Volume 1, Number 5. August 2010
Is George Allen The Once & Future Senator? The Tea Party: What’s the Point? “Cap and Trade” Politics in the Ninth The New Manhattan Project Congressman Randy Forbes
Unlocking Southside Virginia’s Geologic Treasure
A Taste of Charlottesville This Month’s Photo Essay
The BP Oil Spill has changed the offshore drilling debate in Virginia
Bearing Drift Virginia Politics on Demand J.R. Hoeft, Publisher email@example.com Michael Fletcher, Editor-in-Chief firstname.lastname@example.org Alan Moore, Editor email@example.com Jane Dudley, Photo Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributors this issue: DCH James Gabele Greg Habeeb Jason W. Johnson Shaun Kenney Alan Moore Jim Riley Ward Smythe Krystle D. Weeks Guest Contributors Congressman Randy Forbes Ray Ganthner, Virginia Energy Independence Alliance ÂŠ Copyright 2010
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In this Issue 4
Letter from Bearing Drift
The New Manhattan Project Guest Editorial by Congressman Randy Forbes
Bearing Drift Interview Is George Allen The Once & Future Senator? DCH
The BP Oil Spill has changed the offshore drilling debate in Virginia Including interview with Congressman Bob Goodlatte J.R. Hoeft
Unlocking Southside Virginia’s Geologic Treasure Ray Ganther, Virginia Energy Independence Alliance
Could the “Golden Leaf” Be America’s Golden Ticket to Energy Independence? Jason W. Johnson
“Cap and Trade” Politics in the Ninth Greg Habeeb
Virginia in Pictures: A Taste of Charlottesville Krystle D. Weeks and James Gabele
The Tea Party: What’s the point? Shaun Kenney and Alan Moore
The Final Ward
Bearing Drift on Education BearingDrift.com / Page 3
Volume 1, Number 5 / August 2010
Letter from Bearing Drift Energy.
So, what is the role of government in finding that balance?
It powers our laptops. Keeps our iPhones working. Gets us to work. Ah, yes…the question de jure. Cooks our food. Makes our clothes. Delivers all our products we desire What should government regulate? to market. Should it intervene with property rights? Should it inspect and All in all, it makes modern life what oversee private enterprise? Should it is. it set standards? Should it tax it?
What should government regulate? Should it intervene with property rights? Should it inspect and oversee private enterprise? Should it set standards? Should it tax it?
And for all its benefits, there are also considerable costs. Some energy is perishable. Some of it is inefficient. Some of it can’t provide for all our needs. Some of it interferes. Some of it is difficult to obtain. Some of it is dangerous. Some of it is capable of causing disasters of epic proportions.
Most people like to boil down debates into some simplistic black and white - you can’t do that with energy.
Helping us look at the energy question are Reps. J. Randy Forbes and Bob Goodlatte, as well as former Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator George Allen. We thank them very much for helping us In other words, energy is something understand this important topic a we expect, occasionally take for little better. granted, and become aware of it when it becomes cost prohibitive, As I wrote in the last issue, there’s or is a hindrance, or disturbs our no way we can explore every way of life. aspect of a particular topic, but that won’t stop us from having fun Energy is – for the most part – as looking into it! Enjoy! intrinsic and complex as human life Itself. Which means it’s a perfect political topic! The reality is energy is something we really can’t live without, but, like anything, is something we have to be cognizant of finding balance (both economically and environmentally).
J.R. Hoeft email@example.com
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The New Manhattan Project Guest Editorial by Congressman Randy Forbes In 1942, the U.S. federal government, in response to the pressures of the ongoing global situation, formed a group whose central mission was to study the use of atomic energy in creating an atomic weapon. That unique research and development mission came to be known as the Manhattan Project. The Manhattan Project took place in more than 30 different locations across the nation, each location sharing the same goal of creating an atomic weapon, a feat that seemed nearly impossible at the time. The government searched across the country to form a team made up of the most brilliant scientists and researchers in hydrodynamics, neutron diffusion, plutonium, and fission piles. The chosen scientists and researchers joined together in one of the largest, most challenging scientific missions our nation has ever undertaken. Our governmental leaders at the time knew that the project was too big and too complicated for a group of federal government employees to undertake on its own, and they likely knew that Congressâ€™ involvement would have hindered the mission with politicized rhetoric. Instead, they went to the best and brightest scientists and researchers in the field who, by coming together, developed the seemingly impossible nuclear technology that changed the course of history. That scenario is not too different from what the United States is currently facing in terms of energy. Our nationâ€™s energy challenges touch nearly every aspect of American life - from the personal pocketbook, to our national security, to conservation and the environment, to our global competitiveness. And like so many other national challenges, ending our dependency on oil must be a priority of our nation.
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Congressman Randy Forbes was elected to represent Virginia's 4th Congressional District in 2001. He is a ranking Member of the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee. He is one of only a few individuals to have been honored with the highest civilian award offered by both the United States Army and the United States Navy.
However, at the root of any initiative must be a project that relies not on taxation like weâ€™ve seen with recent cap-and-trade legislation, but rather on the ingenuity and resourceful spirit of the American people that has made this nation great. It must be a bold enough plan to change the trajectory of our nation, and it must rely on scientific ingenuity and breakthroughs - not the federal government - to find reliable sources of energy. When our government set out on the original Manhattan Project, it did not look within its own bureaucracy, it looked toward the American people, who it knew would take on the challenge and relish the opportunity to show that the United States and its people can and will conquer any challenge put before them.
We stand at a crossroads in energy development in the United States, and we have some questions to ask ourselves as a nation: Will we rely on innovation to pursue alternative energy sources and achieve a cleaner environment? Will we embark on a bold mission to make ET - energy technology - to the 21st century what IT – information technology - was to the 90s? Will we choose a plan that will create lasting economic security and secure our global competitiveness for years to come? Energy independence should not be held hostage by the government bureaucracy. We should approach alternative energy development with lasting, incentive-based solutions that encourage competition and ingenuity among Americans. To that end, I have introduced a nationallyacclaimed legislative initiative that includes these pillars that are necessary to achieving energy independence. My New Manhattan Project for Energy Independence is a plan that brings together a new generation of scientists, researchers and innovators to overcome a unified national challenge, just as we did with the original Manhattan Project in World War II. It establishes goals that would lead the United States toward achieving 50% energy independence in ten years and 100% energy independence in 20 years. To achieve these goals, the New Manhattan Project will bring together scientists and researchers from across the United States in a competitive format among groups, schools, teams, or companies to reach each one of seven energy goals:
These goals are not easy. The processes to reach them are not simple. Many Americans may think they are impossible, but if there is one thing that is certain, it is that America needs some wins today. The New Manhattan Project would put our nation on a direct path toward energy independence, while helping create lasting economic security for our nation and its families, and securing our global competitiveness for years to come. The New Manhattan Project will write a new page in our history books reflecting once again that the size of our accomplishments is only limited by the size of our determination.
Ÿ Double CAFE standards to 70 MPG while keeping vehicles affordable Ÿ Cut home and business energy usage in half Ÿ Make solar power work at the same cost as coal Ÿ Make the production of biofuels cost-competitive with gasoline Ÿ Safely and cheaply store carbon emissions from coal-powered plants Ÿ Safely store or neutralize nuclear waste Ÿ Produce usable electricity from a nuclear fusion reaction
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Bearing Drift Interview Is George Allen: The Once & Future Senator? By DCH
BD: Governor Allen, welcome to Bearing Drift. Since losing your re-election bid for U.S. Senate in 2006, you have emerged as an outspoken advocate for developing domestic energy. Through the American Energy Freedom Center, you have engaged energy issues nationwide, bringing your unique perspective as Governor of a coastal state and former U.S. Senator to your new role. I have to start by asking you about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Advocates for domestic energy production have been arguing for years about opening up the outer continental shelf, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and selected federal lands to oil and gas exploration and future drilling. There had been no significant accidents since the Exxon-Valdez spill in 1989. Republicans have urged “drill, baby, drill” on anyone who would listen. And then, we have an oil spill that dwarfs Exxon-Valdez as an environmental catastrophe. Given this disaster, shouldn’t we back off from offshore drilling?
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GA: Well, first off, we need to learn the causes of this disaster. BP is responsible and we have to determine where the mechanical, procedural and human errors occurred. It’s essential to learn from what went wrong to prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future. There will be plenty of litigation regarding this disaster. BP will be held responsible and they should be, but we should not back off from offshore drilling. Instead, we need better safeguards, procedures and mechanics to prevent this from happening again. We need to find out what are the best techniques and procedures. We can learn from places like Norway or Canada, who explores for oil and gas in their Grand Banks, which is great for fishing, they require a relief well to be drilled at the same time as the main well.
Continued on Page 10
BP is responsible and we have to determine where the mechanical, procedural and human errors occurred. Itâ€™s essential to learn from what went wrong to prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future.
