A good reason to oppose development of nuclear power in the US

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… is the fact that you can trust the nuclear power industry about as far as you can throw an elephant.

If you can’t trust an entire industry to even look at you and not lie, then why do we trust them to do anything important?

For example, Ohio.

In Ohio, there has been a long term somewhat complicated fight over nuclear energy.

In a nutshell, and possibly oversimplified:

The Ohio nuclear power industry seeks major public funding to extend the lives of existing projects.

A bill is passed, HB6, which affords this bailout. The fight over that bill and similar initiatives fueled the development of a fairly impressive pro-nuclear lobbying effort which has spilled out into other states including Minnesota. The idea is that the nuclear industry wants states to pass bills supporting nuclear energy development, and/or remove restrictions or disincentives.

A citizens group, “Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts” is trying to get together a petition opposing the bill, asking for a statewide referendum abrogating it.

Now, there is a pro nuclear group claiming that the anti-nuclear effort is a Chinese Plot. Here is their over the top ad, showing now in Ohio, which is expected to be the beginning of a long and intense flood of rhetoric Ohio voters can expect between now and … well, whenever.

Just look at those poor frightened Ohioans being all plotted by the Red Chinese and stuff.

For the record, there is zero evidence that the Chinese are involved in any of this.

The actual opposition to HB6 “…includes consumer advocates, environmentalists, free market groups, health experts, and manufacturers”

Oh, the Chinese are involved. They have been funding the pro-nuclear side in this Ohio debate. Ironically.

Lots more detail here.

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23 thoughts on “A good reason to oppose development of nuclear power in the US

  1. You can also look at the long-running issues with “Plant Vogtle” in Georgia. The mismanagement (originally scheduled to come online in 2016-17, now projected for 2020/21) and associated cost overruns (an original $14 billion cost is now over $23 billion and climbing, with a 5% increase in utility bills in Georgia directly blamed on the cost of construction ) are still going on. That’s what comes when there is essentially no oversight of the companies who want to build these things, and no penalty for their misdeeds.

    Those issues don’t even get to the issues with storing waste, or the fact that the promised “cheap energy” from the plants never happened.

    Unless/until there is some accountability relating to these plants there is no good reason to continue to sink money into them.

    On a note completely unrelated to consumer nuclear plants: Greg, have you seen that the latest takes on the explosion at their Nyonoksa testing range released a cloud of strontium-91, barium-139, barium-140, and lanthanum-140 over neighboring regions? The evidence that the explosion was a small nuclear reactor, probably for their latest cruise missile, is starting to look quite solid.

  2. I heard at one point, in what I recall as a quote from Putin himself, that the missile was powered by isotopes — which I took to mean a radioisotope thermal source. Obviously, if that’s what it was, it would have to be a tremendously active isotope, hence very short-lived (and tremendously expensive.) In short, an amazingly stupid design choice.

    Of course the Russians are not that dumb. Therefore it had to be a fission reactor of some type. Figuring out what type might (I speculate) reveal that the Russians made some sort of breakthrough.

    The isotopes you list have half-lives of 9.63 hours, 1.38 hours, 12.75 days, and 1.68 days. I’m not knowledgeable enough to deduce anything from the isotopes or their half-lives. I look forward to more information about this.

  3. Same old story – Lomborg and Shellenberger redux – a reformed environmentalist sees the light, runs to the two worst UK papers, both right wing rags that have championed anti-environmental causes for decades, and spills out her heart that nuclear is the only way to go to beat the climate crisis, which both papers have for years steadfastly denied exists.

    The redux is that shilling takes different forms. In this instance, as with the two phonies above, it gets her face in the mainstream media. Publicity. Exposure. And damn the truth. The interview is an embarrassment. Predictably shallow, like RickA. First, ignore volumes of empirical evidence that humanity is heading down the toilet. Second, emphasize Hallam’s statement to isolate him as a deluded fool. Then ignore many alternatives to focus on one – nuclear power – as the only solution to climate change.

    Again, this is why Julian Assange was essentially correct when he said that, given the supine obedience of the state-corporate media complexes to wealth and power, that we might well be better off without them. As a scientist, it wastes my time reading puff-pastry journalism of this basal level.

    1. “As a scientist, it wastes my time reading puff-pastry journalism of this basal level.”

      It wastes the time of anyone who’s interested in rational thought. We see the kind of person who pushes it.

  4. To nuance what I said above, notice how the far end of the political right and climate-change denying blogs like WUWT rushed in to exploit Zion Lights’ conversion to nuclear. Shellenberger wasted no time in using her u-turn as an opportunity to bash AOC and Greta Thunberg – showing exactly what kind of a skunk he is. Patrick Moore, for his risible part, championed nuclear energy two decades ago until I suppose he received ‘better offers’ from the fossil fuel industries and he suddenly became a climate change denier.

    Essentially, the climate science denying community love nothing more than to see scientists and activists bickering over ways of dealing with climate change. They scream from their pulpits of denial whenever someone breaks ranks – even if, as with Lights, she still considers climate change a serious threat to our future well-being. The mere decision to jump onto another solution is enough to get people like Anthony Watts jumping up and down with glee.

    If – and I emphasize that word – IF nuclear power is a necessary solution to climate change, it will only be a last resort, because of three plus decades of procrastination. A bit like Steve McQueen being forced to set explosives to water tanks at the top of the 137 story building in ‘The Towering Inferno’ (1974) because all of the other options of dousing the fire had failed or else had been implemented too late.

