GE CTO describes his company’s focus on oil and gas technology

Bill Loveless from Platts Energy Week recently interviewed Mark Little, GE’s chief technology officer, about the company’s interests in the oil and gas extraction sector. Loveless and Little discussed GE’s planned investments into an Oklahoma-based research center that will be the first GE technology development laboratory that is focused on a single business sector.

Mark Little: We’re very excited about going to Oklahoma. We have a global network of research centers that support all of our businesses. The first one was in upstate New York. First industrial research lab ever in the United States. We built out from that to India, China, Germany, Brazil, other places in the US. We’re going to Oklahoma for the first time with the intent of having a single business focused center. All these other centers support every business. This one will be focused solely on oil and gas.

Why are we doing that? There’s such a rich technology opportunity here to get technology into the oil and gas space. We wanted to really focus on that; make a showcase for our customers from around the world to come and see this and to help us develop technologies that they need to make their operations more efficient and more productive.

After watching that interview, do you have any more doubt about why GE leaders spend little or no time marketing new nuclear power plants that would reduce the growing demand for natural gas in the lucrative US electrical power market?

From a short term income point of view, GE has wisely chosen a high margin part of the oil and gas business that plays well with their exceptional skills in specialized materials and remote sensing. Not only does deep drilling require sophisticated materials, but it also requires mobile generators and an increasingly large array of treatment systems. Since hydraulically fractured wells exhibit depletion rates in the 5-10% per month range, maintaining a steady supply of gas from shale rock formations that require fracking means a continuing need to drill an ever larger number of wells.

Building machinery and technology to support oil and gas extraction may be a great business for GE; but what does this business focus do for the rest of us over the longer term?

If the profits from GE’s growing wind, water, oil and gas businesses were being invested in refining, marketing and deploying technology like ABWRs and ESBWRs that would leave us in a stronger energy position in the future, perhaps I would not feel the same way. It seems to me that the oil and gas production boomlet in the US has discouraged companies like GE from investing time and money into producing more reliable, longer lasting, low-emission fission energy technology.

Sure, unconventional oil and gas extraction seems to be the “in thing” these days in the energy market. I have often heard GE leaders say that they are simply meeting the needs that their customers have asked them to meet and that few customers are demanding new nuclear plants. However, bandwagon decision making can result in boom and bust cycles that generally do not end well for the masses. They are often quite beneficial for corporate leaders who bank their bonuses during the good times and depend on the rest of us to help them weather the bad times.

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39 Responses to “GE CTO describes his company’s focus on oil and gas technology”

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  1. Daniel says:

    So this is What the Western based Greens call démocratic energy choices.

  2. James Greenidge says:

    Seasons Greetings!

    We need a truly totally independent and self-sustaining nuclear industry in this country that would be unfettered by competing interests and free to aggressively advance the cause and promote nuclear energy with aggressive public nuclear education. The supposed pro-nuclear likes of Bill Gates and Branson and Paul Allen and similar new age moguls could snap up and turnover nuclear plants going out of business and create a joint venture that forms the nucleus of a real nuclear industry. They have the giga-bucks, but do they have the mega-guts do do it? We need a cadre of nuclear evangelists to help roll this ball and urge their likes to take the chance and do the right thing, but such people are not coming from the standing nuclear industry or nuclear professional organizations or nuclear media, but likely from the nuclear blog universe, and those like Wade Allison and Charles Barton would be ideal among the ideal to form such a founding committee to corral the persuasive talents and followers of nuclear blogs to this task.

    Have a Happy New Year — and all my sympathies to the communities of VY this coming plighted year.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

    • starvinglion says:

      GE recognizes that the hordes of clueless socialists will kill off nuclear. You can see it already: “We (the socialists) demand underpriced electricity, you (the vendor) get all the problems”

  3. Cpragman says:

    Wherever GE is going, you can safely predict the puck will be soon.

    They brought a smart meter to market. A few months later MIT profs were extolling the virtues of smart meters, and a few months after that, smart meters were being written into state laws.

    (Similar story with wind turbines).

    Coincidence?