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Interview with George Allen Continued from Page 8 BD: The president has put a 6 month moratorium on offshore drilling. was this a good decision: why or why not? GA: I don’t think it’s a good decision. It’s actually really cock-eyed. Just last fall, the Obama administration lent $2 billion to Brazil's state owned oil company for oil and gas exploration off their coast. Now, it’s a safe investment. We’ll likely recoup it. China lent them $30 billion and will get paid back in oil. But it is not at all consistent for our government to financially support drilling there in Brazil but oppose and prohibit it here. It is the hubris of man to think that we can control mother nature and affect the temperature. As to Backing off of exploration and drilling now would whether the earth is currently warmer, cooler or make us more dependent on foreign oil. Cuba may be stable, we have to look at long term statistics. The real drilling right off the Florida coast - with Russian question is how much of any change is man-made. To support - and we wouldn’t be doing a thing. Up to me, this is a debatable issue. Pollutants that cause 100,000 jobs could be lost if exploration off the Gulf smog (nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide) and acid raid Coast is shut down - that’s just not good for America. should be regulated. They are harmful and unhealthy. Yet right now, the regulatory focus in Washington is BD: Cap-and-trade legislation is premised on the idea on odorless, colorless carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that the earth is warming in a dangerous way because - 96% of which occurs naturally and is the basis of of human activity and that changes to our activity can animal, plant and human life. There’s a problem in stop environmental catastrophe. Do you believe the saying that the 4% of human contributed carbon earth is warming dangerously, and, if so, what can dioxide is causing a drastic change in temperature humans do about it? Also, you oppose cap-and-trade and that we can fix it with taxes. legislation. In the U.S. Senate, you consistently voted for developing domestic energy resources, including It’s hard for climatologists to accurately predict the drilling in ANWR. How would “cap-and-trade” weather in 10 days - let alone 50 years but this cap legislation, such as the Waxman-Markey bill, affect and trade scheme is premised on fixing global Virginians? warming by reducing global output of carbon dioxide. GA: My science courses at UVA were in climatology Yet, we already know that other countries won’t take and environmental sciences. The truth is that our similar action: not China, India, France, Russia or Brazil planet has been warmer and colder in the past and - because they know it will hurt their competitiveness will be warmer and cooler in the future. We are part and their citizens. of a solar system and such variations occur naturally. Volume 1, Number 5 / August 2010
Above all, our greatest resource is the people of Virginia. But coal is the most valuable of our natural resources. Cap-and-tax legislation and EPA regulations of CO2 amount to economic unilateral disarmament. It would be grossly irresponsible to impose this burden on our families, knowing the effects on global temperature would be minuscule to non-existent but food costs would be higher. Fuel costs would be higher. Energy costs would be higher. There would be fewer jobs. We would be less competitive. And all that we buy would cost more.
concerned that developing those resources carries inherent risks to our environment. What are the risks of developing our energy resources? are the goals of homegrown energy and environmental preservation I ncompatible?
GA: Above all, our greatest resource is the people of Virginia. But coal is the most valuable of our natural resources. We have also found some natural gas but exploration would be necessary to determine how The folks hurt the worst are lower and middle income much of that and oil are off our coast. All of these can be extracted in a safe way. Coal provides a number of families. They will be forced to spend a higher percentage of their income on energy. Advocates say good paying jobs in Southwest Virginia - not just that they will subsidize energy or electricity costs for mining but in all the related industries. It is important lower income households with fees from carbon taxes. for our railroads and ports. It helps our balance of But, if you donâ€™t cause the harm in the first place, then trade as a state and a nation and people in Southwest Virginia are very positive about it. you wonâ€™t have to mitigate the damage with energy welfare. This would result in a massive redistribution of wealth as taxes go through the government to offset increased energy costs. It also redistributes economic wealth from the US to other countries. Again, a cap-and-tax program would transfer wealth out of this country for a minuscule impact, and, if the U.S. does this alone, no impact on global temperatures.
Continued on Page 12
BD: Virginia is rich in natural resources. From the coalfields of the south to oil and natural gas off our coastline, the Commonwealth has ample energy sources. Yet many are
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Interview with George Allen Continued from Page 11 Lonesome Pine airport in Wise County, hospitals and area industrial parks - are located on reclaimed land where active coal mines once were. When I was Governor, the Red Onion mine was donated by a coal company to be used as a prison. It brought economic development to the area and was widely supported by the local communities. So, to the elites who are opposed to developing this natural resource, I like to say, ‘ask the people of Southwest Virginia about it.’ They are overwhelming supportive of coal mining and also of gas exploration. Regulation to diminish the adverse impacts of such exploration and mining have been mostly reasonable and helpful. We need to use these resources smartly and employing the best Techniques. BD: Nuclear and hydro-power are the primary sources of electricity in Virginia. As our power needs increase, will these remain our primary power sources, or will renewable sources play a much larger role?
technology companies. The fact that Virginia’s electricity rates are half the cost of New Jersey, Connecticut and New York helped us attract jobs to Virginia when I was Governor. The two most affordable GA: Actually, there’s not much hydro-power in Virginia. sources for electricity are coal and hydro. Our power needs are mostly met by coal (37%), In our economy, the demand for power is outstripping nuclear (40%), gas (17%), hydro (2%), then by wind, new generation by 2 or 3 to one (according to the solar, waste to energy and other alternatives (3-4%). I hope that coal and nuclear would be Virginia’s base North American Electricity Reliability study). Demand was three times higher than supply before the recession. for electricity. Inexpensive power is key to economic development. Most renewable power sources are also more expensive. States with less expensive sources of One of the issues with nuclear power is its high initial capital costs and unresolved questions about how to electricity have cheaper rates per kilowatt hour. Hydroelectric, for instance, is dependent on having the handle the highly radioactive spent fuel. The plan was right terrain, as in Idaho, Oregon & Washington). West to maintain a national repository in Yucca Mountain, Nevada but this was shut down by the Obama Virginia, Wyoming, Kentucky, North Dakota, and administration. Most of the new proposed new reactors Missouri utilize coal for their low electricity rates. will be sited with existing locations. For example, These low rates matter a great deal - especially for Volume 1, Number 5 / August 2010
Energy costs here are 30% less than the national average. That is a huge factor for businesses, especially the data storage facilities that are needed now as electronic record keeping becomes standard. Dominion here in Virginia is looking to add a reactor at Lake Anna where they already have two. And the people of Louisa County are very supportive because the power company brings considerable revenues to the county, allowing them to keep property taxes low while maintaining quality schools and services. Renewables like wind and solar are practically limited - they are part of the mix but not base load quality because they produce an intermittent supply. Wind energy is highly subsidized and very expensive to consumers. Initially the citizens of Massachusetts will pay $0.22 per kWh for off-shore wind power and ultimately, over a period of years, they will pay $0.37 per kWh for the off-shore wind power. The national average cost of electricity is $0.095. Obviously, it is less desirable for energy consumers to locate in a place with high electricity prices because of the substantially higher cost of doing business.
our plentiful coal, as well as gas and oil, we are #1 in the world when it comes to energy resources, followed by Russia and Saudi Arabia. Any other country would consider these resources to be a blessing but Washington insiders treat them like a curse. To use a sports analogy from my book, we have been â€œpunting on first downâ€? on energy policy since the 1970â€™s OPEC oil embargo. If we want to expand jobs, we need to stop locking down our resources and develop them in order to achieve strategic American energy independence, along with all its benefits - like new, high-paying jobs and affordable food. Continued on Page 14
Forbes Magazine rates Virginia as a good place to do business and everything from taxes to energy costs are included in that rating. Energy costs here are 30% less than the national average. That is a huge factor for businesses, especially the data storage facilities that are needed now as electronic record keeping becomes standard. Our country is losing jobs in manufacturing - 300,000 jobs have been lost in the chemical and paper products industry alone. And they have gone to countries where natural gas costs are a great deal less. These countries allow access to resources - not doing so here puts us at a competitive disadvantage. The good news that is rarely reported is that thanks to
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Interview with George Allen Continued from Page 13 When it comes to the energy supply, there is not a silver bullet; rather, we need silver buckshot: Solar, albeit expensive, will remain useful for individual buildings. Wind causes environmental damage, its transmission requires GA: Fossil fuels provide 85% of the energy for our controversial power lines and it is unreliable; country overall. For electricity, key sources are coal, however, it can be useful in some areas. nuclear and natural gas and, to a somewhat lesser Hydro-power is limited to specific areas. All of extent, (renewable) hydro. these can be part of the solution but we still need coal, nuclear and natural gas I do view ultra clean coal technology as a new and abundant and reliable sources of energy near term alternative energy that is both affordable, more efficient and safe for the environment. for our economy. BD: Talk about alternative energy sources: is our dependence on fossil fuels long term and increasing or near term and waning with the development of new technologies?
