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31 Comments

  1. Interesting use of using Change.org as the platform for removing Jazcko. Felt dirty becoming a member and had to click through a few other petitions afterward, but overall pretty savvy.

  2. Thanks Rod. You are absolutely right. This is not at all about politics. This is about restoring the integrity to an agency respected for its scientific apolitical regulation of an important source of energy, medicine, and industrial processes. If the NRC becomes known instead as a mainly political agency, as has become the case under Chairman Jaczko, the Americal people will no longer be able to trust the agency has the public’s best interests at the heart of egulation.

  3. Well, if you wanted to make it a political issue, then you could start a movement to remove from office the fool who put Jaczko in charge of the NRC to begin with. That actually might be a more effective tactic, since we’re sure to have resolution within a year. 😉

    Sadly, I’m afraid that this petition misses the mark. I seriously doubt that President Obama has sufficient justification to remove Jaczko from the Commission. Thus, even if the petition were to garner enough signatures to get noticed (which is doubtful), it is likely to still fall on deaf ears because of the unrealistic demands that were made.

    On the other hand, Obama can surely and most easily force Jaczko out of his current position by appointing someone else to head the Commission, just as he forced Dale Klein out of that role. Unlike Klein, I doubt that Jaczko would resign from the Commission after being forced out. Nevertheless, this won’t matter. In his near seven-year term at the NRC, Jaczko has almost always been the outlier — the lone minority vote — but as a mere Commissioner he was kept in check by the rest of the Commission. It wasn’t until he was appointed to the chairmanship that he was capable of wielding sufficient power to make a difference and do some damage.

    Thus, if you want action, you should focus on eliminating his status as chairman.

    Is there any way that the petition can be amended to give it a more realistic goal?

    1. @Brian – BTW – I neglected to mention that I strongly disagree with your initial statement. As I have cautioned others who participate here, please do not use the term “fool” (or “stupid”) to describe people with whom you simply disagree. The President of the United States has upset a lot of people and has made decisions that many are not happy about, but I hardly think he qualifies as a fool. Besides, I think he is doing a better job now than most of the alternatives offered so far have demonstrated that they might do.

      It may seem really strange to many here, but my first choice is Ron Paul because he also recognizes the terrible damage being done to the country by the moneyed selfish interest groups who are profiteering by other people’s pain (both economic and physical pain caused by warfare.)

      1. Rod, I certainly agree with your comment about ‘fool’ which is ridiculous (especially ridiculous given the alternatives). Sadly, Ron Paul is right on the money on many issues and very irrational on others.

        To get back to Jaczko. I will sign the petition, because I would like to do something. But, I tend to agree with Brian on the goal. It would be more likely that Jaczko could be removed as chairman, which can be done simply with a decision by President Obama than to remove him from the commission, which has a lot of safeguards to prevent just that sort of executive control of an independent commission. That would be disgraceful enough that I think he might indeed decide to go. Probably he is there to stay for the time being, hopefully at least somewhat chastened.

      2. Rod – Relax. It was intended as a joke. (Didn’t you notice the little wink?) I guess I should have put the word in quotes to make it more obvious.

        And if you think that “fool” is offensive, then you should have heard some of the words used by my many liberal friends to describe Obama’s predecessor. I’ll refrain from repeating any of them here, since I don’t want to cause your blog to be blocked by internet filters due to excessive foul language. 😉

        Nevertheless, you have to wonder about someone who decides to appoint a man who has held no positions of leadership whatsoever to run one of the major regulatory bodies in the US government. Well, I guess we all see how that turned out.

      3. I was actually surprised Rod was an Obama fan…

        But I do like Ron Paul as a canidate, he is the only one with a good head on his shoulders.

        1. Ron Paul is off the beaten track. I do have problems coming to term with his attitude toward healthcare, him being a MD.

  4. @Brian – While you might be right, I have concluded that Greg Jaczko has engaged in a sufficient number of documented violations of federal law to be removed for cause. He violated the energy reorganization act by assuming dictatorial command of the NRC based on an event that was not at a facility licensed by the US NRC. He ignored the Nuclear Waste Policy Act and purposely starved the license review effort for Yucca Mountain of funds. He has also established a hostile work environment and harassed his employees on numerous occasions. I have been given enough management training to know that several of the situations documented in the IG report – but not officially declared as “findings” – merit serious additional investigation under federal worker protection laws.

