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Cantarow writes: "When workers drilling tunnels at Gauley Bridge, West Virginia, began to die, Union Carbide had an answer."

Silicosis, showing as a nodular mass on a chest x-ray. (photo:
Silicosis, showing as a nodular mass on a chest x-ray. (photo:

The Environmental Nightmare You Know Nothing About

By Ellen Cantarow, TomDispatch

21 May 12


f the world can be seen in a grain of sand, watch out. As Wisconsinites are learning, there's money (and misery) in sand - and if you've got the right kind, an oil company may soon be at your doorstep.

March in Wisconsin used to mean snow on the ground, temperatures so cold that farmers worried about their cows freezing to death. But as I traveled around rural townships and villages in early March to interview people about frac-sand mining, a little-known cousin of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," daytime temperatures soared to nearly 80 degrees - bizarre weather that seemed to be sending a meteorological message.

In this troubling spring, Wisconsin's prairies and farmland fanned out to undulating hills that cradled the land and its people. Within their embrace, the rackety calls of geese echoed from ice-free ponds, bald eagles wheeled in the sky, and deer leaped in the brush. And for the first time in my life, I heard the thrilling warble of sandhill cranes.

Yet this peaceful rural landscape is swiftly becoming part of a vast assembly line in the corporate race for the last fossil fuels on the planet. The target: the sand in the land of the cranes.

Five hundred million years ago, an ocean surged here, shaping a unique wealth of hills and bluffs that, under mantles of greenery and trees, are sandstone. That sandstone contains a particularly pure form of crystalline silica. Its grains, perfectly rounded, are strong enough to resist the extreme pressures of the technology called hydraulic fracturing, which pumps vast quantities of that sand, as well as water and chemicals, into ancient shale formations to force out methane and other forms of "natural gas."

That sand, which props open fractures in the shale, has to come from somewhere. Without it, the fracking industry would grind to a halt. So big multinational corporations are descending on this bucolic region to cart off its prehistoric sand, which will later be forcefully injected into the earth elsewhere across the country to produce more natural gas. Geology that has taken millions of years to form is now being transformed into part of a system, a machine, helping to drive global climate change.

"The valleys will be filled… the mountains and hills made level"

Boom times for hydraulic fracturing began in 2008 when new horizontal-drilling methods transformed an industry formerly dependent on strictly vertical boring. Frac-sand mining took off in tandem with this development.

"It's huge," said a U.S. Geological Survey mineral commodity specialist in 2009. "I've never seen anything like it, the growth. It makes my head spin." That year, from all U.S. sources, frac-sand producers used or sold over 6.5 million metric tons of sand - about what the Great Pyramid of Giza weighs. Last month, Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Senior Manager and Special Projects Coordinator Tom Woletz said corporations were hauling at least 15 million metric tons a year from the state's hills.

By July 2011, between 22 and 36 frac-sand facilities in Wisconsin were either operating or approved. Seven months later, said Woletz, there were over 60 mines and 45 processing (refinement) plants in operation. "By the time your article appears, these figures will be obsolete," claims Pat Popple, who in 2008 founded the first group to oppose frac-sand mining, Concerned Chippewa Citizens (now part of The Save the Hills Alliance).

Jerry Lausted, a retired teacher and also a farmer, showed me the tawny ridges of sand that delineated a strip mine near the town of Menomonie where he lives. "If we were looking from the air," he added, "you'd see ponds in the bottom of the mine where they dump the industrial waste water. If you scan to the left, you'll see the hills that are going to disappear."

Those hills are gigantic sponges, absorbing water, filtering it, and providing the region's aquifer with the purest water imaginable. According to Lausted, sand mining takes its toll on "air quality, water quality and quantity. Recreational aspects of the community are damaged. Property values [are lowered.] But the big thing is, you're removing the hills that you can't replace. They're a huge water manufacturing factory that Mother Nature gave us, and they're gone."

It's impossible to grasp the scope of the devastation from the road, but aerial videos and photographs reveal vast, bleak sandy wastelands punctuated with waste ponds and industrial installations where Wisconsin hills once stood.