Batteries for ground transportation are also on the horizon. With nano-technology, vehicles can be built of lighter, stronger materials; and battery technology will improve dramatically. Even with these improvements, batteries that power ground transportation will need to be recharged and that means they need electricity which will still come primarily through coal, nuclear and natural gas power generation. When it comes to the energy supply, there is not a silver bullet; rather, we need silver buckshot: Solar, albeit expensive, will remain useful for individual buildings. Wind causes environmental damage, its transmission requires controversial power lines and it is unreliable; however, it can be useful in some areas. Hydro-power is limited to specific areas. All of these can be part of the solution but we still need coal, nuclear and natural gas abundant and reliable sources of energy for our economy. Volume 1, Number 5 / August 2010
BD: Should the federal government subsidize alternative energy research while discouraging traditional or fossil fuel development or should all energy development possibilities be treated equally? GA: The ideal is to let the free market decide the winners and losers based on the most affordable, reliable energy sources. And, in such a market, the winners are obvious. The Obama administration has talked about doing away with energy subsidies at the U.N. - but without subsidies, coal, oil and natural gas are the winners for their respective niches (electricity, ground transportation, and manufacturing). Innovation with these resources is still occurring - to make them even more efficient: other counties are even using coal synfuels for aviation. So thatâ€™s the ideal. But if there are going to be incentives and market manipulation (where the government takes sides), there are two ways to do it: incentives or mandates. I prefer incentives. When I was governor, for example, we allowed more fuel
We have five competitive races in VA and helping win those seats is my priority. efficient cars and motorcycles in the HOV lanes, creating an incentive to purchase these cars. I don’t like the idea of creating a phony market via cap-andtax legislation though. Incentives should make economic sense. The latest projections in biofuel mandates (under cap-and-tax) are unrealistic - they increase the cost of food by redirecting food products to energy - it’s like heating your house in winter by burning furniture in the wood stove and then wondering why you are sitting on the floor. If you are getting biofuel from waste, that’s great. Or, if you can produce methane from landfill trash, that’s good too. But any incentives need to be realistic and rational.
but I would be remiss not to ask: Are you going to try to reclaim your old Senate seat? GA: Yes, I have reactivated my federal election PAC. And in numerous conversations, business leaders, conservative activists, grassroots Virginians and others have encouraged me to run again. My answer is “perhaps.” This year I’m focused on helping common sense conservatives win in November.
I’ve done fundraisers for Congressmen Wittman, Goodlatte, and Wolf already. Events are lined up for Fimian, Murray, Griffith, Hurt, Rigell and others. We have five competitive races in VA and helping win BD: You want American energy independence. What is those seats is my priority. I’m also traveling to provide the best way of achieving that goal? support in key races in other states, like Rob Portman in Ohio and Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania. Marco Rubio I have a list of constructive reforms on my website: in Florida is another one I want to help. I’ve talked www.energyfreedomcenter.org. They include: with him about that. Ÿ Embrace common sense conservation, operational practices, teleworking, more efficient equipment, systems, surface treatments and building designs to BD: Thank you for joining us, Governor Allen. save money and waste less energy. Ÿ Support native clean coal technology for Bearing Drift contributor, generating affordable electricity while providing “DCH” interviewed George hundreds of thousands of American jobs. Allen for this article. Ÿ Enhance and develop the proven technology of Governor Allen has recently coal-to-liquid fuels or coal synfuels. Ÿ Empower coastal States by allowing them to authored a book: “What take initiatives to safely explore the energy Washington Can Learn from resources off their coasts. the World of Sports.” Ÿ Remove outdated regulatory barriers to building the next generation of nuclear power plants. BD: I notice on georgeallen.com that you are maintaining an active federal PAC and have been speaking all over the Commonwealth. Now, Senator, you must be getting this question everywhere you go,
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The BP Oil Spill has changed the offshore drilling debate in Virginia Also, interview with Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Republican, Virginiaâ€™s 6th District By J.R. Hoeft
Photo: U.S. Coast Guard
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The great domestic drilling debate began in 2008 with over $4 per gallon gasoline. It included Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi literally turning out the lights on Republicans who insisted on staying in Congress during the recess to debate “Drill now. Pay less!” However, the civil disobedience had an effect and the two decade long moratorium on offshore drilling was allowed to expire.
Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner and Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu. Of course, not all Senators jumped onboard the bipartisan wagon. Landlocked Democrats in New Mexico, West Virginia and North Dakota stated:
“The fiscal consequences of such a loss would be devastating, particularly given the enormous demands The debate continued in 2009 when then part-time on the federal Treasury and our need to reduce the Governor and full-time DNC chair Tim Kaine wrote deficit,” wrote Sens. Rockefeller, Bingaman and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar saying movement Dorgan. “There is no justification for using these ahead on “Lease Sale 220” off the coast of Virginia significant national resources to provide benefits only could be delayed. This move was promptly seized for a few coastal states and their citizens. Rather, they upon by Republican candidate for Governor Bob must be available for the important public needs of all McDonnell who requested the three Democratic Americans.” candidates join him in signing a letter to the secretary indicating Kaine was a lame duck and didn’t represent Continued on Page 18 the full interests of the Commonwealth. They declined while McDonnell led – perhaps helping vault him into the Governor’s Office. McDonnell promised throughout the campaign and in his State of the Commonwealth Address that offshore drilling would be a hallmark of his administration. State Senator Frank Wagner and Delegates Chris Stolle and Ron Villanueva of Virginia Beach, joined by Barbara Comstock of Northern Virginia, and Charles Poindexter from Western Virginia led the charge in the General Assembly on behalf of the governor to finally permit, at the state level, drilling off the coast and dedicate any state taxes collected from the oil and natural gas industry go to transportation and “green energy” development. McDonnell signed the bill.
Simultaneously, in Congress, Rep. Bob Goodlatte was preparing a bill to allow states to collect tax revenue from offshore drilling, with support from Virginia’s U.S.
Photo: U.S. Coast Guard
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The BP Oil Spill Continued from Page 17 Despite the brewing debate over Federalism, Virginia was rewarded by the Obama administration when it announced that Virginia would be able to move forward with the sale of leases in 2011. “Given our energy needs, in order to sustain economic growth and produce jobs and keep our businesses competitive, we’re going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel even as we ramp up production of new sources of renewable, homegrown energy,” Obama said. “So today we’re announcing the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration — but in ways that balance the need to harness domestic energy resources and the need to protect America’s natural resources.” Then, on Apr. 20, 2010, an explosion rocked the Deepwater Horizon/BP Oil Rig in the Gulf of Mexico – and it has changed the entire complexion of the debate. About a month after the disaster, the president put the brakes on Virginia’s plans: “After reading the report’s recommendations with Secretary Salazar and other members of my administration, we’re going to be ordering the following actions,” the president said. “First, we will suspend the planned exploration of two locations off the coast of Alaska. Second, we will cancel the pending lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico and the proposed lease sale off the coast of Virginia. Third, we will continue the existing moratorium and suspend the issuance of new permits to drill new deepwater wells for six months. And four, we will suspend action on 33 deepwater exploratory wells currently being drilled in the Gulf of Mexico.”
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Photo: U.S. Coast Guard
So much for a “need to harness traditional sources of fuel.” The president’s actions immediately prompted a reaction from McDonnell. “I understand the decision the President has made today. While I respect his decision, and the need for delay and investigation, I do not believe outright cancellation was the only alternative given the fact that this sale was not due to occur until two years from now, and actual drilling would likely take place years after that,” said McDonnell. At this point it is not clear what actions the governor is taking to convince the president to change his mind, but special interest groups and Congressional Democrats are not taking any chances. In June, environmental groups staged demonstrations and filed formal comments on the Department of Interior’s five year drilling plan from 2012-2017 (which Virginia does remain part of). And, Democrats from nearby coastal states to the north are urging the president to not reverse course in Virginia but keep the offshore off limits. U.S. Senators Robert Menendez, Frank Lautenberg, Benjamin Cardin and Barbara Mikulski, from New Jersey and Maryland respectively, said that a military report showed “significant areas within the planned lease sale would interfere with military operations and exercises.”
But the new assault by the president and the Democratically-controlled Congress on offshore energy is not just limited to Virginia. The president’s new moratorium on drilling has been expanded to all offshore areas, including the gulf coast where deepwater rigs remain idle and energy production remains dormant.
However, the McDonnell administration rejoined these Senators by saying, “We are confident that offshore energy production and the United States military can coexist in Virginia without any disruption or unwanted intrusion upon either.” According to a study by ICF International, Lease Sale 220 has the possibility of adding more than half a billion barrels of oil and more than 2.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and the same study says that drilling could generate nearly $19.5 billion in revenues to federal, state and local governments.