    Feel free to start another petition if you disagree with me, but Mr. Jaczko’s inexperience and groupthink mentality has created a situation where he is in serious hot water. He and any lawyers that he hires should recognize that he would be getting off lightly by simply being asked to resign to find another job.

    My standards for management and leadership competence were pretty firmly set in my 33 years in the US naval service, where I read numerous reports of the reliefs of commanding officers for cause. We give those individuals extraordinary decision making authority and make them responsible for billions of dollars worth of assets. They make life and death decisions. The people under their command are expected to follow orders – almost without question unless the order obviously violates the law or safety regulations.

    However, when commanding officers screw up, the Navy takes no prisoners. A commanding officer can lose his job within minutes when he has lost the confidence of his or her superiors.

    As John Wheeler says above – this is not about politics. I am a bleeding heart liberal who has voted for Democrats hundreds of times. (I am not registered with either party.) I am simply adamant that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should be staffed by competent regulators and run by competent commissioners who clearly follow the law, adhere to the principles of good regulation, and recognize that the mission of the NRC is to enable the safe and effective use of nuclear materials to support the common defense and protect the environment.

    The United States cannot allow the continued service of an appointed commissioner who has proven that he will abuse the extraordinary powers of the Commission in a planned effort to tie the nuclear industry up in knots so tight that nuclear power generation capacity actually shrinks instead of steadily growing to help meet the power needs of the most important nation on earth. Jaczko has a few powerful political patrons, but those friends have less power than he (or you) believes they do. They are merely individual Senators or Congressmen who are not representing the best interests of the entire country.

    (With regard to the statement above about the US being the most important nation on earth, I am nationalistic, but nationalistic about the America I swore to serve – the one whose ideals are embodied in documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States with all of its Amendments. My patriotism received a booster shot yesterday with a visit to the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA with my wife and my mother, who shared stories of friends and mentors who were there when the Allies stormed the beaches to restore freedom to Europe. She also talked about her late second husband who was a major on Patton’s staff and her aunt, an ambulance driver who also drove for Eisenhower for several months.)

    1. Rod – The thing is that this is not a legal issue, it’s a political issue. Jaczko has powerful friends who have already rushed to his defense.

      When it comes to politics, often the path of least resistance is the best choice. Personally, if I were calling the shots, I’d promote one of the other Commissioners to chair the Commission (it’s not like we’re lacking qualified people, is it?) and hope that Jaczko resigns like Klein did. Even if he does not, then he doesn’t get reappointed in 2013.

      Boom … problem solved.

      That’s not too painful is it? Then again, I’ve always considered myself a pragmatist.

      Regardless of any of this, there should be some fun fireworks to watch this week. I’m planning on keeping some popcorn handy for the show.

  5. Just on Ron Paul. Not a fan. The problem is that the libertarians are so much against “Big Gov’t” they transcend into an alternate history of the U.S. We actually need gov’t because without it the US would be more akin to Ghana (with all respect to that beautiful country) in it’s development than the US is today (or was).

    Libertarian ideals didn’t build any nuclear power plants as capital would never flow to them with out the help of Big Gov’t. In fact ever major civil engineering project in the US was gov’t regulated or supported or owned or financed to various degrees.

    Kennedy was said that the proper thing is a ‘balance between public and private initiative’. He said this at one of the great Missouri Flood Control Porjects in 1962.

    The “anti-Big Gov’t” POV is a modern, but a-historical understanding of the political economy of America.

      1. Joel, comments below are not directed at you but to the posts so far.

        The report that Joel cites over emphasizes the role of government in the economy. It cites the Solow residual or also known as “Total Factor Productivity” as being mostly brought to bear through government investment and research. The TFP is assumed to be a measure of technological progress in terms go GDP.

        Recent work by Robert Ayers and Benjamin Warr in “The Economic Growth Engine:How Energy and Work Drive Material Prosperity” account for the Solow residual (99.5% R^2) with the annual exergy, useful work, input into the economy. It is not technology per se. It is power. Technology influences power conversion by increases in thermodynamic efficiency. M.M. El-Wakil presents an excellent history of thermal energy conversion in “Power Plant Technology.” Most of the increase in thermal energy conversion was driven by private sector funding. Some things particularly the advent of nuclear power were only made possible in the time they were through government resources.

