Category: Solartopia (page 1 of 3)

Ohio’s Anti-Wind Regulation Comes at a Serious Cost

by Harvey Wasserman

July 26, 2017 (originally posted at Progressive.org)

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Wind turbines in Blue Creek Township, Ohio

In the corporate war against renewable energy, a single Ohio regulation stands out.

It is a simple clause slipped into the state budget without open discussion, floor debate, or public hearings.

The restriction is costing Ohio billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.

The regulation demands that wind turbines sited in the Buckeye State be at least 1,125 feet from the blade tip to the nearest property line, about 1300 feet total—nearly a quarter-mile.

Ohio’s setback rule is similar to one in Wisconsin, where progress on wind power has atrophied. Lincoln County in South Dakota just passed a requirement that turbines be at least a half-mile from any residence. And Vermont is pondering a rule change to require a setback of ten times the turbine height, which in the case of a 500-foot turbine would be nearly a mile.

Such regulations threaten to kill wind power, thus protecting corporate investments in nuclear power and fossil-fuel generators. The situation is Ohio is especially egregious.

FirstEnergy, owner of Ohio’s two dying reactors at Perry and Davis-Besse, is now strong-arming the legislature and regulators for $4.5 billion in handoutsto sustain two money-losing nukes whose electricity is far more expensive than what would come from currently approved wind projects, and whose 1,400-odd jobs would be dwarfed by the new turbine construction. Should the wind projects proceed, northern Ohio would be flooded with cheap, clean, reliable electricity that would push the two nuclear “mistakes by the lake,” as they’ve been called, even further outside the competitive pale.

Energy expert Ned Ford, based in southwestern Ohio, estimates it would take seven years or less for new wind construction to fully replace the production from Ohio’s two old reactors, and to do it at prices well below their current cost. A report by the American Wind Energy Association says proposed Ohio wind-energy projects could generate $4.2 billion in private investment, producing thousands of jobs in Ohio-based production, installation, and maintenance while generating billions in local income, much of it for badly stressed farmers.

Together, the cost to Ohio of this regulation adds up to $8.7 billion.

Proponents claim that tall turbines somehow threaten the value of neighboring properties. But the quarter-mile rule would thin out potential turbine installations to the point of making nearly all proposed wind farms economically unsustainable.

Ironically, northern Ohio has one of the world’s most potentially profitable wind regimes. The breezes coming down off the Great Lakes are strong and steady. The land is flat. The area is covered with access roads and established transmission lines. The power source is close to urban areas, such as Toledo and Cleveland, making transmission losses relatively marginal.

Major global wind companies such as Spain’s Iberdrola have long-since won approval for a fleet of Ohio wind farms whose capital investments range into the hundreds of millions, and whose construction jobs would be in the thousands, far outstripping the numbers working at the state’s residual reactors. Hundreds more jobs would come with long-term turbine maintenance.

According to Eric Thumma, director of policy and regulatory affairs for Iberdrola, the regulation “basically zones new wind projects out of Ohio.” That would include at least ten wind farms Iberdrola has had fully permitted since 2014, one of them with 304 megawatts of capacity, plus two more waiting in the wings.

Farmers in the region strongly support wind-energy projects. The footprint of a utility-scale turbine covers up just an acre of land. Farmers who host them lose a small fraction of their agricultural productivity, and access roads to build turbines can temporarily cost some crop space. But in many cases, once the windmills are in, farmers just plough over and plant those strips of soil on the usually safe bet that not much will go wrong.

Once installed, the turbines provide farmers with substantial lease payments that can even exceed what they make from actually raising crops other than electricity.

Ohio also stands to benefit from long-stalled projects slated for the middle of Lake Erie, where steady winds are among the world’s most powerful. Amidst relatively shallow waters, the sites, like those on land, are relatively close to major population centers. But while FirstEnergy beats up the legislature demanding billions in reactor subsidies, capital has been slow to flow to the offshore projects.

Recent attempts to rescind the anti-wind restriction are backed by some of the state’s strongest manufacturing, financial, and commercial interests. According to energy expert Ford, lifting the restriction could allow billions in currently stalled projects, and open the door to more. Even without the ones in the lake, Ford calculates that land-based turbines and solar panels could easily supply all Ohio’s electrical needs and make the state a major energy exporter.

In 2010, under then-Governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat, the Ohio legislature enacted a sweeping mandate in support of renewable energy. It was killed when Republican Governor John Kasich came to power and the GOP gained a death grip on both houses of the legislature. Many Republicans argued then (and now) that “market forces” should determine where Ohio’s energy will come from—while simultaneously demanding the uncompetitive reactors be bailed out and doing all they can to sabotage the influx of cheap renewables.

But according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, Ohio has more than sixtywind-related manufacturing facilities, more than any other state. In 2016, amidst a nationwide green power boom, that industry supported between 2,000 and 3,000 Ohio jobs, more than the 1,400 at Ohio’s two decrepit nuclear plants.

So the death of Ohio’s renewable energy mandate has not only cost it cheaper long-term electric rates and countless installation and maintenance jobs, it continues to cripple the domestic infrastructure poised to produce much of the hardware for the state’s own wind farms.

It’s a lose-lose proposition. The people of Ohio deserve better.

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Harvey Wasserman’s most recent piece for The Progressive is “The Unstoppable Green Power Revolution.” He is author of Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth and co-author, with Dan Juhl, of Harvesting Wind Energy as a Cash Crop.

Donald Trump & Andrew Cuomo Are Brothers in Reactor Disaster

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By Harvey Wasserman

Originally published at Reader Supported News

08 June 17

onald Trump and New York governor Andrew Cuomo have joined forces in destroying our economy and environment.

While Trump wages global war on the climate, Cuomo demands a statewide bailout meant to keep failed nuke reactors on line until they melt and/or explode, Fukushima-style.

Trump and Cuomo are both are apostles of radioactive obsolescence.

The global climate treaty Trump wants to break has been signed by every nation on Earth except Syria and Nicaragua (which wants stronger terms).

Trump is globalizing the US legacy of breaking 800 treaties with indigenous peoples.

Like America’s indigenous tribes, the nations of the world will never trust us again.

Trump has shredded our global standing, as Germany’s Angela Merkel (CEO of the world’s #4 economy) has pronounced us an unreliable trading partner and China (#2) moves to partner directly with the European Union.

As Trump sabotages the dollar, watch him blame our economic death spiral on Muslims, commies, immigrants, and people of color.

Trump’s wedge between the US and Germany is a dream come true for Putin’s petro-mafia.

