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33 Comments

  1. “Here is the comment that I submitted on Jim’s post. I suspect it might not be visible to anyone else.”

    I looked for it and didn’t see it there.

    I’ve seen Atomic Insights have a rather open mind towards many differing opinions. It is unfortunate that a group as rich and powerful as Greenpeace can not also include differing opinions to be seen after their articles.

  2. Still leaves the question what to call them. I tend to think of ’em as “anti-environmentalists”, but that just perpetuates the “us” vs “them” mentality that “they” so gleefully celebrate in the first place. Perpetuates the tribalism.

    Yet the distinction is there, and must be made if we’re to ever eliminate it. (Or “them”). I rather agree with Prof. Brook, who terms himself a “Promethean Environmentalist”. Appeals to the latent poet-within. This in contrast with our “Deep-green environmentalist” ideologue colleagues at Greenpeace, Foes of the Earth, Sierra Club, and NRDC.

    Call them “Deep-green anti-environmental ideologues”, if you will.

    But whatever “we” call “them”, “they” are the ones who showed up thirty, forty years ago, still show up today, and now run this zoo. They’re the ones we must work both with and against if we’re ever to turn this boat around. Needless insult and antagonism won’t further the common cause. So when we meet on the street, or at demonstrations, street marches, EPA, DEC, and Public Service Commission hearings, its important to have terminology in hand, both for “them” and for ourselves, that will spark interest and conversation, rather than (or in addition to) confrontation and spite.

    Attended a Saturday-morning breakfast seminar hosted by a local environmental organization this past March. Speakers were a glaciologist from NSIDC, Senator Udall’s environment coordinator, and the EPA regional director, who addressed her department’s upcoming Clean Power Plan. A gentleman asked (seriously) why EPA couldn’t just shut down all the coal mines and nuclear plants? Ms. Farris tactfully opined she didn’t think that was within EPA’s remit.

    As part of her presentation, Ms. Farris had shown coal at 2,200 lbs CO2e / MWh and natural gas at 1,000 lbs / MWh. I stood up and observed nuclear emitted about 25 lb / MWh and that *if* we were to actually solve the emissions problem, it would be done only with a substantial contribution from nuclear power.

    Don’t think I didn’t get an ear full (from other attendees, not EPA). I somehow managed not to laugh. It was soooooo PRB! Reminded me of the good old days. We talked at each other for the better part of an hour.

    So get involved. The world is run by those who show up!

    1. Call them “Deep-green anti-environmental ideologues”, if you will.

      Deep-green ideologues will suffice. They don’t deserve the word environmental close by their name anymore.

    2. They regard “deep green” as a compliment. In the past I’ve called them Malthusian, neo-Malthusian or just anti-human. I think eco-destroyers is good too although I’ve never used it. Anti-environmentalist is too long. Calling them anti-human, is not perpetuating “us vs. them”. They’re doing that themselves with every lie and fraud they manufacture.

      Even so, let’s remember it was the market – aka the profit motive – that actually killed VY. The greens just cheered. Rod: “There are laws in the US against commodity suppliers cooperating to reduce supply in order to increase prices” – but no one will prosecute.

      1. Real anti-trust enforcement in the USA has been dead since the Reagan administation. The only folks who will ever see an anti-trust enforcement action are those who haven’t paid their protection….er, made sufficient political contributions to those in power.

        Is there a group or entity in history or myth who destroyed what he set out to protect? That would be a good name for the so-called greens.

        I mostly just call them information vandalls, because that is one of the many things that they are.

  3. Rod,
    Is it true that the State of Vermont is demanding prompt dismantlement of Vermont Yankee?
    If so, how can they make that demand when “ENTOMB” is available under applicable federal regulations?

    1. There are many in VT (loud, if not the majority) who are demanding prompt decommissioning. Entergy is going with SAFSTOR. The State (or the agitators) can “demand” anything they want, but in the end it will be up to the owner (Entergy) to decide which way to go, and the NRC to approve the plan (or not).

      I don’t see what the fuss is about. The prompt decommissioners say it will help restore the site and keep people employed at the plant. Those are bogus arguments. Nothing will be done at the site while fuel is stored there, which will be the case until either reprocessing or a centralized storage site is developed. And nobody working at the plant now is likely to stay on for decommissioning. That is done by outside contractors.

