Nuclear Future – Probably Not – Or as W says Nuclr

Oh yah, they were gona go gangbusters on this ultra new design. Ah would that be untested?


A New Voice for a Changing South


 PO Box 531  •  Durham,NC 27702  •  Telephone: (919) 419-8311  •  Fax: (919) 419-8315

July 28, 2008 

Revelations of nuclear reactor

design flaws spur

legal action over

Duke cost estimates

In states across the South, utility companies are pushing ahead with plans to construct a new kind of nuclear reactor. Designed by Westinghouse Electric Co., the AP1000 is to date but an idea on paper, having never been tested with a demonstration model in the real world.
And now it appears there are serious problems with the reactor design, which is delaying the regulatory approval process. Those problems, in turn, have sparked legal actions by public-interest groups calling on utilities commissions in the Carolinas to revoke $230 million in approved pre-construction costs for two new reactors planned by Duke Energy of Charlotte, N.C.

Last week, Friends of the Earth in Columbia, S.C. and the Durham-based N.C. Waste Awareness and Reduction Network filed legal motions seeking the cost revocation. They argue that the design problems threaten Duke’s chances of ever completing two new AP1000 reactors it wants to build at the proposed Lee Nuclear Station on the Broad River in Cherokee County, S.C.. They also say the delays mean Duke can’t provide a reliable cost estimate for the station by year’s end, a commitment the company made to both commissions during hearings on pre-construction costs.

“Duke Energy’s customers should not be stuck holding the bag if the company keeps pouring millions into that risky project,” said Friends of the Earth’s Tom Clements. “The state regulatory agencies must now reverse their earlier decisions to approve Duke’s reactor project and require that the company not come back for reconsideration until the reactor design is finalized.”

In a June 27 letter to Westinghouse, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the company’s recent withdrawal of technical documents due to design problems had delayed the agency’s review of key components and systems. Earlier this year, as part of the application process for building new plants, Duke Energy and other companies filed some 6,500 pages of technical documents from Westinghouse.

The NRC wants to review and certify plant designs separately from the plant applications. Because the agency expects more design modifications as its review continues, it’s likely that all the projects involving the AP1000 will be delayed.

The same type of reactors are being proposed by Progress Energy for its Shearon Harris plant in Wake County, N.C. as well as the company’s planned facility in Levy County, Fla.; SCE&G for the Summer Nuclear Plant in Fairfield County, S.C.; Georgia Power’s Vogtle plant in Burke County, Ga.; FP&L’s Turkey Point nuclear plant in Miami-Dade County; and Tennessee Valley Authority’s Bellefonte Nuclear Generating Station in Jackson County, Ala.

A public hearing about the Bellefonte plant is scheduled for this Wednesday, July 30 at 9 a.m. at the Scottsboro Goosepond Civic Center in Scottsboro, Ala. The AP1000 design problems are expected to be part of the discussion.

Concerns about the reactor design were also raised during the July 17 public meeting in Waynesboro, Ga. about the two new reactors proposed for the Vogtle plant. Though the NRC does not expect to certify the reactor’s final design until 2012, the NRC said they expected to issue a license for Vogtle in 2011, leading nuclear opponents to level charges of “rubber stamping.”

The AP1000 reactors are being built by a consortium, 80 percent of which is owned by Westinghouse Electric (which in turn is owned by Japan’s Toshiba Corp.) and the rest by Louisiana-based The Shaw Group’s nuclear division. In December 2006, the AP1000 Consortium won a contract with China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Co. to build four new nuclear power plants in that country.



Solar Power Goes Main Stream – I mean Main Street

Amanda Beals has been trying to get me to post some of Main Streets “Environmental Coverage” for a while now. Here one is but Solar Jackets by Designer People? Whoa 


5 Solar Solutions

By Sean Leviashvili (07/28/08)

The Greatest Green Gadgets Ever

Some companies are struggling to go green, but rumor has it Toyota (TM) is going greener.

Japanese business paper the Nikkei reported earlier this month that the company plans to install solar panels on the redesigned Prius in 2009. The solar panels will provide two to five kilowatts of electricity to power utilities like air conditioners and radios.

Sales for the Prius are booming, especially in light of rising gas prices and the growing go-green trend. But if you aren’t ready to give up your gas guzzler, or simply can’t afford a $25,000 car, there are other ways you can get in on the solar craze.

Take a Look!

It’s in the Bag:

With an internal rechargeable battery, the Solio Classic charger acts as a hybrid giving you the option to connect to a home outlet or accept energy from the sun. The Solio can charge multiple gadgets including an iPod (AAPL), cell phone or digital camera. Check out the range of models ($79.95-169.95) at Depending on the amount of sunlight, the Solio charger is capable of charging your gadget in under two hours.


To charge on the go, invest in a solar backpack or messenger bag. According to Krissie Nagy, a sales and marketing representative from Voltaic Systems, an hour of direct sunlight will yield 1.5 hours of full cell phone use, or 3 hours of iPod play. Voltaic bags come with eleven different adaptors, including the latest Samsung charger, along with a car charger socket that covers adaptors not included.

Different bags have different charging potentials, and the devices you plan on charging should influence your purchasing decision. Charging a laptop, for example, is only possible in bags yielding at least 17 watts of electricity, such as the Voltaic Generator, available at for $599.

