MainLine Peace Action/DelMont PDA

December 29, 2010

Fuel Cells Popping Up In California

Filed under: environment — Tags: , , , , — Walter Ebmeyer @ 1:58 pm

This article for the 4CP December 2010 Newsletter is by Bill Haaf (

Behind a chain-link fence next to a parking structure at an office park in the San Gabriel Valley sit five softly humming gray boxes that could change the way homes and offices are powered.  The boxes — each somewhat bigger than an SUV — will begin generating enough electricity to power about a quarter of the complex, saving the property owner about $500,000 a year in electricity bills.

The Energy Servers use fuel-cell technology to create low-emission electricity. The product, developed by Bloom Energy, a Sunnyvale, Calif., start-up, has been hailed as an innovation that could change the power industry.

“We were convinced that this was a technology that was extraordinarily good,” said Wayne Ratkovich, chief executive of Ratkovich Co., which owns the Alhambra office park. “And we’re not paying as high of an electric bill, so we’ll save a lot of money.”

Assuming the boxes at the Alhambra do their job, Ratkovich is considering adding five more. And if he does, the new units won’t be hidden behind a fence.

The Bloom boxes take the oxygen from the air and combine it with fuel such as natural gas in an electrochemical process that produces electricity without using combustion.

Each unit costs up to $800,000, or $4 million for the set. At that rate, Ratkovich Co. could recoup its costs in less than a decade. Each box comes with a 10-year warranty.

So far, Bloom hasn’t had a heavy presence in Southern California. A Wal-Mart store in Lancaster installed a 400-kilowatt system last December, followed by another in Hemet. A Staples store in Ontario has a 300-kilowatt setup.

But many of the high-profile systems are located in the Bay Area: Google Inc. installed a 400-kilowatt set at its Mountain View headquarters and EBay Inc. has a 500-kilowatt group in San Jose.

Bloom plans to have about 100 systems installed by the end of the year. The company may branch out internationally in the future but is currently focusing on delivering a backlog of units in the United States, said Asim Hussain, director of product marketing.

San Diego city officials recently partnered with BioFuels Energy to buy three fuel-cell power plants from FuelCell Energy Inc., which will tap biogas to create clean power for UC San Diego and a municipal water facility.

Their fuel cells produce about 5 kilowatts of electricity, cost around $56,000 each and have a 20-year estimated life. Buyers are eligible for tens of thousands of dollars in government rebates and tax incentives. CEO Russell Ford says he expects to sell 1,000 units and make a profit in 2011. The company, which has locations in California and Oregon, is stepping up its manufacturing.

December 28, 2010

Europe To Cut Military Spending

Filed under: New Priorities — Tags: , , , — Walter Ebmeyer @ 7:35 am

The Military-Industrial Complex has pushed us past sanity, and the Europeans have finally decided enough is enough.  When do we start cutting?

December 26, 2010

Hundred Year Storms

Filed under: environment — Tags: , , — Walter Ebmeyer @ 7:56 am

As we hunker down for a foot of snow (with more to the northeast) it is well to understand that the exceptional weather of 2010 may be real evidence of atmospheric instability – of the effects of global warming.  This article discusses some of the evidence.  We’re experiencing “hundred year storms” every two or three years.  This is not to say that all hope is lost, that we’ve reached a tipping point.  But it is certainly time to get going – to cut CO2 emissions.  We are told that Pennsylvania’s new US senator does not believe in it.  We’d better get to work.

December 23, 2010

Don’t Build More Nuclear Bombs and Factories

Filed under: New Priorities — Tags: , , — Walter Ebmeyer @ 6:14 am

Tri-Valley CAREs Responds to U.S. Ratification of New START with Praise and

Cautionary Warning

Statement of Executive Director, Marylia Kelley: Today’s Senate vote to

ratify the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia is

proper and wise.

New START paves the way for modest reductions in the number of deployed,

strategic weapons in the U.S. and Russia.

Our two countries possess 95% of the world’s nuclear weapons. It is

necessary and fitting to take bilateral action, and Tri-Valley CAREs views

U.S. ratification as a small but significant step in the right direction.

It has long been discussed that Russian ratification would follow the U.S.

