Saving the Environment from Environmentalism
By Paul Lorenzini
Part I. Must we destroy the environment to save it?
When Jonathan Franzen wrote a provocative piece in The New Yorker earlier this year, “Climate Capture”, Chris Clarke, an influential environmental blogger in California, described it as having “walked up to a hornet’s nest and hit it with a baseball bat.” Franzen had asked the question no one has wanted to face: “Has climate change made it harder for people to care about the environment?” After identifying what he called a few “winces” Clarke concluded, “Finally. Finally, someone prominent is saying this.” By “this” Clark was referring to the growing concern that today’s environmental policies are causing unanticipated impacts that are being ignored in the name of a supposed higher good – reducing carbon emissions. As one speaks to grassroots environmentalists across the country, there is a growing sense that perhaps we are getting it wrong, perhaps we are living with an inherited environmental dogma that reflects old thinking and flawed premises.
Most would agree on the major goals of environmentalism: first, reduce carbon emissions, and second, minimize our environmental footprint as we pursue growing human needs. Current thinking on how to achieve these goals is informed by two basic premises: first, environmental solutions must “harmonize with nature”, hence the emphasis on so-called “green” renewable resources; and second, nuclear power must be opposed at all costs. Fossil fuels are to be displaced over the long term, but they take a back seat to nuclear power, like way back. There is now good reason to believe those premises are fundamentally flawed.
During the past decade, a number of leading environmentalists have already challenged the historical opposition to nuclear power, five of them being featured in a 2013 documentary by Robert Stone called “Pandora’s Promise”. Their issue was carbon and the belief we won’t achieve the kinds of reductions we need without nuclear power. We can get a sense of that challenge from The International Energy Agency, a Paris-based affiliation of 29 countries founded in 1973 to coordinated global energy policies. They have developed what they call a 450 scenario, aimed at keeping atmospheric concentrations of CO2 below 450 ppm, a level viewed by many as a tipping point for climate change.
Figure 1. Carbon emissions for the 450 scenario, World Energy Outlook 2011
Their rather startling conclusion, evident in the above figure, is just how radically current policies need to be changed. To turn the curve over we must both cut coal and hold natural gas emissions constant at present levels. Current policies are harsh on coal but they encourage more gas generation. The simple reality is that nuclear power will need to be part of the mix if we are to achieve these reductions.
And yet carbon is only one piece of the picture. In late 2014 an “Open Letter to Environmentalists”, signed by fifty-six environmental and conservation scientists from throughout the world argued the exclusive commitment to renewable resources is threatening biodiversity. They too agreed “the full gamut of electricity generation resources – including nuclear power – must be deployed if we are to have any chance of mitigating severe climate change.” But it wasn’t just carbon that disturbed them. Based upon a study by two Australian scientists at The Environmental Institute and School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, they concluded the exclusive reliance on renewable resources is doing unnecessary damage to habitat. “As conservation scientists concerned with global depletion of biodiversity,” they wrote, “proponents of (non-nuclear alternatives) typically to not admit to the difficulties of large scale use of these technologies.” In effect, the ideological impulse to “harmonize with nature” is propelling us toward resources that are unduly threatening biodiversity. Here too nuclear power, a resource they described as “by far the most compact and energy dense of sources,” needs to be part of the mix. 
For many grass-roots environmentalists, it is the biodiversity issue that rankles most. Yet the emotional, financial and political investment in the current dogma is so strong there is a collective beat down for anyone who tries to raise it. Witness the reaction to Franzen’s article. The opening salvo came from Mark Jannot, writing for the Audubon Society. Franzen had opened with an inference that, facing the global threat of climate change, we were trivializing a few thousand bird deaths in the present, with an oblique reference to the Audubon Society. It was one of Clark’s “winces”. After understandably defending the Audubon Society, Jannot charges that Franzen’s analysis is “half-baked”, “intellectually dishonest” and “based on intellectual sleight of hand,” eventually claiming the underlying concern – that climate change has raised some difficult questions — is not supported by a “shred of evidence.” Standing by with pom poms, Joanna Rothkopf, writing at Salon.com, elegantly cheered him on: “Audubon doesn’t take that kind of shit-talking from anyone”. The Guardian weighing in as well, calls Franzen’s charges “absurd”, charging that “Franzen’s claim about a conflict between conservation and climate activism” is a form a lunacy – “psychologically-driven, a product of his private prejudices, irritations and resentments.”
Ok, so let’s take a deep breath and chill. This sort of stridency misses the point, though it highlights the hair-trigger sensitivity of the issue. No one is questioning the authenticity of the Audubon Society or anyone else who has devoted themselves to environmental causes, their genuine concern for the environment, or for birds or for habitat – I don’t, and I certainly did not read Franzen that way. But they are trying to engage a reasoned dialogue about a growing angst among grassroots environmentalists over impacts they are seeing and the reluctance of major environmental groups to take them seriously, all in the name of “saving the planet”. It’s a simple question: are we really saving the planet? Are these the right steps to reduce carbon? And have we allowed ideology to blind us to a most basic environmental issue – minimizing our footprint on the ecology?
Environmentalists versus environmentalism
Laura Jackson, raised on a wooded 300-acre farm in southwestern Pennsylvania, gained a respect and appreciation for nature at a very early age. She eventually served as a high school teacher in environmental science for 38 years, joined the Audubon Society in the 1970’s, the Sierra Club a little later, and other environmentally focused groups such as the Nature Conservancy. “I’ve developed an environmental ethic, a concern for habitat and species,” she says, “which I’ve tried to instill in my students, especially in the environmental science classes I’ve taught.”
Her curriculum included an emphasis on renewable energy, the importance of wind and solar and “how great they are”, as she puts in now in a moment of reflection. Today she has become a skeptic. Her earlier teachings on wind and solar, she says, were “basically just superficial reading that I had done and not gone into much depth.” She was doing what every good environmentalist was supposed to do, what every major national environmental group had insisted we must do to assure sustainable, environmentally friendly sources of energy for the future while combating climate change. She was, she thought, embracing a “clean” and “green” future.
All of that began to change when she learned in 2005 that major wind projects were being planned for a local mountain range “about 20 miles north of where I live – not in my backyard but in the county where I live. I got his sick feeling in my stomach because I knew that was not an appropriate site for any type of energy development – very steep slopes, very rocky soil, and there would have to be a lot of damage to the habitat.” It prompted her to dig deeper and as she did, she describes herself as “blown away … I had never seen pictures of wind projects built on mountains and what had to be done to move the earth, to remove the natural vegetation and to change the whole topography to put in a project.” Eventually she mobilized local opposition, including local chapters of the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club and was able to limit the damage, blocking some of the worst of them.
But the stress here is on the word “local”. The National Audubon Society and the National Sierra Club are both strong supporters of industrial wind development. While both claim they only support projects on “proper sites,” as Jackson would say, “when I ask where is it properly sited, nobody answers that question – it is very frustrating. We have these huge powerful conservation organizations that are pro-wind, and they are not being helpful at the local level.”
In the national push to pursue wind generation, ridgetop areas in the mountainous Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions have been caught in crossfire. The names are familiar – the Appalachians, Green Mountains, Catskills, Adirondacks, Blue Ridges, and Great Smokies, all evoking images of scenic areas environmentalists have historically sought to protect. Unfortunately they also have ideal wind speeds making them attractive sites for wind generators.
While the rhetoric claims this growth is being carefully managed to protect wildlife and habitat, the facts on the ground say otherwise. In Maryland, where wind projects were planned for major bird corridors along the Appalachian Mountains, legislation was passed in 2007 exempting wind projects under 70 MW from environmental reviews, hoping to nullify “a vocal minority of anti-wind extremists” and giving developers an environmental free pass. , A few years later, Governor O’Malley overrode legislation blocking a project to build 24 windmills across Chesapeake Bay, stating: “I am committed to protecting (the) Pax River because I know how critically important it is to Maryland”, but, he continued, “the real threat to the Pax River is not an array of wind turbines on the lower Eastern Shore, but rising sea levels caused by climate change.”
Farther to the north in Vermont wind turbines may ultimately be installed on as many as 200 miles of mountain ridgetops. It is all part of Vermont’s vision “to lead the nation to an energy future that relies on renewable resources.” As spelled out in their 2011 Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP), Vermont is committed to producing 90% of their energy from renewable resources by 2050.
Why this push for renewables? When the plan was produced in 2011, Vermont had the lowest carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation in the 50 states, relying primarily on hydro power from Canada and electricity from Vermont Yankee, a 620 MW nuclear plant. Therein lies the answer.
Facing a flawed wholesale market, a hostile political climate, and with the encouragement of state political leaders, the owners of Vermont Yankee made a decision in 2013 to permanently close the plant, even though its operating license had recently been extended through 2032. While the ostensible reason was economics, writing of the decision at the time Amy Goodman stated, “it was years of people’s protests and state legislative action that forced its closure.” Yet while the political leadership cheered, the regional administrator of the wholesale electric market, ISO-New England, was not so sanguine: “The retirement of this large nuclear station will result in less fuel diversity and greater dependence on natural gas”, he said, observing that the growing dependence on natural gas had been identified as a key strategic risk for the region. As Vermont’s plan unapologetically states, natural gas is now embraced as a preferred resource with plans to increase its use.
High-minded rhetoric aside, Vermont’s energy ambitions are driven by the need to fill the hole left by the closure of Vermont Yankee, even if it means a massive development of wind generation along mountain ridgetops and greater dependence on natural gas to provide electricity when intermittent wind is not operating.