When corporations apply to counties for mining permits, they must file "reclamation" plans. But Larry Schneider, a retired metallurgist and industrial consultant with a specialized knowledge of mining, calls the reclamation process "an absolute farce."

Reclamation projects by mining corporations since the 1970s may have made mined areas "look a little less than an absolute wasteland," he observes. "But did they reintroduce the biodiversity? Did they reintroduce the beauty and the ecology? No."

Studies bear out his verdict. "Every year," wrote Mrinal Ghose in the Journal of Scientific and Industrial Research, "large areas are continually becoming unfertile in spite of efforts to grow vegetation on the degraded mined land."

Awash in promises of corporate jobs and easy money, those who lease and sell their land just shrug. "The landscape is gonna change when it's all said and done," says dairy farmer Bobby Schindler, who in 2008 leased his land in Chippewa County to a frac-sand company called Canadian Sand and Proppant. (EOG, the former Enron, has since taken over the lease.) "Instead of being a hill it's gonna be a valley, but all seeded down, and you'd never know there's a mine there unless you were familiar with the area."

Of the mining he adds, "It's really put a boost to the area. It's impressive the amount of money that's exchanging hands." Eighty-four-year-old Letha Webster, who sold her land 100 miles south of Schindler's to another mining corporation, Unimin, says that leaving her home of 56 years is "just the price of progress."

Jamie and Kevin Gregar - both 30-something native Wisconsinites and military veterans - lived in a trailer and saved their money so that they could settle down in a pastoral paradise once Kevin returned from Iraq. In January 2011, they found a dream home near tiny Tunnel City. (The village takes its name from a nearby rail tunnel). "It's just gorgeous - the hills, the trees, the woodland, the animals," says Jamie. "It's perfect."

Five months after they moved in, she learned that neighbors had leased their land to "a sand mine" company. "What's a sand mine?" she asked.

Less than a year later, they know all too well. The Gregars' land is now surrounded on three sides by an unsightly panorama of mining preparations. Unimin is uprooting trees, gouging out topsoil, and tearing down the nearby hills. "It looks like a disaster zone, like a bomb went off," Jamie tells me.

When I mention her service to her country, her voice breaks. "I am devastated. We've done everything right. We've done everything we were supposed to. We just wanted to raise our family in a good location and have good neighbors and to have it taken away from us for something we don't support…" Her voice trails off in tears.

For Unimin, the village of Tunnel City in Greenfield township was a perfect target. Not only did the land contain the coveted crystalline silica; it was close to a rail spur. No need for the hundreds of diesel trucks that other corporations use to haul sand from mine sites to processing plants. No need, either, for transport from processing plants to rail junctions where hundreds of trains haul frac-sand by the millions of tons each year to fracture other once-rural landscapes. Here, instead, the entire assembly line operates in one industrial zone.

There was also no need for jumping the hurdles zoning laws sometimes erect. Like many Wisconsin towns where a culture of diehard individualism sees zoning as an assault on personal freedom, Greenfield and all its municipalities, including Tunnel City, are unzoned. This allowed the corporation to make deals with individual landowners. For the 8.5 acres where Letha Webster and her husband Gene lived for 56 years, assessed in 2010 at $147,500, Unimin paid $330,000. Overall, between late May and July 2011, it paid $5.3 million for 436 acres with a market value of about $1.1 million.

There was no time for public education about the potential negative possibilities of frac-sand mining: the destruction of the hills, the decline in property values, the danger of silicosis (once considered a strictly occupational lung disease) from blowing silica dust, contamination of ground water from the chemicals used in the processing plants, the blaze of lights all night long, noise from hundreds of train cars, houses shaken by blasting. Ron Koshoshek, a leading environmentalist who works with Wisconsin's powerful Towns Association to educate townships about the industry, says that "frac-sand mining will virtually end all residential development in rural townships." The result will be "a large-scale net loss of tax dollars to towns, increasing taxes for those who remain."

