Australian news, and some related international items

recommendations for BHP Billiton’s planned new copper/uranium mine at Olympic Dam

Olympic Dam / Roxby mine Recommendations 2012, by David Noonan, 18 June 2012:

Prevent South Australia becoming the Radioactive State by requiring BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam / Roxby mine to:

  •  only trade in copper and other non-radioactive products;
  •  not export uranium or to sell proposed radioactive copper-uranium concentrates; and
  •  leave the uranium and all other radioactive waste at the mine site.

 Repeal the Roxby Downs (Indenture Ratification) Act 1982 and the 2011 amendments to the Indenture to remove the extraordinary legal privileges granted to BHP Billiton including the override of state legislation that would apply to any other mining venture or commercial activity.

 Require BHP Billiton to commit to environmental protection measures to:  

  • dispose of radioactive tailings into the proposed new Roxby open pit and to rehabilitate the pit should it be constructed; 
  • prevent liquid radioactive waste leakage from tailings piles – including by required lining of the tailings piles; 
  • use renewable energy for the full electricity supply to the proposed new open pit mine, rather than the BHP Roxby mine plan for a jump of 12 percent in SA’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and to phase out use of fossil fuels for the electricity supply to the existing mine; 
  • stop extraction of Great Artesian Basin waters from Borefield A as soon as possible and to phase out rather than expand extraction of GAB waters from Borefield B; 
  • and commit to biodiversity projects that genuinely compensate for the loss of flora and fauna caused by the mine project, proposed new open pit and associated operations.

 Protect the unique ecology of the Upper Spencer Gulf and the breeding ground of the Giant Australian Cuttlefish by:   prohibiting the construction of a major desalination plant in this fragile region by BHP Billiton.

These Recommendations are based on my recent update of the relevant sections of the “2010 State Election Agenda for SA” (authored by CCSA, ACF, TWS and NCSSA) that I had a lead role in as then ACF national nuclear free campaigner.

June 18, 2012 Posted by | politics, South Australia, uranium | | Leave a comment

Australia’s Institute of Public Affairs promotes climate denialist lies to schoolchildren

what might it mean that Plimer’s views are rejected outright by 97-98% of climate scientists and major scientific organisations across the world? Might his extreme and nastily expressed views have something to do with vested interests – given that he is the interim chairman of one mining company and director of at least one other – in the context of a looming carbon tax?

Teaching critical thinking in this context would also look at the concept and role of peer review and relevant credentials when deciding on the worth of conflicting statements.

How the IPA feeds kids lies about climate change, Independent Australia, 12 June 12,   The Institute of Public Affairs, a lobby group funded by big business, miners and the tobacco industry, is sending schools misleading and inaccurate books about climate change. Frances Quinn from the UNE reports. Two recently published books suggest that the public – and school children in particular – are being fed lies about environmental issues such as climate change. The books – “How to Get Expelled from School: A guide to climate change for pupils, parents & punters” by Ian Plimer and “Little Green Lies: An expose of twelve environmental myths” by Jeff Bennett – clearly demonstrate how important it is to have a scientifically literate Australia.

The distorted and selectively reported science in these books highlights some of the challenges that Australian teachers face in teaching science, and how important it is that they are supported in this task.

The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE) has condemned Plimer’s book as misleading and inaccurate. However the free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) is apparently sending copies of Plimer’s misleading fringe book to Australian schools. The Executive Director of the IPA John Roskam is, incidentally, on the editorial board of the publishing house of these two books.

Plimer’s book tells school students that they are being “conned” and “fed propaganda” if their teacher “waffles” on about issues such as human-induced global warming, sea level rise and the IPCC. He deplores this as “environmental activism”. This is despite the overwhelming evidence for human induced climate change accepted by a vast range of climate scientists and scientific organisations. Continue reading

June 18, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, spinbuster | | Leave a comment

Solar enlightenment in the classroom

solar energy also can provide value beyond cost savings for schools, as an educational tool. At Rosa Parks Elementary in Berkeley, Calif., students race solar-powered cars, operate a solar-powered decorative fountain and participate in an annual solar fair. Officials of the Berkeley Unified School District say that while children are learning hands-on about renewable energy, the $45,000 in annual savings the district expects to achieve with installations on two schools so far
will help offset budget cuts.

The Enlightened Classroom, THE JOURNAL REPORT: INNOVATIONS IN ENERGY, June 18, 2012, School districts are using solar power to cut their energy bills—and cope with budget cutsm, WSJ,   By JIM CARLTON Solar power has long been touted for its environmental impact. But now it has a new role: saving teachers’ jobs. School districts across the country are turning to solar power to cut their electricity costs.

