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Crafty_Dog
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« on: November 20, 2006, 04:34:00 AM »

All:

My default bias on nuclear power tends to be strongly negative.  I worry about what to do with by-products both for concern over accidents and for concern over the risks of theft; it being a source of unsound countries building nuclear bombs; catastrophes such as Chernoble; and nuclear reactors being targets to terrorist attack-- e.g. what if Flight 93 had its target the reactor at Three Mile Island.  One screw-up could screw up a lot of mother earth for a very long time. 

I distrust the experts.  Here in California, the Diablo Canyon reactor was built on an earthquake fault line. shocked  Something like that does not inspire confidence to say the least.

That said, with the strong pressures to move beyond petroleum, the nuclear question is being presented again and of course advocates are proffering what they believe to be solutions to concerns.

Marc
================

Monday, November 20, 2006 
 
Barron's
EDITORIAL COMMENTARY   
Needed for Nuclear Power
Fuel recycling mitigates waste worries and is key to new plant construction
By WILLIAM R. STRATTON and DONALD F. PETERSON
 
BETWEEN 1965 AND 1985, the U.S. constructed 110 nuclear electric-power reactors and is now operating 103 atomic plants that provide 20% of the nation's electric-power demand. Their operating record in recent years has been little short of phenomenal. Because of their safety and operating records, their permits or licenses are being extended from 40 to 60 years.

A number of electric utilities are on the verge of submitting applications to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a combined construction and operating license. The proposed reactors will be of an improved and simplified design, pre-approved, more amenable to maintenance and operation than the first-generation reactors designed before 1980. All will be of a size to provide 1,000 to 1,500 megawatts, day and night, wind or no wind, rain or snow. Some studies estimate that more than 1,000 additional power stations of this size will be needed in the next half-century. After reviewing seven comprehensive studies, the World Nuclear Association stated flatly in December 2005 that nuclear power is competitive now.

This is good news. But there is still a problem created 30 years ago when President Jimmy Carter forbade the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, establishing the once-through fuel cycle and effectively killing active development of commercial nuclear power. This wrong-headed decision was prompted by concern about the spread of nuclear weapons. Carter expected that the rest of the world would follow our lead, but no other countries have so limited their application of nuclear technology.

Supply and Storage

Carter's decision did create two other problems, neither foreseen by his administration nor fully solved, even after 30 years. The first is the problem of supply. It may be that insufficient uranium ore exists to fuel the nuclear-power industry for an extended period. The thermal neutron light-water reactor industry is sustained by the uranium-235 isotope -- only 0.7% of naturally occurring uranium. This must be enriched to about 3% U-235 to be suitable for power-plant fuel. Some studies suggest that there are limited quantities of uranium ore, others are more optimistic. The availability of adequate uranium to sustain the once-through cycle is still an open question.

The second and more significant issue is that of storing or disposing of spent fuel. This may be a red herring, but it has a very powerful odor. Many people believe that disposing of spent fuel is a show-stopper.

At the present rate of production, there will be enough spent fuel waiting in 2010 to fill the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada, which has a capacity of 70,000 metric tons. Of course, the squabbling over regulations for storage at Yucca Mountain continues with no license in sight. The previous requirement for 10,000 years of safe storage recently has escalated to millions of years.

If a new surge of power-plant construction is about to begin, the spent-fuel problem must be solved. The rising demand for electricity suggests that the rate of plant construction will surpass that of the 1970s by a large margin -- depending in part on the congressional perception of global warming. New Yucca Mountain-type storage sites will be required, and we will see intense bureaucratic infighting over safety and security needs.

It's not often understood that the protracted times for the safe storage of spent fuel result from the presence of "transuranics" in it, not from the direct products of uranium fission. Transuranics are the isotopes that build up in the fuel when a uranium atom captures one or more neutrons without fission. Some of these decay into different elements: For example, plutonium-241 decays to americium-241, which then, too, can capture neutrons. Several of these isotopes have lifetimes in the thousands and tens of thousands of years. Some generate enough heat to be a problem.

Beyond the not-in-my-back-yard syndrome, transuranics are the reasons for the difficulties with storage in a repository like Yucca Mountain.

Fortunately, solutions to the waste problem are under development in the U.S., France, Great Britain, Russia and Japan. It's overdue, since recycling of fuel and waste was the intent of the pioneering engineers of nuclear power plants back in the 1950s.

A recycling process in use abroad comprises about three chemical steps and permits some separation of uranium, plutonium, other transuranics and fission products. The volumes of contaminated liquid waste is drastically reduced. The plutonium from this process can be used in thermal neutron reactors, but for only another two cycles because the higher isotopes of plutonium stop the fission process.

Another method still being developed is called pyrometallurgical recycling or electro-refining. This removes the fission products from the uranium, plutonium and other transuranics. Waste volume would be small, consisting almost entirely of fission products with much shorter half-lives than transuranics, so the necessary storage times would be reduced from thousands to hundreds of years. The remainder, consisting of plutonium mixed with other transuranics, is an unattractive target for theft but perfectly acceptable as fuel for fast-neutron breeder reactors. Early estimates suggest it is a much less expensive process to separate the several parts of spent fuel.

U.S. nuclear engineers have extensive experience with breeder reactors, which are the necessary final step in this development of modern nuclear-reactor technology using a closed fuel cycle. Among the initial reactors developed after World War II, Experimental Breeder Reactor No. 1 was the first in the world to generate electricity from nuclear energy; the event took place in Idaho in December 1951. Its successor, called EBR-2, operated successfully for 30 years from the early 1960s, generating more than 60 megawatts of electricity and serving as a test bed for experiments at the same time.

