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46 Comments

  1. With Loretta Lynch in charge?! If you’re going to switch from covering current events to comedy, Rod, you should give us a little warning.

    1. @Brian Mays

      As a professional defender of our form of government for 33 years, I’ve learned that appointees and administrations come and go. The responsibility of the people is to do all they can to hold the transients accountable for doing their job and enforcing the laws that change somewhat less frequently than the individuals.

      1. Isn’t it the economic environment? Intermittent sources of power are profitable due to subsidy and mandates, while load following and reserve capacity is also profitable, leaving baseload to be trimmed. It seems that intermittent generation shortfall patching (we need a good name for that) will also be very profitable, given the similarity to reserve generation capacity.

        Given the economic incentive to dump reliable baseload generation due to the incentives for unpredictable sources and the generation shortfall patching (like load following) can we really expect a behavior from Entergy against their own profitability?

        Unless we can change those incentives we will see the Entergy dominoes fall: First Pilgrim, Next Fitzpatrick at Oswego NY on frigid Lake Ontario. Fitzpatrick will be more difficult because there is a great deal of public support, but I expect it will happen. Then Entergy’s will win a big prize: Closing Indian Point on the Hudson.

        By that time, Andrew Coumo will allow fracking in the Marcellus Shale formations in New York State. He won’t yet, because of the Negative effect that’d have on prices; The markets aren’t there yet to handle it, but they will be as a few more baseload plants are shut down, and more wealth may be gleaned from the masses while providing less reliable power to them.

        So it goes.

        Can we change this calculus, or do we have to wait for the Chinese?

        In Sunday’s Syracuse Herald American Newspaper, they had a “pro” reader editorial, and an “against” reader editorial regarding the closure of Entergy’s Fitzpatrick Nuclear Plant. The Pro person was logical, and well thought. The “against” editorial was nonsensical, even citing the Fukushima butterfly “study” as evidence of a radiation problem. It’s clear that the change needs to be in our collective emotive Limbic systems rather than in our logical prefrontal cortexes. It’s got to be done, but how the heck do we do that?

        1. If peaking is far more profitable than baseload, doesn’t that incentivize (and I think we’re seeing this with Entergy) reducing the total pool of baseload power, so as to make the peaks higher, wider, and more frequent?

          In other words, maximum profitability is achieved by getting as close to zero available baseload as possible, yeah?

          1. Seems true, until the masses (ratepayers) realize they’re being taken to the cleaners. If they reduce baseload too far, I’d expect the trend would backfire.

    2. Sorry, but whenever I hear “Loretta Lynch” I think about the coal miner’s daughter. Stupid, I know…

    3. I wonder if a private cause of action could be brought — by someone acting as a “private attorney general”

  2. As I have said before, it is now time for legislation at the federal level that would establish an agency that has the authority and wherewithal to take over these facilities being abandoned by their owners and operate them as a matter of national security (e.g., assurance of an adequate supply of reliable electricity). These are national infrastructure assets that should be preserved and not thrown away because of short-term, temporary market conditions. Advocates of “the free market” will complain, but this is a case where “the market” has failed to adequately compensate a facility for its product, a product vital to our economic well-being.

    Lets face reality here. Nuclear energy is dying and something must be done to save it, because electricity produced in reliable, zero-emissions, economical manner is simply too valuable of a strategic product to simply throw away because of heavily subsidized, unreliable generators, and those whose fuel is temporarily priced very low because of a short-lived production glut.

    1. Not a bad idea — at least prohibit DISMANTLING the plants.
      A sort of easily reversible ENTOMB should be the decommission option of choice: any other course of action should require a demonstration to overcome the presumption that ENTOMB should be selected.

      1. And this country and the world and the Vatican are really SERIOUS about global warming at all cost??? Can you spell lip service?

        It’d be prudent for greens to accept to at least mothball — don’t dismantle — nuclear plants as a life saver in our back pocket for when the first ominious signs of global warming come true.

        Let’s have an Atomic Show featuring a roundtable of top workers of recently shuttered nuclear plants, and one on how the press views nukes. There’re salespeople who can sell ice to Eskimos so there’s no reason nukes couldn’t be sold to the public an “good green thing” to do regardless cost to save the earth.

