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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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Unexpectedly Good News Regarding Energy Trends

Ralph Cavanagh’s Blog - Natural Resources Defense Council

Unexpectedly Good News Regarding Energy Trends

Posted July 12, 2012 in Solving Global Warming


1. Although the U.S. economy has almost tripled in size over the past forty years, oil use is up by only about one percent. Just since 2007, we’ve cut oil consumption by over 12 percent; that year will almost certainly rank as the all-time peak, given prospects for sustained progress in fuel economy and the continuing emergence of other alternatives to oil. Those who complain that the United States has made no progress in reducing its oil dependence are entirely wrong.

2. Looking ahead, higher fuel economy standards already adopted for cars and light trucks will be saving the equivalent of more than two million barrels of oil a day by 2025 -- that’s more than one-tenth of total U.S. oil use today, comparable to what we import from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela combined.

3. Since 2000, U.S. electricity use has grown more slowly than the population for the first sustained period since the industry was launched a century ago by Thomas Edison and Samuel Insull, who helped create the nation’s electrical infrastructure. In just the past decade, our use of coal to generate electricity has declined significantly – by the annual equivalent of more than sixty giant 500 Megawatt power plants, which represents about ten percent of total U.S. coal-fired generation capacity. The principal replacement sources have been natural gas and wind power (the latter of which boosted its production 20-fold in just a decade), yielding a giant national and international dividend in avoided emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury and carbon dioxide.

4. When you adjust for economic growth and inflation, the United States has cut its energy needs by more than 50% since 1973 and the trend shows no signs of slowing. If you treat this 40-year reduction as the equivalent of new energy supply, the resulting resource is now almost four times larger than the expansion of output from all other energy sources combined over that same period (including oil, natural gas, nuclear power, biofuels, wind and solar).



GOES-13 Satellite Movie of the Derecho (the storm that left 3 million without power around DC)

News release:
NASA satellites examine powerful summer derecho

As a powerful summertime derecho moved from Illinois to the Mid-Atlantic states on June 29, expanding and bringing destruction with it, NASA and other satellites provided a look at various factors involved in the event, its progression and its aftermath.

According to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center web site, a derecho (pronounced "deh-REY-cho" is a widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms. Damage from a derecho is usually in one direction along a relatively straight track. By definition an event is classified a derecho if the wind damage swath extends more than 240 miles (about 400 kilometers) and includes wind gusts of at least 58 mph (93 km/h) or greater along most of its length.

These storms are most common in the United States during the late spring and summer, with more than three quarters occurring between April and August. They either extend from the upper Mississippi Valley southeast into the Ohio Valley, or from the southern Plains northeast into the mid-Mississippi Valley....

More text at: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-07/nsfc-nse070512.php

Video page:

What is both old and new at the same time?

It was supposed to demonstrate that the new generation of nuclear power can do what the nuclear industry has never done in the past - complete a project on time and on budget. But Finland's French built plant, already 5 years past its completion deadline and billions of dollars over budget, stumbles yet again.

Finland's TVO says nuclear reactor not ready in 2014
July 16, 2012

Finnish electricity company TVO revealed on Monday a new delay in the operation of an EPR nuclear reactor being built by Areva and Siemens which is already five years late. TVO said that the reactor being built in southwestern Finland known as Olkiluoto 3 would not be ready to produce electricity normally in 2014 as previously expected and that a new timetable had not been set, blaming its partners for the delay.

"The plant unit's installation works and plant automation system engineering under the responsibility of the supplier have not progressed according to the supplier's schedules," the Finnish company said in a statement.

The European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) is the name for a new generation of nuclear technology, yet to be put into production.

TVO said that it was waiting ...

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-07-finland-tvo-nuclear-reactor-ready.html#jCp

"deliberative polling" - Does it have a place in democracy?

The broader implications of this might be of interest to some. It is a wonderful tool for deep exploration of public beliefs and values, but is it a method for actually crafting good decisions?

Japan's energy future too important to be left to experimental polling method

Once upon a time, in ancient Athens, state policy was decided not by elected representatives, but by a great assembly of all eligible citizens. Five hundred of these citizens were also chosen by lot for the Bouletai, or council, which spent time deliberating the issues facing Athens and drawing up bills for the assembly's consideration.

In the modern world, a small-scale version of this selection by lot and the group deliberation that was such an important part of Athenian democracy is being resurrected by U.S. academics in the form of deliberative polls.

