More Big Government: McCain Bill S.3002 To Limit Access to Vitamins and Nutritional Supplements

The bill that threatens our freedom to have continued access to supplements is bill S.3002, the Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010 (DSSA). Senator John McCain is the primary sponsor. And it would give the FDA more powers to limit your access to nutritional supplements.

Here's some of what the McCain bill would do:

Require everyone associated with supplements to register with the FDA and provide validation for every ingredient they sell. This includes manufacturers, distributors, labelers, licensors, stores, and even people selling products through MLMs (multi-level marketing). Penalties for failing to keep these documents could put companies and stores out of business. Current regulations already require that supplement companies provide proof of ingredients and quality.

Give the FDA the power to decide which supplements would remain on the market and in what strengths.

Give the FDA the authority to ban all other supplements and turn them over to drug companies so they can be developed into drugs and sold for much higher prices.

Give the FDA the authority to immediately recall any supplement that has even minor adverse effects, like an allergic reaction, while at the same time permitting the sale of aspirin and other "safe" drugs with known side effects. About 10,000 people in the U.S. alone die each year from bleeding caused by aspirin or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs. Yet, the FDA is not taking aspirin off the market or turning it into a prescription drug.

There's much more…. The FDA already regulates many aspects of nutritional supplement safety. We don't want them telling us which nutrients we can buy or in what quantities. We want the ability to choose for ourselves like we have.

Its creators designed bill S.3002 to prevent athletes from using steroids and other illegal substances. Let's see a bill that says that, plain and simple. Not one that robs us of our freedoms.

Tell your senators not to co-sponsor or vote for this bill, and to do everything possible to defeat it. Phone calls carry more weight than e-mails. Hand-written letters are more powerful than phone calls. But do something. Anything. You can find your senators' contact information at www.senate.gov. Click on the tab at the top that says "Senators."

Clean Coal is a Myth

Clean Coal is a nice image used by politicians to win votes in coal producing states. It exists only in the minds of hopeful politicians and marketers of coal and coal-burning plants. Excerpts from Ben Elgin’s article in Business Week magazine are below.

Link: The Dirty Truth About Clean Coal.

With coal-rich swing states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia critical to the Presidential race, both Barack Obama and John McCain have endorsed the idea that coal is well on its way to becoming a benign energy source.

The catch is that for now—and for years to come—"clean coal" will
remain more a catchphrase than a reality. Despite the eagerness of the
coal and power industries to sanitize their image and the desire of
U.S. politicians to push a healthy-sounding alternative to expensive
foreign oil and natural gas, clean coal is still a misnomer.

Environmental legislation enacted in 1990 forced the operators of
coal-fired power plants to reduce pollutants that cause acid-rain. But
such plants, which provide half of U.S. electricity, are the country’s
biggest source of greenhouse-gas emissions linked to global warming. No
coal plant can control its emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide.

All the talk relates to the idea of separating CO2
from the coal-burning process and burying it in liquid form so it won’t
contribute to climate change.

Corporations and the federal government have tried for years to
accomplish "carbon capture and sequestration." So far they haven’t had
much luck. The method is widely viewed as being decades away from
commercial viability. Even then, the cost could be prohibitive: by a
conservative estimate, several trillion dollars to switch to clean coal
in the U.S. alone.

Then there are the safety questions. One large, coal-fired plant generates the equivalent of 3 billion barrels of CO2 over a 60-year lifetime. That would require a space the size of a major oil field to contain.

Companies seeking to build dozens of coal-fueled power plants across
the country use the term "clean coal" liberally in trying to persuade
regulators and voters. Power giant Dominion (D)
describes a proposed plant near St. Paul, Va., expected to generate
electricity by 2012, as having "the very latest in clean-coal
technology." What the unbuilt facility actually possesses to address
global warming is a plot of land set aside for CO2-removal
technology—once it is invented and becomes commercially feasible. The
plant design will accommodate the technology, says Jim Martin, a
Dominion vice-president. These steps, he says, "may actually spur more
research on carbon capture and sequestration."

The Presidential candidates will walk a fine line on the issue.
Senators Obama and McCain support legislation to address global
warming. But "coal is rich in some strategic states that are key to
winning the Presidency," notes Eric Burgeson, an energy lobbyist and
former McCain adviser.

