Supporters of nuclear energy development face off with antinuclear activists in Gaffney, SC
On January 19, 2012, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers held a joint public meeting to solicit comments about the draft environmental impact statement for the William States Lee nuclear power station that Duke Energy is proposing to build about 8 miles outside of Gaffney, SC.
The meeting included two sessions; one was during the working day between 1-4 pm and the second was in the evening from 7-10 pm. The trip from Lynchburg to Gaffney is a pleasant, nearly traffic-free trip that takes only 4.5 hours with relatively frequent stops to stretch. In my trusty, diesel-engined freedom machine; the round trip can be done in less than a single tank of gas, so I took a day of vacation from my day job to both participate and to cover the event.
One of the great things about being an independent blogger vice a traditional journalist is that I allow myself to have an opinion and to get involved in my stories. There is no employer involved who might try to enforce a typical journalistic attitude of balance that seeks to remain impartial no matter what the facts are.
The meeting was held at the Restoration Church International, a spacious venue with comfortable seating and an excellent sound system. Both sessions were well attended with perhaps 150 people in the afternoon and at least twice that many during the evening.
As a South Carolina resident who lives a short trip from the proposed site, Suzy Hobbs Baker from PopAtomic Studios had made advanced plans to attend. She registered in advance for space to display some of her artwork and photographs. She even baked a plate of cookies to lure people to her table to discuss energy choices.
It was a good thing that the seats at Restoration Church International were comfortable; we all sat for a long time through some fairly disorganized and droning speakers. I have to admit to a lot of fidgetting as speaker after speaker claimed that we did not need new energy sources other than wind and solar, that events at Fukushima should be scary enough to everyone to cause a halt to nuclear energy development, and that nuclear professional can never be trusted.
During the evening session, we were even treated to a lengthy “mike check” by a standing group of antinuclear activists, apparently organized under the leadership of the Western North Carolina chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR).
Aside: Of all of the people making comments who introduced themselves as being members of PSR, the only one who had any legitimate claim to the title of “physician” introduced himself as a retired pathologist. I later determined that fewer than 20% of the people who are members of the deceptively-named organization are medical doctors.
During that evening session, I sat next to a pleasant retired textile plant engineer; I am guessing he was a little hard of hearing. He provided amusing commentary that was not well hushed in spite of our direction from the facilitator to remain quiet while others had the floor. I did not try very hard to hide a big grin when he said, “anyone who is opposed to nuclear energy is either ignorant or dumb” and one of the antis from Asheville took offense.
Unlike most of the pronuclear speakers, who were either local politicians or representatives from groups like Duke Energy or the Chamber of Commerce, I chose to dress casually. I showed up wearing one of my favorite pro-nuclear tee shirts. With my newly grown facial hair, I sort of blended in with the organized group from North Carolina. It turned out to be an appropriate choice – like them, I was from out of town and getting involved in what some people consider to be a local issue.
One of Suzy’s colleagues had his cell phone handy and agreed to record my evening session comment. The quality is not terrific, and some of my word choices do not make complete sense without the context of some of the other comments that had already been made, but I still think the clip is worth sharing and discussing. Lesson relearned – next time I bring a tripod and a real camera.
There is plenty of room for more pronuclear activity at meetings like the one I attended last night. Most of the people were pleasant and interested in talking. Some were stubbornly adherent to their talking point handouts (one even showed his to me) but at least two listened with increasing interest and asked really good questions. They both took my card and promised to visit; maybe they will give me the opportunity to point them in the direction of real information that does not reference Mary Olson from NIRS, William Mangano, or Helen Caldicott.
I must make a confession, however, that would probably disqualify me from ever getting a job as a corporate spokesperson. During one particularly frustrating engagement, my opponent refused to acknowledge that the sun and wind do not provide reliable electricity.
I think he misunderstood my invitation to step outside into the still, DARK evening. He stubbornly kept restating his position about conservation, wind and solar and told me he thought I was being unreasonable by insisting that there was a three way choice between for reliable electricity among nuclear, coal and natural gas. I closed the conversation by responding, “Well, I think you’re an idiot” and departed the meeting. That was not the most politically acceptable response, but I was worn out. I admit, however, that I smiled all the way back to my room.
PS – It was good to see my old friend “Cybernuke”. We have both been engaged in pronuclear activity on the Internet since the earliest part of the 1990s, before Berners Lee even invented the World Wide Web, back when interesting, energy-related conversations were taking place inside USENET discussion groups like alt.energy.
Many that support wind and solar ARE idiots, they have substituted a belief for reason. I have found that if I cannot make them see that these are not suitable replacements for traditional generation within the first two minutes of an exchange, I am wasting my time.
But you post underlines the importance of participation in the debate at the local level, and this is an area that the pronuclear community has not given high enough importance to. It is not so much that the position of the antis can be changed, but it is necessary to show that they are not the only ones will to air their opinions in public. Political ears are always listening at evens such as these, and while the pronuclear side may not carry the day at such events, their presence will be noted.
Pronuclear “community”? Yeah right. What community would that be? The oligarchs gain control of “your” nuclear reactor and then your electricity bill goes up and up, while your cheap energy fantasy quickly fades away. Meanwhile you end up owning the waste products.
While this sort of posturing normally doesn’t warrant a reply, for the sake of clarification please note that the pronuclear community is made up those of us that wish to see nuclear power assume the place of fossil-fuel combustion in the generation of electricity. Thus we do not see ourselves as power plant owners.
Beside that, your criticism could just as easily be leveled against any mode of generation yet only nuclear is mandated by law in most places to provide for funds to deal with its own decommissioning and wastes.
