Buried in its Thursday editorial supporting the climate change bill that passed the House of Representatives on Friday, the Herald noted the impact of sea level rise destroying "important infrastructure". In its list, FPL's Turkey Point facility. ("US House should pass energy bill") Well, at last the issue has been put on the public table by the Herald even if it does come in through the back door.
It is time for the Herald editorial board to take a position on Turkey Point and FPL's plan to add two new nuclear reactors in the context of sea level rise.
Nearly two million FPL rate payers in South Florida-- that would include you and me-- are already funding through our monthly electricity bills more than $100 million in FPL expenses to advance plans for construction of new nuclear at sea level. Its application for nuclear reactors will be submitted to the State of Florida this summer. Construction costs are projected at $18 billion, with no contingency or acknowledgement of how sea level rise will factor into rate payer concerns.
By a factor of ten, the FPL nuclear is the biggest infrastructure project on South Florida's horizon. There is a lot riding on this massive corporation's commitment to what amounts to a very large, expensive and dangerous White Elephant: careers, lobbying, consultants and lawyering fees among others. That kind of money buys conformity, silence, and builds a sturdy foundation for bad judgment. (please click, 'read more')
FPL proposes that the new nuclear reactors will be boosted some twenty five feet high without offering any similar flotation for its customer base (who also subscribe to the Herald).
In this week's issue of The New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert reports on NASA top climate scientist, Jim Hansen. "Hansen has now concluded, partly on the basis of his latest modelling efforts and partly on the basis of observations made by other scientists, that the threat of global warming is far greater than even he had suspected."
"There’s no precise term for the level of carbon dioxide that will assure a climate disaster; the best scientists have come up with is “dangerous anthropogenic interference,” or D.A.I. Hansen estimates the dangerous amount of carbon dioxide to be no more than three hundred and fifty parts per million. The bad news is that carbon dioxide levels have already reached three hundred and eighty-five parts per million." Kolbert continues, "In order to stabilize carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, annual emissions around the globe would have to be cut by something on the order of three-quarters. So far, there’s no evidence that anyone is willing to take the necessary steps."
That includes the Herald: one necessary step is for the editorial board to call the plan for new nuclear at Turkey Point for what it is-- doomed by its location.
We are still acting as though planning future infrastructure and development can continue as it has in the past, with total disregard of the costs of sea level rise. (FPL's attempt to justify a 30 percent rate hike from customers is just the beginning.) The paper must go further and quickly. At the very minimum, the editorial board should call for a cost analysis and timeline for dismantling nuclear power at Turkey Point under conditions of sea level rise. The paper should also take FPL to task for ducking the issue and for making rate payers absorb unacceptable risks. Simple logic and common sense should not just be the provenance of the blogs.
Posted on Thu, Jun. 25, 2009
U.S. House should pass energy bill
A bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would push the United States toward using cleaner energy and cap carbon emissions that cause global warming is set for a vote Friday. Florida's lawmakers should strongly support it.
When it comes to the ill effects of climate change, Florida is one of the nation's most vulnerable states. In a June report, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration outlined what Florida would be in for if no significant action is taken soon to curb the emissions that contribute to global warming:
• Over time, sea-level rise will put 99.6 percent of Monroe County under water; in Miami-Dade, 70 percent would be awash, while 10-22 percent of land would be flooded in 14 other coastal counties. This would destroy real estate worth more than $130 billion.
• Florida's tourism industry will lose $9 billion by 2025 and $167 billion by the end of the century from the loss of beaches and other attractions.
• Sea-level rise will destroy some important infrastructure: two nuclear power plants (Turkey Point being one), three prisons, 68 hospitals, 74 airports, 334 public schools and nearly 20,000 historic structures.
• Gradual warming and rising of the seas will increase hurricanes' intensity, inflicting an estimated $25 billion in damages on Floridians by 2050.
The American Clean Energy and Security Act isn't perfect. Its Democratic architects, Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, have had to do plenty of horse trading to get it this far. But they have kept intact some key elements: a cap-and-trade program with the goal of reducing U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions 15 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and 73 percent by 2050. Funding is provided for businesses to adapt to new technologies to attain the reduction goals through developing low-carbon technologies.
The cap-and-trade program creates, first, a gradually imposed cap on how much carbon industries can emit. Second, it would establish a market where those with low or noncarbon emissions could sell their clean-air credits to high-carbon emitters. This generates incentives to move to clean-energy technology, either through cleaning up emissions by, say, installing scrubbers, or through switching to noncarbon energy sources such as wind and solar power.
Cleaner air comes at a cost, of course. But it's not as onerous for consumers as the bill's opponents charge. The Congressional Budget Office last week reported that the legislation, if enacted, would cost each U.S. household $175 in 2020, less than 50 cents a day. The CBO found that households with the lowest incomes could save $40 in 2020 thanks to tax credits and improved energy efficiency in appliances, light bulbs and the like.
Our congressional delegation can help safeguard Florida's economic future by voting for this important energy bill.
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