  4. cyril r. says:

    It’s sad really, as the GE ESBWR design is technically very attractive. It could have been a spearhead LWR with a great many builds, with possibly even greater potential than the AP1000. Interestingly, GE’s passive BWR product line (as SBWR) followed a very similar evolutionary path as the AP1000 (as AP600).

    But Westinghouse is very serious about new build, so they came out a winner, whereas GE is a complete loser. It is hard for me to take them serious. They make the impression of a cowardly equipment supplier, not willing to put their money where their mouth is, and now it seems even their mouth is talking gas turbines and oil equipment.

    • Daniel says:

      And things start at the top. Did you see Danny Roderick’s nuclear drive ?

      He sits on top of Westinghouse.

      He is charismatic.

    • SteveK9 says:

      The ESBWR is still working its way through approval at the NRC. I think GE figures that if there is a demand for a lot of new reactors, they will be ready. It would be much better for all of us if they were proactive, but I wouldn’t count out the possibility of a lot of ESBWR’s being built eventually, although they will have a lot of catching up to do.

      And, leadership does change, Immelt can’t be there much longer.

  5. Paul W Primavera says:

    “Bill Loveless from Platts Energy Week recently interviewed Mark Little, GE’s chief technology officer, about the company’s interests in the oil and gas extraction sector.”

    And Jeff Immelt, GE’s CEO, was appointed by President Obama as the nation’s job czar.

    Who exactly is against nuclear power? Who appointed anti-nuclear Jackzo as NRC Chairman and then replaced him with a no-nothing geologist when he became an embarrassment to the pro-feminist Democratic campaign?

    Behold the fruits of your vote. We’ll remain addict to mineral slime and carbonaceous rock for decades to come because of that narcissist President and those like Immelt with whom he ingratiates himself.

    PS, GE is really big into solar and wind, too. But ESBWR and PRISM are being allowed to languish. Any surprise?

    • john Chatelle says:

      Yea, There was talk of a first S-PRISM installation in England. I don’t believe it would be advisable to trust GE to implement any such thing at this point. Although the GE Nuclear Engineers might be dedicated and enthusiastic, I believe they’d find themselves to funded in a way that’d guarantee no timely success.

      I’d rather see GE “spin off” all their reactor business. It may be a bit cynical, but I suspect they’ll sit out front of any IFR challenges to their existing oil and gas business by virtue of their being seen as the leader in IFR/Electro-refining technologies. They can stymie the whole IFR economic challenges by their being the IFR leader. It’s quite a trump card.

      • cyril r. says:

        Imagine how sorrowful the position of the GE nuclear new build design teams must be. Doubtless they are competent and passionate about their product, only to find themselves being dissed by their own mother company. Imagine how betrayed they must feel.

        • starvinglion says:

          If they were competent they would be working on batteries. Fission Reactor design nirvana was a thing of the 60′s, along with fusion. Sane people have moved on. The remaining true believers have simply driven up the costs of nuclear reactors, and the same problem still exists: storage. The folks in the nuclear camp couldn’t care less about storage.

          There is no actual demand for reactors because whats under the hood is still typically an ICE or hybrid. But no matter. The socialists want a SMR on every street corner to fulfill their fantasy world.

    • Dave says:

      Translation:

      “Socialism! Islam! Narcissism! Fluoride!! Birth Certificate! Communism! Czars! ACORN! Death Panels! Wahhabianism! Sharia! Waah! Obama Evil! Waah! I didnt get what I wanted politically! Waah! Obama’s fiendish fluoridators are sapping my precious bodily fluids! Waah!”

      Also, just to note, where nuclear is today has very little to do with the Antichrist being in the Oval Offoce. Outside of Yucca Mountain, things are pretty much where they would be if the Prince of Darkness had lost in either 2008 or 2012. The main factor that dictates the (poor) position of nuclear is the low price of natural gas for the foreseeable future along with high NPP prices. Secondary factors include Fukushima, wind overpenetration into the Midwest market, and the failure of cap and trade (despite being extensively promoted by the Father of Lies.)

      Of course this is my uneducated opinion, and the Son of Perdition himself may be behind every screwover of the nuclear industry. However, to me it appears to be a confluence of bad luck and pricing factors (that are likely due in large part to very long term, continuous ratcheting of safety standards and failure of non LWR technologies to be pursued by DOE/NE or the market.)

