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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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Election 2016: Chris Christie Embraces Nuclear Energy Industry That Has Backed Him

Election 2016: Chris Christie Embraces Nuclear Energy Industry That Has Backed Him
By Andrew Perez @AndrewPerezDC andrew.perez@ibtimes.com on September 17 2015

Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday the federal government should follow New Jersey’s lead and invest in nuclear energy to address climate change. Left unsaid: Christie has received substantial support as governor from the nuclear energy industry.

During CNN’s Republican presidential debate, Christie argued against “massive government intervention” to address climate change, and said that in New Jersey “53 percent of our electricity comes from nuclear.”

“We shouldn't be destroying our economy in order to chase some wild, left-wing idea that somehow us by ourselves is going to fix the climate,” Christie said. “We can contribute to that and be economically sound. We have proven we can do that in New Jersey. Nuclear needs to be back on the table in a significant way in this country if we want to go after this problem.”

Energy companies with nuclear interests have poured money into groups affiliated with Christie since he became governor, and at least one such utility -- New Jersey’s largest electricity provider -- is backing his presidential campaign...


Captured US Regulators Drop Second Phase of Study Threatening Nuclear Industry

Nuclear regulators drop cancer risk study

By Timothy Cama - 09/08/15 04:57 PM EDT
Federal nuclear energy regulators have decided to end a study they had started to determine the risks of cancer near nuclear power plants.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which had hired the National Academy of Sciences to conduct the study, said Tuesday that it determined that the cost and time of the second phase of its research would be too high given the agency’s budget restraints.

“We’re balancing the desire to provide updated answers on cancer risk with our responsibility to use congressionally-provided funds as wisely as possible,” Brian Sheron, director of the NRC’s research office, said in a statement.
“The NAS estimates it would be at least the end of the decade before they would possibly have answers for us, and the costs of completing the study were prohibitively high,” he said.

The NRC undertook the study effort in 2010 and completed the first phase in 2012. But the first phase on resulted in recommendations for a second phase...


Regulatory Capture: What the Experts Have Found

“Regulatory capture” occurs when special interests co-opt policymakers or political bodies — regulatory agencies, in particular — to further their own ends. Capture theory is closely related to the “rent-seeking” and “political failure” theories developed by the public choice school of economics. Another term for regulatory capture is “client politics,” which according to James Q. Wilson, “occurs when most or all of the benefits of a program go to some single, reasonably small interest (and industry, profession, or locality) but most or all of the costs will be borne by a large number of people (for example, all taxpayers).” (James Q. Wilson, Bureaucracy, 1989, at 76).

While capture theory cannot explain all regulatory policies or developments, it does provide an explanation for the actions of political actors with dismaying regularity. Because regulatory capture theory conflicts mightily with romanticized notions of “independent” regulatory agencies or “scientific” bureaucracy, it often evokes a visceral reaction and a fair bit of denialism. (See, for example, the reaction of New Republic’s Jonathan Chait to Will Wilkinson’s recent Economist column about the prevalence of corporatism in our modern political system.) Yet, countless studies have shown that regulatory capture has been at work in various arenas: transportation and telecommunications; energy and environmental policy; farming and financial services; and many others.

I thought it might be useful to build a compendium of quotes from various economists and political scientists who have studied the regulatory process throughout history and identified regulatory capture or client politics as a major problem. I would greatly appreciate having others suggest additional quotes and studies to add to this list since I plan to update it frequently and eventually work all of this into a future paper or book.

The following list is chronological and begins, surprisingly, with the thoughts of progressive hero Woodrow Wilson…

Woodrow Wilson, The New Freedom: A Call For the Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People (1913) at 201-202:

“If the government is to tell big business men how to run their business, then don’t you see that big business men have to get closer to the government even than they are now? Don’t you see that they must capture the government, in order not to be restrained too much by it? Must capture the government? They have already captured it. Are you going to invite those inside to stay? They don’t have to get there. They are there.”

.... More at http://techliberation.com/2010/12/19/regulatory-capture-what-the-experts-have-found/

Could Fuel Cells Solve the Emissions Problem for Coal Plants?

The 'hydrogen economy' in action?

Could Fuel Cells Solve the Emissions Problem for Coal Plants?
FuelCell Energy is developing a novel carbon-capture technology with support from the DOE.