Now that New START has cleared that last U.S. hurdle and has become the law

of the land, we call on Russia to swiftly follow suit.

Today’s Senate vote, at its best, represents a victory for common sense

over political wrangling, and for that we thank Republicans and Democrats

alike. The vote was 71 to 26, with 11 Republicans voting for ratification.

Among New START’s merits are important verification measures, and we

welcome their prompt resumption. In sum, New START makes the U.S., Russia

and the world all a bit more safe and secure.

However, while we pop the corks on the champagne to celebrate this victory,

we must warn elected officials, the Administration and the public about the

dark and ominous cloud that hangs on the New START horizon, not because it

must, rather, solely because political deal-making sullied the process. In

truth, New START is such a modest step, its ratification should have been a

short, sweet and cloudless pursuit.

Instead, Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) became the ringleader for holding the

ratification vote on New START hostage to demands for future funding for

new U.S. nuclear weapons and the new bomb plants that will build them.

While Kyl’s efforts secured Administration promises to request future year

monies totaling $185 billion for so-called “modernization” of the weapons

complex and arsenal, this political “deal” is not itself part of the

treaty. Today’s ratification vote does not change the U.S. Constitution’s

mandate that the Congress shall appropriate funds on an annual basis.

Importantly, on a scientific and technical basis, there is no linkage

between New START and new bomb plants. Therefore, any action to build a new

plutonium bomb core factory at Los Alamos Lab, a new Uranium Processing

Facility at Y-12 and other new nuclear weapon design, testing and

production capabilities will jeopardize the nonproliferation and

disarmament benefits of New START and threaten the treaty’s global


Tri-Valley CAREs vows to conduct a public and congressional education

campaign leading to curtailment of funds for “modernization” and

revitalization of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. Moreover, we note that

Jon Kyl, in the end, voted against the treaty!

Tri-Valley CAREs is a non-profit organization founded in 1983 and located

in Livermore, CA, in the shadow of the Lawrence Livermore National

Laboratory, one of two U.S. nuclear warhead design locations. The group

represents 5,600 members, most of whom live near the Livermore Lab main

site or its nearby high explosives testing range.


December 22, 2010

Daniel Ellsberg Tells Us What To Do

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Walter Ebmeyer @ 7:55 am

December 21, 2010

How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

Filed under: economics, films — Tags: , , , , — Walter Ebmeyer @ 7:23 am

In 1990, when the Soviet Union collapsed, their shipments of oil to Cuba abruptly ended, and Cuba faced a “peak oil” situation similar to what we will soon face.  “The Power of Community,” a documentary about how the Cuban people and the Castro government coped was shown last night at a Transition Town meeting in Philadelphia.  This website will tell you more about this incredible film (which can be purchased at a very low price from Amazon).  Everyone should see it.

December 20, 2010

The Meat In The Sandwich

Filed under: American Empire — Tags: , , , , , — Walter Ebmeyer @ 6:45 am

John Grant on Defense Secretary Gate’s characterization of the Pashtun homeland as “the meat in the sandwich” and his recollections of the December 16 demonstration at the White House.

December 19, 2010

Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, and W.H. Auden At The White House

Filed under: American Empire — Tags: , , , , , , , — Walter Ebmeyer @ 4:32 pm

There they stood on December 16 in the snow and got arrested for peace and democracy.  We should have all been there.  This is an interview with Chris Hedges and a video about the White House demonstration.  Asked why he wanted to get arrested, Hedges said “because that’s all we have left.”

December 15, 2010

Fifteen Mind-blowing Facts About Wealth And Inequality

Filed under: economics — Tags: , — Walter Ebmeyer @ 2:00 pm

It keeps getting worse – now the worst since the ’20’s – and it affects everything from average length of commute to life expectancy.  To read more amazing things about inequality, read “The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger” by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.                                                                                                             Copy and paste the link to your browser.

December 14, 2010

Welcome To The Reservation

Filed under: elections, New Priorities — Tags: , , — Walter Ebmeyer @ 11:56 am

It’s a good idea to keep a sharp eye on your enemies.  Dana Millbank of the Washington Post seems to be suggesting that Crazy Horse’s fate may be shared by liberals.  Bruce Gagnon is a leader of the New Priorities Network in Maine.

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