Sarah Palin on her Political Future

Posted: 06:23 PM ET


Sarah Palin discussed her political future Tuesday.

Sarah Palin discussed her political future Tuesday.

SCRANTON, Pennsylvania (CNN) – Though her cell phone service repeatedly dropped during her call-in, Sarah Palin made her first appearance on the Rush Limbaugh show on Tuesday, just minutes before taking the stage at a rally in Scranton.

Watch: Palin calls in to Limbaugh’s show

In an unusual moment, Limbaugh asked Palin if she had thought about her “political future beyond this campaign.” The vice presidential nominee told the conservative talker and his millions of listeners: “That’s a good question.” But she then quickly re-assured the radio host that her focus was on winning the White House with John McCain on November 4.

“No, because I am thinking about November 4, and I am just so absolutely passionate about the job that we have in front of us from now to November 4,” she said.

For the first time, Palin directly addressed the controversy surrounding ACORN’s voter registration operation, and suggested that the media is trying to cover up the story, despite the fact that dozens of national news outlets are investigating the community organization and Obama’s ties to the group.

“Let’s talk quickly about ACORN and the unconscionable situation that we are facing right now with voter fraud, given the ties between Obama and ACORN and the money his campaign has sent them,” Palin told Limbaugh. “Obama has a responsibility to reign in ACORN and prove that he is willing to fight voter fraud. For shame if the mainstream media were to cover this one up.”


Rancher fears radioactive water from nuclear plant would affect his cattle

John L. Gibbs worries what the release of radioactive water into the Guadalupe River would do to his cattle that drink from it.

The 72-year-old DuPont retiree owns the land adjacent to the proposed Exelon Nuclear plant and shares a portion of Linn Lake with the 11,500-acre site 12 miles south of Victoria.

“Any concentration at all with radioactive waste wouldn’t be good,” Gibbs said. “Good, clean water going in there is what you want.”

Gibbs saw that Exelon’s environmental report in its application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission stated that: “Discharge of cooling basin blowdown water and treated radwaste effluent will be to a diffuser structure located approximately mid-channel of the Guadalupe River.”

Bald eagles, migratory birds and other wildlife use Gibbs’ land downstream of the discharge site. Friends camp out and fish from the river.

Gibbs wants to know just how they’ll be affected.

“It’s not going to harm anybody,” Bill Harris, Exelon’s community outreach manager, said.

Landowners won’t be affected by minute, periodic discharges as the releases would be monitored and in accordance with Nuclear Regulatory Commission permit requirements, Harris said. Landowners won’t need to be notified by such releases.

The purified effluent would have low levels of tritium, sometimes lower than natural levels, he said. Exelon operates its plant to keep radioactive releases as low as reasonably achievable, well below the maximum levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Drinking two liters of water with 20,000 picocuries per liter every day for one year would give the same radiation as eating a baked potato every day for one year, Harris said.

Gibbs wondered how low flow levels in the river would affect concentration levels.

Exelon will conduct water sampling at the closest home and public water source downstream of the discharge site, Harris said. Vegetation, cow’s milk and air around the station would also be monitored.

A pipeline along the route of a heavy haul road would transport the discharge to the river, the application stated.

Exelon’s monitoring wells would reveal any leaks, Harris said.

Exelon developed the well monitoring system after discovering tritium leaks at its Braidwood plant in Illinois. By the time the monitoring system came online, tritium had seeped into the water table, but the leaks did not exceed federal drinking water standards.

Exelon now sets the benchmark for the rest of the industry, Harris said.

But Gibbs said that’s no guarantee the nuclear company won’t contaminate the groundwater. He doesn’t understand why such low concentrations of radioactive waste can’t be kept on the plant’s site.

“If they will drink what they’re putting in the river, then you’ll probably be OK,” Gibbs said. “I want to see them drinking it.”

Indian burial sites may get new protections

Indian burial sites may get new protections

Unmarked American Indian burial sites in Winona may get new protection under a proposal being drafted by city planners and informally endorsed by planning commissioners on Monday.

The proposal — which was discussed publicly for the first time Monday and is still being finalized — would require land near bluffs to be studied for archaeological remains before development may begin there. American Indian cultural experts say land on or near Upper Mississippi River bluffs often became burial sites, and recently have urged Winona city and county leaders to identify potential burial sites before remains are disrupted.
The proposal discussed Monday would not only protect archaeological remains, but also people who own land that contains the burial sites, an advocate for the proposal said. Minnesota law can hold landowners liable for disrupting burial sites, said John Borman, spokesman for the Winona-Dakota Unity Alliance, a group that aims to strengthen ties with the ancestors of the Dakota who once populated this area.

