Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · Go Nuke?
. . . .

Go Nuke?

Lee Oslund - March 9th, 2006
For anyone who has cared to look recently, our country is at an energy crossroads. Fossil fuel costs continue to escalate with no end in sight, natural gas costs continue to skyrocket while oil companies are touting natural gas as “the next big resource,” and coal mining continues to claim the lives of miners every year.
Our elected representatives in Washington seem to be either unwilling or unable to take any meaningful action as regards to a sensible national energy policy. We are still as dependent on foreign oil as we were 30 years ago, and will continue to be for as long as we continue to be the consumer of 25% of the world’s oil.
Today we clamor for alternatives to fossil fuels to save our atmosphere, local ecosystems, and to save the lives of those people we charge with obtaining them. In recent weeks a dozen coal miners were lost due to mining accidents. We seem to always be cringing in anticipation of the next major oil spill with its devastating impact.
The time has come for us to be realistic about our energy future, and to be logical in how we think about our options. We need to recognize that for each of the options we have before us, there are some sacrifices we must be willing to make. Recent news reports have revealed lawsuits filed to stop the development of seemingly innocuous solar and wind power plants in the western U.S. These lawsuits have been filed because of ”adverse environmental impact”!

Wind generating farms are noisy and a danger to birds. Solar farms use up an enormous amount of land area for a relatively small return in power output. Each of these technologies have their own peculiar dangers and drawbacks.
It seems that anywhere we turn there are always a number of we Americans with the NIMB (Not in my backyard) attitude. In Mackinaw City, the much touted windmill generators seem to be idle at times when a good wind is blowing and the power generated by them costs their customers a premium over and above what the local energy company charges.
For three decades we have set aside nuclear energy as being too expensive, too dangerous, or too impractical. Yet recent developments and currently available technology have changed that scenario.
Currently, available technology presents a fuel reprocessing procedure which cuts the life of dangerous nuclear waste to 300 or 400 years instead of hundreds of thousands. This nuclear reprocessing method also reduces the volume of waste by over 98%.
(Nuclear waste is recycled into fuel and then burned in advanced fast-neutron reactors, according to an article in Scientific American magazine -- ed.)
Another benefit of this fuel cycle is that it reduces the danger of nuclear proliferation. It provides a way of safely and permanently disposing of fissile materials used in nuclear weapons.
This fuel cycle promises to extend the availability of useful nuclear fuels to hundreds of years instead of decades. We have enough potential nuclear fuel stored in pools around the country to easily supply us for centuries while we work toward ultimately perfecting
nuclear fusion; a resource that has the potential to supply us with a virtually inexhaustible source of energy.

Perhaps the highest hurdle to be overcome is the pervading fear of nuclear energy felt by large portions of the public. Much of this fear is the result of ignorance, some is ideologically driven.
Detractors point to Chernobyl or Three Mile Island as the reasons we should not pursue the atom. These detractors fit into one of two categories. One category objects out of ignorance of the specific facts and technologies involved in the two plants. The other category objects for ideological reasons; not reasons that are logical and scientific.
Most Americans do not understand that Russia‘s Chernobyl-style nuclear plants were built with significantly smaller safety margins designed into the plant systems than U.S.-built plants. The most noticeable difference is that the Chernobyl-style Russian plants did not utilize a containment building, unlike U.S. plants which utilize substantial containment structures. The Russians also chose to use a much more unstable reactor design than plants in the West.
Western reactors are much more stable and easier to control. A Chernobyl-style accident could not have happened here in the U.S. because the plants here are designed, built, and operated differently.

Most Americans also do not understand that during the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island perhaps as much as 30% of the nuclear fuel contained in the reactor vessel actually melted. Despite this, the highest exposure to anyone even in the immediate vicinity of the power plant itself was less than that of a dental X-ray, perhaps 1/20th of their annual exposure to local natural background radiation.
In fact, if a family from that area in Pennsylvania moved from there to Denver, they would have doubled their radiation dose received per year, even if they had lived right next to the plant. The natural background radiation in Denver is twice that in Pennsylvania, thus the higher exposure.
At Chernobyl in the 1986 disaster, plant engineers intentionally disabled safety systems and operated the reactor in low power regions that they knew were unstable in order to run tests. The Chernobyl engineers disabled safety systems and automatic trips that would have protected the reactor from an over-power excursion.
As a result, the systems that would have prevented what finally occurred at Chernobyl did not work. As a result of a large power excursion a meltdown occurred. Two resulting hydrogen explosions breached the reactor vessel and, because there was no containment, also breached the reactor building roof, leaving the badly damaged reactor core exposed to atmosphere.
Had this reactor breach occurred in a U.S. plant, the radioactive material that escaped the reactor would have been contained inside the containment building. For example, the materials released from Three Mile Island’s reactor accident were contained inside its containment building, just as designed.

Recent new generation reactor designs by General Electric and Westinghouse have already been approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. These designs are smaller
than today’s larger plants (1100 MW) at about 600 MWe (Megawatts electrical).
These relatively new plant designs use passive reactor safety systems that require no positive interaction by operators to function.
The marriage of these reactor designs to new reprocessing technology would go a long way toward alleviating the usage of vast tracts of land necessary for solar and wind energy. It would also alleviate the dumping of vast quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from burning coal. It would provide a safe and secure place to dispose of fissile materials recovered from dismantled nuclear weapons.
A renewed look at nuclear energy is certainly worth our while. It will allow us to utilize nuclear plants of sufficient power density needed in order to maintain or improve our nation’s standard of living.
Given current technology, wind and solar can only be a supplement to our power needs now or in the foreseeable future. To preserve the atmosphere, we, with a minimum of impact on the environment, need to wean ourselves from organic combustible fuels.
More on this topic can be found in the December 2005 issue of Scientific American.

Lee Oslund is a veteran of 20 years as a Navy Nuclear Propulsion operator, and eight years as a power plant operator at a commercial nuclear power plant. He lives in Mackinaw City.
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