May 18, 2001
FIRING UP THE OLD NUCLEAR REACTOR
Some public utilities in the Pacific northwest seem skeptical about President Bush’s plan to cure the energy crisis plaguing the West. The President’s proposal calls for more oil and gas drilling on public lands as well more nuclear power plants to be built. A member of the Northwest Energy Coalition says the President’s plan may help..down the road, but doesn’t do enough right now to cure the needs of the region. In central Washington State, a nuclear watchdog group is concerned that the Bush administration has lifted the permanent shut down status on a breeder reactor. From Hanford, Leigh Robartes reports, some are balking at the idea of starting up the Fast Flux Test Facility, fearing it may lead to increased accidents and the creation of new nuclear waste streams.
PUBLIC POWER AND ENERGY CARTELS IN CALIFORNIA
While California narrowly averted more rolling blackouts this week, the state did not manage to avoid another rate increase. California’s public utility commission imposed the largest electric rate increase for the states residents in U.S. history. The rate increase will help to replenish the six billion dollars the state has spent for power on the spot market since January.In response to the exhorbatant rates wholesale generators have charged for power, California’s governor created a state power authority which he says will discipline the western market. Kata Mester reports from Sacramento.
In Vancouver, British Columbia this Wednesday Justice David Tysoe of the Supreme Court ruled partially in favor of the U.S. Metalclad Corporation against the Mexican Government in an appeal to the Chapter 11 Investor Rights Laws of the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA. Metalclad took over a toxic waste treatment plant in Guadalcazar, Mexico in 1995. The local municipality denied Metalclad a building permit for that plant. Metalclad built the twenty million dollar plant while the governor of San Luis Potosi declared the area an ecological reserve. From Vancouver, Thatcher Collins reports.
PIE IN THE FACE AND BOREDOM IN THE BRITISH ELECTIONS
It took an egg to whip some life into the deadpan British Election Campaign. Earlier this week Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, delivered a jab to the face of a heckler after being hit by a raw egg. Some observers note the left jab, may be as close as this election will get to any excitement. Correspondent James Smoot reports the politics of both candidates are leaning towards the right and voter enthusiasm is rather low.
CONGRESS LOOKS AT PACIFICA RADIO
On Capitol Hill Tuesday, the Congressional Progressive Caucus held a forum on the crisis at the Pacifica Foundation and the issue of citizen access to the airwaves. The Caucus planned for the forum to include members of Pacifica management and the majority faction on the foundations’ Board of Directors. But the day before the forum Pacifica withdrew from participating, sending only a written statement. As a result, the forum was dominated by critics of Pacifica’s present National Board and management. They told caucus members about censorship, harassment and mismanagement at Pacifica, and the threat they believe the networks present direction poses to dissident voices. Matt Martin has this report.