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Four environmental groups call for an investigation into Edwardsport coal-gasification plant

Duke Energy’s controversial coal-gasification plant in Edwardsport, Indiana is again being challenged before state regulators.

Four environmental groups, the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, Save the Valley, the Sierra Club and Valley Watch, have filed a motion before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission calling for an investigation into the plant’s operating problems, schedule delays and cost overruns.

Kerwin Olson is the executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition.

“Our complaints relate back to 2007,” Olson says, “Our complaints were that this is a first-of-a-kind technology. This is a science project. We predicted that there would be significant cost escalations, construction delays, and problems during testing and startup, and all of these have happened. So much so that it’s only running at 4 percent of its rated capacity.”

In 2007, when it approved the plant, the Regulatory Commission put a $1.985 billion cap on building costs that Duke could be pass on to its customers. the Commission subsequently raised that cap to $2.6 billion. Today, the cost of the still-not-quite-operational plant is around $3.5 billion and rising.

Duke is now seeking Commission approval to add another $180 million to the expense line for a plant that is years behind its projected completion date.

“This plant was supposed to be purring like a kitten at 85 percent capacity on day one, according to Duke Energy,” Olson says, “In the six month period for the petition we filed it averaged 37 percent capacity, and the latest information we have from January was at 4 percent. We believe that this is a power plant that first of all never should have been approved in the first place and secondly, we have ratepayers paying a tremendous amount of money that is not useful and not serving the public interest.”

Since the time of its initial conception, various opponents have filed 12 motions to the Commission on the proposal. Seven of these are still before the courts.

In the past, the Commission has been reprimanded by the courts for have a too cozy relationship with the interests it is charged with regulating.

Yet the commission continues to add Duke’s costs to ratepayers bills, including the most recent request by Duke to recover repair and maintenance costs for a plant that is not producing much gas.

The Commission has not yet responded to the complainants petition, nor it is required to actually hold a hearing on it. The complainants are preparing for the eventuality of appealing the Commission’s response to Duke’s most recent cost recovery request.

Senators Donnelly and Coats join US Senate to pass Victims Protection Act

Yesterday Indiana Senators Joe Donnelly and Dan Coats joined the rest of the United States Senate in the unanimous passage of the Victims Protection Act of 2014.

The purpose of the bill is to provide for additional enhancements of the sexual assault prevention and response activities of the Armed Forces.

However, the provisions passed in yesterday’s vote only strengthen the already existent Victims Protection Act, whereas the Military Justice Improvement Act that fell five votes shy of passage late last week, specifically addressed the needs of sexual assault victims in the U.S. military.

Donnelly and Coats split their support for the Military Justice Improvement Act, with Donnelly supporting the bill authored by fellow democrat Kirsten Gillibrand of New york.

A significant difference between the two bills is the oversight of the prosecution of sexual assault cases. The Military Justice Improvement Act would remove the oversight from the army chain of command.

During Senate Armed Services Committee hearings this summer, Donnelly repeatedly expressed concern with the current system that tasks commanding officers with disciplining their own troops.

“What concerns me is that this is a personal violation of somebody,” Donnelly says, “It is a risk that could destroy a person’s soul and their emotional state. In some cases, that’s by a person who they look to as a leader, or a commander, and that they look to with a sacred trust.”

While the Victims Protection act of 2014 does not address the imbalance of power in sexual assault cases, steps such as eliminating the “good soldier” defense and increasing the victim’s council, did pass into law.

Bring It On! – March 10, 2014

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Cornelius Wright and William Hosea welcome the Honorable Valeri Haughton, judge of the Division VIII Circuit Court, Monroe County Deputy Prosecutor Joi Kamper, and Defense Attorney Megan Lewis.

PART ONE
the Honorable Valeri Haughton, judge of the Division VIII Circuit Court, Monroe County Deputy Prosecutor Joi Kamper, and Defense Attorney Megan Lewis join Cornelius and William to discuss the legal intricacies surrounding the Michael Dunn case and the impact of the President’s new social initiative, “My Brother’s Keeper.”

PART TWO
Headline news and local calendar events of interest to the African-American community.

CREDITS
Hosts: Cornelius Wright and William Hosea
Bring It On! is produced by Clarence Boone
Executive Producer Alycin Bektesh
Our News Editor is Michael Nowlin
Our Board Engineer is Chris Martin

bloomingOUT – March 6, 2014

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Canadian singer/songwriter Toni Vere is live in studio for interview and performance. Musical selections are “When You Were Here,” “Free,” “Sane” and “Levi Strauss.” Cassaundra and Michael respond to Q Mail Bag question “Why is the LGBTQ community focusing on legalizing marriage when we can still be fired for simply being lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans?”

www.tonivere.com

Producer Carol Fischer
Executive Producer Alycin Bektesh
Associate Producer Sarah Hetrick
News Director Josh Vidrich
Original Theme Music Mikial Robertson
Announcer Sarah Hetrick
Guest Co Anchor Cassaundra Huskey

Indiana passes bill to increase local recycling effort

A bill that will increase recycling efforts in Indiana was passed on Tuesday. Indiana State Senator Mike Stoops, who has supported House Bill 1183, talks about what spurred its creation.

“The idea is to identify recycling that is being thrown away with trash,” Stoops says, “We had a study committee that identified a significant amount of recycling in Indiana being thrown into a landfill. There was a lot of discussion about the fact that Indiana was lagging behind other states to turn that material into useful resources.”

The bill will require Indiana businesses and recycling centers to report all recycling activity to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

Recyclers of municipal waste can choose to report annually or quarterly, and non-municipal waste recyclers can be report voluntarily. This will be required starting in 2015. It establishes a goal for Indiana to reduce 50 percent of municipal waste by 2019.