For the “Green Mountain State”, a state that has banned billboards and prides itself on its natural beauty, this aggressive shift to renewables is a non-trivial undertaking. Annette Smith, founder and current head of Vermonters for a Clean Environment (VCE) puts it this way: “That’s what we’re doing here in Vermont. Let’s carpet everything with solar and every ridge line with wind turbines and it’s a moral imperative in order to save the planet.” She too has become a skeptic. Having been completely off-grid since 1988 and relying almost totally on solar, her initial instincts were favorable. It was only after locals raised concerns and she visited the Cohocton Wind project in nearby New York that, alarmed by the size, noise and visual impacts – VCE became active in efforts to challenge the unconstrained wind development in Vermont.
Others have stepped in as well. Nationally respected wildlife ecologist Susan Morse puts it this way: ”… it’s not so much that my aesthetic life would be ruined,” she says, but it’s the “whole manner of damage to wildlife habitat.” From the effects of erosion, to the clearing of mountain tops areas for construction, to the roads required both for initial construction and on-going maintenance, the result is “irreparable damage to core habitat and healthy ecological functions.” She continues, “This is being presented as a green alternative but it’s not green if it’s not done well, and that’s where, as a scientist, I really beg to differ with the proponents of wind energy on our ridge lines. It’s not well researched, (and) we don’t have all the answers.”
National promoters know of these concerns but are so far giving them little more than lip service. The DOE’s recent “Wind Vision” study concludes “Environmental challenges including land use (and) wildlife concerns can be effectively managed with appropriate planning, technology, and communication among stakeholders,” even though it admits we don’t really understand what they are: “Impacts of wind development to wildlife species other than bats and birds are not well understood” recommending that be evaluated as a topic outside the scope of the Wind Vision report.
As if to put an exclamation point on it, Steve Wright, an aquatic biologist and a former Commissioner of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, took aerial photos of construction required for the Kingdom Community Wind Project on Lowell Mountain and expressed his concerns in a New York Times op-ed piece., The pictures paint a stark image:
Figure 2. Kingdom Community Wind Project on Lowell Mountain, Vermont
The Kingdom Community project consists of 21 wind generators, each with a potential capacity of 3 MW, standing roughly 460 feet tall and occupying 3.5 miles of ridgeline on Lowell Mountain. While the total nameplate capacity is 63 MW, ISO-New England, the operator of the transmission system covering the six New England states, only credits the project with 12 MW of reliable electricity in their forecasts due to the intermittency of wind. The math is pretty simple: at 12 MW for 3.5 miles, it would take roughly 180 miles of comparable projects to replace the 615 MW of capacity the system lost when Vermont Yankee closed.
People like Annette Smith and Steve Wright have become pariahs for many environmentalists who see them as blocking efforts to combat climate change. “Our problem,” says Steve Wright, “is we’ve been ostracized. I’ve been a member of the conservation community in Vermont for almost fifty years and now I’m characterized as having sold out on climate change.” Yet it is a hard case to make; Wright spent the last five years of his career with the National Wildlife Federation as a climate change educator, working with fish and wildlife groups throughout the region to raise their awareness of the climate change challenge.
California: the environmental “rock star”
Since the early 1970’s, California has been regarded as an Environmental “rock star” for its commitment to renewable resources. They were the first state to push large wind projects and by 1995 boasted they were the producing one-third of the world’s wind generated electricity.  The boasting ignored the notorious Altamont wind farm that has become the poster child for bird mortality. While many of the worst offenders were removed in 2010, as Audubon member Ted Williams writes, “the roughly 4000 turbines that remain are still raptor and passerine Cuisinarts,” with raptor deaths estimated at 2000 a year.
Today California is committed to achieving 33% its electricity from renewable resources by 2020. This has led them to the southwestern deserts, encroaching on areas that some have called “one of the last great frontiers in America”, a fragile land “where impacts last hundreds of years if not millennia,” and where “only a tiny fraction has been surveyed for species.”
To their credit, in 2007 California set out to establish a “Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan” (DRECP), a coordinated plan to both streamline approvals and control growth so as to minimize habitat impacts. Governing a vast 22.5 million acres of federal and non-federal lands in Southwest California, the plan has targeted the area for 20,000 MW of renewable development by 2040. Resources to be developed in the region include industrial wind farms, solar arrays and geothermal resources.
Yet some question whether the impacts on habitat in the region can ever reasonably accommodate this kind of growth. Both wind and solar have a large footprint and no matter what mitigation is undertaken, they will require a lot of land, with untold impacts.
One of the concerned groups is Basin and Desert Range Watch. Calling themselves “a group of naturalists, artists, and writers who are drawn to the beauty and richness of the desert”, they see these desert lands as “a living landscape, full of unique plants, animals, fungi and people”. It is compelling rhetoric and mindful of what one might have heard at a Sierra Club gathering four decades ago. But no more. Now the Sierra Club is on the side of the developers.
Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Julie Cart observes that while big environmental organizations “acknowledge that development can have irreversible effects on ecosystems, they are reluctant to stand in the way of renewable energy projects they regard as a vital response to climate change, which they consider the nation’s most serious energy challenge.” While many did join in a lawsuit to block the Calico solar project near Los Angeles, “for the most part”, she writes, “the big players have embraced solar development”, referring to the Sierra Club, NRDC, and Defenders of Wildlife. The effect has been to create a “green halo” by giving these projects the imprimatur of major environmental groups.
Meanwhile, groups like Basin and Desert Range Watch press on, notwithstanding halo effects. One of their targets has been the Ivanpah Solar Plant which began commercial operations in December, 2013.
Selected by the editors of Renewable Energy World and Power Engineering as the Renewable Energy Project of the year for 2014, Ivanpah is a 370 MW solar project covering 3500 acres in the Mojave desert. The plant functions by focusing the sun’s energy from roughly 170,000 garage-door size heliostats onto three towers that stand 459 feet tall, each maintained at about 900 degrees Fahrenheit. When in operation, they are visible at a distance glowing white hot, creating a solar flux between the mirrors and the towers. One problem: the flux attracts birds, then incinerates them. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife study found the carcasses of 71 different bird species in and around three large solar projects in the region.
They describe Ivanpah as a “mega-trap”, characterized by “attracting insects which in turn attract insect-eating birds, which are incapacitated by solar flux injury, thus attracting predators and creating an entire food chain vulnerable to injury and death.” According to one report released by the California Energy Commission, somewhere between 2,500 and 5,700 bird fatalities occurred during the first year of operation, the most likely number being around 3,500.
Impacts are not limited to birds. The desert tortoise, which has seen its population drop as much as 90%, now faces a new threat from solar projects that not only wipe out natural habitat areas, but interfere with natural migration pathways. Then there are the biota that are destroyed when these areas are cleared, making irreversible alterations to the desert habitat.
When local Sierra Club members wanted to sue to block the project, they were vetoed by the national board of directors. The Sierra Club leadership followed up by cautioning locals to fall in line, sending out a 42-page directive scolding locals for warning against irreparable damage to desert ecologies because it would work against their larger goals of expanding wind and solar. In some cases it led to unpleasant phone calls from the national staff admonishing locals who misbehave.
For the locals it is about protecting a pristine natural resource, something they had always believed defined Sierra Club goals, but climate change has now intervened. On his departure as Sierra Club chair in 2010, Carl Pope said it the way many feel: “If we don’t save the planet, there won’t be any tortoises left to save.” It is common rhetoric these days. As one frustrated local put it, “I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that building solar in the desert is going to save the world.”
It is not that all solar and wind projects are bad. Many of the opponents of large solar in the desert have banned together to form “Solar Done Right”, urging solar can be fine if pursued on rooftops or already developed property. They insist we would generate significant solar if we just concentrated where it makes environmental sense. Indeed, California has had some eye-popping numbers in the past three years, due largely to rooftop solar expansions. From 2012 to 2014, installed solar capacity increased by a factor five.
The problem ideologically, here as elsewhere, is a reluctance to place any limit on solar and wind expansion because the sense of urgency is acute. In the end it means developers, operating under a ”green halo”, are simply running roughshod over local towns and communities. As Jon Wellinghoff, Chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission put it, “we are going to have to accept the fact that wind turbines and solar systems are going to take up fairly large pieces of land.”
But must we?
Ultimately two issues should concern us: carbon emissions and the ecological footprint. A renewables-only approach works against both. Consider first the issue of carbon.
Carbon and intermittency
While the problem of intermittency is frequently trivialized, the reality is that wind and solar require some form of back-up to fill in when the weather is uncooperative. Today, that comes by way of natural gas and therein lies the problem. While the IEA’s 450 scenario requires no growth in natural gas, virtually every scenario supported by climate change activists increases natural gas generation, with most projecting it will double over the period through 2040.
In California, while the rhetoric says renewables, during the decade from 2001 to 2010, 87% of all new generation was natural gas. In 2013, 60% of all new natural gas generation built in the United States was constructed in California. The initial build up was needed to assure adequate capacity to back up their investment in intermittent renewables, and the more recent build out was needed to fill the hole caused by the closure of the San Onofre nuclear plants.
An irony in all this is the frequent need to burn natural gas to make solar installations work. At Ivanpah natural gas boilers are used to warm up fluids in the morning and keep them at optimum temperatures during the day. After their first year of operation, plant management realized they needed to burn more gas than originally expected and have asked to run their gas boilers an average of five hours a day. This would mean releasing about 92,200 tons of CO2 per year, which places the Ivanpah Solar project at roughly 20% of the carbon emitted from a comparably sized combined cycle natural gas plant based on tons of CO2 per MWh of electricity produced.
The reliance on natural gas is a problem that carries over to US policy. Even though more than 35 states have adopted Renewable Portfolio Standards, the Annual Energy Outlook for 2015 projects that “natural gas fuels more than 60% of the new generation needed from 2025 to 2040.
But it is not just carbon that is the problem. The other concern is that habitat is disproportionately impacted by resources such as wind and solar because they require more generating facilities to be built and more landscape to be impacted to produce the same amount of electricity. From an environmental standpoint it is a devastatingly bad “twofer” that compounds itself.
