Key Vote on Fossil Fuel Plants Set for Thursday
By Doug Porter
Clean energy advocates and neighborhood groups opposing further construction of fossil fuel generating plants in the San Diego region are calling up the public to protest a closed conclave being held by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in La Jolla on Wednesday, March 20th. Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor yesterday denied an emergency appeal to stop the California Public Utilities Commission from holding a closed-to-the-public meeting with power companies and other ‘stakeholders’. As a result, the CPUC, CEC, Cogentrix, SDG&E, CleanTech, and other industry and corporate stakeholders (excluding the public and the press) will meet in San Diego one day before the CPUC votes on whether the power plants are actually needed, and four months after the CPUC already rejected the proposed fossil fuel-burning plants as not needed. The public is asked show support by attending a press conference and clean energy media event set for 11:30 to 12:30 on Wednesday at the Scripps Seaside Forum at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UCSD) – 8610 Kennel Way, La Jolla, CA 92037 (parking at Kellogg Park/La Jolla Shores, several blocks south on El Paseo Grande). Why is this important? I’ll let Miriam Raftery of East County Magazine explain:
The CPUC has come under increasing fire since Michael Peevey became president in 2002. A recent column in the San Diego Daily Transcript by sundicated columnist Thomas Elias titled “Are utility regulators creating a banana republic?” cites numerous examples where the commission “has taken care of big utilities and power producers at the expense of ordinary citizens, called `ratepayers’ in utility parlance.”
For example, the CPUC forced customers to foot most of the bill to fix pipelines after the 2010 explosion that killed eight people in San Bruno, even though Pacific Gas & Electric Co. took responsibility for the blast.
Now the CPUC is weighing approval of three gas-fired “peaker” power plants in San Diego County. Peevey asked the head of theCalifornia Energy Commission to send a letter supporting his claim that one of them, Pio Pico, is needed – even though it’s not. The CPUC’s own administrative law judge found there is no need for this new plant or any other until at least 2018. Moreover, even if San Onofre stays permanently shut down, by late this summer, Southern California will have excess generating capacity of 30 percent andNorthern California nearly 40 percent.
Pio Pico would cost ratepayers $80-$90 million over the next 20 years—with profits flowing to SDG&E.
The Environmental Health Coalition, the Sierra Club, San Diego 350.org, Save Mission Trails and Run with the Sun are urging people to show up at the Thursday open to the public hearing where CPUC will be voting on whether to approve any or all of the three power plants. The public meeting will be held at the County of San Diego Operations Center, 5520 Overland Avenue, S.D., 92123 in the Conference Center Hearing Room at 9 a.m. with sign-in at 8:30.
The NRA’s Push for Legalizing Silencers
Because the founding fathers wrote the Second Amendment to the Constitution intent on protecting any idiot’s right to own as many guns as possible, it shouldn’t be surprising that the National Rifle Association is now pushing for state laws easing restrictions on silencers. A lobbying campaign touting the health benefits of gun silencers– they mitigate hearing loss—and reminding legislators that Teddy Roosevelt used an early noise suppressor so as not to disturb his neighbors when hunting ‘varmits’ has already won over legislators in several states. From Mother Jones:
“Make Love Loudly. Make War Silently.”
So reads an ad for the Advanced Armament Company, which produces silencers for assault weapons. These gadgets, long associated with snipers and Hollywood assassins, represent the latest push by a gun industry seeking new ways to boost sales in a country that is already home to some 310 million civilian firearms.
The silencer industry is “the highest-growth niche of the firearms industry right now,” says Josh Waldron, founder and CEO of the Utah-based Silencerco. Accordi
PS: Speaking of the NRA’s lobbying power, we have learned via NPR that the Senate Democrats’ gun bill won’t include California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s assault weapons ban proposal as part of its core legislation. Instead, the assault weapons ban will be offered as an amendment to a bill that could include gun trafficking, school safety and background check measures.
Nuke, Baby, Nuke
Southern California Edison announced yesterday that a private consultant hired by the company has pronounced Unit 2 at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station can be safely restarted and put to use at full power. The plant has been shut down for over a year now. The utility has filed a plan with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to restart the generator, which was undergoing scheduled maintenance when a leak developed in a adjoining unit caused by steam generator tubes degrading faster than expected, at 70% power. Not everybody is thrilled by that prospect. From KPBS:
Anti-nuclear activists have challenged the restart plans. They contend the steam generators, installed a few years ago, were of such a different design from their predecessors that the utility should have had to go through an extensive license amendment process.
John Large, a London-based nuclear engineer for a group called Friends of the Earth, said the report actually shows that SONGS will progressively destroy itself.
“If the Intertek analysis is correct, the plant only has a remaining total service life of one year at full power, or 16 months at 70 percent power,” Large said. “After this I doubt if any option will exist for Edison to repair the plant’s steam generators because the problem lies deep within the tube bundle, being essentially inaccessible by human or machine.”
A decision by the NRC on the re-start proposal should come in the next month or so.
Yet Another Odious Internet Law Needs to be Stopped
A coalition of more than two dozen internet advocacy and civil liberties organizations has launched a week long protest action to combat the recently introduced CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. Viewing this proposed legislation as one of the greatest threats to internet users since last year’s defeated SOPA, the coalition intends to leverage popular outrage to oppose the dangerously broad cybersecurity bill. The objectionable provisions of CISPA, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, include:
Eviscerating existing privacy laws by giving overly broad legal immunity to companies who share users’ private information, including the content of communications, with the government.
Authorizing companies to disclose users’ data directly to the NSA, a military agency that operates secretly and without public accountability.
Broad definitions that allow users’ sensitive personal information to be used for a range of purposes, including for “national security,” not just computer and network security.
A coalition statement says they believe that legislation intended to enhance computer and network security must not sacrifice long-standing civil liberties and protections. They are urging people to contact their legislators about this legislation via this link. For more information, gohere.
Save Saturday Mail Delivery Demonstration Planned
Postal workers and the local labor council are calling for a rally on Sunday, March 24th to urge Congress to save Saturday postal deliveries. The event will be held at the downtown Post Office, 815 E Street, starting at 11am.
GOP Reforms? Maybe, Maybe Not
The ink was hardly dry on the Republican Party’s plan to reboot their organization before differences began to appear with regard to the rhetoric being used in the way the GOP engages with Hispanics. From the Washington Post:
Only a few hours later, it is now clear that some Republicans will do all they can to block Obama’s first Latino pick for his second-term cabinet — and the right is gearing up for a campaign against him that will make the effort to block Chuck Hagel look like a knitting seminar. Given Thomas Perez’s background as the son of Dominican immigrants, plus his role running the Justice Department’s civil rights division, this isn’t going to make the RNC’s “outreach” to Latinos any easier.
Senator David Vitter announced today that he will put a “hold” on Obama’s nomination of Thomas Perez as labor secretary, partly on the grounds of his work on … the New Black Panther case. [Eds Note: Perez went to work there six months after the case was settled] Other Republican Senators plan to paint Perez as a “radical legal activist” who has “tried to help illegal immigrants avoid detection,” as the New York Times puts it.
So why would they want to do that? From Mother Jones:
But since Perez took the helm, the division has blocked partisan voting schemes, cracked down on police brutality, protected gay and lesbian students from harassment, sued anti-immigrant Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio for racial profiling, stood up against Islamophobia, and forced the two largestfair-housing
On This Day: 1931 – The state of Nevada legalized gambling. 1962 – Bob Dylan released his self-titled debut album. 2001 – California officials declared a power alert and ordered the first of two days of rolling blackouts.
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