The Week That Was
November 16, 2002

1. A DETAILED ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF THE NEW MEXICO WIND-FARM PROJECT (by Glenn R. Schleede, Energy Market & Policy Analysis, Inc.) shows the many subsidies and tax benefits flowing to the developers at the expense of ratepayers and taxpayers.


3. EUROPE EXPORTING MORE GASOLINE TO U.S. MOTORISTS: The reason is the disparity in Diesel cars.







2A. Wind turbines fail in UK

Those designing and promoting offshore wind 'farms' seem to have little idea of what sort of conditions can prevail in places like the North Sea.

This seems to be borne out with the two turbines "off-shore" (all of half a mile!) of Blyth Harbour being closed down twice within 12 months because of failure. The second time one turbine had a broken blade and all shipping was warned to steer clear of them. The developers EVENTUALLY claimed it was damaged by lightning strike but the local Met Office and a witness in the harbour-master's office said there was no lightning in the area at the time.
SO . . . . ?

Anyway, looks as though 50% of UK offshore (nearly ONSHORE and nearly new!) turbines have already suffered failure!!! Happy sailing!


2B. Wind turbines fail in Norway

The top of one of the huge 16 windmills on Havøy broke yesterday and fell to the ground, reports NTB (Norsk Telegrambyrå) on October 26. On Wednesday evening, one of the 80-meter-high windmills [nearly a football field] in Havøysund in Finnmark broke and fell down. We received a message about an intense noise coming from one of the windmills, and directly afterwards the top fell down - says an on-duty police officer to NTB.

According to the newspapers, it can be an awkward situation for the cooperation partners Norsk Miljøkraft, Nuon and Norsk Hydro, if it turns out that the wind can be the problem. Jointly, they have invested 336 mill. NOK in the plant, including the governmental support of 64 mill. NOK. The windmills have 80-meter-high towers and each blade is 39 meter long.


3. European tax incentives create gasoline surplus

Because of tax incentives, one out of every three new cars sold in Europe is powered by a diesel engine. In France, more than half the cars are diesel. By contrast, diesel accounts for less than 1 percent of U.S. car sales.

Europe's embrace of diesel-powered cars has left refiners there with a glut of gasoline, which they are sending to the U.S. The process is helping keep U.S. gasoline prices in check, despite fluctuations in world crude oil markets.

· European gasoline exports to the U.S. have climbed 82 percent since 2000.

· While crude oil prices have moved between $18 and $30 a barrel this year, pump prices for gasoline here only fluctuated two cents a gallon between April and September.

· European refiners say the U.S. -- where consumers have failed to accept diesel with the same enthusiasm as the French, Italians and Germans -- is the only market that can handle the quantities of excess gasoline that Europe produces.

· Demand for gasoline here is up nearly 3 percent this year -- while demand is down 2 percent in Western Europe and is expected to continue to decline as more Europeans shift to diesel cars.

The increased European shipments have crimped U.S. refining profits and experts say they could further discourage U.S. refiners from making investments to expand their refining capacity. Federal regulators have demanded that refiners upgrade plants to meet new requirements for low-sulfur gasoline and diesel fuels.

Source: Alexei Barrionuevo, "Europe Drives Up Gas Exports, Keeping U.S. Pump Prices Low," Wall Street Journal, October 28, 2002.

SEPP Comment: Particulate pollution from Diesels creates a health hazard. In addition, black-soot particles are believed to cause strong greenhouse effects. Hybrid-electric cars using gasoline-powered IC engines are probably the best solution to fuel economy


4. Schools To Be Allowed To Serve Irradiated Meat

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 (AP)- Schools will be allowed to serve children meat that has been sterilized through irradiation, the Agriculture Department has decided. Irradiation sterilizes food by using low levels of gamma rays or electrons to kill bacteria and parasites, like E. coli and salmonella. In 1999, the government approved the sale of irradiated meat to the public, but irradiated meat was prohibited in the school-lunch program.

The farm bill approved in May changed that, said Alisa Harrison, spokeswoman for the Agriculture Department. Under the new policy, announced on Friday, schools will be allowed to buy irradiated meat by the end of the year, Ms. Harrison said, emphasizing that doing so was optional. The meat industry has been urging the agency to approve such a policy, saying it will make products safer. Companies want the department to start a pilot program for buying irradiated ground beef for school lunches. "It's time for U.S.D.A. to acknowledge the food safety benefits of this technology and begin purchasing irradiated ground beef products for the nation's schoolchildren," J. Patrick Boyle, chief executive of the American Meat Institute, said in a statement.

Some advocacy groups say irradiated food is unhealthy, though the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association have said it is safe. The consumer group Public Citizen has strongly opposed irradiation, saying the process destroys vitamins and nutrients and can cause chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects to develop. Carol Tucker Foreman, director of the Consumer Federation of America's Food Policy Institute, said she accepted that irradiated food was safe to eat but warned that it was "not a silver bullet" for food-borne illnesses.

Food poisoning in American schools has been increasing 10 percent a year, the General Accounting Office, the auditing agency of Congress, reported this year. Fifty school-related outbreaks of food poisoning were reported nationwide in 1999, with 2,900 illnesses.

Meanwhile, several grocery chains are gambling that consumers, spooked by recent outbreaks of illness and death from E.coli and listeria bacteria, may at last be ready to try irradiated ground beef. Past attempts to introduce consumers to irradiated foods fell victim to the exaggerated fear of anything "atomic," but the two largest meat recalls in history may have changed that. The supermarket experiment will test whether the very real risk of bacterial contamination can overcome the public's irrational fear of radiation.