“Meanwhile you end up owning the waste products”
I just wish I owned the “waste products”. I would put them in a buried vault, run heat exchangers through it and heat my entire community for free, rain or shine, windy or calm, for fifty years.
Then, when either recycling is allowed, or generation IV reactors are ready, I would own a stockpile of already mined fuel that could supply the world with a hundred years of emission-free electricity. If done right, useful isotopes for medical, radiography, and sterilization uses could also be extracted.
I think that “waste”, utilized rationally, might well be worth a billion dollars. Yeah, I’ll take it.
James Lovelock has already volunteered for having waste stored in his basement. It would provide cheap, reliable heat for him and his family at no risk to his health.
I stumbled across this and found it fascinating – “Nuclear Weapons: A Visual Timeline”:
Lest we think this is off-topic remember that, as DV8 has pointed out, the anti-nuclear machine started off as a worthwhile Ban the Bomb movement, and many adherents still subscribe to the connection, even if unconsciously.
It also helps visually illustrate why strontium-90 can be found in fish and soil worldwide, including well upstream of Vermont Yankee. This link brings in again our ex-brief-NRC employee and professional FUD-spewer Lochbaum:
I think he’s an idiot as well. However, I also agree that, from a debating perspective, this statement may not be the most effective. Good to see you getting out there and spreading the word.
Nice clip, Rod! I was delighted that you didn’t shy Fukushima off the bat. Sorry you didn’t have more air cover over there! My only caveat, alas, again is that nuclear advocates just keep “forgetting” to quote comparative worker/public mortality rate figures with other energy industries which is a simple concept most any non-green layperson can understand! It’s one thing to say we’ve gone 50 years nuclear without an (unreally unnatural!) single fatality — BUT you should’ve added the sock ’em punchline that during the SAME period X number of Gas/Oil/Coal workers and public were maimed, injured, killed, and lost property due to THEIR accidents — not to talk about their health/environmental effects in the NORMAL course of their operation!
Myself, I would’ve loved to’ve been up at that meeting and calmly asked the ranters and fence-sitters; please be specific — outside being naturally scared of anything dangerous, just EXACTLY what you afraid of here?
Onwards to your next meeting then!
I learned a surprising lesson last night that I want to share. It seems that many involved in anti-nuclear activism are really in it for the social aspects of connecting and bonding with likeminded people, and perhaps even others who think differently.
In a particularly aggravated and circular “conversation” (aka confrontation) I finally just said (in the politest way I could), “I’m not interested in talking with you, can you please leave my booth?”
It was surprisingly effective, in that the aggravated individual walked away, embarrassed, which the caught the attention of several other activists. The other activists later came over to give me tips about how to better communicate with people like them and asked why I wasn’t interested in talking with them, since surely we must have more in common than we realize.
I told them that they had already made up their minds on the nuclear issue, as have I, and therefore I would prefer to focus on communicating with people who are open to new info- and not talking in circles.
You would have thought I told them their dog had died.
Not caring what they have to say, choosing not to engage, was the ultimate social insult- which is after all, why they are there to begin with. And the idea that they were in fact not the open minded people that I sought to connect with must have added insult to injury.
Great story, Suzy.
Yes, it is quite amazing what you will encounter at one of these events, particularly when manning a booth, where people can walk up and just start talking to you.
I recall many years ago helping at a pro-nuclear booth that was set up at an Earth Day event. The people that we talked to were quite eclectic, and some were downright eccentric.
There was the women who flat out stated that she didn’t mind if she had to pay ten times her current rates for electricity, as long as her preferred forms of generation were used. Guess what they were. Judging by the jewelry that she was wearing, it was clear to me that her husband, or ex-husband, could afford the higher rates. We tried asking her what she thought that would do to low-income households, but she was completely unfazed — couldn’t care less.
Then there were the two teenagers who didn’t believe in electricity — not just electricity generated by nuclear power, mind you, but they thought that electricity itself is unnecessary. (I did mention that this was an Earth Day event, didn’t I?) For a moment, I thought that they were kidding, but after listening to them for a couple of minutes, I realized that they weren’t intelligent enough to stage some sort of prank by pulling our legs like this.
Of course, they could have been completely stoned at the time. I don’t know.
Good for you. Also. . .
Protip: In such a situation, be wary of opposition proponents who will intentionally engage you in conversation simply to take up your time, so you are *not* talking to other people who might actually be persuaded.
I call that the “Denial Of Service” approach – after the popular type of attack against websites where hacktivists or organized crime make a website unavailable to those who want to use it, by overwhelming it with traffic from automated programs.
Last year I attended a public meeting of the Say Yes campaign which was going around drumming up support for the carbon Levy legislation about to be debated in the Australian parliament. Most of the attendees were of the pro-renewables camp, so I was expecting a hostile response to my participation, and there was, but it was suprisingly sparse and muted. Most of the people there seemed quite happy to hear me speak, and the presenter even gave me considerable mike time to present the nuclear case. It was quite refreshing compared to the instant acrimony usually encountered online.
Suzy, I will carry this lesson learned going forward. Great insight on how to quiet the “idiots”.
I’m shocked … shocked! … to find that members of the Physicians for Social Responsibility are not physicians.
What’s this world coming to?! The next thing I know, you be telling me that members of the Union of Concerned Scientists are not scientists (or even people). 😉
Well, to be fair, UCS describes itself as scientists AND citizens. It’s not like that guy got his dog onto the board of directors or authoring an article for their magazine.