Fast-neutron breeder reactors can use all the transuranics and fission them to generate electricity. These reactors can be designed to produce excess plutonium from U-238 for additional fuel, or burn plutonium to generate electricity. They burn or transmute the troublesome part of the spent fuel, while producing electric power and more plutonium for other fast reactors, or thermal neutron reactors using mixed-oxide fuel.

Prototype Time

Various designs of this reactor concept have been constructed and operated successfully in the U.S. and other countries. Prototype plants have existed in France since 1974, in Russia since 1981, and Japan plans to incorporate the closed fuel cycle with breeder reactors systematically in this century. Both India and China have plans for constructing breeder reactors.

The technology now exists for recycling spent reactor fuel, and fast neutron sodium-cooled reactors have been operated for many years. The critical components of the closed fuel cycle are ready for prototype operations, preferably an integrated demonstration financed by a consortium of electric utilities or the Department of Energy.

This is an expensive but necessary investment for the future. Yucca Mountain storage expense could be reduced to a small fraction of present costs, and mandatory storage time reduced to a few hundred years.

The closed cycle, using enriched uranium for fuel in light-water reactors, recycling of spent fuel through an electrochemical process, and using the recovered plutonium and other transuranics as fuel in a breeder reactor, is complete. It's not a simple process, but it's essential to assure ample energy for the indefinite future. It will be expensive to start, but there are no viable alternatives. The time to expand nuclear-power generation is now.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

WILLIAM R. STRATTON and DONALD F. PETERSON are nuclear scientists, retired from Los Alamos National Laboratory. They are members of the Los Alamos Education Group, a non-profit organization advocating increased use and development of nuclear energy.

 
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2007, 08:50:02 AM »

NUKE CHIEF FIRED: Linton Brooks, the chief of the country's nuclear-weapons program,
was fired yesterday because of security breakdowns at the Los Alamos, N.M., laboratory and other facilities.

LBN news
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2009, 11:20:39 AM »

Although it is the LA Times, this makes sense to me.

========================================

Yucca Mountain on hold
The Obama administration is prudent to put the brakes on the nuclear waste repository in Nevada.
March 19, 2009


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has been called many things during his 22-year Senate career, but the name that sticks when the issue of nuclear power comes up is "NIMBY." That's because Reid has fought tirelessly to block construction of a national nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in his home state. There's a funny thing about his critics, though: Not one of them has ever suggested shipping the country's hazardous radioactive waste to his or her own state or district instead of Nevada.

The usual bleating about Reid's obstructionism and Nevadans' paranoia arose after the release of President Obama's proposed budget, which trims funding for the Yucca Mountain project to the minimum needed to keep the regulatory process involved in its construction alive -- a strong signal that there will be no further work done on the repository during Obama's term in office. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the administration is working on an alternative program that involves multiple interim and long-term waste storage facilities around the country.


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When it comes to highly radioactive nuclear waste, pretty much everybody is a NIMBY. Setting aside the factthat scientists have yet to develop the technology to safely store this waste for the thousands of years it takes to decay, there's the fact that it has to be transported to the disposal site -- mostly by train -- creating the opportunity for spills. Even if the nuclear dump isn't in your backyard, the train tracks might be, and the closer you live to the center of it all, the greater the danger. Little wonder that Nevadans aren't excited by the prospect of a glow-in-the-dark desert.

The depressing thing about Yucca Mountain is that for all its flaws, including the discovery that water flows through the mountain faster than previously thought and thus could contaminate nearby areas, it probably still represents the safest place in the country for a nuclear repository. Not only is seismic activity in the rangeminimal, but the mountain is in a remote and desolate region at the edge of a site used in the 1950s for atomic testing. If we can't dump the waste in a nuclear test zone, where can we? That, in a nutshell, is the problem with nuclear power.

Pro-nuclear activists, whose ranks are growing as the nation looks for non-carbon-emitting sources of energy, needn't fret too much about Obama's proposal, which tables but doesn't end the debate about Yucca Mountain. Yet the move probably would delay some pending applications for construction of nuclear plants, and may even stop some. That's all for the good. Nuclear power is much too risky and expensive to be seen as a reasonable solution to climate change.
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ccp
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« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2009, 03:15:01 PM »

There was a recent segment on cable about the disposal of nuclear waste in salt caverns and how the salt is nearly a perfect way to encircle and keep  isolated the waste.
The deep underground caverns (~2,000 feet I think) eventuall get literally encased in the salt which protects against water.
However, it would take 250,000 years for the stuff to decay and no one could say what the risk to future and interim generations would be so far in advance (if the human race is still around by then anyway).

As far as transporting the stuff to these natural salt "containers" that is another homeland defense story.
As for what is going to happen thousands of years from now I won't lose sleep over that.
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ccp
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« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2009, 03:18:46 PM »

http://www.nei.org/keyissues/nuclearwastedisposal/

***NEI: Nuclear Energy Institute Home Member Login Contact Us Search 
 l
Most used fuel from nuclear power plants is stored in steel-lined concrete pools filled with water, like this one above, or in airtight steel or concrete-and-steel containers.
Used Nuclear Fuel and Low-Level Waste
Used nuclear fuel is a solid material safely stored at nuclear plant sites. This storage is only temporary—one component of an integrated used fuel management system that addresses all facets of storing, recycling and disposal.
Integrated Used Fuel Management
Under an integrated management approach, used nuclear fuel will remain stored at nuclear power plants in the near term. Eventually, the government will recycle it and place the unusable end product in a repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev.

