December 29, 2012

Save the James River

The Save the James Alliance is a petition to the Virginia State Corporation Commission to stop the overheading of the Surry-Skiffes Creek 500 kV transmission line 300 foot high towers across the James River.

The Commission has received more than 600 signatures from asking them to require Dominion to submerge this line rather than build 300' towers across the river, as well as additional letters

January 3, 2013 is the last day that any form of written comment will be accepted by the SCC. If you know of anyone who might wish to comment before the deadline, please refer them to our website,

The last opportunity for public verbal comment will be at the last public hearing which will be conducted on January 10, 2013 at the SCC Headquarters, John Tyler Building, Richmond, VA beginning at 10 AM.

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Do you trust your drinking water?

You might not sip your tapwater so nonchalantly if you live in certain areas in America. A drilling boom made possible by fracking has revolutionized the energy industry but raised fears over possible contamination of our drinking water. In fact, a Gallop poll this year identified quality of drinking water the top environmental concern of Americans.

So we now eagerly await a major EPA research project into fracking's effects on water supplies, as well as final rules on the disposal of wastewater and the use of 'diesel' chemicals used in fracking. But it will not arrive until 2014--if then.

Thanks to Dick Cheney's "Halliburton Rule," diesel fuel, which is used in fracking, was exempted from regulation. The EPA published a draft definition of just what constitutes diesel fuel in May, but it was met with criticism from the industry and some legislators. So it will fall to the new EPA administrator to set a final definition.

Under Lisa Jackson, the EPA said it would begin to regulate the millions of gallons a day of wastewater that is withdrawn from wells after the fracking process, probably in 2014. This wastewater is usually trucked offsite and re-injected elsewhere, although increasingly it is being reprocessed for further use.

It will be very interesting to see who President Obama appoints to succeed Lisa Jackson to head up the EPA.

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December 28, 2012

GMO salmon on our menus soon?

Frankenfish was a 2004 movie that you might have missed. I certainly did.

It was based on the snake fish that made it into Chesapeake Bay tributaries. But now you can worry about genetically modified salmon coming our way, thanks to pending approval by the FDA.

Ninety-five to 99 percent of this "invented" salmon are sterile, so AquaBounty says they are unlikely to breed and threaten wild salmon stocks if they escape. "UNLIKELY?" Sure, just like kudzu vines and other invasive species. These GM salmon eat five times more food than wild salmon and have less fear of predators. And the one percent that are not sterile? 750,000 hungry fish.

Sounds like the material for a monster movie to me!

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December 21, 2012

Happy New Year in Times Square

Happy 2013! 

Did you know that the Times Square Ball that drops in 10 days will pulse with more than 32,000 LED bulbs?

You might think that's a lot of wasted energy. But it is about the same energy as two conventional home ovens baking a roast for one hour.

So let auld acquaintance be forgot, whatever that means.

Apocalypse today?

The poet Robert Frost and Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neumann have little in common. One wrote, “Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice.” The other shrugs, “What? Me worry?”

The Mayan calendar’s predicted Apocalypse today was a non-event. No devastating alignment of our universe occurred. Even NASA posted a “do not worry” about the predicted polar shift and doomsday rumor. So you can now relax and buy a non-Mayan 2013 calendar.

But you should still worry. A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that nearly 4 out of 5 Americans now think temperatures are rising and that global warming will be a serious problem for the United States if nothing is done about it. That's up slightly from 2009, when 75 percent thought global warming was occurring and just 73 percent thought it was a serious problem.

Broken down by political party, 83 percent of Democrats, 70 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of independents say the world is getting warmer.

Concern is growing faster among people who rarely trust scientists on the environment. Some doubters now say they believe their own eyes as thermometers rise, New York City subway tunnels flood, polar icecaps melt and Midwestern farm fields dry up.

December 15, 2012

Time to recycle guns?

After yesterday's senseless massacre of youngsters in their classrooms, it is time to recycle guns into their base metals. Is anyone else calling for a massive meltdown of guns initiative, similar to the small amnestry programs that occasionally occur?

It is time to stop saying "gun control is two hands" and "guns don't kill, people do."

Guns for hunting is one thing, but the assault weapons ban must be resurrected. I won't even begrudge the right to bear arms for the homeowner who feels he or she has to protect their abode. Personally, I don't want a loaded gun in my nightstand. But God forbid we trounce on any Americans' Constitutional rights.

Just melt down as many assault weapons as possible and create metal sculptures as a longlasting memorial to the many Americans who have died this year alone in these killings by mentally deranged men and boys.

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December 1, 2012

Uranium in Virginia?

Mining experts say that 119 million pounds of uranium lurks underground in western Virginia, in Pittsylvania County near the North Carolina line. They want the Virginia General Assembly to lift the 30-year moratorium on uranium mining in our state.

This just might be a big deal since no uranium mining yet takes place east of the Mississippi River. Virginia is especially susceptible to hurricanes and our wet ground is not particularly well suited to underground storage of uranium mining residue (known as tailings). And lots of folks' drinking water comes from that area of Virginia.

But the industry claims they can safely mine this $7 billion deposit of uranium. They claim that "robust regulations" will ensure the safety of the public, plus our water and air. Are these the same robust regulations that "saved" the Gulf during the BP debacle?

The multi-agency group, Uranium Mining Group, just released their mega-report to the General Assembly. But that report included NO recommendations. Kinda like a report card for little Johnny that didn't tell parents if he could read. But I'm no expert.

The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation just joined the Southern Environmental Law Center and a number of other environmental groups in asking the mining ban to continue.

Stay tuned as our elected officials debate this issue in coming months.