In all, some 118 electoral votes are in play in the top 10
coal-producing states—44% of the 270 needed to win the election. That
likely will fuel plenty of speechifying.

Nuclear Energy’s Problems

Nuclear energy is not a viable solution for our energy needs for many reasons. The excerpts below from BusinessWeek.com below describe many of the drawbacks.

Opponents of solar and wind energy complain about government subsidies, but nuclear energy will require massive subsidies and government involvement.

Link: Nuclear’s Tangled Economics.

McCain laid out his vision for 100 new nuclear plants—45 of them to be built by 2030. They would help meet America’s energy needs, and because nukes don’t emit greenhouse gases, they would fight global warming as well. McCain also wants to borrow from the French playbook by reprocessing and reusing spent nuclear fuel and by providing government incentives to get all this done.

But McCain may not want to follow the French example too closely. While France’s
existing 59 atomic plants are relatively trouble-free, its largest nuclear
company, Areva, has run into difficulties building next-generation reactors in
France and Finland. The Finnish project is two years behind schedule and more
than $1.5 billion over budget, while construction of the other plant, in
Normandy, was temporarily halted in late May because of quality concerns. And
while France has the world’s biggest fuel-reprocessing program, it still hasn’t
found a permanent home for a growing pile of highly radioactive waste that’s
left over.

Two years ago, the price of a 1,500-megawatt reactor was pegged at $2 billion to
$3 billion. Now it’s up to $7 billion and rising, as the cost of concrete,
steel, and other materials and labor soars. MidAmerican Energy Holdings (BRK), a gas and electric utility owned by Warren Buffett’s
Berkshire Hathaway (BRK), shelved its own nuke plan earlier this year, saying it no
longer made economic sense. "The country badly needs new nuclear plants to deal
with the climate issue," says John W. Rowe, chief executive officer of Exelon
(EXC), currently the largest nuke operator, and chairman of the
Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s trade group. "But they are very
expensive, very high-risk projects."

So risky and expensive, in fact, that building new ones won’t happen without
hefty government support. NRG Energy (NRG), Dominion (D), Duke Energy (DUK), and six other companies have already leaped to file
applications to construct and operate new plants largely because of incentives
Congress has put in place. The subsidies include a 1.8 cents tax credit for each
kilowatt hour of electricity produced, which could be worth more than $140
million per reactor per year; a $500 million payout for each of the first two
plants built (and $250 million each for the next four) if there are delays for
reasons outside company control; and a total of $18.5 billion in loan
guarantees. The latter is crucial, since it shifts the risk onto the federal
government, making it possible to raise capital from skittish banks. "Without
the loan guarantees, I think it would be very difficult for the first wave of
plants to move forward," says David W. Crane, CEO of NRG.

Only two companies, Japan Steel Works and France’s Creusot Forge, a unit of
Areva, are capable of forging key reactor parts such as massive pressure
vessels. There are also shortages of contractors with nuclear certification and
of skilled workers—even a lack of potential sites for new reactors. The proposed
plants are all next to existing reactors. Builders of the power plants, utility
executives say, are unwilling to commit to fixed prices and fixed schedules.
Most companies want to be paid their actual costs, including overruns, plus a
reasonable return, says one CEO.

That’s why experts say the much-heralded nuclear "renaissance" will be slow
to flower. "I’m not quite sure the number McCain put out is obtainable," says
Adrian Heymer, senior director for new plant deployment at the Nuclear Energy
Institute. "If there are any hiccups in coming in on time or on budget, it will
be a struggle to go much beyond the first eight or 10 plants." Exelon’s Rowe
adds that the industry can’t grow until the government solves the waste problem,
either by opening a proposed storage site in Nevada, or by setting up surface
storage facilities around the country. And in the long run, to cut the amount of
waste, he says, "it’s very clear that we’ve got to have a fuel-recycling
technology."

The trouble is, separating out plutonium in the spent fuel for reuse is
costly and dangerous, argue critics like Princeton University physicist Frank N.
von Hippel. And in any case, worries over separated plutonium being diverted to
make bombs led the U.S. to ban reprocessing 31 years ago.