Women. Power. Peace.

Circle of Scribes

Circle of Scribes is a group of dedicated WAND members who gather once a month to discuss politics and write letters to the editors of our local papers.

If you have had letters published, send them to us for posting

Letters Published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Georgia WAND Members:

Published 11/10/08
Energy efficiency, renewability best courses

An AJC editorial called for new nuclear power plants to address global warming and provide an additional source of electricity (“Reactors have to be part of energy plan,” @issue, Nov. 2). However, overwhelming evidence indicates that energy efficiency and renewable energy can yield more electricity, more high-quality jobs and greater reduction of global warming gases faster and cheaper than new nuclear plants.

Nuclear plant costs have skyrocketed, doubling in just the last two years. Wind energy can now produce electricity at half the cost of a new nuclear plant. Energy efficiency can save electricity at one-fourth the cost of nuclear-generated electricity. Moreover, a dollar spent on energy efficiency reduces more than 10 times as much global warming gases as a dollar spent on nuclear power. Reducing global warming gases through renewable energy is also much more cost-efficient compared to new nuclear plants. For a growing economy with full employment, energy efficiency and renewable energy sources are all we need.


Bove, of Tucker, is a board member of ECO-Action, a grass-roots environmental organization.

Published 08/04/08
True cost of nuclear power is too high

If the American public is really supporting nuclear power, as Nolan E. Hertel asserts, it is because it is being misled ("Has the time come for nuclear power? Yes," @issue, July 27).

Hertel says that nuclear energy only costs 1.7 cents per kilowatt-hour. He is only considering the cost of the fuel. He is not including the capital cost of building the plants, now estimated to be up to $12 billion per

In addition, operating costs, waste management, decommissioning and externalities bring the true cost of nuclear-generated electricity up to approximately 30 cents per kilowatt-hour.

In addition to the cost, nuclear plants take too long to build to be a meaningful solution to global warming. We need to produce 100 percent of our electricity with renewables within 10 years. Nuclear power is not a
renewable energy source.

LaGrange, GA

Has the time come for nuclear power? NO: Price is high in so many ways

By Sara Barczak
For the Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/27/08

Georgia Power and its utility partners Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, Oglethorpe Power and Dalton Utilities are headed toward a nuclear relapse, betting billions of ratepayer and taxpayer dollars on nuclear power when the dollar is down, when filling up the gas tank is painful, when droughts have become the norm, and when the threat of climate change cannot be ignored.

Let's talk money. Environmentalists and nuclear naysayers did not stop nuclear power decades ago. Wall Street did. Today's economics are no better, and the industry needs massive federal loan guarantees to underwrite the cost of expansion. Proponents of the free market and skeptics of socialism should be alarmed. In May, Georgia Power estimated that its 45.7 percent stake in the two new reactors would be approximately $6.4 billion, putting the full project cost at around $14 billion. Municipalities that are buying into MEAG's Vogtle expansion are putting their taxpayers on the hook if costs soar. If the past is any guide, cost overruns are likely.

Nuclear power isn't going to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Only a tiny fraction of our nation's electricity comes from oil. And the majority of our uranium comes from foreign sources. Given the high costs of new nuclear power plants, consumers will likely have even less money to spend at the pumps as their electricity bills here in Georgia continue to rise.

Big users of water

As the drought continues, Georgia Power and other utilities keep pushing for more water-guzzling nuclear power. According to the Energy Department, nuclear power plants use far more water than do such renewable energy supplies as wind and solar; in fact, nuclear uses more water than any other energy technology.

Southern Co.'s expansion application estimates that the proposed new Vogtle reactors will draw 55 million to 88 million gallons of water per day from the Savannah River, with 50 percent to 75 percent of that lost as steam.With average per capita daily water use in Georgia at 75 gallons from surface and ground water sources, this means the two existing and two proposed reactors at Plant Vogtle would use enough water to supply 1.4 million to 2.3 million Georgians. Water users throughout the Savannah River basin, from Lake Hartwell to Savannah, will likely be affected.