        James Greenidge
        Queen NY

    2. I’ve been thinking along the same lines myself, lately. Energy security is a vital component of national security, & if I have to put up with a shale gas well half a mile from my house, adjacent to the telephone exchange, down the hill from the water pumping station, a block from the police station, & two blocks from an elementary school — in a major city, mind you, I don’t live in some one-horse town in the middle of nowhere — then some squeamish New Englanders can put up with a quiet, clean, unassuming atomic plant that never did anybody any harm.

  3. Deregulating the utilities was one of the worst ideas that ever came along. The old (regulated market) system was not perfect, but at least the power companies had the long view. Taking that away from the equation leads to the irrational chaos we see now. Does this really surprise anyone?

  4. Its not an issue of economics when considering our government’s role. Its an issue of politics. Like it or not, our justice system operates with politics being the first and foremost consideration for action. There is no way either party, in power, is going to launch the kind of investigation Rod proposes. The right is bought and owned by the fossil fuel monster, and the left is ideologically married to renewables. With the huge monetary incentives, contributed anonomously, allowed by Citizens United, these special interests have free rein to purchase the future policies of incoming or incumbent politicians. And what high dollar donors are actually “visable” this election cycle, its obvious that the right is recieving the lion’s share of the fossil fuel bribes. With the left so obviously in bed with renewables, it looks like a dark future for NE indeed. There is simply no one riding to your rescue. Rod’s unrealistic optimism places too much faith in human nature. Such faith, if extended towards our citizenry, is practical. Given accurate information, I think the vast majority of us mean well, and would like to see political decisions made for our benefit. But we do not get accurate information. Where Rod’s optimism becomes ludicrous, is in its application towards our “leaders”, who do not deserve our trust or faith. An investigation, such as Rod proposes, is a pipe dream. Ain’t gonna happen.

  5. Rod,

    Regarding the point, “Lack of progress in efforts to improve the market structure.”

    Am I understanding correctly – do baseload nuclear generation stations end up making minimum price even during peak periods of demand (that is, they get paid the same low price all the time, even as market fluctuations might drive the price [and thus profitability] of ‘peak’ providers up wildly, sometimes making several hundred percent marginal profit margins for those peaking units, while the baseload workhorses make almost nothing)?

    1. They already have a contract for 2017-18!
      Google “PJM Interconnection Auction” Then search again after replacing with your interconnection. this site will give you the name. http://www.ferc.gov/market-oversight/mkt-electric/pjm.asp
      You will find that they have a fixed price contract, with hefty penalties already signed for 2017-18. How much will NG sell for in 2017-18?
      All part of the deregulation of electric utilities to get rid of the lock that the local PUC had on prices, to “save” the homeowner from big electric bills. [By the way, Utilities fought this tooth and nail – Liberal FERC “reformers” wanted this. The more the utilities fought, the more the progressives were certain that they were on the right track. Once approved, it took about a year or so for the savvy utilities [ENRON] to figure out how to game the new rule – SELL/shutdown High loss power plants. Why do you think Zion NPP was shut down?

      Again, the structure of the Obama CO2 reduction plan makes NPP worth less than “Unreliables” and has exacerbated the problem. [And I am certain they know it, otherwise they would be given the same CO2 subsidies/credits/whatever you call it as other “green” energy.] INMHO – They are now in the same mode as the automotive gas industry. – When Oil is cheap they make money, when Oil is expensive they make more money. Now that NP is stuck with baseload and low fixed prices it no longer makes money. A CHEAP CCTG makes more money for the quarter and that is all that counts in todays business model.

  6. Ironically, as nuclear power stations have mastered operations to the extent that capacity factors are consistently above 90%, this is now a liability.

    1. The other ironic feature in the “free markets” (really manipulated markets) is that the most expensive, most unreliable power sources are given the most favorable treatment (e.g., subsidies, tax breaks, must-take provisions at outrageously inflated costs). In contrast to that, the most reliable, highest-performing, economical (on its own merits) energy source is hung out to dry. Truly a world gone mad.

  7. Rod – thanks, as always, for this post. And thanks to all the commenters here at Atomic Insights. I always learn a lot.