Storage of Used Nuclear Fuel
Currently, used nuclear fuel is stored at the nation's nuclear power plants in steel-lined, concrete vaults filled with water or in massive, airtight steel or concrete-and-steel canisters.

Recycling Used Nuclear Fuel
The federal government plans to develop advanced recycling technologies to take full advantage of the vast amount of energy in the used fuel and reduce the amount and toxicity of byproducts requiring disposal.

Yucca Mountain
In 2002, Congress approved Yucca Mountain, Nev., a remote desert location, as the site for a centralized deep geologic repository for used nuclear fuel and other high-level radioactive waste.

Transportation
The U.S. Department of Energy will transport used nuclear fuel to the repository by rail and road, inside massive, sealed containers that have undergone safety and durability testing.

Low-Level Radioactive Waste
Low-level waste is a byproduct of the beneficial uses of a wide range of radioactive materials. These include electricity generation, medical diagnosis and treatment, and various other medical processes.


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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2009, 06:36:22 PM »

As a layman trying to think about a highly technical subject I look for things that seem to encapsulate a larger truth.  In my case I remember that the Diablo Canyon Reactor was built on an earthquake fault here in CA.

Have you ever lived through any earthquakes?  I have and that experts would build a reactor on a fault destroys my faith in them and their process.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2009, 10:55:05 AM »

Judging nuclear power IMO must be done in the context of all the alternatives.  In the case of supplying the electric grid today, the choice I think is coal or nuclear.  The others offer some minor supplement, such as hydro, wind, solar.  Traditionally the energy loss on the transmission lines has been about 2/3 (that's why we heat northern homes with natural gas) so the non-cost-effective clean sources become even further from cost-effective on the grid.

The environmental issue of the day is CO2.  Carbon dioxide is released in the mining of coal and in the burning of coal or any fossil fuel.  I am with the skeptics here on the magnitude of the problem; I have posted that I think our use of fossil fuels adds only 0.00003 degrees C per decade of warming.  I'm not alarmed because the number is small and the reliance on fossil fuels is temporary, a blip in earth's history.  Still, I think it is better to not emit, and less emission is preferable to more.

Nuclear is the only large source of power that has zero emissions.

Risk is serious but calculated.  Look at the safety record.  Again must compare with others.  Chernobyl I believe doesn't count when evaluating new or existing plants here because we aren't building to their lack of safety standards.  Golf carts probably kill more people than nuclear plants.  I know the 19mph light rail here has killed more.

The size of the waste problem is of our own making.  What we call waste is still a large energy source.   France and elsewhere reprocesses the waste down to much smaller amount with a much lower energy level remaining.  Our system is based on reprocessing rules from the cold war era, not energy efficiency engineering.

"I remember that the Diablo Canyon Reactor was built on an earthquake fault here in CA.  Have you ever lived through any earthquakes?  I have and that experts would build a reactor on a fault destroys my faith in them and their process."

I haven't ever lived through an earthquake at all.  We suffer with winter here, in exchange for that we are free from hurricanes, earthquakes, drought, wildfires or even the need for air conditioning.  Curious what scale earthquakes you have lived through.  I think it would be one of the most frightening things possible.  Building a power plant on it seems stupid and unnecessary, but living on or near a known fault seems unimaginable to me but we all live with risk and make choices.

Looking up Diablo I find: 'Diablo Canyon is designed to withstand an earthquake of 7.5 on the Richter scale'   - I don't know what that means about the remaining risk level.

I see your point about losing trust but the safety record for producing huge amounts of electricity without pollution is unsurpassed.

France uses nuclear to produce about 79% of its electricity, for the US it is about 19%.  Looking into the reasons, I found that France lacked oil, gas, coal etc. and got scared during the oil shock of 1973 when they committed to producing energy domestically.

Last night, I heard the glibness tout his visit to a plug-in hybrid car and state (falsely) that they would get up to 150 mpg and then imply that you would come home and sell your leftover energy back to the grid and make some money.  Besides that he needs a teleprompter to get his energy facts straight (the 150 assumes energy on the grid is magical and free), I actually like the idea of plug-in hybrids.  I wouldn't waste my money on being partly electric until I could plug in.  But imagine as he does that we move a major amount of the transportation sector over to the grid.  We will need more power plants and they will be coal with emissions or nuclear or else some taxpayer boondoggle because the other sources are not cost effective.

With everything we know now, which energy source(s) should we expand to power our lives and our economy?

« Last Edit: March 20, 2009, 11:05:32 AM by DougMacG » Logged
Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2009, 10:43:29 PM »

Nice link with a bunch of info about the current state of nuclear power in the US.

http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/energy_in_brief/nuclear_industry.cfm
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DougMacG
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« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2009, 02:25:09 PM »

Thank you Guinness for excellent info source on nuclear.  It is basically carbon free and totally free of pollution emissions, the 'waste' product is a still usable energy source and the safety record has fewer deaths in this country than Ted Kennedy's car.

The experience at Soviet Chernobyl tells us more about why to avoid Soviet communism than it does about safe nuclear plants.  That disaster could not have happened in a US plant built and operated under our standards.

Whether you believe higher CO2 levels have a 1% or a 51% link to climate phenomena, we emit far more CO2 than we would if you used these newer technologies to power our grid.  The world's largest industrialized country should not be generating 71% of its electricity by burning fossil fuels in 2009.