First, because capacity factors are lower, more generation needs to be built. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory study published in 2012 concluded that achieving a target of 80% renewable energy by 2050 would require anywhere from 350 GW to 550 GW of generation over and above the baseline scenario.  There was a time when the concern of environmentalists was minimizing the need for new generation: now excess generation has become part of the plan.
The second half of the “twofer” is that these resources require much more land area per unit of electricity generated, land that is often in ecologically sensitive areas. Wind generation, for example, requires roughly five hundred times more land area than a comparable nuclear installation, while the multiplier for solar is a factor of one hundred.
The culprit in all of this is an ideologically driven environmentalism that has lost a sense of its original goals. If environmentalism is to return to its basic priorities, it needs to be rethought. We deal with this in Part II, which will appear on September 21, 2015.
Author blurb: Paul Lorenzini earned his PhD in Nuclear Engineering from Oregon State University and later earned a JD. He had a distinguished career in the electric utility business and was the Chief Executive Officer for NuScale Power for its first five years. He is now retired and sharing some of his thoughts about energy issues.
 Jonathan Franzen, “Carbon Capture: Has Climate change made it harder for people to care about conservation?”, The New Yorker, April 2015; Chris Clarke, “Orthodoxy in the climate movement: Franzen and his deniers”, April 11, 2015 at: http://coyot.es/crossing/2015/04/11/orthodoxy-in-the-climate-movement-franzen-and-his-deniers/
 IEA has been reporting this scenario for several years. The chart here is from WEO 2010; the overall content has remained relatively constant.
 “An Open Letter to Environmentalists on Nuclear Energy”, available at Brave New Climate, http://bravenewclimate.com/2014/12/15/an-open-letter-to-environmentalists-on-nuclear-energy/. The statement responds to and supports: Barry Brook and Corey Benjamin, “Key role for nuclear energy in global biodiversity conservation”, Conversation Biology, Vol 00. No. 0, 1-11, 2014.
 “Ridgetop wind generates debate”, Kristyn Ecochard, UPI Energy Correspondent, March 27, 2007.
 “Assembly Passes Wind-power Bill”, Matthew Dolan, Baltimore Sun, April 8, 2007 at: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2007-04-08/news/0704080035_1_wind-turbines-western-maryland-bill
 “Storms of opposition stall Maryland Wind” at: http://www.vawind.org/Assets/Docs/Articles/AP-121706.pdf
 “Governor’s Veto may not end wind turbine debate”, Nicole Clark, Gazette Net, May 23, 2014 at: http://www.somdnews.com/article/20140523/NEWS/140529548/1045&source=RSS&template=gazette
 Interview with David Blittersdorf, influential political leader in Vermont and wind developer at: http://vermontenergyoptions.org/
 Interview with David Blittersdorf, influential political leader in Vermont and wind developer at: http://vermontenergyoptions.org/
 “ISO-NE: Don’t Blame the market for Vermont Yankee retirement”, Wayne Barber, Power Engineering, August 29, 2013; “Yankee Retreat”, Bill Mohl, PowerProfit, at: http://powerprofit.fortnightly.com/fortnightly/yankee-retreat; :”The Electric Power Industry’s Missing Money Problem”, Lawrence Makovich, Wall Street Journal Feature article sponsored by IHS Energy, CERAWeek 2015, April 24, 2015.
 “Nuclear’s Demise, from Fukushima to Vermont”, Amy Goodman, The Cap Times, August 30, 2013.
 See “Don’t Blame the market …”
 CEP, p. 11
 See interview at: http://vermontenergyoptions.org/
 “Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States”, March 2015, http://www.energy.gov/eere/wind/maps/wind-vision, Highlights, p. 3; Chapter 2, p. 81
 “The Not-So-Green Mountains”, Steve Wright, New York Times, September 28, 2011
 “Aerial Shots Capture Lowell Wind Projects Progress”, Kathryn Flagg, Seven Days, August 10, 2012 at: http://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/aerial-shots-capture-lowell-wind-project-progress/Content?oid=2205251
 ISO-NE, 2014-2023 Forecast Report of Capacity, Energy, Loads and Transmission, Section 5.2.3
 John Berger, “California energy strategists push for 100% renewables with no fossil or nuclear”, Huffington Post, October 27, 2014: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-j-berger/california-energy-strateg_b_6051616.html
 “Wind Power in California”, Wipikedia.
 See Ted Williams article.
 “DRECP: Vision or Illusion”, Joan Taylor, Desert Report, March 20, 2015.
 David JC MacKay, Sustainable Energy with the Hot Air, 2009, pp 33, 41
 See http://www.basinandrangewatch.org
 Julie Cart, “Environmentalists feeling burned by rush to build solar projects”, Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2012.
 See www.ivanpahsolar.com
 “Ivanpah’s Solar Power Plant is Pennwell’s Renewable Energy Project of the Year”, Renewable Energy World, December 8, 2014, at: http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2014/12/ivanpah-solar-power-plant-is-pennwells-renewable-energy-project-of-the-year.html
 “Avian Mortality at Solar Energy Facilities in Southern California: A Preliminary Analysis”, Rebecca A. Kagan, Tabitha C. Viner, Pepper W. Trail, and Edgard O. Espinoza, National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory, 2014.
 “Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System Avian & Bat Monitoring Plan –
2013-2014 Annual Report (Revised) 29 October 2013 – 20 October 2014”. Report prepared by H.T. Harvey &Associates
 “Mojave Mirrors: World’s Largest Solar Plant Ready to Shine”, Josie Garthwaite, National Geographic, July 27, 2013.
 See Julie Cart, February 2012 and reported discussions with BLM and US Geological survey
 Sidney Silliman, “The Politics of Renewable Energy in the Deserts of California”, July 2012, pp 20-21. http://www.basinandrangewatch.org/Guest-Silliman.html
 “Sierra Club Leader departs amid discontent over group’s direction”, Louis Sahagun, Nov 19, 2011, Los Angeles Times
 Joan Taylor, quoted by Julie Cart in “Environmentalists feeling burned.”
 Chris Clarke, “Ivanpah Solar Plant Owners want to Burn a Lot More Natural Gas,” March 27, 2014: http://www.kcet.org/news/redefine/rewire/solar/concentrating-solar/ivanpah-solar-plant-owners-want-to-burn-a-lot-more-natural-gas.html
 Annual Energy Outlook, 2015, p. 24
 Renewable Electricity Futures Study, National Renewable Electricity Laboratory, 2012, http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/re_futures/
Thank you. I have had these thoughts for years. The entire direction that environmentalism has taken seems to counter not only to common sense but to the basic precepts of protecting the environment.
In the 60’s when I was station at San Diego, CA I visited Joshua Tree National Park. I still remember the Park ranger telling us to not venture off of the designated roads as the tire tracks damage would remain for 10 – 20m years. No we build multibillion dollar bird vaporizers that give us about 150 MWH of electricity a third of which comes from natural gas – in the name of environmentalism. Google Ivanpah and research all of the other environmental problems these plants are causing, a complete listing would overwhelm this blog. Even the ground is no longer environmentally safe.
Obama has killed coal in the USA, but Soros will make billions after buying up the mines that went bankrupt and hauling it on ships to Asia to be burnt – without the US EPA restricting the emissions. And we keep on dumping CO2 into the atmosphere. But that is good CO2 cause it comes from Natural Gas. (sarc off) Add up all of the funds spent in all areas (research, grants, failed projects, subsidies, tax rebates, and even outright purchases hidden in government budgets by “greening” the government buildings, defense facilities etc. How many ZERO CO2 producing nuclear power plants could have been built. Instead CEOs are evaluating shutting down more NPPs. How is the USA going to reach Obama’s CO2 goals with only 90 or 80 Nuclear power plants? How many Solar panels or Wind turbines are needed to replace a NPP? Meanwhile, my electric bill goes up another 10% next year.
Let’s suppose for a thought experiment that the effects that you describe are the ones intended by the financial supporters of the environmental movement. That MIGHT be the case if those supporters are savvy enough about human behavior to become extremely wealthy during a moderately short career.
Who MIGHT be funding “Environmentalism” as it currently exists in the form of Greenpeace, Sierra Club, UCS and the Natural Resources Defense Council?
It sure is not the Nuclear power industry. Our management supported “Cap-n-Trade” and so did all of the other nuke managers I ran into on business trips as it would mean more nuclear power. Or so they thought. But look at how Nuke plants are exempted from the EPA CO2 emissions rule, WHY?
Also, why, if Soros is contributing millions to support more than 15 Environmental and “green” NGOs and contributes to the blockage of Keystone XL, is he buying a coal mine to haul coal to Asia? Is it so he can give more money to the green cause, because he believes in the green cause, to line his pockets, or cause more disruption (which he uses to make even more money)? I am sure HE knows what he is doing and will live long enough to make a million times more than you and me will in our lifetimes.
P.S. George Soros was worth $9 Billion in March 2008 and now is worth over $28 Billion. How much of that was “Green?” however, Berkshire Hathaway “A” stock has not even doubled in that time period $128,000 to 215,000 in July.
Soros is one player, but surely you can see that long term players in the natural gas supply chain, including the bankers that provide the loans, the sand miners that provide the fracking ingredient, the pipeline companies that transport the bulky vapor, the drilling service companies that provide and operate the rigs, and the governments that collect the fees have been winners in the market shift from coal and nuclear to natural gas.
Do you think that there might possibly be a relationship between the financial strength of the antinuclear, anti-coal “environmental” groups and the success of natural gas, which is, in many measures, inferior to both coal and uranium?
I know I would like to have a Dollar for every comment I put on a blog claiming that T Boone Pickens was only pushing Wind and investing in Wind Farms to increase the value of his gas reserves. The wind farms he proposed in Texas were right on top of his holdings. Most thought wind would make gas worthless.
