House Energy and Commerce seeks to enable advanced nuclear energy
On Friday, April 29, 2016, the Energy and Power subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing to discuss H.R. 4979 and a draft discussion bill with the unfortunate acronym of NUKEPA (Nuclear Utilization of Keynote Energy Policies Act). Though at different stages of the legislative process, both documents are efforts to improve the ability of the US to design, license and deploy improved technology that takes advantage of the incredible capabilities of actinide–uranium, thorium, and plutonium–fuels.
The attendees at this hearing were overwhelmingly supportive of nuclear energy and the need to make improvements in the way that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reviews technology, charges for its services, engages in hearings, and interacts with both government and private sector nuclear technology developers.
Rep Bobby Rush (D-IL) made the following supportive opening remarks.
Mr. Chairman, as we move towards a reduced carbon, sustainable energy economy, there’s no doubt that nuclear energy will need to play an instrumental role in order to reach those objectives.
If we are to truly develop and scale up these technological advances, it is important that policy makers and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission provide regulatory certainty for the nuclear industry in order to encourage investment in these next generation nuclear designs.
Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) represents the Sixteenth District in Illinois, which is the home to four operating nuclear plants, “miles of windmills”, hydropower plants, ethanol production facilities and biodiesel plants. He’s the author of the NUKEPA discussion draft; his opening statement is fairly representative of the committee’s statements.
As indicated at the end of his opening remarks, Rep Kinzinger understands the overlap between energy and national security. It wasn’t surprising to find out that he is currently serving as a Major in the Air National Guard and served active duty Air Force tours as a pilot in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rep Mike Doyle (D-PA), stated his support for both pieces of proposed legislation, though he asked Rep Kinzinger to change the name of his bill so it would cease to be called NUKE PA. Doyle’s district includes Cranberry, PA, home to Westinghouse’s world headquarters.
Rep Jerry McNerney (D-CA) is a co-sponsor of H. R. 4979. He began his opening statement as follows, “Our nation will, by necessity diminish our dependence on fossil fuels to fight climate change, and, as we do so, we will need to turn more and more to nuclear power.” Rep McNerney is one of the few members of congress who is not a lawyer; he has PhD in Mathematics, worked as an engineering contractor at Sandia National Laboratory, and founded a wind turbine manufacturing company.
I suspect that Geoffrey Fettus, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council, felt outnumbered as the token nuclear energy opponent in the room. His opening statement questioned the need to make any changes and portrayed nuclear energy as an inherently expensive, slow, and potentially hazardous technology that has already received more than its share of support and attention. His organization objected to virtually every provision included in the two documents under review.
After making that statement, Fettus was ignored by the committee. His only remaining participation in the discussion came when he injected himself into the conversation. (1:38:32 in the archived video)
There is little doubt that the professional nuclear energy opponents will whine about the fact that there wasn’t sufficient balance at the hearing, but I believe that balance is overrated. A better objective would be pursuit of truth and positive action to enable problem solutions.
H. R. 4979, NUKEPA and the hearings held to discuss them are part of a serious, increasingly well-coordinated, multi-vector effort to help American leaders both recognize the scope of potential benefits from a growing global nuclear industry and take action that will allow the US to fully participate in that growth. Even during a low price “bust” in the traditionally boom and bust fossil fuel industry, there are excellent reasons to build the foundations needed to enable actinide energy to displace fossil fuels where appropriate.
People involved in marketing wind, solar, biomass and energy efficiency products are strongly and publicly resisting the rehabilitation of a long demonized competitor for both resources and public attention. They are defending their selectively encompassing “renewable” brand as the true solution to reducing the use of fossil fuel. They openly recognize that allowing nuclear energy to accurately describe itself as a clean alternative to fossil fuel puts their whole business model at risk.
Though the NRDC would likely protest inclusion of their organization in the category of marketers for wind, solar and energy efficiency products, the following quote from Mr. Fettus’s opening statement supports the contention.
Moreover the practical nuclear engineering and economic hurdles inherent to these technologies are such that NRDC questions whether advanced nuclear can ever be transformative – or even shoulder a small fraction of our fast evolving energy markets as we address the pressing needs of climate change. Furthermore, as an environmental advocacy organization, NRDC has concerns that advanced nuclear may serve as a distraction to the rapid, continued scale-up of existing, economically viable and proven solutions to the threat of climate change from wind, solar and energy efficiency technologies.
