With gasoline prices at record highs in 2008, 2009 and 2010, 2011 has looked like a microcosm of the longer oil-market trend: consistent increases in pricing, fuel costs hurting small business and the middle class, slowing the pace of economic growth in the US, and—maybe most strangely of all—no national policy to motivate a rapid, comprehensive transition away from fossil fuels and the volatility and cost inefficiency of their products to the wider marketplace. Instead, we have seen a recommitment to ramping up production, expanding drilling and exploration, and prioritizing local importation (from Canada and Mexico), instead of real coordinated policy planning to end dependency on foreign-sourced fuels.
The still unfolding nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan is still not contained. Less than a day after officials announced they were deliberately releasing thousands of gallons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean, reports now say radiation levels in water leaking from the plant has been measured at 7.5 million times the legal limit.
Efforts are underway at present to plug a crack thought to be the main source of leaked radioactive water, using silicon-based polymers. Over the last week, officials have finally admitted that at least three of the six facilities at the plant may have suffered partial meltdown.