Almost any political advocacy group will accept your money no matter who you are and send you a magazine/newsletter. That doesn’t mean the leadership aren’t scientists, or that the leadership of PSR aren’t actually physicians (though I admit I am curious now about how their leadership is constituted).
Then perhaps they should change their initials to UCSC – Union of Concerned Scientists and Citizens?
The names have been carefully selected to be deceptive and to give immediate credibility to those who are too polite to have a questioning, distrusting attitude.
In which case a pretty good way to challenge them is to ask the speaker if they are a physician. Most of the public will not appreciate a person speaking out in public for PSR not being a physician and will downgrade their credibility considerably.
Well done Rod,
But the battle is only half won. Once people dig nuclear power, we will then have to demystify nukular power.
That will be round 2.
@Daniel – oh how I wish the battle was even close to half won. There is a lot of FUD to undo and the opposition is not going to roll easily.
The challenge, however, is worth taking on.
Apparently David Lochbaum has obtained employment with the NRC, despite his long history of anti-nuclear activism:
I wonder if Chairman Jaczko has a below-the-radar anti-nuclear staffing program going on?
@Atomikrabbit – Lochbaum worked for the NRC for just over a year as an instructor at the training facility in Tennessee. I am pretty certain that he went back to the UCS after he had gotten what he wanted to get out of the job. Notice on his resume that he attended the University of Tennessee. I am not positive, but I think that was as an in-state student. In other words, his NRC job moved him back home – at taxpayer expense.
@Rod, re: Lochbaum
If he is no longer with NRC, that is good.
But it troubles me they would hire someone with such a well-known history of bias. And as a civil servant, if he hadn’t left it would have been nearly impossible to get rid of him.
As for the Jaczko hunch – and they call YOU paranoid! Nevertheless I wouldn’t put a move like that past the man who stealthily elevated himself to post-Fukushima regulatory dictator.
@Atomikrabbit – the supposed difficulty of firing a non performing civil servant is greatly exaggerated. With good documentation, it is not all that hard, especially during the first 5 years or so of employment.
With regard to the NRC hiring practices, they work hard to prove that they are completely agnostic when it comes to using nuclear energy technology. I personally think they misread their charter and their mission. They are supposed to be protecting human health, working for the common security, and protecting the environment. If you know anything at all about energy options and understand enough about nuclear energy to qualify for a job with the NRC it should be impossible to ignore the fact that nuclear energy technology automatically contributes to all three mission areas as long as it is done correctly.
That does not at all imply that the regulator should be beholden to “the industry” only that it should agree that the US has already determined that the technology is valuable and useful. I can understand an FAA, for example, that does not favor Delta or American Airlines, but it would amaze me to find an FAA employee who is agnostic about the utility of machinery that enables people to fly. I would also wonder greatly about a regulator from the FDA that questioned whether or not people should have food or not.
Well that’s a damn shame, since based on experience, I have more confidence in the dog to do the better job.
Rod is 100% on target when it comes to how deceptive the naming of these groups is, which is why they should be ridiculed mercilessly.
Intelligent people realize that its all about marketing. It’s not like the Physicians for Social Responsibility actually practices medicine or the Union of Concerned Scientists actually conducts scientific research. Fortunately for these groups, however, and unfortunately for us, they pitch their line to the general public, not to intelligent people.
Additionally, those “physicians” take actions contrary to social responsibility, by being against a reliable, non-polluting (unless you include the minimal heating of some water) source of electricity.
Good point! There did not seem to be any thought behind it, although I could have just been totally duped!
I may have to try that in the future myself 🙂
Well, the tactic only really works when your side has more people – you have some people tie up the other side, while the remainder of your people work the crowd. If you’re outnumbered, it’s kind of useless to waste your time wasting the other guys’ time.
Anyhow, I would suggest we try to remain above such “dirty tricks” – tricks are for people who don’t have the actual truth on their side.
Yes, the best tactic that you can use in person is to smile and be polite. You have to remain firm in your statements, presenting them as the facts that they are, but nothing ticks off the hard-core (particularly professional) anti-nukes than being polite when you counter their nonsense.
If you’re lucky, pretty soon they will be screaming in your face like a raving psychopath (I’ve seen it happen), at which point you will have won. Anyone watching this display who is sitting on the fence will be much less likely to trust the anti-nuke message after this. It will be clear to them who is the fanatic and who is the person with information that is just trying to set the record straight.
The best part about this tactic is that it’s not a trick. It’s just being nice to people.
I stayed composed and polite until the very end of the meeting when I caught a young activist defacing my table with crime scene tape. At that point I gave him a very stern talkin’ to. I am a Southern gal and have been taught the art of yelling at someone without actually raising my voice.
Suzy – did you also learn to give “the look” that turns us southern men into meek, obedient people who say “yes ma’am” and really mean it?
Suzy – I have no doubt that you were appropriately polite. My comment was intended for the general information and edification of the readers of this website.
Keep up the good work! We all appreciate it.
Brian, Thanks, and I know your comment wasn’t directed at me, just wanted to share my moment of resorting to the harshest tactic I know 😉
And, Rod, I am still working on the Southern glare- I may have to venture into parenthood before I truly perfect it!
“There is no employer involved who might try to enforce a typical journalistic attitude of balance that seeks to remain impartial no matter what the facts are.”
Since when is the godless main stream new media impartial? 90+% are liberal progressive Democrats! And they are the ones who constantly give nuclear a bad name.
Oh, I forgot: you’re a liberal progressive Democrat yourself. Well, one might hope that after getting results you don’t like from what you believe in you just might change your beliefs. “Can we afford 4 more years of Obama and Jackzo?” Sadly, while you complain about Jackzo and the anti-nukes, a change of mind – a genuine repentance – hasn’t happened yet, however.
