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Canadian Tar Sands Leak Still a Mystery

Canadian Tar Sands Leaking a Mystery Still

Here is another reason why we shouldn’t be anxious for approve pipe lines for Canadian Tar Sands oil.  I haven’t read this yet in the US main stream media.  I suppose they’ll get around to it.  For pictures and more information, please go to the The Star’s website at the URL provided below.  What is causing this spill is a mystery as is everything else surrounding it.

News / Canada

‘Nobody understands’ spills at Alberta oil sands operation

Oil spills at an oil sands operation in Cold Lake, Alberta have been going on for weeks with no end in sight, according to a government scientist.

 By: Emma Pullman and Martin Lukacs Special to the Star, Published on Fri Jul 19 2013

Oil spills at a major oil sands operation in Alberta have been ongoing for at least six weeks and have cast doubts on the safety of underground extraction methods, according to documents obtained by the Star and a government scientist who has been on site.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. has been unable to stop an underground oil blowout that has killed numerous animals and contaminated a lake, forest, and muskeg at its operations in Cold Lake, Alta.

The documents indicate that, since cleanup started in May, some 26,000 barrels of bitumen mixed with surface water have been removed, including more than 4,500 barrels of bitumen.

The scientist said Canadian Natural Resources is not disclosing the scope of spills in four separate sites, which have been off bounds to media and the public because the operations are on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, where there is active weapons testing by the Canadian military.

The company says it is effectively managing and cleaning up the spills.

“The areas have been secured and the emulsion is being managed with clean up, recovery and reclamation activities well underway. The presence of emulsion on the surface does not pose a health or human safety risk. The sites are located in a remote area which has restricted access to the public. The emulsion is being effectively cleaned up with manageable environmental impact,” the company said in a statement.

The documents and photos show dozens of animals, including beavers and loons, have died, and that 30,600 kg of oily vegetation has been cleared from the latest of the four spill zones.

The company’s operations use an “in situ” or underground extraction technology called “cyclic steam stimulation,” which involves injecting thousands of gallons of superhot, high-pressure steam into deep underground reservoirs. This heats and liquefies the hard bitumen and creates cracks through which the bitumen flows and is then pumped to the surface.

The scientist, who asked not to be named for fear of losing their job, said the operation was in chaos.

“Everybody (at the company and in government) is freaking out about this,” said the scientist. “We don’t understand what happened. Nobody really understands how to stop it from leaking, or if they do they haven’t put the measures into place.”

In response to emailed questions from the Star, Canadian Natural Resources said it was co-operating with the regulator.

“We are investigating the likely cause of the occurrence, which we believe to be mechanical,” the company said.

“Canadian Natural has existing groundwater monitoring in place and we are undertaking aquatic and sediment sampling to monitor and mitigate any potential impacts. As part of our wildlife mitigation program, wildlife deterrents have been deployed in the area to protect wildlife.

“We are saddened that unfortunately some animal fatalities occurred between the time of the incident and the deployment of our animal deterrent systems. All of the fatalities have been reported to the Alberta Energy Regulator.”

The company added that it has “taken appropriate steps to ensure no additional impact to wildlife or the environment and that the incident site is reclaimed.”

Canadian Natural Resources did not respond to the charge that they aren’t disclosing the scope of the spills.

Oil companies have said in situ methods are more environmentally friendly than the open-pit mining often associated with the Alberta oil sands, but in situ is more carbon and water-intensive.

“In the course of injecting steam they’ve created fractures from the reservoir to the surface that they didn’t expect,” said the scientist, who is speaking out over concern that neither the company nor Alberta’s regulatory bodies would properly address the situation.

On Thursday, the Alberta Energy Regulator confirmed there were four spills in the last few months, and ordered Canadian Natural Resources to restrict its steam injections and enhance monitoring at the operations in Cold Lake.

Regulator official Bob Curran said the latest spill is spread across 40 hectares.

Canadian Natural Resources disputed that figure Friday. “We have the mapped area impacted to be significantly less than 40 hectares with the area being reduced daily through effective cleanup efforts,” the company said.

Critics say such spills raise questions about the safety and viability of in situ extraction, which by 2020 is expected to account for as much as 40 per cent of Canada’s oil sands production, because many of Alberta’s deposits cannot be mined.

“This is a new kind of oil spill and there is no ‘off button,’ ” said Keith Stewart, an energy analyst with Greenpeace who teaches a course on energy policy and environment at the University of Toronto. “You can’t cap it like a conventional oil well or turn off a valve on a pipeline.

“You are pressurizing the oil bed so hard that it’s no wonder that it blows out. This means that the oil will continue to leak until the well is no longer pressurized,” which means the bitumen could be seeping from the ground for months.

The company said the process is sound and has a good track record over 30 years in Alberta. It said that nevertheless it is reviewing its wellbores “to enhance wellbore integrity and modify steaming strategies to prevent the remote possibility of these events in the future.”

The Cold Lake operations are on the traditional territory of the Beaver Lake Cree First Nation, which is pursuing a constitutional challenge that argues the cumulative impacts of oil sands industrial development are infringing their treaty rights to hunt, fish and trap.

As well, the First Nation says there are graves alongside the lake in the area affected by the spills, and that band members have been unable to access that area.