5. Normal Cancer Rate Found Near Three Mile Island Plant

A new study of 32,100 people living within five miles of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant near Harrisburg, Pa., found no significant difference in the overall rate of cancer deaths compared with the general population. The study did find some differences when cancers were analyzed by time period, type of cancer and sex of the patient.

The study, by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health, said that their surveillance "provides no consistent evidence that radioactivity released during the nuclear accident has had a significant impact on the overall mortality experience of these residents." But the study also said that "several elevations persist and certain potential dose-response relationships cannot be definitively excluded." The study generally agreed with earlier evaluations, that the 1979 accident did not add significantly to cancer risk. But the researchers said their study was stronger because it covered from 1979 through the end of 1998 and that cancers that take years to develop would have done so by then.

The study is published on, a Web site that is part of the National Institutes of Health. It will be published later in the institutes' journal, Environmental Health Perspectives. The lead author, Dr. Evelyn O. Talbott, said in a telephone interview, "When you compare observed with expected cancer, there was virtually no difference." But Dr. Talbott added, "We did see one blip." From 1985 to 1989, 24 women in the group died of lymphoma or hematopoietic tissue (blood-forming organs), up from 14 that were expected to contract the disease during that period.

Among men, she said, the rates of those cancers were the same as what was expected, but the cancers were more common in those whom researchers believe were exposed to more radiation from the accident than in those who are thought to have received less. (The accident exposures were calculated, not measured.) Even the largest dose from the accident, though, was "very tiny," she said. "You would expect, really by chance, when you do 20 or more analyses, you're going to have a couple that by random chance come up," Dr. Talbott said. But she added, "You still need to report it when you see it." The study was not thorough enough to capture other risk factors, she said. "Did we adjust for everything under the sun? No," she said. Among the questions that researchers might pursue, she said, is whether those with higher cancer rates had more exposure to medical X-rays, pesticides or other possible risk factors. After the explosion of the Chernobyl reactor, in Ukraine, in 1986, researchers found numerous cases of thyroid cancer. But the new Three Mile Island study found only one thyroid cancer death in the area over the period.


6 Terrorist risks to transportation of chemicals

A recent article in The New York Times argues that little has been done over the past year to address security concerns about the transport of hazardous materials via truck. According to the article, nearly 800,000 loads of hazardous cargo move on American highways each day, and intelligence officials worry that cargoes of explosive fuel or toxic chemicals could pose a terrorist risk. Both industry and government officials agree that efforts should be made to both increase driver attention to security risks and explore new technologies to help deter hijackings. However, widespread debate remains on how security programs are implemented and who will pay for increased costs: the government, shippers, or the companies that produce or purchase hazardous materials.

SEPP Comment: Terrorist risks to transportation of chemicals, pipelines, and chemical plants and refineries are real, but anti-nuclear Greens concentrate their fire on atomic reactors, among the best-protected facilities in the world.


7 EPA wants to ban CBM

Under a new EPA proposal, chlorobromomethane (CBM) would be regulated as a Class I substance under the Clean Air Act, meaning its production would be phased out. CBM is used in fire extinguishers and as an explosion protection agent, and is also used as a feedstock for the production of pharmaceuticals, water treatment chemicals, and biocides. Class I substances include chlorofluorocarbons and halons, and are considered to have the highest ozone depleting potential.

According to BNA's Daily Environment Report, their regulation is part of U.S. implementation of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. At the eleventh meeting of the Parties to the Protocol, known as the Beijing Amendments, CBM was listed as a controlled substance, and a phase-out schedule was set. The proposal would also restrict trade in CBM with countries that are not party to the protocol.


8. Invitation to Harvard Symposium (with the usual suspects)

There will be an Evening Symposium and Dinner on Climate Change Saturday, November 16, 2002 5:00 - 9:30 p.m. [Read the cover story article, "Changing Our Climate: Causes & Choices," in the current issue of Harvard Magazine.]

"Please join us for a stimulating evening on the timely issue of climate change. A moderated panel discussion with some of the top minds involved in the many aspects of climate change will be followed by an extensive question and answer period moderated in a town meeting format.

"After the Symposium, guests will adjourn to the Museum galleries for a cocktail reception in the Mineral Hall. An elegant dinner will be served in the Zoological Galleries, where the discussion will continue. Each dinner gallery will feature one of the panelists, as well as other Harvard University professors versed in aspects of the climate change issue.

"Panelists will provide a few informal summative remarks and field final questions after dinner, finishing up an engaging evening of good food, good company and intellectual discourse.


Frederick H. Abernathy, Abbot and James Lawrence Professor of Engineering
Dale W. Jorgenson, Samuel W. Morris University Professor
James J. McCarthy, Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography
Michael B. McElroy, Gilbert Butler Professor of Environmental Studies
Moderator: Steven E. Hyman, Provost of Harvard University

Honorary Committee:

The Honorable Bruce Babbitt
Secretary Robert Durand
Ms. Teresa Heinz
Don Henley
The Honorable Al Gore
Provost Steven E. Hyman
Senator Edward M. Kennedy
Senator John F. Kerry
Representative Edward J. Markey
Professor James J. McCarthy
Professor Michael B. McElroy
The Honorable Timothy E. Wirth

SEPP Comment: Also next week, Gore acolyte John Holdren of Harvard's JFK School is addressing the American Academy on Arts and Sciences in Cambridge on why Global Climate Change is the most serious problem facing mankind. Not terrorism, nuclear warfare, poverty…
By way of countering, Fred Singer will deliver the 2002 F.K. North Lecture at Carleton University in Ottawa on Nov 12:
How likely is a human-caused climate catastrophe?



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