I have to confess that I’ve recently thrown my hat it with Mitt, because even though Obama has given some lip service to nuclear power, he really hasn’t done much substantively to allow nuclear power to progress further.
I’ll at least give some credit that Jazcko did, in the end, support the AP1000 and reassure people that it is safe. That counts for *something*, I suppose.
@Ioannes – perhaps there is a reason that people who were humanities majors in college and spent a significant portion of their time reading literature and learning to write turned into liberal progressives.
Perhaps there is something about loving our fellow human beings and seeking to understand how they make decisions that turns us into more tolerant, accepting people. We cannot simply condemn them and consign them to the trash heap of rejected parts like some engineers seem to want to do.
I happen to have spent a lot of time learning about technology as one of the most intriguing expressions of human creativity. I see the art that is a major part of engineering; some of my fellow humanities majors who love to think critically can be turned by helping them to see that art and expressiveness. Prime examples of people who have become strongly supportive, persuasive pro-nukes are Mark Lynas and George Monbiot. They remain liberal and progressive, but they see the enormous technical benefits and comprehend the boon to humanity embodied in atomic energy.
If you are truly interested in changing minds and making the world a better place, perhaps you could start by stopping the condemnations and generalizations.
BTW – I happen to be a pretty religious man, though I do not talk much about it. I am of the school that works hard to live by such expressions as “what would Jesus do (WWJD)” and “they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Every once in a while I think it is appropriate to remind people that there is such a thing as a religious left, not just a Religious Right.
Every once in a while, it is also appropriate to remind scientists that engineers and technologists are often quite impressed by the evidence of creation that we see in all of the wonderfully well designed living creatures on our planet.
Actually, today’s Religious Right with its lack of concern for social justice is the exception rather than the rule when it comes to Christian revivals in US history.
Ok, you pushed the button…
Lack of concern for social justice? Wow, that is an arrogant statement if I have ever seen one. Sorry that dog does not hunt. I spent 10 years working in inner cities, and 12 years working in Asia, often among the poorest of people in all types of situations. I had a airline employee, in an off handed comment about a team flying to help in a different country, tell me that he had more teams of people flying out of Ohio than any other state in the nation. These are teams of socially conservative “religious right” folks. They give and give and give. So, please give me a break with your “social justice” comment. It is just plain ignorance.
I agree with the goals of poverty reduction, increased wealth, decreased disease and work and give to help, I disagree with the types of solutions offered by the left – they have failed throughout history. I have read many books on the history of Christian thought and frankly, the dismissive arrogance of those who paint the “religious right” as selfish and self centered is just plain . .. well. you fill in a term.
Please, be more respectful of those whose methods and approaches you disagree with, but who have the same goals. I watched kids growing up in drug homes (I was barely and adult myself about 19 at the time) who the public education system kept passing on to the next grade because it was too much effort to actually teach them. They came to my small store front mission and we taught them! They were teachable but discarded by the liberal educational system. Goal – provide an education free of charge to the students through high school. Methods – MANY! I do not think the teachers were evil people but I do think the system was deeply flawed.
So, tell me George, was I concerned with social justice?
Yes, but I wouldn’t regard you as “Religious Right”. Not all socially-conservative Christians are part of the Religious Right.
“the evidence of creation that we see in all of the wonderfully well designed living creatures on our planet”
Such as malaria mosquitoes, eye-burrowing worms, smallpox viruses, tapeworms and parasitic wasps. Or were those designed by Satan? I think it’s best when engineers focus on engineering topics, which you are doing an admirably good job at, and biologists focus on biology topics.
As for the political angle: there is both ‘conservative pseudoscience’ and ‘liberal pseudoscience’. The right pushes climate change denial, cancer risks from abortion and creationism, while the left pushes anti-nuclear, anti-GMO and renewable energy delusions. Neither side has its hands clean.
Though you might not like the creatures that you mentioned, and though I know few of the details of their systems and features, I am reasonably confident that they have some capabilities that would fascinate an engineer who tried to figure out how to replicate them.
My point about the wonders of creation is not to claim that there is a single benevolent, all powerful creator, but that the notion of random self organization based on survival of the fittest seems a little far fetched considering such natural laws as the second law of thermodynamics. By which measure is a creature “fittest”? What makes them even want to survive?
You tell me to leave biology to the biologists, but I cannot help admiring the amazing natural systems that work with some of the same principles of fluid mechanics, electrically conducted sensing, and thermodynamics as the systems that humans create to provide motive force, machine “intelligence”, and self healing diagnostics. I know a little about how much thought goes into choosing materials, dimensions, currents, and set points and am quite skeptical that successful systems that manage to survive in an often hostile world happen by chance.
No offense, but Kit P. brought a lot more to the comment sections of this blog than you seem to. Every comment I can recall from you has been the same politicized, religious theme. Being Christian does not solely equate to being completely “right” politically. Jesus would not have voted solely Republican.
Actually, Joel, I am pretty sure that the man who delivered the Sermon on the Mount, fed the 5,000, and befriended so many downtrodden would have voted opposite to the “conservative” Republicans.
My point was that Ioannes, based on his posts here, seems to believe that it would be blasphemous for someone to think Jesus would vote for anything other than the Republican party.
I think it might be impossible to try to say definitively that Jesus would vote more for either party than for the other. He definitely wouldn’t vote strictly down party lines, from what I can gather.
I think if the Nazarene came back now and saw what some politicians were doing in His name, He wouldn’t be able to stop throwing-up.