According to the American Petroleum Institute, 80 percent of the oil and 45 percent of the natural gas produced in the Gulf come from deepwater areas, and the 20 most prolific producing blocks in the Gulf are located in deepwater. Yet the moratorium prevents those rigs from being used. “It is unnecessary and shortsighted to shut down a major part of the nation's energy lifeline while working to enhance offshore safety. The new moratorium threatens enormous harm to the nation and to the Gulf region. It places the jobs of tens of thousands of workers in serious and immediate jeopardy and promises a substantial reduction in domestic energy production,” said API President and CEO Jack Gerard.
Continued on Page 22 BearingDrift.com / Page 19
The BP Oil Spill Continued from Page 19 Ÿ The proposed Virginia lease area, located about 50 miles from shore, may hold 130 million barrels of oil and 1.14 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, based on Interior Department estimates. Ÿ Virginia legislation calls for 80% of future offshore royalties and revenues to transportation and the remaining 20% to the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, which researches and develops renewable energy solutions. Ÿ Offshore development could create 1,900 jobs for the state and generate nearly $19.5 billion in revenues to federal, state, and local governments, according to a study by ICF International. Ÿ Gov. McDonnell believes offshore development will bring about capital investment of about $8 billion and yield roughly $644 million in direct and indirect payroll. Ÿ Currently, the oil and natural gas industry supports over 143,000 jobs in the Commonwealth of Virginia. These jobs add $12 billion to Virginia’s gross state product, or 3.1% of its wealth.
Photo: U.S. Coast Guard
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A study conducted by the International Association of Drilling Contractors stated that 68 percent of congressional districts in the U.S. (296 of 435) are home to offshore employees. While a majority of these districts are concentrated in the Gulf, several are outside the region and not traditionally associated with the industry – including districts in Virginia. Virginia currently supports over 143,000 jobs related to oil and natural gas, which brings $12 billion to our state GDP (or 3.1% of our wealth). Therefore, the administration’s decision regarding drilling has had a direct impact on jobs and energy nationwide. And, from Congress, U.S. Senate Democrats have included in their energy proposal an increase in refinery taxes from 8 cents per barrel to 45 cents per barrel – an action directly counter to the desires of the American people and in Virginia. In a recently released poll by Harris Interactive from July 15-18, 59% of Virginians oppose raising taxes on the oil and natural gas industry. The poll, also conducted in nine other states, shows opposition to tax increases at 64%. “Voters know raising taxes on an industry that provides most of their energy and supports more than 9.2 million jobs would hurt them and damage the economy,” said Gerard. “Raising taxes doesn’t address their major concern, which is putting people back to work. The fact that the proposals are being pushed under the guise of addressing the oil spill in the Gulf doesn’t make them any better. With 15 million people out of work, now is not the time to be imposing more taxes.”
In a recently released poll by Harris Interactive from July 15-18, 59% of Virginians oppose raising taxes on the oil and natural gas industry. The poll, also conducted in nine other states, shows opposition to tax increases at 64%.
With this as the backdrop, Bearing Drift had the opportunity to sit down with one of Virginia’s key leaders in this debate, Rep. Bob Goodlatte. BD: How do you feel about the administrations current moratorium? BG: I think it’s a big mistake. I think the court ruling was the correct one. When you have a car crash, a plane crash, you don’t shut down the entire system – you figure out what changes need to be made as you move forward.
There are some good measures being taken to improve the inspection and safety operation on these drill rigs. And there are some requirements that are done in other countries that could be incorporated in the U.S. For example one is to require a parallel well to be dug to go all the way down to where the oil is, but it would go down to well under the bed rock so that if you have a disaster, like the one we have now, instead of waiting two or three months to intercept that well with a new hole that’s being drilled now – in fact two are being drilled – you could intercept it within a matter of days by simply continuing that parallel drill hole that some countries require.
I think that we’ve learned a lot from this disaster – and the president is right to look into this to find out what changes need to be made – but if you halt the process, you’re going to devastate the economy of the gulf coast. BD: Do you think it’s wise to be drilling closer to shore as opposed to just deepwater?
BG: Sure, there’s no question that technology is there and the risks are lower to be able to drill offshore very safely. We’ve drilled thousands of holes in the Gulf of I think that we’ve learned a lot from this disaster – Mexico and this is the first one that’s been a serious and the president is right to look into this to find out problem. I think we have learned considerably from what changes need to be made – but if you halt the this accident in order to prevent another one from process, you’re going to devastate the economy of the doing the same kind of damage. gulf coast. 120,000 jobs could be lost as a result of this, which is absolutely destroying that area. This accident has been grossly mismanaged by the government and by BP. The use of big rigs that are engaged in the drilling – they can’t stick around and wait while the president I don’t think we let BP off the hook. In fact, I don’t contemplates the next step – they’re moving off to think the taxpayers should spend one dime on places where there is demand for their services. And, clean-up or on the economic loss that’s been suffered the net result of that is that there will be more by businesses on the Gulf Coast as a result of this – imported oil. Therefore, the risk of oil spills from that’s BP’s responsibility. But the government tankers, bringing oil into the country from foreign definitely has responsibility to supervise this process. waters is a countervailing risk that we’ve got to consider. Continued on Page 22 BearingDrift.com / Page 21
The BP Oil Spill Continued from Page 21 The government should not shut off drilling and sort of go back to the drawing board in order to come back later on – that’s going to have a devastating impact on the economy of the Gulf Coast region and a negative impact on the entire effort by the U.S. to move away from foreign oil – it’s going to push us toward it instead. BD: Do you think MMS failed in its oversight of BP? BG: I think there’s definitely evidence of that and I think there’s evidence of great negligence on the part of BP. But I also think the response by the government in the aftermath has been really atrocious. BD: Will the president reverse his opinion on the halt to allow Virginia to lease drilling rights? What will happen with revenue sharing for states from drilling offshore? BG: First of all, I hope he does change course. I do believe that given the near-term need that we have in this country – looking for increased oil production – that we should be looking onshore and offshore for greater domestic oil production. We will come back to that at some point in time. Obviously we need to make sure that the people are assured that courses that might be pursued off the Virginia coast will include precautions that would prevent this type of disaster from happening off the Virginia coast. But, as I said, I think we have already learned a number of things that could be done to prevent that from happening. Photo: U.S. Coast Guard
Secondly, I believe that when we do go forward, we need to continue to pursue the idea that those states that are affected by drilling will share in the revenues that the government receives from these leases. However, my legislation will be delayed until we see what the final outcome of the BP oil spill is and what
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Photo: U.S. Coast Guard
kind of information can be deployed by this industry to make sure that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. BD: With tarballs not being fingerprinted to the actual BP oil spill, are you concerned that other wells might be leaking and that same thing might happen in Virginia? BG: I think that there has always been the presence of oil that comes ashore at different places everywhere in the world – particularly places where there are oil rich deposits because there is natural seepage.
There are places in the world where a considerable amount of oil comes up just from natural venting from under the sea. I’m not aware of any significant reporting that would point towards another major oil well leakage that was occurring before this major event – I think it’s unlikely that there is such a thing occurring now. BD: Do you think that because we are seeing reports of tarballs now, vice any other time prior to the spill is just because people are on the lookout for it? BG: Sure – and people should be on the lookout for it.
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Unlocking Southside Virginia’s Geologic Treasure The largest untapped uranium deposit in the United States offers economic promise for Southside Virginia and energy independence for America. By Ray Ganthner Traveling through Southside Virginia it is hard to imagine that this was once a bustling hub of industry. This region once boasted one of the highest per capita incomes in the entire country. Unfortunately, battered by decades of factory closings and declines in the once robust tobacco-driven agricultural economy the region has fallen on hard times.
Decades of economic decline have left an indelible imprint on nearly every facet of life here. Funding for public schools declined with the disappearance of the industrial tax base. Property taxes increase year after year to close the gap, adding a further burden to struggling farmers and unemployed homeowners. Residents often bemoan the “brain drain” that is depriving the region of its most talented, highly skilled, college-educated natives who have been forced to leave Southside in search of a viable economic future Elsewhere.
It is impossible to escape signs of economic distress that have descended on the region. Abandoned, decaying factories abound; shuttered store fronts dominate the empty shells of the once prosperous town and city centers; blighted neighborhoods and Amidst all this economic turmoil there is a glimmer of deserted shopping centers have become the signature hope that could help the resurgence of the region. marks of suburban life here. The convergence of a global nuclear energy renaissance; the movement for American energy independence and The list of plant closings is long over the last three a geologic treasure have put Southside on the decades – Dan River Mills, Corning, TECHMA, Stanley doorstep of economic revitalization. Furniture, to name a few. Geologic Treasure: The Coles Hill Uranium Deposit Danville, the region’s city-center, has been hit the hardest by the collapse of the textile and furniture In one of the most improbable, yet fortuitous geologic manufacturing industries. Nearly one in every six discoveries of modern times, a geologist traveling adults in Danville is out of work. Danville’s through Pittsylvania County in 1979 stumbled upon unemployment rate – 14% in May – is twice as high as the largest undeveloped uranium deposit in the Virginia’s 7% overall rate. Surrounding Danville, United States and the seventh largest such deposit in Pittsylvania County’s unemployment rate stands the world. slightly better at 11%. In Henry County to the west, more than 14% of workers are unemployed, and in The deposit was found at the peak of the nuclear Halifax County to the east, 12% are out of a job. boom of the 1970s. Yet in an unexpected turn of To make matters worse, those who are employed continue to earn chronically low salaries and wages. The average Pittsylvania County worker earns just slightly more than half the average income earned by workers in the rest of the state.
