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  1. Thanks Rod. I was struck by the MinuteEarth video as well. Also (very) disappointed that Hilary Clinton — still the presumptive nominee and arguably the candidate and perhaps the single politician of any stripe most responsible for today’s energy policy — was denied her request to respond.

    Ms. Clinton is intelligent, shrewd, and largely pragmatic. As with Senator Saunders, it will be interesting to learn how and in what ways her understanding of these issues has evolved over the past twenty years.

    1. She may be defeated in Iowa and New Hampshire. But the S. Carolina primary is on 2/27 (for Dems; 2/20 for Rep’s). North Carolina is on 3/15 (for both D and R’s). I suspect she will pragmatically decide to attack Saunders for his (absurd) anti-nuclear positions. Both Carolina’s are very pro-nuclear: NC has 5 reactors with maybe 2 AP1000s planned; SC has 7 reactors with 2 AP1000s under construction at VC Summer. This may be her “Sister Souljah moment”, when an “extremist” from your own party is taken to the woodshed. (As her husband did to the moronic Sister Souljah in 1992.) This is generally a strategy more suited for the general election, to throw your “extreme wing” under the bus, in order to win over moderates from the other Party. It is not generally done in the primaries, because the “extremists” are usually the most active in the primary. But “the Hil” may have no choice but to try to crush “the Bern” in the Carolina’s. Note: Va. Gov. Terry MacCauliffe has been heard making pro-nuclear statements recently. This is highly unusual for this Hillary attack-dog, er loyalist. It might be a “leading indicator” of what I just said.

  2. You should be aware that Sanders has pledged, as a specific line item in policy, a moratorium on nuclear plant license renewals. https://berniesanders.com/issues/climate-change/

    Now the only plant likely to be quickly affected is Indian Point, but even the principle of having the president intervene in this area is significantly disruptive. Will other plants decide that even applying for license extension is no longer justifiable?

    I maintain that one of the major business risks to building a nuclear power plant is that of unjustified government interference.

    1. From the link provided by Joffan::

      “Begin a moratorium on nuclear power plant license renewals in the United States. Bernie believes that solar, wind, geothermal power and energy efficiency are proven and more cost-effective than nuclear – even without tax incentives – and that the toxic waste byproducts of nuclear plants are not worth the risks of the technology’s benefit. Especially in light of lessons learned from Japan’s Fukushima meltdown, Bernie has also raised questions about why the federal government invests billions into federal subsidies for the nuclear industry. We can have an affordable carbon-free, nuclear-free energy system and we must work for a safe, healthy future for all Americans.”

      This guy has a good chance of being president. Perhaps his views could be changed with the right information. I’ve seen a lot of information given on this website that should give him pause before banning nuke plants.

      1. “Bernie believes… [renewables good, nuclear bad, etc].” He believes?

        Doesn’t Bernie “even have the courage, the decency to listen to the scientists”?

  3. On a daily basis in the mass media outlets, “nuclear” is only heard in relation to Iran and Iranian nuclear weapons; Iran’s “nuclear program”; “nuclear arms race”, “nuclear bomb”. While I have a feeling most people do, on some level, understand the difference between nuclear weapons and nuclear power, it’s all getting lumped in which enrichment and bomb production. It goes like this: Iran argues it doesn’t want to rely on another country for its fuel, but it can’t be trusted with enrichment, so Iran can use heavy water reactors instead, but heavy water reactors produce Plutonium, as do all reactors, so Iran can’t be trusted with any peaceful nuclear power because it is not a peaceful country.

    This makes it sound like the only difference between clean, green nuclear power quietly chugging away making peoples’ lives better, and megaton fireballs tearing apart the world, is the attitudes of the people who use it.

    This is a serious question for any AI readers who can help: is Uranium enrichment really so precarious and so suspcious that any belligerent country that does it is at an immediate threat of developing nuclear weapons?

    1. Not an immediate threat, no. But any country that is “belligerent enough” to repudiate NPT, and refuse IAEA inspection of uranium enrichment, and its downstream processing should (imo & ymmv) be considered a potential threat.