    2. The state government of VT has a lot in common with many of the organizational greens: They’re captured by the gas industry; Captured by Gaz Metro / Green Mountain energy in this case.

      Why *wouldn’t* they want VT Yankee completely out of the Natural gas market in this case?

      Wait until the Captured Organizational Greens (like Riverkeepers) and the NY State Government succeed in shutting down Indian Point. Us suckered masses have a bit of a reprieve because fracking in NY State’s Marcellus and Utica shales *at this time* would drive down the price of gas. It will therefore be a few years before market increases allow it, and more state influence over gas producers can be established, The market will eventually be ripe for shutting down Indian Point, and the drive to to it will commence in earnest.

      VT Yankee is only the beginning.

  4. The best possible event would be the sinking of the US – particularly the Northeast into a Polar Vortex lasting to April. Europe would be a nice addition.

    Then the brainless moronic voter will finally realize that his vote actually means something.

    While I cross my fingers hoping for painful financial lessons, I fear a large loss of life may be an unfortunate consequence.

    Schadenfreude, is the German word that I think covers it.

  5. This blog post was mirrored at CommonDreams, where it will probably be read by more people.
    http://tinyurl.com/pywxnlx

    As Jag_Levak, I was one of the more visible (and resented) nuclear advocate commenters there for over a year, until I was made an unperson (for suggesting on their site that CommonDreams did not want anyone to mention the embarrassing successful removal of all the spent fuel from Fukushima-Daiichi pool 4 on their site, after all the Wasserman fearmongering they hosted a year previous). Now that I’m banned, I see many of the regulars who at least refrained from posting nonsense while they knew I would show up to debunk it have returned to their old talking points. Anti-nuclearism appears to operate on the same faith-based, science-denying, bubble-reality model as Creationism. They know in their gut that they are right, and that anything nuclear is evil, so any science, evidence, or reason to the contrary must be some clever subterfuge perpetrated by evil people bent on spreading their evil technology.

    In future hindsight, I think it will be seen as a tragicomical irony that people who believed themselves to be environmentalists should have been the ones fighting the most vigorously against the transition to a clean, safe power which had the greatest potential for saving the planet. But I think it goes too far to say they care little about the effects their actions have on the cleanliness and sustainability of the environment. They care, but they are locked into a delusional mindset whereby their good intentions have functionally the same effect as malevolence. Unfortunately, we are not yet to the point where we can use that future hindsight to point this out. And right now, they are equally convinced that future hindsight will vindicate their position.

    So I think the best we can do at this time is to calmly and relentlessly keep the focus on science, evidence and reason, and try not to make it about the character of a group of people who hold views opposed to our own. Tarring them as a group is more likely to engender group solidarity anyway. What we want to do is chip away all the most reasonable people from among them whom we can reach, and hopefully by process of distillation, the shrinking residuum will become more ideologically rigid, shrill, and marginalized.

    I do, however, think it is fair game to call out individuals for particularly mendacious dishonesty, and also to ask how nuclear and radiation science denialism differs in any significant respect from climate science denialism.

    Oh yeah, and when they reveal their clueless, harmful, self-absorption with antics like this: http://tinyurl.com/pew253l miss no opportunity to keep everyone reminded, particularly anyone who might be thinking about sending them money.

    1. “They know in their gut that they are right”

      Helen Caldicott claims precisely this in a recent interview
      http://youtu.be/BuhfPkTM7eo

      On behalf of Australia, I feel I should once more apologise for all the harm she has caused.

      I agree that demonising the group is the wrong approach. Detailed criticism of their thought leaders, such as Gordon McDowell’s takedown of Caldicott this year, is exactly the right approach. These are the persons who got little traction with their hysteria around exceptional nuclear radiation hazards and commercial reactor material being used for bombs, so they shifted strategy to abusing legal loopholes and the regulatory process. My major wish is that the eventual Australian regulatory framework will be careful to anticipate the differences between legitimate societal/technical concerns and clear cases of anti-nuclear activism.

  6. No they cannot. Greenpeace is also not wholly honest or ethical in their representations of issues and solutions.

    I thought by now more rational and reasonable arguments would have prevailed here and kept the plant open. That many didn’t have the courage to speak up and step in, particularly in this case, could be a indicator to some it may be time to completely break rank with modern “environmental advocate”(s) and advocate from a more honest and defensible, if not far more pragmatic positions.