When we load part of transportation sector onto the grid with plug-in hybrids and plug-in electrics, the situation would only get worse since it takes most of a decade to get a new nuclear plant online and wind is 5 times and solar is 15 times overpriced and we are not adding any new rivers for hydroelectric.

It is obscene (IMO) that we waste precious domestic natural gas sources on a grid that could be powered far better with nuclear.  This waste of natural gas was/is a major reason gas prices have quintupled the cost of heating homes, which is a BIG deal to much of the country.  Natural gas (American produced) is also a perfect transportation sector solution if we weren't burning it in bulk needlessly to power the grid, please see http://www.cngnow.com

If we substitute nuclear for natural gas in electricity and American natural gas in place of foreign oil in transportation, besides solving the CO2 spiral we would also be sending fewer dollars sent to Chavez and the Mullahs.  It would be good for the currency, simplify foreign policy and ease the cost of national defense.  True?
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2009, 03:40:47 PM »

If you keep making sense, Doug, we'll have to nominate you to run for office.
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2010, 08:10:05 AM »

Thanks for the info. For the record, I'm not a big nuclear fan, but rather a fan of cheap, plentiful energy that has a reasonable cost/benefit ratio.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2010, 08:48:21 AM »

Any publicly traded stocks that are based on thorium reactors?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2010, 09:02:36 AM »

I was shocked to see BO in his SOTU speech call for nuclear power.  IIRC the Yucca Mountain option for waste is dead.  What is the current Sit Rep on waste disposal?
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2010, 10:50:20 AM »

So, spell it out for us simple folks-- are you saying we are running out of storage even as we decide to build more?
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G M
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« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2010, 07:30:17 AM »

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.09/china.html

Let a Thousand Reactors Bloom
Explosive growth has made the People's Republic of China the most power-hungry nation on earth. Get ready for the mass-produced, meltdown-proof future of nuclear energy.
By Spencer Reiss

China is staring at the dark side of double-digit growth. Blackouts roll and factory lights flicker, the grid sucked dry by a decade of breakneck industrialization. Oil and natural gas are running low, and belching power plants are burning through coal faster than creaky old railroads can deliver it. Global warming? The most populous nation on earth ranks number two in the world - at least the Kyoto treaty isn't binding in developing countries. Air pollution? The World Bank says the People's Republic is home to 16 of the planet's 20 worst cities. Wind, solar, biomass - the country is grasping at every energy alternative within reach, even flooding a million people out of their ancestral homes with the world's biggest hydroelectric project. Meanwhile, the government's plan for holding onto power boils down to a car for every bicycle and air-conditioning for a billion-odd potential dissidents.


What's an energy-starved autocracy to do?

Go nuclear.

While the West frets about how to keep its sushi cool, hot tubs warm, and Hummers humming without poisoning the planet, the cold-eyed bureaucrats running the People's Republic of China have launched a nuclear binge right out of That '70s Show. Late last year, China announced plans to build 30 new reactors - enough to generate twice the capacity of the gargantuan Three Gorges Dam - by 2020. And even that won't be enough. The Future of Nuclear Power, a 2003 study by a blue-ribbon commission headed by former CIA director John Deutch, concludes that by 2050 the PRC could require the equivalent of 200 full-scale nuke plants. A team of Chinese scientists advising the Beijing leadership puts the figure even higher: 300 gigawatts of nuclear output, not much less than the 350 gigawatts produced worldwide today.

To meet that growing demand, China's leaders are pursuing two strategies. They're turning to established nuke plant makers like AECL, Framatome, Mitsubishi, and Westinghouse, which supplied key technology for China's nine existing atomic power facilities. But they're also pursuing a second, more audacious course. Physicists and engineers at Beijing's Tsinghua University have made the first great leap forward in a quarter century, building a new nuclear power facility that promises to be a better way to harness the atom: a pebble-bed reactor. A reactor small enough to be assembled from mass-produced parts and cheap enough for customers without billion-dollar bank accounts. A reactor whose safety is a matter of physics, not operator skill or reinforced concrete. And, for a bona fide fairy-tale ending, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is labeled hydrogen.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2010, 08:26:14 AM »



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pebble_bed_reactor
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DougMacG
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« Reply #16 on: October 01, 2010, 12:49:54 AM »

Rarick posted: "The fusion process he describes does not release radiation, can put a reactor in the space of a Gas Station and make 100 Mw, if I am understanding this correctly."

My vision or prediction, consistent with that, is that something about the size of a personal backpack and probably fusion-based will someday carry all the energy one person might need for transportation, heating, air conditioning etc. anywhere/everywhere you go - making the memory of fossil fuel use look silly.

I know they have some details to work out on it.
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G M
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« Reply #17 on: October 03, 2010, 08:35:01 PM »

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/12/ff_new_nukes/all/1

Published in 1958 under the auspices of the Atomic Energy Commission as part of its Atoms for Peace program, Fluid Fuel Reactors  is a book only an engineer could love: a dense, 978-page account of research conducted at Oak Ridge National Lab, most of it under former director Alvin Weinberg. What caught Sorensen’s eye was the description of Weinberg’s experiments producing nuclear power with an element called thorium.

At the time, in 2000, Sorensen was just 25, engaged to be married and thrilled to be employed at his first serious job as a real aerospace engineer. A devout Mormon with a linebacker’s build and a marine’s crew cut, Sorensen made an unlikely iconoclast. But the book inspired him to pursue an intense study of nuclear energy over the next few years, during which he became convinced that thorium could solve the nuclear power industry’s most intractable problems. After it has been used as fuel for power plants, the element leaves behind minuscule amounts of waste. And that waste needs to be stored for only a few hundred years, not a few hundred thousand like other nuclear byproducts. Because it’s so plentiful in nature, it’s virtually inexhaustible. It’s also one of only a few substances that acts as a thermal breeder, in theory creating enough new fuel as it breaks down to sustain a high-temperature chain reaction indefinitely. And it would be virtually impossible for the byproducts of a thorium reactor to be used by terrorists or anyone else to make nuclear weapons.

