Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pascagoula Basin worth saving from Richton Project

The Pascagoula basin is a marvel of nature that has enriched our corner of the world for centuries. With wise stewardship, it can continue to do so.

Read the rest of the editorial in The Sun Herald.

Here are some of the native plants I saw along the Pascagoula River, when I visited The Pascagoula Audubon Center.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Richton Project to be rethought

Rep. Gene Taylor announced Thursday that new environmental impact studies are to be done by the energy department. Joining Taylor in requesting the new studies are Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker.

Read the rest of the article in The Mississippi Press.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Department of Energy will conduct further environmental impact studies on Richton Project

The Department of Energy announced Thursday that it will conduct further environmental impact studies on its 10-year plan to hollow out the Richton salt dome for crude oil storage.

The announcement comes after strong public protest against the project, which many say was approved as the Coast was dealing with the ravages of Katrina, with little regard for environmental or economic consequences.

Some good news at last. Read more about it in The Sun Herald.

Monday, January 21, 2008

From the Big Kahuna

United States Navy has had nuclear incidents
Monday, January 21, 2008

I wish to take issue with Rep. Gene Taylor's assertion that the United States Navy has, in the words of The Mississippi Press' Jan. 18 editorial, "been using nuclear power for decades without incident." In making this statement, both Rep. Taylor and The Mississippi Press are in error. The actual list of "incidents" includes:
  1. In 1961, the USS Theodore Roosevelt was contaminated when radioactive waste from its demineralization system blew back onto the ship after an attempt to dispose of the material at sea.
  2. On Dec. 12, 1971, approximately 500 gallons of radioactive coolant water was spilled into the Thames River near New London, Conn., during a transfer from the submarine USS Dace to the submarine tender USS Fulton.
  3. In 1975, the nuclear-powered submarine USS Guardfish was contaminated with radioactive waste from its reactor coolant water system during disposal at sea.
  4. Sometime during October to November of 1975, the submarine tender USS Proteus discharged radioactive coolant water into Apra Harbor, Guam, contaminating two of the harbor's public beaches with radiation 50 times the allowable dose.
  5. On May 22, 1978, the nuclear-powered submarine USS Puffer mistakenly released up to 500 gallons of radioactive water near Puget Sound, Washington.

This list does not include the losses of the nuclear-powered submarines USS Thresher and USS Scorpion. While their losses were unrelated to nuclear propulsion, their reactors are still sitting on the ocean floor, making it a matter of time before radioactive material is released. This list also doesn't include accidents involving nuclear weapons or incidents at shore-based facilities.

Finally, Rep. Taylor's assertion does not take into account the U. S. Navy's policy of not releasing information on incidents involving nuclear power. For example, OPNAVINST 3040.5B instructs naval commanders they "may not need to contact all the relevant authorities" if an incident occurs in a foreign port. This is in direct contradiction to the U. S. government's "Standard statement on the operation of U.S. nuclear powered warships in foreign ports" which states, "the appropriate authorities of the host government will be notified immediately in the event of an accident involving the reactor of the warship, during a port visit." In other words, knowledge of any "incidents" may not be in the public domain.

It is true that the U. S. Navy has operated nuclear-powered vessels for over 50 years (beginning with the USS Nautilus in 1954) without a reactor meltdown or a catastrophic release of radioactive material. This is due in large part to the design of their reactors and the rigorous training of their personnel. It is also a wise strategy to legislate the next generation of surface combatants be nuclear-powered to reduce our navy's vulnerability to disruptions in the oil supply. But it is misleading at best to declare U.S. naval operations involving nuclear power have been without incident.

Rep. Taylor should know better than to make such a statement and The Mississippi Press should know better than to repeat it without verification.

Bo Alawine

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Senator Wicker Tours the Pascagoula River

Sen. Roger Wicker, who has replaced Trent Lott in the U.S. Senate, decided to see for himself why everyone is talking about protecting the Pascagoula River.

Using water from the river is a key part of a U.S. Department of Energy plan to hollow an underground salt dome in Richton for use as an emergency petroleum reserve.

Traveling on Benny McCoy's river and marsh tour boat, Wicker said, "This is just wonderful. I like what I see and I'm trying as a federal legislator to get my arms around how we might be able to help at a federal level.

A huge way to help would be to prevent the U.S. Department of Energy from taking fresh water from the river.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Nuclear energy a safe alternative

With fossil fuel prices high and climbing higher, Rep. Gene Taylor told voters gathered at the Ocean Springs City Hall that nuclear energy was a safe alternative.

BETTY JO MILLER Speaks Out Against The Richton Salt Dome Project

Salt dome plan poses a threat to oyster industry

Once it was common knowledge in Biloxi that high salinity ruins our oyster harvest, yet the Sun Herald has recently published two optimistic articles about oyster industry recovery which do not mention the government's plans for the Richton salt dome.

Low salinity protects oysters from the conch, a natural predator which can decimate commercial beds. A Nov. 10 article warned of a potential "catastrophic collapse of the oyster industry" that would "displace the entire economy of the Bay region," however that story referred to reductions in fresh water entering the Apalachicola Bay. The problem is the same - too much salt - but the issue there is the drought-induced water war of Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

In Mississippi, our elected officials are planning a self-inflicted catastrophic collapse by allowing the oil interests a cheap place to spit the salt they suck from the Richton dome. They also will allow their buddies to flush away 50 million gallons of fresh water a day from a pristine river, when our neighbors face a water crisis. While we were on our hands and knees fighting our way up from Katrina's mud, these guys saw the opportunity to work us over.