      • starvinglion says:

        “failure of non LWR technologies to be pursued by DOE/NE or the market”

        Yes, I suppose you are another one of the true believers of the LFTR cult over at energyfromthorium.com/forum. That place has sure attracted a lot of socialist loons in the general discussion area with their pipedream science projects.

        If you nuclear socialists are so dang smart, how come you can’t even recognize the main problem with nuclear?

        Nuclear has a bigger storage problem than renewables, and with renewables at least there is growth of which nuclear has none.

        The world doesn’t need any more brain dead phds churning out more paper reactors…it needs a better battery. Too bad the smarty pants in the nuclear world are too used to subsidies to care.

        • Dave says:

          I’m actually more of a PBMR/HTGR fan. Kind of a small crowd these days. LFTR’s cool, but is likely the labor of a lifetime, while the PBMR/HTGR might take less time, perhaps 2-3 decades to full scale commercialization given reasonable mobilization of resources by DOE/NE, the IAEA, the NRC, and the Chinese with their HTR-10.

          For the record, I mostly disagree with socialism, but, dude, you have no idea what real socialism is, especially when you go around calling the.nuclear industry socialist. It’s corporatist.

          • cyril r. says:

            Succesful development and commercialization of any high temperature reactor helps future designs like LFTR. A lot of common ground in materials development, testing, licensing framework, and such.

            With the sad state of current affairs however, and the factor of a million advantage for nuclear power, any nuclear plant is a good plant.

      • Dogmug says:

        You forgot:

        “Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi.”

        “Cheeseburger. Coke, no Pepsi.”

      • Brian Mays says:

        Also, just to note, where nuclear is today has very little to do with the Antichrist being in the Oval Offoce.

        Dave – I guess you missed the part of the job description of President that includes leadership. To be an effective leader, one must have a vision. Let’s look at the visions.

        During the 2008 campaign, Senator McCain wanted to build 45 new nuclear reactors in the United States by 2030. His long-term plan consisted of adding 100 new reactors. Personally, I think that this plan was a rather weak vision, since it would have been barely adequate to keep the share of nuclear-generated electricity at its current level, as the plants that are operating today are eventually retired.

        Nevertheless, he had the right attitude. In a debate the year before the election he said, “Nuclear power is safe, nuclear power is green [and] does not emit greenhouse gases. Nuclear power is used on Navy ships which have sailed around the world for 60 years without an accident.” I think that Rod would agree with that.

        Now, let’s compare that with the alternative. President Obama gave his take on nuclear power two years ago, when he said, “So those of us who are concerned about climate change, we’ve got to recognize that nuclear power, if it’s safe, can make a significant contribution to the climate change question. And I’m determined to ensure that it’s safe.”

        If it is safe? Really? The contrast in vision could not be more stark. McCain was sure that it is. Obama doesn’t sound so sure. His vision of leadership is, not to build more nuclear power plants, as McCain’s was, but is to “ensure that it’s safe.” Well, judging by the actions of his administration, I can only conclude that the only “safe” nuclear power plant is one that is shut down or one that is never built.

        The only good thing that I can say about Obama is that he was the least anti-nuclear of the three candidates vying for the Democratic nomination in 2008.

        Outside of Yucca Mountain, things are pretty much where they would be if the Prince of Darkness had lost in either 2008 or 2012.

        So, not only are you able to predict the future, you’re also able to predict the future of alternate realities as well? /sarc

        Your prediction is pure nonsense! Because of Obama’s decisions regarding Yucca Mountain, we’re still in a situation in which the NRC will not approve any licenses for new nuclear plants or even approve license extensions for existing plants. The plants approaching the end of their current licenses are stuck in a regulatory limbo. They are allowed to keep operating for the time being, but they don’t have an extension, and they have no guarantees that they’ll ever get an extension. Try to imagine what it’s like trying to make a business plan for your plant in that type of pathological regulatory environment.

        Unlike you, I do not presume to say exactly what would have happened had McCain been elected in 2008, but I do know the nuclear regulatory environment would not have found itself in today’s sad state of affairs if he had won the election. I know this because McCain would have not appointed Chu to run the DOE and Jackzo (who is now an unabashed anti-nuke, by the way) and Macfarlane to head the NRC.