      It’s a matter of purpose and intent. If a country says “we need to enrich uranium to insure domestic fuel supply” — fine. But the world wants to know that commercial reactor fuel is in fact the end target of the enriched uranium, and the country does have a viable commercial program to fabricate and use (or sell) that fuel.

      Same with plutonium: purpose and intent. If a country says “we need to reprocess used nuclear fuel to recover plutonium for continued commercial re-use” — fine. But the world does want to know that commercial reactor fuel is the actual end target of the plutonium, that the reactors that produce it are not producing weapons grade, and that the country does in fact have a viable internal or external market for their reactor-grade plutonium.

      The latter assumes there is any commercial reason whatsoever for future plutonium separation: IFR and MSR advocates argue there isn’t. Either way, there is a huge difference between a commercial reactor fuel industry and a nuclear weapons program. It’s much more than just attitude: “huge” is measured in time and in financial and in industrial resources. A weapons program is not brought to fruition overnight, and cannot be hidden from IAEA if they are allowed to look.

      With specific regard to Iran, they now allow IAEA to look. Anywhere, essentially any time. About Iran there should now be little concern about a nuclear weapons program. Trust but verify.

      1. With specific regard to Iran, they now allow IAEA to look. Anywhere, essentially any time.

        … with a 24-day advance notice.

          1. Ed – Try to spin it any way you want, but it’s not as simple as 24 hours and they’re in. You’re the one spouting propaganda.

            Sure the UN can give Iran 24-hours notice if inspectors have concerns that Iran is developing its nuclear capabilities at any unmonitored site that is not a known nuclear facility, including military sites where there is suspected nuclear activity, but all Iran has to do is object and refuse access.

            Iran can propose alternatives to inspection that they claim might satisfy the IAEA’s concerns, but if Iran and the IAEA can’t come to an agreement to satisfy the inspectors within two weeks of the original “24-hour” request for access, the issue goes to a joint commission.

            This commission consists of representatives from the U.S., China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Iran, and the European High Representative for Foreign Affairs. It has another week to reach an agreement that must be supported at least five of the eight members. If they agree to grant access (which is not guaranteed, as your source seems to imply), Iran still has an additional three days (not 24 hours) to comply.

            All Iran has to do is object, stall, and remain stubborn about it and they’ll get at least two weeks — and perhaps as long as 24 days — to clean up a suspicious site before the inspectors are allowed in. That’s how the deal actually works.

            This, of course, assumes that the inspectors get wind of something suspicious in the first place. None of these “non-nuclear” sites, including military sites, is monitored under the agreement.

            Remember, this is a country that has just recently been caught testing long-range and medium-range ballistic missiles in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions. Hey, what could go wrong?

          2. Brian — No. It isn’t as simple as twenty-four hours or twenty-four days or twenty-four anything. Diplomacy never is and I’m glad we agree. One might observe that any signatory may withdraw from the NPT and eject the IAEA on 3-month notice, as did North Korea in 2003, with whatever consequences the world chooses to impose.

            A deal is a good deal only if it is a good deal for all principals involved. Here principals are myriad and principles scant. On the one hand we have Israel, Saudi Arabia, the conservative powers-that-be in Iran, and essentially the entire Republican majority of the United States Senate (with qualifications) in opposition. They do not think it is a good deal for them.

            On the other we have the world’s five nuclear powers plus Germany, including the two with direct experience successfully negotiating and verifying nuclear arms reduction treaties, and a large-but-somewhat-less powerful faction in Iran, who think it is a good deal, for them.

            It is all too easy to over-simplify these things. At considerable risk of over-simplifying these things, I would ask whether or not we — the United States, Israel, and the EU — are better off with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action than we would be without, what would be the consequences of doing without, and whether any plan better (for us) is or was even possible.

            Accurate answers, of course, require prescient clairvoyance beyond most mortal capability. Such is the human condition. Ten years down the road we can look back at this and say either “It isn’t clear, but we seem to have lucked out and muddled through on this one” or “Well that was certainly obvious! Any fool could have seen that one coming a mile off — and most of us did!!!”

            We shall see.