This mal-conceived plan may be lucrative for a few, but it will be disastrous for those of us who love our coastal home. Our seafood, bird life, national park, and budding eco-tourism industry are all at risk. Why not strip-mine the Grand Canyon or clear-cut Yellowstone? There are better ways to stockpile oil.

For more info on how salinity affects the oyster industry, Google "Thais Haemastoma & salinity." Particularly pertinent are "Notes on the Louisiana Conch...
" by Martin D. Burkenroad, and "Effects of Salinity and Temperature...
" by David Garton and William B. Stickle.

Oysters were once the staple that kept our ancestors from starving during the years of the Mississippi Bubble. If we don't pay attention, that bountiful resource will be lost for the sake of another shell game.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Update to Town Hall Meeting

There was finally something in the local papers about Congressman Gene Taylor's Town Hall Meeting. From The Mississippi Press.

He also said he is encouraged by the Navy's tentative look at the Coast Guard's National Security cutter as a possible base design for the littoral combat ship program. He said the Navy and Northrop Grumman have talked about alterations to the Coast Guard cutter that would allow it to fill the role of the littoral combat ship.

Currently, the Navy is building two littoral combat ship designs. Lockheed Martin is building one design at the Marinette Marine Shipyards in Wisconsin. General Dynamics is building a less-traditional, trimaran design at the Austal USA Shipyard in Mobile.

Taylor said that both designs were significantly behind schedule and over budget.

"I am encouraged that the Navy is looking at the National Security cutter," he said, saying that one way the Coast Guard and Navy could cut costs is to share designs. "If Marinette and Austal do not perform, Northrop Grumman is in the running."

I hope Northrop Grumman gets the contract.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Notes From a Town Hall Meeting With Congressman Gene Taylor

I went to the Town Hall Meeting Monday night held by Congressman Gene Taylor.

In response to the Richton Salt Dome. Taylor assured us it was not funded. He also announced the DOE had agreed to a public hearing in March or April. He sent one letter in December which you can read here. Another letter was sent after Christmas which Senator Thad Cochran and others signed. He will not support taking water from the Pascagoula or Leaf Rivers as Jackson County already has fresh water problems and they have been working for 18 years on a way to get more fresh water to us via the rivers. He will support using salt water to hollow out the dome and diffusing it outside the barrier islands. Someone brought up the possibility of selling the salt, and Congressman Taylor assured the person that it would be looked into. He also mentioned the need for alternatives to fossil fuels and said switchgrass looks promising.

The House has approved the Multi Peril Insurance Bill and it is in the Senate now. Congressman Taylor asked us to contact our Senators and request that they support it.

It sounds as if we will be in Iraq for awhile. Iraq is a welfare state and we are now providing the sheiks money to pass out to their tribes, this will apparently hasten the peace process.

The next Town Hall Meeting will be in Wiggins on Feb. 11th, 2008.

Congressman Taylor also spoke of how the LCS Program is behind schedule and over budget.
In selecting dual hulls for LCS, the Navy’s intention had been to deliver ships quickly to the fleet through two shipyards, with the option to downselect to one design at a later point in time. But now it appears that companies that were edged out in the original competition might have another shot at LCS.

This is potentially good news for Northrop Grumman Pascagoula.

A soon to be 70 year old veteran with health issues related to his service brought up how he is being jerked around by the VA. Unfortunately I didn't get his name and I haven't seen anything in the news about it. I do hope this man is able to get the medical care he deserves after serving his country.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Kevin Cruse Speaks Out About the Salt Dome

We must speak up against ruinous salt dome scheme
Haven't we been through enough since Katrina? It's bad enough that developers have bought up most of the Coast's prime real estate for condos. And casinos probably own what's left. Now, the government wants to ruin what can't be sold - our rivers and our Gulf - by using the water to flush the salt out of the Richton dome for oil storage.

If they had to dip into our reserves to help out after Katrina, why can't they just fill them back up? There's no need for a new storage facility, especially at the risk this one poses.
Seems like I remember years ago they wanted to dump nuclear waste in the salt domes and we said, "No!" It's time to say no again.

There's got to be a safer way to get that salt out of there than to deplete our rivers and over-salt our estuaries. If there isn't, then they'll have to look elsewhere. We should be able to vote on this issue since it's our state - our home - that's at stake. We need to write our representatives, who are our voices in Washington.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Federal Government Tells Choctaws NO

The federal government delivered the same message to The Mississippi Band of Choctaws as voters did in November - there will be no Choctaw casino in Jackson County.

The Choctaws were one of 11 tribes to receive letters from the Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs last week rejecting their bids for off-reservation casinos because the sites are too far from the reservation

Our vote didn't count, but luckily this 'NO' actually means no casino.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Resounding victory won by opponents to the proposed Choctaw casino in Jackson County.

In looking back over the news stories that affected residents of South Mississippi in 2007, we must include the resounding victory won by opponents to the proposed Choctaw casino in Jackson County. By a margin of 60/40 the citizens have once again expressed their preference of no casino for Jackson County!

Gov. Haley Barbour, who has final authority in this issue, stated it isn't fair and it isn't right. We should not expand casinos into counties where they do not already exist, he said. He has pledged not to approve the casino.

So, for the next four years, we can assume that there will be no Choctaw casino in Jackson County despite the fact the Choctaws have gone back on their word to honor the wishes of the citizens of Jackson County and are in continued pursuit of their plans for the casino. This also is going back to the promises made to their own people. In a resolution signed and passed by the Choctaw Tribal Council, the resolution clearly states that if a majority of the citizens of Jackson County do not want them to open a casino, they will not pursue the matter any further. In other words, the current leadership of the tribe has gone back on their word in every conceivable way.

Read the rest in The Mississippi Press