    I think there’s a larger issue in the background – a lack of appreciation of the importance of reliable and affordable electricity to our civilization. Gail Tverberg (http://www.ourfiniteworld.com) has just posted a new presentation titled Our Electricity Problem: Getting the Diagnosis Correct (http://ourfiniteworld.com/2015/10/14/our-electricity-problem-getting-the-diagnosis-correct/). She’ll be giving this presentation to producers and industrial users of electricity and natural gas at a conference. IMO the whole presentation is worth a very careful read.

    One thing that stood out for me:

    It seems to me that we have to keep in mind that having an operating electric grid for everyone else is absolutely essential. Without the electric grid, gasoline stations would stop pumping gasoline and diesel. Transportation would stop. Electric elevators would stop. Treatment of fresh water and sewage would stop. Companies everywhere would lose their consumers. The economy would quickly come to a halt.

    With our current affordability problems, we are in danger of losing the electric grid.

    (Emphasis in original)

    I think her presentation is relevant to this discussion because I see the subsidies for wind and solar, and what I understand of the pricing system for electricity, as having created an enormous market distortion by putting high value on and paying for the wrong things. One major distortion is not acknowledging that nuclear electricity generation is carbon emission free. (Life cycle emissions are not, because nuclear power isn’t being used for the whole cycle.)

    Tverberg goes on:

    Given the problem with commodity producers not being able to collect high enough prices for their products, and the large number of resulting bankruptcies, a person comes to the rather startling conclusion that the ideal structure for electricity providers in today’s economy is that of a vertically integrated utility. In other words, an electric utility should directly own its suppliers, as well as transmission lines and everything else needed to produce and distribute electricity.

    In other words, value electricity and the grid highly enough to keep it reliable and inexpensive. I see Entergy as responding rationally to the messages sent by the current markets and conditions. To change their actions, the messages (prices and subsidies) need to change. I also see the difficulty of making those changes…

    Tverberg has a unique perspective on energy and the economy. I find her always worth reading.

  8. There was an attempt to sell the plant. I know of at least 2 companies that were interested in the whole Entergy merchant fleet and decided not to due to potential costs and due to the adverse affects of exposing their brand to the anti nuclear stuff that many of Entergy’s plants have to deal with.

    1. @Michael Antonelli

      How many large capital assets have you sold? (Houses, cars, small businesses, etc.)

      If you’ve made such sales, how many potential buyers did you talk to? Did you place any ads to improve your chances of finding the right kind of buyer willing and able to pay a fair price?

  9. Let´s see. This is around the sixth or seventh plant shutdown in five years in the US. Not the first or second.

    The US is hemorrhaging carbon-free baseload electric generation.

    Republicans are against adding a cost to carbon and other pollutants.

    Democrats are mostly reflexively antinuclear but say they want to add a cost to carbon.

    Also, given, is that the majority of nuclear proponents really, really, really like free markets.

    It is frankly rare when I hear a nuclear proponent give wholehearted enthusiasm for governmental and societal interventions that would LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD between fossil fuels and nuclear by adding a cost to carbon and to other pollutants that are generated by….fossil fuels!!

    So, let´s all put our smiley faces on and get happy about our wonderful free markets!!!

    1. @Ruth Sponsler

      I’m a big Ferdinand Banks fan on this topic. He makes a strong, intellectually consistent case for vertically integrated regulated monopoly utility companies with an obligation to serve as the best sort of electricity supply system.

      In other words, back to the future of he same kind of company where my dad served for 35 years.

    2. I think the deregulation of the airlines may be a good example of why deregulating the electrical power markets is not that great of an idea. I think the airline industry is still trying to adjust – as I recall the different airlines had their own ideal airplane (flight range and number of passengers) and that is what they specified and purchased, much like power companies and their power plants. Also, planes and power plants tend to last for many decades, thus the owners of such assets can be put into some odd situations when deregulation occurs, a bit of a “square peg in round hole” quandary.

      And I would say the republicans are just as reflexively against regulated markets as the democrats are antinuclear. Sadly.

  10. Maybe it should work like the NHL Hockey players going down to the minors.

    You can’t just close a plant – you have to put it on waivers, so that any other qualified company can take it on.