          3. At considerable risk of over-simplifying these things, I would ask whether or not we — the United States, Israel, and the EU — are better off with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action than we would be without, what would be the consequences of doing without, and whether any plan better (for us) is or was even possible.

            Ed – At this point it doesn’t matter. The sanctions that were in place were working, but now they’re gone. Contrary to what Obama’s mouthpieces claim, there is going to be no “snap back” if Iran doesn’t live up to its obligations. There is no way to put them back they way that they were.

            So the horses have already left the barn. There is no other alternative. Iran will have a nuclear weapon within a decade if not sooner. That much is certain. The rest is just games about how long it will take them. That is Obama/Kerry’s legacy.

          4. “So the horses have already left the barn. There is no other alternative. Iran will have a nuclear weapon within a decade if not sooner.”

            Oh horsesh*t. Fox news ain’t reality, Brian. Ate you incapable of thinking for yourself?

      2. I actually prefer that Iran develops a nuclear bomb. That is the only way to be sure the US will not attack them. Khaddafi gave up Libya’s nuclear program and look what happened to him. We will never touch North Korea now that they have a crude nuclear capability. India, Israel and Pakistan have never signed the NPT and have nuclear arsenals. We give substantial foreign aid to Israel and Pakistan and trade with all three.

        We have incentivized developing nuclear weapons and de-incentivized signing/adhering to the NPT.

        The NPT is dead. We would likely do more for world peace by offering nuclear weapons at cost to those nations that want them. And we would remove non-proliferation as a stumbling block to commercial nuclear power.

        1. “We would likely do more for world peace by offering nuclear weapons at cost to those nations that want them”

          Sounds really peaceful to me, run for President on that.
          North Koreans may be facing unnecessary risk in their processes, when we could just sell them warheads.

          SMH.

          1. I really don’t give a fig about NK’s risk to themselves. I only care about risk to America. We can’t police the world and I am unwilling to pay for or send others to come to the defense of any other nation.

            I think you can be pretty sure that the US will now never attack NK. I call that peaceful. Further, there would be no point to keeping our troops deployed in SK as a trip wire. A double bonus. SK would have their own nuclear capability.

            We would be able to get out of every defense treaty we have signed. These treaties always work to the ultimate disadvantage of the greater power. Look at the wars Athens was dragged into by the smaller city states in the Delian League. Or how WW1 resulted from an escalation of tensions as nations fulfilled their treaty obligations.

            The bottom line is that if you are a nuclear state, you are responsible for your own security and had best act accordingly. Otherwise you are fair game.

            And my suggestion would take nuclear proliferation concerns off the table when considering commercial nuclear power.

            Now, you may be correct in that this would not be a winning presidential campaign message. But why should we judge the merits of an idea based on how politicians could or could not present it? A real reduction of the federal deficit be a worthy objective, yet any realistic means of achieving it is a political non-starter.

        2. I actually prefer that Iran develops a nuclear bomb. That is the only way to be sure the US will not attack them.

          I disagree. Perhaps that is because I’m not at all worried about the US attacking Iran, or perhaps it’s because I’ve never had an urge to play Russian roulette.

          1. I would not rule out a US strike on Iran. The reason would be for Israel’s security. That is why we invaded Iraq. It’s why we fomented the so-called Arab Spring.

            Second Amendment supporters often argue that if firearm ownership (including high capacity, high power weapons) were more widespread, violence and crime would actually decline. This despite the fact that it would be impossible to prevent criminals and the mentally ill from obtaining firearms. I agree.

            Ironically however, those who hold this view often fail to apply it’s logical extension to the question of nuclear proliferation. Nuclear weapons, as horrible as they are have kept the peace. Not NATO, not defense treaties, not the UN, not foreign aid. It seems that an armed society is truly a polite society.

            There is the argument that the leader of such and such country is a madman or irrational. First, we can never know that, even about our own leaders who most only see on TV for brief carefully scripted events. Second, somebody who is foaming at the mouth, hell bent on suicide is not likely to maintain power for long. Third, he is surrounded by others who all can’t be foaming at the mouth crazy.

            In the case of Iran, we (accidentally?) shot down a civilian Iranian airliner in the 1980’s. Iran did not launch a campaign of terrorism against us. The matter was settled via international legal arbitration. Iran at the time was ruled by the “madman” Ayatollah Khomeini.

