Tomorrow is Earth Day.
Yesterday was the one -year anniversary of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
Today oil remains in the Gulf and independent scientists confirm that the region is still suffering from the blowout. But oil spills are only one threat to our oceans.
Overfishing is considered the most critical peril facing our oceans. Overfishing means catching too many adult fish so there are not enough to breed and replenish the species. Around the world, 52% of fish stocks are in imminent danger of collapse. When a fishery collapses, large fishing fleets move onto plunder other species with no concern for the future.
Seafood lovers have the power to change overfishing – Earth Day is a great day to start! Read More…
Folks concerned about electricity rate hikes received some good news this week. Robert Gruber, executive director of the Public Staff of the NC Utilities Commission (NCUC), told the Charlotte Business Journal he is opposing efforts by utility companies to recover costs for building new nuclear reactors before they are constructed.
Duke Energy’s CEO, Jim Rogers, recently requested the NCUC allow his company to charge ratepayers for two new nuclear power plants Duke wants to build in South Carolina, BEFORE ground is broken for reactors that have no permits and may never be built. Rogers’ request was made only days after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan which touched off the ongoing releases of radiation from the Fukushima reactors that are damaged beyond repair.
Gruber, whose job is to protect ratepayers, sees the writing on the wall in the wake of the Fukushima catastrophe – more review of nuclear plant design and the possibility of more regulations that will drive the cost of nuclear power even higher. Gruber thinks that natural gas and a mix of renewable energy is going to be cheaper for ratepayers. It’s a twofer – better rates and better for the climate.
Unfortunately, Republican Representative George Cleveland of Onslow County, recently introduced a bill (HB 431) to repeal 2007 legislation, requiring utilities to get 12.5% of their energy from renewable sources by 2021. More than half of the states in the country have renewable energy requirements, ranging from 10% to 40% (NC’s is very weak by percentage and timeline). Repealing this hard- fought legislation will only further delay efforts to tackle climate change. The utilities don’t seem keen on repeal either as this legislation allows them to file for rate hikes with the NCUC for construction of new plants.
The Gruber announcement and the tragedy at Fukushima dealt critical blows to both the rate hike request and the reactors’ viability.
Meanwhile Duke Energy’s goal to scale up to 3,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020 isn’t very ambitious if Rogers believes what he says about the seriousness of climate change. Duke needs a far more aggressive efficiency and renewable energy program for North Carolina along with canceling the nuclear power plants. This would protect ratepayers and help dial back climate change, instead of wasting precious time trying to finance and build new nukes.
May 25, 2010 at 9:42 amCategory:Uncategorized
The American dream, writes the Justice Center’s Alfred Ripley, is to own a home. With families still struggling in a deep recession, the last thing we need is for unscrupulous companies to prey on people just trying to hold onto that dream.
Because North Carolina lacks even the most basic common-sense regulation on issues like foreclosure rescue scams, “rent to own” contracts and contracts for deeds, consumers can be manipulated into bad deals that devastate families and undermine the economic well-being of us all.
North Carolina lawmakers have an opportunity to put a stop to this. Senate Bill 1015, Homeowner and Homebuyer Protection Act, is a wise and practical way to protect people who own or are looking to purchase a home. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Josh Stein, would offer valuable safeguards to the people who are investing in our common future.
The bill is being heard today at a 1 p.m. meeting of the House Committee on Financial Institutions. Pushing the bill forward would help working families, our communities and North Carolina’s economy. We’ll be watching this one closely.
The good folks at the Center for Responsible Lending have a new and informative “Newsbrief” out today. It ought to be required reading (and viewing) for all of the wimpy members of Congress who’ve been caving in to the big banks. Check it out below:
Fight Financial Myths with Facts
TRUE OR FALSE?
- The average fee for overdrawing on a debit card transaction is double the amount of the overdraft.
The average shortfall is only $17, but the average overdraft fee is $34.
- In recent years, the financial services industry has spent more on lobbying than the health care and defense industries.
In fact, during the past decade, financial services companies, including real estate lobbyists, have spent $2.3 billion to influence Congress—more than the health care, energy, agribiz and defense industries combined.
- Recent reforms passed by Congress have reined in the credit card companies.
Not even close to true.
Congress passed new credit card legislation last summer, giving credit card companies a year to comply. Since then, credit card companies have increased fees or rates 8 times, with more hikes likely to come.
- Federal regulators have taken the lead in addressing abuses on home loans.
The truth is that multiple federal regulators with authority to act stood by and did almost nothing while the states took the lead in fighting harmful lending practices. If Congress prevents states from making stronger lending rules as necessary, they will essentially remove the front-line defense against abusive lending.
A lot of misinformation is flying around Washington these days. To arm you with the facts, we offer two new resources:
Updated Fact Sheets: The Cost of Bad Lending, State by State
Newly updated and designed fact sheets lay out the cost of bad lending state by state. What are the delinquency and foreclosure rates in your state? The cost of bank overdraft fees? Does your state have payday lending, and, if so, what does it cost your families? Also, check out the share of subprime mortgages made by national banks that were allowed to ignore state lending laws.
New Video: The Value of Reasonable Lending Practices? Priceless
Our three-minute “Priceless” video includes a series of “fun facts” about loose lending practices in recent years, and makes it plain and simple why Americans need sensible financial reform.