Day: March 26, 2007

NC smoking bill extinguished?

Laura Leslie has the scoop…

Monday: Snuffed Out? — North Carolina Public Radio WUNC

Looks like House Maj. Leader Hugh Holliman’s smoking ban may be in trouble. The first sign of trouble was that it didn’t come up for a floor vote in the few days following its 9-4 approval in J1 committee. Today, Holliman told NCNN’s Matt Willoughby he’s planning to pull the bill off the calendar when it comes up tomorrow.

It’s only a matter of time, they can fight it all they want, the smoking bans will pass throughout the country in a a decade or less, that’s a bold prediction!

Most critics say the legislation goes against private property rights in banning all workplace smoking, regardless of the context. But supporters point out the government has been regulating workplace safety on issues like asbestos for a long time, even on private property. Since secondhand smoke is an environmental toxin, they say, it should be regulated, too.

As I mentioned in comments on an earlier post, property rights is a catchall rhetorical tool that can defend just about anything, good bad or neutral. So, I am not surprised it is being used here. The obvious counter argument that property rights do not give you the right to pollute is apparently lost on this debate. But this is not really about property rights, is it? It is about protecting the tobacco industry, good old plut-prot-principle!

Environmental Justice Protest in Scotland County, NC

Scotland County Of Tomorrow

As some of you might know, it is a well known fact that race is a predominant factor in the siting of landfills (warning, pdf, but worth it!!). But the folks at the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN) and its member organizations do a wonderful job in organizing, protesting, and lobbying against this egregious practice. If you’re in the neighborhood (or in the mood for a road trip), please do consider joining the protest.

Nuclear Energy not Carbon Free?

Who would have thunk it, turns out that uranium mining and nuclear waste storage result in significant carbon emissions…
New Debate Over Nuclear Option

Now, some scientists and other experts are beginning to raise a different question about nuclear power: Is it really as clean as supporters contend? A report, released on Mar. 26 by a British nongovernmental organization called the Oxford Research Group, disputes the popular perception that nuclear is a clean energy source. It argues that while nuclear plants may not generate carbon dioxide while they operate, the other steps necessary to produce nuclear power, including the mining of uranium and the storing of waste, result in substantial amounts of carbon dioxide pollution. “As this report shows, hopes for the climate-protecting potential of nuclear energy are entirely misplaced,” says Jürgen Trittin, a former minister of the environment in Germany and a contributor to the report. “Nuclear power cannot be promoted on environmental grounds.”

The report, called “Secure Energy? Civil Nuclear Power, Security and Global Warming,” examines a number of risks from nuclear power development, including concerns over the disposal of radioactive waste and the threats from terrorist groups. But its most novel component may be the quantitative examination of carbon emissions on a comprehensive basis. “Carbon emissions are a global problem and it’s time to look at the carbon released by nuclear power globally,” says Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen, author of the report’s chapter on carbon emissions. “The assumption has long been that the [greenhouse] effect is zero, but the evidence shows otherwise.”

carbonfacts_sm.jpg“Novel component”?, well, I would not go that far, it appears that the authors performed a carbon footprint analysis and concluded that the carbon footprint of nuclear fission energy production was somewhere between renewables and fossil fuel power generation, which is not entirely surprising. Coupled with all the other issues facing nuclear energy, and the obvious environmental justice issues that impact the siting of any new plant or waste repository, nuclear energy should not be a very serious option at all. Unfortunately, it’s a great boondongle for the developers of the plants because the subsidies and power pricing mechanisms ensure profits for the developer at the expense of the general public, and waste disposal issues can forever be postponed, eventually leaving governments (and tax payers) to pick up the tab.

By the way, go read Jamais Cascio’s interesting post about the carbon footprint of a cheeseburger. The “nutrition like label” shown here is something I wish to see in almost every product used! It would make the regulation of carbon a lot less complicated. It appears that England will take the lead on this concept, see Carbon Labelling (yes, 2 L’s, the “correct” spelling!).