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Showing posts from March, 2010

Sweden Moves to End Nuclear Moratorium

What do you think of when you think Sweden? IKEA? Volvos? Blonds? Glögg? Smörgåsbords? Socialism? Minimalist design? Efficiency? Environmentalism?  Nuclear energy? Oh, yes Sweden gets 42 percent of its electricity (2008 total) (sub req’d) from nuclear power, more than double, as a percentage, the United States. In fact, 34.7 percent of Sweden’s total primary energy supply (2007 total) comes from nuclear, more than other source. But Sweden also has a Chernobyl-era ban in place on new construction and has come to this point of time with no viable alternative to replace that 42 percent. So, it should be no surprise that last week the government of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt introduced legislation to allow the construction of new nuclear power plants “…The government’s move to introduce a bill to Parliament this week highlights renewed interest in nuclear power as countries try to reduce their dependence on energy imports and lower their CO2 emissions … coming just six months before…

They Write Letters, Don’t They?

Although the Senate bill being drafted by Sens. John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman has not emerged yet, we reported last week on the (leaked, not verified, don’t completely trust it) titles that will be in the bill. Nuclear energy is the subject of one of the titles.However, we reckon some Senators have gotten a look at it and want to mark out their territory for what they’d like the bill to be. Of course, that’s part of the legislative process, but if some influence can be brought to bear as early as possible, at least favored provisions might find their way into the initial draft. Easier to keep them in if they’re part of the initial bill, perhaps, than to try to get them in later, which requires whipping committee votes So it is that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) sent a letter to Kerry expressing concern with the legislation:I have serious concerns about provisions that could harm our environment and provide new federal government support for polluters.Uh-oh. Well, let…

Vermont Yankee Stats and Video Animation of Their Underground Piping System

Yes Vermont Yankee linked to some useful stats on VY from a presentation Dr. Robert Hargraves (her friend) gave at a Rotary Club in NH. In it, “Bob covered a quick history of Vermont Yankee, put the tritium issue in perspective, pointed out funding sources of the VY opponents, and demolished the simplistic arguments for replacing VY with renewables. All in less than twenty minutes!”As well, Yes VY included an engaging “video clip of the Entergy briefing that explained how they found and fixed the leak of tritiated water.”After much of the hoopla has died down over the tritium issue with VY, NEI’s new polling data found that only 16 percent of US adults heard or read any information in the past year about “recent releases of a very weak radioactive material called tritium from some nuclear power plants” (p. 10). On the other end, 27 percent heard or read that the federal government awarded a loan guarantee for building new nuclear power plants (p. 10).Would have thought that the tritiu…

Something Wrong With Greenpeace’s Comment Section At Their Anti-Nuclear Blog?

Nuclear Fissionary noted that no-one can submit comments anymore at the Nuclear Reaction blog:I have left numerous comments on their pseudo-scientific website. I’ve also used the Nuclear Fissionary Page on Facebook to direct our readers to the Greenpeace site to make sure their antinuclear rants don’t go unanswered.Well, it would appear that Greenpeace no longer has the stomach for debate.While visiting the site the other day I noticed that my comments were gone. Every blogger knows that deleting comments is unethical, so I thought that GP had just decided to silence me. But then I noticed that there were no other comments either. What’s more, there was no box where readers could add to the ‘dialogue’ of the nuclear debate. The comments were just gone.…Unless there’s a technical issue with the blog, I would say this action pretty much speaks for itself.Update 3/31/10 - Apparently they suffered a spam attack and the comments are now back on. Hmm...

The End of Cap-and-Trade

The New York Times sounds the death knell on cap-and-trade as a method for regulating carbon emissions:Mr. Obama dropped all mention of cap and trade from his current budget. And the sponsors of a Senate climate bill likely to be introduced in April, now that Congress is moving past health care, dare not speak its name. “I don’t know what ‘cap and trade’ means,” Senator John F. Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, said last fall in introducing his original climate change plan. We’ve never had much of a brief on cap-and-trade. It’s one method to do something that should be done, but we’re neutral on what Congress (or the EPA) might eventually settle on to bring about a transition to a carbon free future. Heck, industry has already made some moves on its own, doubtless understanding that government will settle on something and trying to get ahead of the curve. But cap-and-trade – eh!---That doesn’t mean that it died what one might call a honorable death – it simply means that one side cha…

