1. The link to the ‘process provided’ doesn’t work for me.
    Even if it did, would a comment to the EPA from outside the US be just ignored?

    1. @Jim Baerg

      Based on your question and my testing of the link, I suspect that it is blocked for visitors coming from outside of the US. Generally speaking, our agencies ignore comments received on their rulemakings if they are coming from outside the US. However, if you are an American citizen who is living abroad, there are alternative communications paths available for submitting your comments.

      1. It’s broken for me too.  It tries to reload this page with the string “/onclick=” appended to the URL.  Needless to say, it doesn’t work.

          1. I’m mystified. When I look through the html code, everything looks correct for a properly formed link. When I hover over link using Chrome, the correct destination appears in my status bar. However, Safari on the same machine gives me the symptoms reported by E-P, Jason and Jim.

          2. @Rod, it looks ok now in Chrome, but the link gives the same messy output as before when I look at it with Firefox.

            Firefox is also showing this type of output with the other links.

  2. Was it Jim Hansen who said that an environmentalist friend told him “natural gas was the nuclear power killer”. Now we know why. At times like this I wish I could find the precise quote.

  3. Rod, I think existing hydro facilities are also not counted by the EPA in a state’s total energy production, so they may face the same disadvantage as nuclear power plants. (That’s what I gather from my cursory reading of the very turgid EPA documents, anyone else get a different take?)

  4. There is an EVEN GREATER perverse incentive hidden in these proposed regs!

    That is, a state gets credit for 100% of nuclear plant capacity that is “under construction” — but as soon as the plant starts operating, it becomes “at risk” for closure, and only 5.8% of its capacity is counted. So opening the plant REDUCES the counted energy generation by 94% of the nuclear nameplate, while the emissions don’t change at all; hence the carbon intensity APPEARS TO INCREASE substantially when the plant opens!

    In other words, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee will TAKE AN ENORMOUS HIT if they complete their under-construction nuclear and open the plants!

    Essentially, the regs prevent those states from opening the plants … and also prevent them from abandoning construction … leaving the nuclear plants in a state of perpetual construction to meet the regulatory requirements.

    Oh. My. God.

    1. Keith, I don’t think that’s correct.

      The relevant passage in EPA’s Goal Computation Technical Support Documentation says,

      “the expected generation for new and “at risk” nuclear is simply added to the state goal denominator – resulting in a lower state goal emission rate. However, it is important to note that this “under construction and at risk” nuclear capacity is also part of the inventory that the state can count towards compliance with its state goal (i.e., zero emitting generation that can be averaged with that of the covered fossil sources in order to obtain a rate that is equal to or less than the state emission rate goal).”

      To me this suggests that *all* the MWhs from the new plant once it begins operating will be added to the state’s total electricity production stats–the denominator for the emissions-over-generation ratio that determines the state’s carbon intensity figure, which EPA is trying to lower. So turning the new nuke on will definitely lower the state’s carbon intensity figure and contribute towards the EPA goals.

      The problem is that old nuclear plant (and, I believe, hydro generators) don’t have any of their current generation accounted in the state’s generation figures (except for the negligible 5.8 percent of “at risk.”) That means that if the old nukes get switched off, the decrease of low-carbon generation doesn’t show up in the generation figures or the carbon-intensity figures (except for 5.8 percent of the lost low-carbon energy.) But the addition of a new gas plant to replace the old nuke will have 100 percent of its MWhs added to the state’s generation total, and if its emissions are lower than the state’s average, will also lower the state’s carbon-intensity ratio, in many cases more than the 5.8 percent “at risk” portion of old nuclear generation that will be “lost” according to the EPA formula.

      So EPAs formula strongly encourages the opening of a new nuke, while mildly encouraging in some cases the replacement of an old nuke with a new gas plant.

      What’s not clear is whether EPA encourages the construction of new nukes beyond those projects that it has already factored into state goals–Vogtle, Summer and Watt’s Bar. So I’m not sure whether any other new nuke will get 100 percent of its generation added to state generation totals, or whether its generation will be ignored like the generation from the old nukes.

  5. I like Rod’s allusion (near the end of the article) to court action. If public comment doesn’t work, I strongly believe that the nuclear industry (whoever that might actually be) should sue the EPA. I believe the applicable term is “capricious and arbitrary”. Those words would certainly describe the EPA’s current policy. Doesn’t that concept have tanglible legal meaning. If one can demonstrate that a law or regulation is capricious and arbitrary, isn’t that grounds for a (successful) court challenge?

    1. The suit should be for one dollar to bring proper attention. This post does a public service by pointing out such discrepancies to the public.

    2. Re: Jim Hoff
      “I believe the applicable term is “capricious and arbitrary”.

      Better: “maliciously arbitrary.”

      Let’s have no PC illusions which energy side the EPA is coyly on.

      James Greenidge
      Queens NY

  6. Okay. Let’s think this through. If Remy and Justin’s reading of the language is correct — and I’ve no reason to doubt them — then I believe it flies in direct contradiction to the stated purpose of the Clean Power Plan by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, as endorsed by previous administrators Carol Browner and Christine Todd Whitman. So let’s scrutinize the language, and if Remy and Josh’s interpretation holds up, then the language is either an inadvertent mistake or — at least as likely — the result of anti-nuclear activities at a level beneath the Administrator’s office.

    My understanding was that the 5.8% number was intended for precisely the opposite reason: to effect an across-the-board penalty on all states for the increased CO2 emissions the Administrator’s Office — and her analysts — anticipate to result from premature closing of otherwise licensed and viable nuclear plant over the remainder of this decade. I really don’t think Josh and Remy’s interpretation was Ms. McCarthy’s intent. But if the UT analysis upholds under literal interpretation — what the courts will have to consider — then this may have to be raised to the highest level within EPA. And possible elsewhere. Because if the actual language were the deliberate action of mid-level executives with an anti-nuclear agenda, addressing the issue through the official comment process might or might not get anywhere.