        Obama, knows that energy is important, but doesn’t understand just how important. His actions through ignorance and ideology are attempting to implode the economy, by attacking the very foundation of our economy, energy. He has yet to put forward a rational and achievable energy policy that will actually help grow the economy. We need more energy, not less.

        The government does indeed play a vital role in our economy. It provides the constraints, the rules which we all agree to play by, that keep us from begin like Ghana. It identifies cost externalities and imposes taxes on those to minimize economic loss. It provides for the national defense and some other vital services. Most important provides the rules that ensure individual liberty. However, the government as of late has intruded to far into our personal lives and needs to be brought back in check. I think if we do not check it now we will end up with a mixed economy like Europe. We are closer than one thinks.

        1. And I was about to ask if you were aware of any studies or attempts to quantify the exergy/useful work available from the politically-favored renewables, wind and solar, compared to baseload generation.

          In doing a quick search to see if I could find anything on my own, I came across what I find to be an ironically named renewable energy company – Exergy Development, with the irony stemming from the lack of usefulness of intermittent power sources. Using the term exergy in their name is either ironic and indicative of a lack of understanding of the term exergy or disingenuous and possibly indicative of an awareness of the rent-seeking nature of many renewable energy schemes (not all, however).

          http://www.exergydevelopment.com/

        2. The exergy input accounts for 81% of GDP. Renewables (including hydro) represent 2.2% GDP. Wind and solar by themselves represent 0.52% GDP. Contrast this with nuclear supplying 5.4% GDP.

          Other than doing the math above (data taken form LLNL 2009 primary energy graph), no.

          I think the push for wind and solar energy is disingenuous. There is too much hiding of the actual costs and no taking into account the intermittency of the source other than saying “The smart grid will solve it.” Apparently the intelligence of the gird will rub off on the utilities that were suckered by the tax incentives to build wind and solar.

          There is very little work that accounts for the high entropy of the wind source. There were some studies in Europe, notably Greece and the Netherlands, that uses entropy to measure the uncertainty in the source. But nothing very formal and nothing that suggested a capacity of the backup to provide. If anybody knows of any references that do this I’m interested.

        3. Cal,

          Are you saying that exergy accounts for 81% of the Solow residual in regards to GDP growth? Where did you get those percentages you cited?

        4. I’m saying the Solow Residual is the Exergy input to the economy. Exergy accounts for 81% of GDP. It is not some technological thing. It is energy pure and simple. Our economy is mostly based on energy. Capital and Labor combined are only 19% of GDP. I think nuclear energy accounts for as large a fraction of GDP as labor does.

          I got the numbers by finding the fraction of Exergy input to the economy from the various primary energy sources off of the LLNL 2009 US primary energy chart. I then multiplied the fraction of the exergy from whatever source times 81% GDP.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LLNL_US_Energy_Flow_2009.png

        5. That’s how I tried to calculate it, and got a different number, but I’m guessing I had used the number of quads rather than converting to a percentage.

    1. There is a major problem with the regulations your “small” government decrees. For example, I was utterly amazed when I recently saw a posting by the department of agriculture in the “Federal Register” (where all new regulations are posted prior to going into effect) concerning green beans, the ones you eat. This regulation was aimed at canners and specified the requirements for preparing, cooking, cutting, etc., etc., green beans.” It was over 14 pages in length. Seeing that this regulation was this long, I read it. It even specified the angle of the cut, the allowable amount of stems, length of stems, leaves, and even “rat droppings” among all the other things listed that could be in the can! That is right, there is an allowable amount of rat dropping in every canned product that you can buy that is approved by the US Federal Government. Oh yes, in reading this I noted that it specified “cut green beans” and referred me to other regulations for “whole green beans,” “french cut green beans,” and other regulations for other types of canned green beans. Now consider the fact that if there is a “regulation” for canned green beans, then there is on for canned corn, canned peas, canned sweet potatoes, canned beets, etc. etc., everything that you eat that is canned. Care to guess how many regulations that is. How many rat droppings did you eat today? And you want a bigger government?

