Labor and Business perspectives from White House Summit on Nuclear Energy – Liz Shuler (AFL-CIO) and Danny Roderick (Westinghouse)
On November 6, 2015, a Friday afternoon, the White House hosted a Summit on Nuclear Energy. The seats in the conference room had been filled before much information about the event had been released, but the organizers provided a live stream on the web. That turned out to have been at least as informative as being there. There was only one short break, which would have provided little time for meeting and greeting the distinguished invited audience.
It was also better for the climate and the Atomic Insights LLC budget to be able to watch from home instead of driving a couple of hundred miles each way. Having experienced the joy — too many times — of leaving Washington, DC after 5:00 pm on a Friday afternoon, I was happy to be able to grill a meal, dine with my wife, and clean up the kitchen before I would have been able to even reach the parking lot that is also known as I-66.
I’m hunting for some additional information about the summit, like an attendee list and an agenda, but while I wait for my sources to come through, I’d like to share a couple of highlights.
My primary take away from the event is that responsible people in the Administration recognize the importance of nuclear fission in our nation’s energy supply mix. They understand it provides clean, reliable heat that is not limited to producing electricity, that the material often mislabeled as “waste” can be a valuable future fuel resource, and that it is impossible to achieve stated energy security and climate goals without a growing contribution from nuclear energy.
Those responsible people also recognize that the current trends are in the wrong direction and they are looking for answers regarding actions needed to reverse the trends.
I captured nearly all of the summit stream and will be processing it into digestible clips.
There were several excellent briefs given, but my initial favorites were the ones by Liz Shuler of the AFL-CIO and Danny Roderick of Westinghouse.
Though Atomic Insights has a pretty extensive library of articles that mention Danny Roderick’s leadership and impact on the nuclear industry, this is the first time I’ve mentioned Liz Shuler. She has an impressive resume. One notable achievement was her involvement in a campaign in Oregon to resist efforts by Enron to push an electricity deregulation bill modeled after the disastrous California legislation. She is an engaging speaker, a quality that is almost expected of a successful organizer.
Yesterday, she provided both inspirational words and penetrating “tough love” honesty about the challenges her organization sees in achieving the lofty energy and climate goals that politicians say they want to reach.
It was interesting to note that Ms. Shuler celebrated the recent achievement by Curtiss-Wright, with the help of IBEW local 1914, of producing qualified reactor coolant pumps for the AP1000.
There are a lot of very good reasons for the nuclear industry to recognize and embrace the fact that they have a strong partner in organized labor. Unions provide well-respected craft training programs, have implemented codes of excellence that provide people who are proud of their workmanship and promise to put in a hard day’s work for a full day’s pay.
Union screening programs can help ensure that people have the proper training and clearances before the show up to a site; which adds to their value. In addition, unions have standing with the often nuclear-skeptical Democratic Party.
There is little doubt that progress forward with nuclear energy will only be effective with bipartisan support. The technology requires patience and long term investments that cannot be subjected to the whims of the election cycle. Since the Republican Party traditionally has planks in its platform that support nuclear energy development, yesterday’s summit provides reasons to believe that bipartisan support is achievable.
Immediately following Ms. Shuler’s effective talk, Danny Roderick, CEO of Westinghouse, provided a complimentary perspective from the business point of view. He highlighted the current progress his company is making in creating a manufacturing supply chain for nuclear plant components and a nucleus of experienced construction workers with the new plant builds in Georgia, South Carolina and China. He also sounded a note of caution, reminding policy makers that nuclear is a long term business that cannot be switched on and off.
Stay tuned for more about the conference later today and perhaps into next week. It takes time to process, clip and summarize video. I wanted, however, to provide some initial coverage as quickly as possible.