In terms of climate change, the Southeast faces increasing threat of drought in coming years, based on climate models. Global warming could actually render nuclear power plants useless during extreme drought conditions as water supply dwindles and fails to provide enough water to run the plants.

A collaborative, nuclear-industry-endorsed report conducted by the Keystone Center in 2007 found that to have a significant impact on global warming, nuclear power would have to realize unprecedented worldwide growth for several decades. With an estimated price tag of $6 billion to $8 billion per reactor and 2016 as the earliest date to bring new reactors online in this country, building more nuclear plants would not be a cost-effective or timely way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Nor will new reactors do anything to reduce global warming pollution from existing coal-fired power plants. In contrast, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute, each dollar invested in energy efficiency in the U.S. displaces 10 times as much carbon dioxide as a dollar invested in nuclear power. And energy efficiency is available today, saving both our money and water.

Safer alternatives

Yet some want to see a hundred or more new reactors built here, which will produce even more nuclear waste while leaving little money to invest in real solutions that we can safely transfer around the world, such as energy efficiency and renewables, including wind, solar and biomass.

As we're seeing with Iran, it's unlikely that the U.S. would be keen on having nuclear power technologies shipped all over the globe. Global warming and all smart energy policies require terror-resistant solutions. No matter what you think about nuclear power, it will not solve global warming and it can only complicate strained international relations.

But in spite of these nuclear-induced headaches, Georgia and several of our neighboring states are headed for a nuclear relapse. Don't let history repeat itself. We can't afford it, and we don't have time.

Sara Barczak is program director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy: www.cleanenergy.org

Published on June 17, 2008
Energy crisis

Responses to Sen. Johnny Isakson's essay "Time for bold action on energy," @issue, June 13

Drilling, nuclear power aren't the way

I agreed with Sen. Isakson until I came to his plea that nuclear energy and drilling in additional places must be part of an agreement for energy action in this country. The problems of additional nuclear waste (we have not been able to figure out what to do with what we already have) and the high cost of new nuclear plants, which taxpayers will likely bear, should caution us not to seek the wrong solutions.

The president talks as if drilling in Alaska will bring gas prices down soon and does not mention that even if the wilderness is further despoiled, the oil extracted there would be a very small addition to the supply. There is a need for action, but these two roads lead to further disaster. Putting the same amount of money behind safe, clean alternatives such as solar and wind power, coupled with conservation measures, is urgently needed.


Published on June 6, 2008
Truth was lost' in Iraq

So much of the noise in support of the fiasco in Iraq is from cheerleaders who are still rooting for thier losing "team," hopeful that some miracle will change the course of events ("The Iraq war: Did Bush lie?" @issue, June 10). Perhaps the president didn't "lie," but the trust was lost.

In light of the significance of financial commitment, diminished international standing and human costs, this debate should be aired at the highest levels of government and responsibility assigned. During the past six years, there has not been any accountability.

Its not suprising that with the recent loss of majority status (when Republicans excluded opposing points of view), those in a weaker position now claim exclusion is unfair.


Published on July 25, 2007
Concerns must be weighed

Thank you for the editorial describing the dangers of allowing Georgia Power to build new nuclear generating units. Since past nuclear construction has always cost many times the original estimates, we can see through industry propaganda promoting nuclear power as a bargain. And the editorial correctly focus on the lack of any real solution for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel, a deadly threat to the health of all.

Our country must begin addressing the energy crisis through real conservation and investment in solar and other alternative technologies. It is our responsibility as citizens to make sure that the Public Service Commission represents the long-term interests of all Georgians, not the bottom-line profits of Georgia Power.


The costs and risks are enormous

It's been more than a decade since the last nuclear plant was built in the United States (the Tennessee plant in 1996). It took 22 years and cost a whopping $7 billion. We shouldn't have to wait that long for electrical energy. A wind farm can be built in a year or two, at a fraction of the cost, and doesn't give us dangerous radioactive waste. The same goes for solar power. The wind and the sun are available and don't pollute.

Nuclear power exposes us to unnecessary safety and environmental risks, it is heavily dependent on taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies, and it generates deadly radioactive waste. So why waste our time and money and take a chance on disaster?