  6. Joel Riddle makes an interesting point with the URL he posts. Sadly, innovation in other developed countries is facing similar issues. Case in point is the “Brain Drain” from Russia. Roughly 40% of former contributors to the Moscow Academy of Science have either taken their science elsewhere or have initiated patent applications inside the US and elsewhere. The issue is authoritarian appropriation of their innovation where the control of new technology is assured by such authority.

    There is a perception that the chief executive here and there are the route cause of this abuse of innovative technology. The real issue is greed and fear of competition within energy markets. I think Rod will agree that when Fusion enters the nuclear energy market place the first concern is for Fission market share in view of innovation.

    However, with NRC director Jaczko I agree with Rod that he should be dismissed for cause. Dismissed, Director Jaczko, will lose authority to boggle new fusion innovation and block new fission existing and developed technology from being built.

  7. Rod has standard for civility?

    It is what I call the English major rules of civility. If you use big words to questions one’s parentage that is that more civil than just calling someone an SOB?

    Obama’s energy policy is foolish and stupid. Does that make him foolish and stupid? I would suggest that we have a a brilliant amateur who is doing the bidding of Harry Reid.

    Let me give you an example of smart and wise policy. A priority for the Bush admin was AGW as stated in the NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY, May 2001. The best way to reduce ghg is to replace inefficient coal-fired power plants in China with nuke plants. If the can be designed by American engineers in places like Pittsburgh and Charlotte, even better.

    For those who with a short memory, when Clinton left office no one would argue with a statement about build no new nukes in the US. Here I am designing new nukes and debating how many will be finished by 2020. The 2005 Energy Bill was very effective since the policy is being implemented.

    What we now have for stated energy policy looks like a mission statement for bonehead magic wand advocates.

    1. Kit brings up a good point.

      How quickly we forget how bad things were in the Clinton years.

      Since it’s Primary Season, yet again, let me remind you of another series of Primaries, in 1992, when a relative unknown named Bill Clinton ran against Paul Tsongas and used nuclear power as one of the issues with which to attack him, because poor Tsongas had the “radical” idea that it might be a wise move to build more nuclear power plants.

      Bill Clinton was anti-nuclear from the start, and in 16 years, the Clintons moved from anti- to “agnostic” as stated in Hillary Clinton’s campaign of 2008.

      Nevertheless, I sometimes wonder whether “President” Hillary Clinton would have been so “foolish” as to appoint Jaczko, a political appointee with no real experience, as head of the NRC.

  8. Thanks for reminding me about Paul Tsongas. The good die young.

    When I hear the word ‘innovation’ I know I about to waste my time on a long essay about bad ideas. My too favorite examples of ‘innovation’ is the Franklin (air tight) stove and the Rickover stuffing a nuclear reactor into the hull of a little submarine.

    You have to look at how we thought about something before and after. When it comes to productivity I can heat a lot more homes with a wood stove than a fire place. I can heat a huge number of homes with a nuke plant.

    Huge change based on an idea perfected by continuous improvement.

    When it comes to how we think about the environment, two presidents standout, Teddy Roosevelt and Richard Nixon. As a liberal Republican, I think that government has an important role. The problem is that most democrat presidents are limousine environmentalists. They would never enjoy getting their hand dirty turning a compost pile.

    Of course the exception is Carter. While I voted for him once because as a young person because I shared his views. I did not vote for him a second time because he was ineffective.

    It has been my experience that people who work at nuke plants are also committed to protecting the environment. The way we do that is by actively doing our jobs right. Being an advocate for nuclear power not preclude me from being an advocate of renewable energy. One of the things I liked about Bush was that he could promote renewable energy at the same time he was promoting nukes and fossil fuels because that is what an industrialized needs.

  9. Regretably, I have serious doubts this petition has any more clot than Chamberlain’s piece of paper. Obama is totally beholden to the Green lobby — their ideo is the core of his energy/transportation/public works projects, and Jaczko is hamstringing and sabotoging nuclear projects long enough for his boss to seal wind farms to algae fuels in place and to hell with nuclear OR oil. I’m no fan of big oil, but ten thousand poor oil rig-related guys in the Gulf are still looking for work (maybe for good) — casualties of our CIC’s green bent, so in that sense we’re in the same boat. You don’t exactly see the (green) media dumping on Jac for mission incompetence, do we? The man is doing exactly what is expected of him by a green Prez, so he’s not going away anytime soon.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

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