I don’t always agree with Ioannes’ point of view, but just for fun, off the top of my head, I started compiling a list of current and former politicians who I consider anti- or pro-nuclear. Some of these categorizations are debatable, some less so.
Feel free to add or edit my brief list. Elections make a difference – we’ve a big one coming in November (see if you notice anything in common between the lists).
Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Gov. Peter Shumlin (D-VT)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY)
Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-NY)
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)
Pres. Bill Clinton (D-AR)
Pres. Jimmy Carter (D-GA)
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-KY)
Pete Domenici (R-NM)
Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA)
Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA)
Pres. George Bush (R-TX)
Pres. Richard Nixon (R-CA)
Pres. Ronald Reagan (R-CA)
Pres. John F. Kennedy (D-MA)
@atomikrabbit – We generally agree, but your list above is quite selective. Here are a few more names of currently serving Senators that you should learn more about:
Senator Tom Carper
Senator Amy Klobuchar
Senator James Webb
Senator Ben Cardin
Senator Mark Udall
Senator Bill Nelson
I took your counsel and checked out the “pro-nuclear democrats” listed at http://pronucleardemocrats.blogspot.com .
In fact I went ahead and evaluated a number of politicians of both parties, and (quite subjectively) ranked them on their energy positions vis-à-vis nuclear vs renewables.
I also listed their websites if anyone wants to contact them, and some of their more significant committee memberships. As I have said many times, the current crisis in nuclear is not technical or financial as much as it is political and informational.
I awarded 10 Atomikrabbit carrots to guys like Lamar Alexander, and took away 10 from Ed Malarkey and friends.
Most of the Dems, with some notable exceptions, came up as lukewarm favorable, especially if they have a plant or research facility in their jurisdiction. It’s beyond me how they listed Kerry as pro-nuclear.
I think Mr. James Greenidge has been asking about something like this for a while, and since the NEI doesn’t seem to do it (publicly at least), I took a first shot at it. I welcome constructive feedback.
-10 Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) http://markey.house.gov
Energy and Commerce, Natural Resources
-10 Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) http://www.sanders.senate.gov
Environment and Public Works, Energy and Natural Resources
-10 Gov. Peter Shumlin (D-VT)
-10 Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-NY)
-7 Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY)
-7 Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) http://www.reid.senate.gov
Senate Majority Leader
-7 Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) http://www.leahy.senate.gov
-5 Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) http://www.kerry.senate.gov
Foreign Relations (Chair); Finance, Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure
-3 Pres. Bill Clinton (D-AR)
-1 Pres. Barak Obama (D-IL)
-1 Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) http://www.alfranken.com
+10 Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-KY) http://www.alexander.senate.gov/public
Rules and Administration, Ranking Member; Appropriations, Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, Ranking Member; Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety
+8 Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM)
+8 Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) http://bingaman.senate.gov
Energy and Natural Resources (chairman)
+7 Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) http://www.landrieu.senate.gov
Appropriations Committee Subcommittee
+6 Rep. Jason Altmire (D-PA) http://www.altmire.house.gov
+6 Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) http://dingell.house.gov
+6 Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA)
+5 Sen. James Webb (D-VA) http://www.webb.senate.gov
Foreign Relations, East Asia & Pacific Affairs Subcommittee (Chairman)
+4 Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA)
+4 Pres. George W. Bush (R-TX)
+4 Pres. Richard Nixon (R-CA)
+4 Pres. Ronald Reagan (R-CA)
+4 Pres. John F. Kennedy (D-MA)
+3 Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) http://cardin.senate.gov
Environment and Public Works, Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety
+3 Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) http://clyburn.house.gov
+3 Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) http://www.gov.state.md.us
+2 Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) http://carper.senate.gov/public
Environment and Public Works, Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee (Chairman)
+1 Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) http://www.klobuchar.senate.gov
Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee; Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee
+1 Sen. Mark Udall (D-NM) http://www.tomudall.senate.gov
Foreign Relations; Commerce; Rules
+1 Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) http://www.billnelson.senate.gov
Budget, Commerce, Finance, Intelligence, and Aging
+1 Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) http://www.hoyer.house.gov
+1 Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-IN) http://visclosky.house.gov
Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
+1 Gov. Beverly Perdue (D-NC) http://www.governor.state.nc.us
Pity that the current Republicans (other than Ron Paul) seem to be mostly insane warmongers…
RON Paul is also Pro-NUKE.
But with the proviso that the nuclear industry stand on its own two feet.
— NO MORE GOVT SUBSIDIES —
Which means the DAYS of THE BIG LIGHT WATER REACTOR NPP IS OVER. Ladies and Gentlemen.
Time for the U.S. nuke industry to look into the future.
Welcome the VARIABLE FUELED SMALL MODULAR REACTOR.
@Bruce – other than the temporary and limited subsidies offered for the first 6,000 MWe of new nuclear power plants in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (designed to help get the manufacturing infrastructure that we destroyed in the 1980s and 1990s back) can you point to any other financial assistance being provided to big light water reactors?
They are cash cows once you get them built. They can be built economically with sound design, good project management, and skilled labor.
The future is now. Go ahead and work on something better, but in the meantime we have some reactors that are ready to build that will generate a substantial quantity of reliable, affordable, emission free electricity for at least the next 60 years.
Rod – Welcome to the society of bearded gentlemen.
Is Lynchburg starting to rub off on you? You move to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and pretty soon, you’re starting to look like a mountain man. 😉 The look suits you, if you don’t mind me saying.
Brian – Thank you for the compliment. Like many of my colleagues, I decided to try growing a “winter coat.”