So is his attack on climate science as he hands our techno-future to King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes and Gas), the obsolete monster of a failed 20th century past.

Trump’s hatred of Solartopian technologies — solar, wind, tidal, wave, ocean thermal, geothermal, LED, efficiency, electric and hydrogen cars, advanced batteries, etc. — leaves the US out of the biggest job-creating transition in human history.

Through it all, Trump tweets his “love” for nuclear power.

With him on that is the alleged “liberal,” New York governor Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo wants New York ratepayers to pay $7.6 billion in raised electric rates to feed collapsing upstate nukes that could soon melt and/or explode.

The rate hikes would force New Yorkers as far away as Long Island to pay for uncompetitive loser nukes that supply them zero electricity.

In part because of a deal cut by Cuomo’s father Mario, Long Island still suffers from $7 billion wasted on the defunct Shoreham reactor.

None of the four upstate reactors Cuomo2 wants to bail out can compete with new wind or solar, which create far more jobs.

Tesla’s “Buffalo Billion” solar shingle factory will create 500 permanent jobs in northwestern New York, plus some 1400 spin-offs.

Ten such plants would create some 5,000 direct jobs, double those at Cuomo’s four loser nukes, with thousands more in spin-offs from cheap green power.

While Germany, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Iceland, Denmark, South Korea and others head to 100% post-nuke Solartopian futures, China is investing $360 billion in renewables, and India is following suit.

Trump attacks such investments here while Cuomo’s bailout cripples them in New York.

The final four US nukes under construction (in Georgia and South Carolina) have bankrupted Westinghouse, maybe Toshiba, and may soon be cancelled.

The 99 licensed loser US reactors all teeter at the brink of economic/ecological catastrophe.

But Cuomo’s New York bailout is a model for owners to gouge billions from ratepayers to keep them open.

Cuomo says he’ll shut two reactors at Indian Point, near New York City, but still wants that Trump-style public handout.

No commercial reactor has liability insurance, so the next melt-down/explosion could bankrupt us all, with none of Trump/Cuomo’s industry cronies held responsible.

Cuomo’s bailout is being challenged in court. Trump’s legal challenges are legion.

Together, these brothers in reactor disaster are the ultimate radioactive Luddites.


Harvey Wasserman’s Solartopia! Our Green-powered Earth is right here at www.solartopia.org along with Harvey’s History of the United States. The Strip & Flip Disaster of America’s Stolen Elections, written with Bob Fitrakis, is at www.freepress.org.

Three Mile Island Nuke Plant Closure Strengthens Call for Renewable Energy Future

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by Harvey Wasserman

Tuesday’s announcement that the Three Mile Island Unit One nuclear plant will close unless it gets massive subsidies has vastly strengthened the case for a totally renewable energy future.

That future is rising in Buffalo, and comes in the form of Tesla’s massive job-producing solar shingle factory which will create hundreds of jobs and operate for decades to come.

Three Mile Island, by contrast, joins a wave of commercially dead reactors whose owners are begging state legislatures for huge bailouts. Exelon, the nation’s largest nuke owner, recently got nearly $2.5 billion from the Illinois legislature to keep three uncompetitive nukes there on line.

In Ohio, FirstEnergy is begging the legislature for $300 million per year for the money-losing Perry and Davis-Besse reactors, plagued with serious structural problems. That bailout faces an uphill battle in a surprisingly skeptical legislature. FirstEnergy is at the brink of bankruptcy, and says it will sell the reactors anyway.

To make matters worse, Ohio lawmakers have imposed unique spacing restrictions on the state’s wind industry, blocking at least $1.6 billion in investments poised to build eight wind farms now waiting in the wings. Those turbine developments would go far in providing jobs to those who will inevitably lose them at FirstEnergy’s uncompetitive nukes.

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants a staggering $7.6 billion for four uncompetitive upstate reactors. That bailout is being challenged in court by environmental groups and by industrial players angry about unfair competition and soaring rates. Their owners concede these old nukes can’t compete with renewables or gas, and have wanted to shut most or all of them.

Now, Three Mile Island’s owners say without millions more in handouts from Pennsylvania rate payers, the reactor will close in 2019. A battle over the handout will be upcoming in the Pennsylvania legislature. Ironically, the Quad Cities plant in Illinois, which is in line for huge subsidies, could not compete with gas or renewables at a recent power auction, and may have to shut despite the handouts.

Meanwhile, coming on line this year, Tesla’s Buffalo Billion gigafactory has the power to transform our entire national economy.  It’s the core of a plan to fulfill America’s direst needs—a reliable supply of safe, cheap energy, and a base of good long-term employment for the nation’s battered working class.

Costing about $750 million, it will bang out solar roofing shingles by the end of this year. It will directly create at least 500 high-paying, clean, safe jobs that will last for decades and turn our energy economy green. Another 1,440 jobs are slated to come from spin-offs. Still more will be created by lowered electric rates and increased clean energy production.

The Buffalo factory joins Tesla’s new plant outside Sparks, Nevada—housed in the biggest building in the world—now producing a new generation of batteries. They will bridge the green energy gap when “the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.”

These two job-producing powerhouses are at the core of the Solartopian revolution. Solar panels, solar shingles, wind turbines, high-efficiency LED lighting and advanced batteries are key to our global survival and prosperity. Along with the hardware needed for tidal energy, ocean thermal, geothermal, advanced conservation and other renewable industries, giga-factories producing these technologies will be the engine for the 21st century economy.

If Gov. Cuomo’s $7.6 billion bailout ask went instead to build seven gigafactories like the Buffalo Billion, New York would gain thousands of jobs directly and thousands more through the industry powered by lower electric rates. They would be safe, secure, clean, good-paying jobs that could transform the state’s energy and employment situation.

Cuomo’s bailout plan, however, would raise rates on New Yorkers far outside their upstate service area. That even includes Long Island—hundreds of miles away—whose angry citizens rose up decades ago to kill the infamous failed $7 billion Shoreham reactor, which Cuomo’s father Mario helped bury when he was governor.

Ferocious opposition to this bailout has arisen throughout New York. A critical court case will open on June 5. Support for this litigation can be sent to Rockland Environmental Group, LLC 75 North Middletown Road, Nanuet, NY 10954.

New developments at Sempra and other major electric utilities now make it possible for renewables to sustain a central grid 100 percent of the time, without the fluctuations critics claim make a green-powered future difficult to achieve.