    1. Yup, Ricky – like the rest of them, as you say – likes to troll on divisive issues. Especially nuclear. It’s just calculated bullshittery to score points (as he thinks).

      Ricky’s massive problem – which he explicitly resorts to denialism to try and dodge – is that even the World Nuclear Association can’t cook up a more optimistic scenario than ~25% of global electricity from nuclear by mid-century. And that’s far too little, far too late to be a silver bullet for climate change.

      So Ricky just… denies the evidence and keeps on trollin’.

    2. The WNA says “To meet the growing demand for sustainable energy, we will need nuclear to provide 25% of electricity before 2050 as part of a clean and reliable low-carbon mix. Achieving this means nuclear generation must triple globally by 2050.”

      Well – if we tripled the USA 20% we would be at 60%. Once you decide you have to triple nuclear by 2050, it isn’t a big step to quadruple it (which is what I am calling for).

      I don’t think it is I who is in denial over nuclear. It is just a matter of time before the rest of the world catches up and decides to go hard after nuclear power – the safest, most dense, baseload non-carbon power source we have right now.

    3. As usual at this point in your evasion strategy, you conflate the US with the world.

      Global carbon emissions require global solutions. The US is not the world.

      We’ve been through this before.

    4. Last time I checked the USA was part of the world. So if the world has to triple its nuclear, than the USA, being part of the world, should triple its nuclear. That is 60% (if the USA triples).

      I have always being talking about the USA (because this is where I vote). I have never said the WORLD should move to 80% nuclear (not that this is a bad idea). I have always advocated the USA moving to produce 60 to 80% of its power with the non-carbon emitting baseload method of nuclear fission.

      So when the WNA advocates tripling nuclear – I say sounds good.

      Hell – I would be happy if the USA doubled its nuclear from 20 to 40%. That’s a start. Once we get rolling on any increase in nuclear at all – the die will be set and nuclear will come to dominate, as it is the clearly rational choice for the future.

      Secretly I believe you actually agree with me. Increasing intermittent power sources just means increasing the backup power sources – and you know this. Now California knows this. Now Germany knows this. Now Australia knows this.

      More nuclear power is the answer – not less.

    5. Last time I checked the USA was part of the world.

      But not all of it. Please stop the stupid trolling.

      I have never said the WORLD should move to 80% nuclear (not that this is a bad idea).

      The WNA – no less – cannot imagine a more optimistic scenario than 25% of global electricity generation by mid-century allowing for differential build-out in developed vs developing countries.

      More nuclear power is the answer – not less.

      No, even under the most optimistic fairy-dusted WNA scenarios, nuclear is not the answer.

      Your denial of the facts does not change the facts.

    6. Secretly I believe you actually agree with me. Increasing intermittent power sources just means increasing the backup power sources – and you know this.

      Hardly secret, since I’ve said the exact same thing here on several occasions. The interesting part of the conversation starts when you accept that there is no alternative to large-scale wind and solar in any future low-carbon energy mix. Then we get to talk about the mix of backup generators – which is a knotty problem. And yes, nuclear can play its part in this – you know I’m not anti-nuclear, just anti you trolling on the issue.

    7. BBD:

      I fully accept that wind and solar will be part of the future energy mix. That is why I have room for 20 – 40% for alternative energy in what I have always advocated.

      I simply push back on 100% renewable and argue and advocate for nuclear as a very large part of the future fuel mix (60-80%).

      So I think we are in agreement on this issue.

    8. What happened to the wedges?
      For anything but nuclear, a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions would be looked upon favorably.

    9. So I think we are in agreement on this issue.

      No, we are not. Nuclear will at the very best manage ~25% by later this century so W&S will have to scale commensurately to fill the supply deficit created by FF phaseout.

      I’ve explained why you are full of shit on nuclear. I don’t agree with your bullshit numbers. Nor does anyone in the industry from the WNA on down. Imo you are just another little political troll who doesn’t even care enough to do the most basic research into this and refuses to listen to the explanations provided by those who have.

    10. BBD says “No, we are not. ”

      Well – that is so sad. Here I thought we both agreed that nuclear was going to be an important part of the future energy mix, and just disagreed on the percentage of nuclear (especially in the USA).

      Oh well – I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.

      I will continue to advocate for increased nuclear power and you can keep doing whatever it is you do.

    11. Well – that is so sad. Here I thought we both agreed that nuclear was going to be an important part of the future energy mix, and just disagreed on the percentage of nuclear (especially in the USA).

      Oh well – I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.

      I will continue to advocate for increased nuclear power and you can keep doing whatever it is you do.

      Correcting your bullshit and being ignored…

      Oh well – I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.

      You’re just flat-out wrong. Read the fucking WNA report.

  5. BBD, WNA optimistic scenario assumes,correctly, a large increase in energy consumption.
    However, most of the global warming proposals tend to use incentives to keep energy demand low in their assumptions. WNA’s optimistic scenario would be a much higher percentage if coupled with the consumption model in the high renewables scenarios.

    Even a 20% reduction is higher than many proposals that get sold in the name of global warming.
    Smart AC, light bulbs, etc.

    1. However, most of the global warming proposals tend to use incentives to keep energy demand low in their assumptions.

      Which ones? Those I am familiar with assume both increased demand and increased energy efficiency in tandem, but increased net demand.

      But nuclear remains not a silver bullet. Tell Ricky. He might listen to you.

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