Before I moved to Lynchburg, I had an employer with a strictly enforced “no beards” policy. I have never (well, almost never) had the opportunity to try one out before. I started working for that employer when I was just 17 and could still pass inspection three days after my last shave.
There was a brief interval when I was first deploying on submarines when beards were still allowed at certain commands – including most ships – but that did not last very long before they were outlawed as being unsafe if we needed to don breathing devices in a casualty situation.
I appreciate you, Suzy and all the other supporters of the Lee project coming down to support us (I am the guy in the green shirt next to the geographically puzzling protest thought-bubble).
I learned a good lesson from my first public meeting. NAYGN chose to make one statement since we were representing one organization. If all of us spoke it would be like we got 20 minutes rather than 3.
The anti-nuclear crowd did not return the favor. They all spoke as individuals even though they had many of the same affiliations. If there is another public meeting, which I don’t think there will be based on what the NRC said at the end of the meeting, we’ll spread ourselves out through the night so we can counter some of the, at best, questionable claims and studies they referenced.
I am looking forward to checking out the podcast!
Joe – It’s good that you are making note of these lessons learned. Some of the tactics that need to be employed at meetings such as this are not at all obvious. You only learn by doing.
@Joe – Another tactic that the opposition has used with great effect for many years is the creation of dozens of groups that often include just a handful of people. That way, when they submit petitions, they can all sign with grandiose titles and claim that they are representing dozens to hundreds of groups.
I have discovered instances where a “group” often consists of a single individual. At one time, even the Union of Concerned Scientists had devolved to the point where it was in fact a Union of One Concerned Scientist (Henry Kendall) and One Concerned Lawyer (Daniel Ford).
Here is an excerpt from a detailed interview describing the group and its activities in the words of the scientist that kept the fans flamed between the mid 1960s and early 1970s. That was during the UCS transition between a moderately sized group of practicing scientists fighting atomic weapons and a much larger and better resourced group that included professional activists paid to protect the profits of petroleum pushers by fighting to slow down nuclear energy developments. (Of course, Kendall would never choose or agree to my description of the group.)
…. But we had certainly had press conferences and had developed a modus operandi: generating technical studies, having press conferences, and ultimately giving testimony, either by invitation or by soliciting invitations. Our way of doing business had already been well established.
It is true that that was the opening gun, so to speak, on the nuclear reactor safety debate. And that report and press conference was followed by another one, I think in October of that year. Not long after that we became involved in the major hearings that went on for about two years on the subject of emergency core cooling and reactor safety.
This reactor effort, started when the Union of Concerned Scientists, was very small. Indeed there were really just two of us by early 1972 who carried the Union and its name through.
(I love the Internet and the documents you can find with careful searching.)
Dunno what happened to the Aluminum/Gallium hydrogen generator, why we are not seeing commercial production yet; but if that is worked out, then the storage problem of wind/solar electricity is worked out. However, in combination with LFTR, it could also be used to power vehicles.
@Day – I suggest that you keep dreaming. It is so much easier than joining the real world with its known limitations.
Southern Company is day to day for approval of the Vogtle COL from the NRC.
Day to day …
Last year I attended a public meeting of the Say Yes campaign here in Canberra, Australia. This campaign had been organised to drum up public support for the carbon levy legislation about to be debated in partliament. Most of the attendees were of the renewables camp, so I was ecpecting hostility as a pro-nuclear advocate, and there was, but I found it suprisingly muted and sparse. Most people there seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say, and there was nothing like the instantaneous acrimony we’re so used to online.
My comments keep disappearing.
Craig – can you be more specific? I checked the moderation queue; there are no comments waiting approval. Have some of your comments shown up and then seem to have been deleted? I have not done that to any comments recently – your or anyone else’s. (I have deleted a few obvious spam comments but not in the last several days.)
Rod, it seems that whenever I refreshed the page, it was automatically reloading from the point where the thread had reached 32 comments, so I didn’t see any of mine (which is why you’ll see one of them posted twice). Opening the page in a new window seems to have solved the problem.
Good job Rod.
I think I’ll show your video to my daughter (who at 10 has already decide to be a nuclear engineer)
It seems that Iran has gained 1300 new Nuclear Engineers in the last month:
Maybe someday, when cooler heads prevail on both sides, we will be able to borrow some talent from them.
@Cpragman, give that girl a big hug from me!
Hey Rod, where can I get a tee shirt like that? Do they have any for women?
Oh yeah, good job, BTW.
@Nancy – I will have to check with ANS to find out if they have any more left over. I got mine at a meeting several years back. Last year I manned a table for a few hours along with other ANS volunteers at a meeting to try to sell off the left overs. They even had some reusable shopping bags with the same saying.
On another note, PopAtomic Studios is working on some cool tie-dyed shirts with a slogan suggested by a Buzz column in this publication I read called Fuel Cycle Week. Perhaps you have heard of it. Just so I do not spoil the fun until we are ready to model the artwork, I’ll send you the proof via email.
Rod, I think that was an effective talk. The point about energy density of nuclear power needs to be repeated over and over as it’s implications have not been fully grasped by many people. When it is, it can lead to the “Ah ha moment”. Especially as regarding environment consequences.
On the good news front, the Guardian this week reported on the latest survey of public opinion in the UK on replacing the ageing AGRs with new nuclear. Support now stands at 50%, higher than before the Fukushima accident. Opposition is 20% and the rest are undecided.
Over the last decade, this has changed from 20% support and 60% opposition which is a quite dramatic turn around.
@Rod, a truly effective, down-to-earth presentation. Wonderful as well as pedagogical.
