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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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Golden Fleece Award for Federal Spending on Small Modular Reactors

Golden Fleece Award Goes to Department of Energy for Federal Spending on Small Modular Reactors

$100 Million in “Mini Nuke” Corporate Welfare Already Doled Out, Another Half Billion Dollars Or More in the Pipeline for Major Corporations that Could Pay for Own R&D, Licensing

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The federal government is in the process of wasting more than half a billion dollars to pay large, profitable companies for what should be their own expenses for research & development (R&D) and licensing related to “small modular reactors” (SMRs), which would be about a third of the size or less of today’s large nuclear reactors. In response, the nonpartisan group Taxpayers for Common Sense today handed out its latest “Golden Fleece Award” to the Department of Energy for the dollars being wasted on SMRs.

...Ryan Alexander, president, Taxpayers for Common Sense, said: “The nation is two days away from the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration. But at the same time we are hearing the Department of Energy and the nuclear industry evangelizing about the benefits of small modular reactors. In reality, we cannot afford to pile more market-distorting subsidies to profitable companies on top the billions of dollars we already gave away.”

Autumn Hanna, senior program director, Taxpayers for Common Sense, said: “The nuclear industry has a tradition of rushing forth to proclaim that a new technology, just around the corner, will take care of whatever problem exists. Unfortunately, these technologies have an equally long tradition of expensive failure. If the industry believes in small modular reactors and a reactor in every backyard – great – but don’t expect the taxpayer to pick up the tab.”

The federal government already paid for a version of SMR R&D when small reactors were designed for the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarine fleet. Now some highly profitable companies – including Babcock & Wilcox, Westinghouse, Holtec International, and Fluor Corporation -- are at the federal trough for another round of federal support for small modular reactors that could go into suburban American neighborhoods.

The TCS Award ...


Policy Briefs
Taxpayer Subsidies for Small Modular Reactors


Duke CEO confirms threat renewables pose to their business model

Duke Explores Rooftop Solar as Panels Slow Electricity Demand, CEO Says
By Jim Polson, Bloomberg
March 1, 2013

NEW YORK CITY -- Duke Energy Corp., the largest U.S. utility owner, may expand into rooftop solar as wider use of photovoltaic panels by customers cuts into demand for electricity in states including California, Chief Executive Officer Jim Rogers said.

Rooftop panels are gaining popularity as the industry faces “anemic” growth in power demand that may redefine the traditional utility business model, as this growth makes it difficult to predict long-term energy demand, Rogers said at an analyst meeting in New York today.

“It is obviously a potential threat to us over the long term and an opportunity in the short term,” Rogers said in an interview after the meeting.

“If the cost of solar panels keeps coming down, installation costs come down and if they combine solar with battery technology and a power management system, then we have someone just using us for backup,” he said.


This confirms the statements I've made regarding the different roles that renewables and nuclear play in changing the fossil oriented system. Nuclear preserves the economic model based on large-scale fossil generation, renewable energy destroys it.

Climate Change, Nuclear Economics, and Conflicts of Interest

Climate Change, Nuclear Economics, and Conflicts of Interest
Kristin Shrader-Frechette
Received: 10 August 2009 / Accepted: 19 October 2009 Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Merck suppressed data on harmful effects of its drug Vioxx, and Guidant suppressed data on electrical flaws in one of its heart-defibrillator models. Both cases reveal how financial conflicts of interest can skew biomedical research. Such conflicts also occur in electric-utility-related research. Attempting to show that increased atomic energy can help address climate change, some industry advocates claim nuclear power is an inexpensive way to generate low-carbon electricity. Surveying 30 recent nuclear analyses, this paper shows that industry-funded studies appear to fall into conflicts of interest and to illegitimately trim cost data in several main ways. They exclude costs of full-liability insurance, underestimate interest rates and construction times by using ‘‘overnight’’ costs, and overestimate load factors and reactor lifetimes. If these trimmed costs are included, nuclear-generated electricity can be shown roughly 6 times more expensive than most studies claim. After answering four objections, the paper concludes that, although there may be reasons to use reactors to address climate change, economics does not appear to be one of them.