Texas, Where Carbon is King

Take one look at the state-by-state CO2 admission rates and it is immediately apparent that two states stand out from the rest, California and Texas. Of these two, Texas stands head and shoulders over California. Over the span of ten years Texas produced over 7.5 trillion metric tons of CO2, That is more than the 19 lowest emissions states plus D.C. combined. Amost 12% of al the CO2 emissions generated in the United States came from Texas. Californai produced 6.6% while Pensyulvania, Ohio, Florida and Illinois each produce between 4.6% and 4% of the nations CO2 emissions.

What are the implications for carbon conservation when more than one-sixth (18.3%) of all CO2 emissions are coming from just two states? For one thing it suggests that focusing national efforts on Texas and California can produce the biggest improvements in the short term. Furthermore, the data suggests that half the states with the lowest emissions are already working harder to reduce further carbon emissions that higher CO2 producing states. Among the higher CO2 producing states, Florida, Georga, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorodo and South Carolina increased their carbon polution between 2000 and 2010.  Of these, the states with the highest rate of increase were Arazona (9.9%) and Colorado (11.8%). The largest state increase in carbon emissions over ten years was Nabraska (16.0%). So focusing our national effort on just a hand full of states might be the best strategy to make the biggest and quickest improvements in our carbon footprint in the world.


Release Date:
 May 13, 2013  |  Next Release Date: May 2014  |   full report State-Level Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 2000-2010