Borman said the group wants to avoid emotionally charged disputes that can follow the disruption of remains. A nonprofit group in the mid-1990s filed suit against the developers of a trailer park in Ottertail, Minn., after it became apparent the park was built on burial mounds.

“We don’t want confrontation; we want reconciliation,” Borman said.

City Planner Mark Moeller said he may recommend a provision requiring pre-development archaeological studies be attached to Winona’s bluff-development ordinance, which the city council is expected to consider in the coming months. The archaeological-survey requirement already applies to land studied in the Alternative Urban Areawide Review that the council approved in September, Moeller noted.

Planning commissioner Richard Jarvinen said Winona’s proactive approach to the burial-site issue could set it apart from other Minnesota cities, while commissioner Craig Porter said the city should work with American Indian leaders to avoid disrupting remains.

“Prevention is probably what we’re after,” Porter said.

Mark Sommerhauser may be reached at (507) 453-3514 or

Another step closer to Lubicon confrontation

Another step closer to Lubicon confrontation

October 14, 2008

The Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) has approved TransCanada’s proposal to construct a new major gas pipeline across unceded Lubicon Territory, inviting the company to take one more step toward a confrontation with the Lubicon.

The AUC made its decision on October 10, stating that they “…will issue a permit and licence to construct and operate two pipelines…and associated compression facilities…in due course.” This most likely means in the next few days, since TransCanada said in their proposal that they want to get started on the construction in mid-October.

Following the AUC decision, Friends of the Lubicon issued a statement reaffirming that the construction, whenever it begins, “is expected to face unspecified Lubicon opposition. The Lubicons have made clear all along that they will not allow construction of the pipeline across [their] land over their objections.”

The statement goes on to provide a deft analysis of how the AUC arrived at its decision, which, in a sentence, they did by twisting the consultation process along with the meaning of “Aboriginal rights,” as well as by turning the tables on the Lubicon to make it seem as if they have supreme authority over the Lubicon. The statement reads,

The AUC decision [which you can view here] says the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation “responded in a letter that reiterated its assertions about unceded aboriginal territory and the Commission’s lack of jurisdiction to determine the rights held by the Lubicon Lake Nation”, but did not “provide any information about specific aboriginal rights its members exercised in the vicinity of the proposed gas utility pipeline, or otherwise where those rights might be exercised, or the manner in which those rights may be directly and adversely affected by the Commission’s decision on the Application”. Needless to say the Lubicons were not questioning the Commission’s lack of jurisdiction to determine Lubicon rights — which they clearly do not have — but the Commission’s lack of jurisdiction to approve construction of TransCanada’s pipeline across unceded Lubicon land.

“As a result”, the AUC decision says, “the Commission confirmed in a letter dated May 8, 2008, that Lubicon Lake Indian Nation…has not demonstrated that it had standing for purposes of the Application”. That’s a euphemistic way of saying that the AUC denied the Lubicons standing in the AUC hearing of TransCanada’s application to build a major new gas pipeline across unceded Lubicon land.

The careful choice of language used in the AUC decision makes it sound as though the Commission bent over backwards in an effort to accommodate Lubicon concerns but the Lubicons refused to meet perfectly reasonable AUC requirements. The brutal truth is quite different.

It is the position of the provincial regulatory agencies that they have no jurisdiction to decide their own jurisdiction. They are therefore flatly unprepared to consider the implications of their approving resource projects on land not properly under provincial jurisdiction.

When they talk about “detailed information in support of (the Lubicon) allegation of…specific aboriginal rights its members exercised in the vicinity of the proposed gas utility pipeline”, the AUC is not talking about unceded Lubicon aboriginal land rights but aboriginal rights recognized under Canadian law to hunt, trap and fish on land not needed by the Canadian government for something else subject to Canadian law and regulation by Canadian government. The way it’s put in Treaty 8 — which purports to cede the aboriginal land rights of the aboriginal people in the surrounding area but to which the Lubicons are not a party — is “said Indians (not including the Lubicons) shall have the right to pursue their usual vocations of hunting, trapping and fishing throughout the tract surrendered as heretofore described, subject to such regulations as may from time to time be made by the Government of the country, acting under the authority of Her Majesty, and saving and excepting such tracts as may be required or taken up from time to time for settlement, mining, lumbering, trading or other purposes”.