And, yes Gas has even affected the profitability of nuclear. RPS [Renewable Portfolio Standards] also affects what power is bought – utilities are not buying just the lowest cost power but also are forced to buy higher priced electricity (RPS). These reduce the need for Nuclear base load as you need to keep the cheapest spinning reserve on line for the unreliables – Gas turbines. More than half a dozen NPPs didn’t make the cut on the baseline auction for power among the various grids removing their guaranteed sales and putting them in the short term market. That pushes down their profitability and starts CEOs thinking about bailing. Like the problems in Ill.
NPP outages are scheduled even before the upcoming outage has ended. Penalties are invoked if not complied with. Having every MWH sold means you can sell it for less. Not having every MWH sold means that it has to sell for more as you are selling less and still have the same expenses and have already bought the fuel and if you don’t use all of the fuel it goes in the spent fuel pool. There are only two good times of the year for the outage, and if you try and run till you run out of fuel you risk the chance of having the outage in the peak periods.
@Rich, you said:
“Obama has killed coal in the USA, but Soros will make billions after buying up the mines that went bankrupt and hauling it on ships to Asia to be burnt – without the US EPA restricting the emissions.”
This is exactly why neither “cap-and-trade” nor EPA carbon emissions restrictions schemes will work; capping CO2/methane emissions is too late in the process. A carbon fee and dividend(or rebate) is the better market-driven process because it prices carbon right out of the ground or at the port-of-entry. So George would still have to pay his fees no matter how cheaply he acquires his US coal mines.
And the port-of-entry fee will encourage other countries to institute a fee-and-dividend process as well; otherwise they are just shipping money to US citizens.
And I don’t care whether you call it a tax or a fee. The proceeds won’t be a federal budget item, except for administrative costs; they go directly back to US households on a monthly schedule. Citizens will make the decisions regarding its allocation, not bureaucrats.
See citizensclimatelobby.org for more info.
Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts about the climate fee and dividend process. I’ve been a fan of that idea since 2010. https://atomicinsights.com/james-hansens-story-about-his-ny-times-op-ed-that-was-submitted-with-the-title-of-sack-goldman-sachs’-cap‐and‐trade/
FYI, the official line of Citizens’ Climate Lobby is renewables-worship. Advocacy of nuclear power is barely tolerated.
That is not correct. Citizens’ Climate Lobby has no “official line” on energy sources. Their one official goal is implementation of carbon fee and dividend. That is all.
Unofficially, of course, CCL is indeed populated by many renewable promoting anti-nuclear activists. As is to be expected. But barely tolerating nuclear power advocacy is not the same as complete intolerance, and there is no officially sanctioned energy source. As such CCL is the only climate-advocacy group in which I participate: Tax the carbon, rebate the proceeds, and let the market sort it out.
I’m reporting what I see in the trenches. Presentations come from above touting wind farms and PV panels, but when I speak up for nuclear power I’m told to keep quiet.
Remind me again which trenches you’re inhabiting. Who is “from above,” in your battlefield?
The trench of the local CCL group, and these things come down from national.
Who, specifically tells you to keep quiet, EP???, And when did this occur, specifically?
From the CCL website….
“Citizens’ Climate Lobby does not advocate for or against nuclear power generation. We understand the science that shows the low-carbon generating capacity of nuclear power, and we understand the objections that many people raise. Dr. Hansen, the world’s preeminent climate scientist and a member of our Advisory Board, supports nuclear energy as a way to help speed the transition from fossil fuels to a zero-emissions energy economy. Fourth Generation nuclear can theoretically reduce the amount of radioactive waste the world must deal with, but cost projections for the business model are uncertain”
I just got a letter from the CCL, inviting me to a local event. It will be my first contact with the group. I suppose I’ll see what their reaction is to a nuclear advocate. Two interesting points:
Their letter stated that they were inviting me because they liked a letter I wrote to the local paper concerning Germany’s energy policies. In the letter, I stated that Germany is indeed seeing high costs with limited emissions reductions, and that the reason was that their policy was promotion of renewables only, as opposed to placing a limit or tax on CO2 emissions, and letting the market decide how to respond. On the one hand, I was advocating policies like fee and dividend, which CCL loves, but on the other hand, I was criticizing a renewables only approach,
The other thing of interest is that the event will feature a speaker, Dr. David Mattocks, who they say is a leader in “sustainable business practices”. The bio goes on to say that he has served as a “Senior Program Officer at the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation” and that he has managed over $48 million in contracts with the Ford and Rockefeller family foundations. I’m sure Rod will find that interesting.
It could be that there are competing views within the organization, along with conflicted interests. They ostensibly favor a technology-neutral approach, and many of them truly believe in that, I’m sure. That said, based on what E-P is saying, and their choice of speaker, it also seems clear that the organization has many members(and interests) that are tied in with the renewables-promotion only approach.
Though I do find the information you shared about the senior program officer at the Winthrop Rockefeller foundation interesting, I’d like to point out that my efforts to expose the Rockefeller — and other hydrocarbon interests — connection to the nuclear fear campaign is mostly about actions that happened several years before I was born up through the time when I graduated from college. It was a far different time and place, but it had long lasting effects.
There is every reason to believe that many former antagonists to nuclear energy development will take a different path in the near future.
Here is a link to the website of Citizens Climate Lobby. A quick perusal saw nothing about nuclear.
I’m guessing that they haven’t had much exposure to nuclear information as environmental groups tend to try to ignore this option. Their literature often provides minimal information on nuclear energy. Perhaps all of the negative propaganda has scared them. This will be an excellent opportunity for Mr. Hopf to educate them on the merits of this option. I’ll bet it will be a very interesting talk.
Thanks for the many insights communicated in this piece, and the balanced and respectful thinking you express here.
I urge you to also cross-post this essay where it will draw ire and fire.
The painful process of challenging the established institutional environmentalists, the innumeracy and illogic of their perspective, when weighed against the scope of the energy problem, and the actual dangers they create by celebrating ignorance, is endless and mostly thankless.
However, there is a value in bringing this perspective and these insights before others – – some of whom may be ready to listen.
Please feedback then too.
Paul – – If you have the time and personal equilibrium to deal with what you will get – enjoy your ad hominem grits for breakfast – then go ahead and try and cross-post this at dailykos. I can pretty much guarantee ire and fire. However, at the same time, it would be likely that some people with minds capable of arithmetic and logic would observe and gain insight, and perhaps even courage.
Speaking of courage, and as a bit of an aside, in Rod’s recent interview of the Rachel Pritzker (a philanthropist funder of, seemingly, institutional [thus, probably, anti-nuclear] environmental organizations), Ms. Pritzker indicated that some leaders in those organizations privately indicate to her that they recognize the benefit of nuclear energy as a climate change tool, but are concerned about the funders. Its reasonable to infer that they continue to lead advocacy of strategies that they know are not up to the task.
If you assume a position of leadership in an environmental organization, and believe that climate changes poses the potential for disastrous consequences, and have come to conclude that nuclear must be part of the solution, it seems a matter of duty to (ostensibly) shared values, and a matter of personal integrity, to do what you were hired to do.
That is, show leadership, and speak the truth as best you can.
If you throw in transmission, the demand on land area only gets worse on a per mwh basis. Renewable projects must be sited where the resources are located, many times requiring specific transmission projects, and often operate at low capacity factors, placing more demand on transmission projects and mileage of transmission lines.
Google “tortoise deaths Ivanpah”
Research exactly what they do to the ground under these panels. What herbicides they use, etc. What can live there.
Compare the depth and quality of the Environmental Impact Assessment for Ivanpah and any other Solar Farm with the EIA required for the typical CCTG power plant.
Now compare the depth and quality of the EIA for any Wind Farm. Most are nonexistent and the Wind farms are built without them. A judge just stopped one because they did not even meet the EPA requirements! And the EPA does not care cause “its Green.” A Cell-phone tower receives a higher degree of review.
You realize, of course, that lower voltage transmission lines have higher parasitic losses and that using them is only a good idea when the loads are close to the power source. Many of the visionary schemes for electrical grids with a high penetration of unreliables depend on moving power long distances (hundreds to thousands of miles) from windy or sunny areas to places that are not so windy or sunny.
The USA only has three time zones out of 24. There is a major portion of every day where there is no sun shining on any part of the country. That issue is more significant during the cold winter months.
Coastal locations are no guarantee of steady breezes. The best wind in the U.S. is in the plains states east of the Rockies. Gravity helps.
Long transmission lines exist, but at “low voltage” as you suggest, line losses amount to about 5-10% for every 300 miles the current has to travel. That’s why transmission engineers like my Dad worked so hard to develop 500 and 725 KVA lines for long distance transport and why wheeling arrangements exist between neighboring utility companies.
Either you are being flippant, or you are betraying your ignorance of basic electric power system engineering principles.
So, we have four time zones in the lower 48! Wow. Suppose we have a target of 20% of the country supplied by solar. Have you done any sums to determine what the transmission practicalities and costs would be to transport anything like 20% of the early evening power demand of an eastern timezone from the still-sunlit timezones a few thousand miles to the west? Remember, these would be new flows from solar, in addition to the trading that already goes on.
If you have an engineers hat, put it on, go away and do some realistic sums. You will find them sobering and instructive.
And as far as Vermont wind using existing local transmission is concerned, the Lowell Mountain project is a mere 63MW peak (a mere tenth of Vermont Yankee), and it had to be curtailed during some peak periods because the grid there simply isn’t up to it. See http://digital.vpr.net/post/power-use-peaked-gmp-ordered-cut-lowell-wind-output .
The main issue with bird deaths is that raptors (like the Bald Eagle) are attracted to the wind turbines’ nacelles for aeries. If they fly in or out at the wrong time, they’re bludgeoned or chopped to death. Most smaller birds and bats don’t fly that high, and those that do are usually common. But the larger ones are often rare or endangered.
