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24 Comments

  1. “He’s been working to explain the Trump approach to sensible energy….”

    Oh? Is he clairvoyant?

    If you know that Hoffman is doing this, you must also know what Trump’s “approach to sensible energy” is. Please enlighten us, Rod, I await with bated breath.

    1. @poa

      No clairvoyance is needed for someone who has been on the Trump Leadership Council since March. As noted in the post, Hoffman has talked to Trump about energy.

      Sensible energy is a “best of the above” approach that recognizes that different energy sources have different strengths and weaknesses that make them better suited that others for each application.

      That is an approach that recognizes that roof mounted solar panels can be a terrific investment in certain areas, while exactly the same system would be a poor use of resources in other areas. It recognizes that some wind can be useful, but that too much wind can destabilize the whole grid. It recognizes that natural gas is a great fuel and that it is selfish to burn it up as fast as possible today, leaving nothing left for future generations.

      Sensible energy prohibits actions that are proven to be hazardous and places restrictions on those that could cause harm to others. It takes a somewhat skeptical approach to distant hazards like climate change. That approach doesn’t deny that it is happening, but it questions whether or not “We’re all gonna die” if we do not take immediate action. It is especially skeptical about recommendations for immediate action that seem to be very high cost with very little long term effect on the total emissions of greenhouse gases or predicted temperatures.

      1. Thats YOUR idea of “sensible energy”, Rod. And it sounds very reasonable. And, I’ll bet dollars to donuts that you still entertain the same thoughts tomorrow. A shame Trump doesn’t share your solidarity with sane and consistent reflection.

        We’ll see, won’t we? Perhaps he’ll tweet his thoughts to you, if you throw an insult at ‘im.

        Btw….you see that a hurricane might just make land fall in Costa Rica? First time in recorded history….

        1. Btw Rod, at the excel website, the last “event” entry is a year old. I was hoping to find a bit more recent entries about what Hoffman and Excel have been doing. If you’re in contact with him, and Trump is actually considering Hoffman, you might wanna contact Donald, and recommend an update. The site is about to get alot of visitors.

    2. In doing numerous searches since Rod posted this topic, Hoffman doesn’t appear. The leading contenders seem to be Chris Christie, and Rick Perry.

      Personally, I wish my neighbor was raising unicorns, instead of sheep. I’ve always wanted to trailer a unicorn up to Idaho, so I could be the first to ride the Selway Bitteroot trails on a unicorn. But, alas, I looked out my window this morning, and saw only ewes. So, instead, I guess I’ll sail the yawl over to Phoenix this week.

    3. This article here, without providing direct citation, claims that Hoffman has expressed strong doubt that he will wind up heading the DOE.

      http://undark.org/2016/11/15/donald-trump-nuclear-power/

      Excerpt…

      “For his part, Hoffman remains hopeful — though he concedes that his chances of heading up the Department of Energy are slim. Indeed, signs are now pointing to the oil mogul Harold Hamm as Secretary Moniz’s likely successor.”

      1. @poa

        I’m not sure what you mean by “without providing a direct citation.” The author of the piece, an experienced freelance science journalist and journalism instructor at Northeastern University and Brandeis University, provided his citation at the beginning of the article.

        “In a telephone interview with Undark”

        He was not reporting what someone else had written; he talked to Hoffman directly.

        Your quote stopped right before the following:

        Nonetheless, Hoffman thinks he’s qualified for the spot.

        “I do believe that I have a unique capability to serve as the Secretary of Energy,” says Hoffman. “This is my life’s dream. I just want to do great things for my nation. I want to make sure we have the right ideas being implemented.”

        Time will tell. There hasn’t been any announcement yet or even an attributable “trial balloon” from the transition team.

  2. As I wrote before (since unkindly vanished despite being on-topic), personnel is policy.  The selection of a nuclear industry insider and promoter to head Energy has the potential to sweep away a lot of the speed-bumps and roadblocks facing the industry.  That in turn could spark a massive boom in nuclear energy.

