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I thought I had a tough winter, but it’s with shock and horror I’m watching the news from Japan, a nation reeling from the brutal combination of earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption, and now a serious threat of a full nuclear core meltdown. Though Fukushima is 150 miles from Tokyo, there are still major population centers in major danger of radiation, many already decimated by the natural disasters.

The situation should give New Yorkers pause as well, as we’re in meltdown range of one of the oldest nuclear power plants in the country. Reportedly supplying 25-30% of the power to New York City and Westchester County (Hudson Riverkeeper puts it more at 6-12%), Indian Point is actually scheduled to have its licenses expire in 2013 and 2015, and there is a great deal of opposition to its 20-year renewal, which is apparently contingent on its receiving a water quality certificate. This may be difficult for the reactor’s owners, Entergy, to come by, as the Department of Environmental Conservation ruled in 2010 that the water intake system was killing “nearly a billion aquatic organisms a year,” and the closed-circuit cooling system the state insists on will cost over a billion dollars, and take the reactor offline for a year.

Considered one of the most (if not the most) potentially dangerous reactors in the country, sitting over two fault lines, too close for comfort to enormous population centers, Indian Point raises valid questions: how long should an outdated reactor continue to stay in use? At what point does it become too much of a risk? Should the plant be forced by federal regulation to install the cooling system to continue? Is it even more desirable to develop clean, sustainable energy sources, in tandem with improved energy conservation, to replace that “30%”, eliminating the need for the plant altogether? It’s a discussion we’ll surely be having soon, as Governor Cuomo has announced he intends to close Indian Point down during his tenure, and Entergy will put up a fight.

Ay yi yi, I’m getting too serious, and here it is Spring at last! We’ve got good things for you here this month: fascinating new/old exhibitions at Dia: Beacon and The Frances Lehman Loeb Arts Center at Vassar, the sensually provocative Dzul Dance group at Millbrook. We’re proud to present two regional musical artists—The Erin Hobson Compact, and The Kurt Henry Band—both with new CD’s full of classy music, brave lyrics. (Full disclosure: I am personally a musical participant on both. But we’d cover them anyway.)

Beth Jones looks at global crises and energy markets in a special Dollars & Sense this month. Gardening is back, food and spirits, Brezsny’s freewill astrology, the Roll portrait, and the most comprehensive listings for the arts, music, theatre/cinema for this region….on the planet! I feel we can safely say that is not an exaggeration.

Yes, it’s been a tough winter, but once again it has brought out the best in people around here. For instance, recently, two young 30-year olds in our community were both diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a mysterious disease of the nervous system that has no known cure, only management therapies. A fundraiser was in order: everybody pulled together (thanks to certain dynamic spirits!), got donated items for a silent auction as well as food and beer, wrangled local bands and a sound system, and got the word out through local media. The result was a packed Community Center with music and dancing, a great time with a lot of love in the house. And our friends can now get the therapies they need, without the stress of losing wages or accumulating massive personal debt.

Well, watching the states balance their budgets on the backs of the working middle class (and the glorious backlash!) and the events in Japan and Libya—dear God, not another war—in the never-ending cycle of bad news, I’m going to savor this little hometown victory a bit longer. Then it’s on to the next challenge: making a stand against hydrofracking with the Catskill Mountainkeeper’s rally on the Capitol Lawn in Albany, Monday April 11, 10:30 AM. See for details.

Ross Rice, Editor

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