Solar Jackets:
The Ermenegildo Zegna designed solar powered jacket charges devices right in your pocket. But this luxury doesn’t come cheap. The price: $995. According to the company’s official website,, the jacket uses solar cells on the detachable neoprene collar, and powers devices at 5 or 6 volts, so it can charge your cell phone or iPod, but nothing larger.


Solar Water Heating:
Installing a solar water heating system costs between $5,000 and $8,000, says Gary Trainer, professional engineer for Solarplex in San Antonio, Texas. The installation process requires solar panels and a separate water tank, which works with anti-freeze and your home’s original water tank to produce hot water. The system, Trainer says, can cover 60 to 80% of your total water heating needs. And, while the initial purchase is costly, the long-term payoff is substantial. “After about eight years, you’ll really see the value in the system,” Trainer says. “At that point, the system will basically pay for itself.”

Solar Pool Heating:
With solar pool heating, you can extend your swim season by months. Depending on the size of your pool, buying and installing a solar pool-heating system costs anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000. According to the, a branch of the Department of Energy’s website that focuses on energy efficiency and renewable energy, the cost of heating your pool with solar power runs from $7 to $12 per square foot.

Solar pool heating can save hundreds of dollars each year, and according to Trainer, this system has the greatest payoff of all solar heating systems. “The most expensive installment is the conventional grid type stuff, where you use solar power to reduce the energy your in-house utilities use,” Trainer admits. “But it’s not difficult to install a [solar] heating system for your pool for three or five thousand dollars, and the payout is great, it’s about two to four years.”

Solar heating systems all require solar panels (amount will vary based on the system), and a prior consultation to decide if solar power is right for you.

“There are certain conditions where it is just impractical,” Trainer says. “Trees are usually the number one reason, along with space limitation, and limited access to the sun.”

For more information on how to incorporate solar energy into your life, log on to The Department of Energy’s official website.


Oil Falls to 121$$ A Barrel – We are all going to die, but it will take awhile and be mildly uncomfortable

This is the last time I am going to post about nasty icky oil (that we should stop burning anyway) until it falls below 100$$ a barrel. We need the stuff for pharmecuticals, and parts for our satellites/space craft. Stuff that only oil can be used to make. Transportation ain’t one of them and we need to quit using it for that. Oil will be below 100$$ a barrel by the end of August. All of the oil people should be freaking out because we used some 800,000 fewer barrels in May the USA and those kind of changes usually are permanent.;_ylt=AshIG6iZs_taqFegOtxj5tOs0NUE

Oil hits 7-week low on demand worries, dollar gain 

By4 STEVENSON JACOBS, AP Business Writer 

NEW YORK – Oil prices tumbled to their lowest level in seven weeks Tuesday as a stronger dollar and beliefs that record prices are eroding the world’s thirst for energy sparked another dramatic sell-off

The drop — as much as $4 a barrel during the day — was a throwback to oil’s nosedive over the past two weeks and outweighed supply concerns touched off by a militant attack Monday on two Nigerian crude pipelines. It was oil’s seventh decline in the last 10 sessions.

Light, sweet crude for September delivery fell $1.89, or 1.52 percent, to $122.84 a barrel in early afternoon trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier, prices fell to $120.42, the lowest level for a front-month contract since June 10; they have now fallen more than $25 from their trading high of $147.27, reached July 11.

More concerns that crude’s run-up over the past year has pushed prices to unsustainable levels fed Monday’s decline. The U.S. Transportation Department said Monday that U.S. drivers logged 9.6 billion fewer vehicle miles in May — or 3.7 percent — compared to the same period last year, the biggest drop ever for the historically busy summer driving month.

And demand for oil in the U.S. — the world’s thirstiest consumer — continues to fall, dropping by 891,000 barrels per day in May compared the same month a year ago, the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration said Monday.

“We’re seeing both statistical and anecdotal evidence of very rapidly weakening demand picture,” said Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates in Galena, Ill.

The declines accelerated after oil briefly dipped below $122, a key resistance level that triggered technical selling by computers programed to dump oil contracts once prices fall below a certain threshold. The next technical level traders are watching is $117.

“I think we could see $117 a barrel in a one-week time frame, and this market could eventually get to $100,” Ritterbusch said.

Also weighing on prices was a sharply stronger dollar compared to the euro, which made commodities less attractive to investors who have bought oil futures as a hedge against inflation and weakness in the U.S. currency.

The euro bought $1.5557 compared with $1.5752 late Monday in New York.

“It looks like oil is selling off today with the very, very strong dollar and nothing to drive it higher. Quiet seems to be bearish these days,” said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service in Wall, N.J.

In a further sign high prices are curbing Americans’ consumption for fuel, retail gas prices fell further below the $4-a-gallon mark. The average price of a regular gas fell 1.7 cents to $3.941, according to auto club AAA, the Oil Prices Information Service and Wright Express.

Monday’s attack in Nigeria targeted two pipelines believed to be owned by a unit of Royal Dutch Shell PLC and was the latest in a two-year campaign of attacks on the country’s oil industry. Shell said a pipeline had been damaged in attacks and that some crude production had been shut down to prevent the oil from spilling into the environment.