            Let’s remove the issue of nuclear non-proliferation from hindering nuclear power.

          2. I would not rule out a US strike on Iran. The reason would be for Israel’s security. That is why we invaded Iraq. It’s why we fomented the so-called Arab Spring.

            No, it’s far more likely that the US would turn a blind eye while Israel launched a strategic strike on Iran to take out certain facilities — just as what happened in the Israeli air strike that destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981.

            Israel was not the reason for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Saddam Hussein was not a religious fundamentalist bent on the destruction of the Jews. His ideology was Pan-Arabism (a kind of Arab equivalent of Zionism, only less religious and more racist), and so his greatest enemy was the Persians in Iran, not the Jews in Israel.

            The problem with Pan-Arabism is that the individual tribes, countries, or whatever organization units they are using are always going to squabble and maneuver to get the biggest piece of the pie, and Hussein’s squabbling had caused too much concern with his neighbors, particularly strong US allies like Saudi Arabia.

            This should have been a perfect time to negotiate with Hussein and bring him around to a position favorable for US policy in the region, but the US decided to go to war instead. It was a mistake, but it was not a mistake that was caused by Israel.

            Finally, do you really believe that the results of the “Arab Spring” have been favorable for Israel?!!! Who in their right mind would believe that destabilizing the region would be good for Israel, a state that is surrounded by countries that hate its very existence?!

            Second Amendment supporters often argue …

            The ironic part of all of this is that most of the supporters of this deal with Iran (which will allow them to construct their own nuclear weapons before 2025) are also hard-core gun control advocates. So they’re more concerned with me owning a small-caliber rifle or pistol than giving an unstable regime a weapon with the ability to destroy an entire city.

            if firearm ownership (including high capacity, high power weapons) were more widespread, violence and crime would actually decline.

            Yes, that is a reasonable argument, but what you overlook is that this decline is about averages. That is, on average, people get shot less and they get robbed less, but people still get shot and they still get robbed, don’t they?

            By your analogy, apparently it’s OK if a city gets nuked every now and then as long as the average rate of nuking cities goes down. Right?

            The problem here is that you’re trying to compare apples and oranges.

            Nuclear weapons, as horrible as they are have kept the peace.

            This has worked in the past only because it has involved standoffs involving either only two parties with nuclear weapons or a situation in which only one party had such weapons. For example, there were no nuclear exchanges during the Cold War because of the standoff between the US and the USSR. Two powers controlled the situation, and even then the US almost went to nuclear war to keep nuclear weapons out of Cuba.

            In other parts of the world, there is either a two-party standoff (e.g., India and Pakistan, and that one doesn’t look all that stable to me), or there is a situation like Israel, where one party has (alleged) nuclear weapons and its enemies have none.

            Iran did not launch a campaign of terrorism against us.

            Say what? Iran has been involved in a continuous campaign of terrorism against the US and US interests for decades now. It has been a subtle campaign — involving actions in parts of the world that most Americans don’t ever think about — but continuous nevertheless. Do you think that any actions that Iran takes against the US are going to be upfront and obvious? Let me remind you that we are the culture with cowboys and cowboy bravado, not Iran.

            Let’s remove the issue of nuclear non-proliferation from hindering nuclear power.

            This is not about nuclear power. This is about nuclear weapons.

          3. @ FermiAged

            “…fail to apply it’s logical extension to the question of nuclear proliferation.”

            Is this really a serious suggestion?

            “Nuclear weapons, as horrible as they are have kept the peace.”

            Yes, because until recently, these were states run by people who wished to survive, not simply annihilate the enemy. Arming more Americans (CCW) may result in more accidental shootings but WILL result in more dead and wounded criminals and less robberies and assaults. More nations with nuclear weapons runs the risk of some crazy leader launching his or her weapons or them falling into the hands of some Jihadi Mullah.

            “Let’s remove the issue of nuclear non-proliferation from hindering nuclear power.”

            When anti-nukes learn proponents of nuclear power also promote the idea of spreading the nuclear weapon wealth around, they’ll be dug in deeper than an Alabama tick.