        You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. That applies even to single-minded simpletons who always vote for one party.

        • EL says:

          During the 2008 campaign, Senator McCain wanted to build 45 new nuclear reactors in the United States by 2030. His long-term plan consisted of adding 100 new reactors.

          @Brian Mays.

          McCain ran a good campaign, but it was no more than that. His record as Senator is not quite so glowing as a proponent of nuclear power.

          http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jul/01/nation/na-energy1

          On his recent energy tour, McCain also called for 45 new nuclear plants by 2030, a goal he is prepared to back with billions of federal dollars.

          That too is a change for the four-term senator. Earlier in his congressional career, McCain was a consistent opponent of subsidies for nuclear power, voting five times in the 1990s against taxpayer aid for research on new-generation nuclear reactors. As recently as 2003, McCain opposed federal loan guarantees to help the nuclear industry finance new plants.

          And I’m sure his VP pick would have made all the difference, and all of the oil and gas money he was taking in (in contrast to Obama’s big spenders from his days as a State Senator in Illinois). Sure, many things became a lot more difficult after Fukushima (and safety issues were very much a part of shifting contexts for both R and D politicians in 2012 election).

          Nuclear seems to be a heavy lift for anyone in politics (large on rhetoric but small on results), no matter what side of the aisle you belong.

          • Brian Mays says:

            His record as Senator is not quite so glowing as a proponent of nuclear power.

            EL – Well, there’s a huge difference between influencing policy by being a small part of the legislature and driving policy by being the chief executive. This is why former governors always make stronger presidential candidates — because they have a record of running things from the executive branch — and usually make better presidents than former senators.

            Nevertheless, McCain’s platform was probably the most pro-nuclear since that of Senator Paul Tsongas in 1992. Although McCain, being a Republican, could own up to his platform, while poor Tsongas was forced to state emphatically during a debate that claims that he wanted to build more nuclear plants for energy independence were “a lie.”

            Those claims were made by the spouse of a potential candidate for 2016.

            And I’m sure his VP pick would have made all the difference …

            Why? Because she is from an oil-producing state? I’m not so sure. G. W. Bush also was from an oil-producing state, and if we look back on the past four decades, nuclear power did better under his administration than any other period during that time and certainly better than it’s doing today.

            … in contrast to Obama’s big spenders from his days as a State Senator in Illinois …

            Do you mean Exelon? I suppose that you’re trying to imply that because Exelon owns a bunch of nuclear plants, they would encourage him to support the expansion of nuclear power.

            Ha ha! … Nothing could be farther from the truth! As Rod has pointed out several times on this blog, Exelon owns a bunch of nuclear plants that have been paid off and that are making good money in the markets in which they operate. The last thing that the board of Exelon would want would be a rapid expansion of nuclear power, particularly any new plants that would compete with its old ones. The former CEO of Exelon has said as much several times, in so many words.

            Sure, many things became a lot more difficult after Fukushima …

            Almost all of the policy decisions that have hurt nuclear power were made by Obama before the tsunami at Fukushima. Blaming Fukushima for Obama’s shortcomings is nothing but a cop out.

          • EL says:

            G. W. Bush also was from an oil-producing state, and if we look back on the past four decades, nuclear power did better under his administration than any other period during that time and certainly better than it’s doing today.

            @Brian Mays

            Bush/Cheney did something to help nuclear power? That’s a pretty remarkable statement. Sure, they spent more money on research and development than in past. They were always pretty good at that (especially for their military contracting friends). They gave most of the PR attention to “clean” coal, and Energy Act of 2005 set the stage for massive expansion in natural gas (which I consider to be free give aways to the industry). They stood in the way of their own funding proposals for new nuclear plants (DOE loan grants) primarily because of their stalwart opposition to union labor.

            From an industry standpoint, I FAR prefer the Obama track record. Substantive progress on intractable waste management concerns (which still aren’t going anywhere under 30 year old outdated and unworkable policy prescriptions), several power plants under construction, watered down Fukushima response saving industry real dollars, choking domestic coal consumption options, moving carbon issues up the agenda, advancing new reactor programs (SMRs), and more …

            If you’re vaunted Republicans would have been willing strike deals and bargain more, I have no doubt they would have advanced issues much further (despite international setbacks). Pro-industry folks had someone to work with in the executive. Too bad Republicans were too concerned licking their wounds and acting neurotically selfish to notice.