Consume less to achieve efficiency

In reference to energy efficiency, the editorial says "If such programs are aggressive enough, they could make large, new generating [nuclear] facilities unnecessary."

Shouldn't we really be discussing necessity? The real problem is consumption. Americans constitute 5 percent of the world's population but consume 24 percent of the world's energy. Whether or not we agree with nuclear power as an option, we must address our country's habitual over-consumption.

The answer is to consume less not build more. Without a strict and sincere energy diet, nothing will solve our crisis.


Published on: June 4, 2007
Anti-war movement will go on: Sheehan's leave signals parties' attacks

Cindy Sheehan made public two letters over the Memorial Day weekend. The first letter announced her resignation from the Democratic Party over the agreement by the Democratically controlled Congress to unconditionally fund the misbegotten war in Iraq that killed her son Casey along with some 3,500 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

In the second letter, coming a day after the first, Sheehan announced that she would no longer be active in the peace movement. The reason for her first letter is self-evident. Why did she feel compelled to write the second one?

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Sheehan has been the target of endless threats and attacks by pro-war groups, right-wing talk radio and the corporate media. But they haven't been the only attackers.

As Sheehan has stepped up her criticism of the congressional Democrats' complicity in the war, she has come under attack, some as venomous and personal as any right-wing Republican attack, by some who insist that the anti-war movement must be limited to protesting against President Bush and the Republicans.

Some of the same forces, who are closely tied to the Democrats, were happy to use Sheehan as long as she limited her criticism to Bush, but then turned on her after she announced her resignation from the Democratic Party over the war.

Sheehan has come to the conclusion that she has been pushed out of the anti-war movement, and it's not hard to understand why she feels this way.

She feels pushed out by the betrayal of the Democrats on the war funding. She feels pushed out by the isolation and hostility not only from the "right," but also from many in the orbit of the Democratic Party that Sheehan had once considered allies. She feels pushed out be the failure of the various coalitions in the antiwar movement to put aside egos and narrow agendas in the interest of forging a mass movement powerful enough to shut the war down.

Some good can come from this, if the anti-war movement takes this as a turning point. In the spring, many of us made a struggle to demand that Congress cut off all war funding and end the war a priority. Some of us did this, not based on any expectation that Congress would actually end Bush's war, but to clearly expose the Democratic Party and to demonstrate that they are as much of a pro-war party as the Republicans.

If the anti-war movement can absorb this reality, as painful as it is, than it will be all the much harder for the movement to be pulled off the streets and made an appendage of the Democratic Party.

What we have learned from Sheehan is that we can't depend on our "leaders" in Washington to end this war. The real lesson is that when the people lead, the leaders will follow. And the people are determined to end this endless occupation of Iraq.

The rank and file of the anti-war movement stands with Sheehan, not with those who are beholden to the Democratic Party. It takes courage for a mother, catapulted into the world spotlight after camping out in Crawford Texas two summers ago to protest the death of her son in Iraq, to stand up to and openly break with powerful politicians who would be all too willing to provide her a platform with all the perks if she simply toed the line.

It is my hope that after Sheehan has taken the time to reunite with her family, and do whatever she feels necessary to repair the toll that all of this has taken on her family and herself, that she will once again be a leading voice against war and for justice at home and abroad.

But while Sheehan is gone, there are many others who are ready to stand for peace in her stead.

She is not only Casey's mother. She is, in a very real sense, the peace movement's mom. And Sheehan has given birth to thousands upon thousands who are committed to ending this war that never should have begun.

Joe Parko of Atlanta is a retired college professor and a founding member of the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition.

Published on: May 7, 2007
Recycling nuclear waste too dangerous

As a senior energy adviser in the Clinton administration, I recall attending a briefing by the National Academy of Sciences in 1996 on the feasibility of recycling nuclear fuel. I'd been intrigued by the idea because of its promise to reduce the amount of wastes that had to be buried, where it could conceivably seep into drinking water at some point in its multimillion-year-long half-lives.

But then came the Academy's unequivocal conclusion: The idea was supremely impractical. It would cost up to $500 billion in 1996 dollars and take 150 years to accomplish the transmutation of dangerous long-lived radioactive toxins.