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions vary significantly across states (Figure 1), whether considered on an absolute or per capita basis. The overall size of a state, as well as the available fuels, types of businesses, climate, and population density, play a role in both total and per capita emissions. Additionally, each state’s energy system reflects circumstances specific to that state. For example, some states are located near abundant hydroelectric supplies, while others contain abundant coal resources.This paper presents a basic analysis of the factors that contribute to a state’s carbon dioxide profile. This analysis neither attempts to assess the effect of state policies on absolute emissions levels or on changes over time, nor does it intend to imply that certain policies would be appropriate for a particular state.
The term “energy-related carbon dioxide emissions” as used in this paper, includes emissions released at the location where fossil fuels are used. For feedstock application, carbon stored in products such as plastics are not included in reported emissions for the states where they are produced.
Table 1. State energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by year (2000 – 2010)
million metric tons carbon dioxide
 2000 to 2010
State 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Percent Absolute
District of Columbia 4.3 4.1 4.2 3.9 4.0 3.9 3.2 3.4 3.1 3.2 3.3 -23.6% -1.0 40.6
Vermont 6.8 6.6 6.4 6.5 7.0 6.8 6.7 6.6 6.1 6.3 6.0 -10.8% -0.7 71.9
Rhode Island 11.6 12.1 11.6 11.3 10.8 11.0 10.4 11.0 10.6 11.3 11.0 -4.8% -0.6 122.6
South Dakota 14.1 13.4 13.7 13.6 13.7 13.2 13.3 13.9 15.1 14.9 15.1 7.3% 1.0 154.1
Delaware 16.3 15.7 15.5 16.1 16.1 17.0 15.8 16.7 15.9 11.8 11.7 -27.9% -4.5 168.7
Idaho 15.6 15.5 14.9 14.2 15.5 15.7 15.8 16.3 15.8 15.4 16.2 4.0% 0.6 170.9
New Hampshire 17.5 16.9 17.6 20.8 21.9 21.3 19.4 19.3 19.1 17.3 17.0 -2.8% -0.5 208.0
Hawaii 18.8 19.2 20.5 21.5 22.6 23.2 23.5 24.4 19.7 18.9 18.9 0.7% 0.1 231.1
Maine 22.3 22.4 24.0 23.4 24.0 23.1 21.3 21.0 19.4 18.6 18.5 -17.1% -3.8 238.1
Montana 31.3 31.9 30.7 32.7 34.5 35.5 35.8 37.8 36.1 32.5 34.9 11.4% 3.6 373.6
Connecticut 42.8 41.5 39.9 42.3 44.4 43.9 40.9 40.3 38.2 36.5 36.9 -13.7% -5.8 447.7
Oregon 41.2 40.6 39.1 39.3 40.6 41.0 40.3 43.8 43.2 41.2 40.3 -2.4% -1.0 450.6
Nevada 45.3 44.6 41.4 43.4 47.7 49.8 41.5 41.8 41.2 39.7 38.1 -15.9% -7.2 474.3
Alaska 44.3 43.4 43.6 43.5 46.8 48.1 45.8 44.1 39.5 37.9 38.7 -12.6% -5.6 475.6
Nebraska 41.4 42.7 42.2 43.0 43.1 43.5 44.1 44.5 46.5 46.8 48.0 16.0% 6.6 485.7
North Dakota 50.8 51.7 51.4 50.9 49.5 52.4 50.8 52.6 53.1 51.4 52.5 3.3% 1.7 567.1
New Mexico 58.0 58.2 55.2 57.3 58.5 59.1 59.9 59.1 57.6 58.5 54.8 -5.5% -3.2 636.2
Arkansas 63.2 62.4 60.9 61.3 61.9 59.7 61.6 63.1 63.7 61.6 66.1 4.6% 2.9 685.8
Wyoming 62.7 63.0 61.7 63.4 63.4 62.8 63.7 66.1 66.8 63.7 64.9 3.5% 2.2 702.3
Mississippi 60.6 69.4 61.9 63.2 64.8 63.2 65.4 67.7 64.1 60.4 65.5 8.0% 4.9 706.1
Utah 65.1 62.9 62.1 62.7 65.3 67.0 68.3 70.4 69.9 65.0 64.2 -1.3% -0.9 723.0
Kansas 76.1 71.8 76.6 78.4 75.8 72.0 72.1 80.1 76.9 75.0 75.0 -1.3% -1.0 829.7
Maryland 77.5 78.0 77.9 80.4 82.0 83.9 77.5 78.1 74.7 71.4 70.5 -9.0% -7.0 852.0
Washington 82.8 79.4 72.8 74.5 76.7 78.3 76.3 81.8 79.6 77.5 76.1 -8.1% -6.7 855.9
Massachusetts 82.2 82.1 82.9 83.8 82.6 84.3 76.4 80.0 77.2 71.0 73.0 -11.2% -9.2 875.6
Iowa 77.7 76.6 77.2 76.4 78.9 78.9 80.2 85.7 88.3 83.8 88.7 14.1% 11.0 892.4
South Carolina 79.3 78.0 79.2 79.5 87.1 85.7 86.4 87.0 85.5 80.7 84.0 5.9% 4.7 912.5
Colorado 84.7 92.8 90.9 90.0 93.1 95.4 96.4 99.2 97.6 93.7 96.5 13.9% 11.8 1,030.3
Arizona 86.0 88.3 87.7 89.3 96.6 96.7 100.0 102.2 103.1 94.6 95.9 11.6% 9.9 1,040.5
Minnesota 97.7 94.7 97.3 101.0 100.6 101.7 99.1 100.9 100.6 93.1 93.4 -4.4% -4.3 1,080.3
Wisconsin 107.5 105.5 106.7 104.3 107.1 110.5 102.7 104.7 105.7 96.7 99.2 -7.7% -8.3 1,150.6
Oklahoma 100.1 101.4 101.6 103.5 99.8 106.9 110.2 109.6 113.1 104.9 103.4 3.4% 3.4 1,154.5
West Virginia 113.4 103.5 116.2 112.5 109.8 111.9 112.2 114.6 110.6 89.1 98.9 -12.7% -14.4 1,192.8
Virginia 122.3 120.0 118.5 122.2 126.5 128.5 122.0 127.7 117.4 106.3 109.8 -10.2% -12.5 1,321.3
Tennessee 125.2 124.2 123.2 120.9 123.0 124.6 127.0 126.7 120.3 100.3 107.1 -14.5% -18.1 1,322.4
New Jersey 121.1 118.5 118.9 119.8 122.6 127.6 120.2 128.6 124.3 110.4 115.4 -4.7% -5.7 1,327.5
Missouri 125.4 131.1 131.8 138.3 140.0 143.0 141.6 140.8 137.9 131.6 135.7 8.2% 10.3 1,497.2
Alabama 140.4 132.0 136.7 137.2 139.7 141.5 144.0 146.1 139.2 119.8 132.7 -5.5% -7.7 1,509.3
North Carolina 147.7 143.1 144.3 144.7 148.2 152.7 147.4 153.6 149.0 132.9 142.9 -3.3% -4.8 1,606.4
Kentucky 144.7 148.1 148.3 143.9 150.9 153.2 156.1 156.4 153.7 143.7 150.7 4.2% 6.1 1,649.7
Georgia 167.9 160.3 165.1 167.5 173.3 183.9 181.5 184.6 173.5 163.4 173.7 3.4% 5.8 1,894.7
Michigan 192.6 188.5 187.9 184.7 187.4 189.3 178.2 181.2 175.2 164.4 165.9 -13.9% -26.7 1,995.1
New York 211.4 206.7 200.8 210.1 213.9 210.7 192.5 199.4 190.5 175.5 172.8 -18.3% -38.6 2,184.4
Louisiana 239.9 211.9 219.8 214.6 226.2 221.7 236.0 234.5 221.7 203.9 223.5 -6.8% -16.4 2,453.6
Indiana 238.2 228.6 231.7 236.9 237.8 236.7 235.0 234.7 231.5 208.5 219.1 -8.0% -19.1 2,538.6
Illinois 232.1 223.1 225.1 227.7 235.2 242.0 233.9 242.1 240.7 226.1 230.4 -0.7% -1.7 2,558.3
Florida 239.2 238.1 241.3 244.9 257.3 260.9 259.5 257.8 240.2 226.3 246.0 2.8% 6.7 2,711.7
Ohio 264.0 254.5 260.3 267.4 262.5 269.7 263.0 268.9 261.9 237.6 249.1 -5.6% -14.9 2,858.9
Pennsylvania 276.3 263.4 270.1 273.0 276.6 280.0 274.1 277.6 264.9 246.0 256.6 -7.1% -19.7 2,958.7
California 381.3 385.8 384.9 389.5 391.5 389.0 397.5 403.7 389.8 375.9 369.8 -3.0% -11.4 4,258.6
Texas 711.3 704.1 715.8 706.4 709.7 677.8 675.2 676.7 653.3 624.9 652.6 -8.3% -58.8 7,507.7
Total1 5,879.9 5,772.4 5,810.0 5,857.5 5,968.8 6,000.4 5,921.6 6,029.0 5,842.9 5,441.8 5,631.3 -4.2% -248.6 64,155.6
1For the United States as a country see, EIA, Monthly Energy Review, Section 12: Environment.  Differing methodologies between the two data series causes
the total for all states to be slightly different from the national-level estimate.  The amount varies no more than 0.5 percent.  See Appendix A for details on
the data series differences.
Source:  U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), State Energy Data System and EIA calculations made for this analysis.
Note:  The District of Columbia is included in the data tables, but not in the analysis as it is not a state.

Cancers Today From Radiation Releases by US Gov’t in 1950’s?