    1. @John T Tucker

      Some of the people that might have been more vocal stayed quiet because they did not want to offend their employer. Big corporations have been known to get angry and vindictive when rank and file employees question their decisions in public. If a VY employee stood up and expressed their confusion about the “economics” story line, they might have risked the loss of a significant retention bonus.

      There are laws in the US against commodity suppliers cooperating to reduce supply in order to increase prices. Virulent antinuclear and anti coal actions give cover to the corporations and enable them to blame others for constraint-of-trade actions they want to take anyway.

  7. I have worked 44 nuclear outages and Vermont Yankee was my first and most impressionable.

    That experience kept me interested in nuclear power.

    that plant was clean and safe and everyone took work seriously yet they were also were friends and neighbors with one another.
    It is so sad to see this plant shut down. I think having Energy buying the plant was a mistake in hidesight.
    Unlike the south where nuclear fleets make sense Energy did not understand the

    local issuse in Vermont.

    It hard to say but Vermont Yankee before the sale was what can be considered a mom and pop owned nuclear plant. Local owned and operated.

    It was unique in that fashion.
    I’m not critical of energy there great but any buying of VY would face the same issues due ti local customs and such.

    of course skewed regulatory markets and cheap natural gas did it during the so called polar vortex it was Vermont Yankee that stayed open and was new England’s numbet one or so producer of electricity.

    I just hope the new reactors under construction in the south will change so people’s mind about nuclear power in the north.

    1. It is well known in the biological world that if the environment is poisoned the inhabitants die. Here was a case of the political and economic environment being poisoned by individuals and groups to the point that no matter how well-run VY was, they were not going to be allowed to survive. You have a Governor who ran his election campaign on a promise to get rid of VY. The State took Entergy to court any number of times and even though Entergy won those cases it still took time and money to defend. The Governor led a near-unanimous vote in the state Senate to shutdown the plant. While that had no direct legal effect, it poisoned the environment to the point that the PSB would never grant the required Certificate of Public Good. The state passed a targeted tax specifically directed at VY to tax their earnings, and as we all know the power to tax is the power to destroy. The markets were rigged so that VY’s output was barred from being offered to the local grid, even though the price was still competitive. And, the final straw, the laws and massive subsidies offered to wind and solar generators which allowed them to bid negative prices in the power auctions yet still make a “profit” (because of the subsidies). Add it all up, it is clear that the political environment was drastically tilted against the survival of VY.

    2. Hi Rodd,
      I live about 8 miles from VY. My husband worked in Corporate for 16 years. Your comments echo my own sentiments exactly. I never was concerned about the plant until it was sold to Entergy. I am not an expert on the pros/cons of any type of energy production, but that plant was proudly operated by local interests who contributed much to the local communities with donations and good paying jobs, and they were my friends and neighbors. I did not know one single person who didn’t do their best at keeping that plant in good shape.
      Once control went to an out of state owner whose record was less than stellar, I began to feel ambivalent about it.
      It was designed to run for a certain period of time. When Entergy received permission to power it up higher and run it longer than it was meant to run, AND it started to fall apart, I began to have more serious doubts about its safety.
      I likened it to an old (reliable) Toyota that had a Corvette motor placed into its fragile body, and the instructions on how to drive it were coming from an out of state owner who wanted to make as much money from it as possible.
      I realize my analogy is very simple but most people don’t understand much about nuclear power.
      I am sad to see the original version of VY gone.

      1. @Cindy S.

        Thank you for stopping by and engaging in the discussion.

        You wrote:

        When Entergy received permission to power it up higher and run it longer than it was meant to run, AND it started to fall apart, I began to have more serious doubts about its safety.

        Based on reviewing the plant’s operational record over the past dozen or so years, I am not sure why you have stated that it started to fall apart. I acknowledge that there were a few well-publicized and frequently repeated stories about cooling towers, transformers and a tiny tritium leak, but none of those had much impact on the plant’s operational reliability. Using your automobile analogy, the issues were about as consequential as having a rearview mirror fall off, getting a fender ding, or having a a few drips from an oil pan once in a while.

        You also wrote about an “out of state” owner. How do you feel about the out of country owners of Green Mountain Power or Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream?