As far as I can tell, there aren’t many writers rushing to describe yesterday’s summit. The only report I can find so far is an article on E&E News titled NUCLEAR: White House summit boosts industry’s sagging spirits. I also found a dismissive pre-event mention in Politico:
LOOKING FOR LOVE IN ALL THE RAD PLACES: The White House is putting on a summit this afternoon designed to promote the Obama administration’s “commitment to nuclear energy as a clean energy and climate mitigation solution.” Translation: This is another line in the preamble to the Paris climate talks to show that every tool in the proverbial toolbox will get whipped out. The nuclear crowd is certainly excited for the attention and the summit will also let them feel like part of Team Climate, given the industry’s sense of being the unloved stepchild of the whole enterprise. Nuclear wonks shed tears when Congress nixed cap-and-trade in the president’s first term and the EPA’s Clean Power Plan feels a bit too little too late while reactors permanently unplug from the grid.
Perhaps energy reporters are more interested in the finally announced decision to disapprove the Keystone XL pipeline — after the applying company had already asked for the review to be suspended due to changing economics. It might also be that news of the late Friday afternoon event fell of the radar screen as is almost always the case for events with that timing.
It is worth noting the position that the press release describing yesterday’s event has on the White House list of press releases this morning. It was also interesting to find that the video titled White House Summit on Nuclear Energy posted on the White House YouTube channel contains just the first panel. It includes just 58 minutes out of a four hour summit. Maybe there will be others posted later and the first one will be renamed with a “Part 1 of..” in the title.
Update: A friend provided a link to the full version of the streamed event https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aKsOc9yeIs End Update:
In this era of focused, independent media outlets, we have the capacity to overcome the traditional political ploy of burying news by releasing it late Friday afternoon. The summit was far too important for nuclear energy to be ignored or submerged. As far as I am concerned, the Administration gave us a powerful tool by providing impossible to refute evidence of its public support. It is up to us to make sure that the news gains the traction it deserves.
Thanks for getting this out there so quickly!
I missed watching because we (George, me, Howard, others) were all over at Dartmouth watching Robert Hargraves presentation “Radiation Limits to Energy Innovation” which was about ThorCon and about why LNT is incorrect and stifles innovation.
Hargraves talk started at 3:30, but one needs to get there, to park on campus IF possible, etc. Well, you have been to that auditorium, so you know what the deal is. 😉
I am so grateful that you will make some digestible subsets of this White House event. I looked at the fact it was more than four hours and thought…how AM I going to watch this? Clearly, I will watch with help from my friends!
Meredith, thank you for the the link to my fellow Molten Salt Reactor revolutionary, Robert Hargraves. What Robert had to say was, of course more important than 90% of what was said at the White House Yeaterday. We heard a lot of self satisfied talk that represented the views of the failing first Nuclear Era establishment that is hoping to feed on a few crumbs tosed to them by the Obama Administration. The few second era revolutionaries, Per Peterson, Leslie Dewan, and Jessica Lovering had things to say that were largely ignored by conference participants. Whether or not the conference was a sucess, Second Nuclear Era revolutionaries made their way into the White House, and raised their voice. We have come in a long way since 2006, when Kirk Sorensen created his remarkable web site, “Energy from Thorium.” We have come a long way since 2007 when I became the 30th participant in “Energy from Thorium” discussions of the Revolutionary intent. i started the blog named “The Nuclear Green Revolution” the same year. We still have a long way to go, but china has already made a commitment to the revolution.
Rod, here’s a link to the entire 4:21:22 stream on YouTube…
Thank you. I’m not sure why that stream version did not show up when I searched or looked through the list of videos on the White House video list.
@Rod Adams => to further assist, you can find Liz Shuler from 1:52:55 to 1:58:30; Danny Roderick from 1:58:50 to 2:03:15. Also Leslie Dewan’s extremely short spot from 1:40:16 to 1:44:30.
Thank you so much for posting this, Rod C. I had put up a request on the White House’s YouTube channel on the original video asking for the rest of the event and had the same issue as Rod A–didn’t show up in the list of videos.
Good job, Rod. I must submit my opinion on why the Press hasn’t posted much (if anything) on the nuke summit. It is positive nuclear news! I’ve been long-whining over the western Press’ aversion to reporting on topics that shed positive light on Fukushima. Now, it seems they have made it a full-nuclear-positive blackout.