    But first let’s verify the UT analysis, then get Gina McCarthy’s take. After that, well — Here in this briefcase I’ve documented a list of four influential congresspersons who might also be interested.

    From EPA: Carbon rules could ensure nuclear power’s survival:

    “There are a handful of nuclear facilities that because they are having trouble remaining competitive, they haven’t yet looked at re-licensing (to extend their operating lives). We were simply highlighting that fact,” McCarthy said at a discussion with business leaders in Chicago. She acknowledged that the EPA’s mandate to try to prop up the 6 percent of nuclear power that is threatened with closure wasn’t broken down by state. “Many have pointed out that it was an inelegant way to do it, so we have asked them to comment on it,” She said “hours and hours of discussion” led the administration to allow energy efficiency and renewable energy to count toward carbon reduction goals. While states ultimately would decide how to meet targets, McCarthy warned that if nuclear capacity goes away, “it’s a lot of carbon reduction that needs to be made up for a long period of time.”

    So let’s look into it, tactful but firm.

  7. There is a climate march is going across the country (USA), stopping in many places. They will end in WashDC in 10 weeks. Several sponsors include PSR, NRDC, Nuke Free/Sierra Club, Begley Jr, James Hansen, Nelson Mandela’s grandson, & 350.org. This is currently winding through Illinois, gearing up for a major shindig in NYC Sept 18-12, and will end in Wash DC in 9 weeks. http://climatemarch.org/

    Some of the accompanying meetings (town messages to the EPA) are being video recorded. There are also postcards which can be signed (postage paid by the sponsors!) which urge passage of the EPA’s CO2 rules as written. I didn’t realize this when I went to my own local meeting – and found a PSR flyer alongside instructions on how to comment to the EPA. I scribbled a few notes of my own (many there had prepared statements) & signed up to *testify* (5 min. limit). Sounded like it would get posted on youtube. Many of the talks centered on particulate emissions – an important tangential subject. My own testimony stressed the EPAs target of 1400 lbs per MW/hr of carbon here in Iowa. I mentioned this 5.8% misstep & uged that 100% of nuclear capacity be used on both sides of the equation. I then credited Ontario via CanadianEnergyIssues.com for their emissions rates, explaining why 200 lbs (~91 grams CIPK) would be a more appropriate goal for my state.

    Rod considers this particular blog to be a call to action. I would urge his readers to not only write the EPA, but to go to one of these eco-marches and engage others, explaining that they are being duped again. Remember; blind support for ~30% renewables’ capacity is like a subsidy to fossil fuel’s electrical generation.

  8. Remy and Justin are correct. The utilities have found that error as well and we’ll definitely be commenting to the EPA on that flaw. If a gas plant replaces a nuke that retires, the intensity goes down in the state yet emissions will go up. Makes no sense.

    David Bradish

    1. Thanks David. We’ll hope it was an inadvertent oversight, that such are what public comments are for. I commented in person at EPA’s Denver hearings in June, mentioning our ongoing need for nuclear; I intend to write them further before the 16 October deadline.

      1. Once might be an accident. Twice a coincidence. The third time is a clear indication of enemy action.

        The nuclear industry has taken it on the chin so many many more times than three, I think your default assumption should be enemy action until proven otherwise. There are many avenues through which this could have been introduced by those in the pay of oil and gas.

  9. I would not be surprised to learn that the formula came not from an EPA employee, but rather from some industry lobbyist who understood the implications quite well but didn’t bother to spell them out. It almost worked, too.

  10. For Rod Adams: The Sustainability and Reliability graph that you use is for overall capacity. The EPA calculates CO2 capacity for each state. In some states reactors have a lot of down time while in others the down time is very low and therefore the co2 capacity for each state shoud reflect this variability.

    The assumptions used for the EPA Clean Power Plan should be checked. There is a lot of turnover in that agency and even if there were not no one is perfect and some may not have thought of the implications of a new rule. Congratulations to grad students Remy and Knowles for following up on a rule which appears to reward states for replacing nuclear with gas. Gas does prduces carbon co2 emissions while nuclear does not.

    Federal government websites are often difficult to use. They could take some lessons from commercial sites.

    1. @agimarc

      And what makes you absolve the NRDC of the potential of being industry lobbyists in green clothing? Do you know where they obtain their funding?

      That is not a rhetorical question. Like most non-profits, the NRDC is not required to reveal their funding sources. Early this year I spend a considerable amount of time working with an NRDC guy to arrange a symposium about climate change and the use of nuclear energy as a tool in the battle against the possibility that humans are altering the balance that has produced the environment in which human society has developed.

      We finally broke off discussions after reaching an impasse. The NRDC guy told me that his funders would not consider nuclear as a valuable tool, but might discuss ways to more gradually phase out existing nuclear. That makes me wonder who those string pullers might be.

  11. Read the report, Rod. It will tell you who is funding the environmental movement and what the NRDC is doing in the EPA these days.

    Note also that Saudi money has been involved in funding environmental opposition to the Alberta tar sands. Putin’s Russia has also been funding green opposition to fracing in Europe.

    There a lot of players out there in anti-nuke land. The oilies aren’t the only ones. Cheers-



    1. @agimarc

      What makes you think that Saudis and Russians do not qualify as “oilies?”

      Both are dependent on oil and gas revenues for more than 50% of their government income.

      BTW, NRDC has always been a big recipient of funds from the Rockefeller Foundation, which makes it also interested in oil and gas prosperity.

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