So we can bail out Three Mile Island, Perry, Davis-Besse and a rising tide of our 99 obsolete, dangerously decayed atomic dinosaurs at a cost of untold billions? Do we want to escalate the risk of reactor disasters, create tons more radioactive wastes and temporarily preserve a few thousand dead-end jobs?

Or do we want to bang out these Buffalo Billion plants and join Germany, Switzerland, India and other major nations soaring to a Solartopian future.

Is there really a choice?

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Three Mile Island Nuke Plant Closure Strengthens Call for Renewable Energy Future by Harvey Wasserman was originally posted at EcoWatch

 

Open Letter to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos About Ohio’s Dead Nukes

by Harvey Wasserman

(originally published at The Progressive on May 22, 2017)

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The Perry nuclear power plant east of Cleveland is owned by a subsidiary of FirstEnergy that is today worth less than its combined long-term debt. First Energy is searching for new ways to subsidize nuclear plants because atomic energy, once “too cheap to meter,” is often now more expensive than power generated via other means.

Dear Mr. Bezos,

You have recently received some radioactive junk mail promoting the idea that your company, Amazon, should financially support Perry and Davis-Besse, the two financially dead atomic reactors in northern Ohio. It was a letter from “pro-nuke environmentalists,” the ultimate oxymoron in a world moving toward safe renewables, a transition embraced by your company’s wise commitment to go 100 percent renewable.

The nuclear advocates want you and your high-tech cohorts at Google, Apple, and Tesla to buy reactor-generated electricity at above-market prices so uninsured, competitively dead reactors at Perry and Davis-Besse can still dangerously operate.

Asking you to subsidize nukes is like asking you to bet your company on rotary dial telephones and new landline networks; to build more Edsels, Corvairs, and Pintos; to embrace thalidomide for pregnant women; to mass-produce buggy whips; and to convert your Internet business to a stand-alone fleet of small brick-and-mortar five and dimes.

As a long-time Ohioan, I’ve watched our “mistakes-by-the-lake” nuclear power plants spew unmitigated financial, ecological, and safety disaster. They’ve crippled Ohio’s economy and now could totally bury it.

Their owner, FirstEnergy, is on the brink of bankruptcy. In an obscene 1999 campaign, the company’s ancestors hustled Ohio legislators and regulators for a $9 billion bailout so these even-then-obsolete reactors could “compete” in a deregulated market. Now FirstEnergy wants another $300 million per year to subsidize nukes that still can’t compete with wind, solar, or gas.

The nuclear industry whines about renewables subsidies but hides its own, including public liability for reactors that can’t get private coverage. The public—including you and Amazon—will pay for the next reactor disaster.

Meanwhile, Germany (with the world’s fourth-largest economy) enjoys an “energiewende” that’s shutting all its nukes and converting to renewables. By leaping into the Solartopian Revolution, Germany is moving rapidly toward a stabilized energy supply based entirely on sustainable, Earth-based sources. So will Amazon as it converts to 100 percent actual renewables while totally avoiding any involvement with nuke power.

Switzerland has just voted to go a parallel route, with a referendum confirming its transition to a post-nuclear, 100 percent renewable economy.

California (with the world’s sixth-largest economy) is shutting its last two nukes at Diablo Canyon. State, utility, union, and actual environmental negotiators agreed to a “retain and retrain” program for plant workers and support for communities losing tax revenues. Many of us want Diablo to shut NOW, but all green advocates agree 100 percent of its output can be replaced with renewables.

The same is true for the Perry and Davis-Besse reactors. The winds in Lake Erie are uniquely powerful. Northern Ohio’s flat, breezy terrain hosts a fine transmission network, good access to urban markets, and communities that want the jobs and income turbines can provide. In response, FirstEnergy has worked to stop green energy wherever possible.

Perry was damaged by an earthquake in 1986, prior to its opening. A top-level state commission concluded that the region cannot be evacuated in a nuclear disaster, prompting then-Governor Richard Celeste to withdraw state approval of Perry’s evacuation plans.

Davis-Besse is a Three Mile Island clone infamous worldwide for a boric acid leak that nearly caused Chernobyl/Fukushima-scale devastation to our precious Great Lakes.

Now thirty-nine years old, Davis-Besse’s shield building is crumbling and its innards are embrittled.

The idea that these reactors are “zero-carbon” is fiction. All spew radioactive hot water and steam into the ecosphere. Nuke fuel production emits carbon.

The latest Hanford nuke tunnel collapse, and the 2014 explosion at New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Project, confirm the impossibility of radwaste management. The price tag for Nevada’s proposed Yucca Mountain dump was estimated at $96 billion in 2008. Based on decades of industry experience, that number could end up being much larger.

Thus the hugely radioactive fuel rods and other radwaste produced at Perry and Davis-Besse are likely to sit on site forever—-certainly long after FirstEnergy disappears into bankruptcy protection.

But if you continue Amazon’s path to 100 percent real renewables, and don’t buy above-market electricity from competitively dead reactors, you’ll do fine.

But if you continue Amazon’s path to 100 percent real renewables, and don’t buy above-market electricity from competitively dead reactors, you’ll do fine.

Good luck on your Solartopian conversion, and No Nukes in Ohio, or anywhere on this Earth.

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Harvey Wasserman’s Solartopia! Our Green Powered Earth is available at www.solartopia.org.

 

4 Dying Nuke Plants vs. Fleet of Gigafactories: Which Will Gov. Cuomo Choose?

By Harvey Wasserman and Tim Judson

Originally published at EcoWatch

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Elon Musk’s SolarCity is completing the construction of its “Buffalo Billion” Gigafactory for photovoltaic (PV) cells near the Niagara River in Buffalo, New York. It will soon put 500 New Yorkers to work inside the 1.2 million-square-foot facility with another 700 nearby, ramping up to nearly 3,000 over the next few years.

The production of some 10,000 solar panels per day will put thousands of New Yorkers to work doing the installations. The panels will produce electricity cheaper, cleaner, more safely and more reliably than any fossil or nuclear source of power, including fracked gas, thus fueling a bright industrial future for the state.

With a little common sense from the governor, upstate New York could have many more of these massive factories, create many thousands of good, stable, high-paying jobs and solve its energy problems along the way.

All he has to do is shift over the absurd, wrong-headed $7.6 billion hand-out he now wants to give the Illinois-based Exelon Corporation for continuing to run four extremely old and dangerous nuclear reactors.

Those four reactors employ a total of about 2,100 people. They came online in 1969, 1970, 1975 and 1988 respectively. Aside from being dangerously decrepit, they run the risk of early shutdown because of general mechanical deterioration, rising maintenance costs, a shortage of replacement parts and the likelihood of major component failures.