The location for Ivanpah as selected for three primary reasons:
1) The land is federally owned and managed by the BLM so the government ends up arguing with itself during environmental reviews. This created a situation during the license review process where the federal and state legal RPS mandates, as well as the “benefits” of solar generated electrical energy, were weighted more heavily then the downsides of a new installation that covers approximately 5.3 square miles in what was a pristine desert area .
2) Existing natural gas pipeline infrastructure:
Natural gas supply for ISEGS would connect to the Kern River Gas Transmission Company (KRGT) pipeline about 0.5 miles north of the Ivanpah 3 site.
Therefore, only new feeder lines were needed instead of an entire new pipeline system.
3) Proximity of SCE 115kV transmissions lines also played a part in the decision where to site Ivanpah.
However, there were several issues that seem to have been overridden by the approving authorities, which are noted at the back of the various environmental reviews:
The EPA recommended to BLM to first use previously disturbed land or contaminated land, however the Ivanpah site was not moved. I did not spend time researching if the BLM provided an explanation on why they chose to not follow the EPA recommendation but I suspect it would involve a regurgitation of the 3 primary reasons stated above for maintaining Ivanpah where it is now located.
Additionally the State of California had a list of significant environmental issues concerning Ivanpah including impacts to biological resources; transmission upgrades that would require an additional 36 miles of 220kV lines through environmentally sensitive land; and concern about land usage since additional solar facilities are currently under review for installation in the same general area.
However, as with the federal reviews, the State of California decided the “benefits” of solar generated electricity outweighed the concerns of installing an industrial facility on pristine desert.
http://www.energy.ca.gov/2010publications/CEC-800-2010-004/CEC-800-2010-004-CMF.PDF FYI – This file is approximately 620pgs and is a 10MB file, so consider download times.
If the proposed facility were strictly an natural gas facility with no solar, the license probably would have been denied. Additionally, under the current state and federal legal requirements that dictate solar and wind as the only approved “green” sources of electrical generation, a nuclear facility would not have been approved despite the fact that the nuclear facility would also have been able to use air cooled technology.
Bottom line is that the overriding logic used to approve Ivanpah was the legal framework that pushes solar and wind. This is an indicator of the true goals of the environmental groups. They are in a “Damn the Torpedoes” mode when it comes to wind and solar. The environmental NGO’s are giving up biological diversity for their favored sources of electrical generation. This is despite the fact that other methods of generation exist that lower the CO2 impact to the environment while not creating a possible situation of permanent loss of biological diversity.
Using the word pristine to cover the entire affected area of Ivanpah will be debated. No doubt about that.
However, when the construction of the project was suspended for a time to redo the biological assessment because of more tortoises were discovered then the license permitted, the use of “pristine” can apply to their habitat area following standard enviro speak. That would be that area now partially covered by the Ivanpah facility.
And again you are rationalizing. Your comments are exactly the point of the original article as well as my own. Enviro NGO’s rationalize away the local environmental issues when the discussion revolves around wind and solar but will jump up and down, scream, wave banners, and file lawsuits when other generation sources are proposed.
“Using the word pristine to cover the entire affected area of Ivanpah will be debated. No doubt about that”
“Debated” is the wrong word. “Refuted” is more apropos.
I have explored extensively in the Mojave, and other than specifically designated zones of preservation, the Mojave is far from “pristine”.
And btw (Rod, inre to article cited, below), desert tortoises are nomadic. 23 tortoises, unaccounted for, are not necessarily victims just by virtue of their disappearence. Your quoted passage does not do the actual article, or the truth, justice. I hope that any interested readers will click on your link, and read the entire article.
Also, 13 bird deaths in a month is hardly earth shattering. In a month’s time, I see far more bird, squirrel, and cottontail carcasses in a one mile stretch of road in any given direction from my place of residence. Yet, the squirrel, bird, and cottontail population in my area is robust and thriving. So, are we to close the roads?
Sometimes it seems as though the demonization of renewables here is based on somewhat contrived or exagerated premises. What blows my mind about that is that I really think you can make your case without resorting to such tactics. And when you do resort to such tactics, you place yourself in the same position of distrust that any large industrial advocacy group has placed themself by virtue of their disingenuous PR practices.
Tehachapi is right on the edge of the Mojave. I live here. I grew up in southern Cal, and have a special love for the desert. I don’t want to see it destroyed, or its flora and fauna rendered extinct. But to portray these solar or wind projects as being placed on undisturbed and pristine desert environments is simply disingenuous.
Sometimes it seems as though the demonization of renewables here is based on somewhat contrived or exagerated premises.
Questioning the rosy marketing mantras and pointing out that unreliables have their warts is not equivalent to demonization. Questioning 30% of cost tax credits, accelerated depreciation, free loan guarantees AND renewable portfolio standards (quotas) that are granted to unreliables is not equivalent to erecting layers upon layers of barriers to entry that have significant slowed nuclear plant development and raised costs to uncompetitive levels.
Tagging the politically correct energy sources like wind and solar with a more accurate brand of unreliable vice “renewable” is simply a way to point out the fact that the word “renewable” is just a warm and fuzzy sounding brand name whose meaning changes depending on what the speaker wants to do.
If supporters/marketers want to claim that “renewables” are bigger than nuclear, they include large hydroelectric dams and power plants at paper factories that have been burning wood waste for decades. If they want tax credits, they only include wind and solar – unless they need the farmers and loggers as political allies and then they’ll include biomass.
Rod, you just offered a far better argument for your cause than you did by arguing with dubious sourcing about the impact on tortoise populations. Thats what I meant when I said you really don’t need to offer weak arguments when you have strong ones.
Have you found the data on the number of tortoises killed by Ivanpah yet? Found any data on how many are living there now?
Sounds like you are engaging in some selective reading. I decided to help you with your homework assignment.
Then I assume that you did not read the articles (note plural) about the number (in the hundreds if you include eggs and juveniles) that had to be relocated at great expense (because of the chemicals that would be sprayed on the soil) And the fact that there are none there now because of the soil treatment, changes to the ground cover, lack of food, etc. But since there was a dirt road there at one time, through this 3,500 acer site, it is okay in your opinion to destroy that and all of the flora/fauna that has lived there for the last 100, 1000, 10,000 years because we get Green Power. And several (many?) NPPs are still paying independent auditors for collecting/counting the number of birds, performing a necropsy on each and paying a fine for those killed by impacting the cooling towers. It was over $100,000 annually at the last NPPI worked at and it was on a site less than 1/10th the area of Ivanpah and produced more than 10 times the power – continually!
Egads, Rod, I just read your first link on alleged tortoise deaths.
Are you kidding? This kind of vaque non-specific account, quoting un-named sources, and giving no actual numbers, qualifies as “information”? If this kind of vaque fluff piece, offered by a biased source, was offered here against NE, it, and they, would get laughed and insulted off the site. You cite two sources in your post, and neither source cites mortality figures, or provides evidence of actual confirmed tortoise deaths. I am not denying such deaths have occurred. I am simply stating disappointment in your “evidence”. One expects better from a site that prides itself in science.
You’re correct about my sources. I’m not happy about using them, but my effort to find the monthly reports that BrightSource is required to file has not yet been successful. My searches on “Ivanpah monthly reports” for example came up with a couple filed in 2013. When I tried deconstructing the URL to a folder structure, or summary web page listing more reports, it didn’t work.
I’ll find them and do some analysis, but I couldn’t let JohnGalt’s flippant comment about not having read of any problems stand without some sort of response.
I finally found the page where the Ivanpah monthly compliance reports used to be published.
The most recent one was June 2013. Does anyone know if the requirement has been changed or if there is a new archive site somewhere?
Try this one, Rod. A far better example of the quality of “evidence” you should be citing….
I was looking for something providing current information, not projections and findings from 2011. Part of the problem with getting good information on this topic can be found in the below quote from the article to which you linked, especially if you read between the lines.
My read is that there is not going to be a lot of openness from the government that invested a lot of political capital and economic capital into the project (Ivanpah’s ITC was bigger than the entire 6 year program for SMRs) or from the groups that withdrew their objections.
Rod, I’m not arguing the politics. By now, I’m sure, you know what I think about our politicians and their obscene subservience to special interest groups and the almighty dollar. And its getting worse, not better, as the Citizens United decision so perfectly demonstrates.
But topics such as the desert tortoise, and the effects projects such as Ivanpah have on them, are missing too many parts of the puzzle for us to actually form intelligent conclusions. For example, was the site chosen for Ivanpah previously open to motorcycle or off road vehicle access?? Equestrian use? Or was such traffic banned by regulation? If not banned, were there any studies done on how that traffic was impacting the tortoise population? I know from experience that it is the rare piece of the Mojave that is not scarred by off road recreational vehicle traffic. This would be particularly true of the Ivanpah site, due to its relative proximity to a large urban desert oasis. So, isn’t it possible that the figures might give us suprising results if we compared the Ivanpah effect to the off road vehicle effect on the tortouse population? We really have no way of knowing, do we?
So, any conclusions we advance pro or con of the Ivanpah facility, in regards to the tortoise population, is little more than blind speculation. Even from the scientists, for if no studies were done prior to Ivanpah about vehicle or equestrian traffic’s impact, there is no baseline by which to judge impact overall.
When I was child in the San Fernando Valley, there was a desert tortoise that someone had cut a knotch in a corner of its shell. From my earliest memories, to when I was in my teens, that tortoise would periodically show up in our yard. And the same could be said for our neighbors. The tortoise was known, for years, by a huge section of Woodland Hills. I knew hardly a kid in my elementary school that had not one time or the other came in contact with that tortoise. I have fond memories of laying on my stomach on our front lawn, face to face with the animal, watching as he munched on pieces of lettuce that I would place between us. It is a memory shared with who knows how many kids in that neighborhood. Point being, that tortoise covered sizable distances, apparently thrived during long periods of absence, and had adapted quite well to an urban environment.