          • Brian Mays says:

            Bush/Cheney did something to help nuclear power? That’s a pretty remarkable statement.

            EL – Yes, I’m sure it is remarkable to someone who is as ignorant as you.

            Energy Act of 2005 set the stage for massive expansion in natural gas (which I consider to be free give aways to the industry).

            Eh … yes and no. There were incentives for natural gas included in the bill — as they were for many forms of energy production, including renewables and nuclear — but they were put in at a time when the natural gas industry was relatively stagnant, with fuel prices that were both increasing and highly volatile. One would have to have had a crystal ball back then to have accurately “set the stage” for what is going on now.

            The situation with natural gas today is not all that much different than it was in the waning years of the Clinton administration, when the last boom in the construction of natural gas plants occurred. The main differences today are a miserable economy, which has provided very little incentive to build new capacity that isn’t either cheap or heavily subsidized (i.e., gas or renewables), and a glut in natural gas production that has occurred as a result of a technology (fracking) that has an uncertain regulatory and technical future. Furthermore, in spite of various attempts to take credit by the current administration, most of the development of new natural gas resources has occurred on private land, and federal government policy has been mostly an impediment to the development of these resources.

            They stood in the way of their own funding proposals for new nuclear plants (DOE loan grants) primarily because of their stalwart opposition to union labor.

            Care to back up that claim with something substantive? The Bush administration had only three years to get the loan guarantees (not “grants”) in place and signed off. This was at the beginning of the program, when much of the planning still had to be done. Meanwhile, how many loan guarantees for new nuclear plants have been inked by the pro-union-labor Obama administration in the last five years (eight and a half years into the program)? Hint: The answer is less than one.

            From an industry standpoint, I FAR prefer the Obama track record.

            Ha ha ha ha!! WTF gives you the right to talk about the “industry standpoint”?! When did you work for the nuclear industry? You’re just a know-nothing, insignificant graduate student working toward a degree in god knows what (although it’s clearly nothing technical, based on your comments). You prefer the “Obama track record” the same way that the UCS (Union of Corrupt Scammers) prefers his track record: it’s not perfect, but he has done everything he can in his hands-off, lazy, absentee style of governance to sink the nuclear industry.

            Just look at the record:

            Substantive progress on intractable waste management concerns

            If you are stupid enough to call putting together a scam “Blue Ribbon Commission” (whose advice has been completely ignored) after you have sabotaged the only legitimate option that is available, “progress,” then perhaps you might have a point, but you have forgotten that this “progress” has resulted in a suspension of all new licensing and license extensions of nuclear plants. Nor has it done anything to end the moratorium on new nuclear plants in many states across the nation. If that’s what you call “progress,” then I’d prefer stagnation. Thank you very much.

            several power plants under construction

            The plans for which were made during the optimistic days of the Bush administration. In fact, back then, the “industry standpoint” was that there would be about half a dozen plants with reactors under construction by now. The only thing that is amazing about the Obama track record is that the plants currently under construction haven’t been canceled by now.

            Nevertheless, these projects are forging ahead, not because of anything that the federal government has done, but because of actions by state governments and local utility regulators, who have allowed such things as CWIP, which you stoutly oppose, as you have made clear many times in the comments here. All of these power plants under construction are in states with Republican governors and Republican-controlled legislatures (i.e., “deep red” states), and you want to give Obama credit for this?!! Have you no shame?!

            watered down Fukushima response saving industry real dollars

            Well, if you want to call having your appointed chairman of the NRC declare an unnecessary 50-mile-radius evacuation zone for Americans a “watered down response,” then there’s nothing that I can do to stop you. You might, however, want to explain how this resulted in some sort of “saving” of “dollars.” Those of us outside of the insane asylum don’t have the first idea of what you mean. Perhaps you can clarify.

            choking domestic coal consumption options

            Yes, that has resulted in the increase in natural gas consumption that you fallaciously credited above to the Energy Act of 2005. The statistics are clear on this. The decrease in coal generation is proportional to the increase in natural gas generation.

            moving carbon issues up the agenda

            So how has that worked out?