    1. The problem is that no one will pick up the player on waivers if they either have a lot of baggage (e.g., burdensome regulations, anti-nuclear agitators, self-serving political foes, etc.) or they get hammered by owners (shareholders) who want short-term gains and have no interest in long-term benefits that are diffuse (benefit everyone but in indirect ways) and not quantifiable in the quarterly report. So the only buyer willing to take the player on waivers is one who is more or less immune to those pressures, and that likely means, in this case, a quasi-government agency like TVA or BPA who can take on the burden and has the wherewithal to ride out the bumps for the long term.

  11. The problem I see is that with all of NPP’s costs being fixed (except a tiny fuel cost), there is no viable way to “mothball” a unit until economic conditions improve. In contrast, if a fossil unit is mothballed, their main cost (fuel) goes to zero. At an NPP, most of the staff must remain to meet various legal requirements, and the various fees (NRC, permits) can’t be suspended or reduced either.

    As currently written, 10CFR50 is an “all or nothing” affair – the plant is either operating, or terminated. A change would be needed to 10CFR50 to provide a “mothball” option. For example, add a new condition that once fuel is removed from the vessel certain activities are not required, and once the fuel has decayed in the pool for xxx days, even more activities are not required. Finally, some rules about what the protocol would be for returning to power operations.

  12. Maybe that’s a worthy topic: who promoted deregulation of the electric power system, and who has made a lot of money off it?

    My recollection of the argument is: “lazy entitled workers with jobs for life; rampant ‘deadwood’ in the utilities; linemen sleeping in trucks… Market will correct to optimal solutions, decreasing rates for all…”

    It wasn’t true then and it hasn’t worked out as advertised.

    => somebody is making a lot of money

    1. The trouble is the “free market” never finds an optimal solution. As I have tried to explain to people who understand the mathematics, what the “free market” finds is not an optimal solution, but a solution that is essentially a local maximum based on the most heavily-weighted parameter. If that is price, then the solutions will move in the low-cost direction until conditions change and either the low-cost local maximum is no longer at the same local maximum, or the “solution” wanders into a “pole” or “zero” where the system breaks down. In the case of supply and demand and the economics thereof, that takes the form of shortages and price shock, or price collapse and a depression (deflation).

      For the case of the energy business, demand is pretty much inelastic and therefore the supply-and-demand solutions tend to be somewhat “brittle”. Throw away enough fuel (supply) diversity and the brittleness is only enhanced. New England right now is absolutely dependent on two things for survival: cheap natural gas and cheap Canadian hydropower. They have no other fallback positions. Taking out either one will lead to disaster.

  13. The energy [Electricity and Gas], you are buying is not what you really think. Many reading here need to look at the following links and find out hw the way selling Electricity has been transformed.

    http://www.epsa.org/industry/primer/
    and
    http://www.eia.gov/electricity/wholesale/index.cfm

    This process has greatly expanded since I retired and is a result (IMO) of the deregulation. Since your electric utility is NOT generating (all) the electricity that your PUC is controlling the price of the PUC can’t control the price you pay (that is what the surcharge is). Entergy, Duke, and many others have split out much of their generation facilities into “Wholesale” commodities. These are then sold to the other, sister, brother, subsidiaries of the umbrella holder and then to the regional and local meter readers. Gas was like this many years ago, but with different “Owners” as you went from source to customer. Now, mimicking ENRON, many others are, Entergy, and Duke.

  14. Frankly, I am going to stop following the nuclear energy issue altogether.

    When I was blogging on the issue, almost ten years ago, I viewed nuclear energy as a very good way to generate lots of electricity without the pollutants and CO2 that fossil fuels produce.

    At that time, I believed that America would eventually commit to substantial reductions in greenhouse gases and would use nuclear energy, along with hydro and other renewables, to do that.

    Fast forward to 2015, and the reality is that the plants are falling like dominoes because peaker power is more profitable.

    Half of Americans don’t even believe that climate change is occurring, and outside of leftist activists, there is no enthusiasm for curtailing fossil fuel use.

    I predict that the Paris climate talks that will occur in November will fail. The politicians and corporations absolutely do not want to do anything that limits fossil fuel burning, no matter what scientists say.

    I am thoroughly disgusted with the whole situation and will no longer follow this issue.

    I’m over 50 and I’m going to leave it to the kids to sort out the climate change problem. Heaven help them.