Dr. Todd Allen, Senior Fellow at Third Way, described some of the opportunities that could arise from a program where the federal government cooperates with and nurtures nuclear energy technology instead of serving as a high barrier to entry.
With all of the talk about the inability of the House of Representatives to function in a bipartisan way, it looks like nuclear energy might be a place where both parties can find common interests. That is heartening; the technology is too important to be supported by a single “side of the aisle.”
For those of you who are keenly interested in enabling new nuclear, I encourage taking the time to view the hearing in its entirety. For everyone else, I hope you gain the feeling that there is growing bipartisan support for smoothing the path between concept and commercialization for safe, productive, competitive nuclear energy technologies.
Mr. Chairman, may the record commemorate Rep Doyle’s heroic effort to keep a straight face whilst requesting Rep Kinzinger kindly rename his bill so as to provide a marginally more appropriate acronym. Let the record further indicate that Rep Doyle utterly failed in this effort.
In contrast, it should be noted that NRDC’s Mr. Fettus provided exemplary example of how such facial musculature may be decorously controlled as he objected that advanced nuclear technologies would serve as distraction from proven, established, and economical renewable sources such as wind and solar (1:07:36), whilst in the next breath (1:07:57) objecting to the recommendation in Section II of HR 4979 that part of NRC’s funding for advanced nuclear licensing efforts might be shifted to us taxpayers via Congressional appropriation from the General Fund.
Seriously. Mr. Fettus’ performance is to be commended.
I suspect that the chief concern of these so called pro- nuclear democrats [a oxymornon if there ever was one] is simply to advance the climate hoax and nothing else. They know that alot of the american population rejects both the hoax and it’s absurd renewable solutions. They are buying time for the enviromentalist extremists in the party to continue to promote their deindustrialation of America, They have no intention of any serious development of nuclear power. When will the nuclear community wake up and reject the climate lie and promote the true benifits of nuclear power and other applications of nuclear energy.
Do you see something wrong with taking this position?
IF the increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere are causing problems & will cause more problems in the future, nuclear power will eliminate CO2 emissions to the extent that it is used. However, even if CO2 emissions are harmless there are lots of good reasons to switch to nuclear like no SO2, no mountain top removal, no pipeline explosions etc. & nuclear is more reliable than any other energy source.
Whats the saying about a “gift horse”?
It amazes me how ignorantly partisan some folks can be. They’ll run headfirst into a wall, right next to an open door.
Still pushing the George C. Marshall Institute PR line, I see.
The “solutions” have been around since forever, in search of a problem. Hooking the climate-change issue to them as an attempt to discredit the latter was a stroke of genius on the part of the propagandists.
Meanwhile, the public is getting an increasingly accessible understanding of the underlying issues that they can appreciate quite personally.
We know how this propaganda works. If you claim that there is no problem with adding CO2 to the atmosphere, you might as well burn natural gas instead. Heck, even well-scrubbed coal isn’t all that bad (supposedly). It’s just another line of propaganda that winds up handing everything to the fossil-fuel interests. It’s clever, I’ll admit, but it’s not all that hard to see through.
My intenion was not to promote fossil fuels over nuclear, I understand the role the fossil fuel industry plays in undermining nuclear.development but It’s not a choice between fossil- fuels or nuclear power however.High temp gas cooled reastors can provide heat and power for enhanced oil recovery, oil refineries, steel making, and conversion of coal to more flexiable fuels.If we are ever going to return to the high growth rates of mid to late 20th century these resources will be needed. Nuclear power allows those resources to be optimized as well as opening up a new level of energy density to the human population in general through fission, fusion -fission hybrids and pure fusion.
Gosh, Rod, you must be making a mistake. You mention three democrats that are supportive. Heck, anyone that has followed the comments here for any length of time knows that democrats are all greenies, fuddistas, and anti NP leftist treehuggers.
And its really a bummer to read an idiotic comment, and not be able to call the author an idiot.
Yeah, it’s a bummer to have to be civilized and polite at times, but it often makes living a more pleasant and social experience.
Oh? You find Donald’s comment “civil”? Deserving of civility?
I mean hey, doesn’t extreme ignorance deserve recognition in the same manner with which it was presented?
Usually not, no.