For many years bioethicists have recognized that conflicts of interest can skew biomedical research. An Annals of Internal Medicine study recently showed that 98% of papers based on industry-sponsored studies reflected favorably on the industry’s products (Rochon et al. 1994). A Journal of the American Medical Association article likewise concluded that industry-funded studies were 8 times less likely to reach conclusions unfavorable to their drugs than were nonprofit- funded studies (Campbell et al. 1998). Does something similar happen in electric- utility-related science?

Jonathan Porritt, chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission and advisor to Gordon Brown, says it does. ‘‘Cost estimates from the [nuclear] industry have been subject to massive underestimates—inaccuracy of an astonishing kind consistently over a 40-, 50-year period’’ (Porritt, Chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission 2006). A UK-government commission agrees, claiming virtually all nuclear-cost data can be ‘‘traced back to industry sources’’ (UK Sustainable Development Commission (UK SDC) 2006). University of Greenwich business professor, Stephen Thomas, says nuclear-industry sources ‘‘are notoriously secretive about the costs they are incurring’’ (Thomas 2005). Such charges suggest the need to scrutinize industry claims that, to address climate change, nuclear power is ‘‘the most cost-effective power source’’ (European Atomic Forum 2006).

Nuclear-Cost Studies
Apart from who is right about addressing climate change, how good is the science (therefore the ethics) behind studies claiming atomic energy is economical?


Paper can be downloaded with this link:

About the author: http://www3.nd.edu/~kshrader/

EDF confirms it wants 40-year contracts to build nuclear plants (UK)

EDF confirms it wants 40-year contracts to build nuclear plants
French-owned firm in talks with ministers over long-term subsidy guarantees as Ofgem warns of steep hike in energy prices

Electricity firm EDF has confirmed it wants the UK government to sign 40-year contracts to support building new nuclear reactors in Britain – as the national energy regulator warned prices are likely to rise higher than expected.

The French-owned company is in talks with ministers over "contracts for difference" funding, under which the government guarantees generators will be paid a minimum price for electricity from new nuclear plants: if the market price falls lower than this "strike price" then a surcharge will be added to customers' bills; if it rises higher there would be a refund.

The Guardian reported on Tuesday that in order to keep the strike price at below the politically crucial £100 a megawatt hour, ministers and officials are proposing the contracts will last for up to 40 years, double the original timescale. On Tuesday, it emerged that EDF's chairman, Henri Proglio, told analysts and investors that the company was in talks over 40-year contracts when the company published its annual results in Paris last week.

The UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) said on Monday no final agreement had been reached. However insiders acknowledge such long deals could have trouble passing EU state aid rules, and nuclear critics who are already angry the government has reneged on a promise that there would be no public subsidy for new nuclear power...

More at http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/feb/19/edf-40-year-contract-nuclear-plant

In This Nuclear World, What Is the Meaning of "Safe"?

In This Nuclear World, What Is the Meaning of "Safe"?
Friday 18 March 2011
by: Barbara Rose Johnson | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists | Report

In a nuclear crisis, life becomes a nightmare for those people trying to make sense of the uncertainties. Imaginably, the questions are endless.

Radiation is invisible, how do you know when you are in danger?
How long will this danger persist?
How can you reduce the hazard to yourself and family?
What level of exposure is safe?
How do you get access to vital information in time to prevent or minimize exposure?
What are the potential risks of acute and chronic exposures?
What are the related consequential damages of exposure?
Whose information do you trust?
How do you rebuild a healthy way of life in the aftermath of nuclear disaster?

And the list of unknowns goes on.

These questions are difficult to answer in the chaos and context of an ongoing disaster, and they become even more complicated by the fact that governments and the nuclear industry maintain tight control of information, operations, scientific research, and the biomedical lessons that shape public-health response.

This regulation of information has been the case since the nuclear age began, and understanding this helps to illuminate why there is no clear consensus on what Japan's nuclear disaster means in terms of local and global human health.

Nuclear secrecy in context


Japan's nuclear disaster demonstrates in powerful and poignant terms the degree to which the state prioritizes security interests over the fundamental rights of people and their environment. Japan's response to its nuclear disaster -- similar to other government responses to catastrophic events like Katrina and Chernobyl -- has struggled to control the content and flow of information to prevent wide panic (and the related loss of trust in government), reduce liability, and protect nuclear and other industry agendas....


Is Germany abandoning wind, solar and bioenergy?

This is an excellent summary of the policy battle being waged over energy in Germany between the progressive populace and the Conservative government trying to preserve the coal and nuclear industries.

Is Germany abandoning wind, solar and bioenergy?

As has been reported in Climate Spectator over the last two weeks, including a column from Gerard Wynn on Thursday, Germany’s environment minister Peter Altmaier and economy minister Philipp Rösler have been keen to reign-in feed-in tariff support for renewable energy in Germany (commonly referred to as the ‘EEG’).

Altmaier went as far as to claim last week that the policy would cost Germans €1 trillion by 2030. He proposes to cap increases in subsidies for renewable power at 2.5 per cent growth per annum, and suspend feed-in tariffs to new installations. In addition, in a highly concerning move for investor confidence, he proposed a temporary cut in the feed-in tariff already received by existing renewable energy power plants.


This initiative from Altmaier and Rösler to undermine the EEG doesn’t represent some sudden about-face realisation amongst the German population of the inadequacies of renewable energy. Rather Altmaier and Rösler are part of the conservative-right wing side of German politics that has always been opposed to the EEG initiative ever since it became law in 2000.


Since forming government in 2009 this right-wing coalition has made three attempts at stemming the growth of renewable, which have largely failed.

In 2010 they rewound the prior policy of phasing out nuclear power while putting in steeper reductions in feed-in tariff rates. But plunging costs for solar PV in particular meant it grew spectacularly in spite of the cut in tariffs. Then, not long after the Fukishima nuclear plant explosion occurred, Chancellor Merkel had to revert back to an accelerated phase-out of nuclear while re-embracing renewables.

But in 2012 Altmaier’s predecessor...


How the NRC Brass Refuses to Recognize Costly Lessons of Fukushima - truthout

This is a well written, succinct synopsis of the ongoing effort to ensure the safety of the US nuclear fleet.

How the NRC Brass Refuses to Recognize Costly Lessons of Fukushima
Sunday, 24 February 2013 12:11
By Gar Smith, Truthout | News Analysis



NRC: "It Can't Happen Here"

Japan's New Safeguards

Lessons Learned?

A Thirty-Year Delay

The Industry Pushes Back

Nuclear Watchdogs Challenge NRC to Act


Increasing Public Access to the Results of Scientific Research (MSG from White House)

I signed a WH petition re increasing access to the results of research funded with public funds and received this reply in my email. I'm not particularly pleased with the outcome as it seems tilted more strongly towards preserving the profitability of the large publishers than it does timely, increased access to the results of research. Anyway, here is the policy they are preparing:

Link to pdf of memo mentioned below:

Increasing Public Access to the Results of Scientific Research
By Dr. John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Thank you for your participation in the We the People platform. The Obama Administration agrees that citizens deserve easy access to the results of research their tax dollars have paid for. As you may know, the Office of Science and Technology Policy has been looking into this issue for some time and has reached out to the public on two occasions for input on the question of how best to achieve this goal of democratizing the results of federally-funded research. Your petition has been important to our discussions of this issue.

The logic behind enhanced public access is plain. We know that scientific research supported by the Federal Government spurs scientific breakthroughs and economic advances when research results are made available to innovators. Policies that mobilize these intellectual assets for re-use through broader access can accelerate scientific breakthroughs, increase innovation, and promote economic growth. That’s why the Obama Administration is committed to ensuring that the results of federally-funded scientific research are made available to and useful for the public, industry, and the scientific community.

Moreover, this research was funded by taxpayer dollars. Americans should have easy access to the results of research they help support.

To that end, I have issued a memorandum today (.pdf) to Federal agencies that directs those with more than $100 million in research and development expenditures to develop plans to make the results of federally-funded research publically available free of charge within 12 months after original publication. As you pointed out, the public access policy adopted by the National Institutes of Health has been a great success. And while this new policy call does not insist that every agency copy the NIH approach exactly, it does ensure that similar policies will appear across government.

As I mentioned, these policies were developed carefully through extensive public consultation. We wanted to strike the balance between the extraordinary public benefit of increasing public access to the results of federally-funded scientific research and the need to ensure that the valuable contributions that the scientific publishing industry provides are not lost. This policy reflects that balance, and it also provides the flexibility to make changes in the future based on experience and evidence. For example, agencies have been asked to use a 12-month embargo period as a guide for developing their policies, but also to provide a mechanism for stakeholders to petition the agency to change that period. As agencies move forward with developing and implementing these polices, there will be ample opportunity for further public input to ensure they are doing the best possible job of reconciling all of the relevant interests.

In addition to addressing the issue of public access to scientific publications, the memorandum requires that agencies start to address the need to improve upon the management and sharing of scientific data produced with Federal funding. Strengthening these policies will promote entrepreneurship and jobs growth in addition to driving scientific progress. Access to pre-existing data sets can accelerate growth by allowing companies to focus resources and efforts on understanding and fully exploiting discoveries instead of repeating basic, pre-competitive work already documented elsewhere. For example, open weather data underpins the forecasting industry and provides great public benefits, and making human genome sequences publically available has spawned many biomedical innovations—not to mention many companies generating billions of dollars in revenues and the jobs that go with them. Going forward, wider availability of scientific data will create innovative economic markets for services related to data curation, preservation, analysis, and visualization, among others.

So thank you again for your petition. I hope you will agree that the Administration has done its homework and responded substantively to your request.

San Onofre refunds urged at Costa Mesa meeting

San Onofre refunds urged at Costa Mesa meeting
The state Public Utilities Commission must decide whether costs associated with faulty steam generators can be passed on to ratepayers.


COSTA MESA – Supporters and opponents of a plan to restart a reactor at the shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant took their concerns to state utility regulators Thursday at a public meeting.

About 300 people attended the first of two three-hour sessions held by the California Public Utilities Commission, which is investigating problems with faulty steam generators that have kept both of the plant's reactors offline for more than a year.

The agency must decide whether costs associated with the generators can be passed on to ratepayers, or whether ratepayers should receive a rebate.

The four steam generators, two for each reactor, were installed in a $671 million operation between 2009 and early 2011. But after a small leak of radioactive gas brought the shutdown of the second reactor Jan. 31, 2012 – the first was already offline for maintenance – inspections revealed unexpected wear among thousands of metal tubes inside the generators.

The tubes carry water...


One-Sided Keystone XL Poll Tells the Story Big Oil Wants You To Hear

One-Sided Keystone XL Poll Tells the Story Big Oil Wants You To Hear
By Climate Guest Blogger on Feb 22, 2013 at 10:45 am
Cross-posted from the Sierra Club

After a weekend during which tens of thousands of Americans took to the streets to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline and demand solutions to the climate crisis, the American Petroleum Institute (API) is touting a one-sided poll they claim shows Americans supporting the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline.
However, a closer look at their poll questions unveils a biased survey which failed to equip respondents with the basic facts of the project before asking them to form an opinion. Instead, API crafted a poll to ensure they got the types of answers they were looking for by totally ignoring the environmental and economic realities of the toxic pipeline from Canada.

You can see the questionnaire for yourself here (PDF). And you’ll notice that poll respondents are presented with all types of arguments for the pipeline, but not a single argument against Keystone XL. In fact, the survey doesn’t even mention the words “tar sands” at all. Without the proper context, people who had never heard of Keystone XL before could easily associate the pipeline with conventional oil — not the toxic, more carbon-intensive tar sands oil that Keystone XL would transport. Furthermore, there is no mention of the grave risks Keystone XL poses. API’s survey ignores any discussion of possible oil spills, drinking water contamination, or climate-disrupting pollution — just to name a few.

The poll also primes respondents to believe that Keystone XL tar sands oil is destined for the U.S. marketplace — rather than noting that it is effectively an export pipeline that pumps tar sands oil through the U.S. to get to the global marketplace. ...

More at http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/02/22/1621891/one-sided-keystone-xl-poll-tells-the-story-big-oil-wants-you-to-hear/

Link to poll: http://www.api.org/policy-and-issues/policy-items/keystone-xl/~/media/Files/News/2013/13-February/Keystone-XL-Pipeline-Interview-Schedule-Feb-2013.pdf
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