President Bush and his energy secretary, Samuel Bodman, have recently intensified their lobbying to revive nuclear recycling through a program they call the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership.

As I listened to Bodman describe GNEP as a sweeping panacea — to supply virtually limitless energy to emerging economies, to "reduce the number of required ... waste depositories to one for the remainder of this century" and to "enhance energy security, while promoting non-proliferation" — I kept waiting, as I did just over a decade ago, for the caveats.

But they never came, even though the idea remains as costly and technologically unfeasible as it was in the 1990s.

Members of Congress, who will soon vote on the president's request for $405 million for GNEP in fiscal year 2008, should recognize that GNEP has no chance in our lifetimes of brightening the prospects of finding safe ways of nuclear fuel disposal.

In 1982, Congress enacted legislation requiring that nuclear power spent fuel be disposed of in ways that shield humans for at least hundreds of millennia.

But today, a quarter-century later, prospects for long-term disposal are dimmer than ever. The government's nuclear waste disposal program is plagued by scandal, legal setbacks and congressional funding cuts. As a result, the schedule for the proposed Yucca Mountain disposal site in Nevada has slipped by two decades.

Under the president's plan, the U.S. and its nuclear partners would sell power reactors to developing nations who agree not to pursue technologies that would aid nuclear weapons production, notably reprocessing and uranium enrichment.

To sweeten the deal, the U.S. would take highly radioactive spent fuel rods to a recycling center in this country. The foreign reactor wastes, along with spent fuel from the U.S. reactor fleet, would be reprocessed to reduce the amount that would go deep underground. Nuclear explosive materials, such as plutonium, would also be separated and converted to less troublesome isotopes in a new generation of reactors.

In short, using the Bush administration's fuzzy nuclear math, more would become less.

In fact, however, to reduce the amount of radioactive wastes slated for a deep geological repository, the majority of radioactive byproducts are planned to be stored in shallow burial.

The site selected for the GNEP recycling center is likely to become a dump for the largest, lethal source of high-heat radioactivity in the United States and possibly the world.

If placed in a crowded area, a few grams of these wastes would deliver lethal doses in a matter of seconds. Concentrations could be so large that if they were disposed of under current standards in shallow land burial as low-level wastes, shortly after separation they would have to be diluted to a volume as large as 500 million cubic meters, enough to fill 500 Empire State Buildings.

The plan would also threaten water supplies. For instance, it could result in levels of radioactive disposal thousands of times greater than now allowed at DOE's Savannah River site in South Carolina.

The Bush administration lacks (or at least, has yet to disclose) credible plans for addressing any of the unprecedented health, safety and financial risks that GNEP would create. Unless the administration can furnish these details, the public should urge their legislators to zero out GNEP's budget.

We are better off by investing in renewable energy and conservation, rather than pouring billions of dollars into the same old limitless energy schemes of our nuclear laboratories.

ROBERT ALVAREZ is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington.

Published on: 2/17/07
Let a U.N. force from China do job

There is a logical "solution" to our current war in Iraq that could minimize the violence and quickly bring our troops home.

Stopping Iraq's violence can only be done by cutting off financial and material sources of supply, physically disarming the country and invalidating the immoral concepts that promote and justify it.

Our concepts of morality and democracy, our relationships with Muslim countries and our inability to provide the 350,000-member military force necessary for Iraq's physical security makes the solution far beyond our capabilities.

The fact is that a minimally nonviolent "solution" will have to come from a county with strong credibility and strong political, social and economic ties to those cultures in conflict.

The country with the economic growth most at risk, strong ties to both Iran and Saudi Arabia, and the most need for Iraq's oil is China.

The "solution" to stopping the daily bloodshed in Iraq is a U.N. resolution authorizing a 350,000-member U.N. peacekeeping force from China that will disarm Iraq.


Published on: 2/18/07
Nuclear energy plan all wrong for Georgia

The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, like so many other plans proposed by this administration, is a loser.

Who would propose taking in nuclear wastes from other countries when we don't even know what to do with the wastes we produce?