One wonders, if the population at the Ivanpah site was so much more robust than originally thought, does that same phenomena play out across the Mojave? I hope so. Neat critters.
“Please delete all my comments from this site”
Should this be the case, and commenters such as Galt are routinely insulted or selectively targeted for censure, and ran off the site, it doesn’t inhance this site. Actually, it damages the site.
I hope Galt reconsiders his request, and Rod gives him time to do so before complying with the request.
Eeny meeny, miny moe….
Less than 300 dead birds…annually..or…….
“Filtering screens trapped and killed more than 2 million fish, weighing 65 tons, in 2009 alone.”
Yes, I realize animal mortality must be weighed against facility energy output, but my gawd, 2 MILLION? And thats just San Onofre. Diablo is not included in that figure, despite having a virtually identical system of water intake and discharge.
It seems faux environmentalism, in regards to flora and fauna, is not just a luxury of the so called “renewable” crowd, eh?
Yes that is the one downside that has been learned about discharging to the oceans.
We have learned that sewage discharges from cruise ships are not good for the environment. We have a floating plastic island. We have also learned that we can over fish the ocean. From those lessons and many others we are adapting how we interact with our ocean environment with the goal of mitigating the damage we humans are causing.
1) This again is not a nuclear power plant specific problem as your article indicates. There are 15-20 facilities on the California coast line that use once through cooling.
However there is a solution to that problem and that is reconfiguring the plants to remove the once through cooling systems. Very expensive yes, but doable.
Lesson learned. Mitigation techniques are being implemented. Once through facilities on either coast will probably not be approved in the future. Instead cooling towers and other heat transfer technology that reduce water requirements will probably be implemented.
A few thousand birds dying at the Ivanpah facility however are going to be more difficult to reduce since they are dying due to the very subsystems that are required to generate electricity i,e, the mirrors. Those subsystems can’t be changed without changing the very method used to turn sunlight into electricity.
R&D into sonic noises to keep birds away apparently is being propose despite concerns in other industries that the same type of technology might be part of the problem for undersea life. Rotating the mirrors during migratory periods – which will reduce the power generation output – is another method that appears will be tested.
However it isn’t the environmental issues that are going to keep other solar projects on the sidelines. It is the uncertainty of the tax credits. With no tax credits to offset the initial cost, investors are sitting on the sidelines thereby preventing other planned large scale industrial solar sites from going forward. Which just goes to the point about how many more decades are we – the taxpayers – going to be asked to fund wind and solar projects.
No perfect solutions but in my viewpoint it will be much more difficult for wind and solar to mitigate their overall environmental damage then conventional power plants.
2 million fish and 65 tons comes out to about 1oz per fish. In other words this is another bogus complaint in which critics choose the most alarming and deceitful metric.
Fish thousands or millions of eggs. The vast majority of those offspring die long before maturity. 65tons of fry is inconsequential compared to the supply.
Great, Jeff. I’m sure you can provide some sourcing for your rebuttal, eh? I look forward to seeing it.
The primary part of Jeff’s rebuttal is simple arithmetic. (65 tons x 2,000 lbs/ton x 16 oz/lb)/2,000,000 fish = 1.04 oz/fish
Additional information can be found here. Note that this information is aimed at young students in “4-8th grades,” so it might be remedial for some here, new for others.
“Most [fish] eggs do not survive to maturity even under the best conditions.”
“Most fish do not survive to become adults.”
“Environmentalists” like to focus on fish kills because it provides huge numbers that make their claims look more impressive to the uninformed. They conveniently ignore the fact that the vast majority of these “killed” fish are really larva and fry that would not have survived anyway.
Sometimes they take it to the extreme — for example, the complaints lodged against the North Anna Nuclear Power Generating Station in my back yard. These “environmentalists” complain about the plant’s effect on striped bass fishing, which is ridiculous for two reasons. (1) Lake Anna is a completely artificial lake that was built expressly to provide cooling for the power plant. Before 1972, Lake Anna was the North Anna River. (2) Even today, striped bass cannot survive in Lake Anna, because they cannot naturally reproduce in this lake. There would be no striped bass in this lake if the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries did not stock it with more than 200,000 fingerlings every year.
Under natural conditions, a certain percentage die. It is disingenuous to figure the ADDITIONAL deaths into that percentage. One must ADD the water intake fish kill amount to the natural condition count.
It is actually quite enlightening seeing such a concern for the environment of the desert tortoise, and the birds, while the same people, such as Brian, tread water furiously trying to downplay the effect these once through systems have on the immediate marine environment.
Rod, yes the math is simple. What I was looking for was a credible source reporting a “no big deal” take on NPP fish kills.
Note that the effect on the flora, notably kelp beds, is not addressed in the above “oh what the hell they’re just fish” comments.
You are fond of using the term “usual suspects”. Funny, who offers the most dismissive rebuttal, above?
Credibility means something, when considering a rebuttal. Grasslands, ho hum….
Then theres the “lake defense” that Brian offers. Could there be a more obvious strawman argument?
You guys were doing pretty good, kinda. Bill’s post was sympathetic, offered solutions, and was not overly dismissive. You confined yourself to the math. Somewhat diversionary, but hardly a long winded excuse. But Jeff is entirely dismissive, calling the fish kill concern “bogus”, which flies in the face of reality, and is patently dishonest. Then theres Brian. Ouch, with friends like….
I guess, considering the flavor of the rebuttals, we can consider them “concern trolling”, eh?
Or are we going to work towards more amiable and constructive engagements?
Fish matter. Tortoises matter. Birds matter. The truth matters.
“For the larger fish, the study found about two billion fish per year were trapped against the screens and killed. But according to the NRC study the 1981 death toll for small fish had been 3.3 trillion per year. But with the advent of new screens, “the total number of identified fish entrained has decreased at a rate of 187 billion fish per year since 1984,” and leveled off at an annual toll of 300 billion baby fish”
Note the “larger fish” number. Assuming these are fish that survived infancy, the “they’re just fry that wouldn’t have survived anyway” argument becomes somewhat dubious. And how does one measure the effect of the thermal plume on the fishery? Considering that the plume completely bridges the width of the river, what does it do to migratory patterns? Flora?
You can pick a tortoise up and move it. You can’t move a fishery.
Lets get the numbers down to simple terms…..hypothetically…
There is a perfect pristine creek in Plumpfill, Ohio. It has a population of Red Finned Plumpfill Smelt. During spawning season, each female lays thirty two eggs. On an average, out of the thirty two, six survive past infancy to grow to adulthood. Well, along comes farmboy Billie Bob, whom covets these smelt for his aquarium. He likes to collect the eggs, to watch the fish hatch and grow. So, one spawning season, he removes from the creek 16 of the thirty two eggs from each female……
Get my drift? I hope so, because this site is ‘sposed to have scientific minds engaging us dummies out here in the real world, that are trying to sort through the crap masquerading as truth that is used to sell agendas.
In the case of Lake Anna, the “hot side” of the lake (as the power plant’s “Waste Heat Treatment Facility” is often called) makes for excellent year-round fishing, but only for the local landowners. It’s not open to the general public.
The warm side of Lake Anna is also popular among local water skiers.
poa – Rod has already had to school you on basic math. I suppose that I need to teach you basic English.
“Most” does not mean “all”
“Vast majority” does not mean “all”
Nobody has claimed that no adult fish are captured and killed by the intakes at these plants. Please leave your strawmen at home. Thank you.
I’ve heard that as well, but I’ve always been partial to Smith Mountain Lake. I remember going water skiing there as a kid (pretty much all the water skiing I ever did).
Well, judging from the comments, except perhaps Bill’s, we can assume that this great concern for fauna and environment, expressed by some here, is nothing more than a charade. Its ok if nuke plants are destroying wildlife, but not ok if solar facilities are doing it. Two billion “large fish” in a year is nothing, (from a single NPP), but 23 missing turtles, and 3500 dead birds is a disaster.
Because this artificial lake, teeming with game fish (and obviously very hospitable to their food supply), is obviously something that anyone concerned with the environment must get the vapors over?
Yes, obviously the folks hauling in their catch in Lake Anna are just heartbroken over the destroyed wildlife.
The solar “facility” is anything but facile. It has destroyed prime tortoise habitat without accomplishing anything remotely approaching the claims made for it, at staggering expense. For the price of 1 average kW of Ivanpah, you can get about 3 kW of AP1000s and you won’t have the cost or air emissions of natural-gas co-firing. Nor will you have air-popped birds.
Why don’t you stop lying about the objections, stop lying about hazards, stop… oh, who am I kidding? You’d have nothing to say.
Hypocrisy is ill-becoming of anyone save a troll.
Funny, I don’t remember bringing up a man made lake in order to demonstrate NPPs once through cooling systems affect on NATURAL marine environments.
Must be a reason you and your brother in animosity wanna deflect the debate. Rod ain’t exactly “gifted” by your presence, if in fact his mission is to cut through the FUD. All you guys do is piss off anyone and everyone that disagrees with you. I understand, I guess, your contribution, EP, because your scientific knowledge seems extensive. But Brian? He’s destructive to the mission here. A shame.
I have no interest in getting into a discussion of minutia in relation to the effects of power plant cooling systems on ocean environments.
It is interesting to me, however, to note that there was little or no public discussion about once through cooling systems in use in all fossil fuel heated steam plants up until the early 1970s. After the passage of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) they were directed at nuclear plants like the one at Calvert Cliffs on the Chesapeake Bay.
There were few, if any, other discharges or environmental impacts from the nuclear plants – in stark contrast to the massive discharges of combustion waste gases from fossil fuel plants. The “thermal pollution” issue, became a hook on which to hang lengthy Environmental Impact Statement requirements for each issued plant license. NEPA did not really affect fossil fuel plant construction schedules because they are not federally licensed facilities. NEPA EIS requirements apply to federal agencies that are taking a major federal action — like licensing a nuclear power plant — and do not apply to other types of construction decisions.