            Passed “cap and trade”? Fail.

            Passed a carbon tax? Fail.

            Yes … I see … Not a stellar record, but a consistent one.

            By the way, McCain’s call for an aggressive reactor build was predicated on the need to fight Climate Change. It also was a “carbon issue.”

            advancing new reactor programs (SMRs)

            The first DOE program for what would be classified as an SMR for electricity production in modern times is the NGNP program, which began in the first term of the Bush administration. Fortunately, Congress has decided to preserve it, and it is still going forward, albeit under very little funding.

            The amount of money that the Obama administration as handed out to “advance” new reactor programs is crumbs compared to what the administration has flushed down the toilet on failed “renewable” energy companies headed by executives who were significant Obama campaign donors.

          • EL says:

            I’m sure it is remarkable to someone who is as ignorant as you.

            @Brian Mays

            What a good way to start out the New Year … you only called someone who doesn’t agree with you stupid maybe 4 or 5 times, and not your regular 10.

            One would have to have had a crystal ball back then to have accurately “set the stage” for what is going on now.

            You really can’t think all of us are that naive. The bill includes massive exemptions from federal oversight shifting burden of regulation to the States. From casing standards to wastewater management the bill leave much of this to local discretion and is a huge giveaway to industry. To say nothing about much publicized exemptions on disclosure.

            [the] … federal government policy has been mostly an impediment to the development of these resources.

            You’re funny!

            Care to back up that claim with something substantive?

            Sure … Mark Ayers. “The Bush White House held them up, according to AFL-CIO official Mark Ayers, because recipients were required to pay “prevailing wages,” a provision that favors union labor. The Nuclear Energy Institute contacted Ayers for help, he said, which he provided.”

            Ayers continues to lobby on behalf of nuclear, NEI, and government programs to expand nuclear workforce development and expansion of industry. You are aware that much of nuclear work is union work, aren’t you?

            Hint: The answer is less than one.

            Despite significant delays and credit downgrades, loan hasn’t been entirely derailed … yet. At this rate, and after reading these pages, perhaps it’s time for it to go. Wanna see ratepayers, even in these red states, scream when utilities board comes back at them with even higher costs? It surprises you that Republican governors would finance infrastructure projects this way, and shift the risks of investment from the developer to the local ratepayer and taxpayer base?

            You might, however, want to explain how this resulted in some sort of “saving” of “dollars.”

            You don’t think filtered vents are expensive?

            … after you have sabotaged the only legitimate option that is available …

            You’re living in a fantasy.

            If that’s what you call “progress,” then I’d prefer stagnation.

            Fine … it’s clear you have already made this choice. You’re angry an bitter, and only have blame for those who don’t share your view. You’re comfortable defending a self-reenforcing political ideology that by and large shares this point of view. Much of your contributions on the site make better sense given this choice and pretext.

        • Dave says:

          Brian,

          You said:

          “Because of Obama’s decisions regarding Yucca Mountain, we’re still in a situation in which the NRC will not approve any licenses for new nuclear plants or even approve license extensions for existing plants. ”

          However, new licenses for Vogtle and VC Summer were issued in 2012, definitely in the post Yucca age. Source: http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-reactors/col-holder.html

          Also, licenses ate being renewed in the post Yucca environment. Source: http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/licensing/renewal/applications.html

          So, you are wrong.

          You mentioned “single-minded simpletons who always vote for one party.” I am one of those “simpletons”. For me, it was Iraq and the wholesale destruction of civil liberty by Cheney and Bush that made me commit to not vote Republican as long as I live. Most present Reps are accessories, in varying degrees, to Cheney/Bush’s crimes against the Constitution, the law of nations, and the law of the land.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Dave:

            Brian was not wrong. A couple of years after Jaczko stopped the Yucca Mountain licensing review, a court ruled that the generic waste confidence rule could not longer be used since there was no plan for eventual long term storage and no progress being made.

            Here is a two part guest post describing the issue,

            http://atomicinsights.com/waste-confidence-a-classic-case-of-failed-leadership/

            http://atomicinsights.com/part-2-waste-confidence-a-classic-case-of-failed-leadership/

            Once the waste confidence rule was overturned the NRC halted all licensing and license renewal activity for a period of at least two years while they worked to revise the rule into an acceptable format. That effort is still underway and is still the subject of litigation, especially in relation to plants like Indian Point.

            http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/legal-battle-against-rule-crucial-all-us-reactor-licenses-rages/

          • Dave says:

            Rod, I concede the point. Apologies to you and Brian.

          • EL says:

            A couple of years after Jaczko stopped the Yucca Mountain licensing review, a court ruled that the generic waste confidence rule could not longer be used since there was no plan for eventual long term storage and no progress being made.

            Missing from your history is that waste confidence rules were significantly expanded when Jaczko was Chair and early in Obama admin (much to the pleasure of the industry). Court and State challenges have shut it down. These issues are all very contentious (as this history attests). Brain (and perhaps you) would like to blame single (or a few) individuals. This is overly simplistic.

            Yucca is seen by many as unworkable. If you want to find solutions to this issue, the path forward is clear as day. Folks looking for an expansion of industry should want to see this issue resolved. Prolonging a set of unworkable prescriptions from 30 years ago (as much of international history and industry best practices attests) isn’t going to get us there.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @EL

            I did not provide the full history in my comment. I linked to the history story as told in two guest posts by Paul Dickman, who served as Chief of Staff for Dale Klein who was Chairman of the NRC before being demoted by President Obama. Here are those links again for those who are interested in a detailed history.

            http://atomicinsights.com/waste-confidence-a-classic-case-of-failed-leadership/

            http://atomicinsights.com/part-2-waste-confidence-a-classic-case-of-failed-leadership/

            The project is not “unworkable”. If completed, the licensing review would show that the site is safe as a geologic repository.

            I am personally no fan of the site; it is about as far from all operating reactors as possible, which adds cost to any transportation effort. However, I have been convinced that the mere existence of a licensed and operating site would be valuable to the development of nuclear technology.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @EL

            Folks looking for an expansion of industry should want to see this issue resolved. Prolonging a set of unworkable prescriptions from 30 years ago (as much of international history and industry best practices attests) isn’t going to get us there.

            This issue has been fraught with uncertainty for at least 40 years. When Ralph Nader convened the Critical Mass Energy conference in DC in 1974 he told his assembled groups that “the waste issue” was one of their best weapons for constipating the industry. There are plenty of people who have no desire at all to see any solution; if any look close, they will move the goal posts.

            I don’t trust the political process on this issue. You are right, this is not just about individuals, but about a whole lot of people with varied interests that do not want nuclear energy to succeed.

            I now support Yucca because it seems to be the shortest path to the goal I desire – more nuclear plants as quickly as possible to address critical issues of fuel supply and climate change.

            I don’t expect either of those to result in complete crisis in the next 20-40 years, but if don’t start moving forward with the only available emission free alternative energy source that can actually replace hydrocarbon combustion, I don’t think our grandchildren will forgive us.

          • EL says:

            The project is not “unworkable”. If completed, the licensing review would show that the site is safe as a geologic repository.

            @Rod Adams

            A 5-0 vote, and doing “the only reasonable think they could do” is hardly a case of dreaded “mismanagement” as Dickman seems to want to suggest. And the legal, scientific, and historical context for this, as he adequately describes, goes back to 1984 (not one administration and one Chair).

            He has the President quoted saying Yucca Mountain is “bad science.” I’d like to know where he finds this statement. A citation is clearly needed. The President has obviously shut down the license, but he has provided numerous alternatives for new approaches to waste management and has attempted to keep business open for nuclear. Including significantly expanding waste confidence rule to allow on site storage of spent fuel for 60 years.

            The President has done his part, the NRC has done theirs, and Congress needs to step up and do theirs. If it doesn’t want to, it may have to be forced to by rising costs, political and industry pressure, legal conflicts, and to resolve what is otherwise an unworkable and intractable problem (acknowledged by most at this point). It’s my understanding the President doesn’t have a position on the science of Yucca. He simply thinks a “new approach” (one that is less prescriptive, informed by input from multiple stakeholders, based on sound science, adequately funded, and informed by international guidance and industry best practices) has a better chance of success of meeting federal obligations for waste management then doing nothing (or prolonging the stalemate on a long overdue and unworkable process that promises to make nobody happy in the end … including yourself, a proponent of a better alternative, as you suggest). This all sounds to me like there is much room for re-negotiation and consensus, if there are legislators up to the task, and with a job description to take on difficult challenges.