At some point all operating reactors will also face escalated safety standards certain to result from the next Fukushima-like disaster, an ever-more likely reality as the global nuke fleet ages and deteriorates. Because the nuclear industry is failing throughout the U.S. and Europe, there is an ever-narrowing pool of workers qualified to keep the plants going. Because the electricity they produce is so expensive, they will drain a huge pool of resources from a state-wide economy in desperate need of industrial rebirth.

By contrast, SolarCity’s solar panel plant will be productive for decades. It’s called the Gigafactory because it will produce a gigawatt’s (1 million kilowatts) worth of solar panels every year, about the same as a nuclear reactor. (Depending on climate and sunlight, PV capacity produces electricity equivalent from about a half to a third of the capacity from an atomic reactor, assuming the reactor doesn’t blow up, melt down or shut for other reasons).

The cells produced at “Buffalo Billion” will spread throughout New York and the nation, revolutionizing our energy system. The energy those cells will produce will create far more jobs than subsidized nukes and would emit no greenhouse gases. The nukes they’d replace currently emit billions of gallons of hot wastewater annually, a major contributor to climate chaos.

Should the money Gov. Cuomo has earmarked for those old Exelon nukes be shifted to solar, New York’s economy would be revolutionized.

The template for such a plan has already been established by Pacific Gas & Electric at California’s last two reactors. Surrounded by earthquake faults at an oceanfront site nine miles west of San Luis Obispo, the Diablo Canyon nukes are being phased out in an agreement between the state, the utility, environmental, labor and local government groups.

Pacific Gas & Electric has admitted that the power Diablo produces can be replaced with 100 percent renewables. The company has also agreed to retain the plant’s 1,200 workers through the phase-out and retrain them for jobs in the renewables industry at when the plant shuts down. Surrounding communities will also be compensated for lost tax revenues.

Gov. Cuomo should take heed. The $7.6 billion he’s earmarked for these four upstate nukes comes with a price tag of $3.64 million per retained job. But in the solar/efficiency field, the state is producing jobs manufacturing clean energy technology with far better long-term prospects for just $148,000 per job.

Rather than having all the jobs in the nuclear basket, that $7.6 billion could also help fund a diversity of facilities that have an actual future in a global economy experiencing a revolutionary green transformation.

SolarCity’s Gigafactory in Buffalo will cost the state about $750 million to build. SolarCity is investing another $900 million for manufacturing equipment and build-out.

At full capacity, the PV Gigafactory and its local suppliers will employ 2,900 workers, almost 40 percent more than all four old nukes combined. It will support about 2,000 more jobs statewide. Thus the SolarCity facility will account for about 5,000 jobs—close to three times as many as at the four old reactors. Its cheaper, more reliable energy will fuel a far healthier economy, free of the worry of catastrophic melt-downs and explosions.

Right now some 8,000 New Yorkers work in the solar installation business. They are too often installing imported panels because China has made a huge investment in its PV export business. Panels made in Buffalo will keep that money in New York.

Meanwhile a plant making solar panel wafers in Rochester, built for about $700 million, employs about a 1,000 workers. The Soraa LED lightbulb plant in Syracuse has created 420 permanent local jobs.

Tesla is now pouring thousands of high-efficiency batteries out of its $3.5 billion state-of-the-art facility in Nevada. By mid-2017, it will employ 1,700 workers and about 6,500 when the plant is running at full capacity in 2020. Such a factory could easily be built in New York, again at a fraction the cost of Cuomo’s nuke bailouts.

Worldwide, nuke power is in an advanced state of collapse. Westinghouse, the proud purveyor of the first electricity to come from Niagara Falls, has been bankrupted by its failed nuke construction projects and may take Toshiba down with it.

Those uninsurable old upstate nukes, three of them nearly a half-century old, could do the same to New York. The choice being made here is between a failed technology in the process of collapse or a 21st Century industry in the process of remaking the world.

If Gov. Cuomo wants to take New York forward, instead of locking it into a failed radioactive past, he’ll follow California’s lead. A small fraction of that $7.6 billion could retain and retrain the workers at those four upstate nukes and compensate the local communities and help them rebuild their economies and tax bases. As the results from a 2015 report by the Nuclear Information and Resource Service and Alliance for Green Economy show, supporting reactor communities and workers should cost far less than any bailouts.

The rest of those billions can then create tens of thousands of solid, state-of-the-art jobs producing cheap, clean, safe green energy components in factories and installation sites sure to guarantee New York state a modern, competitive industrial future.

It’s an easy choice, Gov. Cuomo. Fund four dying nukes with 1,100 jobs or a prosperous Solartopian future for New York state with tens of thousands of permanent positions in a a booming sustainable economy.

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Trump’s Big Lie About 3 Million “Alien Voters” Cuts Far Deeper Than You Think

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by BOB FITRAKIS AND HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Donald Trump’s relentless insistence that three million “aliens” voted for Hillary Clinton and cost him a popular majority in November’s presidential election cuts far beyond what the corporate media is willing to report. When it comes to undermining democracy in the US, Trump is once again proving that the best defense is a total attack, even if it relies on “alternative facts.”

Trump’s Big Lie on voter fraud has been as widely scorned as his fantasies about the size of the turnout at his inauguration. Even the normally restrained New York Times has editorialized that “what once seemed like another harebrained claim by a president with little regard for the truth must now be recognized as a real threat to American democracy.”

It seems to be dawning on The Times and others that by claiming so many non-citizens voted more than once, Trump re-loads America’s Jim Crow lynch laws against Black people voting. Based on these assertions, we can expect more and more aggressive attacks by the administration against the rights of non-whites and non-millionaires to a fair and honest ballot.

Indeed, the corporate media has not yet faced the devastation of mass disenfranchisement in 2016. As reported by Greg Palast (www.gregpalast.com) and others, some thirty GOP Secretaries of State across the US used a computer program called Crosscheck to strip thousands of mostly black, Hispanic, Asian-American and Muslim voters from the registration rolls. These mass disenfranchisements could well have made the difference in key swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida that allowed Trump to win in the Electoral College while so thoroughly losing the popular vote.

Trump’s carping about voter fraud has first and foremost has helped divert the public’s attention from this defining reality.

But unfortunately, there is far more.