With the money they’re saving, they are able to retain more teachers and programs in the face of budget cuts. As a bonus, some schools are using solar installations to teach kids about renewable energy.

More than 500 K-12 schools in 43 states have installed solar panels, many of them over the past three years as solar-power costs have fallen by more than one-third, Continue reading

June 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Solar power growing in USA

In January, Macon’s Felton Homes public housing complex replaced 10 percent of its energy demand with renewable energy, using a combination of solar panels and solar hot water heaters.

Falling prices are making solar energy an economical energy choice for U.S. homeowners and businesses.

U.S. solar installations grow 85 percent in first quarter, 17, 2012  By EHREN GOOSSENS — Bloomberg News Developers installed 85 percent more solar panels in the United States in the first quarter than a year earlier, led by strong growth in
commercial projects and demand, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Continue reading

June 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s energy generation – community-owned renewable projects are the way forward.

The Hepburn Community Wind Farm consists of two turbines built by the community, after locals decided nearly seven years ago to take responsibility for their own energy needs.

Citizen-owned energy is way of the future.  Power Engineering, 17 June 12,  AUSTRALIA’S carbon tax is just two weeks away. The cost of electricity is set to rise from July 1, with a national renewable energy target of 20 per cent by 2020.
Large-scale wind farms are increasing, solar energy is booming and hydro schemes are being adopted across the country.

But the real future of energy generation is in community- owned renewable energy projects, according to one of the men involved in setting up Australia’s first citizen-owned wind farm. Now he has his sights set on Tasmania. Continue reading

June 18, 2012 Posted by | Tasmania, Victoria, wind | | Leave a comment

Japan readies for a solar energy boom

‘‘Japan is where the demand is,’’  Kazuhiro Yoshida  told reporter

Solar Boom Heads To Japan Creating $9.6 Billion Market Bloomberg, By Chisaki Watanabe – Jun 17, 2012 Japan is poised to overtake Germany and Italy to become the world’s second-biggest market for solar power as incentives starting July 1 drive sales for equipment makers from Yingli Green Energy Holdings Co. to Kyocera Corp. (6971) Continue reading

June 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

73 Japanese mayors protest against restart of two Oi nuclear reactors

On Saturday, thousands of demonstrators in Tokyo and other cities and towns voiced their criticism of the prime minister’s declaration that the Ohi plant is safe.

Earlier this month, about 1,300 people from Fukushima Prefecture filed a criminal complaint against Tokyo Electric Power Co. Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and 32 other… accusing them of professional negligence resulting in death and injury.

Japanese Mayors Protest Restart of Nuclear Power Plant, TOKYO, Japan, June 17, 2012 (ENS) – A group of Japanese local government elected officials is protesting the decision of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s government to restart a nuclear power plant…

… Under the banner Mayors for a Nuclear Power Free Japan, the group of 73 serving and retired mayors held a news conference Sunday to protest the plan to put the Ohi plant back online. Continue reading

June 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RWE company not to build more nuclear reactors -” too financially risky”

RWE says won’t build any new nuclear plants DUESSELDORF, Germany, June 17  , 2012   (Reuters) – RWE AG, Germany’s second-biggest utility, is abandoning plans to build new nuclear power plants outside its home market, where the government decided last year to phase out nuclear power.

“We will not invest in new nuclear power plants,” incoming Chief Executive Peter Terium said…. “We can no longer afford the financial risks and the surrounding conditions for nuclear power plants,” Terium, who is due to take the top job on July 1, said.

Three months ago, RWE and E.ON pulled out of a 15 billion pound ($23.5 billion) plan to build new nuclear power stations in Britain…. Dutch utility Delta and its partners EDF and RWE earlier this year postponed plans to build a second nuclear power plant in the Netherlands because of the poor investment climate and low electricity prices….

June 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

China uneasy about USA’s increasing militarism in Australia

Home-brewed cold war bad for business, WA Today, Patrick Porter,June 18, 2012   PICK a godfather. That was the barbed warning of a former senior officer of China’s People’s Liberation Army to Australia. Choose between China (its greatest trading partner) and the US (its greatest ally and security guarantor).

In a recent visit to Beijing, Australia’s defence minister was quizzed by Chinese generals why our country is hosting 2500 marines in rotations through the Northern Territory and strengthening its defence ties with Washington.

They know about Australia’s blueprint for a future war alongside the US against China in the secret chapter of the
2009 Defence white paper, even if it was merely a contingency plan. The hostility of Chinese officials underscores Australia’s strategic dilemma: how to cope within an escalating rivalry between Beijing and Washington, and the threat that our trading interests and military-security interests could come into conflict.

June 18, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment