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Posts Tagged ‘President Obama’


Thursday, March 31st, 2011


March 31, 2011
Nuclear Townhall
From the Editors

Perhaps the best commentary to President Obama’s energy address yesterday came from the two cable networks, CNN and Fox, which both cut away after five minutes and went back to broadcasting local news.
The speech was such a yawner that even the President seemed bored. Even after choosing one of those college-freshman audiences (people who haven’t yet spent a lifetime listening to energy speeches), the President seemed completely abstracted, gazing off in the distance for long seconds as if he’d much rather be someplace else.
You can’t blame him. His address could have been given by President Nixon in 1974, President Carter in 1977, President George Bush, Jr. in 2001 and so on down the line. (Actually, President Reagan didn’t give energy speeches. He simply scrapped oil price controls, freed up domestic production and cut imports more than any other President in the last 40 years.)  For those of you in the office pool on how long it would take the President to mention “energy independence,” it occurred at 3 minutes and 50 seconds into his speech.
So what did we get?  Another vow as to how we’re going to get “70 percent of our electricity from clean sources by 2020.”  That sounds ambitious until you realize – as Secretary of Energy Steven Chu points out – that we already get 50 percent of our electricity from nuclear, hydro and natural gas, all of which apparently qualify as “clean.”
The President also set a goal of reducing oil imports by one-third (what President hasn’t “set a goal” of reducing imports?) but that will involve electric cars. So far the Volt and the Leaf are selling miserably, even in the face of $4 gas. The President talked of running cars on ethanol and trucks on natural gas (electricity isn’t powerful enough to drive trucks) but those ideas have been on the table for decades and they never seem to get very far.
What had nuclear enthusiasts holding their breath was whether the President would back away from his recent support of the renaissance. He didn’t – or did he?  The President said he was in favor of nuclear “as long as it’s safe.”  What will that mean?  Is Indian Point safe?  Is Vermont Yankee?  Will it take the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ten years to decide whether small modular reactors are safe?  The devil will be in the details.
By this morning the story of the President’s energy address had disappeared completely from the Fox and CNN News websites. A Fox story headlined “Obama Lets Sunshine In” was about government transparency, not solar energy. The New York Times ran its story at the bottom of page 18.
The Moral Equivalent of War it wasn’t. People may be getting a little tired of energy addresses.

Read more about it at Politico


Friday, December 3rd, 2010

December 3, 2010
Nuclear Townhall

According to the Associated Press, South Carolina Governor-elect and rising Republican star Nikki Haley has told President Obama directly that the state “wants its money back if the Yucca Mountain nuclear storage site isn’t opening.”

The Governor-elect apparently advised the President at a White House meeting this week that “the federal government has reneged on its promise, and South Carolina wants a refund.”

South Carolina electricity consumers have invested more than a $1 billion in the government’s Nuclear Waste Fund, which has a balance of an estimated $23 billion.  The state is also storing thousands of tons of defense nuclear materials that are earmarked for the national site.

Utilities and regulatory commissioners are suing to suspend the almost $800 million that is collected from electricity consumers annually for the Fund.  South Carolina is among several plaintiffs in Federal Court charging that the Energy Department has violated the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, among other things.

The Obama Administration has requested no funding for the project in FY2011 and is seeking to permanently withdraw a license application for Yucca Mountain, now pending before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Haley told AP that “Obama pledged that he would have Energy Secretary Steven Chu call her promptly.”

Read more about it at Carolina Live



Friday, November 5th, 2010

Only a year ago, Solyndra, a California solar energy company, was riding high on the wave of federal stimulus dollars. Now it has crashed back to earth.
Yesterday Solyndra announced it is canceling plans to build a new 1,000-employee manufacturing facility in Fremont, California and will also close down an existing factory in Oakland. That will leave only one 1000-employee manufacturing plant in Fremont, but Solyndra plants to cut 150 jobs there as well. An IPO has also been cancelled.
It’s been a rapid descent. Only a year ago Solyndra received $535 million in government loans as part of the “clean-tech” revolution. Vice President Biden made the announcement by satellite and President Obama later visited the plant. Last December the company scheduled a $300 million IPO. Things fell apart after that. The IPO was cancelled in June and CEO Chris Gronet quit a month later.
Solyndra’s problems seem to be related to costs. It has a thin-film design that purports to be more efficient than conventional solar panels but is also more expensive. Competing against lower-cost Chinese and American manufacturers, it has been at a disadvantage. Sales are actually expected to double this year from $70 million to $140 million but still not as much as originally anticipated.
On the whole, the solar industry is still expanding, impelled by the huge impetus of federal money and state renewable mandates. But Solyndra won’t be keeping pace. Maybe all that federal attention just went to their heads.


Read more at Inside the Bay Area


Thursday, November 4th, 2010

As the smoke clears from the election, one of the energy arena winners may be nuclear energy.

Although the nuclear issue was barely discussed during the mid-term elections (except in Nevada, where Sharron Angle lost to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid), early statements from both sides of the aisle signal hope that efforts to advance U.S. nuclear energy may be a big part of a compromise bipartisan agenda – even a subject that Democrats and Republicans can heartily agree upon.

In his post-election press conference, President Obama specifically mentioned nuclear as an area of possible compromise:  “There’s been discussion about how we can restart our nuclear industry as a means of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gases,” he said.  “Is that an area where we can move forward?”

In response, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was quoted as saying a promising area of compromise could be “nuclear power and clean coal technology and other things the president said that he’s for and most of my members are for [as well]."

One big exception to this unanimity may be Reid, who may be hesitant to embrace a U.S. nuclear renewal that could potentially re-jumpstart Yucca Mountain.  But there are other options on the table. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said that on-site dry cask storage may be acceptable for the better part of a century. And AREVA is about to begin construction in South Carolina on a facility that will fabricate MOX fuel out of plutonium and depleted uranium from military stockpiles. This may be a backdoor opportunity to re-introduce recycling to the backend recipe.

Only a few weeks after the Nuclear Renaissance seemed to be stalling –- particularly with Constellation Energy’s withdrawal from Calvert Cliffs 3-– things suddenly look a lot brighter. There is tremendous pent-up demand for nuclear energy among Republicans – remembering that rousing ovation the President received when he mentioned it in his State of the Union Address.

So the prospects for progress suddenly seem more bullish. Faced with the need to compromise, both Democrats and Republicans may even arrive at the resolution that has been staring them in the face all along – that clean energy solutions that enhance U.S. Jobs and competitiveness are important — and that nuclear energy is a the most viable baseload resource to be central to any solution.


Read more at Platt’s


Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Hold on to your hats!  Another prominent liberal columnist for a national magazine has joined the pro-nuclear crowd.
Time’s Joe Klein lands in the circle with both feet this week, calling on President Obama to make the nuclear revival his “Apollo moon project.”  Saying that so far the administration has been an “eat-your-peas presidency,” Klein writes that taking the initiative on nuclear energy offers rewards in all directions.
“When Dwight Eisenhower wanted to build an expensive, national superhighway system inspired by the autobahns he’d seen in Germany during World War II, he proposed the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act. If Obama wants to get a major stimulus program through the next Congress, he should propose the National Defense Nuclear Power Act. And make it big: a plan to blast past the current financing and licensing quagmires and break ground on 25 new nuclear plants between now and 2015.”
Klein recognizes where the problems lie:  “Some environmentalists still see nuclear power as unclean, though their argument has been wilting over time as France and Japan, among others, have proved the safety and efficacy of such power and climate change has emerged as our most pressing environmental problem. . . . The coal companies won’t like it either. After all, a robust nuclear-power program will have more impact on domestic coal than on foreign-oil consumption. But who cares? The program would be wildly simulative: 25 new plants could produce more than 70,000 construction jobs.”
But he’s raring to go. “The National Defense Nuclear Power Act isn’t the comprehensive energy plan we need. It’s classic eat-your-ice-cream governance. But it’s a start. And we need to get started.”
If Time’s Joe Klein can embrace nuclear, can other prominent, levelheaded national columnists be far behind?

Read more about it at Time magazine



Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Veteran journalist Llewellyn King, host of PBS’s “White House Chronicles,” says the Office of Management and Budget “strangled [Calvert Cliffs] in its crib” and is pushing us back toward a nuclear “dark ages.” “By effectively axing a new reactor, OMB was acting against the  Department of Energy, Congress, and possibly the wishes of President Obama,” wrote King in his regular weekly column.

“Strangely, Congress and the Obama administration have declared the revival of nuclear power as national policy and  money has been appropriated for loan guarantees. But both are seeing their desires frustrated by OMB and its formula for calculating the chances of success or failure for new nuclear projects.”

King draws an apt comparison between Calvert Cliffs and the Cove Point liquefied natural gas terminal build just down the Patuxent River in the Chesapeake Bay during the 1970s. “[T]he Cove Point terminal and gas plant has been a symbol of the vagaries of the gas market,” he writes. “Much of the time it has stood idle, with fishermen maneuvering their boats among its piers.” The reason is unpredictable gas prices, which have yo-yoed between $2 per $11 per mcf in the last decade.
“The joker is wild-and the joker is natural gas, aided by the OMB bureaucracy,” he says “The nuclear renaissance may be delayed again in the United States, but 58 nuclear plants are under construction in 14 countries, including 24 in China alone,” King concludes in a very insightful and well informed analysis of the Calvert Cliffs situation.

Read more about it at Stock Markets Review


Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Sometimes it almost seems as if some environmentalist movement activists would prefer to live in a fantasy world. After President Obama literally hung himself out to dry by tying up Congress for almost a year over climate legislation while the economy struggled with the Great Recession, environmentalists are now responding in self-absorbed fashion by blaming the President for not being a good enough environmentalist.

Glenn Hurowitz expresses this budding sentiment by declaring “Environmentalists Need a New President” in Grist: “Like many environmentalists, I’ve long criticized President Obama for not doing enough to protect the planet — but now I fear that he is not only not doing enough, he is actively going out of his way to fight climate action on many fronts.”

Hurowitz takes the President to task for not running out to greet Bill McGibben when he arrived at the White House last week towing President Carter’s solar panels. At least the President had sense enough to know that symbolic icons for the sake of a few gallons of warm water a day would have been the final stroke drawing the equation between his current malaise and Carter’s failed Presidency.

There was always one clear path that could have led to significant legislation on curbing carbon emissions. That was for the environmental movement to embrace nuclear power. Nuclear had everything to gain from a carbon regime and people who worry about global warming had everything to gain from an alliance with nuclear. But no, in the secular religion of environmentalism, nuclear power plays the part of Darth Vader.

So instead of declaring themselves hardheaded realists willing to seek practical solutions, environmentalists  preferred to play the role of starry-eyed dreamers fantasizing that a modern economy can be powered by updating the Medieval technology of windmills.

Accordingly, the movement has no one to blame but themselves. It is the height of hypocrisy for them to turn around now and start blaming the President.



Monday, September 13th, 2010

Ever since President Obama talked about drawing energy from “wind and sun and soil” in his Inaugural Address, the goal of “green energy” has been almost synonymous with his efforts to stimulate the economy. In an insightful article, however, the Washington Times has noted that “green jobs” have disappeared from the latest stimulus effort.

“The long delays typical with environmentally friendly projects – combined with reports of green stimulus funds being used to create jobs in China and other countries, rather than in the U.S. – appear to have killed the administration’s appetite for pushing green projects as an economic cure.”

The article notes that while renewable energy projects totaled $92 billion in the original 2009 stimulus package – 11 percent of all projects – only 20 percent of that money has yet been spent, the lowest rate of disbursement in any category. “ Spending on renewables is slow to get out of the door,” the Times quotes Samuel Sherraden, an economic analyst at the liberal New America Foundation in Washington.  Meanwhile, a Department of Energy survey has found that as much as 80 percent of funding in some renewable projects went to companies in Spain, Korea and particularly China.

That China is feasting by manufacturing dubious renewable products to the U.S. is particularly ironic since China has opted for nuclear power for its own energy needs.  While shipping windmills and solar collectors to the West, China has announced construction of an entire “Nuclear City” Haiyan where it will promote nuclear development both at home and abroad. China currently has 23 reactors under construction.

Read more at the Washington Times


Friday, August 13th, 2010

President Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future has been instructed to use “science” in its recommendations on how to deal with the nation’s nuclear spent fuel. This is notwithstanding the fact that the Administration admits that the decision to terminate Yucca Mountain was not made on any scientific or technical basis.

But now a group of social scientists is arguing that the Commission had better consider “social science” in its deliberations as well. Writing in the current issue of Science, the prestigious journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a team of sixteen social scientists from around the country urges the BRC to weigh the science of public opinion as carefully as they consider the technical aspects of nuclear reprocessing.

"While scientific and technical analyses are essential, they will not and arguably should not carry the day unless they address, substantively and procedurally, the issues that concern the public," the experts write. Sharon M. Friedman, professor of journalism at Lehigh University, one of the lead authors, said the President’s panel "appears to be overlooking what social scientists have learned over 20 years about public perception of, and response to, the risks of nuclear wastes.”

The paper does not pretend to offer solutions but concludes:  "Addressing the relevant social issues does not guarantee success, but ignoring them increases the chances of repeating past failures, like Yucca Mountain."

Read more at the NY Times


Monday, July 19th, 2010

Almost unnoticed in the Main Stream Media, James Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York City, who has been sounding the alarm about global warming since 1988, has signed a letter to President Obama urging a nuclear summit.
The letter was signed by 46 prominent scientists and engineers. It also had the endorsement of eleven Senators, both Republicans and Democrats. The letter urged the President to call a Nuclear Energy Summit to iron out several key issues in moving the country forward in the Nuclear Renaissance.  The letter was originated by Rod Adams, blogger on Atomic Insights, also a signatory.
Most of the signers were prominent nuclear scientists and engineers such as Ted Rockwell and Eric Loewen, president-elect of the American Nuclear Society, plus several vocal skeptics of global warming such as S. Fred Singer. The letter from the Senators, delivered in March, was signed by Senators such as Democrat Tom Carper and Republican Lamar Alexander who had already declared their support of nuclear.
The presence of Hansen on the list, however, is a further indication that some of the most vocal advocates of global warming are more comfortably reconciling themselves to the idea that nuclear power must be part of the solution. Prior to this, expressing concern about global warming was almost automatically coupled with a declaration that “renewable energy” is the remedy.
Hansen first achieved prominence when he testified before Congress in 1988 that rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere would soon be warming the earth’s temperatures. He has been particularly critical of coal, calling for a complete shutdown of coal plants and calling the unit trains that transport thousands of tons of coal each day “death trains.” 
In 2005, Hansen claimed on “60 Minutes” that he was being censored by the Bush Administration for his climate views. In 2008 he said that oil company executives should be prosecuted for “high crimes against humanity and nature.”  In 2009, he was arrested in a demonstration against mountaintop mining in West Virginia.
Still, although he has expressed private support for “next generation” nuclear plants, this is the first time Hansen has gone on record urging the government to further explore the case for nuclear power.
Said Rod Adams on whether supporting nuclear power now means embracing global warming and vice versa:  “Believe it or not, the topic of why we need to work to develop this incredible power source did not even come up in the discussions. I believe that is because all of us believe that the reasons are self-evident. They include the ability of nuclear fission to produce vast quantities of reliable, emission free energy.”

Read more at The Energy Collective