    1. No need to stress because I don’t think what we do here matters. The future trajectory of global emissions will be determined by Asia, especially China. We could ban fossil fuels tomorrow, and it wouldn’t matter a damn to the long-term global outlook if China’s rate of emissions growth continues.

      This is how I see it: the USA rose to superpower status over the past 100 years on the back of fossil fuels thanks to its natural endowment of oil/gas/coal that generated vast fortunes setting various wealthy family dynasties in motion throughout Wall St. and Washington. The “old money” is wedded to O I L and the military-industrial complex, which is tasked with protecting US interests in the Middle East. Since U.S. conventional oil peaked in the 70s, but gas is still in abundance, the power wedded to this old order has switched allegiance to G A S, and unconventional oil. Not much is going to change this because there is too much money and power at stake for an Establishment with oil running through its veins.

      If there is a sea change in energy economics, I see it coming from the East. China’s Establishment doesn’t have the same oil-soaked history nor does it have comparable natural resources. It has lots of coal, but coal is rendering the air unfit for human consumption. As a result, China has no choice but to reduce its reliance on coal leaving nuclear as its ONLY alternative to clean the air while growing the economy. The need in China for a nuclear alternative is beyond huge. So, I wager we will see the next wave of nuclear innovation come from China and it will be primarily for this reason, with climate concerns ranking a distant second.

      If China is successful at revolutionizing the economics of nuclear with a range of innovative new technologies, the world will take notice. If they can master cheap, abundant energy virtually without limit, and their economy begins to reap the benefits, the US will pay attention from a national security perspective. The US will switch to a nuclear economy only after the last economic drop of oil and cubic foot of gas has been squeezed out of the ground and off-shore competition powered by nuclear abundance becomes a major threat.

      Someone has to put the writing on the wall, in gold letters, for the U.S. Establishment. To paraphrase Churchill, the right thing will be done, but only after exhausting all of the alternatives. How long this will take is anyone’s guess… My guess: maybe 10-20 years for these forces to start playing out.

      1. @Steve

        Not sure if you’ve noticed that there’s now a lot of money in the hands of Americans who have no ties to oil. In fact, many of those newly minted billionaires have numerous reasons to want to move the Establishment out of the way so that they can continue making ever larger sums of money by providing products that people want to buy because they empower them for more enriching lives.

        There is a lot of money in the hands of the Establishment, but like royalty, they are weakened and made vulnerable by intermarriage and groupthink. Their mouthpieces in the ad-supported media no longer capture everyone’s attention during “prime time” every evening; we have numerous ways to find and share information that the Establishment would prefer remains hidden.

        People who are interested can learn more about Webb and his scrappy history by reading his recently published “I Hear My Country Calling.”

        Those who underestimate his chances might want to review not so remote history to see how early favorites in the preseason crash and burn. It’s now October 2015. Election day is 12.5 months away.

      2. @Steve, Learn about how China, India and the other Asian countries are building Advanced Ultra Super Critical Coal fires Electrical generating stations. They produce LESS pollutants at less cost and more efficiency than NG. (Google it.) But for some reason the greens do not want COAL burnt in the USA. WHY?
        Think Coal is only used for generating electricity? Look at EIA.gov and research all of the other uses of COAL in the USA. It too, is affected by the EPA rule. The end result is the EPA (Obama) is forcing manufacturing into China. WHY?
        Now count the number of perfectly good Zero CO2 producing Nuclear power plants that have shutdown in the last 10 years and the number that are presently seriously considering shutting down in the very near future. The USA is going from 20% NE to 16% NE in the next 5 years. WHY? The Loss of NE basically negates all of the efforts made in CO2 reduction. WHY?
        China is building far more COAL power stations than Nuclear. Projections show that the CO2 levels in China will double by 2030 – The date that Obama Agreed with China that they then need to start reducing CO2. What a joke.
        When we get over this surplus of NG what do you think is going to happen to the wholesale price of NG? With the high demand from all of the Coal plants shut down, (First Energy alone has shut down 6 in the last two years) and the loss of 25% of the Nuclear Power Plants just what do you think is going to happen to the cost of NG? Over my 40 years in electrical power production I have seen the cost of NG cycle like a roller coaster. Every time we get a surplus the price goes through the floor, Electric utilities buy Gas turbines or convert Coal plants to NG and as they come on line the price goes through the ceiling. The utilities then start building the newer more efficient Coal plants, and the cycle starts again. Count the number of utilities buying/converting now. There are 5 plants within 50 miles of me converting to NG. They have to because of the EPA rule. That is going to at least double the price of NG. Pray for a warm winter.
        I have a heat pump, however, I have spent more than 100 hours searching the internet and determined the exact numbers and efficiency curves for my HP to calculate the Economic Balance Point so that I can plug in the cost of NG and the cost of Electricity and determine the temperature at which I should switch from Electric to Gas providing the heat. This has cut my energy bill by at least 15%.