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events, its discovery preceded the Three Mile Island accident that precipitated the scale down of the nuclear industry in the United States during the mid 1980’s. In the aftermath of Three Mile Island, demand for new nuclear reactors and thus uranium in the U.S. plummeted, and development of the Coles Hill deposit was deferred.
Since 1785, Coles Hill has been home to six generations of the Coles family. The Coles family home was built just after the War of 1812. For the Coles family, historic preservation and environmental stewardship are a way of life.
Geologic Treasure: The Coles Hill Uranium Deposit
In 1982 the Virginia General Assembly placed a de facto moratorium on uranium mining until the In one of the most improbable, yet fortuitous geologic necessary regulations and permitting were developed. discoveries of modern times, a geologist traveling Subsequent studies were undertaken of the uranium through Pittsylvania County in 1979 stumbled upon issue, and in 1984 a study by the Virginia Coal and the largest undeveloped uranium deposit in the Energy Commissionâ€™s Uranium Administrative Group United States and the seventh largest such deposit in determined that the deposit could be mined safely the world. without adversely impacting the local environment or public health. However, seeing no economic benefit The deposit was found at the peak of the nuclear from mining Coles Hill after the fall of uranium prices, boom of the 1970s. Yet in an unexpected turn of their recommendations were never promulgated events, its discovery preceded the Three Mile Island into law. accident that precipitated the scale down of the The original company that first discovered the deposit nuclear industry in the United States during the mid allowed its leases on the land to expire, and the 1980â€™s. In the aftermath of Three Mile Island, demand for new nuclear reactors and thus uranium in promise of this mother lode of nuclear energy was all but forgotten. That is until a worldwide nuclear energy the U.S. plummeted, and development of the Coles renaissance unfolded over the past few years, Hill deposit was deferred. renewing hopes of tapping into its enormous reservoir of uranium--the foundation source of clean nuclear energy. Continued on Page 26 The Coles Hill cattle farm in Pittsylvania County sits atop the largest untapped uranium deposit in the United States and the 7th largest in the world. It contains enough uranium to fuel Virginiaâ€™s current nuclear demand for more than 65 years.
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Unlocking Southside Virginia’s Geologic Treasure Continued from Page 25 The Coles Hill deposit spans across 200 acres of the 3,000-acre Coles Hill cattle farm and reaches depths of 1,500 feet. The deposit contains roughly 119 million pounds of uranium, enough to fuel Virginia’s current nuclear energy demand for more than 65 years or America’s total nuclear demand for more than 2 years. The entire deposit is estimated to be worth between $7 - $10 billion and promises a desperately needed economic boom for the entire region – in terms of jobs, local tax revenue and large-scale economic development. Many residents and public officials believe it could be the catalyst for a long-awaited economic turnaround of Southside. An economic scoping study released by Lyntek Inc. In June spelled out just how significant the economic In 2007, the Coles and Bowen families – the owners of impact could be on the region. The project will create the land on which the deposit is found – along with a 250-350 temporary jobs during the first twelve month few dozen local investors formed the company Virginia construction phase and sustain 300-350 permanent jobs Uranium Inc. to mine and mill the Coles Hill deposit. through the 35-year duration of the operation. The average worker would bring in an annual income With interest in the development of Coles Hill renewed somewhere between $50,000 and $70,000, significantly and its economic viability restored, the Uranium higher than the median income of Pittsylvania County Mining Subcommittee of the Virginia Coal and Energy workers today. Commission has initiated two studies to assess the socioeconomic impact and the impact on public health Developing Coles Hill will also contribute millions of and the environment. The National Academy of dollars to overstrained Pittsylvania County coffers and Sciences, the nation’s most respected institution for help relieve the tax burden on local property owners. scientific and technological research, is conducting the The Lyntek scoping study forecasts an annual $20-$30 health and environmental study and will issue its final million direct windfall for the local economy from the report and recommendations to the General Assembly purchase of goods and services from local companies in December 2011. The socioeconomic study has yet such as heavy equipment and machine parts suppliers. to begin; however, the Uranium Mining Subcommittee And, through the multiplier effect that invariably is close to selecting an independent research institution accompanies major industrial development, Coles Hill to perform the study. The final report of the sociowould stimulate an additional $120-$180 million in economic study is also expected by December 2011. economic activity each year. The Coles Hill cattle farm in Pittsylvania County
Once the results of both studies come in, the General Today, renewed hopes for the development of Coles Assembly will consider whether to lift the moratorium Hill are propelled by the nuclear revival sweeping and promulgate the necessary regulations to allow the across the U.S. and the rest of the globe. development of Coles Hill. Volume 1, Number 5 / August 2010
Nuclear Renaissance Growing concerns over climate change and actions by governments to curtail carbon emissions have given rise to a nuclear renaissance across the globe. While the renaissance is still in its early stages and will take decades to fully materialize, there is no mistaking that the U.S. and the rest of the world stand on the cusp of a vast expansion of nuclear energy as a source of Electricity. Like wind or solar energy, nuclear energy produces virtually zero carbon emissions. Yet, it is significantly less expensive, far more efficient and far less land-use intensive than these often touted renewable sources. In terms of fuel efficiency, nuclear far outstrips its main base-load competitors, coal and natural gas. One ounce of refined uranium generates as much electricity as one ton of coal or 17,000 thousand cubic feet of natural gas. The U.S. Department of Energy predicts that nuclear generation will increase by 20% over the next two decades, while the International Energy Agency
forecasts a 300% increase worldwide over the next 40 years. The world is expected to build 180 new reactors in the next decade, including 35 in China. Great Britain recently announced plans to double its nuclear output and generate 35-40% of its electricity from nuclear by 2030. India, Japan and South Korea are all undertaking similar expansions of nuclear generation and technology in their countries. This vast increase of nuclear energy will require a commensurate increase in the global demand for uranium. Experts already predict at least a fourfold increase in demand for uranium over the next 30 years. The major producers of the world – Russia, Kazakhstan, Namibia, Canada, Niger, China and Australia – are ramping up production to seize their share of the new market. With America’s expansion of nuclear energy on the horizon, if the U.S. does not bolster our domestic production of uranium, we will become increasingly dependent on these dominant foreign producers. Continued on Page 28 BearingDrift.com / Page 27
Unlocking Southside Virginia’s Geologic Treasure Continued from Page 27 Energy Independence The Achilles heel of America’s nuclear renaissance and the reason why Coles Hill could play such a vital role is America’s current overwhelming reliance on foreign sources of uranium. The U.S. currently imports 86% of our uranium from foreign countries, including one-third from Russia. For two decades, America’s reliance on Russia has served an altruistic and strategic purpose – U.S. Utilities purchase civilian nuclear fuel down-blended from decommissioned Soviet-era nuclear weapons. However, beginning in 2013 when the so-called Megatons-to-Megawatts treaty expires, American utilities will purchase our entire Russian supply from Russia’s state-run uranium mining company Techsnabexport. America’s reliance on foreign state-owned energy companies poses a serious risk to the stability and security of America’s energy supply. In the past, Russia has used its control of vital energy resources as leverage to pursue Russian strategic interests. Most recently, the Russian state-run natural gas export company shut off gas supply lines to Eastern Europe in the middle of the harsh winter of 2008, leaving millions of Eastern Europeans without heat or electricity for nearly a month.
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The OPEC oil embargo of the 1970s also comes to mind as a cautionary tale against overreliance on imports from state-run energy producers. Recent moves by the Russian government to expand its uranium holdings in foreign countries such as Kazakhstan, Namibia, China and Canada, as well as efforts to ramp up their own domestic production, give added urgency for the need to reduce our dependence on foreign supplies. There is no doubt that Russia is undertaking an aggressive expansion of its global uranium holdings to strengthen its influence around the globe in pursuing its strategic interests.
Over the last six months, the Kremlin – through its state-owned nuclear company Rosatom – has been busy consolidating its control of uranium operations in many countries from which the U.S. purchases our supply. In February, Russian security officials muscled out the head of Kazakhstan’s state-run nuclear company to clear the way for Russian control of several uranium development projects in that country. The U.S. imports roughly 7% of our uranium from Kazakhstan.