Weinberg and his men proved the efficacy of thorium reactors in hundreds of tests at Oak Ridge from the ’50s through the early ’70s. But thorium hit a dead end. Locked in a struggle with a nuclear- armed Soviet Union, the US government in the ’60s chose to build uranium-fueled reactors — in part because they produce plutonium that can be refined into weapons-grade material. The course of the nuclear industry was set for the next four decades, and thorium power became one of the great what-if technologies of the 20th century.
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Freki
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« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2010, 08:13:04 AM »

GM

Nice find
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DougMacG
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« Reply #19 on: October 06, 2010, 11:12:17 AM »

Rarick,  Sorry I hadn't seen your question about the background to verify or just a snide remark.  Answer for me is neither.  Just amateur speculation about what the future will bring.  I strongly believe the era of fossil fuels is a blip in time with or without government action to stop it, that move on faster without the government action and that we likely can't truly fathom right now the invention or discovery that will largely replace them.  Fusion seems to hold that potential on the smaller decentralized level where fission seems just for large scale reactors requiring power lines everywhere, which seem to me a very 20th century method from the future's perspective.

Meanwhile I favor building more of today's nuclear plants, more clean coal, more oil drilling, far more use of domestic natural gas sources and setting the private sector on a freer course to innovate to the next level without the guidance of government.  We won't get where we are going by impoverishing ourselves.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #20 on: October 08, 2010, 11:42:13 AM »

Please correct me if I am wrong:

We are not building more nuclear plants right now because we choose to not build more. Yet we desperately need energy, and hate oil, coal, etc.  Certain government actions are required to get a new plant rolling.  Same for waste storage.

Major moves with energy have 8-10 year lead times.  What we didn't do 8-10 years ago is killing us now.  We are creating enough other lingering problems for the next generation besides no energy or having all our energy coming from elsewhere.

Current nuclear energy technology of the US and other western countries has the best safety record of any energy source on the planet.

Wind and solar provide a drip of energy and require substantial subsidy. You don't power an auto plant or even a wind turbine plant with solar, lol.  Eventually you run out of other peoples money, and we did.

Current nuclear technology has zero carbon dioxide emissions, so it is the cheapest, safest and the cleanest.

Obama saying yes to nuclear is like Obama saying yes to off-shore.  A head fake for political cover.  Like healthcare, certain political actors don't care if they cripple our economy or starve us of resources, like affordable, clean, safe energy.  Adults will have to step forward and make tough decisions.  If not nuclear, then what, and WHEN?

Result is that in fact we are building plenty of new manufacturing capacity, plenty of new coal plants and plenty of new nuclear plants and adding plenty of new manufacturing jobs, with our money... in China.

Someone who favors this current policy of wait for the unknown and don't build today, please explain to me how this makes sense or which part I have wrong.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #21 on: January 07, 2011, 06:00:27 AM »

By STEPHANIE SIMON
A Canadian energy company is scouring the globe for investors to finance the first new uranium mill slated to be built in the U.S. in more than 25 years.

Colorado regulators this week approved a crucial radioactive-materials license for the proposed mill, which would crush uranium ore and begin processing it, primarily for use in nuclear power plants.

The license was opposed by some environmental groups while some local residents embraced the proposed mill as a provider of new jobs in the Paradox Valley, a remote rural area of southwest Colorado that has struggled economically.

Energy Fuels Resources Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Toronto-based Energy Fuels Inc., says it needs just one more permit for the Piñon Ridge Mill. But the firm also needs capital—it's looking for about $140 million—before building.

The mill would produce up to 850,000 pounds a year of yellowcake, a coarse, concentrated powder that's a first step toward enriched uranium. That is enough to fuel two 1,000-megawatt nuclear plants for a year, said Gary Steele, a vice president of Energy Fuels.

U.S. mining-industry officials say the mill could help reduce the nation's dependence on foreign fuel. At least 90% of the uranium used in American nuclear power plants is imported.

But the yellowcake produced in Colorado may well end up in China, which is in the midst of a nuclear-power boom, Mr. Steele said. "It will go wherever we have a market for it," he said.

The mill, which would take about a year to build, is expected to employ 75 people—and to spur the creation of scores of additional mining, trucking and support jobs in the Paradox Valley. That promise of jobs has many local residents cheering.

Environmental groups, however, have fought the mill bitterly and pledge to continue their protests. Uranium mining thrived in the region during the 1940s and 1950s, when it was used for nuclear bombs, and in the 1970s, when nuclear power surged in popularity. Not only did both booms go bust, but the mines left a legacy of pollution that persists to this day.

This fall, state regulators found heaps of toxic uranium ore at a shuttered mine in the area. A defunct mill in the area has been designated a federal Superfund site; cleanup of the property was launched in the 1980s but is far from complete.

Energy Fuels says the new mill would be much safer. State regulators agreed.

"Energy Fuels has demonstrated it can build and operate the mill in a manner that is protective of both human health and the environment," said Steve Tarlton, a program manager for the state's Department of Public Health and Environment.