The following is a partial repost of an article to be found in Robert Parry’s Consortiumnews.com web site.  This is an excellent site to read investigative jouralism.  The article was written by John LaForge who works for Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin.  He also edits its Quarterly newsletter, and is syndicated through PeaceVoice.

Reaping the Seeds of Nuke Tests

March 28, 2013

The warnings about fallout from nuclear tests six decades ago often noted that cancers from the radiation would probably not begin appearing in large numbers for many years. But that time is now – and medical experts are wondering whether the surge in some cancers is a result, writes John LaForge.

By John LaForge

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, the Atomic Energy Commission doused the entire United States with thyroid cancer-causing iodine-131 — and 300 other radioisotopes — by exploding atomic and hydrogen bombs above ground. To protect the dirty, secretive, militarized bomb-building industry, the government chose to warn the photographic film industry about the radioactive fallout patterns, but not the general public.

In 1951, the Eastman Kodak Company had threatened a federal lawsuit over the nuclear fallout that was fogging its bulk film shipments. Film was not packed in bubble wrap then, but in corn stalks that were sometimes being fallout-contaminated.

During nuclear bomb drills in the 1950s, school children were ordered to hide under their desks.

By agreeing to warn Kodak, etc., the AEC and the bomb program avoided the public uproar — and the bomb testing program’s possible cancellation — that a lawsuit would have precipitated. The settlement kept the deadliness of the fallout hidden from farmers and the public, even though the government well knew that fallout endangered all the people it was supposed to be defending.

This staggering revelation was heralded on Sept. 30, 1997, in the New York Times headline, “U.S. Warned Film Plants, Not Public, About Nuclear Fallout.” The article began, “[W]hile the Government reassured the public that there was no health threat from atmospheric nuclear tests…” The fallout’s radioactive iodine-131 delivered thyroid doses to virtually all 160 million people in the U.S. at the time.  Continue reading here: http://consortiumnews.com/2013/03/28/reaping-the-seeds-of-nuke-tests/

A Brief Conversation on Salvation and Ecology

Premise:  Until Christianity (and other major religions) views salvation as more than a personal journey the Earth and all future generations will be condemned by those who ignore or contribute to environmental degradation.  From almost any spiritual perspective, the Earth is sacred, yet how we treat it is profane.  In my view, the outcome of personal salvation is death, both spiritually and literally, if a person does not atone for environmental sins and alter their relationship to the Earth.  All the major religions of the world should be rushing towards achieving a sustainable relationship with nature.

The following is a brief twitter exchange between this author and “C” a Christian for whom Jesus is Central to his life.  We can’t be afraid to talk about religion and the environment regardless of our personal beliefs or religious affiliations. The fate of the planet may depend our ability to communicate across religious and cultural boundaries.  Start here.  Share your thoughts and ideas then start a conversation on your own blog.  Time is of the essence.

Church floated off with the flooding, Katrina Storm Damage in My Photos by Voice For Relief

C: Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice! Phil 4:4

B: God created the Earth, pronounced it good, so we should rejoice in the Earth from which we’re made also. What do you think?

C: If by rejoice in the earth you mean to thank God for His gifts and to cherish them and use them responsibly, then yes, I agree

B: We attend to our relationship to God and each other but ignore our relationship to the rest of creation. Doesn’t seem right. God so loved his creation, even before man, that he proclaimed it good, but Christians today seem so estranged from the Earth. If you love God and your neighbors yet poison the stream behind your house how can you expect to be welcomed into heaven?

C: Well, our welcome into heaven depends on our relationship with Jesus Christ, but I hear what you are saying

B:  Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, they are the same, they are the One, right?  We don’t have separate relationships with each.  I just don’t see how someone can harm the Earth yet be right with God. Why isn’t this a bigger part of salvation theology?  Is degrading the environment a sin? If so, where is our atonement? If not then does God not care about his creation?  In short, why aren’t Christians leading the environmental movement? I don’t understand.

C: It does not matter if it is a sin or not. We will not be judged on the basis of our sin or relative righteousness…. Jesus died on the cross to reconcile sinful Man to a Holy and Just God. If being sinless was our responsibility to salvation, then we would all die separate from God.  The question is then, what will you do with Jesus?

B:  Accept Jesus and He saves you from sin and separation. But don’t we have to change our ways? Can’t keep sinning, right?  If salvation through Jesus means turning away from sin, we still have to know what is unacceptable to God. We have choices.  Therefore it does matter if degrading the environment is a sin. I tend to take this question literally via Matthew 7:16.

B: From a Biblical perspective the catastrophic impacts of climate change is the wrath of God for ignoring or abusing his creation.

[Day 2]

C:  God judges based only on our relationship with Jesus, not sin, not environmental responsibility, just Jesus

B:  Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit all being one makes your statement confusing.

C:  One God, but 3 distinct and eternally separate persons, and yes, it is confusing to our limited minds

B:  True, but the particle wave nature of light provides at least some analogy for understanding the trinity.  How might God judge if you accepted Jesus in your heart on Sunday and dumped toxins into the river on Monday? We must change!

C:  Read Phil 3:3-8. Our righteousness is rubbish (“dung” in the KJV) in the eyes of God. It is not what we do, but what He has done.

B:  Three lines later verse12: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own…”

B:  My larger point is that what Christian’s do or fail to do in this world after they are saved matters in the final judgment. You can’t affirm life in the hereafter if you are not life affirming here and now. The Christian communities should be on the front lines of environmental protection. If we condemn all life on Earth we are ourselves condemned, here and in the hereafter. This is an urgent spiritual matter.