The oil company said Tuesday it may not be able to fulfill some oil-export contracts because of the damage. Shell didn’t specify how much oil production was cut by the attack or how long repairs would take.

‘Abnormal’ oil prices could fall to$80-OPEC pres

 By Muklis Ali

JAKARTA (Reuters) – OPEC should not consider cutting production after oil’s steep two-week decline as markets are now balanced, OPEC President Chakib Khelil said on Tuesday, adding that prices could yet fall another $50 a barrel.

Khelil, who is also Algeria’s oil minister, said oil prices could fall to $70 to $80 in the long-term, if the U.S. dollar continued to strengthen and geopolitical anxieties eased.

“The price today is abnormal at $123 a barrel,” said Khelil, speaking to reporters on a visit to Jakarta to meet Indonesia’s energy minister.

He did not elaborate, but OPEC ministers have said repeatedly that they believe the surge in oil prices is not being driven by a shortage of supply.

Asked if OPEC members should cut supply if oil prices continue to decline, he said: “No, I don’t think so, why should they cut production? They always want to make sure there is good supply and demand and to satisfy the demand.”

U.S. oil prices have fallen by $22 from a record high above $147 a barrel earlier this month amid growing concerns that high prices and slowing economic growth are causing a decline in demand, but prices are still up 30 percent on the year.

“We are not worried about any price, because we don’t decide the price. We just meet the demand,” he said.

Khelil said he did not see any signs of demand destruction from high prices. 

Solar Power – Then there are the people working to get us off oil and coal

Too many people and too little time. But they are trying.

July 28, 2008

Pueblo, CO, USA: Colorado State University-Pueblo to Install 1 Megawatt PV System

Colorado State University-Pueblo soon will be the home of a solar electric system in excess of one megawatt, one of the largest such systems for an education facility in the United States. Under this innovative arrangement with Black Hills Energy (formerly Aquila) and BP Solar, the system is estimated to contribute more than 10 percent of the University’s electricity needs. Installation of the ground-based solar array will begin in July with full operation scheduled for late this fall.

The University will purchase the electricity generated by the solar array from BP Solar, who will install and operate the system. Black Hills Energy will purchase the solar on-site renewable energy credits generated from the system from BP Solar. The system will be constructed on the east side of campus between the physical plant complex and the softball fields on a strip of land that could not easily serve any other purpose.

“We view this as an extension of the commitment the University and the CSU System have made to renewable and sustainable energy,” said CSU-Pueblo President Joseph Garcia. “Because this solar array will be visible from new facilities being constructed to support our new athletic programs and the planned development on our eastern campus border, it will serve as a strong statement about the University’s commitment to supporting sustainable energy resources.”

“We are proud to be able to bring large-scale solar energy to Pueblo,” said Mary Shields, vice president of global sales and marketing for BP Solar. “The CSU-Pueblo campus is the perfect place to demonstrate the clean, efficient power that solar can provide to communities throughout Colorado and other parts of the U.S.”

Garcia added that the new system supports Governor Ritter’s New Energy Economy to make Colorado a hub for solar energy and supports Black Hills Energy’s effort to bring more solar energy to Colorado. As part of its Solar Rebate Program, Black Hills Energy will provide a $200,000 upfront rebate incentive for the installation of the solar system. The program helps Black Hills Energy meet Colorado’s Renewable Energy Standard, which requires that five percent of Black Hills Energy’s electricity sales be generated from renewable sources.

“Black Hills Energy is excited to be a part of this project and about the solar energy contribution this system will provide CSU-Pueblo,” said Gary Stone, Black Hills Energy vice president for Colorado electric operations. “Combined with the Black Hills Energy Solar Rebate Program, biomass and wind resources already in use, the CSU-Pueblo solar system builds on Black Hills Energy’s commitment to renewable energy for the communities we serve in Colorado.” With new facilities being brought on-line during the next six months, including a new $11.2 million student recreation center, CSU-Pueblo estimates the completed project will generate savings in utility costs and help absorb the cost of increased demand. Garcia said the project is a winning venture for all three partners.

“In short, this project will help control the University’s utility costs as prices and usage increase, promote the use of sustainable resources, help satisfy Black Hills Energy’s state mandates, and allow BP Solar to bring a major solar project to Southern Colorado,” Garcia said.

Smart Growth Advocates (SGA), a local non-profit, connected the partners last year. “Assembling the combined talents of a team of this caliber ensured results which exceeded expectations. Our goal was to highlight the effectiveness of public-private partnerships to deliver concrete sustainable solutions, and we are elated with the result,” said Vickie Massam, SGA President.

Further details about: BP Solar
July 24, 2008Tempe, AZ, USA: First Solar to Build 10 MW Solar PV Power Plant for Sempra Generation

First Solar will build a 10 megawatt photovoltaic power plant for Sempra Generation near Boulder City, Nevada. First Solar will design, engineer and construct the turnkey PV power plant and will provide monitoring and maintenance services for the plant over its lifetime. Sempra Generation will be the developer for the project, and will own and operate the PV power plant once completed.

Construction began in July, and the 10 MW PV power plant is expected to be completed by the end of 2008. The solar modules to be deployed in this ground-mount project will be produced at First Solar’s manufacturing facility in Perrysburg, Ohio.