  15. I feel similar Ruth. I can see a good long-term energy path forward with nuclear but I can’t see any feasible way to get there right now. Nobody is listening to the full set of facts that supports that path, and too many people of power and influence are buying into a fear-based narrative that is essentially fictional. Gas is cheap, and even though everyone knows it won’t be so forever, there’s no effort to keep nuclear plants on hand, and develop more, for that future.

  16. More like cynics.

    Pretty much everyone who is in favor of nuclear energy believes that Jimmy Carter royally screwed up energy policy.

    But, you know what? Ronald Reagan (who ran on a pro-nuclear platform, by the way) had eight years to fix it. Reagan promised in his campaigns that he would move forward on nuclear energy.

    Then, George Bush Sr. had four years.

    Let’s leave out Clinton, who was neutral to nominally anti-nuclear.

    The younger Bush had ANOTHER eight years to enact legislation favorable to nuclear energy. But, no, it was terror, fear, the Patriot Act, and the Iraq War.

    There were Republican Congresses too, that were able to pass most of their proposals.

    The Republicans had 20 full years in which they could have reversed most of Carter’s energy policy mistakes and anti-nuclearism.

    They didn’t do it.

    Now, fast forward forty years.

    Politics in the US is more divided and dysfunctional than at any time since the Civil War.

    Many nuclear proponents still worship free market idols….while that very same free market kills nuclear plants because EXTERNALITIES of fossil fuels are not costed.

    The system is broken and rationality is becoming even less a part of institutional decision-making than it was forty years ago.
    .
    Rod – I’m sorry but I don’t think the Webb or O’Malley campaigns are catching fire. No one is interested in centrist candidates whether on the Republican or Democratic sides.

    One more prediction; The 2016 election campaign will be viewed by historians as a campaign of irrationality and demagoguery.

    1. @Ruth Sponsler

      You’re correct that neither Webb nor O’Malley is catching fire. I’d like to add “yet” to that statement. I’d also like to remind people to study the history of early front runners in US Presidential politics and notice how many flame outs there have been of people whose campaigns caught fire too quickly.

      1. I read Nate Silver´s blog sometimes.

        He discounts the current front runners especially on the R side but also on the D side.

        But you know what? The poll numbers for the current front runners are NOT dropping significantly.

        http://www.cbsnews.com/news/poll-trump-still-leads-carson-in-second/

        http://www.cbsnews.com/news/poll-hillary-clinton-still-leads-democratic-race/

        By the way, I do NOT think Biden will run. It´s basically too late for him to jump in now.

        1. @Ruth Sponsler

          How are polls taken? In an age of caller ID, cell phones, and texting, do they provide a representative sampling of potential voters?

    2. Let’s leave out Clinton, who was neutral to nominally anti-nuclear.

      Ruth – Ha ha ha!! You’re kidding, right?

      Bill Clinton used nuclear power as an issue specifically to beat up on his opponent, Paul Tsongas, in February 1992. (In case you don’t remember, Tsongas was unashamedly pro-nuclear.)

      Let’s examine Clinton’s record on nuclear power:

      1993 – Clinton officially reinstitutes the ban on reprocessing used nuclear fuel, which had been lifted by President Reagan in 1981.

      1994 – The Integral Fast Reactor project is canceled.

      1998 – The DOE’s R&D budget for nuclear power is zeroed out.

      The net summer capacity of the US nuclear fleet actually decreased during Clinton’s time in office. He is the only president, going back to Eisenhower, who could claim that until Obama came along.