Let’s start with the Electoral College. For the sixth time in US history, the candidate who lost among eligible voters has entered the White House. Last was 2000, when Al Gore beat George W. Bush nationwide by more than a half-million votes. Neither Gore nor the Democratic Party followed this stunning election theft (which had such dire consequences) by launching any kind of movement to abolish the Electoral College. Instead, many Democrats have spent 16 years screaming at Ralph Nader for daring to run for president.  Had they instead recruited him to help organize the abolition of the Electoral College, Trump might not now be in the White House.

In 2016, the attack on Nader has morphed into a fixation on Russian hacking and anger at the FBI. So barring a miracle (or a Constitutional Amendment) in 2020 and the foreseeable future beyond, the curse of the Electoral College will still be there to serve the popular minority.

Trump has also fought hard against any meaningful recounts, And for good reason. As many as 28 states this election showed statistically significant variations between exit polls and official vote counts. In 25 of those states, the “Red Shift” went in Trump’s direction.  Among statisticians this is known as a “virtual statistical impossibility.”

In Michigan, which officially went to Trump by about 10,000 votes, some 75,000 ballots came in without a presidential preference, mostly in heavily Democratic urban areas. The idea that 75,000 citizens would take the trouble to vote but not to make a preference among at least four presidential candidates has yet to be explained by the media or the Democrats.

Major problems with electronic voting machines, precinct access, ballot chain of custody and vote count issues also surfaced throughout the swing states. But when the Green Party’s Jill Stein dared to attempt a recount, Trump launched an all-out attack. High-priced attorneys in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and elsewhere did all they could to prevent any realistic examination of what actually happened in the states that gave him the presidency.

Meanwhile, rather than doing the work themselves, the corporate media heaped scorn on Stein for daring to examine exactly how Trump became president. The Democrats and the Clinton campaign offered no help beyond sending a few attorneys to “observe” the assault on greens uppity enough to challenge the system that had flipped the presidency, the Congress, the Supreme Court and innumerable state and local governments.

The bottom line here is that our entire electoral process is broken. Donald Trump became president because massive disenfranchisements kept thousands of citizen from voting, because electronic “black box”  voting machines cannot be monitored or accounted for by the general public, and because the Electoral College remains in place, ready to swing the next loser into the White House.

Trump’s screaming assertion of entirely the opposite is a brilliant strategy that can only work in a country where the media refuse to face the realities of a thoroughly broken system, and an “opposition” Democratic Party that won’t fight for elections it actually wins.

Our survival demands an actual democracy. That means universal automatic voter registration, with voter rolls transparent and readily accessible for verification. It means a four-day national holiday for voting, universal hand-counted paper ballots, and automatic recounts at no cost to the candidates. It also demands an end to gerrymandering, a ban on corporate money in our campaigns and, of course, the abolition of the Electoral College.

Trump’s rantings about voter fraud are a brilliant diversion away from all that. So is the media and Democrats’ obsession with the Russians.

Our stripped and flipped elections are home-grown poison. Donald Trump is the ultimate outcome. Until we reject the current electoral system, we will all be living in a world of hurt.

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman have co-authored six books on election protection, including The Strip & Flip Selection of 2016, at www.freepress.org, where Bob’s Fitrakis Files also reside.  Harvey’s Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth is right here at www.solartopia.org.

This article was originally published at Truthout.

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The Death Spiral of Atomic Energy

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Listen to the Green Power and Wellness Hour February 2, 2017 audio archive  for an update on accelerated demise of Atomic Energy with Harvey Wasserman and his guests Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear, and Tim Judson of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS)

Harvey, Kevin and Tim start out with recent big  news about the  Westinghouse decision to go out of the nuclear power consumption business. Learn how this decision impacts the new reactors being built on the public dime in Georgia.  You’ll hear about the planned shutdown of Pilgrim, Indian Point, Diablo Canyon and learn about how we transition to Solartopia.

 

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We Are Mourning …But We Are Marching and Organizing for Democracy & the Earth

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In the midst of a terrible national illness, we organize and march for the known and solid cures.

by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman

For democracy and our natural planet.

We have clear direction on both issues.

This weekend’s massive, powerful women’s and other marches rocking the nation have dwarfed the turnout for Friday’s illegitimate inauguration.

With them we must demand—-and WIN—-a voting system that actually reflects the will of the people, and an energy supply that comes in harmony with our Mother Earth.

For democracy: we must have universal automatic voter registration, transparent voter registration rolls, a four-day national holiday for voting, elimination of all electronic voting machines, universal hand-counted paper ballots, automatic recounts at no charge to the candidates, an end to the Electoral College, a halt to gerrymandering and a ban on corporate money in our political campaigns.

It’s a towering agenda.  But without it, we have no structural power.  It’s the essential key to the one thing that can ultimately reverse a disease like this Trump presidency—-real electoral democracy.

For our Earth: Energy is the key.  Our survival on this planet demands a ban on all fossil and nuclear fuels, and an organic economy based on 100% renewables.  The Solartopian transition is well underway in Germany, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Iceland, at least parts of China and elsewhere.  Far more Americans now work in green energy production and efficiency than for King CONG—-coal, oil, nukes and gas (www.nukefree.org).

The economic and technological momentum is with us.  Despite Koch-funded attempts to stop it, the transition to a green-powered Earth is well under way.  Number one is stopping corrupt subsidies to decrepit, carbon/heat-spewing nukes before the next one explodes, and shutting the fossil fuel industry before it burns the planet to a crisp.

There are many many more things we can and must win.  But through the tears of Friday’s tragedy and the power of this weekend’s marches, we need to cope with the source of this devastating disease.

Trump is payback for our imperial sins.  He’s the vulture come home to roost for so many dictatorial kleptocrats the US has imposed on smaller nations over the years: Pinochet, Mobutu, Suharto, Somoza, Marcos, Duvalier, Diem, Ky, Saddam, the Shah…the list goes on.

These corrupt, repressive servants of the American corporate empire have inflicted untold suffering on millions of innocent people for far too long.  These dictatorships have formed the unjust source of much of this nation’s material riches.

Trump has brought home the infection:  imperial, greedy, misogynist, incompetent, uncaring, egomaniacal, sociopathic, a destroyer of the Earth.  This is what we’ve been imposing on the rest of the world for so many decades.  He is part of the price we pay for corrupting other countries and wrecking the lives of so many innocents within them.

Our agencies have done this under the illusion of democracy.  The client states “elect” their leaders.  If unsuitable to US corporate interests, that leader disappears, and the client colony gets to try again.

Likewise the Trump regime now takes power amidst a classic imperial “strip and flip” black op coup.

