Friends of the Earth Action's Campaigns
The Obama budget proposal released February 26, 2009 contains a super proposal to slash about $30 billion in taxpayer giveaways to the oil and gas industries. The days of Big Oil earning record profits while feeding at the taxpayer trough are coming to an end. President Obama's decision to put an end to these giveaways would be a huge victory for taxpayers and the planet if Congress approves.
Fighting False Solutions
Building new nuclear reactors will create more radioactive waste and subject communities all over our nation to shipments of radioactive waste headed to disposal sites—if any can be found. The sites containing the radioactive waste from the Cold War such as the Savannah River Plant on the Georgia-South Carolina border and at Hanford in Washington State are badly contaminated and radioactive waste has leaked.
No country in the world has dealt with radioactive waste successfully, not even France. About two thirds of France’s radioactive waste is sitting around the country under armed guard. The other third is being reprocessed at a plant that is one of the biggest polluters of the North Sea.
The private sector will not invest in new nuclear reactors, notwithstanding the numerous subsidies already existing for the nuclear industry. That is why the nuclear industry is trying to stick you the taxpayer and the ratepayer with the tab. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the industry will default on one half the nuclear reactor loans. Now is not the time for another big taxpayer bailout of a failed industry.
Spending money on expensive new nuclear reactors—each one can cost as much as $10 billion-- actually puts us further behind in the fight on climate change. The reason is that every dollar spent on new nuclear reactors could have gotten more than twice the reduction in greenhouse gases if it had been spent on ready-to-go, cheaper clean energy investments.
Ethanol from Corn
If all the US cropland that feeds our population of 300 million were devoted to the production of corn for ethanol, we would not even displace 15% of our current gasoline consumption. Furthermore, current practices of growing corn are energy intensive, brutalize the soil, and contribute to massive pollution problems such as dead zones at the mouths of great rivers like the Mississippi.
Biofuels: Palm Oil, Soy and Sugar Cane
Major palm oil plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia have decimated tropical rainforests either directly through clearance of the forest or indirectly by taking over existing cropland and forcing agricultural production to go onto forest lands. Similar concerns apply to soy and sugar cane plantations in Brazil. The Friends of the Earth groups in tropical forest countries say that there is little hope of saving these remarkable forests if palm oil, sugar cane, and soy plantations continue to be established to fuel the automobiles of the northern industrial nations.
Coal is inherently dirty, from the mining process, to the combustion at a power plant, to the disposal of the combustion waste from the power plant. No amount of advertising or technology can make coal anything resembling a clean fuel. It is devastating to our air, land, water and wildlife, and poisonous to human health.
The mountains of West Virginia and Kentucky are today being blown to smitherines through the practice of mountain-top removal. Already 1000 miles of rivers and streams in West Virginia have been eliminated by this assault on these biologically diverse forested mountains of Appalachia.
Over 150 million Americans live with dirty air in their communities, and an estimated 25,000 or more Americans have their lives cut short each year as a result of power plant pollution. Coal power plants are the biggest source of mercury emissions in the United States and over 40 states have mercury fish consumption advisories.
Carbon Capture and Sequestration
In an attempt to rescue dirty coal, some are pushing for sequestration of the carbon dioxide deep underground. No one knows whether such sequestration can be accomplished on a major industrial scale. Furthermore, serious questions remain about verifying whether the carbon dioxide would actually be put into the underground storage and does not escape over the next 50 to 100 years. Even if carbon sequestration were feasible and no cheating occurred, this would not deal with any of the other serious problems surrounding the coal cycle: mining, burning, and combustion waste disposal.