by Bryanna Altman
The Virginia General Assembly is expected to vote this year (2012) on whether to lift a 30-year moratorium on uranium mining in Virginia. Nuclear power is generated using uranium, a metal mined in various parts of the world. Nuclear power produces huge amounts of energy from small amounts of fuel, without the pollution you’d get from burning fossil fuels.
The United States is the world’s largest producer of nuclear power, accounting for more than 30% of worldwide nuclear generation of electricity. In 2010 the country’s 104 nuclear reactors produced over 20% of total electrical output. It is expected that 4-6 new nuclear reactors may come on line by 2020.
A company called Virginia Uranium, Inc. wants to mine a deposit known as Coles Hill site in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, the only economically viable source identified in Virginia (National Academy of Sciences report). Virginia Uranium says tests indicate there are about 119 million pounds of uranium, worth as much as $10 billion, below the surface. It is the world’s seventh-largest known deposit, or enough to supply all U.S. nuclear power plants for about two years or Virginia’s demands for 75 years.
Virginia Uranium, Inc. executives also stated the company is owned by locals who care about their community and would never risk polluting it. But behind Virginia Uranium Inc. are two Canadian corporations, Virginia Energy Resources and Sprott, which hold a 49.8% interest in Virginia Uranium, Inc. Read more…
The Obama Administration has endorsed construction of new nuclear power plants as a tool to reduce global warming. Not everyone thinks that’s a good idea, and some people are solidly convinced that climate change is just a hoax – but almost everyone supports increasing energy efficiency.
There’s one thing in common between climate change alarmists and climate change deniers: they both see benefits in reducing energy use, without adopting a “freeze in the dark” approach.
After all, energy-efficient homes will save families money. Energy-efficient offices will increase profits for private businesses. Energy-efficient schools and other public buildings could reduce taxes, or free up funding for other services. Energy-efficient factories will produce goods at lower cost, increasing the potential for keeping jobs in America. More-competitive industry in America could increase exports and reduce imports of foreign oil, enhancing national security.
Those who don’t believe in the predicted impact of carbon dioxide levels, and those who are concerned but are not taking action yet, can be motivated to take action – if there’s some other reason to act, independent of the global warming concerns. Fortunately, there are several such reasons (save money, support local jobs, enhance energy independence…) that could spur everyone to increase energy efficiency, including those who do not think that greater efficiency could also save the shorelines.
Want to learn more about how to find common ground? Spend an afternoon on February 27 at the Tools for Change Workshop III, organized by the Northern Virginia Climate Action Network. Workshop is free, from 1:00-5:00pm on a Saturday afternoon in a garden center near the Fairfax County Parkway and I-66. You can register online.
As reported by the Washington Post, Prince William will get over $3 million from the Federal government to implement some alternative energy projects. County officials may grouse about Obama and the Federal stimulus bill.. but we’ll still take advantage of whatever the Feds will offer.
We’ll see solar panels of the roof of the McCoart building, new sensors to automagically turn off lights when no one is in a room, and “energy dashboard monitors that will provide real-time data on energy use to building visitors and staff members.” To determine the best Low Emitting Diode (LED) streetlights, 6 of the 6,000 streetlights in Prince William will be converted in a pilot test.
(Fairfax County is testing 10 streetlights in Reston, plus others at the Virginia Railway Express parking lot in Burke Centre and at 10 Fairfax Connector bus stops. EPA has results from numerous tests across the country now, in various climates and at different latitudes.)
Today is Earth Overshoot Day – the day when humanity has used up the amount of natural resources that ought to last a year if we were to live in a sustainable manner. After today, we begin living beyond our ecological means and adding to our ecological debt.
In 2008 we reached this point on September 23. So, despite a recession and growing awareness about the climate crisis, we’re only a couple days ahead of where we were last year and a whole month behind the 2007 marker.
While the numbers may not be perfect, the concept is clear. And since we’re all part of the problem, last spring I decided to try to be part of the solution and see what kind of a difference I could make to myself. Read more…
Two announcements just arrived:
Oct 3 – 4: D.C. Metro Area Solar Homes Tour
The D.C. Sierra Club, along with the Virginia Solar Council and Potomac Region Solar Energy Industry Association volunteers, are hosting their 19th annual D.C. metro area solar homes tour on October 3 and 4 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Over sixty solar-powered homes will highlight a variety of passive design, technology and sustainable living concepts, including photovoltaic and solar hot water systems, radiant heat, energy-efficient appliances, and energy-saving building construction techniques. Many homeowners also will be demonstrating their energy and water conservation measures, recycling and composting procedures, and their fuel-efficient or alternative energy vehicles. For more, see http://solartour.org
Oct 9 – 18: 2009 Solar Decathlon
The Solar Decathlon is a biennial competition where 20 teams of university students from around the world develop fully-functional houses that draw all their energy from the sun. After spending two years developing their homes, the students ship their partially completed homes to the National Mall, finish building the homes, and then compete in 10 contests that measure the team’s skills in architecture, home design, and communications. The solar homes must produce enough electricity and hot water to perform all the normal functions of a home, including powering the lights and home electronics, washing clothes and dishes, showering, and cooking, all while maintaining a comfortable temperature. The event will be open to the public on October 9-13 and 15-18. For more, see http://www.solardecathlon.org
… should we do nothing?
The George Mason University Center for Climate Chance Communication has completed a Global Warming’s Six Americas 2009: An Audience Segmentation Analysis report. The report found that 18% of Americans are “alarmed,” while 7% are “dismissive.” In between are people who are concerned, cautious, disengaged, or doubtful.
So how could an energy conservation section in an updated Environment Chapter for the Comp Plan minimize political controversy?