The fact that the whitehouse put on this summit would seem to dispel the notion that this administration is anti-nuke across the board, as many here assert. I wonder if those such as loannes even bother to watch, or are they so afraid of having their biases tainted by truths that they are more comfortable ignoring reality?
However, this summit will take a backseat in our media, with nary a peep being uttered. Governance by BOO!!! is getting a major boost right now, and policy dictates that we all are sent scurrying for shelter as the nasty ISIS villains are paraded before us as something other than a monster of our own making. Get those assembly lines going, we need to crank out some more bombs and tanks. And by golly we better double up on plant security.
Anyone still wear shoes with laces to the airport? Or are we learning how to be good little fascist subjects and cowards?
Syria, here we come.
Gee, those PNAC guys really did hit the trifecta, didn’t they?
Anyone still wear shoes with laces to the airport? Or are we learning how to be good little fascist subjects and cowards?
I have started avoiding airports whenever possible. I used to fly quite a bit, but now I’d much rather drive so I can carry whatever stuff I want to have with me. I often get to my ultimate destination in just about the same amount of time as it would have taken me to fly after accounting for all of the overhead that has been imposed since 911.
Astounding, isn’t it? I can think of a dozen rail chokepoints withing a fifty mile radius of my home, unprotected, and rural, where a terrorist act could cripple west coast rail traffic for months, maybe more. So what would do more damage, taking down a civilian aircraft, or disrupting the flow of goods on the west coast for months at a time? Like I said on another thread, these onerous “security” measures have nothing to do with true security, but instead are designed to justify policy. The irony is that policy is self fullfilling in regards to increased threat.
I won’t post an excerpt, as I am providing this link to address a now removed comment that Rod had made in response to a comment of mine he has allowed to remain. Undoubtedly, Rod will remove this post, but hopefully not before Ray McGovern’s short essay is read by a few participants here. It begs the question; What have we done, what have we become, and where are we going? And are we a nation of laws or not, (?), because surely, reknown murderous traitors walk free amongst us.
Btw….be sure to read the comments at the bottom of Ray’s piece.
The administration as a whole may not be anti-nuclear, but, Obama’s science advisor, John Holdren, undoubtedly is. Given the actions of the administration, I suspect that Obama relies on him for decisions in a broad swath of science related subjects. A clever science wonk can easily mislead the ignorant, pushing anti-nuclear policies, while justifying them with unrelated lies.
This hypothesis explains the schizophrenia of the current administration. Obama probably thinks he is pro or neutral to nuclear while Holdren steers every decision in practice to an anti position.
Think this is paranoia?
Look at how clever the anti forces have been in passing Renewable Portfolio Standards in 28 states nearly simultaneously, which just happen to kill the market for reliable baseload power. And getting NRDC to write the Clean Power Plan with the 6% poison pill for nuclear was subtle, underhanded and brilliant.
It’s not paranoia when there really are brilliant actors out to get you. The folks are particularly heinous because they hurt all consumers and their acts opposing nuclear over the last 40 years caused the CO2 crisis and have killed millions of people through the pollution that would not have been emitted absent their self-serving lying actions.
My point, which I kind of distracted myself from…
The administration can be full of pro-nuke folks and it won’t matter if Obama is using Holdren as a science policy gatekeeper, which is his job description.
You’ve helped me decide which clip to post and discuss next.
Holdren was the first speaker. He seems to be doing what educated people are supposed to be able to do — change their mind when persistently presented with irrefutable evidence.
I’m looking forward to it. That would be a very encouraging development.
Too often, pointing out the real world results regarding CO2 (e.g. France, nuclear, 60 g-CO2/KWHr vs. Germany, renewable-proud, 450 g-CO2/KWHr) feels like shoveling the ocean with a fork. You show people and tell them and they go right back to spouting the renewables mantra.
How did we ever build a technological civilization in the first place?