It is exactly that kind of talk that wins people to our POV. Not necessarily those that come to a meeting such as this but those who listen later, on YouTube or other venues.
On you style: excellent, not academic, not pendantic but assertive, polemical (just enough like the right amount chili powder on fried egg) and convincing.
@Iannes. Seriously? “Godelss”? There is no doubt that nuclear energy rarely crosses ideological, partisan lines. This is to the *detriment* of nuclear energy. Nuclear energy only succeeded when there was a HUGE conservative and liberal consensus.
I find that MANY pro-nuclear activists are quite left of center. Myself and pro-nuclear activist Greg Meyerson will be giving a pro-nuclear talk at the Left Forum in New York in May. I’m a union activist and I’m an Occupy/99%er to boot. And I’m pro-nuclear, VERY pro-nuclear. You got to get over this partisan lib-conser. thing. It doesn’t do anyone any good.
I’ve a hearing loss so would prefer to see transcripts. Did anyone mention how conventional nukes are rich target zones for terrorism, easy to create meltdown if security is breached?
Well if civil nuclear plants were the nirvana for terrorists there would have been a few hacks by now in Russia & Armenia & a few other countries.
The stuff found in commercial nuclear plants is of no interests to terrorists but of grave concerns to the Union of Concerned Scientists and of course Greenpeace.
Who are the true terrorists one may ask ?
It doesnt matter who the true terrorists are, only what the corporate mass media says. They love how the wars on terror & drugs provide sensational reports that build ratings, and thereby profits. Wonking here is not gonna change that.
Nobody gives expletive deleted by moderator about the loss of life at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, or Fukushima; what they care about are property values. Even if only 10% of the citizens in a community thot a nuke was a risk, that’d drive down the selling price and get the other 90% against.
From what Sorensen had to say on TED.com, the LFTR is the only possible implementation in any capitalist economy.
@Day Brown – actually, nuclear power plants are recognized as good neighbors that contribute excellent jobs and do not pollute. Property values in the near vicinity of many stations are quite high – some people even purposely bid up the value of land in the backyard lake of nuclear stations like North Anna.
Kirk is a really smart man, but he has a personal agenda that makes him think that running a campaign against existing nuclear technology is the way to move to the nuclear future that he desires. We respectfully disagree with each other – my belief is that the lucrative target is the 70% of the electricity market current supplied by coal and natural gas plus the distillate fuel market on board commercial ships and the huge, growing markets for electricity and process heat all over the world.
There was no loss of life at Three Mile Island. Given you got this wrong, even though it has been explained time and time again, calls into question anything you say.
As far as LFTR goes, as envisioned it is a theoretical, paper reactor that requires significant, most likely governmental, development.
It depends on whether the terrorists’ definition of victory is in causing a “meltdown” or causing a front-page headline in the New York Times.
The former is nearly impossible; the latter ridiculously easy.
We had 4 meltdowns now. 1 at TMI and 3 at Fukushima. Zero deaths. Boring.
Lots of newspapers however.
@Day – the NRC had a transcriber at the meetings. All comments will be available once the processing is completed. If you cannot locate them, let me know and I will post a link.
Neat to hear/see you in front of a crowd. Looks like it was well worth the effort.
I am not responsible for the media hype; fear increases ratings and thereby profits. The fact nobody was killed at TMI, so far as we know, does not matter.
There is also a general decline in competence following the documented decline in academic performance and an increase in cronyism protecting careers the media also uses to sell fear. You are trying to convince me here the current nuclear technology is safe. But my opinion does not matter.
Further, the LFTR is not merely a paper design. Sorensen shows us the photos and data sheets on an example that was built. However, materials engineering and software modeling have come a long way since, so I dunno if copying the original LFTR is the way to go. The recent Boeing jumbo jet wasnt a paper design either. To call it “paper” is itself indicative of being behind the curve.
My point is what the media and this screen makes of the case. The LFTR, in the aftermath of Fukushimna, looks like a vastly easier sell. If there had been LFTR at Fukushima, I dont see how there would’ve been a problem.
To quibble about obscenity on this screen smacks of political correctness, which also does not advance the case. I’ve said enuf of what I’ve learned, so feel free to delete me.
Further, the LFTR is not merely a paper design. Sorensen shows us the photos and data sheets on an example that was built.
The MSRE reactor was not a LFTR. It did not breed its own fuel from a thorium source. A true completely integrated LFTR has not been built, and will take some development. I don’t doubt it is quite possible, and it has some excellent features which are certainly worth its development, but we are still some way off seeing a full prototype operating.
I hope you understand that my comments and responses are not really directed at you, but at anyone who might be reading.
The media does not make any profits directly from high ratings. High ratings are simply one measure that media ad salesmen can point to in order to attract customers and perhaps demand higher rates. However, in these days of targeted ads, that salesman will also have to point to other measures like specific demographics, probability that the specific audience might buy the product, and even the linkage between the content and the product.
My theory is that there is a good reason why there were so many windmill, solar panel and “clean natural gas” commercials played on media stories about Fukushima. Those sponsors LIKED that content; for the gas companies in particular, those ads supporting the hype provided a rather nice Return on Investment (ROI) in the form of higher gas prices (internationally) and higher volumes of LNG shipments.
You are quite correct that selling well developed nuclear technology is not an easy sell; nothing that is worth doing is easy.
My preference for avoiding obscenity has nothing to do with “political correctness.” It is strictly my personal preference, one that I am free to make. Since this is “my house” you get to follow my rules.
Rod Adams quote of the day, “…because wall street likes COAL-OIL-GAS!!”