Yet despite all of the economic and energy benefits that are propelling the nuclear renaissance, the global movement still encounters some resistance and obstacles that must be overcome before it can fully come to fruition. The development of Coles Hill is certainly no exception. Safety, the Environment and the Road Ahead
Like any heavy industrial development project, Coles Hill is confronting concerns from some local residents Then, in late May, the Russians strong-armed the and public officials about the impact of uranium Namibian President into abrogating agreements with mining on the environment, public health, and worker an Australian uranium company for the rights to mine safety. Most of the concern centers around worries that several major uranium deposits there. Rosatom the development of Coles Hill will repeat the legacy of quickly signed agreements with the Namibian uranium mining in Navajo communities of the 1950s government to wrest control over these deposits and and 1960s, which is a black mark on an otherwise safe announced plans to invest more than $1 billion into and environmentally sound industry. their expansion. The U.S. imports another 7% of our uranium from Namibia. There is no doubt that the primitive methods of uranium extraction used on Navajo lands fifty years Russia’s whirlwind global uranium tour most recently ago left behind a regrettable legacy of environmental landed in Canada when in early June Rosatom bought damage and public health risks. However, comparing a controlling stake in one of Canada’s largest uranium the safety record of an industry from 50 years ago with companies, Uranium One. The U.S. imports roughly modern safety standards seems like a stretch. After all, 18% of our uranium from Canada. in the 1950s and 1960s, automobiles did not have seat belts, air bags, anti-lock breaks or crashresistant frames. They also did not have catalytic converters to remove toxic emissions and yielded abysmal fuel efficiency that would make today’s worst guzzlers look good by comparison. Since the 1950s, both industries have made enormous strides that have dramatically improved safety and reduced environmental impact.
Continued on Page 30 BearingDrift.com / Page 29
Unlocking Southside Virginia’s Geologic Treasure Continued from Page 29 In the 1950s and 1960s, the uranium industry was largely unregulated by the federal government and operated under conditions almost equivalent to those of the Wild West of the late 19th century. Today, the industry is the most heavily regulated in the U.S. It is overseen by a veritable alphabet soup of federal regulatory agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), to name a few. These agencies have a record of stringent enforcement of the most rigorous standards for worker safety and the protection of air and water from radioactive Contamination. Numerous studies conducted by John Boice Jr., scientific director of the International Epidemiology Institute, in New Mexico, Colorado and Texas found virtually no difference in the prevalence and mortality rate of cancer between residents of mining and nonmining communities. All of the rudimentary, unsafe practices that contributed to illnesses and environmental damage among Navajo workers and communities 50 years ago have long since been prohibited and are strictly monitored by federal regulators. Miners no longer smoke cigarettes in the mines – a practice that was perhaps the number one contributor to illnesses among Navajo workers. Advanced ventilation systems – nonexistent 50 years ago – have virtually eliminated the risk of worker exposure to radioactive radon gas. The Bessines-area of France, where uranium mining occurred safely for almost 50 years, has remarkably similar population, climate, hydrological and geographic features to Pittsylvania County. It set an international standard for the safe extraction of uranium and the environmentally responsible storage of mine tailings.
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The most significant improvement in terms of reducing risks to the health of residents surrounding uranium operations has been the introduction of modern storage systems for mine tailings, the waste material leftover once uranium has been extracted from the ore. It was extremely common in Navajo communities for workers, their families and other local residents to use tailings and other waste rocks to build adobe brick homes and for other construction purposes. The tailings were also improperly stored in exposed, makeshift structures that allowed material to easily escape and contaminate local drinking water supplies. The EPA and NRC have completely eradicated these egregious practices and now monitor the storage of tailings in advanced, impenetrable containment structures built to withstand the most severe weather events – including floods, tornadoes and hurricanes.
For years the French â€“ who lead the world in the production of nuclear energy â€“ have mined and milled uranium deposits in areas with remarkably similar population, climate, hydrological and geographic characteristics to Pittsylvania County without any adverse impacts on public health or the environment. French operations in Bessines, Ecarpiere and Lodeve are global models for the safe extraction of uranium and the proper, environmentally responsible storage of mine tailings. They are also excellent examples of how former open pit and underground mines can be fully restored to their original environmental contours and preserve the unblemished beauty of landscapes.
The Bessines uranium mine in the Limousin region of France operated from 1948-1995. Since then, it has been fully reclaimed and restored to its original environmental contours. It is an international model for the environmentally conscious reclamation of former mining sites.
The economic revitalization of an entire region and the energy security of our country are at stake. We need to make decisions based on facts and analysis and not on abstract fear of obsolete practices. The results of the studies should identify these facts, and the Commonwealth leadership can act accordingly.
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study will Ray Ganthner serves as Chairman undoubtedly leave no stone unturned in its study of of the Virginia Energy Independence Alliance. the environmental and public health impacts of uranium mining in Virginia. If the NAS determines that uranium can be safely mined and milled in Virginia without harming public health or the environment, then the General Assembly should heed its recommendations and allow the development of Coles Hill. The General Assembly should pay close attention to the most exemplary safety models and other best practices identified by the study in crafting Virginiaâ€™s regulatory and permitting structure. In the meantime, the residents of Virginia can continue to educate themselves on the costs and benefits of developing our uranium resources and encourage our public officials to do the same.
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Could the “Golden Leaf” Be America’s Golden Ticket to Energy Independence? By Jason W. Johnson
Known as “uppowoc” to the aboriginal Algonkians of Tidewater Virginia, tobacco has grown in the Commonwealth for centuries. However, it was not until 1614 when John Rolfe introduced both a milder, South American variety of the plant and a new method for curing the harvested leaves that commercial tobacco cultivation started in the Virginia colony. Tobacco became the principal cash crop in the Chesapeake region and throughout the upper south as global demand grew. By the 18th Century, it was not unthinkable for tobacco leaves to be exchanged like currency in the Old Dominion. “King Tobacco’s” reign over Virginia’s economy would last almost 400 years before the aggressive anti-smoking campaigns of the 1990s and the Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004 (i.e. “the tobacco buy-out”) relegated tobacco to niche-crop status. Today, however, with the use of tobacco products waning, researchers at both the Thomas Jefferson University and the University of Central Florida are discovering Volume 1, Number 5 / August 2010
There is an herb called uppowoc, which sows itself. In the West Indies it has several names, according to the different places where it grows and is used, but the Spaniards generally call it tobacco. … [I]ts use not only preserves the body, but if there are any obstructions it breaks them up. By this means the natives keep in excellent health, without many of the grievous diseases which often afflict us in England. …We have found many rare and wonderful proofs of the uppowoc's virtues, which would themselves require a volume to relate. —Thomas Hariot, A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia¸1588 another “virtue” of tobacco—one that Thomas Hariot could have never envisioned in 1588—and that could, eventually, facilitate the end of America’s dependence on foreign energy sources. When the renewable energy movement started gaining traction during the 2000 presidential campaign, ethanol appeared to be the panacea for the nation’s energy needs: as a plant, corn, unlike nonrenewable petroleum, can be reproduced—easily—when the quantity diminishes. As an organic (in the carbon-based sense) compound, ethanol would create minimal air pollution. Since corn can be grown throughout the United States, Americans do not have to worry about being at the mercy of potentially hostile nations for our energy needs; additionally, the money paid for ethanol is unlikely to be used to sponsor terrorist activities— something that is less certain with Middle Eastern oil. Additionally, there is the political benefit to ethanol:
Florida (UCF) believe they have found a cheaper and easier method for producing these enzymes: genetic biofuels. Researchers at the University of Central Florida (UCF) believe they have found a cheaper and easier method for producing these enzymes: genetic modification of tobacco. By “…snip[ing] enzymeToday, however, several shortcomings of ethanol have producing genes from fungi and insert[ing] up to 10,000 copies of them into the genomes of tobacco become difficult to ignore: ethanol can damage plants—which are much easier to grow than fungi and combustible engines. Burning ethanol in a combustcan in principle produce several crops of enzyme-rich ible engine also produces more formaldehyde than plants every year” could significantly lower the cost of gas, resulting in the emission of almost 2.14 times producing the necessary enzymes thereby opening the more ozone in its exhaust. Furthermore, ethanol door to the development of biofuel from agricultural requires almost as much energy to produce as it is wastes, like corn stalk and fruit peels. supposed to generate. Between the farm that produces the corn and the facility that transforms the Continued on Page 34 corn into biofuel, “…only about two of every ten gallons of ethanol actually represent renewable 1 energy.” From the consumer perspective, ethanol production removes significant quantities of corn from the market, affecting humanitarian shipments abroad and food prices at home. much of the corn used to make this ethanol is grown in Iowa, home of one of the nation’s first presidential caucuses. For politicians in the early post-9/11 era, all of these were attractive inducements to employ federal policy to promote ethanol use.