When the AUC talks about rights that might be “directly and adversely affected” by a proposed resource project they are not talking about unceded Lubicon aboriginal land rights but the rights the AUC has to consider under their provincial enabling legislation which the province re-defined last December — expressly to facilitate the rapid-fire rubber-stamping of resource project applications — as consisting only of private property rights recognized under provincial law.

And the third thing they’re talking about are some shameful recent Canadian court decisions that say that the government has the legal duty to consult with aboriginal people before proceeding with things that infringe upon such surface aboriginal rights as hunting, trapping and fishing — and to make a so-called good faith effort to reach accommodation with regard to infringement of those rights as evidenced by meeting with the aboriginal people a sufficient number of times and involving people with sufficiently important sounding titles — but not necessarily to reach accommodation with the aboriginal people before proceeding. (One wag has suggested that the legal duty to consult aboriginal people under Canadian law is tantamount to saying that it’s legally permissible to rape someone just as long as you tell them in advance that you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it.) [emphasis added]

What all of this comes down to in the context of the AUC decision is that the AUC was not prepared to take unceded Lubicon aboriginal land rights into account in making their decision on approval of TransCanada’s major new gas pipeline across unceded Lubicon land but only such things as whether a Lubicon trapping cabin might be destroyed by pipeline construction — which might give rise to limited financial compensation or even possibly a slight adjustment in the proposed pipeline route — and also to require TransCanada to feign a good faith effort to reach accommodation with the Lubicons — but not for a moment to allow infringement of even recognized surface aboriginal rights to significantly impact proposed project plans.

That’s what all this “specific aboriginal rights” talk in the AUC decision is all about. It has nothing to do with attempting to take unceded Lubicon land rights into account.

TransCanada, under this dubious if not outright fraudulent provincial authorization, will now undoubtedly attempt to undertake construction of this major new gas pipeline across unceded Lubicon land.

What You Can Do

If you would like to support the Lubicon, consider writing a letter to:

  • Harold Kvisle, President and Chief Executive Officer of TransCanada Pipelines Limited: 450 – 1st Street SW, Calgary, Alberta T2P 5H1 Fax: 1-403-920-2354 (Email via his Associate, Janna Laberge:
  • The Honourable Ed Stelmach, Premier of Alberta: 307 Legislature Bldg 10800 – 97 Avenue, Edmonton, AB, Canada T5K 2B6 FAX: 1-780-427-1349 Email:

To learn more about the Lubicon and their struggle, visit the Friends of the Lubicon Alberta website or the Lubicon Cree Facebook group.

‘Nuclear warning disabled by flood’

‘Nuclear warning disabled by flood’

By Linda Fort

The AWE during last year's floods
The AWE during last year’s floods

Tens of thousands of people could not be warned of any nuclear accident last year because the atomic bomb factory alarm system was disabled by flooding, according to an investigative report.

The claims were revealed this week, after the Burghfield AWE site was flooded after torrential rain on July 20, 2007, when 84 of its buildings – most of the site – were inundated, some with water 2ft deep.

But AWE plc, which runs the Burghfield atomic bomb factory for the Ministry of Defence, yesterday denied there was no public warning system in place.

A report, based on an internal review of the flooding obtained in a censored form under the Freedom of Information Act by the Nuclear Information Group, claimed:

– The alarm system to detect an impending nuclear accident was out of action for 10 days

– Despite the extensive flooding – the Environment Agency’s Nuclear Regulation Group was not told of the extent of flood damage for 48 hours

– All live nuclear work on warheads – which are dismantled and maintained in Burghfield – was stopped for nine months

– The document revealed AWE felt it was a “prudent step to limit disclosure of information surrounding the degree of impact suffered – particularly at Burghfield”.

The report also said AWE’s own safety case to the nuclear regulator admitted “full or partial flooding” was a credible means of initiating a nuclear criticality event which could lead to a release of radiation across nearby towns like Reading”.

The exclusive report featured on Channel 4 news on Monday night, also claimed new flood alleviation systems at the Aldermaston site – installed after a 1989 prosecution after floodwater escaped – “did come very close to being overwhelmed, which could have resulted in a release of potentially contaminated surface run-off, similar to the event in 1989”.

The documents also revealed the water management system at Aldermaston was “within two to three hours of failure”, that none of AWE’s flood remediation measures at Burghfield following previous flooding  had been completed and that staff struggled to contact senior managers as the waters rose and attempts to defend the buildings were overwhelmed.

A statement from AWE however said Channel 4 news had made “a number of unfounded claims”.