“Indiana had a goal like this in the past,” Stoops says, “We didn’t take any steps to get to that goal then. A couple years ago they completely eliminated the recycling goal under Mitch Daniels.”

Senator Stoops says the specific types of products Indiana will be recycling aluminum cans, and that these are beneficial to aluminum companies as well, because they don’t need a lot of processing to recycle the aluminum, don’t need to spend money on mining aluminum ore, and that aluminum doesn’t degrade, so it is always recyclable.

Both Senator Stoops and Press Secretary of the Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus Sean Mobley believe this bill will create thousands of jobs in Indiana.

“One estimate is that if we do a better job of getting the recycling out of the waste stream, we could be looking at 10,000 jobs,” Stoops says.

This bill will go into effect along with Senate Bill 324, which bans the disposal of mostly recyclable products.

Any product that is entirely, or almost entirely, made of paper, cardboard, glass, aluminum, or plastic is not to be disposed of in a final disposal facility. Both bills will go into effect on July 1.

Shallow lake fish affected by heavy ice and snow

As Spring approaches, owners of shallow ponds and lakes will have to watch out for fish kills due to the accumulation of snow and ice this winter. The lakes and ponds of Indiana are currently covered in up to twenty inches of thick ice. Neil Ledet, District Fisheries Biologist in northeastern Indiana, says this is a result of the long winter.

“This is a pretty unusual winter for us,” Ledet says, “We had early ice, a lot of snow, and with that ice thickness, there isn’t a lot of light penetration to get to the aquatic plants. We’ll see low oxygen levels in lakes and ponds. It could be a tough situation for shallow lakes and ponds”

Shoveling up snow will allow light to penetrate the ice, but Ledet says that once this becomes an issue there’s not much anyone can do about it. He explains what pond and lake owners CAN do if the same thing happens next winter.

“In the future, lake owners could make sure there aren’t a lot of weeds covering the lake before the winter comes,” Ledet says, “The important thing is that if people lose all of their pond, they’re going to want to start over with an appropriate pond stocking program. We have a pond management booklet to help that.”

Ledet says that fish kills occurred more often during the 1970’s and 80’s, when winters were a little more severe. If Lake residents and anglers discover fish kills on public waters they can contact their district fisheries biologist online at wildlife.in.gov.

Bloomington Arts Project Grant Money Grows

The City of Bloomington Arts Commission has announced that revised guidelines and applications are available for the April Cycle of its 2014 Arts Project Grant Program.Grant amounts have been increased to $1,500 for 2014.

The program supported 34 arts projects in 2013. The Commission will hold a drop-in workshop for applicants on Wednesday, March 12 from 4 to 5 p.m. in the McCloskey Conference room in City Hall.

Grant applications that have been submitted will be reviewed during the Bloomington Arts Commission meeting, scheduled to take place on April 9 at 4 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The application deadline is April 1 at 5 p.m. Guidelines and applications are available on the City of Bloomington Website.

 

EcoReport – March 6, 2014

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In today’s EcoReport feature, Ralph Keeling, professor at the Scripps Institute at the University of California – San Diego, discusses problems related to global carbon levels and climate.

EcoReport is a weekly program providing independent media coverage of environmental and ecological issues with a focus on local, state and regional people, issues, and events in order to foster open discussion of human relationships with nature and the Earth and to encourage you to take personal responsibility for the world in which we live. Each program features timely eco-related headline news, a feature interview or event recording, and a calendar of events of interest to the environmentally conscious.

Anchors: Dan Young and Trish Kerle
This week’s news stories were written by Linda Greene, Norm Holy, Stephanie Stewart, and Dan Young. This week’s feature was engineered by Stephanie Stewart. This week’s calendar was compiled by Kristina Wiltsee.

Our broadcast engineer is Dan Withered. Producers for EcoReport are Kelly Miller, Stephanie Stewart, and Dan Young. Executive producer is Alycin Bektesh.

Interchange – Minded By Algorithms: Digitizing the Word

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Host Doug Storm talks with Ted Striphas, an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication & Culture at Indiana University and the author of the 2009 title The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control, about the ways that book technology has evolved and the ways in which humans evolved with it. 

In discussing the digitization of “the word” we look at  Amazon.com’s Kindle: not only at the ways we read Kindles (and how they mimic the form of the book) but also how Kindles read us by sending information about our very marginalia back into the Cloud of knowing.

We also discuss the ways in which a digital information age bears a striking resemblance to what Hannah Arendt called a society where “there is nobody left with whom one could argue, to whom one could present grievances…in which everybody is deprived of political freedom, of the power to act; for the rule by Nobody is not no-rule, and where all are equally powerless we have a tyranny without a tyrant.”

‘Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense’ in Indiana Fight Bill That Would Allow Guns on School Property

The Indiana Chapter of an organization called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is fighting the passage of Senate Bill 229.

The bill would allow the carrying of firearms on school property, including in buses. It would also allow for firearms to be carried to off-campus school events such as graduation, prom, and field trips.

Nicki McNally, the Indiana chapter leader of the organization, believes that having more guns more places, especially where there are children, is not the right thing to do. She says it is extremely dangerous and will increase the risk of gun related incidents occurring.

The group also says the bill need some clarification, like whether or not a bus-driver would be allowed to carry a firearm while transporting students. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America has a goal to create awareness and support for common sense gun reforms.

McNally advises fellow Hoosiers to send messages to Speaker Brian Bosma and the House Public Policy Committee in order to prevent the passage of this bill.

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