Principles Involved in Keystone XL Pipeline Decision

The following is an exchange between Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey and me regarding the Keystone pipeline.  Below is my response to his initial constituent letter (further below).  I don’t know if this is of interest or value to readers of this blog, but  I encourage everyone to be vigilant and vocal regarding this issue in the comming months.  Thank you.

Dear Senator Menendez,

I thank you and your staff for getting back to me regarding my concerns about the Keystone XL pipeline.  I needed to respond to what I read as an equivocal response to my concerns.

In general, the choices we make are good to the extent that they improve our future options and support the imperatives of life.  Jobs today in exchange for environmental degradation lasting over a millennium is a Faustian bargain. Developing the Canadian tar sands is a bad, short term profit driven idea. The energy the planet will derive is minimal while the harm it will cause is measurable and will degrade life for generations to come.

But that decision is not in our nations hands. The only issue for us is how to minimize the environmental impact of transporting tar sands through the US.  In this regard, a “black swan” analysis is the best measure in my view.  Given enough time, our worst case scenarios always under estimate the actual impact of worst case events.

Therefore, any transportation options that would limit the volume of future releases of tar sands into the environment and confine spills to our Earth’ surface are far preferable to the pipe line where far greater volumes of subterranean releases are possible.  I ask you and your staff to keep this in mind when evaluating the final environmental impact study and in considering how you ultimately decide.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this message.

Brian Lynch

Here is Senator Menendez’ original response to my concerns:

Dear Mr. Lynch:

Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns about the proposed Canadian tar sands oil pipeline.  Your opinion is very important to me, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond to you on this critical issue.

I share your concerns about the environmental impact of tar sands and of the Keystone XL pipeline.  That is why I joined several of my colleagues in sending a letter to the State Department requesting answers to a number of questions about the Draft Environmental Impact Statement the State Department had produced for the pipeline proposal.  The letter raised concerns about the environmental degradation caused by oil extraction, greenhouse gas emissions, and the risks associated with transporting oil through the United States.  My concerns led me to vote against a proposal to circumvent the permitting process and build the pipeline without proper review.  However, I have also heard from proponents of the pipeline who have emphasized the jobs that will be created by the project, as well as its possible energy security benefits.

As you know, the Obama Administration has delayed a decision on the pipeline pending a review of alternate routes.  On March 1st, the State Department issued a draft environmental review of the Keystone XL project that evaluated other methods of transporting the oil, such as trucks, barges and two train options.  The report determined that all options would carry environmental risk, and that the train options would actually release more greenhouse gases than the proposed pipeline.  The State Department’s report concludes that “(a)pproval or denial of the proposed project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands.”  Following this draft report, there will be a 45-day comment period, followed by a final environmental report and a recommendation from the Secretary of State as to whether the Keystone pipeline is in the national interest.

Ensuring that we are making smart choices about our nation’s energy future and protecting the health and safety of Americans are two of my top priorities.  Please rest assured that, in my position as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will keep your views in mind as I closely monitor this ongoing situation.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of more assistance.  I invite you to visit my website (http://menendez.senate.gov) to learn more about how I am standing up for New Jersey families in the United States Senate.

Media Silent on Fukushima Radiation Impact in US

Sometimes the big news stories can only be seen by the shadows they cast. You would think that it would be easy to find detailed updates on the Fukushima disaster’s impact on the fishing industry, milk production, global radiation distribution patterns, etc.  You would be mistaken. The massive media coverage the initial disaster has fallen nearly silent.  Some frustrated environmental advocates have suggested that there may be a media blackout.  Maybe not, but media follow-up stories are few and far between these days.

In July of last year there were major stories about Fukushima and the  plum of radiation reaching across the Pacific Ocean towards North America.  On July 16, 2012, Deborah Dupre of the Examiner reported the following:

“As hair falls out of a Fukushima victim’s head, a new German study reports that North America’s West Coast will be the area most contaminated by Fukushima cesium of all regions in Pacific in 10 years, an “order-of-magnitude higher” than waters off Japan, according to a new German study followed by a former New York Times journalist going inside the no-entry zone and reporting radiation levels over 10 times higher than Tepco’s data.”

The article was accompanied by this scary graphic:

Radioactive Seawater Impact Map


The article went on to say: “”After 10 years, the concentrations become nearly homogeneous over the whole Pacific, with higher values in the east, extending along the North American coast with a maximum (~1 × 10−4) off Baja California,” a new research report states.”

Then, on August 22, 2012, NHK News reported that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says it has detected radiation 380 times the government safety limit in a fish caught off Fukushima Prefecture.


Since then not much else has been reported on the spread of radiation to North America.  It has been reported that tons of debris from the tsunami continues to wash up on the Pacific coast, but very little, especially in the main stream press, about how we are being effected.  http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2012/12/fukushima-debris-to-keep-hitting-the-pacific-coast-this-winter/

Perhaps my internet search skill are not the best, but the fact that I have to search for follow-up information is a warning sign.  Journalists and the media should paying more attention to to this topic. The one recent article related to radiation fallout from Fukushima I found was a  scientific study published in November, 2012.  It focuses primarily on how tracing  the travel of radionuclides gives insight into atmospheric air circulation in the Northern Hemisphere.

I think we all deserve to know more about what the US, Canadian and Mexican governments are doing to monitor radiation levels, track distribution rates and study how it may be impacting our food supply.

Below is a reference to the recently published study.