          4. @David Davison:

            Leaders needn’t be crazy — merely mildly paranoid. Let’s not forget Able Archer ’83.

            Or as KGB agent Oleg Gordievsky explained to his MI5 colleagues: “But of course this ‘Able Archer’ is merely an exercise, only a drill… Why must I remind you such were the exact words Herr Hitler used to Comrade Stalin to explain Barbarossa?”

          5. “The ironic part of all of this is that most of the supporters of this deal with Iran (which will allow them to construct their own nuclear weapons before 2025) are also hard-core gun control advocates”

            Gads, you are so full of crap, Brian. Give us one single shred of evidence that supports such a claim.

          6. Its truly disheartening to see a NE proponent drooling Fox News partisan horsesh*t, then expecting to be considered credible when advocating for NE. Mindless prattle, in the form of scripted politispeak designed to advance policy, is not a path to trustworthyness. You can tune in to Fox, and accurately predict EXACTLY what certain people here are going to say about any given foreign policy issue. Lengthy sputtering spittle, drooled by rote, disguised as knowledge, such as we see above, exposes its writer as a mindless lemming.

          7. Its truly disheartening to see a NE proponent drooling Fox News partisan horsesh*t, then expecting to be considered credible when advocating for NE. Mindless prattle, in the form of scripted politispeak designed to advance policy, is not a path to trustworthyness.

            You could not be more ironic if you tried.

          8. My conclusion that we invaded Iraq to support Israeli security interests is based on the fact that many of those advising the Bush administration had a strident pro-Israeli background. Several had advised the previous Netanyahu government of a strategy which outlined threats to Israel from nations that just happened to include those that we have either invaded or have launched destabilizing operations. While the “pan-Arabism” theory might explain Saddam Hussein’s political stance to bolster domestic support, it doesn’t explain the rest of the US presence in the ME.

            The most unstable condition is between two antagonists where only one side has a nuclear capability. The US-Japan asymmetry comes to mind. We didn’t really need to use nuclear weapons. We didn’t even have to consider invading them.

            My point is that nuclear non-proliferation is bound to eventually fail. When this is apparent, there will be multiple nuclear arms races which will be a dangerous period as there will be numerous cases of nuclear asymmetries between antagonists. There will be a temptation to use a newly developed nuke before an enemy develops the capability. I propose that this dangerous transition period be eliminated by offering nuclear capabilities to those nations that want them. This would also remove any ambiguity as to the identity of nuclear states.

            Some other points:

            During the Reagan years, we were told that a nuclear exchange with the Soviets was survivable. Yet many of these same people that are still around are obsessed with a NK or Iranian nuke threat.

            I don’t see the skepticism about those favoring the Iran deal also favoring domestic gun control. At least the supporters are logically consistent. I suspect that the deal is designed to fail so as to build up a case of “we tried to negotiate with Iran but they cheated – now we HAVE to bomb them”.

          9. Another point: How many of the irrational Iranian leaders volunteered to participate in the human wave attacks during the Iran-Iraq War? I think it’s very safe to assume that the leaders have a self-preservation instinct.

          10. OK … you lost me with

            The US-Japan asymmetry comes to mind. We didn’t really need to use nuclear weapons. We didn’t even have to consider invading them.

            Oh really? We bombed Japan and we refused to invade North Korea. So which situation do you think turned out better?

            During the Reagan years, we were told that a nuclear exchange with the Soviets was survivable. Yet many of these same people that are still around are obsessed with a NK or Iranian nuke threat.

            Of course. Nobody is claiming that a nuclear North Korea or a nuclear Iran pose an existential threat to the United States. That’s not the point. Even terrorists managing to sneak in nukes to destroy a couple of US cities (e.g., New York and Los Angeles) is not going to bring down the United States government. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t call it a desirable situation — would you?

            I don’t see the skepticism about those favoring the Iran deal also favoring domestic gun control. At least the supporters are logically consistent.

            Exactly how is disarming domestic civilians and arming foreign governments who support terrorism logically consistent?! It’s only logically consistent if one’s fundamental goal is totalitarianism.