      Can you name one good nuclear program that was started under the Clinton administration?

      I can see why you would want to forget about the Clinton years. Many people in the nuclear industry want to forget those years too. Clinton was clearly anti-nuclear and his wife is too (although she had to claim to be a “nuclear agnostic” seven years ago to distinguish herself from fellow Democrat John Edwards, who was rabidly anti-nuclear in addition to being a philandering scumbag).

      The only programs that I can recall that were actually good during the Clinton years were the efforts put together by Al Gore to destroy Russian nuclear weapons material by burning it in US reactors. We’ve been running our reactors on Russian weapons-grade uranium for years now. We should soon be set to burn up Russian plutonium too, but the effort to build the facility to make the fuel has pretty much stalled under Obama’s watch.

      For comparison, Clinton’s successor, G. W. Bush, initiated the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) program and the Global Nuclear Energy Program (GNEP). He was calling for US companies to develop reprocessing technologies as early as his first year in office, and he revived the Yucca Mountain Project, officially approving the site for the repository in February 2002. Obama later killed the project at just about the same point in his time in the Oval Office.

      1. @Brian Mays

        Bill Clinton used nuclear power as an issue specifically to beat up on his opponent, Paul Tsongas, in February 1992. (In case you don’t remember, Tsongas was unashamedly pro-nuclear.)

        I rarely talk with anyone who remembers Paul Tsongas. He was a fascinating candidate, not only was he pro-nuclear, but there was an ad with him swimming butterfly! http://www.ishof.org/paul-tsongas.html

        Those two qualities instantly made me a fan.

        Unfortunately, he suffered a recurrence of stomach cancer that had been in remission for about 9 years and passed away soon after the 1992 election. I wish he’d remained healthy and taken another shot at the office.

        Here is a link to a video with his butterfly ad http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4484592/paul-tsongas-nh-primary-pres-campaign-ad

        1. Rod – Yeah, I liked Tsongas back then. He was definitely my favorite among the Democrats. (I still remember the SNL skit at the time that had the three D. candidates stumping at a Star Trek convention — “I don’t want to be Santa Claus.”)

          It’s a shame about the cancer, however. He was a guy who I thought had a lot more to contribute.

    3. They didn’t do it because they were ideologically wedded to the false God of “the free market”, not realizing that, with the massive subsidies already in place that favored unreliables (renewables), the market wasn’t “free”, but rigged. The ‘Pubs believe that all problems can be “solved” by market forces, not understanding that market forces often do not solve all problems from an optimal viewpoint. Physics and mother nature pay no mind of market forces, which are an artificial construct to begin with.

      Likewise, on the Dem side, they are ideologically wedded to the anti-nuclear cause because all calculations on that side are based on power and politics, and they cannot win without the support of their “progressive” base. So where does that leave nuclear? Basically the red-haired stepchild, out in the cold. Which is utterly ironic because it is the one technology capable of addressing the overarching issues of the day, economic growth to lift the majority of the world’s populace out of abject poverty, and preservation of a livable environment.

      1. @Wayne SW

        The flaw in your logic is the assumption that the massive subsidies were already in place.

        For example, the solar investor tax credit that is now 30% of total project cost, returned to the investor within one year of project completion, was just 10% prior to the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, pushed and signed into law by George W. Bush.

        The technological advance of wedding horizontal drilling to hydraulic fracturing to release tight gas could not have been made without the exemption to the federal Clean Water act that was contained in that same Energy Policy Act. Without that small change in law; it would have been difficult to drill and complete enough wells fast enough to drive down the price of natural gas to their current levels.

        1. Subsidies for solar and wind go back a lot further. I bought my first house in the late 1970s. Within a year or so, not week went by that I didn’t have a door-to-door salesman coming by to sell me a solar heating “system”. Their main selling point? Tax breaks, which at the time they said I could use to pay for up to 50% of the cost (federal and state combined). Industrial-sized wind and solar have always received favorable tax treatments and legal subsidies. So I don’t see any flaw in logic there if I am only citing history that goes back around 40 years or so.

          Meanwhile nuclear energy is dying and no one seemingly wants to see the reason that is staring them right in the face.

          1. Well, it’s not dying because of free markets and it’s not dying because of the Energy Act of 2005.

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