“Sempra Generation has a proven track record for successful energy resource development and we are pleased to work with them to bring additional renewable electric generation to the region,” said Mike Ahearn, chief executive officer of First Solar.

The 10 MW PV power plant will be adjacent to Sempra Generation’s existing El Dorado combined cycle natural gas plant. By co-locating this new PV power plant with existing infrastructure and the associated interconnection and transmission facilities, Sempra Generation will maximize their land and transmission. As a result, the impact to the immediate environment is minimal and the project completion timeline will be shorter. The PV power plant will serve customers in California and the Western United States.

“This new solar project is another step in Sempra Generation’s long-range plan to emerge as a leading renewable-energy developer,” said Michael W. Allman, president and chief executive officer of Sempra Generation. “The combination of Sempra Generation’s experience in developing power-generation projects in the region with First Solar’s expertise in advanced, thin-film photovoltaic solutions is a natural fit. ”

First Solar explains that it is a cost leader in the solar PV industry, driven by an advanced thin film semiconductor manufacturing process. At the end of 2007, over 300 MW of First Solar PV modules had been installed worldwide and First Solar expects to ship 420 to 460 MW of PV modules in 2008. Together with its project partners, First Solar modules have been deployed in several of the largest ground and rooftop PV power plants in the world.

Further details about: First Solar


Oil Is 125$$ A Barrel – We are all going to die!

Oh sorry, as oil gentily falls to 70 or 80$$ per barrel. Americans will have to come to grips with the fact that the super wealthy just soaked the world for 350 billion $$. The Saudies have to be trembling. Americans travel 40 billion miles less this year. Bummer guys.

They Finally Busted The Bastards – Oil speculators starting to get complaints from the CFTC

Commodity Futures Trading Commission….say it now Commodity Futures Trading Commission …..oh yah now the CFTC is going to be hot on TV. God Bless Steve Hargreaves. I am a thief.. but I am not going to list his entire post or even claim it as my own. But I have been bitching about the speculators in oil since last September so I think I get to thump my chest a little. I even rented the Movie Trading places so I can get into the spirit of the thing. So let’s recronical the events. In August the  Fed announces that they are more worried about stability in the housing market, refuses to back the dollar with interest rate increases and the dollar plunges. All of the currency speculators dumped their dollars (many of whom are also the oil speculators today – hint hint) and the price of oil climbs to 50$$s a barrel. The Saudies and OPEC see the rise as good for them and constrict production slightly. The price climbs to 60$$s a barrel and the speculators say hmmm. There is a commodity we can abuse so they buy long in the futures market, take that oil out of the market and the price begins to soar. WHY? Because these are people who have never been in the oil market. They are not going to touch a single barrel of oil and the oil guys do not know these people. So the speculators keep buying and the price keys rising which should have ended at about 100$$ a barrel. At that point every financial planner for every rich person said, “get into oil” like it was gold or something. As they did the oil soared again to somewhere around 130$$ per barrel. The gasoline refiners realized they could jack the price of gasoline under the guise of expensive oil even though that’s not the price they were paying.

The Saudies got pissed off because they know at some point people will quit using gasoline and they know most that quit using gasoline will not come back ultimately destroying their market. This is when it gets good because this is when the chisslers and the real crooks get in. They start selling their futures to each other at inflated prices, and the people busted today start hammering the market at the open and the close and the market hyperinflates to high water marks for now at 148/149$$$ a barrel. Damn you would think these people would at least have the decency to hit 150$$ but nooooo. That is because the Senate announced that they were holding hearings on speculation and the Bushman order the CFTC to investigate. OH OO. So the speculators start to sell off but they have to doooo itttt slowlllly or the oil market crashes and the whole world starts looking for them to kill them!

So what will happen now? Well alot of minor chisselers and crooks will go to jail. The real players at the hedge funds will be nearly out of oil by the end of August and prices will slowllllly come down until the refiners have to drop prices and start up capacity that they have not been using lately.

Now, who is responsible for all of this? Well Phil Gramm and his Wife Wendy actually (yes the guy who said we were whiners)  They effectively changed the rules for commodity trading at the end of Bill Clinton’s term and people just sort of played with it in 2000 to 2003 BECAUSE there was more money to be made, and more fun too, in the housing market. Yah those Wall Street guys are real wacky when it comes to stealing other people’s money.  


Traders manipulated oil prices – U.S.

Regulators claim firm attempted to ‘bang the close’ by amassing large positions

just before markets closed.

By Steve Hargreaves, staff writer

NEW YORK ( — The government charged an oil trading firm Thursday with manipulating oil prices in the first complaint to be announced since the regulators began a new investigation into wrongdoings in the energy markets.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission accused Optiver Holding, two of its subsidiaries and three employees with manipulation and attempted manipulation of crude oil, heating oil and gasoline futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

“Optiver traders amassed large trading positions, then conducted trades in such a way to bully and hammer the markets,” CFTC Acting Chairman Walt Lukken said at a press conference. “These charges go to the heart of the CFTC’s core mission of detecting and rooting out illegal manipulation of the markets.”

In May, under the backdrop of record oil prices and calls from legislators to crack down on speculative oil trading and market manipulation, the CFTC announced a wide-ranging probe into oil price manipulation. The agency says it has dozens of investigations ongoing.