    I’m dead certain that Trump, real-estate mogul that he is, knows exactly how his buildings work.  The ones on Manhattan are almost certainly served by steam from ConEd.  That steam, once made from coal, now comes from natural gas with oil backup.  Trump also has to know how vulnerable the gas supply to New York is, as even ConEd has to be cut off during times of peak demand.  Manhattan is one pipeline outage from freezing to death in a cold snap.

    Nuclear power is the “distributed, local, diverse” energy supply that fixes all that.  About 20 NuScale units could replace all of ConEd’s gas- and oil-burning plants.  Uranium can’t freeze and doesn’t have compressor stations to go down.  It represents unprecedented energy security.

    Maybe Hoffman has already put that bug in Trump’s ear.  Wouldn’t THAT be something?

    1. Actually, EP, Rod is doing you a service by “vanishing” some of your comments. I believe you probably have no idea why he vanished the one you’re whining about. And that says volumes about you.

      1. And before you go accusing me of pushing “fake news”, I mis-remembered:  the Wikileaks revelation was that CitiGroup, not Goldman Sachs, selected Obama’s cabinet.

  3. Excellent article and insights as always Rod. Here’s hoping the new SEC E will pursue the Future of Nuclear Energy’s task force recommendation.

    IMHO way too much emphasis and attendant publicity has been given to the problem of CC & far too little to the personnel and real solutions we need ( and have at hand ). That’s primarily because our delinquent ‘ soi-disant’ enviro NGO’s and their attendant sycophantic followers in academia and the media are scared shitless that that this means their ‘ raison d’etre ‘ , their purpose and meaning in life , is now voided by the explicit need to deploy the one technology , the one solution that they have denounced all their miserable , ascetic , anti-progress lives

    If Trump’s appointee on this , the crucial keystone of all modern civilisation , can see the clear view , our society may move forward into a better future

    I have hope !

  4. I heard a radio story a week ago suggesting that Rick Perry (AKA Governor Goodhair) was being considered for S. of Energy. Ironic, given that Perry couldn’t remember the name of the department in one of his classic blunders. I’ve been fervently hoping the story was wildly inaccurate ever since.

    Perry went from next to no assets to having more than a score millions during his “public service” in Texas and he pretty much wrecked our ability to build non-toll road ways in the process. A little parasitism isn’t terrible, but when it leaves the victim fatally wounded or at least maimed, it is cause for concern and a good reason to eradicate the parasite in question.

  5. This election is guaranteed to include surprises regarding appointments. Trump’s appeal to voters centered around his America First policy. Past administrations have interfered with Yucca Mountain, assembled and transacted the Uranium One deal, subsidized the destruction of base load capacity with Wind Production Tax Credits and the various salvos of the War on Coal. Democrats created the Department of Energy 37 years ago – and our national energy policy today is as incoherent as ever. That record lends itself to a dim view of US DOEs work. In the same time frame US DOE was born, dozens of nuclear plants were abruptly cancelled. By today’s political standards, that would be rightly called the War on Nuclear.
    Like “ObamaCare” – the entrance of government on a grand scale nearly assures destruction of the targeted sector. My rates doubled, my coverage comes with astronomical deductibles – as if I’m simply paying for others bad coverage. Your results may vary.
    I have advised caution on linking the future of an industry on suspect science such as Anthropogenic Global Warming, more recently toned down to “Climate Change”.
    I similarly advise caution on linking the future of an industry to a Secretary of Energy. Secretary Chu has enough nuclear background to have made a difference – but demonstrated that he could not.
    We will either win by market competition, or we will go away by market competition. Either is fine with me. Enter government – and we’re done before the ink drys.

    1. @Rob Brixey

      You misunderstand the reasons for my optimism. I’m not looking for the government to invent any new programs or provide any new resources to develop nuclear energy. I’m looking for people in government positions that recognize that nuclear energy has vast potential that often needs the government to get out of the way. Putting the right people into key government roles is one of the best ways to alter how government acts and treats various technologies.

      Secretary Chu knew a little about the physics of nuclear energy, but he knew little or nothing about the business of producing useful heat or power for sale to consumers.

