Tuesday, December 9, 2008

News That Matters - December 9, 2008

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

"I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions."
- Augusten Burroughs

Good Tuesday Morning,

I've had a request to change the format (slightly) of this column to make reading and finding stories easier. I'm entertaining the request since a) it came from a supporter and, b) I like messing around with the format of this column just to keep you on your toes. You'll see links now to commentary and links to news stories rather than 800 words of commentary followed waaaaaaay down the page by The News. Hey, it's a work in progress and if you're a supporter, I have ears. So, we'll play, we'll have some fun and it will make life more interesting.

NtM Commentary

Selling the Farm

Tonight is going to be a busy night at the County Physical Services Committee meeting (7PM at the County Office building in Carmel).

What with the CAP thing on the agenda and all. But the Real Big Agenda Item is the sweetheart deal the county wants to give Kent's George Whipple for the management of Tilly Foster Farm. It's a 40 year lease during which Mr. W gets full control of pretty much everything that happens at the farm and reaps all the profits while county tax payers pay for normal maintenance, plowing the roads and sidewalks and - here's the kicker - pays all the utility bills. All of them. Last week I ran a pretty thorough examination of that contract which you can find at the blog. Drop in and have a read. It's pretty interesting and clearly not a good deal for the taxpayers.

Susan Elan wrote a fairly decent piece about it in the Journal News this morning that's also worth a read.

Kent Stormwater Meeting

Next Wednesday evening, December 17, the Town of Kent will host their annual Community Stormwater Meeting.
The purpose of that meeting is to give the public an update on how the town is doing meeting EPA stormwater requirements and the heightened requirements set by the NYC DEP. The highlight of that meeting will be the presentation of 4 new related Public Service Announcements (PSAs) to the general public written and produced by yours truly. Yeah, I'm pretty proud of them and if you come to the meeting not only will you be informed but get some light refreshments afterwards. We promise (I'm on the committee) that we'll keep you no longer than an hour and the speechifying will be brief and informative. The event starts at 7:30PM at the Town Hall. More information is available at the blog and on the PlanPutnam Google calendar.

Thain's Request

Reuters reported the other day that Merrill Lynch & Co Chief Executive John Thain has suggested to directors that he get a 2008 bonus of as much as $10 million. But i have an idea. The government (that's you and me) should respond thusly: "Mr. Thain, we'd live to give you a bonus but just as soon as we can find that company... what was it called? Merrill what?" (see story below.)

Creeping Communism

General News:

Generating project to tap Mississippi River power

Firms' plan will install underwater 'windmills'
By Tom Charlier (Contact), Memphis Commercial Appeal
Thursday, December 4, 2008

Deep beneath the swirling, shifting surface of the Mississippi River, powerful forces are going to waste.

During even the lowest of river stages, the Mississippi's current can exceed 6 mph and push more than 1.5 million gallons of water per second past any given point at Memphis.

No one's ever really tried to harness all that energy -- until now.

Three companies this year have received preliminary federal permits to pursue projects that involve the installation of submerged turbine generators at more than 60 locations along the Mississippi, including one at Memphis.

If the firms receive final licensing by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, large-scale construction could begin within three years on projects employing an emerging type of generating technology known as hydrokinetic power.

Read More

Some see energy future in old mill dams

Monday, December 08, 2008
Associated Press Writer

WINDSOR, Vt. (AP) More than 150 years after it helped power the industrial revolution, the waters of Mill Brook that spill over a series of dams past the old Armory may be called back into service.

In other places as well, from the Stockport Mill Inn on southeastern Ohio's Muskingum River to the hydropower-rich Pacific Northwest to the old mill towns of New England, small hydroelectric projects are popping up in a bid for energy independence.

Yet hopes of turning waterways like Mill Brook into power sources are being dammed up by state and federal regulations meant to regulate huge hydroelectric projects.

Read More

Court Rejects Activists' Environment-Saving Defense

Florida Power Plant Protestors Convicted for Disruption

A Florida jury has convicted seven environmental activists of misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly, trespassing and resisting arrest without violence, reports the Sun Sentinel. The defendants had protested the Everglades construction of a Florida Power & Light Co. power plant in western Palm Beach County.

The interesting part of this case are arguments on behalf of the defense, which attempted to prove that the activists -- working with about 100 others -- had acted out of necessity to save the environment. Lawyers argued that the defendants believed imminent danger was posed by the power plant, both in terms of exacerbating global warming and local pollution, so they felt they had to act.

Experts pointed out that the plant was also expected to use as much water as 50,000 homes and degrade local wetlands.

Read More

Rushed Interior Dept. Rule Overrides Congress; Allows Uranium Mining Near Grand Canyon

by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica - December 5, 2008 11:37 am EST

Grand Canyon National Park (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

After only 15 days' review -- less than half the normal period -- the Department of the Interior issued its final rule (PDF) today that will effectively allow controversial mining of uranium next to the Grand Canyon National Park.

The rule revokes Congress' right to order an emergency withdrawal from mining on federal lands. Congress had been given that power through a provision in a 1976 landmark environmental law that aimed at making it possible to stop mining when it threatened the environment near a recognized national treasure such as the Grand Canyon.

Read More

Surprise drop in power use worries utilities

The Wall Street Journal

An unexpected drop in U.S. electricity consumption has utility companies worried that the trend isn't a byproduct of the economic downturn, and could reflect a permanent shift in consumption that will require sweeping change in their industry.

Numbers are trickling in from several large utilities that show shrinking power use by households and businesses in pockets across the country. Utilities have long counted on sales growth of 1 percent to 2 percent annually in the U.S., and they created complex operating and expansion plans to meet the needs of a growing population.

"We're in a period where growth is going to be challenged," says Jim Rogers, chief executive of Duke Energy Corp. in Charlotte, N.C. 

Read More

Merrill's Thain seeking 2008 bonus of $10 million: report

Mon Dec 8, 1:11 am ET

(Reuters) – Merrill Lynch & Co Chief Executive John Thain has suggested to directors that he get a 2008 bonus of as much as $10 million, but the battered company's compensation committee is resisting his request, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the situation.

The compensation committee has not reached a decision, but is leaning toward denying Thain and other senior executives bonuses for this year, the people told the paper.

Merrill could not be immediately reached for comment.

Read More

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