The complaint filed Thursday names Bastiaan van Kempen, chief executive; Christopher Dowson, a head trader; and Randal Meijer, head of trading at an Optiver subsidiary.

The CFTC said the firm attempted to “bang the close” by amassing large positions just before markets closed – forcing prices up – then selling them quickly to drive prices down and pocketing the difference.

The alleged manipulation was attempted 19 times on 11 days in March 2007, the agency said. In at least five of those 19 times, traders succeeded in driving prices higher twice and lower three times, according to the CFTC.

Optiver issued a written statement saying the firm had received the complaint.

“We take the Commission’s action very seriously, and are treating it with utmost attention and care,” said the statement. “Obviously, we cannot comment further until we have had the opportunity to review the complaint.”

CFTC stressed that the price changes were small and the manipulation was isolated, and that the investigation has nothing to do with the recent heat the agency has taken on Capitol Hill over rising oil prices.


Here is more from the CFTC itself:

CFTC Charges Optiver

 Holding BV,


 Subsidiaries, and High


Employees with

 Manipulation of NYMEX

Crude Oil,

Heating Oil,

and Gasoline Futures


Defendant Caught on Tape and in

Email Saying He Would “Bully”

the Market

 The CFTC filed the civil enforcement action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against Optiver Holding BV, a global proprietary trading fund headquartered in the Netherlands, and two subsidiaries – Optiver US, LLC (Optiver), a Chicago-based corporation, and Optiver VOF, a Dutch company. The complaint also names defendants Christopher Dowson (head trader of Optiver), Randal Meijer (head of trading and supervisor of Optiver and Optiver VOF) and Bastiaan van Kempen (Chief Executive Officer of Optiver).

The Energy Futures Contracts Manipulated by Defendants

The defendants’ manipulative trading scheme involved three futures contracts listed for trading on the NYMEX: the Light Sweet Crude Oil futures contract (Crude Oil, also referred to as West Texas Intermediate (WTI)), the New York Harbor Heating Oil futures contract (Heating Oil), and the New York Harbor Reformulated Gasoline Blendstock futures contract (New York Harbor Gasoline). The settlement price for the Crude Oil, New York Gasoline, and Heating Oil futures contracts is derived by calculating the volume weighted average prices of futures trades conducted during the closing period for the contracts (from 2:28 to 2:30 p.m.). The volume weighted average price is referred to commonly as the VWAP.

The defendants’ manipulative scheme involved the Trading at Settlement (or TAS) contracts in Crude Oil, Heating Oil, and New York Harbor Gasoline contracts. TAS contracts are futures contracts, except that the parties determine at the initiation of the contract that the price of the TAS contract will be the day’s settlement price plus or minus an agreed differential. A TAS contract which has been bought or sold can be offset by trading a futures contract in the opposite direction.

The Manipulative Scheme

The manipulative scheme, in defendant Dowson’s words, to “bully the market,” involved trading a significant volume of futures contracts in Crude Oil, Heating Oil, and New York Harbor Gasoline in the opposite direction of the associated TAS position, before and during the close of the contracts. The defendants’ goal in trading the large volume of futures was to improperly influence and affect the price of futures contracts in Crude Oil, Heating Oil, and New York Harbor Gasoline. The defendants’ manipulative scheme was, in the words of defendant Meijer, “built on the idea that we can control the VWAP.”

As alleged in the complaint, the scheme ultimately permitted defendants to profit regardless of the direction of the market move, provided that Optiver’s futures trading in the close and before the close was in the opposite direction of the TAS position it had accumulated during the trading day.


All of this is hysterical because they just said that the reason for the rise in the price of oil was SUPPLY AND DEMAND 2 days ago. Dare I say it? Thats Rich. 

Weird Bird Friday – This one will be a quick one because there is breaking news

TGI(WB)F! Heh we should start a restaurant that serves only emmu or something. Its a totally original idea. Today’s weird bird is more like birds. There are 4 birds in the picture, can you point them out:


Dedicated to John and Susan in Denver who have increasingly focused on the Great Denver Fire caused by the 2008 Democrat Convention.

Little do people know that they both have very naughty tattoos on large parts of their bodies.

Green Cars – Can we get rid of the internal combustion engine fast enough?

Forget high gasoline prices. That maybe a short term issue but the fact is global warming is the more important issue that we should not lose sight of:

2010 Prius Production

Moves to US

By Todd Kaho

Like all automakers, Toyota is acutely aware of evolving consumer demands and is responding with some pivotal changes in its manufacturing structure and product mix. It’s beginning this in a big way by adjusting the production mix at three of its U.S. plants to improve production efficiency. In short, big trucks like the new Tundra aren’t selling so Toyota is aiming at the need to build more of its fuel-efficient cars that are in high demand. And the place to start? The Prius, of course.

The most interesting news to come out of this shift is that the next-generation Prius hybrid will be assembled at Toyota’s new Blue Springs, Mississippi plant in late 2010. That move makes it the second Toyota hybrid to be built in the U.S., with the current Camry Hybrid already assembled in Kentucky. The Highlander mid-size SUV was originally slated for production at the Mississippi plant but will now be built at Toyota’s Princeton, Indiana manufacturing facility in place of the full-size Tundra pickup. All current Prius models are currently built at Toyota’s Motomachi Plant in Toyota City, Japan. The move toward building popular hybrids in the markets where they’re already selling well or are expected to do so is already in play at Toyota, which announced recently that it would build the Camry Hybrid in Melbourne, Australia for that market.