If Wishes Were Nuclear Plants

We’re not sure we’re looking forward to the beige box that would be Microsoft Nuclear Plant, but points to former MS CEO Bill Gates for turning his attention this way:Gates is the principal owner of TerraPower, a spinoff from Seattle's Intellectual Ventures, founded by former Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Nathan Myhrvold. The company explores ways to improve emission-free energy supplies through small nuclear reactors.The principal owner? Last time we checked, Gates characterized his involvement as that of an investor, which at least suggested a smaller stake. In any event, Gates is now looking for a partner:According to Japan's Nikkei newspaper, Gates could put tens of millions of dollars of his own money into a joint venture with Toshiba."There would be demand for this type of reactor in newly developing countries," Deutsche Securities analyst Takeo Miyamoto told the BBC.Toshiba is taking a rather low-key stance, asserting that they are only looking into Terr…

Gallup: Nuclear’s Popularity Hits New High

We’ve wondered whether all the attention given nuclear energy in the wake of the loan guarantee announcement would move polling numbers a bit. Whatever else may be true, President Obama remains a popular figure when he gets in front of an issue and he was front and center on this one.Gallup begins to answer the question:A majority of Americans have typically favored using nuclear power to provide electricity for the United States since Gallup began asking about this topic in 1994. Support has edged up in the last two years, eclipsing 60% this year for the first time. In addition, 28% of Americans now say they "strongly favor" nuclear power, also the highest Gallup has measured since the question was first asked in 1994.We love polls and their “strongly favored” construction. If you don’t care for nuclear energy, it allows you to say that 72% do not strongly favor it. (To be fair, no one we’re aware of really tries out such a tactic – at least, not on this issue.)The chart o…

Nuclear Bloggers Interview NRC Commissioner Dale Klein

John Wheeler, Margaret Harding, Dan Yurman, Meredith Angwin and Rod Adams had the great opportunity to interview Dr. Dale Klein who’s leaving the NRC after serving on the Commission for almost four years. The Commissioner shared a few thoughts on his legacy as well as the challenges the three new NRC commissioners face.One of the most interesting question and comment dialogues was when Rod asked Dr. Klein about FERC Chairman Wellinghoff’s statements on baseload. For those who may not remember, the FERC Chairman stirred up the debate last year when he said that “baseload capacity is going to become an anachronism.” Here’s what Klein said in response:“He [Wellinghoff] must have a database that’s much different than mine. I think we will have a need for baseload electrical generation for a long, long time. And the facts are the facts. There is no alternative in the near term for anything other than baseload, because for some reason people want electricity at night. They like to keep lig…

Vermont Yankee Nuggets and Blogroll Update

It’s been awhile since we added anybody to our blogroll. Today we have the pleasure of adding Nuclear Fissionary who Idaho Samizdat introduced several weeks back. Jack Gamble, main contributor at Nuclear Fissionary, has done an informative job of refreshing our memories on costs, capacity factors, Chernobyl and so on. As well as Jack’s good work, this week has been a great week for pro-nuclear bloggers out there. As many who read here know, the debate about the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is raging on. Atomic Insights knocked out some very useful information about how much total tritium leaked at VY as well as exposed the misinformation from Vermont Senate Pro Tem Peter Shumlin on Vermont Yankee. Apparently many people in the Vermont state legislature believe solar provides 30 percent of Germany’s electricity; an achievement that gives hope for renewable advocates. Well, Rod and Meredith from Yes Vermont Yankee squashed that false info (solar provides less than one percent) as well a…

France and Loans, Sweden and Polls

French President Nicholas Sarkozy wants you to know:I do not understand why international financial institutions and development banks do not finance civil nuclear energy projects," Mr. Sarkozy said. "The current situation means that countries are condemned to rely on more costly energy that causes greater pollution."So true. And happily, Sarkozy’s in a position to do something about it:The French president said he would propose to change that situation. "The World Bank, the EBRD [European Bank for Reconstruction and Development] and the other development banks must make a wholehearted commitment to finance such projects," he said.France knows its beans when it comes to nuclear energy, since it generates 80% of its electricity that way. So Sarkozy might be able to get the ball rolling here – of course, tight lending remains the watchword all over, but perhaps the European Union would benefit from American-style loan guarantees. ---This caught us by surprise:S…