The quest for a biofuel that is safe for the environment, promotes American energy independence and has minimal impact on the food supply has led researchers to a number of plants, ranging from switchgrass to sugar cane, but some of the most promising research centers on Virginia’s “golden weed.” In order for ethanol to become fuel, it must ferment, but since the starch in corn must become a sugar known as cellulose before it can ferment, the addition of a fermenting agent, enzymes like yeast, is necessary. The higher the starch content of a product, the more of the enzyme will be necessary to produce cellulose. The primary source of the enzymes used to produce cellulose is fungi, but this can become expensive and the cost has deterred the development of other biofuels. Researchers at the University of Central
1 Michael D. Lemonick, “Fuel from Tobacco?” 23 February 2010
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The “Golden Leaf” Continued from Page 33 From a theoretical perspective, the research into tobacco’s use as a biofuel feedstock is fascinating: a plant that was once widely grown throughout Virginia could become a relatively inexpensive source of enzymes to produce biofuel from many agricultural byproducts that are thrown away today or it can also produce large quantities of oil that Meanwhile in Philadelphia,2researchers at the Thomas can then be used to produce biofuel. Jefferson University have uncovered yet another way in which tobacco can assist in the development of biofuels. An enzyme called diacylglycerol acyltransferase assists in the production of lipids, which store oil. By modifying tobacco leaves to overproduce this diacylglycerol acyltransferase, Assistant Professor Vyacheslav Andrianov and Dr. Nikolai Borisjuk found that the tobacco leaves retained as much oil as was ordinarily sent to the tobacco seed, ultimately yielding a “…two to three times increase in total oil content in leaves.” This abundance of oil could then be harvested to provide the base for biofuels, like biodiesel.
From a theoretical perspective, the research into tobacco’s use as a biofuel feedstock is fascinating: a plant that was once widely grown throughout Virginia could become a relatively inexpensive source of enzymes to produce biofuel from many agricultural byproducts that are thrown away today or it can also produce large quantities of oil that can then be used to produce biofuel. From a practical standpoint, though, is it viable? The researchers are anxious to remind the public that their research is ongoing and that it could be years before tobacco-based biofuels are available for use. Assuming that the research attains its promise, would farmers be willing to embrace a crop they have been abandoning for almost a decade? 2 Anna Austin, “Tobacco Studied as Biofuel Feedstock,” 19 January 2010
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Thanks in no small part to the corn subsidies, corn cultivation increased when the ethanol craze began. If history repeats itself and if subsidies are offered for tobacco, cultivation of that crop might see a comparable increase. That is assuming two major preconditions: first, the federal government subsidizes farmers to grow tobacco. Considering the recent history of the relationship between the federal government and tobacco farmers, that seems unlikely especially in view of the fact that the federal government has been paying farmers to transition away from tobacco cultivation since 2005. Second, even with modern farm machinery, tobacco cultivation remains difficult, time-intensive work. Would farmers who have grown used to less labor-intensive crops be willing to return to the almost year-round work that tobacco requires?
P.W. Morgan, Jr. maintains the Morgan family farm in Bedford County. Tobacco was grown on the Morgan farm for generations until the Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004 was signed into law. Since then, P.W. Morgan has been diversifying his crops, replacing tobacco with pumpkins that he and his family sell to visitors and to area stores. He would be reluctant to begin growing tobacco again: “There would have to be significantly more profit in it than what was there before,” he said. Morgan stated that tobacco farmers have long endured two, expensive problems: irregular rainfall during the growing season necessitating irrigation and a chronic labor shortage. Both irrigating the plants and paying laborers enough to want to help ultimately cost the tobacco farmers so much that breaking even becomes difficult. Morgan said that these are both issues that must be addressed before he and, I suspect, many other former tobacco farmers would again consider cultivating tobacco. Many Virginians lament the disappearance of the state’s bucolic scenery. Some counties attempt to assist the existing farmers by offering special real estate tax rates for farmers and by vigorous zoning ordinances that make some areas off-limits to commercial and/or industrial development. Such remedies may—or may not—help farmers remain in business, but they are treating the symptoms rather than the disease. The real reason many farmers are leaving the business is that the cost (both monetary and opportunity costs) of farming does not always equal the benefits they receive. If tobacco byproducts become a critical component of biofuel and if they are profitable, some farmers might find that they have an incentive to stay on the farm. Ultimately, the research into tobacco is promising, as are the possibilities that this once-reviled plant will both help America wean itself from foreign sources of oil and reinvigorate Virginia agriculture, however it may be years before we know for sure if the “golden weed” is America’s golden ticket to energy independence. BearingDrift.com / Page 35
“Cap and Trade” Politics in the Ninth By Greg Habeeb June 26th, 2009, the House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, also known as “Cap and Trade”. One of the key authors of the bill was the Fighting Ninth's own Congressman, Rick Boucher (D-Abingdon). Cap and Trade legislation essentially sets a cut-off point, or “cap,” for businesses, factories and utilities on CO2 emissions. The cap indirectly limits the use on coal, oil, and natural gas on the economy. Those companies that produce less CO2 than permitted by their allowances could sell, or “trade,” the rest to those that do not. Gradually the cut–off point would be brought down, demanding larger cuts in coalpowered plant emissions and ultimately phasing out the use of coal or any other carbon-based fuel. Independent analysis of Cap and Trade legislation predicts that electricity rates could increase by 90 percent after adjusting for inflation, and raise an average family's annual energy bill by almost $1,200.
Largely because of his vote on Cap and Trade, Boucher now faces the most formidable opponent of his political career in Virginia House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith.
Speaking of Boucher’s capitulation to the liberal wing of his party on Cap and Trade, Griffith said that he Many insiders were shocked when Boucher voted for, firmly believes Boucher could have fought the legislaand helped craft, the Cap & Trade bill that would tion if he were a more aggressive fighter for his district. seemingly cripple the economy of his own coal “What good is he [Boucher] to the people of Southwest producing district. The Ninth is a rural mountainous Virginia if, after 28 years in office, he doesn’t even district. Much of the manufacturing base has have four friends on the Hill that he could persuade to disappeared since NAFTA, and it currently suffers from vote against this job killing energy tax?” some of the highest unemployment in the state. Coal is the region’s dominant industry, and it would be By voting against coal in a coal-producing district, hard to justify voting for legislation that would Boucher seems to think he is still in a safe seat. discourage coal’s use for energy. However, recent history shows the historically Democratic district trending Republican. At the time, Boucher defended his vote as necessary to protect coal and claimed Cap & Trade “would only modestly affect electricity rates.” The vote was extremely close, 219-212, with 8 Republicans voting yes and 44 Democrats voting no. Just four “yea” votes switching to “nay” would have stopped the bill’s passage. Volume 1, Number 5 / August 2010
Largely because of his vote on Cap and Trade, Boucher now faces the most formidable opponent of his political career in Virginia House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith.
Photo by Kaleigh Hall
In the 2008 presidential election, the Ninth handily went for Sen. John McCain with 59 percent of the vote, mainly due to Obama's perceived opposition to coal. In a 2008 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, then-candidate Barack Obama discussed the economic implications of Cap and Trade stating, "If somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted." Just last year, Bob McDonnell won the Ninth by a landslide with 66 percent of the vote. This year, Griffith is putting up Boucher’s stiffing challenge since 1984. As the Majority Leader in Virginia’s House of Delegates whose District has included portions of the Ninth District for his entire career, Griffith has an existing political base and name recognition that very few challengers have to draw from. Griffith’s message for most of the campaign has focused on stopping Cap and Trade, while Boucher staunchly defends his vote across the district. RealClearPolitics.com currently rates VA-9 as a “Toss-Up.” Regardless of who comes out the victor in the Ninth on Election Day, Cap and Trade is the defining issue of 2010. BearingDrift.com / Page 37
Virginia in Pictures: A Taste of Charlottesville By Krystle D. Weeks and James Gabele
The University of Virginia
Downtown Mall, Charlottesville Photos on this page by James Gabele
Volume 1, Number 5 / August 2010
"We fondly hope that the instruction which may flow from this institution, kindly cherished, by advancing the minds of our youth with the growing science of the times, and elevating the views of our citizens generally to the practice of the social duties and the functions of self-government, may ensure to our country the reputation, the safety and prosperity, and all the other blessings which experience proves to result from the cultivation and improvement of the general mind." --Thomas Jefferson: Virginia Board of Visitors Minutes, 1821.
Blenheim Vineyards, Charlottesville, Va.