When it emerges from the Mississippi assembly plant, the 2010 Prius will be the fourth generation of Toyota’s iconic gasoline-electric hybrid in North America. Speculation and rumors about the new car are running rampant as the current Prius – introduced as a completely revised model in 2004 – nears the end of its life cycle. Spy shots are circulating of what “might” be the next-generation Prius and sketches imagining what the next iteration will look like are also at play. Some are speculating that the 1/X Concept shown here, which debuted at the most recent Tokyo Motor Show, may provide clues regarding the look of the next Prius. The reality is that nobody really knows the true scoop. No doubt, when the new Prius debuts at the 2009 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit this coming January the world will definitely be watching.  


The Greenest of 2008

This year, the natural gas-powered Honda Civic GX claims the title as the greenest vehicle for the fifth year running. Toyota’s hybrid-electric Prius, which places second, is the year’s top-scoring gasoline vehicle, while Honda’s Civic Hybrid ranks a close third. Rounding out the top five are the recently released Smart Fortwo Convertible and Coupe and Toyota Yaris. In total, the Greenest Vehicles list contains one natural gas, four hybrid-electric, and seven conventional gasoline vehicles, a mix of technologies that demonstrates some of the avenues automakers have taken in developing greener vehicles. Whether using hybrid gasoline-electric designs, compressed natural gas, or simply clean and efficient conventional gasoline designs, automakers have visibly demonstrated their ability to engineer with the environment in mind.

This year sees a number of changes to the nameplates on the Greenest Vehicles list. After being shut out of the top twelve in 2007, a domestic automaker makes an appearance on our top-twelve list. The 2008 Tier 2 Bin 3 / PZEV-certified Ford Focus comfortably takes the 9th spot in the annual ranking. Other new entries to the 2008 “Greenest” list include the Smart Fortwo Convertible/Coupe and the Mini Cooper/Clubman, both small cars that achieve excellent fuel economy.  However, Hyundai’s PZEV-certified Elantra narrowly misses a spot on our list, landing in 13th place as a result of the above-mentioned new entries. Following suit are the Kia Rio, Hyundai Accent, Chevrolet Cobalt, and Pontiac G5, all of which score very well according to our ranking but face more competition this year from several clean vehicles that have entered the market. This is, of course, good news to consumers, who have greater options when it comes to buying the greenest vehicle that meets their needs and fits their budget.

Other good news is the fact that the vast majority of the year’s greenest vehicles are widely available coast-to-coast. Not too long ago, the list was dominated by vehicles for sale only in California, while today more than 80 percent of the Greenest Vehicles can be purchased in any state.


Concept Green Cars

Toyota first demonstrated a futuristic hybrid concept vehicle at the Tokyo Auto Show in 1995. The car, which consisted of an electric motor connected to a regular gasoline engine, was called the Toyota Prius. Hybrid skeptics ?both at the show and afterward?are now silent, as cumulative global sales continue to surpass all expectations. Which of today’s wild and wacky hi-tech enviro car concepts will become tomorrow’s practical fuel-efficient vehicles? Let’s take a look at some contenders.

Volvo 3CC

The Volvo 3CC concept car, a rocket-shaped three-seater, can accommodate the full range of power systems, from traditional gasoline and alternative fuels such as ethanol, to hybrid and all electric. Three thousand lithium-ion batteries, just like those used in laptop computers, give it the equivalent of 105 horsepower. The 3CC has the aerodynamics of a two-seat sports car, but can slip a third passenger, or perhaps two children, in a single seat in the back.

 Daihatsu UFE III

Daihatsu, the Japanese car company known for compacts, is on the third generation of the UFE (which stand for Ultra Fuel Economy). This mini-hybrid vehicle can transport three people?one upfront, and two in the back. The hybrid system comprises a 660-cubic centimeter direct-injection gasoline engine, two motors, and a nickel-metal hydride battery. Its estimated fuel economy is 169 miles per gallon.

Nissan Pivo

Nissan has developed a bubble-shaped, three-seater electric car called the Pivo?short for pivot. It runs exclusively on electricity. The cabin sits atop a wheeled platform that can swivel 360 degrees, doing away with the need to reverse when emerging from narrow spaces.


But these are concept cars which means that they are years away from production. I do not think we are going to make it.

For more:


Green Cars Before It’s Too Late – Did Ford know that he was killing us?

 Since the oil/gasoline price spike I have avoided driving. I know that not everyone can do that but I refuse to give 1.50$ to oil speculators and .50$ to gasoline refiners through rigged gasoline prices. Still the question of whether Henry Ford knew he was killing us by using the sky as an open sewer is intriguing

Ford’s environmentalism is more practical. Vehicle Recyclability Coordinator Susan Day is touring the country, touting the company’s use of recycled products in its far-flung manufacturing operations. “The first Henry Ford used to break down shipping crates and use the wood as floorboards for the Model T,” she said. “And he also tried to build car bodies out of soybeans.” The latter operation was aborted after cows began showing an interest in eating the finished product, but Ford is now recycling more than it ever did.