      2. Cindy
        The original version, pre-2002, was very marginal economically. The purchase by Entergy which was very lucrative to the state and the original owners preserved the asset until the end of 2014.
        Prior to the extended power uprate (EPU) I believe VY only operated, without shutdown, for a complete cycle once. After the uprate, operation for a complete cycle was standard. VY just completed two consecutive breaker-to-breaker cycles and, with the exception of a short shutdown in November 2010, would have completed 3 consecutive cycles.
        The extended power uprate was critical to the extension.
        Vermont Yankee was the first plant to perform an EPU and than operate for a complete cycle without shutdown and at a very high capability factor. This was a result of the high competence of Entergy employees, the commitment of the Entergy organization and the high level of equipment reliability which was a result of the uprate.
        I came to VY in 1998 and recognized how special it was after only a short time. Entergy managed the difficult trick of preserving the best of the VY organization while infusing it with a passion for operational excellence.
        If only the state of Vermont had a similar commitment to excellence VY would still be generating the most important commodity in the world. It is unfortunate that this important economic engine is no more. Most unfortunate for VT, NH and MA residents.

  8. In addition to EP’s link to Brave New Climate, allow me to draw attention to their most recent posting: an essay on world energy use and the ethics thereof, by NNadir, an occasional commenter here. Long, but well worth reading.

  9. Happy New Year!

    Say what one might about Greenpeace, no clams they like the nuclear community, they know how to get their message out to the masses in spades. This war of nuclear acceptance can only be won by aggressive self-promotion and mass education. It is not Saturn-5 science. It’s “Mad Men” common sense.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  10. This is exactly why I smile at the “REAL Environmentalists ARE Pro-Nuclear Power” bumper sticker on the back window of my car every day. Makes it even more sweet knowing we are currently on a 554 day continuous run.

  11. This plant was past its economic life, sure you could struggle along on life support with excessive maintenance, and double the cost to consumers.

    But with solar PV at 9 cent with ZERO subsidies, why the heck are we considering anything but solar? And it stay at 9 cents for 30 years!

    Exelon and others are proposing a doubling of costs of nuke generating electricity.

    1. @Fresh. We consider things other than solar because we need electricity at times other than when the sun shines.

      Doesn’t mean we can’t consider solar. Only that when we do, we need to consider other things as well. Those other things cost money. Levelized cost of intermittent , non-dispatchable energy sources should not be compared with levelized costs of dispatchable sources, and EIA warns you — you specifically but your enablers as well — not to do it. See Levelized Cost and Levelized Avoided Cost of New Generation Resources.

      At the end of the day our utility companies bill us for a combination of generation costs from a combination of generators, a combination of storage devices, and the grid services needed to connect them all with us. It all adds up.

      So does the carbon they all generate. Wind and solar are not carbon free when they depend on coal or natural gas to keep the lights on. Sometimes wind and solar can reduce emissions from existing fossil plants, but they cannot eliminate them. Please understand: eliminating power-sector emissions is what we must do.

  12. Today’s Independent has Nuclear power is the greenest option, say top scientists lead by the usual suspects. Only there seems to be more and more of them:

    “In an open letter to be published next month in the journal Conservation Biology, more than 65 biologists, including a former UK government chief scientist, support the call to build more nuclear power plants as a central part of a global strategy to protect wildlife and the environment.

    “The full gamut of electricity-generation sources, including nuclear power, must be used to replace the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas if the world is to have any chance of mitigating severe climate change, their letter says…”

    Interestingly, this piece was linked from my favorite environment blog, The Daily Climate.

  13. From Lochbaum’s post:

    Senator David Vitter recently expressed his view that groups like the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and the Union of Concerned Scientists had teamed up with Senator Barbara Boxer to shut down the nation’s nuclear power plants one at a time. The senator cited last year’s closure of the remaining two reactors at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in California and concerns raised about adequate earthquake protection for the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, which has only two nuclear power reactors still operating in California, as evidence.

    I have had the pleasure of working with the Sierra Club, FOE, and Senator Boxer’s staff, but not as part of some left-wing conspiracy seeking to shut down all the nation’s nuclear power plants.

    But Southern California Edison did not opt to permanently close the two reactors because Senator Boxer and/or FOE and/or others were picking on them—they could not make a business case for operating the reactors at reduced power with the flawed replacement steam generators or for replacing the replacement steam generators in order to operate again at full power.

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