Science of The Total Environment Volume 438,

1 November 2012, Pages 80–85

Tracking the complete revolution of surface westerlies over Northern Hemisphere using radionuclides emitted from Fukushima

 M.A. Hernández-Ceballosa, G.H. Hongb, R.L. LozanoaY.I. KimcH.M. Leeb, S.H. Kimb,S.-W. YehdJ.P. Bolívara, ,M. Baskarane


Massive amounts of anthropogenic radionuclides were released from the nuclear reactors located in Fukushima (northeastern Japan) between 12 and 16 March 2011 following the earthquake and tsunami. Ground level air radioactivity was monitored around the globe immediately after the Fukushima accident. This global effort provided a unique opportunity to trace the surface air mass movement at different sites in the Northern Hemisphere. Based on surface air radioactivity measurements around the globe and the air mass backward trajectory analysis of the Fukushima radioactive plume at various places in the Northern Hemisphere by employing the Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory model, we show for the first time, that the uninterrupted complete revolution of the mid-latitude Surface Westerlies took place in less than 21 days, with an average zonal velocity of > 60 km/h. The position and circulation time scale of Surface Westerlies are of wide interest to a large number of global researchers including meteorologists, atmospheric researchers and global climate modellers.


Clearing the Air – We’ve Made Progress in Fighting Pollution

Government regulation is so demonized today in part because it is a victim of its own success.  Who needs air pollution standards when skies are blue and the air smells sweet?  Aren’t federal government regulations just a drag on the economy?  As progress is made in cleaning up the air we breath, push back to dismantle the regulations that have been working becomes greater sometimes.  The same powers of industry that created unbearable air quality in the past are pressuring Congress today to ease up on clean air emissions standards.  We must hold the line and, in fact, move forward with improved standards.

Below are some picture that tell a story all by themselves, followed by a reminder that the relatively clean air and water we enjoy today was a hard fought bipartisan victory thanks, in part, to Richard Nixon.
This post began with the following note  from a friend:  My Urban Policy studies lead me to these websites.  My favorite is Planetizen.  If you are at all interested in how the commonwealth works, give these a look.
Anyway, here’s a look at Pittsburgh before government regulation of industrial pollution.  This is what unfettered capitalism will do.  The Republicans of today would have us believe that regulation is the devil.  Shall we go back to theEden that was America?

What Pittsburgh Looked Like When It Decided It Had a Pollution Problem

by Mark Barnes – June 5, 2012

In 1941, influenced by a similar policy introduced in St. Louis four years earlier, the city of Pittsburgh passed a law designed to reduce coal production in pursuit of cleaner air. Not willing to cripple such an important part of the local economy, it promised to clean the air by using treated local coal. The new policy ended up not being fully enacted until after World War II.

While the idea was a small step in the right direction, other factors ultimately helped improvePittsburgh’s notorious air quality. Natural gas was piped into the city. Regional railroad companies switched from coal to diesel locomotives. And, ultimately, the collapse of the iron and steel production industries in the 1980s led to rapidly improved air quality leading into the 21st century.  Control of coal smoke made it possible to clean soot-covered buildings and to re-plant hillsides, helping provide the city a look it could hardly envision in the depths of its industrial heyday.

Below, a look at downtown Pittsburgh between 1940 and 1945, courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh’s Smoke Control Lantern Slide Collection: [note: Only a small selection from website appear here.  Go to the website to see all the photographs.]


Remarks on Signing the Clean Air Amendments of 1970.
December 31, 1970


The year 1970 has been a year of great progress in this field. In February, you will recall that I submitted the most comprehensive message on the environment ever proposed by a President of the United States. During the year, there have been some administrative actions, some legislative actions.

Time, however, has been required for the Congress to consider the proposals of the administration and, finally, to agree on the legislation that will be sent to the President for signature.

This is the most important piece of legislation, in my opinion, dealing with the problem of clean air that we have this year and the most important in our history.
It provides, as you know, for provisions dealing with fuel emissions and also for air quality standards, and it provides for ‘the additional enforcement procedures which are absolutely important in this particular area.

How did this come about? It came about by the President proposing. It came about by a bipartisan effort represented by the Senators and Congressmen, who are here today, in acting. Senator Randolph, Senator Cooper, and Congressman Springer represent both parties and both Houses of the Congress. [snip]

And if, as we sign this bill in this room, we can look back and say, in the Roosevelt Room on the last day of 1970, we signed a historic piece of legislation that put us far down the road toward a goal that Theodore Roosevelt, 70 years ago, spoke eloquently about: a goal of clean air, clean water, and open spaces for the future generations of America.

Read more at the American Presidency Project:Richard Nixon: Remarks on Signing the Clean Air Amendments of 1970.

Over Population is Key to Understanding Our World

Over population is the elephant in the room than nobody talks about. Take most any crisis we face today, shrink it by 3 or 4 billion people and the problem goes away. Global population has doubled, and just about doubled again in my lifetime. It has fundamentally altered everything.  It’s been estimated that there are as many people alive today as have ever lived before.  Given our reproductive success as a species, it is easy to forget that population constrain is an unavoidable force of nature.  Every species that ever was or ever will be is brought into natures balance. This WILL happen to humans with or without our planning. If we don’t take responsibility for a sustainable world the natural consequence could include human extinction. Natural consequences are seldom humane.  Our intelligence has made us successful up till now, but if we don’t apply our ability to reason on this problem we won’t look so smart in the future. (selected reading below)

In the time it takes you to read this post there will be 2,000 more people in the world.

