HEALTH CARE … Some folks have prophesied that this new government program will be the death of the Republic. Insurance corporation ads have said nothing good will come of the proposed reform. And others have already begun ceremoniously throwing tea overboard … But I, for one, am proud that my U.S. Rep. John Salazar (and both my Senators) voted for the bill that will, in the Third Congressional District … Improve coverage for 362,000 residents with existing health insurance … Give tax credits and other assistance to up to 184,000 families and 24,400 small businesses to help them afford coverage … Improve Medicare for 106,000 beneficiaries, including closing the donut hole … Extend coverage to 105,500 uninsured residents … Guarantee that 18,600 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage … Protect 900 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs … Allow 57,000 young adults to obtain coverage on their parents’ insurance plans … Provide millions of dollars in new funding for 35 community health centers … Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and other health care providers by $84 million annually … Nope, it wasn’t a perfect bill. Government is an imperfect union, as Pres. Obama is fond of saying. But it’s a damn good start … Now let’s start thinking how to tweak and improve what’s been approved.
PAUL STAMETS … Confirmed as Mushfest headliner for the 30th Annual Telluride Mushroom Festival this summer, the mycowizard CEO of Fungi Perfecti will join mycologist and psychonaut Gary Lincoff, founder Manny Salzman, Elinoar Shavit, John Winslow, Daniel Winkler, Fungi magazine’s Britt Bunyard, David Rose and many more fungophiles … Aug. 26 to the 29th. At the Galaxy Theater and Elks Park … Parade on Saturday at 5 p.m. Costumes a must!
POWERLINES UBER ALLES … The American Clean Energy Leadership Act (also known as the Waxman-Markey bill) narrowly passed the House last year but will have an even tougher time in the Senate this year … According to my Moab expert Lance Christie, the Act facilitates development of a national interstate electric transmission grid to move electricity from areas that have the resources for renewable energy production (concentrating solar, wind, geothermal mainly to the east of the Pacific Coastal Range and west of the Mississippi River) to urban areas with high load demand (which tend to be concentrated near the east and west coasts). The costs of developing the grid would be shared among all beneficiaries, including electricity producers and consumers. Lance adds that the good thing about this legislation is that the new grid is specifically to be a computerized “smart grid.” In Europe, such grid designs are capable of maintaining a steady electricity supply to urban loads from renewable power sources which represent from 40 to 100 percent of total source supply to the grid. Our current dumb U.S. grid, which is still operating on the 1920s grid control model matured in the Truman administration but now with computerized rather than manual controls, assumes all electricity sources are “base load” plants and cannot handle intermittent renewable inputs of over 10 to 20 percent of total power, depending on which grid regional control center you are evaluating. U.S. utilities have discouraged inputs from renewable, intermittent power sources such as wind and photovoltaic solar that exceed a tiny fraction of a percent of total grid power source because they fear they will lose control of grid stability in matching supply to load … The bad thing about this initiative is that everyone is thinking in terms of the existing paradigm of electricity production: large, capital-intensive power plants sending electricity vast distances over high-voltage power lines to urban and industrial load centers. The trend in Europe is to adopt the German feed-in tariff model, which is a free-market mechanism that encourages homeowners and businesses to install small distributed renewable grid-tied energy facilities. The corporate energy powers-that-be have effectively kept out of the national energy debate the idea of adopting a feed-in tariff to encourage such distributed generation, which is a pluralist, small-is-beautiful, energy-from-the-people model consistent with the needed decentralization of our economy. Furthermore, the Act includes a Renewable Electricity Standard which ostensibly requires that 12 percent of the nation’s generation come from “renewable” sources by 2021: wind, solar, geothermal, new hydroelectric, biomass and landfill methane generation. However, Comparative Analysis of Three Proposed Federal Renewable Electricity Standards by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) concluded the legislation effectively requires renewable production of less than 10 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2021 – when all the loopholes, ifs, ands and buts are totaled up. According to NREL, that is less than the percentage of national energy that would be coming from renewables in 2021 if Congress takes no action to promote renewable production of electricity! In other words, the Act requires utility companies to do less towards increasing renewable energy sources in their grid portfolios than they would do anyway. Lance concludes, “My comment on this is unprintable.”