I’ve been many things but these days I’m a test engineer. The universe tries to trick me and it’s my job (or was, still looking) to examine the evidence absent any assumptions and figure out what is really happening. It’s almost always assumptions that lead one astray on the bench.
Yet this widespread devotion to renewables is 100% assumptions and assertions and no attempt to measure reality and see if CO2 emissions are actually being reduced.
Anyway, I’m a little skeptical but it would be nice if that fork finally got Holdren up on the beach to stay.
That is my exact experience in the trenches of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. All the presentations that come from national are rah-rah turbines and PV panels. I have been asked not to mention nuclear in our discussions, though I do get people intrigued with sotto voce asides like “nuclear generates 63% of the carbon-free electricity in the US”.
Not particularly discouraged. All people are different, every chapter is different. But at last month’s local meeting, held in the sub-basement of a very liberal church, I was hit by a very welcome and quite unexpected surprise. (Three, actually.)
We were late starting, as many members had been downtown at a late-afternoon climate protest rally.
One of them brought back a new recruit, early twenties. Good, we really need fresh blood.
Kid was still dressed in his protest duds, including front-and-back bright green placards declaring “Americans for Nuclear Energy!” — his website — and “100% Atomic Energy Now!!!”
This was about the last thing I expected the cat to drag in. But Lynn was smug as the cat who ate the canary.
Miller time and my mother drew Phil into friendly conversation. Our chapter president joined in, listened a bit, and encouragingly asked Mom if she’d seen “Pandora’s Promise”? Which she had, but it was still about the last question I expected from Elizabeth, who early on had admonished me to focus on company business when first I mentioned the “N” word. Not bad advice — one generally doesn’t learn much when one’s mouth’s open.
Which doesn’t mean anyone’s changed their minds, only that they’re more open than I thought.
Sigh. Something new each day. YMMV.
The more I think about it, the less impressed I am, even if it’s a fact.
Holdren has already spent seven years doing untold damage in a trusted position of responsibility. Then, as the term comes to an end, he says, “Oh, my bad. I had some things wrong.”
It’s a great way to dodge the blame after doing the damage, especially if one knew all along that one was doing the wrong things.
No. Rod was watching Navy beat Memphis 45-20 for the first victory over a top 15 team since 1984.
Going through moderated folder now.
Schizophrenic is a great word to describe this administration’s energy policies, particularly when it comes to nuclear power.
This gets at how I perceive this administration too.
Glad to see you back!
Do you have any more information on how exactly the bad guys got the Renewable Portfolio Standards passed so easily? Since you said elsewhere that it was done with minimal debate, I suspect it was thru bought-off politicians rather than a propagandized public…
If we didn’t have a propagandized public we wouldn’t have bought off politicians. The real issue is the bought off media, the corrupted Fourth Estate. What is interesting to me is how successful they are at hoodwinking citizens that are seemingly intelligent, yet when partisan politics are involved, they’re willing to believe in the Easter Bunny if their particular favorite scumbag politician, or media entity, tells them to do so. And make no mistake, if you are a player in Washington, the only way you got there is by being an absolute scumbag. Do you really think these people are not aware of the crimes that have been committed internationally in our name these last three decades? Do you see any of them demanding accountability? Why not? Well, because the crimes of the past, held unaccountable, enable the crimes of the future. Simply put, they are all criminals, complicit, and abetting. Prosecute one, you must prosecute them all. Ain’t gonna happen. So they go into office knowing that certain crimes will be tolerated, that they have been granted the ability to hold themselves above the law without fear of accountability. This nation cannot last much longer like this. I’m 63, and I an young enough that I will witness our fall from power. I hope the human toll is not in the billions.
The issue of nuclear energy? Trivial in the unfolding scheme of things. We’ll be lucky if our children aren’t fretting over whether to heat with oak or grandma’s wooden rocker.
Google the Symington Amendment.
Every president in our past, ever since Pakistan and Israel acquired nukes, has been in violation of the law, blatantly, abetted by Congress. And abetted by the Fourth Estate, by willfully ignoring blatantly illegal dispensation of billions upon billions, (trillions, really), of american taxpayer’s money. Where would our nation be today, economically, if our leaders had adhered to the law on this one single amendment?