Graph of human population from 10,000 BC – 2,000 AD showing the unprecedented population growth since the 19th century


Work to curb world overpopulation must begin now

Published July 11, 2012

Tuesday morning, the world’s population stood at 7,025,367,636. Some believe that’s already a billion more than the planet can ultimately sustain, but the number is growing annually by 80 million people.

At that rate – about 9,100 new people per hour – the world population increases by roughly the size of Thurston County [Washington State] every day.
This morning, in London, on World Population Day, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation brought world leaders together to kick off a $4 billion fundraising campaign to provide contraceptives for 120 million women who do not have access to birth control, all of them in the poorest countries.  [snip]


One thing all humans on this planet need to survive is resources. Resources like food and water are bare essentials for life. The countries that are experiencing the highest growth rates are all developing countries, with the exception of the United States. This countries lack the technology that other developed countries have and therefore things we consider basic they have never used. We watch our televisions everyday while they may have never seen a TV before. They also lack the basics that we take for granted like indoor plumbing. Some countries water supply is the same as their sewage. India has one of the fastest growing populations in the world and the Ganges River shows their lack of resources available to the people of India. The Ganges is one of the most polluted rivers in the world.  It supports over 400 million people with a population density of 1,000 people per square mile. India is an example of developing country that has a rise in its population growth rate. It cannot support its population now, many of the people in India are forced to bathe in the Ganges because they have no access to any other water source. If this population continues to grow the river will continue to get more and more polluted making it unsafe for the millions of people that rely on it. This is not the only place in the world that the larger populations are supported by limited resources. Along with the people in India relying on the Ganges over three fifths of people in developing countries lack basic sanitation, one third have no access to clean water, and a quarter lack adequate housing.   [snip]

The World’s New Numbers

by Martin Walker

“Here lies Europe, overwhelmed by Muslim immigrants and emptied of native-born Europeans,” goes the standard pundit line, but neither the immigrants nor the Europeans are playing their assigned roles.
Something dramatic has happened to the world’s birthrates. Defying predictions of demographic decline, northern Europeans have started having more babies. Britain and France are now projecting steady population growth through the middle of the century. In North America, the trends are similar. In 2050, according to United Nations projections, it is possible that nearly as many babies will be born in the United States as in China. Indeed, the population of the world’s current demographic colossus will be shrinking. And China is but one particularly sharp example of a widespread fall in birthrates that is occurring across most of the developing world, including much of Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The one glaring exception to this trend is sub-Saharan Africa, which by the end of this century may be home to one-third of the human race.
The human habit is simply to project current trends into the future. Demographic realities are seldom kind to the predictions that result. The decision to have a child depends on innumerable personal considerations and larger, unaccountable societal factors that are in constant flux. Yet even knowing this, demographers themselves are often flummoxed. Projections of birthrates and population totals are often embarrassingly at odds with eventual reality.
In 1998, the UN’s “best guess” for 2050 was that there would be 8.9 billion humans on the planet. Two years later, the figure was revised to 9.3 billion—in effect, adding two Brazils to the world. The number subsequently fell and rose again. Modest changes in birthrates can have bigger consequences over a couple of generations: The recent rise in U.S. and European birthrates is among the developments factored into the UN’s latest “middle” projection that world population in 2050 will be just over 9.1 billion.
In a society in which an average woman bears 2.1 children in her lifetime—what’s called “replacement-level” fertility—the population remains stable. When demographers make tiny adjustments to estimates of future fertility rates, population projections can fluctuate wildly. Plausible scenarios for the next 40 years show world population shrinking to eight billion or growing to 10.5 billion. A recent UN projection rather daringly assumes a decline of the global fertility rate to 2.02 by 2050, and eventually to 1.85, with total world population starting to decrease by the end of this century.
Despite their many uncertainties, demographic projections have become an essential tool. Governments, international agencies, and private corporations depend on them in planning strategy and making long-term investments. They seek to estimate such things as the number of pensioners, the cost of health care, and the size of the labor force many years into the future. But the detailed statistical work of demographers tends to seep out to the general public in crude form, and sensationalist headlines soon become common wisdom.
 [snip]  Go to Full text PDF available here.


The world’s human population doubled from 1 to 2 billion between 1800 and 1930, and then doubled again by 1975. At the end of October 2011, it surpassed 7 billion. This staggering increase and the massive consumption it drives are overwhelming the planet’s finite resources. We’ve already witnessed the devastating effects of overpopulation on biodiversity: Species abundant in North America two centuries ago — from the woodland bison of West Virginia and Arizona’s Merriam’s elk to the Rocky Mountain grasshopper and Puerto Rico’s Culebra parrot — have been wiped out by growing human numbers.

As the world’s population grows unsustainably, so do its unyielding demands for water, land, trees and fossil fuels — all of which come at a steep price for already endangered plants and animals. Most biologists agree we’re in the midst of the Earth’s sixth mass extinction event; species are disappearing about 1,000 times faster than is typical of the planet’s history. This time, though, it isn’t because of geologic or cosmic forces but unsustainable human population growth.

Today’s global human population is over 7 billion. Every day, the planet sees a net gain of roughly 250,000 people. If the pace continues, we’ll be on course to reach 8 billion by 2020 and 9 billion by 2050.

By any ecological measure, Homo sapiens sapiens has exceeded its sustainable population size. Just a single human waste product — greenhouse gas — has drastically altered the chemistry of the planet’s atmosphere and oceans, causing global warming and ocean acidification.