They say "Virginia is for Lovers," but I believe the true motto should be "Virginia's Beauty Inspires All." During a recent trip to Charlottesville, I was impressed by the beauty of the rolling hills, the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background, and the lush greenery throughout the area. Charlottesville is quite picturesque. With cozy eateries to Mr. Jefferson's University, the area has much to offer in history and charm. Krystle D. Weeks
Photos on this page by Krystle D. Weeks Continued on Page 40 BearingDrift.com / Page 39
A Taste of Charlottesville, continued
Barboursville was constructed between 1814-1822 for Thomas Jefferson's friend James Barbour. Destroyed by fire on Christmas Day, 1884, it is the only building in Orange County known to be designed by Jefferson. Today it is the home of Barboursville Vineyards. Barboursville Ruins, Barboursville, Virginia, Photos on this page by James Gabele
Volume 1, Number 5 / August 2010
First Colony Winery, Charlottesville
Route 29, Madison County Ash Lawn-Highland, Charlottesville
Photos on this page by Krystle D. Weeks
BearingDrift.com / Page 41
What’s the point? A friendly debate on political issues of the day. This debate is between Bearing Drift contributors Alan Moore and Shaun Kenney.
On February 19, 2009 Rick Santelli unleashed a now famous rant commonly referred to as the “shout heard ‘round the world.” In his frustrations he denounced the never ending cycle of massive federal spending and half jokingly called for a Chicago Tea Party reminiscent to the famous Boston Tea Party so instrumental in the American Revolution. At that moment a movement was born that evolved almost overnight to a conservative stand for limited government, reduced federal spending, and low taxes. Embraced by the right and loathed by the left, the Tea Party has become a major factor in public policy relating specifically to influencing campaigns and elected officials. With local and national Tea Party organizations sprouting up almost on a daily basis there is some major debate on whether it has become an ideological movement or if it is simply an apparatus similar to a political party. Is the Tea Party’s best role a purely ideological opposition to government or as a “Third Force” movement to realign the political debate?On one hand Tea Party organizations are heavily influenced by conservative groups like FreedomWorks which aids the argument for apparatus. On the other hand many conservatives do not consider themselves part of the Tea Party but hold the same values, politics, and wholeheartedly support their efforts, which aids the argument for ideological movement.
Volume 1, Number 5 / August 2010
AM: “While I certainly agree that national Tea Party organizations such as the Tea Party Patriots and local groups such as the Hampton Roads Tea Party are legitimate organizations, I feel that the Tea Party as a whole has blended with the conservative movement to form a new ideological foray into politics. Even though the Tea Party has rapidly grown since its inception, it is still in an infancy stage with incredible potential for growth and its future is relatively unknown. If it is simply an political “Third Force” organization then it will eventually spur into a third party. If it is a movement then it will remain an influential voting bloc and rubber stamp for truly conservative candidates. “I do not believe that the Tea Party is simply defined by organizational capacity because, in my view, it does not resemble a third party structure. There are no candidates for elected office who identify themselves as a member of the Tea Party as a replacement for Republican, Democrat, or Independent and there seems to be little interest in that direction. Just as there are no ‘Conservative Party’ candidates in the United States, I argue that the Tea Party is slowly becoming a political movement similar in stature (not necessarily in ideology) to the populist movement of the late nineteenth century, the progressive movement of the early twentieth century, the civil rights movement in the middle of the twentieth century, and the conservative movement under President Ronald Reagan.” SK: “And look at how those movements turned out! Populism is an utter wreck. Progressives who long co-opted the Republican Party have finally been shown the door and found a more receptive calling within the confines of the Democratic Party. Even conservatives have been at one another’s throats since the modern American movement began in 1964!
Kenney: The only way the TPM is going to be successful bringing Virginia and America back to constitutional principles is to be smarter than outrage, and start plotting ways to take back the nomination method for a major party. “The real crux is whether or not the Tea Party Movement (TPM) needs to take their new found strength and take it to the next level – controlling the nomination process for one of the major parties. I disagree with some commentators that the TPM needs to sharpen its ideology – the train wreck that was the libertarian movement in the 1970’s should be avoided at all costs. “The idea that the TPM should sit the sidelines and merely be critical of the process is the same sort of political laziness (a strong word, but there it is) that enabled the current crop of establishment Republicans to domineer the election process for the last 30 years. The only way the TPM is going to be successful bringing Virginia and America back to constitutional principles is to be smarter than outrage, and start plotting ways to take back the nomination method for a major party. For the Republicans, that means replacing the leadership at the local and district committee level.
ultimately decide more elections and influence more policy than a 'Third Force' would. Organizations go through highs and lows and any efficient political machine can win an election. It is more important that voters go to the polls voting with their values, rather than who ran the best campaign. Real victory can be found not in controlling the Republican Party, but in changing the whole dynamic of the political landscape, giving voters the option to vote for conservatives or moderate conservatives, by wiping liberalism completely out of the political spectrum.” Continued on Page 44
AM: “I noticed you didn't mention the civil rights movement! Perhaps we would both agree that has done more to change this country for the better than any other movement. Real, effective, and beneficial change is possible in this country! “The TPM is working to force elected officials to be beholden to the will of the people. While this doesn't seem like a novel concept, up until now most elected officials often anger their constituency but still end up winning reelection. This November may be the straw that breaks the camels back, ending the complacency of the electorate in the United States. If Tea Party candidates win some big elections then that will be a major sign that times are changing. Making the argument that winning elections is important for the TPM to progress is something in which we both agree, however I believe cementing it as an ideology will Photo: The Megaphone
BearingDrift.com / Page 43
What’s the Point Continued from Page 43 SK: “The civil rights movement wasn’t an -ism, though. It too hasn’t been totally realized, and never tried to identify itself through what it was for (because it never had to). Civil rights does know what it is against, and it is those man-made institutions that prevent the realization and respect of the individual they seek to point out and eradicate. Nothing more -it’s brilliantly simple. “Cementing the ideology of the TPM is the absolute last, worst possible thing that could happen to it. Think of what the movement consists of right now -libertarians, conservatives, constitutionalists, independents, veterans, soccer moms, etc. Look at the self-appointed “champions” of the movement such as Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Rick Santelli, Glenn Beck, and so forth. Agreement on what they are for isn’t quite going to be a simple act, and could ruinously split the movement much as the libertarian movement split in the 1970s.
Photo: Chicks on the Right
“Let’s keep in mind one thing first and foremost. In order to affect change politically, one must be able to compete in a political arena. The only way to do this is by participation in the process... which requires organization. Simply sharpening sticks doesn’t do much unless you’re going to use that fine point.” AM: “Cementing the ideology is exactly what needs to happen but it doesn’t need to be anything more than broad, albeit important, generalizations. Let’s start with limited government, decreased federal spending, reducing the federal deficit, individual rights, and a fight against collectivization. Don’t forget that the founding fathers were a coalition of some very diverse political opinions, much more so than what the TPM consists of. They agreed that taxation without representation was wrong and they were capable of self-government, but after that disagreements ran rampant on how exactly this fragile and radical idea called ‘freedom’ would actually work. I believe that Volume 1, Number 5 / August 2010
Moore: Let’s start with limited government, decreased federal spending, reducing the federal deficit, individual rights, and a fight against collectivization. organization similar to a political party would bring about the disaster you warn against much quicker than what I propose. Don’t forget the last third party movement that had any teeth was under the guidance of Ross Perot. After splintering the vote ad effectively giving the 1992 election to Bill Clinton, they then faded into history. The last thing conservatives want and need is a fractured base that gives elections to Liberals.”
right in the hopes of not just winning this November and defeating Obama in 2012, but winning elections in the years to come and giving the government back to the people.”
SK: “Of course, no one is arguing the TPM should turn into a third party. But what the Founding Fathers equally realized is that no revolution, political or otherwise, survives long without organization. “At the end of the day, without finding a way to build a coalition and promote candidates, all the rallies and ideology in the world won’t elect a soul. It comes down to recruitment, the ability to raise funds, the willingness to donate to a candidate, run program, carry primaries and ultimately carry the fight to the establishment.
Photo: The Average American
“Overcooking the ideology is a terrible idea -- one we should be sensitive to avoid. Let’s march with the army we have and start taking back the nomination method!” AM: “The more the TPM organizes the more calls there will be for a third party, it’s inevitable. And what you just described sounds exactly like a party structure to me. Candidates need to be held accountable to their constituency. The TPM, in my opinion, can do more than just political organizing. It has the ability to change the hearts and minds of the so-called ‘moderates,’ or perhaps better described as the ‘disinterested.’ I admit my position is the more idealist, but the Obama presidency has awakened a conservative voice in this country. Let’s strike while the iron is hot and move the electorate towards the
BearingDrift.com / Page 45
The Final Ward Snarkery and Cartoons from Ward Smythe & Friends.
Meanwhile, back at the White House...
Quick Quip: Hey, Obama! Suing Arizona over illegal immigration is like suing Louisiana for having a polluted shore. If you solved the problem, states wouldn't have to. Brian Kirwin, Bearing Drift
â€œI will not rest until I find the real spillers.â€?
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