In a deliberative poll, respondents are chosen at random to answer questions on relevant issues, just as in a regular opinion poll. Unlike a regular poll, however, the process doesn't stop there. Respondents are invited to a weekend event where they are given detailed information about the issues at hand, hold discussions with experts and politicians, and debate various points of view. At the end of the weekend, the respondents are asked the same survey questions again.

Deliberative polls have been attracting attention in Japan as well. Specifically, deliberative polling is set to be used to help choose between one of three options presented by the government for Japan's energy future -- a weighty issue in the wake of last year's meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Though the government is aiming to make...


“They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents...."

Fukushima and the Nuclear Pushers
The conclusion of a report of a Japanese parliamentary panel issued last week that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster was rooted in government-industry “collusion” and thus was “man-made” is mirrored throughout the world. The “regulatory capture” cited by the panel is the pattern among nuclear agencies right up to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“The Fukushima nuclear power plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and Tepco [Tokyo Electric Power Company, the owner of the six Fukushima plants] and the lack of governance by said parties,” said the 641-page report of The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission released on July 5.


In fact, the nuclear regulatory situation in Japan is the rule globally.

In the United States, for example, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and its predecessor agency, the Atomic Energy Commission, never denied a construction or operating license for a nuclear power plant anywhere, anytime. The NRC has been busy in recent times not only giving the go-ahead to new nuclear power plant construction in the U.S. but extending the operating licenses of most of the 104 existing plants from 40 to 60 years—although they were only designed to run for 40 years. That’s because radioactivity embrittles their metal components and degrades other parts after 40 years making the plants unsafe to operate. And the NRC is now considering extending their licenses for 80 years.

Moreover, the NRC’s chairman...


The OP can't count things like this

Utility regulators asleep at the switch

There is a reason for all of the bluster in North Carolina over the ouster of Bill Johnson as CEO of newly combined Duke Energy and Progress Energy. The regulators are embarrassed for failing to do their job and properly examine the deal. In North Carolina, utility regulators did not even ask about the shuttered Crystal River nuclear power plant. In Florida, they asked but failed to move aggressively and had even less authority to review the merger. If regulators didn't see this coming, they have only themselves to blame.

Former Duke CEO James Rogers replaced Johnson, the former Progress Energy CEO, as head of the combined company. Rogers told the North Carolina Utilities Commission on Tuesday that the board of directors forced Johnson's resignation hours after the merger closed due to "an accumulation of concerns and observations" that began surfacing earlier this year. Among the major issues: the extent of problems at the troubled Crystal River nuclear plant. The facility was shut down in 2009 for repairs, but it remains shuttered after Progress Energy's failed attempt to repair it without hiring an outside firm.

Yet in the days leading up to the merger's completion July 2, the North Carolina commission refused to examine the Crystal River issue despite requests from watchdog groups. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who launched his own investigation last week, claimed, "We need to get the bottom of this to make sure we protect consumers." It seems a little late for the cavalry .

For months, Progress Energy customers have been begging the Florida Public Service Commission to take a harder look at the botched repair job in Crystal River and whether it should just be shut down. (The PSC will hear a status report next month.) The PSC also has been unwilling to re-examine its approval of an advanced nuclear fee paid by 1.6 million Florida customers for a proposed Levy County nuclear plant that has more than quadrupled in cost since it was first announced six years ago.

Also absent: the Republican-led Florida Legislature...


Good review of where the coal/nuclear (centralized thermal system) has left us.

First a couple of basic facts of life: Whether you like it or not, coal and nuclear are two sides of the same economic coin and since we live in a world of market systems this means that promoting nuclear is exactly the wrong thing to do if you want to shut down coal plants. The economics of nuclear plants drive consumption rather than promoting efficiency and conservation - which means they expand energy markets and that keeps coal plants operating.

Renewables, on the other hand, change the economic rewards of the energy delivery system in a way that works to shut down large scale thermal.

It is good to remember that it was Dick Cheney and that pushed for an extremely active public relations effort from the nuclear industry about climate change. (And we all know how worried he and Shrub were about the problem.) Any time climate change is brought up and renewables are shown to be the answer for cost, safety, and sustainability reasons, the nuclear acolytes show up with their fangs dripping falsehoods and misinformation just like the pack of starving attack dogs Dick Cheney designed them to be.