In the United States, which has the world’s third largest population after China and India, the fertility rate peaked in 2007 at its highest level since 1971 before dropping off slightly due to the recent economic recession. At 2.1 children per woman, the U.S. fertility rate remains the highest among developed nations, which average around 1.6. The current U.S. population exceeds 300 million and is projected to grow 50 percent by 2050.

The mission of the Center for Biological Diversity is to stop the planetary extinction crisis wiping out rare plants and animals around the world. Explosive, unsustainable human population growth is an essential root cause of this crisis.

We can reduce our own population to an ecologically sustainable level in a number of ways, including the empowerment of women, education of all people, universal access to birth control and a societal commitment to ensuring that all species are given a chance to live and thrive. All of these steps will decrease human poverty and overcrowding, raise our standard of living and sustain the lives of plants, animals and ecosystems everywhere.

Male Contraception Could Mute Abortion Debate

Bio-technology may one day mute the abortion debate by curtailing the number of unintended pregnancies. The possibility of developing an effective male contraceptive just improved.

Scientists from Monash University, the University of Newcastle, John Curtin School of Medical Research and Garvan Institute of Medical Research, in Australia; and the University of Cambridge, in the UK have advanced research that could lead to a male contraceptive.  They discovered a genetic mutation in a protein (RABL2) that shortens a sperm cell’s tail and limits its ability to swim.   According to an  article published October 8, 2012 in Genetics (Medical Xpress), “In laboratory tests, the team found that a mutation in RABL2 resulted in sperm tails that were 17 per cent shorter than normal. Dysfunctional RABL2 also negatively affected sperm production, resulting in a 50 per cent decrease. “


According to the report, RABL2 also works with other molecules known as intraflagellar transport proteins that carry genetic cargo along the sperm tail.  Dysfunctional RABL2 results in lower sperm counts as well as sperm structure that reduces a its potency as well as its motility.  With these insights it may be possible in the future to develop a pill that inhibits this protein. The prospect is not straight forward, however, because lower concentrations of  RABL2 is also found in other organs.  The trick would be to find a way to inhibit it only in the testes.


The development of a male contraception should be a welcome, even an urgent goal for pro-life advocates.  A male contraceptive pill would greatly reduce the number of abortions in the United States and bypass most religious based objections to post-fertilization contraceptives methods currently available for woman.

As it stands now, people have been fruitful and have multiplied to the point where human population is creating enormous stress on the planet’s ecosystems.  There are more people alive today than have already died in the past.  And population growth is still rising exponentially.  It is a mathematical certainty that we either take control of our population growth or nature will do it for us in ways that could lead to our extinction.  Any advances in contraception and increased ability of families to control reproduction is welcome news.

Where is News of Fukushima Radiation Impact?

DATA DRIVEN VIEWPOINT: Sometimes the big news stories can only be seen by the shadows that they cast.  You would think that it would be easy to find copious updates on the radiation impact Fukushima is having on the fishing industry, US food production, global radiation distribution, etc. You would be mistaken. The relatively large amount of media coverage the Fukushima disaster initially generated has diminished to the point of near silence.  Maybe my own internet search skills are to blame, but even having to run a search on Fukushima’s radioactive legacy for North America is an warning sign to which journalists and the media should be paying attention. There was this month (November, 2012) a scientific study published regarding the release of radiation from Japan, but its focus is primarily on how tracing  the travel of radionuclides gives insight into atmospheric air circulation in the Northern Hemisphere.

I would be interested in learning more about what the US and Canadian governments are doing to monitor radiation levels, track distribution rates and study how it may or may not be impacting our food supply. If any of you reading this comes across such information, please post links here to the comments section below.  If you search but can’t find information, that is news worth also, so please comment about your efforts also.  Thank you.

Science of The Total Environment

Volume 438, 1 November 2012, Pages 80–85
Cover image

Tracking the complete revolution of surface westerlies over Northern Hemisphere using radionuclides emitted from Fukushima

  • a Department of Applied Physics, University of Huelva, Huelva, Spain
  • b Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute, Ansan 426–744, South Korea
  • c Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute, Uljin 767–813, South Korea
  • d Department of Environmental Marine Science, Hanyang University, Ansan, 426–791, South Korea
  • e Department of Geology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA

View full text


Massive amounts of anthropogenic radionuclides were released from the nuclear reactors located in Fukushima (northeastern Japan) between 12 and 16 March 2011 following the earthquake and tsunami. Ground level air radioactivity was monitored around the globe immediately after the Fukushima accident. This global effort provided a unique opportunity to trace the surface air mass movement at different sites in the Northern Hemisphere. Based on surface air radioactivity measurements around the globe and the air mass backward trajectory analysis of the Fukushima radioactive plume at various places in the Northern Hemisphere by employing the Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory model, we show for the first time, that the uninterrupted complete revolution of the mid-latitude Surface Westerlies took place in less than 21 days, with an average zonal velocity of > 60 km/h. The position and circulation time scale of Surface Westerlies are of wide interest to a large number of global researchers including meteorologists, atmospheric researchers and global climate modellers.


► Evidence of the South Korea contamination with released radiocesium from Fukushima. ► Field samples and air mass analysis were utilized to elucidate the transport of those radionuclides. ► Characterization of the air mass movements at different sites at the Earth’s surface. ► Verification of the uninterrupted complete revolution of the artificial radionuclides released in Fukushima. ► Quantification of the velocity of the artificial radionuclides released in Fukushima.