People in the western United States near Yucca Mountain turned a definite "thumbs down" to the government's proposal to store the wastes there. This leaves the government looking for another site in which to store and reprocess the wastes.

With the Savannah River Site under consideration for the next step in the GNEP plan, it is time for Georgians to step up and do their part to prevent this from happening.

Write or call all your elected representatives and say "no."


Atlanta WAND president, Krista Brewer, had an LTE published in the Sunday (2/11/07) AJC responding to a pro-nulcear industry op-ed written on Feb 7, 2007.

More nuclear waste on our freeways

Nuclear engineer Nolan Hertel ("State should tap into nuclear recycling," @issue, Feb. 7) paints a very rosy picture of nuclear reprocessing. But I think he is actually looking through rose-colored glasses.

The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership proposes to use taxpayer money to take care of the messy waste that is created by nuclear energy plants. This is a bad idea for many reasons. For one thing, all the nuclear waste that might be reprocessed at the Savannah River Site has to get there somehow. One way it will arrive is over interstate highways, much of it coming right through metro Atlanta. Given the accident rate on Atlanta freeways, I think we should be very concerned.


Fuel reprocessing proposal full of risks

Published on: 02/09/07


President Bush's latest weapon of "mass deception," being heavily marketed by the nuclear industry is called Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. This initiative is expected to cost between $3 billion and $6 billion in its
first five years. GNEP offers a misguided plan to expand global nuclear energy production, while solving the nuclear waste problem here at home and creating a "proliferation resistant" technology to keep nuclear materials
out of the hands of terrorists.

These claims are misleading and obscure the real reason for this government funded initiative.

Basically, GNEP is a huge import/export project of the nuclear industry that requires the U.S. to manufacture nuclear fuel rods, ship them to other countries to run reactors, and then take the highly radioactive fuel rods
back for reprocessing in newly constructed facilities.

Eleven potential sites have been awarded $10.5 million to explore the development of these reprocessing centers. The Savannah River Site on the border of Georgia and South Carolina is one of the 11, and is rumored to be the most likely site to be chosen.

At the center of GNEP is the revival of reprocessing, erroneously called "recycling" by supporters. Reprocessing extracts plutonium and uranium from chopped-up spent nuclear fuel rods leaving behind large quantities of highly radioactive, acidic, liquid waste.

The U.S. government reprocessed nuclear fuel from the 1960s through the 1980s, pulling out plutonium and highly enriched uranium to make nuclear weapons. Less than 20 pounds of plutonium are needed to build a simple nuclear weapon.

The Savannah River Site was the site of nuclear fuel reprocessing for the fabrication of nuclear weapons during the Cold War. Today 35 million gallons of reprocessing waste sit in underground carbon steel tanks, awaiting a safe disposal solution. Over the years, these tanks have leaked into the groundwater and contaminated crucial water supplies. The Department of Energy has been charged with cleaning up this Cold War legacy, which will eventually cost taxpayers at least $10 billion.

"Recycling" plutonium from irradiated fuel is the nuclear industry's clever disguise for reprocessing. Actually, the extracted uranium (which accounts for the greatest volume of waste) is not re-used. Low demand for plutonium fuel translates into stockpiles of separated plutonium growing every year. The nuclear power industry prefers using newly enriched uranium because it is so much cheaper to produce.Lastly, GNEP depends on the construction of an "advanced burner reactor" that is an experimental type of nuclear reactor far riskier than the "light water" reactors used in the industry today. Quoting scientist Ed Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists: "These fast burning reactors have a much higher risk of experiencing a runaway nuclear chain reaction that could lead to an explosion like the Chernobyl accident."

GNEP is an untested program that needs much further scrutiny. People are encouraged to come to the North Augusta Community Center on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 6 p.m. to speak out against this dangerous program. It's time we started cleaning up the mess we've made rather than re-embarking on a nuclear path that will require billions of dollars and potentially leave us with another toxic legacy.

Bobbie Paul of Atlanta is executive director Atlanta WAND (Women's Action
for New Directions).