George, here’s a good start on the how. https://atomicinsights.com/atomic-show-247-jigar-shah-founder-sunedison-and-generate-capital/
Listen to the whole show. “Good guys/bad guys” or good business men using the system to their advantage with no organized resistance. Keep in mind the man is very pro-nuke. Anyone who disputes his message, did not listen to it. I suspect because they don’t want to hear it. That does not make him wrong.
Not sure to whom you were responding. My impression is that it was done quietly without public debate. At least, I didn’t notice any public discussion at the time. Suddenly Texas had an RPS. Later when I got curious I found that it was done to many states near simultaneously. Did you notice a national dialogue on the topic? I certainly didn’t.
Whether politicians were bought off or just convinced that the public wouldn’t care, I don’t know.
Here are some things that were curious to me about this summit.
1) The President did not make an appearance to say this was an important topic.
2) The President was at a different press appearance related to Keystone XL and he could have mentioned the important summit that was taking place at the same time.
Leslie’s suggestion that the press may be a big part of the issue also has merit.
Reading the WNN news item re. this event, I am tempted to regard the Obama Administration as full of hot air in favor of nuclear energy. Was there any mention of the need for utility regulatory reform to prevent existing plants from being prematurely closed? Or any mention of the need to change the EPA new regulations that do not give nuclear plants credit for their lack of GHG emissions? Of the need to eliminate ridiculous subsidies for wind/solar boondoggles? Was anything said about the vast Ponzi Scheme of junk bond malinvestment in fracking for shale gas that is crushing nuclear power through the multi-year selling of natural gas below the costs of production? Was anything said about the Shale Gas Abundance Fraud; a fraud Obama signed onto in his 2012 campaign, repeating the nonsense that America has a “100 year supply of natural gas from fracking”? No. Unless someone can provide anything more than Hopium about seasoned lizards (Holdren) changing their minds in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, I call BS on the whole affair.
“Reading the WNN news item re. this event, I am tempted to regard the Obama Administration as full of hot air in favor of nuclear energy.”
As actions speak louder than words – You are absolutely correct.
Nuclear energy is needed for long term environmental reasons. Our businessmen and politicians aren’t in this for the long term. That is obvious to the most casual observer of which I claim guilt. The folks in power have to please the masses and the masses aren’t particularly interested in nuclear power. I was pleased today to see two dollar gasoline. I think the masses are far more interested in having these low energy prices than saving us from the promised longer term climatte change armageddon.
It seems possible that the Obama White House is aware of a very big Chinese announcement in conjunction with the Dec. 3 Climate Change talks in Paris. The “Summit” might be an attempt to suggest that their administration is not completely clueless on the need for nuclear energy. The reason I suspect such an announcement from China is: they have been somewhat quiet for some time; and they do “store up” announcements for when the world press spotlight is on them: e.g. the cooperation deal with Terrapower to build the “T. Wave” reactor was saved until Xi Jinping came to the USA. What could be stored up this time? A deal for seismically enhanced AP1000s for some of the 31 approved inland nuclear power plant sites? This has been held back by the problems with the Curtiss Wright pumps, which are now resolved. A longer shot would be a deal with GE for ESBWRs, now that the Alstom merger is a done deal. This, just a wild stab. But Immelt told India’s Modi to fix their Liability Law or GE won’t play ball. Does GE have some other love interest in the wings? China? Saudi’s? So perhaps Obama’s WH Summit on nuclear energy was an operation to erect some political defenses in advance. Climate Change is a big deal for Obama, as it should be. It is hot air without a strong pro-nuclear stand. No one likes to be exposed as a … bloviator.
Being in the trades, I can’t help but wonder if the chinese will build these plants using the same crap hardware they sell to Lowes and H. Depot. Or are they smart enough to realize just because we americans have forgotten what quality is doesn’t mean that they have to.
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