Town-Busting Tactics

Frac-sand corporations count on a combination of naïveté, trust, and incomprehension in rural hamlets that previously dealt with companies no larger than Wisconsin's local sand and gravel industries. Before 2008, town boards had never handled anything beyond road maintenance and other basic municipal issues. Today, multinational corporations use their considerable resources to steamroll local councils and win sweetheart deals. That's how the residents of Tunnel City got taken to the cleaners.

On July 6, 2011, a Unimin representative ran the first public forum about frac-sand mining in the village. Other heavily attended and often heated community meetings followed, but given the cascades of cash, the town board chairman's failure to take a stand against the mining corporation, and Unimin's aggressiveness, tiny Tunnel City was a David without a slingshot.

Local citizens did manage to get the corporation to agree to give the town $250,000 for the first two million tons mined annually, $50,000 more than its original offer. In exchange, the township agreed that any ordinance it might pass in the future to restrict mining wouldn't apply to Unimin. Multiply the two million tons of frac-sand tonnage Unimin expects to mine annually starting in 2013 by the $300 a ton the industry makes and you'll find that the township only gets .0004% of what the company will gross.

For the Gregars, it's been a nightmare. Unimin has refused five times to buy their land and no one else wants to live near a sand mine. What weighs most heavily on the couple is the possibility that their children will get silicosis from long-term exposure to dust from the mine sites. "We don't want our kids to be lab rats for frac-sand mining companies," says Jamie.

Drew Bradley, Unimin's senior vice president of operations, waves such fears aside. "I think [citizens] are blowing it out of proportion," he told a local publication. "There are plenty of silica mines sited close to communities. There have been no concerns exposed there."

That's cold comfort to the Gregars. Crystalline silica is a known carcinogen and the cause of silicosis, an irreversible, incurable disease. None of the very few rules applied to sand mining by the state's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) limit how much silica gets into the air outside of mines. That's the main concern of those living near the facilities.

So in November 2011, Jamie Gregar and ten other citizens sent a 35-page petition to the DNR. The petitioners asked the agency to declare respirable crystalline silica a hazardous substance and to monitor it, using a public health protection level set by California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. The petition relies on studies, including one by the DNR itself, which acknowledge the risk of airborne silica from frac-sand mines for those who live nearby.

The DNR denied the petition, claiming among other things that - contrary to its own study's findings - current standards are adequate. One of the petition's signatories, Ron Koshoshek, wasn't surprised. For 16 years he was a member of, and for nine years chaired, Wisconsin's Public Intervenor Citizens Advisory Committee. Created in 1967, its role was to intercede on behalf of the environment, should tensions grow between the DNR's two roles: environmental protector and corporate licensor. "The DNR," he says, "is now a permitting agency for development and exploitation of resources."

In 2010, Cathy Stepp, a confirmed anti-environmentalist who had previously railed against the DNR, belittling it as "anti-development, anti-transportation, and pro-garter snakes," was appointed to head the agency by now-embattled Governor Scott Walker who explained: "I wanted someone with a chamber-of-commerce mentality."

As for Jamie Gregar, her dreams have been dashed and she's determined to leave her home. "At this point," she says, "I don't think there's a price we wouldn't accept."

Frac-Sand vs. Food

Brian Norberg and his family in Prairie Farm, 137 miles northwest of Tunnel City, paid the ultimate price: he died while trying to mobilize the community against Procore, a subsidiary of the multinational oil and gas corporation Sanjel. The American flag that flies in front of the Norbergs' house flanks a placard with a large, golden NORBERG, over which pheasants fly against a blue sky. It's meant to represent the 1,500 acres the family has farmed for a century.

"When you start talking about industrial mining, to us, you're violating the land," Brian's widow, Lisa, told me one March afternoon over lunch. She and other members of the family, as well as a friend, had gathered to describe Prairie Farm's battle with the frac-sanders. "The family has had a really hard time accepting the fact that what we consider a beautiful way to live could be destroyed by big industry."