It said: “At no time was there any threat to the operational safety of AWE sites, to the public or the environment. Claims in the Channel 4 report that, because emergency alarms in one facility were put out of action due to the flooding, local people would have been left without warning in the event of a nuclear accident are totally wrong.

“AWE has standing procedures to deal with this situation which are implemented, for example, when alarm maintenance is taking place.

“In the extremely unlikely event of a nuclear accident, these procedures would have ensured that effective communications were maintained with local people.”

SHIPPING NUCLEAR WASTE: Hearings on Yucca rail line doable

SHIPPING NUCLEAR WASTE: Hearings on Yucca rail line doable

Federal official open to the idea

WASHINGTON — The federal railroad board’s chairman says he is open to having a public hearing on the Department of Energy application to build a rural Nevada rail line to ship nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain.

Charles Nottingham said the three-member Surface Transportation Board generally does not have public hearings. It decides most rail construction cases based on paper records filed by applicants.

However, Nottingham said he planned to recommend to the two other board members that a hearing be scheduled on Yucca Mountain rail “given the importance of this proposed project and the extensive public interest involved.”

Nottingham made the comments in a letter dated Friday to Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. A copy was obtained Tuesday.

A Reid spokesman confirmed the senator’s staff has met with counterparts at the Surface Transportation Board to discuss when the hearing could be scheduled. No date has been announced, and Nottingham in his letter said it could be “most likely in the next several months.”

The Surface Transportation Board is considering an application to build a 330-mile rail line from Caliente across rural Nevada to Yucca Mountain, where DOE plans to build a nuclear waste handling complex and an underground tunnel system to store the radioactive materials.

Nevada members of Congress, who oppose the Yucca project, have pressed the board to hear testimony on the railroad, arguing that the project will have implications for rail traffic across the country when DOE commences shipments of waste from 39 states.

“The DOE plan will affect millions of Nevadans and Americans across the country, and it is so important that the public be given a chance to voice opposition to this project,” said Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.

“It’s important that Nevadans have their voices heard before the administration spends billions more of taxpayer dollars to build a railway for radioactive waste through their backyards to this failed dump,” Reid said.

Yucca Mountain opponents are turning their sights on the railroad portion of the repository project that has been underfunded to date as DOE has shifted resources to planning other segments.

The Surface Transportation Board this summer rejected a Nevada request that the DOE rail construction application be rejected outright. Since then the proposal has been under review, and agency officials say they do not know when a decision will be reached.

Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth, an environmental group, announced it has set up a Web site,, where the public can send messages urging the Surface Transportation Board to reject the application.

Friends of the Earth, the Sierra Club and the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada have initiated a Nevada media campaign to call attention to the railroad project.

PLAN spokesman Launce Rake said the groups have made an initial investment of $100,000 for English and Spanish-language newspaper and business publication ads, and radio commercials.

Friends of the Earth also is spending an undisclosed sum for ads in progressive Internet blogs in selected parts of the country, said Erich Pica, domestic campaigns director for the organization.

Heated Debate at Hearing Over Vermont Yankee

More than 50 people showed up at the Latchis Theatre in downtown Brattleboro, Vt., Tuesday night, to voice their concerns about Vermont Yankee.  At times, the two-hour long meeting became emotional.

A small crowd interrupted a panel of officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Vermont Yankee’s parent company Entergy, several times at Tuesday’s public forum.  The NRC discussed the findings of its July special inspection of the nuclear power plant in Vernon, Vermont.

“Neither the vendor nor Entergy engineers knew the required configuration of the joint in the field because there were no detailed design drawings describing the joint,” NRC Inspector George Malone said.

Malone says the July 11, 2008 cooling tower leak was avoidable.  Inspectors found Entergy unwisely changed a support beam design from three prongs to two; another leak, September 16, 2008 lead to the discovery of eight degraded columns.  Some of those columns needed immediate replacement.  Both summer incidents come less than one year after a partial cooling tower collapse.  Yet the NRC concluded none of the recent problems have put public safety at risk.

“It happened on this cooling tower and the same people that designed this cooling tower are also manning the rest of the plant.  How can we be sure the rest of the plant is well-maintained,” Arnie Gunderson said.  He’s with the oversight panel.

“The NRC oversaw its repair and it’s failed twice since then,” Brattleboro Resident Gary Sachs said.

Gunderson’s opinion matters more than others.  He’s a member of the Vermont Legislature’s panel looking into whether Vermont Yankee’s operating license should be suspended.

“I believe it should close as scheduled in 2012,” Brattleboro resident Lissa Weinmann said.

Vermont Yankee closes for its scheduled winter maintenance this week.