Leading up to the election, millions of black, Hispanic, Asian-American, Muslim and other citizens were stripped from the voter rolls, as they have been for decades.  Where that was not enough, black box electronic voting machines have flipped the final outcome, not only for the presidency, but for the House, Senate and state and local governments throughout the US.

Both tactics were used to eliminate the grassroots leftist Bernie Sanders.  When the corporate Democrats refused him the nomination, and then the Vice President’s slot, they trashed the youthful activist uprising that put Barack Obama in the White House, and that is the key to our progressive future.  The moneyed liberal elite made it clear they preferred having Donald Trump in the White House over a social democrat, even in the second slot.

The election was then flipped to Trump despite his losing the popular vote count by some three million ballots.

The deal was sealed in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, where Hillary Clinton won the exit polls but lost the Electoral College.  The corporate Dems then refused to support recounts while the media heaped abuse on the Green Party’s valiant Jill Stein for daring to challenge corrupted outcomes that were obviously illegitimate .

Indeed, Clinton’s corporate Democrats sealed Trump’s coup by refusing to challenge the nationwide stripping of the voter rolls, or the flipping of the vote count in the key swing states.  They haven’t even raised the issue of an Electoral College that has now for the sixth time put the loser of a popular election into the White House.

Instead, as they screamed at Ralph Nader after Florida 2000, they now howl about the Russians.

But the real corruption of our elections is right here at home.  High atop the list of our real problems are our fake democracy, and a fossil/nuke industry that is destroying our planet.

The social movements needed to win these battles are alive and well.  From Occupy to Black Lives Matter to the Green/Bernie campaigns to the Dakota Pipeline to this weekend’s mass marches and beyond, we inhabit a vibrant body politic that is firmly committed to justice, social democracy and a sustainable Earth.

With this terrible coup in Washington we shed some tears and feel some fear.

We are mourning.  But we are marching, and we are organizing.

And the imperatives are clear.  We need to win a true democracy, a Solartopian Earth, equal justice for all, a definitive understanding that we are all created equal, and endowed with an inalienable right to survive on this planet.

Trump reminds us that it will not be easy.  We need to remind him that he’s just a blip, a tiny toxic bend in the arc of history that bends toward justice—-if we make it so.

In that, we have no choice.  See you on the barricades.

___________

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored numerous books on election protection, including THE STRIP & FLIP SELECTION OF 2016 at www.freepress.org, where Bob’s FITRAKIS FILES also appear.  Harvey’s SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at www.solartopia.org.

 

Crumbling Reactors and Other Nightmares of a Trump-Perry Energy Policy

burns towers 4 solartopia

Mr. Burns, Matt Groening Productions, Inc. Published by HarperPerennial. The Simpsons & 1990 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. 

by Harvey Wasserman

Tthis article was originally published by The Progressive on January 13, 2017]

In the area of energy policy under the presidency of Donald Trump, two concerns loom above all others.

One is Trump’s support for nuclear power and fossil fuel energy, at a time when other powerful countries are going renewable. Trump’s economic commitments to nuclear energy and fossil fuels contrast sharply with China’s massive new commitment to energy sources including solar and wind. If China, the world’s number-two economy, joins Germany (number four) and possibly Japan (number three) in converting to 100 percent renewable sources, the U.S. economy will be left in the dust.

The other concern is geriatric atomic reactors. The nation’s 99 nuclear plants now have an average age of more than thirty-five. Some, like Ohio’s Davis-Besse, are literally crumbling. Others, like New York’s Indian Point, and Diablo Canyon on the California coast, are surrounded by active earthquake faults.

A single Fukushima-scale disaster at an American reactor could poison millions, destroy our continental eco-system, and bankrupt our economy.

Sixty years after America’s first commercial reactor opened, not one can get private liability insurance. When the next one blows, the public will be stuck with the damages, which could easily soar into the trillions.

Nuclear waste management has already failed miserably. In February 2014, a single barrel of radioactive trash exploded at the hugely expensive state-of-the-art disposal facility in Carlsbad, New Mexico. More than a dozen workers were irradiated and the facility was shut for more than two years at a cost of more than $2 billion.

Now the nuclear-utility lobby nationwide is strong-arming state governments for massive bailouts to prop up decrepit reactors. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo recently approved a $7 billion handout for money-losing upstate reactors that cannot compete with fracked gas or renewables, whose owners wanted them shut, and whose extremely serious safety issues grow more severe every hour.  In Illinois, the nuclear lobby has won more than $2 billion to sustain three ancient reactors that are literally falling apart.

Ohio’s FirstEnergy is now begging the Public Utilities Commission and state legislature for billions to keep running the infamous Davis-Besse reactor, which has suffered numerous accidents and whose shield building is literally crumbling. In Michigan and elsewhere, as utilities move to shut the most dangerous and money-losing reactors in their obsolete fleet, the nuclear lobby is crying for more taxpayer handouts, both state and federal.

The Nuclear Information & Resource Service estimates the public cost of a nationwide wave of such bailouts at about $280 billion. In business terms, that’s like jumping into the mass manufacture of Edsel automobiles, or turning away from cell phones to stake our future on land lines.

In New York, Cuomo did finally move to shut two badly deteriorated reactors at Indian Point, but then diluted the decision by allowing them to operate for several more years. In California, a deal to shut two reactors at Diablo Canyon allows them to operate (also with expired licenses) well into the 2020s even though they are surrounded by a dozen earthquake faults.

Trump is expected to pour federal money into the nuclear kitty. The incoming president says he “loves solar,” but has also said it’s too expensive. It’s likely that Trump will end tax credits for renewable energy, which has been a major support for emerging industries, and decimate Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which would have pushed states to cut power plant emissions. And Trump’s pick for energy secretary, former Texas Governor Perry, has been deeply supportive of the growth of fossil fuel and nuclear industries in Texas throughout his career.

But things are shifting on the international scene. China’s cities are choking on lethal air pollution from its consumption of coal, and while the Chinese are still debating a potential major commitment to nuclear, they have alsocommitted to a $365 billion investment in renewable energy by 2020.

Similar things are true of Germany and its energiewende commitment. Immediately after the 2011 catastrophe at Fukushima, German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered the shutdown of eight reactors, with the rest of Germany’s nuclear power plants planned for closure by 2022. Tens of thousands of Germans put solar panels on their rooftops, rendering many communities energy self-sufficient, and dropping electricity prices throughout the country.

The glut of cheap energy has forced numerous fossil fuel and nuclear energy plants to shut, leading to disruptive crises in supply and pricing. But the transition will sort itself out, establishing Germany as a dominant supplier of clean electricity, giving it the industrial high ground in Europe and on a global scale.