We'd be much further along in response to climate change if the nuclear pushers would end their economically rationalized alliance with coal.

(UK) This government's energy policies are a timebomb

Barry Gardiner MP is special envoy for climate change and the environment to the leader of the opposition

This government's energy policies are a timebomb
When the energy crisis comes around 2018, remember George Osborne and co, and how they misread the markets

Sometime in 2018 or shortly thereafter, the UK will experience a crisis. Electricity supply will not be enough to meet demand. When this happens, people will look back to 2012 and the disastrous policy decisions taken by the UK.

The first is the publication of the draft bill on electricity market reform. The second is the imminent decision to cut potentially as much as 25% from onshore windfarm subsidies.

What has become clear is that the government cannot rely on the market to supply the £110bn of investment in generating capacity that will be required to replace the old nuclear and coal power stations, which are likely to be turned off after 2017. What should perhaps cause the most surprise is that it is George Osborne and the Treasury who have so singularly failed to understand the logic of the markets.


In the words of one senior city analyst: "The government's policy is based on a lie." He is too generous. It is based upon three. The government wants to tell people that their electricity will become cheaper. It will not. The government wants people to believe that new nuclear can be built without government subsidy. It cannot. The government wants to persuade people that it is neutral as between technologies. It is not.

There are five main risks ....


National Diet* of Japan: Report of The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation

*The Diet is the parliamentary body in Japan.

Executive summary in English



THE UNPRECEDENTED NUCLEAR ACCIDENT that began on March 11, 2011 is the subject of the following report, which we hereby present to the members of the National Diet of Japan for their review. We do this in accordance with the Act Regarding the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission.

Our investigative task is adjourned today, some six months after the appointment of our Chairman and Members in December of 2011.

This report is meant to reinforce the administrative authority of the legislative body and strengthen oversight activities on issues related to nuclear power. As the first independent commission chartered by the Diet in the history of Japan’s constitutional government, we would like to emphasize how important it is that this report be utilized, for the Japanese people and for the people of the world.

So there is nothing to learn from Fukushima?

I'd say it epitomizes the problems Fukushima highlighted.

Press releasefrom Physicians for Social Responsibility - intended for distribution

Troubling Parallels Seen: The “U.S. Has the Same Colluding System Between Industry, Regulators and Government”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 12, 2012 – The same underlying “man-made” problems that contribute significantly to the Fukushima reactor disaster in Japan are in place in the United States and require preventative actions that go far beyond the limited steps taken far by the U.S. industry and its regulators, according to five groups commenting today on the English-language version of the official report of the Japanese Parliament’s Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission.

The 85-page executive summary of the report can be viewed in English.

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) Executive Director Catherine Thomasson said: “American regulators and the federal government should take heed. This report should serve as a warning that the U.S. has the same colluding system between industry, regulators and government. There are some reactors that will never have adequate evacuation plans as they are too close to human populations to be managed without severe consequences should a catastrophic accident occur. Others will remain problematic because there is the same mindset as in Japan that such accidents could not occur in our country hence there is inadequate preparation.”

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) President-Elect Dr. Jeffrey Patterson said: “This report demonstrates that no government or industry is prepared to adequately deal with the short or long term consequences of disasters such as Fukushima. From a medical standpoint Fukushima, Chernobyl and other radiation disasters are dangerous experiments which are releasing unknown quantities of long lived radiation on non-consenting populations who will be repeatedly exposed as the radioactive materials recycle through the environment. The results of this unconscionable experiment will not be fully known for generations, if ever. There is no ‘safe’ dose of radiation.”

Other groups in the U.S. speaking out today include: Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Georgia WAND, and Nuclear Information and Resource Service.

Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), said: “The report concluded that regulation in Japan was not rigorous. Sadly that applies to the United States as well. Just ten days after the start of the Fukushima disaster, the NRC extended the license of Vermont Yankee for 20 years, though it is the same design as the Fukushima reactors and it has more spent fuel in its pool than all four stricken reactors there put together. The report should jolt the NRC into implementing the lessons of Fukushima before licensing new reactors and relicensing existing ones.”

Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) said: "This is an extremely important report especially to those of us here in the Southeast given the high percentage of existing and proposed nuclear reactors in this region. Since Fukushima, we've listened to industry proponents and nuclear utilities constantly telling the public that a tsunami can't happen here or an earthquake of the scale of Fukushima. But this report is saying that the devastating Fukushima accident was 'man-made.' That a ‘witch’s brew’ of regulator, utility and government negligence led to this tragedy. Unfortunately, that collusion and lack of oversight occurs right here. And it's beyond time for the nuclear industry, its cheerleaders and its regulators to wake up and take notice so that Fukushima doesn't ever happen here in the U.S."

Bobbie Paul, executive director, Georgia WAND, said: "It is tragic that this report was not published before Southern Company's reactors 3 and 4 in Burke County Georgia were given the green light by the NRC. Recalling the lone dissenting voice of NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko in the 4-1 vote: ‘I cannot support issuing this license as if Fukushima had never happened.’ This report validates the NRC chairman and should cause every citizen to challenge claims made by the nuclear industry that ‘it can never happen here.’ Man-made disasters - whether made in Japan or made in the USA - can and do happen.”

Michael Mariotte, executive director of Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) said: "Japan didn't learn the lessons of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and a Fukushima became inevitable. Unfortunately, the U.S. reality is no different: a powerful nuclear power industry consistently gets its way at a weak and accommodating Nuclear Regulatory Commission. And thus, another nuclear accident also becomes inevitable. One area where Japan flunked the test was emergency evacuation. In a move to incorporate the lessons of Fukushima, NIRS has proposed strengthening emergency planning regulations and expanding emergency planning zones. But the industry wants less, not better emergency planning. Comments on NIRS' petition for rulemaking are due July 16. What the NRC does with this petition will go a long way toward defining whether the agency is prepared to take strong steps to protect the public, or whether it will continue to allow nuclear industry interests to rule.”

The NIRS petition and related documents are available.

The groups highlighted segments of the Japanese independent commission report showing the following troubling parallels to the situation with nuclear reactors in the U.S.:

- "The TEPCO Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties. They effectively betrayed the nation's right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly ‘man made.’”

- “The Commission concludes that there were organizational problems within TEPCO. Had there been a higher level of knowledge, training, and equipment inspection related to severe accidents, and had there been specific instructions given to the on-site workers concerning the state of emergency within the necessary time frame, a more effective accident response would have been possible.”

- “The Commission concludes that the residents' confusion over the evacuation stemmed from the regulators' negligence and failure over the years to implement adequate measures against a nuclear disaster, as well as a lack of action by previous governments and regulators focused on crisis management.”

- “The Commission recognizes that the residents in the affected area are still struggling from the effects of the accident. They continue to face grave concerns, including the health effects of radiation exposure, displacement, the dissolution of families, disruption of their lives and lifestyles and the contamination of vast areas of the environment. There is no foreseeable end to the decontamination and restoration activities that are essential for rebuilding communities. The Commission concludes that the government and the regulators are not fully committed to protecting public health and safety; that they have not acted to protect the health of the residents and to restore their welfare.”

- “Approximately 150,000 people were evacuated in response to the accident. An estimated 167 workers were exposed to more than 100 millisieverts of radiation while dealing with the accident. It is estimated that as much as 1,800 square kilometers of land in Fukushima Prefecture has now been contaminated by a cumulative radiation dose of 5 millisieverts or higher per year.“

- “The Commission has concluded that the safety of nuclear energy in Japan and the public cannot be assured unless the regulators go through an essential transformation process. The entire organization needs to be transformed, not as a formality but in a substantial way. Japan's regulators need to shed the insular attitude of ignoring international safety standards and transform themselves into a globally trusted entity."

The above-quoted experts and others are available to comment on the report findings.

Fukushima and the Nuclear Pushers

The conclusion of a report of a Japanese parliamentary panel issued last week that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster was rooted in government-industry “collusion” and thus was “man-made” is mirrored throughout the world. The “regulatory capture” cited by the panel is the pattern among nuclear agencies right up to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“The Fukushima nuclear power plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and Tepco [Tokyo Electric Power Company, the owner of the six Fukushima plants] and the lack of governance by said parties,” said the 641-page report of The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission released on July 5.

“They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly ‘man-made,’” said the report of the panel established by the National Diet or parliament of Japan.

“We believe the root causes were the organizational and regulatory system that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions,” it went on. “Across the board, the commission found ignorance and arrogance unforgivable for anyone or any organization that deals with nuclear power.” It said nuclear regulators in Japan and Tepco “all failed to correctly develop the most basic safety requirements.”

The chairman of the 10-member panel...

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