Especially since Donald is new here, it would be best to discuss the reasons his comment is wrong and perhaps even offensive without applying any derogatory label to the commenter.
Of course, if he persists in making similar comments over a period of time there MIGHT be grounds for aiming at the archer instead of the arrows.
“…….it would be best to discuss the reasons his comment is wrong..”
Such an approach may bear fruit if directed towards intelligence. When the target of that approach has already established that no such asset exists, that approach is unlikely to advance a constructive debate. But sarcasm may in fact close the conversation, halting the frustration of trying to teach an amoeba how to think.
Could you perhaps define “intelligence” and give a local example? Last I checked, us amoeba receive the same number of votes as the next guy. All we gotta do is show up at the polls and cast.
Not all, add Jim Webb and Evan Bayh to the pro-nuke Dem side. The anti-nuke Dems often receive more publicity, and that’s because they’re often the loudest.
They’re also the leadership of the party. Jim Webb is no longer a US senator, and he is no longer a presidential candidate. Has anyone heard from him since last fall?
Far from being “pro-nuke” — i.e., promoting a greater share of future electricity generation from nuclear power — the two people battling to be the leader of the Democratic Party (one now viable, one not) are spending their time arguing over whether or not to close Indian Point.
Adversity begets adversity. Keeping us divided benefits the agenda of the leaders of BOTH parties. When you take stances such as Donald’s, (and often your own), you are merely playing into the hands of those that could care less about actually representing the interests of the people. Your constant depiction of the left as “anti-nuke” is a self fullfilling dynamic. The so called “leaders” celebrate the successful sowing of division along party lines, and only work harder to implant that division when they note the success of their efforts. This division allows them to avoid the inconvenience of a true people’s united front and concensus. As long as Donald, yourself, and people like you nurture this division with willfull participation, this nation will continue its downward slide. Partisan ignorance is the problem, not the solution.
poa – You forget yourself. You are the belligerent, divisive one in this forum. You set a standard that nobody here could even hope to match.
Political leaders, celebrities, your host, random people on the internet, old girlfriends, etc. … they’re all fair game for your mallet-like wit.
Hmmmmm……read your comment, Brian. Do you ever reflect inwards?
You double the comment count of this post all by your lonesome, including a reply to yourself, with heaps of negative emoting but no content to speak of… and then write this?!
Irony, thy screen name is POA.
I was wondering when the Klan would show up.
Better watch out, or I’ll leave a flaming atom on your lawn some night.
I made a comment about the important role that partisan division plays in serving the interests of a self serving political structure. I note that my detractors have turned that comment into an excuse for personal attack. I also note that they are content to allow Donald’s partisan divisive prattle to go unchallenged.
Did they address my contention that this partisan ignorance is a nurtured affliction imposed by our so called “leaders”? Of course not, because by doing so, they admit to complicity.
poa – Oh … so that was a “comment,” was it?
I could have sworn it was a personal attack against me and other people here. You were the first one to start naming names, after all.
See … that’s the difference between them and you. They need an excuse, you don’t. You’re such a p–k that you just start launching into attacks for no reason whatsoever. You bring no value to this site, only hatred and vitriol.
@Brian, poa, and E-P
Please take it outside.
Well, they’re talking the talk. I guess we’ll see if they you-know-what. Reid will likely threaten a filibuster in the Senate on any kind of pro-nuclear legislation, but I’m not sure if a majority of his caucus will think it (filibuster) worthwhile to support.
I doubt if every Democrat is anti- nuclear but I would say the vast majority are and while I don’t know what goes on in the heads of these Democrats mentioned I have a strong motive to speculate what I do having opposed the anti-nuclear movement Democrats [ and Republicans by the way ] since the 1970’s. To this end I selected to begin my first post. with the words I suspect. Is the definition of political speculation based on well known policy positions of the Democratic party now considered insulting? Mabe they think so but it wont stop me from pointing out what I feel are possible motives. .
Well Donald, regardless of your opinion of the “majority” of democrats. ( Which is actually based on a very small group of so called “leaders” whose positions are dictated by special interest groups that DO NOT represent the opinions, or interests, of their constituency.)