            I suspect that the deal is designed to fail so as to build up a case of “we tried to negotiate with Iran but they cheated – now we HAVE to bomb them”.

            The implicit reasoning behind the deal rests on the assumption that the current Iranian regime will be overthrown sometime within the next decade, so we won’t have to worry about their nuclear program ten years from now.

            Anyhow … this is now way off topic, and probably should be ended soon. I hope not to comment on it any more.

          11. “I hope not to comment on it any more.”

            Of course not. You’ve run out of script. I had to chuckle at your nonsensical attempt to separate Israel from the drive to attack iraq. The PNAC, and Israel, were joined at the hip, with many of the PNAC members having dual citizenship. Here is the fascist bigot and zionist radical, Netanyahu, delighting in the prospect of sacrificing american sons and daughters for Israel’s sake……

            “If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region…the test and the great opportunity and challenge is not merely to effect the ouster of the regime, but also transform that society and thereby begin too the process of democratizing the Arab world.”

            So how’d that work out, Brian? All these dead american servicemen and women. Transform the middle east, did it? Now you wanna recite by rote the new script, written by the same fools and racist extremists that wrote the last one?

            Brilliant. You’re a real mensa, Brian. And here you are a member of EP’s master race, to boot. Yep. Brilliant.

          12. “If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region…”

            My gawd. How can anyone have any respect for this man, much less trust anything that comes out of his mouth? Its truly astounding that we have people that are willing to do it all over again in Iran on the words and prompting of the same blathering buffoons that launched the disasterous mess that Iraq turned out to be. You have to be a blithering idiot to recite the garbage we see above from someone that actually thinks past lies and failures are models for future truths and successes.

  4. With gas, and now oil too prices falling, the US has lost urgency and will to pursue nuclear power. Wishful thinking can continue in some sectors. Momentum of nuclear development has moved to China and neighborhood.

    1. Though that mainly because the Chinese have more pressing concerns than environmental preservation. Like the fact that, for a cumulative several months a year, the inhabitants of their cities have to exit their homes wearing emergency respiration apparata.

  5. The first problem I see is the assumption of validity of the problem statement:

    “But we now know that burning these fuels releases heat-trapping gases that are warming the planet, causing seas to rise and contributing to extreme weather events like South Carolina’s devastating flooding last year. ”

    As an informed individual, I find the basis of proven causation scant on this statement.

    Going back to square one, the Earth’s climate has changed for millions of years without the influence of man. Previous climate change occurred so quickly that Mammoths were frozen with green vegetation in their gut. The IPCC “Hide The Decline” initiative cast the first doubt on the integrity of the organization and therefore their motives. I work in an industry that hangs it’s licensed hat on credibility and accuracy, assets we cannot afford to squander.

    I like clean emission free nuclear power as much as the next guy – but I’m unwilling to hand the future of the industry on the dubious claims of the breathless Anthropogenic Global Warming religion.

    Be careful who you jump in philosophical bed with. They might not have the story correct. You could end up painted with the wrong brush.

    Instead – the Chinese example is perfect. They have an undeniable smog problem, less emission improves that.

  6. @Rob

    I don’t think you have to philosophically jump into bed with the global warming camp in order to say something like, “If carbon is the problem, then nuclear has earned it’s right to be part of the solution.” Notice I have not even acknowledged whether carbon is a problem or not.

    1. That’s how I always word my statements. I don’t claim to have an informed opinion on whether global warming is a legitimate, man-made issue. I do know that consensus science has a rather poor track record on many issues. I also know that there is enormous political power to be had by leveraging any crisis like this. As many many people yelling the loudest about global warming don’t seem to give a hoot about fixing it, it makes me skeptical as to how serious they see it. However, I still maintain that if you’re gonna have a discussion about fixing the issue, it’s insanity to not include a lot of nuclear.

    2. I think you are right, the best way to deal with it is to put it in the conditional, “If you believe that AGW is a real threat, then greater use of nuclear energy can help deal with that problem.” Put the ball in their court. Perhaps we need to take a page from the Alinsky playbook, Rule 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” (That is, IF you believe the climate change believers are “the enemy”.)