Operators fined $140k for surfing web instead of running nuke plant

Nine operators of the River Bend nuclear power plant near Baton Rouge, La., just landed their employer a $140,000 fine for surfing the web from the plant's control room, reports Mark Halper at SmartPlanet.

Critical List: No Grand Canyon uranium mining; Supreme Court case on wetlands

The Obama administration will announce today that it's limiting uranium mining near the Grand Canyon. And the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a major environmental case in which the Sacketts, a couple backed by the conservative property rights group Pacific Legal Foundation, claim the EPA unfairly restricted their use of the property by determining that it was a wetland. A Japanese whaling ship is holding three activists who boarded it to protest its activities. Is there a bubble in shale gas stakes?

Election 2012

Confused with a chance of flip-flop: Mitt Romney’s views on climate and energy

Where does Mitt Romney stand on climate change and energy issues? Brace yourself: He doesn’t have that flip-flopper reputation for nothing.

Critical List: Oil slick moves towards Nigerian coast; adorable polar bear cub

The oil slick off the Nigeria coast is moving towards shore. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the design for a new generation of nuclear reactors. Climate change will help parasites thrive. Simple design is green design. Here is an adorable polar bear cub. That is all.

Germans turn nuclear power plant into Disneyland

The "nuclear renaissance" is here, only it looks like a whirling swingset ascending the interior of a massive cooling tower at what used to be a 327-megawatt fast breeder reactor in Germany. Business is so good at the park — 600,000 visitors a year — that its owner is working on a "winter annex" inside the reactor building itself. There's no danger kids will turn out like that mutated bad guy at the end of RoboCop, however, because this reactor was never active in the  first place. Protests and construction issues prevented it ever receiving fuel, much less being switched …

The U.S. electricity mix in 20 years: A prediction

What will the U.S. power mix look like in 10 to 20 years? It’s impossible to predict for certain, of course, because there’s no way to know what regulators will do. Given the heavily regulated nature of the electric sector, even in so-called “deregulated” markets, surprises tend to come from regulatory reform, not innovation. (The U.S. electric grid has shown itself capable of rapid, large-scale transformation in response to regulations.) Nevertheless, there is insight to be gained from thinking through how the generation mix would evolve in the absence of regulatory reform. Despite the lengthy time required to design, finance, …

Critical List: Congress does everything it can to screw the environment; fabric cleaned by sunlight

Congress voted to put sanctions on Iran, which would make it harder for Iran to sell oil, but potentially make oil sales more profitable for the regime overall. After all the work that the anti-Keystone coalition did, Republicans are trying to tack a measure to approve the pipeline onto a bill that extends the payroll tax cut. The White House is saying the president "would reject a proposal that tried to mandate approval of the Keystone project" but won't say the V-E-T-O word. Oh, ALSO. Congress could defund the program that would implement the phaseout of incandescent bulbs. AUGH, CONGRESS. …

Radioactive monkeys will patrol Fukushima

Scientists have a new approach to monitoring radiation levels around Fukushima: They're outfitting local monkeys with radiation-measuring collars, then releasing them back into the wild. The monkeys will spend a month frolicking around the (potentially) nuclear forest, collecting data about radiation levels on the ground. The experimental device, which will also include GPS tracking and a device to measure height, will be attached to as many as three monkeys in the forest in Minami Soma City as soon as February, [the lead researcher] said. [Ed. note: No way, as many as three whole monkeys??] The creatures are expected to wear …

Critical List: Jaczko reportedly a jerk; Gore flogs ‘sustainable capitalism’

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's commissioners are calling out their boss, Gregory Jaczko, for being a jerk. It's not exactly reassuring when the body that oversees nuclear power can't even get its own house in order. Other countries are taking way better care of endangered species than the United States is. Uh oh, there was a human oil spill outside of John Boehner's Ohio office! Who's going to clean it up? Al Gore's newest thing is "sustainable capitalism." We hear the Chamber of Commerce is totally on board. Totally. The solar industry installed more capacity in the last quarter than in …

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