It would require a complex decision matrix to determine if once through cooling is inherently more damaging to the overall environment than wet or dry cooling towers. They all have impacts; some impact fry, some impact local microclimates, some require more energy input, some have a massive visual impact in sensitive areas.
There are ways to mitigate entrainment through the use of appropriately designed screens and canal systems that reduce the water velocity at the suction and provide cooling area for the discharge. For example, have you ever seen an overhead shot of Turkey Point in South Florida? It has an enormous canal network that resembles a radiator with the plant being a little spot in one corner of the site. Those canals, by the way, are some of the most productive crocodile habit in North America.
That’s because if a once-through cooling system operating in a semi-closed system like an artificial lake leaves it with a thriving ecosystem full of fish, you have to deliberately ignore that example in order to claim that Diablo Canyon is some threat to fish in the Pacific.
You claim DC kills 65 tons of marine wildlife per year. DC’s cooling water flow is on the order of 20 million tons per day, around 7 billion tons per year. The California current runs at 0.4-0.8 m/s, has a typical width somewhat less than 100 km, and runs around 100 m deep. Guesstimating 0.6 m/s * 80 km * 80 m * 1 ton/m³, the California current carries on the order of 3.8 million tons of water per SECOND. You are making a brouhaha over 65 tons per year, out of 3.8 million tons per second.
If I thought you were serious I’d have to call you insane, but I know you’re just trolling. Either way, Rod should not let you play here anymore.
There are a number of comments here that appear inclined to trivialize many of the environmental impacts, both on Southwest Deserts and Vermont ridgetops. Rather than addressing them specifically, let me comment on them as a class.
I first became interested in this subject about a year ago as I was reading comments by Basin and Desert Range Watch (www.basinandrangewatch.org) as they related to a wind project in Nevada. That led to a more in depth review of their work and others. As for them, I suggest if you are a skeptic that you review their website where they express concerns about some 20-25 projects in the desert SW – read the details of their concerns. Read as well concerns expressed by local Sierra Club members referenced in the article, especially the article by Sierra Club member Silliman in endnote 33. These are not the musings of naïve individuals cherry picking issues, there are dedicated, quite sincere, and knowledgeable – and they are concerned that public policies backed by Big E environmental groups are running like a juggernaut over environmentally sensitive areas. As you read further, you get an additional sense that many serious environmentalists know it, struggle with it, but have resigned themselves to it because they believe fighting climate change demands that course of action. This internal struggle was the point of the article.
One finds a similar set of issues in Vermont – see especially endnotes 16 and 17, plus the interview with nationally recognized ecologist Susan Morse an endnote 14.
As for transmission, it is a well-known reality that renewable projects typically have a transmission penalty because they cannot be sited near transmission grids, they must be sited where the resources are located, often meaning the need for dedicated transmission lines operating below full capacity because of the intermittency of the resource. Then there is, of course, the massive build out of a national grid required by the commitment to renewables in order to assure linkages between remote areas to take advantage of the “fact” that “the wind is always blowing someplace.” One can find the numbers in the NREL Report of 2012 and similar reports in Europe to support Germany’s Energiewende – -billions of dollars and hundreds of miles of lines.
The point – this is a very serious subject and it deserves serious discussion.
I hate to say it, but this piece misses the key point that: ’emphasis on so-called “green” renewable resources’ is not true environmentalism.
Environmentalism does not “need to be rethought”. The people wrongly claiming to be environmentalists for prestige, $,or whatever, need to be exposed to average folks, as the writer does indeed recount in examples.
I myself have never met a wind/solar ‘farm’ advocate who was a true environmentalist. And, the old Sierra Club motto: “Atoms not dams” had it right, until they saw more membership/donor $ in anti-nukism…
…and many more wise scientists, etc.
This is a valuable article, and the harsh light of truth needs to be projected on exploitive groups that mislead average citizens to support un-environmental actions & policies. The destructive Calif. wind ‘farm’ and desert solar examples highlight the tragedy of environmental & resource our descendants will face.
The unscrupulous shuttering of San Onofre will stand, until reversed, as evidence of incompetent Calif. regulation, legislation and executive fumbling. Now, our ISO has asked our remaining nuclear plant to delay refuelling so it can supply clean electricity during record heat and record drought.
Thus is the absurdity of individuals & groups claiming an environmental mantel, while avoiding environmental facts, science and plain common sense. California has, like Germany, become an example of faux-environmental hubris and, like Germany, an example of what not to do. Add in groups like NRDC, UCS, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, FoE… and it will be an intriguing flurry of contrived excuses when their environmental disservice shines clearly in the public eye.
I thought, from the onset of this thread, that the title should have utilized the label “pseudo-environmentalists”, considering the premise the piece was advancing.
Thanks to Dr. Cannara for adding substance to that thought.
@Paul, @Dr. A & @ Bill R – Thank you for so eloquently expressing what I see as the true “E”nvironmental problem.
Bill Rodgers hit the nail on the head with his above comment about the BLM and the fact that the government ends up arguing with themselves over issues associated with Ivanpah. This was by design and his comment reminded me of the history of the Boulder dam – The government did the same thing then! They placed the entire impact area under control of ther equivelent of what is the BLM today, thus Boulder Dam was built with no state requirements whatsoever. Research how and when the Salton Sea appeared. [Hint an accident caused by the building of the Bolder Dam. Another revised history story.] Look at where all of the solar farms are being built. Look at the big fight last year over the farmers grazing rights when H Reid’s son wanted that property for another solar boondoggle and make even more “Green” money and “green” [foreign] jobs.
Those that live in CA or have managed projects in CA know that the Cal/EPA requirements are worse than the federal EPA requirements, which makes me think that siting on BLM property is definitely on purpose. All of this definitely reinforces the often repeated statement of the “end justifies the means.”
“Research how and when the Salton Sea appeared. [Hint an accident caused by the building of the Bolder Dam. Another revised history story.]”
Your assertion interested me, so I did a quick google. Here is one of the results….
“In 1905, a diversion was engineered in the Colorado river, in Baja California, Mexico, a few miles South of Yuma, Arizona, for the purpose of conveying water to irrigate lands in the Imperial valley, in Imperial County, California, located to the Northwest. An unexpected flood caused the diversion to fail, and the Colorado river changed course, first flowing West and then North in the direction of the Salton depression. By the time the river was brought under control, in 1907, the water had filled the depression to the level of -195 ft, effectively creating the Salton Sea.”
“Left on its own, the water in the sea would have eventually evaporated. This is because the region’s mean annual precipitation is only about 2.3 inches, while the mean annual evaporation is 70.8 inches. By the early 1920’s, the sea had reached a record low of -250 ft. However, in 1928, Congress acted to designate the lands within the Salton basin below -220 ft as storage for wastes and seepage water from irrigated lands in Imperial valley. Since then, the sea has been used mainly as a repository for agricultural wastewaters, with the water level rising gradually to its present -227 ft. The average depth of the sea is about 30 ft, and the maximum is 51 ft.”
Oops…sorry, meant to provide a source..
And perhaps you meant the Hoover Dam as having an effect, (the opposite effect from what you describe), as having an influence on the history.
of the Salton Sea.
“Intermittent flooding of the Imperial Valley by the Colorado river continued. Eventually it led to the construction of Hoover Dam in the 1930s and the flooding finally stopped. Salton Sea is now fed by the New, Whitewater, and Alamo rivers, as well as agricultural runoff, drainage systems, and creeks. The average annual inflow of 1.68 cubic km is enough to maintain a maximum depth of 52 feet and a total volume of about 9.3 cubic km”
Look at this one also. And click on each of the links, like the one for the Alamo Canal – https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alamo_Canal You will notice some different dates in these (each of them from wiki) and some of the dates for your link. I had been told that the “diversion” was part of an early attempt for a feasibility study to determine a location for Boulder dam (later Hoover dam.) A story on Discovery or History channel claimed it happened while building the Diversion tunnels but that was to late as they did not start those tunnels that early. I can’t find that, But I can surmise that they would have needed to divert water to look at the river bed (and the documentary producers got confused – they are very good at that. The story was trying to reveal all of the bad things about Hover Dam. As for “unexpected flood” seems these articles indicate floods were almost expected each spring. As I said more revision of history, why else so many conflicting/different dates, from different sources. I would like to know the truth – All I can find is more and more confusion.
Well….given a choice, on the Salton Sea thing, I gotta go with the academics, namely the San Diego U site.
“Look at the big fight last year over the farmers grazing rights when H Reid’s son wanted that property for another solar boondoggle and make even more “Green” money and “green” [foreign] jobs”
Interesting. I can find one article making similiar assertions. However, of course, the “news” site is NEWSMAX. You have my undivided attention, however, and I would be interested to see if you can source your assertion with other news sites that do not share the indisputed bias that newsmax practoces in their presentation of “news”.
Here is the site. Judge for yourself if it backs up your specific assertion.
“Interesting. I can find one article making similiar assertions. However,….” There are many, pages of them with any search engine – on both sides.
Try this one. Read the whole thing and think about it. Don’t think Johnathan Emrod likes Harry very much though.
“The Director of BLM is none other than Senator Reid’s former senior policy adviser on land-use issues (2003 to 2011), Neil Kornze. ”
“Harry Reid has a long history of involvement with the BLM, ”
To many connections with Harry himself and the BLM to make me feel comfortable about claiming that all is aboveboard with Harry & Son. And, admittedly, both sides of the story about Bundy and the land have some missing, altered and disputable facts.
I love it when someone debates with an open mind, and doesn’t dig in their heels arguing questionable data or facts. Thanks man. I imagine the truth is buried somewhere in the middle.