Early on he was a pacifist:

On the outbreak of the First World War in Europe, Ford soon made it clear he opposed the war and supported the decision of the Woman’s Peace Party to organize a peace conference in Holland. After the conference Ford was contacted by America’s three leading anti-war campaigners, Jane Addams, Oswald Garrison Villard, and Paul Kellogg. They suggested that Ford should sponsor an international conference in Stockholm to discuss ways that the conflict could be brought to an end.Ford came up with the idea of sending a boat of pacifists to Europe to see if they could negotiate an agreement that would end the war. He chartered the ship Oskar II, and it sailed from Hoboken, New Jersey on 4th December, 1915. The Ford Peace Ship reached Stockholm in January, 1916, and a conference was organized with representatives from Denmark, Holland, Norway, Sweden and the United States. However, unable to persuade representatives from the warring nations to take part, the conference was unable to negotiate an Armistice.

 :}Apparently he was a big fan of biofuels and assumed his cars would run on ethanol. In fact he favored waste plants and cellulose rich plants for the creation of that ethanol:

Fuel of the Future

When Henry Ford told a New York Times reporter that ethyl alcohol was “the fuel of the future” in 1925, he was expressing an opinion that was widely shared in the automotive industry. “The fuel of the future is going to come from fruit like that sumach out by the road, or from apples, weeds, sawdust — almost anything,” he said. “There is fuel in every bit of vegetable matter that can be fermented. There’s enough alcohol in one year’s yield of an acre of potatoes to drive the machinery necessary to cultivate the fields for a hundred years.”

Ford recognized the utility of the hemp plant. He constructed a car of resin stiffened hemp fiber, and even ran the car on ethanol made from hemp. Ford knew that hemp could produce vast economic resources if widely cultivated.

Ford’s optimistic appraisal of cellulose and crop based ethyl alcohol fuel can be read in several ways. First, it can be seen as an oblique jab at a competitor. General Motors had come to considerable grief that summer of 1925 over another octane boosting fuel called tetra-ethyl lead, and government officials had been quietly in touch with Ford engineers about alternatives to leaded gasoline additives. Secondly, by 1925 the American farms that Ford loved were facing an economic crisis that would later intensify with the depression. Although the causes of the crisis were complex, one possible solution was seen in creating new markets for farm products. With Ford’s financial and political backing, the idea of opening up industrial markets for farmers would be translated into a broad movement for scientific research in agriculture that would be labelled “Farm Chemurgy”.


He is faring better than I thought he would. Wonder if the Oil and Gas Companies had anything to do with the Great Depression? Oh.


Then there is this:

Renewable energy has an icon:

Henry Ford

Conference hears about

history and ‘bioenergy’ future


  ST. LOUIS – A century ago, Henry Ford’s Model T was the first flexible-fuel vehicle, running on gas, ethanol or both, and the automaker foretold the future when he said fuel could be gotten from fruit, weeds, sawdust, or anything else that could be fermented.

The story, as told by Archer Daniels Midland’s CEO Patricia Woertz, resonated with her audience at a national renewable energy conference here Wednesday.

Woertz, formerly head of refining at Chevron, now heads the Decatur, Ill.,-based agricultural company that is also the biggest ethanol producer in the U.S.

Count her among the converted.

“We believe we are just at the start of this new era of bioenergy,” she said, acknowledging ADM began building toward that start 30 years ago. “We believe the market can and should grow larger.”

Woertz was among dozens of speakers representing business, financing, government and research at the conference co-hosted by the U.S. departments of energy and agriculture.

President Bush addressed the conference Thursday, saying that, while he liked seeing the recent drop in oil prices, “it’s not going to dim my enthusiasm for making sure we diversify away from oil.”


Then there is this:



The Castle Made of Fossils:

Henry Ford Estate Fairlane

The building material used to build Henry Ford’s final estate in 1914 is Limestone from Kelley’s Island in Ohio.  Glaciers carved out this island exposing many fossils which can be seen in the walls of the the estate.  For more information on Kelley’s Island and its rich natural history please visit the Kelley’s Island Natural History webpage.   The Natural Area is located on the grounds of the Henry Ford Estate.  Henry Ford helped to create and shape this landscape in the early 1900’s.  To learn more about the Estate, please visit the Henry Ford Estate official website.    

This waterfall on the Rouge River was used by Henry Ford to generate electricity for his home.  The Estate’s Powerhouse still generates electricity today.   In 1914, Thomas Edison laid the cornerstone for the Powerhouse.  Can you find the Cornerstone that he laid?


Scavenger Hunt Question:
Can you find the cornerstone on the powerhouse near the waterfall behind the Estate? It was laid on October, 1914.

Environmental Interpretive Center   University of Michigan-Dearborn
4901 Evergreen Road  Dearborn, MI 48128 (313)593-5338 


So even though he spread the combustion engine throughout the world which ultimately could do us in he was an EARLY Environmentalist. He generated his own Hydro Power. I am so kind>

State Journal Register Supports Big Oil –

Last week the State Journal Register solicited a “Guest OP-ED” piece from the mouth piece for the Illinois Petroleum Council that in simple form says we must overcome our current energy crisis by,  Conservation and
fuel economy
  (which he instantly discounts), Stronger energy-trading alliances with neighbors, Expand domestic resources, and  Diversify supply.  By diversify he means Nukes. You can read the rest of the slop at:

I know for a fact that many people have written to respond against most of his ideas because many environmentalists including Will Reynolds and Diane Lopez always do. I posting my letter here because I sent one and they did not publish it:


State Journal Register

One Copley Plaza

Springfield, IL 62701

Emailed – 07/015/08

Dear Editor:


Dave Sykuta recent guest editorial “Get Over It” (the title of an Eagles song)  was nothing but one long environmental taunt. It had nothing to do with the irrationality we call the Oil Market.