Julia Pyper
September 8, 2015

With a little extra engineering work, some researchers believe fuel cells could become one of the most affordable ways for coal plants to keep their doors open as pollution regulations tighten.

The Department of Energy selected FuelCell Energy Inc. (FCE) last week as one of eight funding recipients to pilot low-cost carbon dioxide capture and compression technologies. The $23.7 million project (with $15 million coming from the DOE and $8.7 million from FCE) will see a 2-megawatt fuel cell deployed at a coal-fired power plant designed to capture about 60 tons of CO2 per day, while simultaneously producing about 40,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per day.

This first-of-its-kind application is a modification to FCE’s existing Direct FuelCell technology, which the company says has already generated more than 4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. Researchers have been exploring the use of fuel cells for carbon capture since the early 1990s, but only recently has the technology declined enough in cost to be seriously considered as a solution.

Carbon capture only works with a molten carbonate fuel cell, a chemistry that relies on CO2 to operate. Flue gas from a coal plant contains 5 percent to 15 percent CO2, with the remainder made up largely of nitrogen, as well as other gases. In FCE’s application, the flue gas is routed into the fuel cell at one electrode, where the cell selectively takes up the CO2 and releases it in a concentrated stream at the other electrode. During this process, approximately 70 percent of the smog-producing nitrogen oxide is destroyed.

Once the CO2 is captured, it’s cooled and compressed utilizing standard refrigeration equipment. The purified carbon can then be sequestered or used for enhanced oil recovery...

More at http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Could-Fuel-Cells-Solve-the-Emissions-Problem-for-Coal-Plants

New York Public Library Puts 20,000 Hi-Res Maps Online Free to Download and Use

New York Public Library Puts 20,000 Hi-Res Maps Online & Makes Them Free to Download and Use

When I was a kid, my father brought home from I know not where an enormous collection of National Geographic magazines spanning the years 1917 to 1985. I found, tucked in almost every issue, one of the magazine’s gorgeous maps—of the Moon, St. Petersburg, the Himalayas, Eastern Europe’s ever-shifting boundaries. I became a cartography enthusiast and geographical sponge, poring over them for years just for the sheer enjoyment of it, a pleasure that remains with me today. Whether you’re like me and simply love the imaginative exercise of tracing a map’s lines and contours and absorbing information, or you love to do that and you get paid for it, you’ll find innumerable ways to spend your time on the new Open Access Maps project at the New York Public Library. The NYPL announces the release with the explanation below:

The Lionel Pincus & Princess Firyal Map Division is very proud to announce the release of more than 20,000 cartographic works as high resolution downloads. We believe these maps have no known US copyright restrictions.* To the extent that some jurisdictions grant NYPL an additional copyright in the digital reproductions of these maps, NYPL is distributing these images under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. The maps can be viewed through the New York Public Library’s Digital Collections page, and downloaded (!), through the Map Warper.

What does this mean? Simply put, “it means you can have the maps, all of them if you want, for free, in high resolution.” Maps like that above, of New York’s Central Park, issued in 1863, ten years before Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux completed their historic re-design.

Can you—as I did with my neatly folded, yellowing archive—have all the maps in full-color print? Well, no, unless you’re prepared to bear the cost in ink and paper and have some specialized printing equipment that can render each map in its original dimensions. But you can...

Library link: http://www.nypl.org/blog/2014/03/28/open-access-maps

Senior manager at Akkuyu nuclear project resigns, says Turkey shouldn't work with Russian company

Senior manager at Akkuyu nuclear project resigns, says Turkey shouldn't work with Russian company
MERSİN – Doğan News Agency

A senior manager at Turkey’s first nuclear power plant ... Faruk Uzel, who worked as the Public Diplomacy and Government Relations Manager for the Akkuyu Nuclear Joint Stock Company for four years, resigned from the company, saying the project should not proceed with Russian state-owned Rosatom, as they were unprofessional.

“This project needs to be done but not with these people,” said Uzel to a group of journalists at a press conference he organized at the Association of Journalists’ Mersin branch on Sept. 3.

“They [the state] should give up this project which is amateur, novice and full of technical faults. They should conduct it with more professional partners,” Uzel added.

Speaking at the conference, Uzel asked how a company, which could not isolate underground water from an information center built one-meter below ground level, could build a nuclear power plant 12-meters below ground level and near the sea....
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