      1. Rod, this seems a bit disingenuous. He was a fairly large advocate for nuclear before he even became secretary of energy: http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2007/06/18/nuclear-dark-horse-energy-alternative/

        He was even the first author on a white paper begging for more nuclear before he became SoE: http://www.nei.org/News-Media/News/News-Archives/Steven-Chu-A-New-Era-For-Energy-Policy

        And he kept pushing after becoming secretary of energy: http://www.shopfloor.org/2008/12/new-energy-secretary-chu-an-advocate-of-nuclear-power/

        He didn’t need to be a businessman to recognize any of that. The man has a Nobel prize. The extent to which he was free to act was what was restricting him.

        Additionally, if the government got out of the way and let industry sort it out, we’d be burning coal and only coal. Industry is focused on the bottom line, and are beholden to their shareholders to be this way. Countries with successful nuclear programs are almost all based on a state-run supplier and/or utility.

        Also, I’m not sure where the buzz around Donald Hoffman is coming from. A cursory google only brings up this page and your Forbes article. Everyone else is talking about Harold Ham, Myron Ebell, and Rick Perry. At this point I would be over the moon if it was Hoffman, but I think it’s unwarranted optimism (perhaps to the point of delusion) to think he’s even in the top 5 of candidates, or that he would be any more effective than Steven Chu was if he gets the job.

        1. “Additionally, if the government got out of the way and let industry sort it out, we’d be burning coal and only coal. Industry is focused on the bottom line, and are beholden to their shareholders to be this way.”

          Exactly. Which is why Myron Ebell’s participation, in any capacity, is so alarming. His tentacles in the fossil fuel industry are firmly entwined with generating profits for the industry. He avoids any deep discourse about NE like the plague. When queried about NE, he is terse and noncommittal. It is as though he doesn’t want to draw attention to NE, and strives to keep it out of the energy debate and narrative. What it is about Trump, and those such as Ebell, that elicits such optimism from Rod and others here, just baffles me.

        2. @Robert Ball

          There is a difference between favoring nuclear energy and effectively supporting it.

          If I’m not mistaken, Chu was the Secretary who followed along with the sabotage effort resulting in the DOE halting its support of the license evaluation of Yucca Mountain.

          Nobel Prizes are awarded to scientists, not people who apply science or who are devoted to providing products and services that attract customer to make the free choice of purchasing those products.

          I agree that industry is focused on the bottom line. What makes you think that digging coal out of the ground and then moving thousands of tons per day thousands of miles to provide fuel to a single 1000 MW coal plant is naturally more profitable than producing the same amount of electricity with a plant that needs $20 – $30 million worth of fuel shipped in on three or four trucks every 18 months.

          Nuclear energy is a heck of a lot easier than the US government has made it to be. Our government’s influence on the technology’s path for development began in 1942 and has greatly affected the rest of the world. That does not mean it has to be that way.

      2. “Putting the right people into key government roles is one of the best ways to alter how government acts and treats various technologies”

        Yes. And that can be a good thing, or a bad thing. Picking the “right” people to make alterations is not always an exercise involving ethics. It depends on the motives behind the alterations, doesn’t it? Above, EP cites the involvement of citi-group in picking Obama’s cabinet. I recall looking into it when that accusation was first raised, and could find no evidence that the accusation was a falsehood. So, were the “right people” chosen? If so, “right” for whom? Personally, have no doubt Trump will pick the “right people” for the job he expects them to perform. My doubts lay more towards what task these “right people” are going to be asked to perform, and for what motives. I think the optimism here is really kinda premature, particularly when we look at Trump’s history, which exhibits very little in the way of motives except greed, and a quest for power.

        I’m at a loss what he has done in the last year that makes you think that history should be ignored, and isn’t a harbinger of things to come.

        1. @poa

          Obviously, the definition of “right people” depends on your perspective. I’ve been working for more than 20 years to share my perspectives with the world; the definition of “right people” in one of my posts comes from my perspective. Feel free to agree or disagree.