Published on: 1/11/07
Let others sacrifice

I listened fairly closely to President Bush's speech Wednesday evening but don't believe I heard the president say that Jen and Barb were enlisting in the service of their country.

This sounds so much like more of the same sacrifices requested of the same individuals with no end in sight.


Bush feeds his ego

President Bush just doesn't get it. Against the will of the American people and the advice of many in the miltary, he is escalating the war in Iraq and making the situation there even worse.

His ego-driven desire to make his mark on history will, tragically, be written with the blood of our soldiers and the people of Iraq.

JOE PARKO, Atlanta

Published on: 11/19/06

Military service: Responses to "Unseen injury: Brain trauma," Page One, Nov. 19

Government treats soldiers shabbily

The article on devastating yet hidden brain injuries suffered by U.S. soldiers in Iraq points to one more piece of evidence that our government does not care about these human beings. A second article ("Combat stress cases may soar," News, Nov. 19) on combat stress disorders only amplifies this fact.

Budget cuts and lack of care —- it all adds up to our soldiers being treated as expendable commodities. To top it off, a third article describes a proposal to import immigrants so they can join the armed forces, thereby solving the military recruitment problem ("From the border to the barracks," News, Nov. 19).


Leaders' callous attitude disturbing

It's unusual for the brain injuries suffered by Iraq war veterans and the lack of adequate funding for their detection to get front-page exposure. Ignoring these devastating consequences of the war is exceedingly callous. Awarding a Purple Heart just doesn't cut it.

The injuries suffered exemplify what happens when an unqualified leader's zeal for war overcomes rationality. Add to the injuries suffered by our troops those of innocent Iraqi victims, and the numbers measure in the hundreds of thousands.

It magnifies the mystery of why a majority of Georgia's electorate has been so supportive of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Those supporters seem to have closed their hearts and minds to the suffering of victims of the unnecessary war.


Published on: 11/11/06
Nuclear power
Responses to ''Nucleus for nuclear,'' Business, Nov. 4

South should stand up to bullying tactics

It is disturbing that the Southeast is being targeted for most of the new nuclear reactors. Why doesn't the rest of the country want these nuclear power plants? Maybe they know that nuclear is dangerous, costly to construct, vulnerable to terrorists and not a real answer to global warming.

More reactors in the Southeast will also mean more radioactive fuel and waste being transported on our public highways. Is this what we want? Is this what is best for our beautiful region?

We need to look closely and critically at plans for these new reactors and not allow them to be rammed down our collective throats.


Nuclear waste dumping ground in offing

I wonder how many people reading the "Nucleus for nuclear" headline realize that if Atlanta and the Southeast become the center of a nuclear revival, as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggests, the region will also become the center for the nation's nuclear waste.

For years the government has promised to take possession of nuclear and store it in a safe repository like Yucca Mountain. Now it appears that won't happen for years —- if ever —- so the government is writing legislation that would allow nuclear waste to be stored on site or close to the site of production.

We produce it, we keep the waste, and because the nasty stuff will be around for hundreds of thousands of years and will accumulate in ever-increasing amounts, the South will once again become the dumping ground for what the rest of the country doesn't want.

JOAN O. KING, Sautee

PR professionals try to pull off con game

When you hear well-paid public relations professionals promoting nuclear power, think Enron. Persuasive and slick can lead to disaster while those who do the slick promoting end up enriched and outta town, far from the aftermath.

If nuclear power were safe, as claimed by industry cheerleaders, wouldn't insurance companies be swooping in for the business? Yet they refuse to participate and put riders on homeowners' insurance indemnifying themselves from nuclear attack and accidents. So how does the industry get insurance? No problem. They just have Congress pass a law making the taxpayers (that's us) responsible.

How does that jibe with the religion of free enterprise, the magic of the market? From the point of view of the Enron attitude, we are targets of the PR professionals, not thinking citizens with legitimate concerns.


Contact Us

Georgia WAND Education Fund, Inc.

250 Georgia Avenue SE
Suite 202
Atlanta, GA 30312

404-524-5999 - phone


Georgia WAND is funded by:

AJ MUSTE graphic

AJ MUSTE graphic


southern partners fund