As far as Bundy goes, whatever the truth about the Reids, he was a thief. He set himself apart from the thousands of cattleman that fulfill their responsibilty of actually paying for grazing rights, whether it be on BLM property, or privately owned property. Surely we don’t expect cattlemen to give their cattle away free, so why shouldn’t we expect them to pay to feed them? That whole thing was an embarrasment for the Tea Party. They made idiots of themselves.
Come on, John, it’s a joke right ? I’m totally sure you realize anyone informed about the technology knows that *none* of what is described in this article is a game changer about using batteries for large scale energy storage.
Huh??? Fledgling technologies have no place in your vision of our future, jmdesp? How then do technological advances occur? You believe that energy storage technology will not evolve? Or, does the evolution of this technology threaten to lessen the veracity of the label “unreliables”, which is such an inportant component of the NE marketing strategy.
The term faux-environmentalist that Dr. Cannara proposes? Couldn’t that be applied as well to the NE advocate that regrets advancement in competing technologies? Shouldn’t we all, if truly environmentalists, be striving for the same thing?
Chemical storage batteries aren’t exactly “fledgling technology.” There are known asymptotic limits that cannot be overcome. We aren’t yet at those limits, but we’re getting pretty close after a couple hundred years of technological refinement.
Yeah, and top fuel dragsters of the sixties had almost reached the fastest possible E.T.s and speeds that could be achieved in a quarter mile, according to the prevailing “wisdom” of the time. They are now doing that quarter mile in half the time. Perhaps not a perfect analogy, but you get my point.
Reducing time by a factor of 2 is not all that revolutionary.
Moving from chemical energy to atomic energy offers the potential to improve fuel economy by a factor of 1-2 million in terms of fuel mass consumed/unit energy
“Shouldn’t we all, if truly environmentalists, be striving for the same thing?”
What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Batteries that could store huge amounts of energy would allow the utilization of electricity produced in off peak hours. This would enable the power from a nuke to be better utilized because the power produced in times of low need (less revenue) could be sold in times of more need (more revenue). It would be better to use the batteries with the nukes because you could actually plan for the power being available unlike hoping the wind will blow or the sun will shine.
I’m quite sure these batteries would represent quite a capital investment and you will want to use them in a reliable fashion. You will want a steady cash flow to pay for them and make money.
Of course. As battery technology evolves and becomes capable of enhancing the grid’s ability to supply the consumer with energy, it should be utilized with any and all sources of energy production. Thats a no brainer.
Note Germany ( http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v525/n7569/fig_tab/nature15371_F1.html ) the map is from this article: ( http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v525/n7569/full/nature15371.html )
That map is very misleading, as the metric is deaths per unit area, which means that densely populated areas would show up even if they weren’t more polluted. The yellow/red area stretching from the Netherlands to the heavy industry Rhine -Ruhr region and further up the Rhine river is mainly characterised by high population density.
Besides, as bad as coal pollution is, the impact from traffic polution is higher because the polluters are closer to many lungs. So the picture would probably not change much even if all coal plants closed. This is not to say that coal is not bad, it is only not visible in this map.
Roflmao!!! Succinct, and to the point, Rod. Bravo.
(And, John, please reconsider. Do you really want EP and Brian to “win”?)
So in line with the points raised by Paul Lorenzini’s article and the thread of this discussion:
RWE secures German consent for commissioning 1.6GW Dutch coal-fired Eemshaven power plant
Greenpeace protested a 1.6GW coal plant that will serve 2 million German and Dutch homes
Commissioning of the facility was delayed over environmental concerns about its development near nature reserves, including mud flats and islands off the Dutch and German North Sea coast
– Germany is swapping nuclear for coal,
– Greenpeace attempted to block the coal plant due to its proximity near environmentally sensitive areas,
– The Netherlands are going to rely on this plant due to a decline in natural gas resources.
This article hits on all the points that many of us have been making.
“Well, judging from the comments, except perhaps Bill’s, we can assume that this great concern for fauna and environment, expressed by some here, is nothing more than a charade.”
The point of the article, as I’m sure you realize, was that these concerns are being raised by self-identified environmentalists as they relate to organizations that are identified with environmentalism.
Yes Paul, I do understand that. I was commenting on the pseudo concern some have expressed here in the comment section. Exactly what I was talking about when I said to Rod…….
“Sometimes it seems as though the demonization of renewables here is based on somewhat contrived or exagerated premises.”
Although substituting the word “values” for the word “premises” is perhaps even more apropos.
Also, from a site that deals with science, I am astounded by the argument that somehow we should not ADD the amount of the intake fish kills to the natural mortality rate of the fishery. This “well, its just part of the natural mortality phenomena” argument is openly disingenuous, as any one offering this argument must surely know. The real bummer about catching someone in such blatantly dishonest practices of debate is that anything and everything they say becomes suspect. And the transparently diversionary shifting of the conversation from the natural environs of a seacoast to the unnatural environs of a man-made lake only serves to justify the distrust one should point in such a commenter’s direction. Sometimes I wonder if a few commenters here realize the damage they do to the credibility of this site. This is particularly disappointing when some here, who I do consider trustworthy, become silent or participate in absurd or disingenuous debating points.
It’s because you would be counting many, many fish twice in that simple addition. It’s blatantly dishonest. You can’t blame the power plant for disrupting the fish population by killing fish that would never have made it to breeding age anyway.
[Aside: A “fishery” is a business of catching fish to be processed and sold. I think that you meant to say “fish habitat.”]
The only pertinent question is what effect is it having on the fish population and the local ecosystem and whether this effect is significant? Are any of the populations of fish in danger of going extinct?
Just counting and double-counting the number of fish killed by whatever method doesn’t answer this question — and that is the real sleight-of-hand diversion that is going on here.
Actually, Rod, “fishery” is also defined as “a place where fish are caught”. Thats why you will hear fisherman talk about their “fishery” when they describe ocean locations they go to to harvest certain species. So please, leave the condescending BS to those here that rarely offer anything else.
You are correct, we can’t simply add the intake kill to the natural mortality rate. However, we can assume that the overall mortality rate is increased substantially by the intake kill. As I tried to demonstrate with my “See spot run” post, above.
So, if the question is how habitat is affected, where are the studies you should be citing saying there is no adverse affects on fish habitat, natural flora, and fish health and population? Instead of this “it ain’t no big thing” schpiel that seems to be the response here to the number of NPPs, and fossil fuel facilities, that are killing tens, (if not hundreds), of billions of fish annually.
First of all, my name is not Rod.
Why? We should “assume” nothing. It is the onus of the environmental groups (and you, if you choose to take up their cause) to prove that the mortality rate of fish has increased substantially. To be convincing, this increase should be expressed as a relative effect (e.g., 1% more, 10% more, 50% more, or whatever). Complaining about billions of “fish” (most of which are eggs, larvae, etc.) all over the world being killed — the vast majority of which would not have survived anyway — is thoroughly unconvincing.
Oops, well, its getting kinda tough to tell the two of you apart, sometimes, Brian. Perhaps its just that, in this case, I’d prefer to be debating with Rod. Your since deleted idiocy about “grasslands” really convinced me that you will say anything, no matter how stupid.
So, anyway. Its your contention that the intake kills have no effect on fish population. (Wouldn’t you rather go back to arguing your grassland idiocy?) Do a google or two, Brian. There is study after study, PDF after PDF, that you can download, addressing the effect once through cooling has on fish habitat and populations, including endangered species, such as the Atlantic Sturgeon.
Considering that you would prefer to attack me and the host of this site rather than provide any further information to this discussion (other than a pathetic “google it” riposte), I’m curious to see whether your comment (and this one too) survives Rod’s new comment policy for very long.
As I said before, the onus is on you to demonstrate a real problem. It was probably wise for you to throw in the towel like you did, although being so petty about it does you no favors.
Why TF would I spend time jumping through hoops for you, Brian?
Lets just say you won. There, happy now?
The fact that you view things in terms of “winners” and “losers” says everything about you. Happy? No … not really. I’m not like you.
Some simple arithmetics on the fishkill question: Remember water has a high heat capacity of 4.19 kJ/(kg K), so heating water by one degree requires as much energy as lifting it up by 420 metres. If the cooling water is heated by 8 degrees centigrate, and the thermal efficiency is 33% the electricity generated would be enough to heat the same amount of water by 4 degrees, equivalent to lifting that water up 1700 metres.
Not many hydro dams have more than 100 metres head, and such a dam would, for each kWh, require 17 times more water to pass through potentally fish-killing rotating machinery. Some renewables enthusiasts want tidal power stations. Here the usable water head is about 5m in the best locations with a tide of 15m. This means 340 times more water than the NPP. Same for micro-generation in small streams. Again, per kWh, the impact of an NPP is much smaller than many of the alternatives.
@poa @Brian @Rod
I know this is probably off-topic, but I was curious about the references to “grasslands idiocy” in some recent comments. Any chance the community could know what you’re talking about? I have a passing interest in the general subject of grasslands since I’ve recently taken up a side pursuit of grassland farming using sheep as the “harvesting” agents.
Could it have anything to do with carbon sequestration, or am I way off-topic?
William – It was an off-hand comment that I had made that “Las Vegas” means “The Meadows” in Spanish. It was named as such because, when the first non-Indians passed through the area (while trying to travel to Los Angeles from New Mexico in 1829), many parts of the valley were filled with arid grasslands that were fed by natural springs. That was the aboriginal state of that area.
It was just some historical trivia that had nothing to do with carbon sequestration, but it was introduced in the context of desert turtles and solar power plants, so of course, it got blown out of proportion by some people.
Actually Brian presented the argument that Las Vegas caused the “desertification” of the area it sits on. Prior to Las Vegas according to Brian, that particular area wasn’t actually a desert, it was, in fact, a grassland. The reasoning behind such a premise? Well, it had grass, and springwater.
William – I think that you get the idea of why Rod chose to delete the comments that you were asking about. Some people just can’t let go.
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