Write to Stephanie Simon at stephanie.simon@wsj.com

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #22 on: February 28, 2011, 11:39:12 AM »


ROBERT A. GUTH
Bill Gates reshaped the computer industry by pumping out new versions of Microsoft Windows software every few years, fixing and fine tuning it as he went along.  He's now betting that he can reshape the energy industry with a project akin to shipping Windows once and having it work, bug-free, for 50 years.

Thanks to his role funding and guiding a start-up called TerraPower LLC, where he serves as chairman, Mr. Gates has become a player in a field of inventors whose goal is to make nuclear reactors smaller, cheaper and safer than today's nuclear energy sources. The 30-person company recently completed a basic design for a reactor that theoretically could run untouched for decades on spent nuclear fuel. Now the company is seeking a partner to help build the experimental reactor, and a country willing to host it.

It's a long-term, risky endeavor for Mr. Gates and his fellow investors. The idea will require years to test, billions of dollars (not all from him) and changes in U.S. nuclear regulations if the reactor is to be built here. Current U.S. rules don't even cover the type of technology TerraPower hopes to use.

"A cheaper reactor design that can burn waste and doesn't run into fuel limitations would be a big thing," Mr. Gates says. He adds that in general "capitalism underinvests in innovation," particularly in areas with "long time horizons and where government regulations are unclear."

TerraPower is one of a host of inventors, reactor makers and electric utilities trying to kick-start innovation in a field that hasn't seen a big technological advance in decades. President Barack Obama wants to help, too, designating $853 million for nuclear research, including small-scale reactors, in his proposed 2012 budget.

The type of reactor TerraPower is working on, a traveling-wave reactor, could reduce the need for enrichment and reprocessing of uranium. Executives at the Bellevue, Wash., company say their reactor could even be buried in the ground, where it could run for 100 years.

Green Wood
To understand how a traveling-wave reactor works, think of a wood-burning stove. Today's reactors use dried wood—enriched uranium-235—that burns hot and quickly. A traveling-wave reactor would start with a little bit of dried wood to get a hot flame going, but most of the fuel would be green, or wet, wood—depleted uranium-238. The wet logs wouldn't burn as hot as the dried ones, but they would continue to burn long after the hot flame goes out.

Burning the enriched uranium would shoot neutrons into the depleted uranium making up roughly 90% of the fuel. That process would produce plutonium, which would create energy as it continued to get hit by even more neutrons. It's a slow, controlled reaction that could continue over many years without need of human intervention. And in TerraPower's design, the core of the reactor, where fission takes place, would be small: a cylinder about 10 feet wide and 13 feet long.

Another plus: Large supplies of depleted uranium are available as a byproduct of today's water-cooled reactors. Removing it from those reactors and reprocessing it for reuse is a costly procedure, and a source of worry that radioactive material might fall into the wrong hands. Reducing the need for reprocessing could save money and reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation.

The idea for traveling-wave reactors has been around for decades but was mothballed amid waning U.S. interest in nuclear power. Then came a boost in the 1990s from a research paper by scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, including Edward Teller, the father of the hydrogen bomb and the brain behind Ronald Reagan's Star Wars missile-defense initiative; and an acolyte of Mr. Teller's named Lowell Wood.

Mr. Wood recently found a receptive ear in Nathan Myrhvold, a former Microsoft executive and head of Intellectual Ventures, a patent and invention firm in Bellevue. Mr. Myrhvold is a close friend of Mr. Gates, who is also an investor in Intellectual Ventures. In recent years the three men have done a lot of brainstorming about future technologies, including the traveling-wave reactor.

The reactor idea intrigued Mr. Gates, who was studying energy and climate change at the time. Among the reactor's other potential advantages, Mr. Gates says he was interested in its potential for producing cheap, zero-carbon energy and its ability to turn "what is a waste product into fuel."

Mr. Gates got the project rolling with seed money in the tens of millions of dollars. Venture-capital firms Charles River Ventures and Khosla Ventures invested $35 million last year. Nuclear-industry veteran John Gilleland is TerraPower's chief executive; a network of part-time researchers and scientists around the country offer input.

Looking for a Home
The traveling-wave reactor is still virtual, existing only in software on computers at TerraPower headquarters. Mr. Myrhvold says there is a basic design, not a full blueprint. But it's enough for the next step: building a test version of the reactor. TerraPower is looking for a customer, such as an electric utility, and a country that is willing to house an experimental reactor.

The company has made pitches in France and Japan, Mr. Myrhvold says; both have big nuclear-power industries. He's also made the rounds in Russia, China and India, he says. So far, there have been no takers.

One country he is certain won't be a customer anytime soon is the U.S., which doesn't yet have a certification process for reactors like TerraPower's. It would likely be a decade or more before the reactor could be tested on U.S. soil. "I don't think the U.S. has the willpower or desire to build new kinds of nuclear reactors," Mr. Myrhvold says. "Right now there's a long, drawn-out process."

Policy experts say that's with good cause. "Our regulatory process, while burdensome, is there for a reason, and it does represent the gold standard around the world for nuclear safety," says Paul Genoa, director of policy development at the Nuclear Energy Institute in Washington.

Mr. Myrhvold says he hopes the process will speed up and spark innovation to meet the world's growing energy demand. "Let's try 20 ideas," he says. "Maybe five of them work. That's the only way to invent our way out of the pickle we're in."