Their fight against Procore started in April 2011: Sandy, a lifelong friend and neighbor, arrived with sand samples drillers had excavated from her land, and began enthusiastically describing the benefits of frac-sand mining. "Brian listened for a few minutes," Lisa recalls. "Then he told her [that]… she and her sand vials could get the heck - that's a much nicer word than what he used - off the farm. Sandy was hoping we would also be excited about jumping on the bandwagon. Brian informed her that our land would be used for the purpose God intended, farming."

Brian quickly enlisted family and neighbors in an organizing effort against the company. In June 2011, Procore filed a reclamation plan - the first step in the permitting process - with the county's land and water conservation department. Brian rushed to the county office to request a public hearing, but returned dejected and depressed. "He felt completely defeated that he could not protect the community from them moving in and destroying our lives," recalls Lisa.

He died of a heart attack less than a day later at the age of 52. The family is convinced his death was a result of the stress caused by the conflict. That stress is certainly all too real. The frac-sand companies, says family friend Donna Goodlaxson, echoing many others I interviewed for this story, "go from community to community. And one of the things they try to do is pit people in the community against each other."

Instead of backing off, the Norbergs and other Prairie Farm residents continued Brian's efforts. At an August 2011 public hearing, the town's residents directly addressed Procore's representatives. "What people had to say there was so powerful," Goodlaxson remembers. "Those guys were blown out of their chairs. They weren't prepared for us."

"I think people insinuate that we're little farmers in a little community and everyone's an ignorant buffoon," added Sue Glaser, domestic partner of Brian's brother Wayne. "They found out in a real short time there was a lot of education behind this."

"About 80% of the neighborhood was not happy about the potential change to our area," Lisa adds. "But very few of us knew anything about this industry at [that] time." To that end, Wisconsin's Farmers' Union and its Towns Association organized a day-long conference in December 2011 to help people "deal with this new industry."

Meanwhile, other towns, alarmed by the explosion of frac-sand mining, were beginning to pass licensing ordinances to regulate the industry. In Wisconsin, counties can challenge zoning but not licensing ordinances, which fall under town police powers. These, according to Wisconsin law, cannot be overruled by counties or the state. Becky Glass, a Prairie Farm resident and an organizer with Labor Network for Sustainability, calls Wisconsin's town police powers "the strongest tools towns have to fight or regulate frac-sand mining." Consider them so many slingshots employed against the corporate Goliaths.

In April 2012, Prairie Farm's three-man board voted 2 to 1 to pass such an ordinance to regulate any future mining effort in the town. No, such moves won't stop frac-sand mining in Wisconsin, but they may at least mitigate its harm. Procore finally pulled out because of the resistance, says Glass, adding that the company has since returned with different personnel to try opening a mine near where she lives.

"It takes 1.2 acres per person per year to feed every person in this country," says Lisa Norberg. "And the little township that I live in, we have 9,000 acres that are for farm use. So if we just close our eyes and bend over and let the mining companies come in, we'll have thousands of people we can't feed."

Food or frac-sand: it's a decision of vital importance across the country, but one most Americans don't even realize is being made - largely by multinational corporations and dwindling numbers of yeoman farmers in what some in this country would call "the real America." Most of us know nothing about these choices, but if the mining corporations have their way, we will soon enough - when we check out prices at the supermarket or grocery store. We'll know it too, as global climate change continues to turn Wisconsin winters balmy and supercharge wild weather across the country.

While bucolic landscapes disappear, aquifers are fouled, and countless farms across rural Wisconsin morph into industrial wastelands, Lisa's sons continue to work the Norberg's land, just as their father once did. So does Brian's nephew, 32-year-old Matthew, who took me on a jolting ride across his fields. The next time I'm in town, he assured me, we'll visit places in the hills where water feeds into springs. Yes, you can drink the water there. It's still the purest imaginable. Under the circumstances, though, no one knows for how long. your social media marketing partner


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+52 # Kayjay 2012-05-21 18:48
WIll somebody please give Erin Brockovich a call? She has taken on this type of corporate disinformation campaign before. Gotta fight this BS. I imagine my many ancestors in Wisconsin's Door County are shuddering over the future of their beloved farm lands.
+29 # DaveM 2012-05-21 22:55
Sadly, this is not a new problem. I live in the middle of a large iron mining area. Each spring as the snow melts, the red iron dust emerges layer by layer. We're all breathing it, not just the miners. Most of the old miners have some degree of silicosis and enough have developed mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos contain in the ore that the entire area is considered a "cancer cluster".