Japan may soon follow suit. Despite the pro-nuclear stance of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a massive grassroots movement has prevented the reopening of nearly all Japan’s fifty-four reactors. A number of smaller countries have also made substantial investments in renewables, including Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Costa Rica, and Scotland. Even oil-rich nations are getting in on the renewables game. The United Arab Emirates just announcedplans to invest $163 billion in renewables to generate half the nation’s power by 2050.

Meanwhile, the United States continues to bleed billions to prop up dying coal and nuclear industries. Nuclear bailouts like those in New York and Illinois are crippling a transition that the U.S. must make if it is to have a competitive future in world industrial markets.

#######

Harvey Wasserman  is co-founder of the global grassroots No Nukes movement and author or co-author of twenty books, including Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth (solartopia.org), and The Last Energy War (Seven Stories Press).

King CONG vs. Solartopia

 

again

by Harvey Wasserman, (cross posted from Reader Supported News)

 

s you ride the Amtrak along the Pacific coast between Los Angeles and San Diego, you pass the San Onofre nuclear power plant, home to three mammoth atomic reactors shut by citizen activism.

Framed by gorgeous sandy beaches and some of the best surf in California, the dead nukes stand in silent tribute to the popular demand for renewable energy. They attest to one of history’s most powerful and persistent nonviolent movements.

But 250 miles up the coast, two reactors still operate at Diablo Canyon, surrounded by a dozen earthquake faults. They’re less than seventy miles from the San Andreas, about half the distance of Fukushima from the quake line that destroyed it. Should any quakes strike while Diablo operates, the reactors could be reduced to rubble and the radioactive fallout would pour into Los Angeles.

Some 10,000 arrests of citizens engaged in civil disobedience have put the Diablo reactors at ground zero in the worldwide No Nukes campaign. But the epic battle goes far beyond atomic power. It is a monumental showdown over who will own our global energy supply, and how this will impact the future of our planet.

On one side is King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes, and Gas), the corporate megalith that’s unbalancing our weather and dominating our governments in the name of centralized, for-profit control of our economic future. On the other is a nonviolent grassroots campaign determined to reshape our power supply to operate in harmony with nature, to serve the communities and individuals who consume and increasingly produce that energy, and to build the foundation of a sustainable eco-democracy.

The modern war over America’s energy began in the 1880s, when Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla clashed over the nature of America’s new electric utility business. It is now entering a definitive final phase as fossil fuels and nuclear power sink into an epic abyss, while green power launches into a revolutionary, apparently unstoppable, takeoff.

In many ways, the two realities were separated at birth.

Edison pioneered the idea of a central grid, fed by large corporate-owned power generators. Backed by the banker J. Pierpont Morgan, Edison pioneered the electric light bulb and envisioned a money-making grid in which wires would carry centrally generated electricity to homes, offices, and factories. He started with a coal-burning generator at Morgan’s Fifth Avenue mansion, which in 1882 became the world’s first home with electric lights.

Morgan’s father was unimpressed. And his wife wanted that filthy generator off the property. So Edison and Morgan began stringing wires around New York City, initially fed by a single power station. The city was soon criss-crossed with wires strung by competing companies.

But the direct current produced by Edison’s generator couldn’t travel very far. So he offered his Serbian assistant, Nikola Tesla, a $50,000 bonus to solve the problem.

Tesla did the job with alternating current, which Edison claimed was dangerous and impractical. He reneged on Tesla’s bonus, and the two became lifelong rivals.

To demonstrate alternating current’s dangers, Edison launched the “War of the Currents,” using it to kill large animals (including an elephant). He also staged a gruesome human execution with the electric chair he secretly financed.

Edison’s prime vision was of corporate-owned central power stations feeding a for-profit grid run for the benefit of capitalists like Morgan.

Tesla became a millionaire working with industrialist George Westinghouse, who used alternating current to establish the first big generating station at Niagara Falls. But Morgan bullied him out of the business. A visionary rather than a capitalist, Tesla surrendered his royalties to help Westinghouse, then spent the rest of his haunted, complex careerpioneering various inventions meant to produce endless quantities of electricity and distribute it free and without wires.

Meanwhile, the investor-owned utilities bearing Edison’s name and Morgan’s money built the new grid on the back of big coal-burners that poured huge profits into their coffers and lethal pollutants into the air and water.

In the 1930s, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal established the federally owned Tennessee Valley Authority and Bonneville Power Project. The New Deal also strung wires to thousands of American farms through the Rural Electrification Administration. Hundreds of rural electrical cooperatives sprang up throughout the land. As nonprofits with community roots and ownership, the co-ops have generally provided far better and more responsive service than the for-profit investor-owned utilities.

But it was another federal agency—the Atomic Energy Commission—that drove the utility industry to the crisis point we know today. Coming out of World War II, the commission’s mandate was to maintain our nascent nuclear weapons capability. After the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it shifted focus, prodded by Manhattan Project scientists who hoped the “Peaceful Atom” might redeem their guilt for inventing the devices that killed so many.

When AEC Chairman Lewis Strauss promised electricity “too cheap to meter,” he heralded a massive government commitment involving billions in invested capital and thousands of jobs. Then, in 1952, President Harry Truman commissioned a panel on America’s energy future headed by CBS Chairman William Paley. The commission reportembraced atomic power, but bore the seeds of a worldview in which renewable energy would ultimately dominate. Paley predicted the United States would have thirteen million solar-heated homes by 1975.

Of course, this did not happen. Instead, the nuclear power industry grew helter-skelter without rational planning. Reactor designs were not standardized. Each new plant became an engineering adventure, as capability soared from roughly 100 megawatts at Shippingport in 1957 to well over 1,000 in the 1970s. By then, the industry was showing signs of decline. No new plant commissioned since 1974 has been completed.

But with this dangerous and dirty power have come Earth-friendly alternatives, ignited in part by the grassroots movements of the 1960s. E.F. Schumacher’s Small Is Beautifulbecame the bible of a back-to-the-land movement that took a new generation of veteran activists into the countryside.

Dozens of nonviolent confrontations erupted, with thousands of arrests. In June 1978, nine months before the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island, the grassroots Clamshell Alliance drew 20,000 participants to a rally at New Hampshire’s Seabrook site. And Amory Lovins’s pathbreaking article, “Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken,” posited a whole new energy future, grounded in photovoltaic and wind technologies, along with breakthroughs in conservation and efficiency, and a paradigm of decentralized, community-owned power.