Supply is not the overwhelming issue that he makes it out to be. The Iranians have 7 or 8 super tankers full of oil (depending on which report you listen to) parked in their main port because nobody is buying them. Why? Because the price is artificially elevated. Speculators beginning as far back as September of last year have bought up the cheap oil. We are now at a precipitous economic moment. An oil Mexican Standoff. The speculators can’t sell or the price will drop dramatically and hardly anyone is buying because they know the price is too high. Best guesstamates are that at least 40-50$$ of the current price of oil is due to speculators.


But the Drillers want to take advantage of this artificial shortage to get more Leases, because in their warped minds the leases that they hold are the leases the other guy don’t. The proof of this is the current 85 million acres that they lease that they won’t explore.


Really though nobody cares about the price of oil, what they car about is the prices of gasoline products. That price is being rigged as well. Refineries are at 85% of their capacity because if they ran the refineries at capacity they would lose money. In a perverse market flaw, the more they make the cheaper gas becomes and they lose money. Again the gasoline refiners are using the rigged higher oil prices to run up their profits by keeping refineries at the bare minimum it takes to run this country.


All the loud shouting at each other about the price we pay at the pump has obscured the realities on the ground. Oil production has been stuck on 85 million barrels a day now for sometime. Even though everybody has pledged to raise it. That may be the real limit on production and the world may have to learn live with it, discounting the fact that China is hording diesel in preparation for the Olympics.


Anyway, “if the drill here drill now” crowd had their way, what would they drill with? Brazil just bought or leased the 160 available rigs in the world to try to extract oil from their new alleged oil field off their southern coast.


When an oilman that I trust (there ain’t many – please see There Will Be Blood) T. Boone Pickens pledges to build a 1000 megawatt wind farm in Texas and then pays his own money for an TV advertisement to say why. (hint: we are running out of oil) Then I go with the wind farm guy every time.


I believe the Eagles said they would tour again when hell freezes over. Did I miss something?


Doug Nicodemus

948 e. adams st.

riverton, IL  62561




AND YET THEY RUN STORIES LIKE THIS IN THEIR Business Section in the newspaper and don’t even acknowledge that they did on their web site:

Big Oil steers record profits to investors

MONEY: Critics say too much is going into stock

buybacks and not enough into exploration.

The Associated Press
HOUSTON – As giant oil companies like Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips get set to report what will probably be another round of eye-popping quarterly profits, just where is all that money going?The companies insist they’re trying to find new oil that might help bring down gas prices, but the money they spend on exploration is nothing compared with what they spend on stock buybacks and dividends.It’s good news for shareholders, including mutual funds and retirement plans for millions of Americans, but no help to drivers already making drastic cutbacks to offset the high cost of fuel. The five biggest international oil companies plowed about 55 percent of the cash they made from their businesses into stock buybacks and dividends last year, up from 30 percent in 2000 and just 1 percent in 1993, according to Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

The percentage they spend to find new deposits of fossil fuels has remained flat for years, in the mid-single digits.

The issue has become more sensitive as lawmakers and Americans frustrated by high gas prices have balked at gaudy reports of oil industry profits. ConocoPhillips is scheduled to kick off the latest round of Big Oil earnings reports Wednesday.

Oil prices are set on the open market, not by the oil industry. But that hasn’t stopped public protests, a series of congressional grillings for top oil executives, and a failed attempt by lawmakers to slap Big Oil with a windfall profits tax.

In the first three months of this year, Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s biggest publicly traded oil company, shelled out $8.8 billion on stock buybacks alone, compared with $5.5 billion on exploration and other capital projects.

ConocoPhillips has already told investors that its stock buybacks for April to June of this year will come to about $2.5 billion — nine times what it spent on exploration.

Stock buybacks are common throughout corporate America, not just for Big Oil. They shrink the amount of stock on the open market, essentially increasing its value and giving individual shareholders a bigger stake in the company.

But some critics say Big Oil focuses too much on boosting stock prices, in an industry that sometimes ties executive pay to stock price.

And in focusing on buybacks and dividends over exploring for new oil, some critics say, oil companies jeopardize its already dwindling share of world supply.

“If you’re not spending your money finding and developing new oil, then there’s no new oil,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, an energy expert at Rice University who’s studied spending patterns of the major oil companies.

Investor-owned companies like Exxon Mobil and Chevron hold less than 10 percent of global oil and gas reserves, way down from past decades. And finding new oil has become harder and more expensive.

No one questions that Big Oil is rolling in cash. The cash the biggest oil companies bring in from running their businesses, or operating cash flow, is four times what it was in the early 1990s.

“It becomes a management decision,” said Howard Silverblatt, a senior index analyst at Standard & Poor’s. “It’s not like they’re going to the board and saying, ‘Well, I can do one or the other or the other.’ The balance sheets are flush with cash.”