Mr. Guth is the Los Angeles bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal. He can be reached at rob.guth@wsj.com.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #23 on: March 12, 2011, 02:22:10 AM »

Red Alert: Japan Warns of Possible Nuclear Meltdown
March 12, 2011 | 0619 GMT
Japanese officials are cautioning that a nuclear meltdown may occur at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant near the town of Okuma. According to Japan’s Jiji Press, some of the reactor’s nuclear fuel rods were briefly exposed to the air after the reactor’s water levels dropped through evaporation. A fire engine is currently pumping water into the reactor and the water levels are recovering, according to an operator of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), which operates the plant. A TEPCO spokesman said the company believes the reactor is not melting down or cracking and that workers are currently attempting to raise the water level.

If a meltdown takes place — essentially the core of the reactor overheating and damaging the fuel rods themselves — it would be the first since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and the Three Mile Island incident in 1979.

The Fukushima Daiichi power plant was shut down automatically on March 11 due to the magnitude 8.9 earthquake that hit Japan. The on-site diesel backup generators also shut down about an hour after the event, leaving the reactors without power and thus without the ability to cool down the core. Japanese officials were operating the cooling system via battery power and were flying in batteries by helicopter to keep the temperature regulated.

An unchecked rise in temperature could cause the core to essentially turn into a molten mass that could burn through the reactor vessel. This may lead to a release of an unchecked amount of radiation into the containment building that surrounds the reactor. This building could be breached if enough pressure builds, or, in this case, if the containment building was already breached through the earlier effects of the earthquake.

At the moment, it would appear that Japanese authorities are still trying to contain the reaction inside the reactor. That indicates that the core has not completely melted and that the reaction has not yet gotten out of hand. However, the situation could quickly become uncontrollable and the added water being pumped into the reactor could rapidly evaporate if the temperatures rise too quickly to be cooled off.

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prentice crawford
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« Reply #24 on: March 12, 2011, 07:58:33 AM »

Woof,
 So much for nuclear power... www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42044156/ns/world_news-asiapacific/?gt1=43001

 Japan gets about one third of its energy from nuke plants.

                   P.C.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #25 on: March 12, 2011, 06:59:07 PM »

As this disaster settles it will be good to re-visit all questions regarding nuclear power.  I recall Crafty presciently questioning nuclear with the example that a California plant is built on a fault line.

The Chernoble Ukraine disaster had to do with a Soviet lack of safety, not nuclear safeguards as we know them.  I can't understand California's decision either to build on a fault line or to quit building, but buying electricity from Arizona maybe works for them. (It's still nuclear energy.)

When the rubble and grief settles, we still need power, probably all the sources and then some, but maybe a little smarter with the experience gained.  Coal has its own problems and tragedies.  Deepwater had a disaster.  Natural gas has this big new question opened by the NY Times (no replies to my post on that).

The choice of not heating northern homes, or cooling desert or tropical homes or regressing our standard of living in other ways is no solution - inflating out tires in place of opening ANWR?  Nuclear has a waste issue and radiation leak risk, but has huge output and is carbon-free.  Failing to drill and refine screws up the oil and gasoline markets for everyone and enriches terror and enemy nations, no matter who we buy it from.  Even new electric vehicles require the grid up and running to operate.  Solar and wind contribute only a small amount and involve shipping products all over the planet - using oil.  Ethanol turned into a bad joke, consuming farm land and diesel fuel while driving up food prices.  Life is dangerous, complicated and full of risks.  Looking forward to serious discussions here.
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bigdog
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« Reply #26 on: March 12, 2011, 07:50:47 PM »

I also have fears based on wide spread use of nuclear power.  I was a kid when 3 Mile Island occured, and remember Chernobyl well.  I live close to a major fault line myself (although well outside of California), and my elected representatives have decided to explore the idea of having a second nuclear power plant in my county.  Egad!
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G M
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« Reply #27 on: March 12, 2011, 08:01:49 PM »

IMHO, nuclear technology has come a long way. The power we need has to come from somewhere. "Green power" is a fantasy. What is needed is a rational cost/benefit analysis for long term energy policy.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #28 on: March 12, 2011, 08:39:55 PM »

Thanks for the replies on that.  BD in particular, I understand those concerns.  Of the other alternatives possible today to expand (including doing without), which way do you lean, may I ask?
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G M
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« Reply #29 on: March 12, 2011, 08:42:29 PM »

Doug,

Did you post the NY Times article with the left's talking points about how fracking was supposed to poison groundwater?
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DougMacG
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« Reply #30 on: March 13, 2011, 12:07:11 AM »

GM, No, I posted about a 20 link answer including a point by point rebuttal and quotes from regulatory officials in 15 key states saying it has never happened there.
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bigdog
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« Reply #31 on: March 13, 2011, 06:51:57 AM »

Thanks for the replies on that.  BD in particular, I understand those concerns.  Of the other alternatives possible today to expand (including doing without), which way do you lean, may I ask?

Doug, I think that GM is right to point out that power has to come from somewhere and that a fully "green" energy "alternative" is largely a falsehood.  There are plusses and minuses with sources of energy.  I think that wind energy is probably my choice given the current state of technology and use.  Wind farms, many contend, are unsightly.  I never did like Senator Kennedy's view on this.  Given that I can see the nuclear power plant from at least 20 miles away, I think that is at least as unsightly.  And wind farms are a far cry from the impact on the view of coal mine operations or oil production. 

The biggest thing that I think we, as a country, need to work on is consumption.  I realize this is said all the time, but why the hell we all need separate cars, that are big, and we refuse to walk to work, or turn off a light at home, etc. etc. I just don't understand.     
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G M
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« Reply #32 on: March 13, 2011, 09:13:27 AM »

BD,

The majority of Americans don't live places where public transportation is economically viable. We need cars. I can tell you that as someone that has seen lots of MVAs, including fatals that smart cars aren't.
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bigdog
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« Reply #33 on: March 13, 2011, 11:18:02 AM »

BD,

The majority of Americans don't live places where public transportation is economically viable. We need cars. I can tell you that as someone that has seen lots of MVAs, including fatals that smart cars aren't.