A Preview of Graham-Kerry-Lieberman

Some news about the climate change legislation being developed by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) emerged from meetings they had with industry representatives.According to several sources in the meeting room, the bill will call for greenhouse gas curbs across multiple economic sectors, with a target of reducing emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. Power plant emissions would be regulated in 2012, with other major industrial sources phased in starting in 2016.That’s fairly ambitious and exactly the same amounts as the Waxman-Markey bill that passed the house last summer. The particulars of the bill get a bit of a rehearsal in the story. Not much on nuclear energy, except this:Overall, the bill will include eight titles: Refining, America's Farmers, Consumer Refunds, Clean Energy Innovation, Coal, Natural Gas, Nuclear and Energy Independence, according to sources.Normally, we’d wait until the official…

Debating, Constructing, Demanding

Discovery News poses a series of questions to Tom Kaufmann, NEI’s senior media relations manager and Edwin Lyman, senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. We really like this kind of interaction, but perhaps we could make a suggestion.Here’s a question:Often times the topic of Chernobyl comes up when nuclear energy is mentioned. Could a Chernobyl-type accident happen in the United States at a nuclear power plant? Here’s how Kauffman starts out:No. A Chernobyl-type accident can’t happen in the United States. It’s physically impossible.And then Lyman:The short answer is yes. An accident resulting in a large radiological release to the environment comparable to or worse than that of Chernobyl could definitely occur at a U.S. nuclear power plant.See the problem? Either Kauffman or Lyman are wrong here or the truest answer is too ambiguous to be definitive. From the story, there’s no way to know except to apply your own tilt (and where might that be for us? Hmmm!)So that lea…

And Winning Some More

We won’t run every story along these lines, since it could be come tedious, but we mentioned last week that knocking down nuclear bans has gained momentum, and though there are failed attempts – as in Wyoming – there are successes, too – as in Iowa. Here’s another success, rather oddly introduced by The Chicago Sun-Times’ by Dave McKinney and Steve Contorno:The Illinois Senate voted Monday to undo a 23-year-old ban on the construction of new nuclear plants in a move one anti-nuclear activist predicted could turn Illinois into a “radioactive waste repository.”Well, no, not really, but why not lead a successful legislative story with a comment by someone against the legislation? “America will be overrun with dogs and cats,” said an anti-pet activist after a pro-pet legislation passed the Senate.  Seems a little sour, yes? Especially when you consider this:The lone dissenter in the Senate, Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston), said Illinois should focus on wind and solar energy production …

Winning Some, Losing Some

This is the winning one:The Iowa Senate approved a bill that would allow an Iowa energy company to raise fees to pay for a study on the feasibility of building a nuclear power plant in the state. The bill is a stepping stone in what lawmakers called a scramble to turn to carbon-neutral energy sources.In other words, Iowa wants to have a plant if a plant makes sense there. It won handily, too:The bill easily passed 37-13, but opponents raised questions about the disposal of nuclear waste, why nuclear had priority over other forms of renewable energy and whether lawmakers should back a rate fee hike during the recession. MidAmerican would charge a fee increase of 0.5 percent of its revenues to collect $15 million to conduct the study.We guess that answers the last one – which means the opponents were pulling arguments out of a hat – and the first belongs to the federal government. The second seems fair enough, so we breezed on over to MidAmerican’s Web site to see what they might be do…

Center for American Progress Distorts the Loan Guarantee Program

On Monday, CAP attempted to provide some facts about DOE’s loan guarantee program that needless to say completely distorted the picture. After spending a few days dissecting their analysis, NEI came out with a 13 page response that rebuts CAP and clarifies the facts. Below the rest of this post are just a few snippets from our response.The Center for American Progress is openly and determinedly anti-nuclear and CAP’s recent paper reflects that anti-nuclear bias. Although it appears to be an objective discussion of credit subsidy fees, careful examination shows that the paper is built on mistakes and misstatements; unsubstantiated estimates of default probability and recovery rates; cost estimates of mysterious origin, lack of understanding about recent nuclear construction experience, and inaccurate descriptions of the DOE loan guarantee program requirements and project structures. An impartial observer could easily conclude that the Center for American Progress hopes to undermine the…