As rising concerns about global warming forced a hard look at fossil fuels, the fading nuclear power industry suddenly had a new selling point. Climate expert James Hansen, former Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman, and Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand began advocating atomic energy as an answer to CO2 emissions. The corporate media began breathlessly reporting a “nuclear renaissance” allegedly led by hordes of environmentalists.

But the launch of Peaceful Atom 2.0 has fallen flat.

As I recently detailed in an online article for The Progressive, atomic energy adds to rather than reduces global warming. All reactors emit Carbon-14. The fuel they burn demands substantial CO2 emissions in the mining, milling, and enrichment processes. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen has compiled a wide range of studies concluding new reactor construction would significantly worsen the climate crisis.

Moreover, attempts to recycle spent reactor fuel or weapons material have failed, as have attempts to establish a workable nuclear-waste management protocol. For decades, reactor proponents have argued that the barriers to radioactive waste storage are political rather than technical. But after six decades, no country has unveiled a proven long-term storage strategy for high-level waste.

For all the millions spent on it, the nuclear renaissance has failed to yield a single new reactor order. New projects in France, Finland, South Carolina, and Georgia are costing billions extra, with opening dates years behind schedule. Five projects pushed by the Washington Public Power System caused the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. No major long-standing green groups have joined the tiny crew of self-proclaimed “pro-nuke environmentalists.” Wall Street is backing away.

Even the split atom’s most ardent advocates are hard-pressed to argue any new reactors will be built in the United States, or more than a scattered few anywhere else but China, where the debate still rages and the outcome is uncertain.

Today there are about 100 U.S. reactors still licensed to operate, and about 450 worldwide. About a dozen U.S. plants have shut down in the last several years. A half dozen more are poised to shut for financial reasons. The plummeting price of fracked gas and renewable energy has driven them to the brink. As Gundersen notes, operating and maintenance costs have soared as efficiency and performance have declined. An aging, depleted skilled labor force will make continued operations dicey at best.

And nuclear plants have short lifespans for safe operation.

“When the reactor ruptured on March 11, 2011, spewing radioactivity around the northern hemisphere, Fukushima Daiichi had been operating only one month past its fortieth birthday,” Gundersen says.

But the nuclear power industry is not giving up. It wants some $100 billion in state-based bailouts. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently pushed through a $7.6 billion handout to sustain four decrepit upstate reactors. A similar bailout was approved in Ohio. Where once it demanded deregulation and a competitive market, the nuclear industry now wants re-regulation and guaranteed profits no matter how badly it performs.

The grassroots pushback has been fierce. Proposed bailouts have been defeated in Illinois, but then approved. They are under attack in New York and Ohio, but their future is uncertain. A groundbreaking agreement involving green and union groups has set deadlines for shutting the Diablo reactors, with local activists demanding a quicker timetable. Increasingly worried about meltdowns and explosions, grassroots campaigns to close old reactors are ramping up throughout the United States and Europe. Citizen action in Japan has prevented the reopening of nearly all nuclear plants since Fukushima.

Envisioning the “nuclear interruption” behind us, visionaries like Lovins see a decentralized “Solartopian” system with supply owned and operated at the grassroots.

The primary battleground is now Germany, with the world’s fourth-largest economy. Many years ago, the powerful green movement won a commitment to shut the country’s fossil/nuclear generators and convert entirely to renewables. But the center-right regime of Angela Merkel was dragging its feet.

In early 2011, the greens called for a nationwide demonstration to demand the Energiewende, the total conversion to decentralized green power. But before the rally took place, the four reactors at Fukushima blew up. Facing a massive political upheaval, and apparently personally shaken, Chancellor Merkel (a trained quantum chemist) declared her commitment to go green. Eight of Germany’s nineteen reactors were soon shut, with plans to close the rest by 2022.

That Europe’s biggest economy was now on a soft path originally mapped out by the counterculture prompted a hard response of well-financed corporate resistance. “You can build a wind farm in three to four years,” groused Henrich Quick of 50 Hertz, a German transmission grid operator.

“Getting permission for an overhead line takes ten years.”

Indeed, the transition is succeeding faster and more profitably than its staunchest supporters imagined. Wind and solar have blasted ahead. Green energy prices have dropped and Germans are enthusiastically lining up to put power plants on their rooftops. Sales of solar panels have skyrocketed, with an ever-growing percentage of supply coming from stand-alone buildings and community projects. The grid has been flooded with cheap, green juice, crowding out the existing nukes and fossil burners, cutting the legs out from under the old system.

In many ways it’s the investor-owner utilities’ worst nightmare, dating all the way back to the 1880s, when Edison fought Tesla. Back then, the industry-funded Edison Electric Institute warned that “distributed generation” could spell doom for the grid-based industry. That industry-feared deluge of cheap, locally owned power is now at hand.

In the United States, state legislatures dominated by the fossil fuel-invested billionaire Koch brothers have been slashing away at energy efficiency and conservation programs. Ohio, Arizona, and other states that had enacted progressive green-based transitions are now shredding them. In Florida, a statewide referendum pretending to support solar power was in fact designed to kill it.

In Nevada, homeowners who put solar panels on their rooftops are under attack. The state’s monopoly utility, with support from the governor and legislature, is seeking to make homeowners who put solar panels on their rooftops pay more than others for their electricity.

But it may be too little, too late. In its agreement with the state, unions, and environmental groups, Pacific Gas and Electric has admitted that renewables could, in fact, produce all the power now coming from the two decaying Diablo nukes. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District shut down its one reactor in 1989 and is now flourishing with a wave of renewables.

The revolution has spread to the transportation sector, where electric cars are now plugging into outlets powered by solar panels on homes, offices, commercial buildings, and factories. Like nuclear power, the gas-driven automobile may be on its way to extinction.

Nationwide, more than 200,000 Americans now work in the solar industry, including more than 75,000 in California alone. By contrast, only about 100,000 people work in the U.S. nuclear industry. Some 88,000 Americans now work in the wind industry, compared to about 83,000 in coal mines, with that number also dropping steadily.

Once the shining hope of the corporate power industry, atomic energy’s demise represents more than just the failure of a technology. It’s the prime indicator of an epic shift away from corporate control of a grid-based energy supply, toward a green power web owned and operated by the public.

As homeowners, building managers, factories, and communities develop an ever-firmer grip on a grassroots homegrown power supply, the arc of our 128-year energy war leans toward Solartopia.


Harvey Wasserman’s Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth is at solartopia.org. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at prn.fm. He edits nukefree.org.

This article was originally published on Reader Supported News.

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