I agree since BIG GOV’T HYDROCARBON INDUSTRY cronyism will always shove money toward their buddies on K street.
“I agree since BIG GOV’T HYDROCARBON INDUSTRY cronyism will always shove money toward their buddies on K street.”
That will only continue as long as we allow it to continue. We, the people, elect our government. Changing the ways that government makes decisions is not easy, but it can be done.
@ Rob Adams
(comments on your blog seems not to work sometimes.)
I thought you worked for B&W mPower @160 MWe increments modular?
…Anyway back my point, I stated;
– NO MORE GOVT SUBSIDIES –
THE DAYS of THE BIG LIGHT WATER REACTOR NPP IS OVER. Ladies and Gentlemen!
And you stated, …There were subsidies for the first 6,000 MWe of new nuclear power plants in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
The U.S. nuclear industry to be fair has always been subsided either for bomb fuel production or to push electric product production to state utilities that ratepayers made up shortfall.
I disagree the larger the NPP (large LWR plants) have larger risk management payouts to finance companies and insurance companies.
I’m not in favor on leaning on the ratepayer to pick up the tab. Ratepayers need to get the best kWh price from the ‘get go’ not 20-30 years down the NPP time-line road. Heavy power consuming businesses want steady stable low bulk prices for power-now!!
I just don’t see how that can be done with the MEGA SIZED MW LWR NPP. State utilities go cap- in-hand to the Feds for GRID POWER SUBSIDY in turn the State utility squeezes the ratepayer.
As you know I’m for nuke power I’m for SMART NUKE POWER. It’s about promoting SMART JOBS in N. America by promoting an economy this means providing SAFE-EFFICIENT-STABLE LOW PRICE electrical power not to mention other ancillary uses NPP provide like desalination.
Globally the variable fueled SMR will provide more services because nations want more independence to control the means of power production. Maybe when the U.S. military intervention for hydrocarbon industry control stops meddling, will pro-human policies for economic growth be achieved with an good energy policy who at its core has nuclear power.
@Bruce – Yes, I do work for B&W and do agree that there is a large place in the market for SMRs.
I do not agree that there is no place for large plants. In the US, we have failed to invest in sustainable power production for several decades. We have places on the grid that need big gulps of new power generation capacity. There are no small reactors of any technology that will be ready to start construction in the US for at least five more years. By that time, there will be several new large plants up and running with more being built and costs coming down as cumulative unit volume increases.
There is nothing about that scenario that will prevent SMR growth; we need all of the sustainable, emission free power we can get as quickly as we can get it.
@ Rod Adams
B&W is an excellent nuke company & it’s designed mPower SMR NPP.
I think mPower is an example of a future trend.
On the issue of Mega MW size LWR vs. variable fueled SMR NPPs the ‘Law of Diminishing Returns’ comes into play with ever increasing the number of Mega MW size LWR NPPs.
@David —– And I thought I was the only one into putting chili powder on eggs!!!!
Would have liked to have been there……but I don’t like the arguments….
Miss your blog. It was a good one.
I second Bill Young’s comment. I miss We Support Lee. You write beautifully and used to post such neat photos of your mineral seeking treks.
By the way, there is better blocking software available these days to keep out people who like to disrupt the conversation with extraneous stuff.
I apreciate the kind words.
I closed the blog at the point where the time involved became an ‘opportunity cost’ to me considering that negative interactions were outweighing positive interactions.
Opportunities to discuss actual new projects dried up along with practically all other investments in our country a few years ago. In this environment it is rather pointless to keep pouring out positive time and energy when all it invites is negastivity.
I still see mostly decrepit buildings in small towns and overpriced rarely-improved buildings in cities. I don’t see anyone building or fixing anything up. I’m just reporting what I see around me.
I’m rather amazed that the Lee proposal is actually going anywhere since it is a truly massive undertaking compared to fixing up a storefront or house.
Glad you’re still around and following things, Ruth. I endorse the sense of loss from Bill and Rod concerning your blog, but I know what you mean about negativity… it can really suck away your time and energy.
Hopefully the construction and operation of Lee will provide the economic boost of truly value-adding industry, and enable other ventures to start up in the area.
next time add this as far as solar is concerned:
All the solar, tide & wave generation of the entire Earth *Combined* in 2008 was 11.4 TWh. The two AP1000 reactors planned in SC will produce ~18 TWh of electricity by them selves! They will literally generate more clean electricity than every solar panel on Earth combined!
Solar and wind should not be completely disparaged. They are very useful for isolated villages and farms, especially in undeveloped countries, where the money may never be available to bring grid electricity to a location.
Batteries charged by solar power, in conjunction with LED lamps, can light a hut for hours. This allows children to study in the evening.
Wind-powered pumps can bring up water from boreholes at low capital cost.
This is all very different from supplying power to cities, but it does affect billions of people.
@Don – you may be right about solar and wind in isolated areas, but that is no excuse for spending tens of billions in wasted subsidies for massive scale projects – some with guaranteed elevated prices for 20 more years.
I will continue to disparage the wind and solar industry as being leeches who have pushed a bubble from which there will be long lasting negative effects.
Where are the decommissioning funds for the 2-4 MWe turbines with their 300-500 ton concrete foundations and 40 story tall towers? They will be a blight – probably forever.
I bet the residents of Nome Alaska wish they had a mini-nuke in the neighborhood!
Great bit of Gonzo reporting Rod, I love it!
Man, I would love it if there was even a snowflakes chance in hell of a meeting like that even having a reason to take place in Australia!!! Oh well, I guess that’s we me and the like of Craig Schumacher are working on.
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