At least until the mid 20th Century, it was common for timber companies to file mining claims for "sand and gravel". When granted, these claims allowed them to remove all trees from the "mining property". So....they made a token effort to mine sand but mostly just cleared all the trees, leaving behind wastelands.

Large scale sand mining, in some cases done near by tunneling into sandstone hills (leaving behind caves which in some cases continue to be used for storage), has been done for at least a century, I presume as a means of getting raw material for concrete, paving material,and landfill. No doubt each of these efforts produced a cloud of dust in its day.

What is old becomes new again. Surely, at some point, it's time to stop. No one is making any more land and we're using up a shrinking supply of undamaged terrain. It can't last.
+38 # PABLO DIABLO 2012-05-21 23:27
It's not just frac-sand that corporations are doing to damage our environment. Corporations are destroying our planet, the land, the water, and the air in their greed to extract resources. All this destruction to manufacture crap we mostly don"t need and will soon discard to further pollute our environment.
+35 # soularddave 2012-05-22 01:40
I guess this illustrates another reason corporations and their money were so eager to get Scott Walker elected. They needed to clear the way for the plunder of Wisconsin's natural resources.

It's another reason to recall the Governor, too. Gotta reverse the corporate grand plan to use up the state's people and resources in the relentless quest for profit at any price.
+15 # James38 2012-05-22 05:02
The fundamental flaw in the Fracking business is that all forms of fossil carbon cause increase in CO2 in the atmosphere when burned. Increased CO2 causes more heat to be absorbed and retained by our planet, and this is the major cause of Climate Change. We humans have caused the CO2 level to change from 280ppm (parts per million) to over 390ppm in the past 100 years. The CO2 level had been stable for over 10,000 years until then. That created the stable ocean levels we are so accustomed to, as well as the stable climate in which our civilization developed.
Since the CO2 level has been rising more quickly recently, and is continuing to rise quickly, climate changes and global warming are also increasing more rapidly. Ocean levels are rising and will rise more rapidly in the future. The changes in weather patterns are becoming more and more obvious and are starting to cause serious problems. Ocean levels may rise enough by the end of this century to inundate all coastal areas, including coastal cities with their transportation infrastructure.
Human population has nearly quadrupled in the past sixty years, and is still rising. We are facing multiple major disasters if we do not make the necessary and responsible changes in our energy use. First among these changes is the complete elimination of burning Coal, Oil, and Natural Gas as energy sources.
+10 # James38 2012-05-22 05:22
Therefore, as an essential part of planning for survival, fracking is one of the activities we need to stop.

As an essential first step in that direction we should demand regulations be put in place forbidding the injection of any toxic substances into the planet. The idea that intervening rock layers will somehow be impermeable and will protect aquifers and surface land from contamination is not only absurd logically and scientifically, it is proven incorrect by multiple examples of obvious pollution.

The underground water system, along with our surface systems of fresh water streams, rivers, and lakes, are the circulatory system of our planet. It makes no more sense to inject toxic substances into the planet’s veins and arteries than it does to inject poisons into our own bodies.

The next essential step is to start immediate programs to replace coal burning electric generators with the latest designs of extremely safe and reliable nuclear power plants.

When this idea is suggested, many people respond with fear based on the disaster at Fukushima. Their fear is based on a lack of information (augmented by anti-nuclear propaganda). The Fukushima disaster was caused by older Generation 1 reactors in a bad location.

