Brief: Congressman Tony Hall
The Energy Tax Act of 1978 scented like good news,
since it offered generous credits to individuals and
businesses using alternative energy installations to cut
down on their needs for nonrenewable fuel sources. However,
since that legislation was passed, its geothermal clause
has fallen prey to what Rep. Tony P. Hall (D-Ohio) calls an
"arbitrary" ruling of the Internal Revenue Service.
In addition to its solar and wind power provisions, you see,
the Energy Tax Act sought to encourage the use of
geothermal energy by granting a 407, tax credit on the cost
of "earth-powered" equipment to heat or cool residences, and
a 10 percent credit for commercial buildings (with a maximum
allowance of $4,000).
However, the IRS has ruled that — in order for an owner
to qualify for the tax credit — his or her geothermal
source must register a temperature of at least 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
That regulation, unfortunately, made most buildings in the
eastern half of the U.S. ineligible ... since — in
that region — ground water of about 50 degrees provides
much of the available geothermal energy.
And that, says Rep. Hall, "is precisely the sort of petty
bureaucratic nonsense that we're trying to eliminate from
the federal government." Furthermore, maintains the Ohio
lawmaker, "The IRS temperature ruling ... ignores the
tremendous energy-saving potential of lower-temperature
geothermal sources that are just as valuable as
other forms of renewable energy."
To thwart the tax bureau's action, Hall and his colleague
Rep. Don Clauses (R-Calif.) have introduced bipartisan
legislation (House bill 4091) that would eliminate the
IRS's ability to set a temperature requirement. At press
time, the Hall-Clauses bill was scheduled for
hearings before the House Ways and Means subcommittee of
Select Revenue Measures.
Brief: John Gofman
Dr. John Gofman — former atomic energy scientist,
renowned heart disease researcher and antinuclear advocate — has written a recently released book called
Radiation and Human Health (Sierra Club Books). This massive (908-page) tome is the
result of years of study and is, as its subtitle proclaims,
"a comprehensive investigation of the evidence relating
low-level radiation to cancer and other disease."
The detailed textbook serves several important purposes:
It demystifies the study of radiation. Even though
there are reams of statistical calculations ("this book is
not bedtime reading," Gofman notes), every mathematical
step is clearly and completely explained. The subject can
now be understood by the interested and studious layperson ... not just by the "expert."
- It establishes a consistent numerical standard for
identifying cancer mortality risk. Taking special care
to balance various studies by considering the differences
in their followup periods, the age of their subjects, and
the quality of their data, Dr. Gofman has come up with a
common base for estimating the cancer mortality rate per
rad exposure by age. This methodology breakthrough — which is
supported by over 200 pages of clear, concise text — provides
the reader with a concrete tool for estimating low-dose
It responds to specific questions.
Should an airline stewardess avoid flying during early
pregnancy? Is watching color television a significant
radiation hazard? What are the odds that giving
radioactive iodine to a 25-year-old with hyperthyroidism
will cause the patient to die later of a radiation-induced
cancer? The text discusses these and many more "real life"
radiation hazard situations.
Dr. Gofman has made an enormous contribution to public
well-being by writing Radiation and Human Health.
Let's hope that other radiation scientists respond
seriously and honestly to his findings.
Brief: Jim Channon
In 1978 Lt. Col. Jim Channon was assigned by the U.S.
Army's Task Force Delta — a "think tank" of
officers — to investigate the self-awareness movement
in California and evaluate how its ideas might be used in
the military group's effort to "humanize" the armed
services. After attending over 100 sessions on New Age
philosophies and activities, Channon synthesized what he
felt was best in the various human-potential disciplines
into a hypothetical "Natural Guard" which — somewhat to
the officer's surprise — has begun to make the
transition from idea to reality.
The First Earth Battalion (as as Channon calls his proposed
new army unit ) will comprise men and women known as
"Warrior-Monks" ... whose extraordinary skills would
combine courage and strength with sensitivity and the
spirit of sacrifice. The spiritual soldiers will — it's
planned — move beyond traditional weapons-based
combat ( which Channon labels Force of Arms) to achieve the
higher ethic of Force of Spirit ... and, ultimately,
Force of Heart. At the proposed First Earth Battalion
Academy in Santa Fe, New Mexico, recruits will study
meditation, fasting, isolation, philosophy,
defensive martial arts, and other nondestructive
ways of dealing with crises. Eventually, Channon expects
his warrior-monks to intervene in international
and local conflicts, where it's hoped that they'll
be able to prevail by a show of superior ethical
The military hierarchy's initial reaction to Channon's
project has been encouraging: He was invited to present his
concept to the cadets at West Point ... and that
presentation was videotaped for further distribution.
However, the futurist now needs funds — which will have
to come either from private sources or from
Congress — to transform his vision into a functioning
program. Chanson emphasizes that membership in the First
Earth Battalion is open to everyone: ''If you want to be a
member, you already are," he says. 'In Fact, you can begin
right now to prepare yourself for the more precise
training that will take place within the battalion.