          1. I really think its premature to do either one. EP opines, above, that people constitute policy. You seem to think so to, to an extent. But as Mr. Ball points out about Chu, often intent is held back by constraints. And often not. For instance, are you aware of Betsy DeVos connections, and efforts to privatize education? So, she is the “right person” to reign supreme over out national education system, and inprove our public schools? Or, is she the “right person” to dismantle it, and assure an education system that favors the elite?

            Background matters. A person’s actions, in the past, matter. You can’t just throw a person’s past away so that you can imagine they are something that they have already shown you they aren’t.

            Good luck on remaking these people into what you wish they were. Trump has shown us what he is. And he just doesn’t fit in the portrait you’d like to paint. Neither does Ebell.

            Like I say, we’ll see, won’t we? And it’ll be far too late to reverse course, even if we could.

  6. I hope Rod is right that Hoffman is being seriously considered, and I agree with the notion (mentioned by EP) that personnel reflects policy.

    Unfortunately, if personnel reflects policy, things really aren’t looking good. All (or almost all) of the news stories on Trump’s potential DOE picks (such as the one below) do not mention Hoffman. The Trump administration picks being discussed for DOE, and other pertinent agencies, are overwhelmingly nakedly pro-fossil people. Their agenda is clear. A significant roll back of fossil regulations, and other policies that help fossil (i.e., tilting both the regulatory and policy playing fields even more towards fossil). No help for nuclear.

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/us/politics/donald-trump-administration.html?_r=1

    That’s my read, anyway. I’d love to be proven wrong.

    1. Jim, thanks for your response to my query on the other thread. Yours is a unique viewpoint, at least on this blogsite. One thing is for sure, its gonna be interesting to see where energy policy goes with this administration.

      What amazes me is that its all guesswork trying to imagine the direction policies will take. Whats that mean? Well, it means that a presidential candidate just got voted into office, by two million less than a majority of voters, who haven’t a clue what the man is going to do.

      Wow.

      1. @poa

        The correct time to “guess” and discuss potential policies is BEFORE they are actual policies that become more difficult to reverse AFTER they are passed into law.

        It’s easy to dismiss the words produced here because they are not the same words used by other sources or because the audience for Atomic Insights is far smaller in numbers than the audience for publications like the New York Times or the Washington Post.

        Perhaps I am just being vain by pointing out that most of the ideas spread here are deeply researched and informed by both experience and a wide circle of knowledgable sources in a particular subject area. I also have an advantage over those who cannot review the site analytics to see where visitors are coming from or who are not privy to the email, text, telephone and face to face communications that indicate that the Atomic Insights audience is well placed to influence energy policy decisions.

        There is certainly a strong possibility that future policies will take a direction that is different from the one that I am seeing develop. Please understand, however, that it is possible to have some clues and basis on which to make predictions.

        1. “Please understand, however, that it is possible to have some clues and basis on which to make predictions”

          Rod, the tone of your post possibly telegraphs that I may have offended you with my opposing conjecture about where Trump is going to take us. If so, that wasn’t my intent.

          It just seems to me that often times the “clues and basis on which to make predictions” are right in front of our faces, and don’t require deep connections or inside knowledge to accurately predict. Trump has provided us with decades of “clues” about his honesty, his integrity, his regard for ethical business practices, and his respect for women, minorities, and the blue collar worker. And none of those clues, in my opinion, point to the kind of man that will govern in the manner you hope he will. But I not only think the man is lacking in character, I think he is unstable. I don’t base that on media sensationalism. I base it on what kind of behaviour people around me practice, as a whole, and how I would react to someone near me in business, family, or friendship, that conducts himself as Trump does. The twittering, the inability to let go of criticism, the need to return criticism with insult, the lying, and the unabashed narcissism, all build the impression that this is a man I would steer clear of, and who would not be welcome in any social, business, or family setting I fit into. Apparently, there are many here that would be proud to share the dinner table with him. I don’t find that encouraging. But also aparently, a very large majority of Americans feel the opposite. I do find that encouraging. Its unfortunate that Clinton was the alternative, but I suspect, as undersirable as a Clinton presidency would be, the potential damage would not be near as divisive, or far reaching.

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