock absorber like the SPR is a reasonable component of long-term energy policy.

    Moving on to Ashwin Madia’s platform (also excerpted so it’s not quite as long a post:

    Growth through a Green Economy

    Federal legislation that requires a specific percentage of energy come from renewable sources would provide an immediate economic stimulus to states like Minnesota, with the capacity to be major producers of alternative energy. A cap and trade system for carbon dioxide emissions would create new market incentives for energy innovation. We can use the revenue generated by this cap and trade system to give back to consumers and keep energy prices affordable for middle class families.

    We also need expanded federal incentives for businesses and individual consumers for the use of sustainable energy like wind, solar, and biofuels…We should take the billions in government handouts to oil companies and put that money into research and development of new renewable energy sources. This would help us transition to a green economy in a fiscally responsible manner.

    Reducing Prices by Reducing Demand for Oil

    Unaffordable gas prices have forced demand down, but they also put additional strains on family budgets that are already stretched by a difficult recession. Expanded federal incentives for fuel-efficient hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles would dramatically reduce our demand for foreign oil.

    Environmentally Responsible Drilling

    Oil companies should explore the lease areas already granted to them before exposing additional areas of valuable coastal property to the perils of oil spills. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused 124 offshore oil spills, resulting in 743,700 gallons of oil being dumped into the ocean.  If there truly are ways to expand domestic supply in an environmentally responsible manner, we should grant new offshore oil leases on a case-by-case basis.  We should not simply give a blank check to Big Oil to drill whenever and wherever they want.  I would be proud to continue Congressman Jim Ramstad’s tradition of protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from drilling.

    [Emphasis added]

    A Role for Nuclear Power

    Like Vice President Al Gore, I believe nuclear power should continue to play a modest role as part of the larger solution of addressing the crisis of global climate change. I would support federal policies and investments to determine environmentally safe ways of disposing of nuclear waste. The costs of such efforts should be incorporated into the price of energy sold by nuclear power plants.

    I have a few personal points of contention with Madia’s platform — I don’t think he goes quite far enough in saying “Green” instead of “Renewable,” for example.  I hear “Renewables” and that includes things like ethanol, which do help us get off foreign oil but don’t provide a carbon-neutral energy resource — not to mention the negative effects ethanol production has on the food markets. Drilling, I will only grudgingly admit, is a continued necessity until we don’t need oil anymore, but at least Madia’s focus is on the negative impact of increased drilling rather than its meager benefits.

    By and large, Madia’s platform is better than Paulsen’s. His stance on nuclear power is stronger, given his focus on incorporation of safe disposal costs.  His approach to drilling is a reasonable one too, with a focus on the environment and reduction of demand instead of the ridiculous Republican Party rote of “Drill Now, Drill Everywhere”

    Bottom line: Madia talks frequently and passionately about reinvigorating the American manufacturing sector by building green-economy jobs — R+D and assembly of wind and solar equipment, etc. Erik Paulsen has a voting record that stands in stark contrast to his stated positions on energy in this congressional campaign, and if elected, would be working closely with absolute loonies like Michele Bachmann on the most important issues we face.

    If you’re a Third district voter and gas prices and energy are your most important issues this year, Madia is the clear choice.

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