Friday AM April 6th, 2007

Greenpeace co-founder speaks in Houston in support of a mix of nuclear energy and renewables...

The co-founder and former president of Greenpeace used to be a "no nukes" believer. But Dr. Patrick Moore talked about nuclear power in a speech to the Gulf Coast Power Association in Houston.

"Over 85 percent of our total energy is coming from fossil fuels in the world. We should probably do something to reduce that, and I believe that the best way to go about doing that is to adopt a combination of renewable energy plus nuclear energy. Renewables can't do it alone. The only way we can make a sizable dent in our fossil fuel dependence is with nuclear plus renewables." Ed: "Coming from your background, this must, was this a gradual sort of thought about this?" "Well, it's a fact that back in the days when I was with Greenpeace, just like all my other colleagues, I sort of lumped nuclear energy in with nuclear weapons as if they were all part of the same holocaust, and in retrospect, that was a serious mistake on our part. I mean, we did a lot of things right, but one of the things that we didn't get right was to separate energy and the peaceful use of nuclear technology from the whole weapons issue. I mean, we were focused on nuclear testing and nuclear war. I guess we just didn't discriminate things properly. Seeing as though nuclear has certainly proven itself to be safe and we know that it's clean—it doesn't put the air pollution and the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that comes from burning fossil fuels. So it became very clear to me that the practical and logical approach to this was to adopt an aggressive policy of renewable energy plus nuclear, in order to reduce our reliance and dependence on fossil fuels."

Dr. Moore is the chairman and chief scientist of Greenspirit Strategies, an environmental consulting group. He is also co-chair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition and speaks as part of a national grassroots campaign to educate the public about the benefits of nuclear energy. That's not endeared him to Greenpeace.

"They have remained zero tolerance towards nuclear energy and are calling for all the nuclear energy plants in the world to be shut down. Well, I don't know what they think we're going to replace them with. Thankfully, not all environmental groups are taking the hard line that Greenpeace continues to take. Environmental Defense and even the Sierra Club are taking the emphasis off being against nuclear and putting the emphasis on working on the climate change issue, which means that Al Gore is in some ways the best friend of nuclear energy, even though he doesn't promote it personally. What he is saying about the need to reduce fossil fuel consumption almost automatically leads you to make the choice towards nuclear and renewables." Ed: "I guess there's no looking back after all these years. Has it meant loss of some friendships and so on, from the sort of change of philosophy?" "Well, it's true that initially when I left Greenpeace and in the ensuing years, a lot of people felt that I had somehow betrayed the movement or gone over to the Dark Side, and I did lose friends. But I think right now I can say I'm gaining a lot more than I ever lost, and if people can't move along, I guess they get left behind. But on the other hand, my good friend Rex always reminds me that if we agree on everything there'd be no need for two of us. And so I have found it very important through my career to try to separate my personal friendships from my politics, and to be able to remain friends with people who might have even, you know, the opposite opinion on certain things than I do."

Dr. Moore says Texas faces making a decision on nuclear power, with TXU dropping some of its planned coal-fired plants.

Entergy nuclear officials are planning to submit a permit to build a new nuclear reactor. Officials said that a construction and operation permit application for a new reactor at its Grand Gulf plant will be filed by the end of the year.

Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac says the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is averaging 6.17 percent, compared with 6.16 percent a week ago. The average for the 15-year loan is 5.87 percent—up one basis point from last week. Freddie Mac economist Frank Nothaft points out that rates remained within a narrow band of one-tenth percentage point every week in March. He credits mixed data as to how strong the economy is and whether future inflation will recede.

The retail trade is looking to curb what it calls organized theft, estimated to cost shoppers nearly two cents on every dollar spent at retail. Two leading retail groups are teaming with the FBI to create a national online database. The idea is to allow merchants to share information. The database is scheduled to debut Monday with 40 retailers. It consolidates efforts by the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association. Both launched their own password-protected online national crime data bases last year. Previously, merchants had never shared information, so organized rings could hit a variety of stores in one area without being detected.

Shareholders of Harrah's Entertainment have approved the $17.1 billion buyout of their company by two private equity groups. Harrah's says shareholders controlling 66 percent of outstanding stock approved the transaction--the largest ever to take a publicly held casino company private. The session, headed by Harrah's Chief Executive Gary Loveman and Corporate Secretary Michael Cohen, was closed to the public. It was held at Caesars Palace Hotel-Casino on the Las Vegas strip. Some shareholders emerged from the meeting saying it's clear that the $90 per share buyout offered by Apollo Management Group and Texas Pacific Group in December would succeed. The Harrah's board had recommended approval.

A study finds changing climate will mean increasing drought in the southwest--a region where water already is in tight supply. Richard Seager of Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory is lead author of the study online in the journal Science. Seager says the bottom line is--people better start planning for a southwest region in which water resources are increasingly stretched. Texas is still recovering from drought. Researchers studied 19 computer models of the climate, using data dating back to 1860 and projecting into the future. The consensus was that climate in the southwestern U.S. and parts of northern Mexico began a transition to drier conditions late in the 20th century. The trend continued into this century, as climate change alters the movement of storms and moisture in the atmosphere. Seager says the reduction in rainfall could reach levels of the 1930s midwest dust bowl.

The chairman and CEO of retailer J.C. Penney had 2006 compensation that the Plano-based company valued at almost $11 million. Details are in an analysis of a regulatory filing. Most of the compensation for Myron Ullman III came in stock and options awards with an estimated value of $6 million when they were granted. Ullman also was paid a salary of $1.5 million, non-equity incentives of $2.7 million and more than $791,000 in other compensation. Ullman's compensation came during a year in which Penney's stock price rose 39 percent. The Associated Press calculates total pay including an executive's salary, bonus, incentives, perks, above-market returns on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock and options awards granted during the year. The calculations don't include changes in the present value of pension benefits or the company's cost of stock and options granted before 2006, and the figures can differ from the company's total.

Bio photo of Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...