There are two lessons we need to understand from the Fukushima disaster:
-9 # James38 2012-05-22 05:31
One, the old Generation 1 reactors need to be phased out. They rely on external power to shut-down in an emergency, and they are getting too old to maintain for many more years.

Two, No reactor should ever be built in range of a tsunami. Even that huge earthquake would not have caused the meltdown if the Tsunami had not knocked out the generators. That reactor location was totally stupid.

It is important to understand the differences between Generations 1, 2, 3, and 4 reactors. Generation Three are the ones planned for immediate construction. They are far, far safer than previous designs. Then the Generation 4 reactors will be built in a few years, and we need to accelerate that program. The Gen 4 reactors can be designed to use present stockpiles of Nuclear "Waste" as fuel. This will give us power for hundreds of years and SOLVE the "waste" storage problem. That is the only good solution to the long-lived nuclear material. Long-term storage is a terrible idea, and would be a good argument against nuclear power if there were no other solution. While long term storage can and has been accomplished, it is a bad idea because the “waste” contains over 90% of the energy available from the uranium and other elements.
-11 # James38 2012-05-22 05:37
Also, unless burned in a Gen 4 reactor, the “waste” must be stored safely for about 20,000 years. That is an absurd thing to do with a huge potential energy source, especially since we have already done all the work mining and purifying this potential energy.

Gen 3 and 4 reactors shut down automatically and safely with no external power and no need for operator intervention. They are fail-safe, and can be made extremely quake resistant.

Also, Generation 4 reactors can be built in any size from a small modular one that could be transported to a remote village or mine and set up like a generator. They would have a service life of about 40 years, and then would be replaced. The old unit would be taken to a central facility for recycling.

Larger Gen 4 reactors would have their own fuel processing system on-site, and could be built in places where older reactors are going to be phased out. This would limit the need for new sites, and would be very appropriate where the original reactor was sensibly located.

At the end of the fuel cycle of a Generation 4 reactor, the only unused material is of very small quantity and relatively short half-life – about 200 years instead of 20,000 years. The quantity is so small it could be simply mixed with dirt and buried, and would cause no noticeable increase in background radiation. In other words, there would be no storage problem.

-11 # James38 2012-05-22 05:43
If anyone has doubts about climate change, or wants more information, please read the excellent book, “Storms of My Grandchildren” by Dr James E Hansen, eminent climate scientist with NASA. He gives an excellent description of the history and danger of Climate Change, and discusses the Generation 4 reactors as well.

The necessary information is readily available to dispel fear of nuclear power. Properly built, Nuclear Reactors are far, far less dangerous than Coal or other fossil fuels. Coal kills thousands of people every year through air pollution and mining accidents, as well as causing massive environmental damage from the mining and huge atmospheric damage. Even with the destruction caused by Fukushima and Chernobyl, Nuclear power has a far better safety record than Coal, and there will be no repeat of that sort of disaster with the modern Reactor designs.

Another fear of Nuclear Reactors is based on the possibility of massive grid failure due to Solar Storm activity. While that could be a problem for older reactors that use external power to achieve and maintain cold shut-down, modern Gen 3 and 4 reactors do not have that problem. Any nuclear fuel storage facility at a large reactor installation that needed power for pumps etc. would have reserve power supplied by one of the small reactors kept on standby readiness.
+29 # Elroys 2012-05-22 08:15
Nuclear power is the single most expensive means of boiling water that man has ever invented. I agree that we must stop burning fossil fuels. Nuclear is NOT the answer. The only nuclear reactor we need is sitting 93 million miles from earth and will last for billions more years without any maintenance needed.

If nuclear is so good, why do the American people need to guarantee the loans, pay for any disasters (no insurance company will insure nuc plants).

All of our energy needs can be met in several safe, clean cheap ways:
The most abundant and cheap source is energy efficiency. We are so incredibly wasteful that we can increase energy supply by 45-50% by simply using less - easy to do - all we need to do is open our eyes and mind. End our enormously wasteful habits.