Your use of the term “climate hoax” is indicative of you holding a politically biased stance that defies the concensus of the “majority” of scientists concerning themselves about our environment. I am a democrat, and you certainly have misjudged my opinion, and the opinion of many other democrats I know. Negative opinions about NE are pretty much based on a political and media narrative that misinforms the holders of those negative opinions. It escapes me why you think attacking the constituency on the left is going to replace misinformation with truth. When presented with political leaders on the left who can be very instrumental in implanting truths about NE, you respond with insult and derision, calling them liars and frauds. How is that helpful? And, as EP points out, your marketing of this premise called the “climate hoax” plays right into the hands of those pushing renewables and fossil fuels, (if, as Rod proposes, there is a collusion between these two entities). Even if no such collusion exists, your peddling of the “climate hoax” narrative surely puts a smile on the face of any and every oilman that wants to keep the crude flowing into the energy marketplace at its current scale.
Wouldn’t the NE industry be better served by welcoming the contributions of Democrats such as the three mentioned here, than it is by the kind of insulting accusation you leveled at them and their constituency? What purpose is served by slamming shut a door that is open to a bipartisan energy concensus that serves the interest of NE? My anger, exhibited on this thread, and EP’s biting sarcasm,which he provided in response to your initial comment, is the best you can hope for when come at this issue as you did.
And caring about what kind of environment we leave our descendents is not a “hoax”. Its a responsiblity.
That is the kind of idea/paradigm challenge I like to see.
Then don’t blink, because its a fleeting endeavor. It ain’t as much fun as yanking chains.
Aren’t you the guy who’s often found counseling others that their equivalent of “yanking chains” isn’t a very effective method of changing minds?
You might consider taking that advice.
“Aren’t you the guy who’s often found counseling others that their equivalent of “yanking chains” isn’t a very effective method of changing minds?”
Yeah…thats me. But nobody said I was perfect, or very convincing.
“You might consider taking that advice.”
Ok. I considered it. Now what?
But nobody said I was perfect, or very convincing.
Perfection is overrated. Continuous improvement is a worthwhile and achievable goal. If you have strong opinions and believe they are more correct than those held by others, why wouldn’t you want to become more convincing?
“You might consider taking that advice.”
Ok. I considered it. Now what?
I apologize for not fully implementing my training as a nuclear technology procedure developer. I should never ASSUME that the next steps in a given procedure is obvious to the operator.
After considering the advice, take the necessary steps to implement it.
Monitor the results.
Continue adjusting to improve results to the desired consistency.
Egads, Rod. Lighten up. You ain’t still in the navy.
You ain’t still in the navy.
You’re right. However, leadership training is kind of sticky stuff. It stays with a person.
Also, discussing nuclear energy and its value to society might be a lark for you. For me it is an enjoyable, but serious calling.
Rod…you read me wrong. I do recognize the seriousness of the issue. In spades. The lark, in my opinion, is the manner in which it is sometimes discussed and debated here. One expects science and logic, while often finding the exact opposite. I realize separating the politics from the science paints an incomplete picture. But otherwise intelligent and logical commentors morph into blathering idiots when partisan politics enter the discussion. The lark is in trying to respond to comments like Donald’s original contribution with anything other than light hearted sarcasm. Yes, he has walked it back considerably. But in doing so, he cannot erase the existence of the underlying sentiments he exposed with his comment. So, I’m to have faith in the “science” advanced by such a “deep thinker”? Why should I assume his assertions and opinions about NE are any less shallow and unfounded than his political bigotry? I only use Donald as an immediate example, because it convenient to our discussion. But surely you recognize that he’s not a loner here. I’ve been here long enough to determine that on many outside issues, many of your “logical” and “science” peddling commentors are ill informed about issues that are easily researched and validated. Their opinions are formed with prejudices as their foundation. Yet when NE is the topic, we are to assume they are perfectly honest, forthright, and informed? There lies the lark for me. Trying to wade through the BS to get to the facts. Pretty tall order here.
You are correct in pointing out that it is indeed the leadership of the Democratic party that is by and large anti-nuclear.I doubt the rank in file gives it much thought. I stand by my statement that I SUSPECT their support of advanced nuclear power is false, I can’t read minds to know for sure.The anti-nuclear left’s issue with nuclear power IMO never was safety or the real preservation of the envrioment but anti-technological socialism, in Europe they openly call themselves degrowthers.If you regard my comments as a attack on you please don’t, I in no way ment to insult you, I hope Iam wrong about the Demcrats mentioned, time will tell.
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