  6. George C says:

    A different take:

    The crash of the mortgage racket occurred not just because of swindling and fraud among bankers; in fact, that was only a nasty symptom of something larger: peak oil. I know that many people have come to disbelieve in the idea of peak oil, but that is only another mode of playing pretend. Peak oil, which essentially arrived in 2006, undermined the basic conditions of credit creation in an advanced techno-industrial society dependent on increasing supplies of fossil fuels. Most people, including practically all credentialed economists, fail to understand this. There is a fundamental relationship between ever-increasing energy supplies > economic growth > and credit-based money (or “money,” if you will). When the energy inputs flatten out or decrease, growth stops, wealth is no longer generated, old loans can’t be repaid, and new loans can’t be generated honestly, i.e. with the expectation of repayment. That has been our predicament since 2008 and nothing has changed. We are pretending to compensate by issuing new unpayable debt to pay the interest on our old accumulated debt. This pretense can only go on so long before our economic relations reflect the basic dishonesty of it. Reality is a harsh mistress.

    In the meantime, we amuse ourselves with fairy tales about “the shale oil revolution” and “the manufacturing renaissance.”
    http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/the-end-of-pretend/

    “between ever-increasing energy supplies > economic growth > and credit-based money” …………only nuclear works in this formula

    • starvinglion says:

      “between ever-increasing energy supplies > economic growth > and credit-based money” …………only nuclear works in this formula”

      Actually its just the opposite.

      • starvinglion says:

        You can’t build nuclear systems using batteries or teams of horses. You require diesel engines which means oil is banking the nuclear build. Remove the oil banker and the nuclear industry instantly collapses.

        • manic says:

          Oil isn’t banking nuclear. It’s utilised to a limited degree in the construction.

          Manufacturing and credit ‘banks’ nuclear. You may as well say nuclear banks the oil industry because they use electricity in the construction of its capital goods. Rubbish.

  7. Eino says:

    Dave wrote:

    “Also, just to note, where nuclear is today has very little to do with the Antichrist being in the Oval Offoce. Outside of Yucca Mountain, things are pretty much where they would be if the Prince of Darkness had lost in either 2008 or 2012. The main factor that dictates the (poor) position of nuclear is the low price of natural gas for the foreseeable future along with high NPP prices. Secondary factors include Fukushima, wind overpenetration into the Midwest market, and the failure of cap and trade (despite being extensively promoted by the Father of Lies.)”

    Dave is absolutely correct!

    There’s money to be made with little to no risk. GE is going after the sure thing. Those that follow the bumpy nuclear road may not reach their pot of gold.. GE is following their obligation to their shareholders,…..good business!

    • john Chatelle says:

      True, however unfortunate for the masses. Westinghouse is the underdog. Maybe GE will Nuke-zap an Elephant to drive home their perspective….

  8. starvinglion says:

    The loons in the UK are still spending more on fusion R&D than fission. They never learn.

  9. Bill Chaffee says:

    If we have reached peak conventional oil then peak total oil is not far behind. It won’t be long after that when peak gas is reached. I have the feeling that the glut of gas in this country will end rather suddenly . In the 1990′s it looked like cheap oil was going to last only to reach $147 a barrel in 2007. That’s one reason that I think that the decision to decommission San Onofre and other plants in this country is stupid and distructive. There are allegations that San Onofre had the worst record of safety complaints in the country. Do you know what the story behind that is? Is it a case of lying with statistics?

  10. MP says:

    With one of the economic weaknesses of baseline nuclear power being that off-peak electric rates are so low, I would hope that electric vehicles actually do take off in this country so that people can plug in to “refuel” at night. GE, which owns both reactor and vehicle recharge technology, can certainly make the “green” case for such an arrangement, couldn’t it?

  11. Bill Chaffee says:

    Correction, it was 2008 that we had the $147 a spike in oil prices. It appears to have precipitated the severe and prolonged recession thar followed.