Solar and wind power can supply 100% of our energy needs, throw in algae fuels, biomass, wave energy and we have all the energy we'll ever need - and the fuel is free, endless and there will be no wars over fuel because there's plenty for everyone.
This is the only way to provide energy in the future. Sure - there's a 25-30 year transition, so let's get going and make it real. ElliotH
-3 # James38 2012-05-23 03:34
The plus votes on this piece of anti-nuclear boiler plate show that some serious effort toward clear thinking needs to be done.

The first statement about boiling water is emotional nonsense. Nuclear is not THE answer, it is one of them. Nuclear power is the quickest way to solve two major problems. One, the burning of coal. Such massive amounts of energy are needed to keep base-load power going that Coal is the best and cheapest way to provide it - because no way to assess the environmental cost has been developed. Hansen, in his book, describes a tax returned to citizens. Very interesting, and a great idea - but it has a snowballs chance in hell of getting passed any time soon.

Second, the Nuclear "waste" problem is a huge one. While it is actually solved on a temporary basis, and could be solved by deep storage in salt beds, that is throwing away a huge resource.

We have invested a LOT of money accumulating this nuclear material. It contains over 90% of the energy of the nuclear fuel potential. Generation 4 reactors can burn this waste and give us energy for HUNDREDS of years.

Generation 3 and 4 reactors are very safe. Saying otherwise is just ignorant, and this means that responsible people will actually study the information available before jumping on the anti-"nuke" bandwagon.

Ellioth urgently needs to read the book "Power to Save the World" by Gwyneth Cravens.
+13 # V Appalachia 2012-05-22 06:45
Thank you for bringing to light a less-exposed impact of industrial shale gas development. Until now, many did not realize that the colonization begins not just in the rural (and now suburban) communities being fracked, but also in rural Wisconsin, and its communities "blessed" with a resource also in demand by the fossil fuel monopoly. It's enough to make Aldo Leopold cry.
+14 # tomtom 2012-05-22 10:12
Why does relying on nuclear energy seem like giving your children rattlesnakes for pets? We don't have the luxury of making these kinds of mistakes. From all the "accidentes" to Our stupid use of nuclear power as a tool to threaten nations into becomming peace like. We are not a wise people, we don't need it, There are too many things that can and are going wrong, and the profit motive is it's number one reason it is on the table. We haven't stopped the ongoing destruction of the planet by Fukushima. We don't even know how to stop it, yet, we are continuing to approve more nuclear plant construction. We need power, alright, to stop this insanity.
-3 # James38 2012-05-23 03:42
tom, your sincerity is evident, but you lack information. Your attitude toward Nuclear Energy is the classic statement by a person who is influenced by the combination of propaganda and false logic based on ignorance.

For the sake of the planet, please just read the excellent book "Power to Save the World" by Gwyneth Cravens. This book is even-handed and clearly written. It gives the history, problems, and potentials of Nuclear Energy.

All of the information in the book can be verified from many other sources. Please take the time to become genuinely informed.
+1 # Doggone 2012-05-31 08:55
Ask the Japanese how they feel about how great nuclear power is? A whole area devastated and the threat still looming that if reactor #4 goes and lets lose all that contaminated water, it will move into the Pacific. Maybe you have an "even-handed" book but the facts remain, it is the most deadly energy source once things have gone wrong as they have enough times to know it is too terrible to tolerate.
+11 # jwb110 2012-05-22 11:57
So far Wisconsin is another State that seems to reap what it sows until there is nothing left to sow in.
+11 # mdhome 2012-05-22 12:12
relentless quest for profit at any price.That is a great description, i will try to remember it, thank you Dave.
+16 # Urbancurmudgeon 2012-05-23 09:55
It's unfortunate that people do not think far enough ahead to protect themselves. The citizens of Wisconsin, once a great state have fallen behind modern technology and then elected a governor who not stand behind them but rather behind their enemies. Municipalities with no zoning laws may think of themselves as freedom loving communities but they are in fact silly children, not willing to expand the time and energy to protect themselves form the voracious appetites of an industrial monolith that cares only for the almighty dollar.

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