However, as people increasing move to urban centers, this becomes less true.
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G M
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« Reply #34 on: March 13, 2011, 11:21:24 AM »

Until you get close to NYC levels of population density, public transit still isn't economically viable. That vast majority of cities in the US don't even get close to that.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #35 on: March 13, 2011, 11:26:57 AM »

LA is a major population center, but public transportation simply is not viable here.
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G M
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« Reply #36 on: March 13, 2011, 11:31:02 AM »

LA lacks the population density.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #37 on: March 13, 2011, 01:27:30 PM »

re. BD,  I am very pleased to have your view in the mix.

Public transportation, I can say that it doesn't work at all where I am or for what I do.  If it is largely an urban/regional construct then it should be regionally financed - urban and regionally, not something people across the less populated heartland with their own financial challenges should be paying for.  Those systems don't pay for themselves and most wouldn't be built without the 'free' federal money.

Wind energy: I am with BD on that to a point, with major limitations.  (I am a big user of wind powered vehicles but not much work gets done when I am sailing.) Wind is about a 2% source of electricity now with heavy subsidies, probably a theoretical 20% source based on the most optimistic political views, one Stanford study said 33% theoretical, but with unrealistic assumptions. (That is electricity only, not all energy needs.) Wind generation reduces by those percentages the total power required from nuclear and coal, but it doesn't reduce the peak production capability required from coal and nuclear;the sweltering hot peak usage days tend not to be windy and trying to store the energy adds unacceptably to the cost.  In other words, we still need to build all of it, clean coal, safe nuclear and whatever is coming next or get used to outages.  The other main limitation: as the wind proportion of energy increases at 5 times the cost, say goodbye to the rest of manufacturing in this country.  We can't compete now on basic labor costs and we won't be competitive on energy costs if we use our affluence to choose more expensive solutions.  If we add to that burden an agreement to pay for third world upgrades and mandates, our overhead cost goes up even more.

Consumption:  Again I am with you on that as far as it is voluntary rather than coerced.  Artificially raising costs and refusing to produce available energy I put in the category of coercion. I posted elsewhere big steps I have taken on usage.  A 40 mpg old Honda (oops, just died for now), no home AC for over 15 years, added 2 feet of attic insulation (unsubsidized), put a used 95% furnace in myself 1/3 the size of the old one, partitioned off rooms not in use from heat, and put spiral bulbs in dozens of houses at my expense, etc.

Still it is illegal for me to not drive to work (laws against absentee landlording) and my daughter's activities are something else - and that is with just one kid.  Cutting out the optional trips is not always a great thing.  I was a no-show last night to meet up with wonderful lifelong friends from 4 corners of a widely spread metro.  Saved a drive, but nothing was gained by being a bum on that.  Nor from having my daughter visit 4 wonderful grandparents less often - things like that make up our drives - roughly an hour round trip each time no matter who drives it. You won't do that on a bus or a train or a bicycle. The home school question is intriguing and I will guess your kids are younger, but the mass transit school bus doesn't even work for us anymore with all the activities before and after school. 

At the start of kid sports we chose the local solution, 'recreational' soccer over 'traveling' soccer and biked the bike trail by our house to a huge park with plenty of kids and games for years.  It was a great childhood and neighborhood experience, but not a path to the highest levels in that sport.  Now she competes near the highest levels of 2 other sports and the transportation requirements are amazing and non-stop.  Same goes for orchestra.  We have instruments and music books in our home, but there is no proficiency without teaching and participation which means endless transportation.  Free instruction from my sister, a professional viola player, is great but also a serious transportation event no matter where we do it.  Can we do without that? Yes. Are we better off if we did? No. I posted in 'music' a classical piece by Holtz recently, left out this personal story:  I was introduced to that when my daughter was part of 800 of the best youth musicians from across the state filling Orchestra Hall downtown with those amazing sounds, the stage full plus violins lining the aisles and brass from the balconies. I found out it was my Dad' favorite piece and has touched 4 generations in our family.  Imagine the years of drives to lessons and rehearsals for 800 kids to make that amazing performance possible.  Could we do without all that? Yes. Are we better off if we do? No.  My point is that a free people fully developing and expressing their God given capabilities involves major individual mobility.  Living on the edge of a metro on a lake in the land of lakes and not in an apartment is an amazing thing. For one thing, no AC required. No one uptown or downtown on the light rail steps out their door and sail 5 miles on the first tack. (They drive to the lake and use gas powered boats.) Participating and connecting with people from all over in sports, music, politics, is an amazing thing.  Staying home is great (assuming it is heated with natural gas smiley) but freedom, affluence, and moving forward on quality of life also require serious levels of energy powered individual mobility IMHO.  We aren't out here commuting the same line from the same neighborhoods at the same times to the same job locations, as the mass transit model would suggest.
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bigdog
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« Reply #38 on: March 13, 2011, 02:09:02 PM »

According to this website, http://www.citymayors.com/statistics/largest-cities-density-125.html, which I selected because it was the first one I found (which makes it practically a scientific find  grin), the population density of the LA area ranks 90th in the world.  New York is 114. 

More over, I am not exactly sure why this came up.  I said something about walking to work.  I don't consider my legs public transportation.  Cars led to people moving away from where they work.  This is the reason why people needed more cars and drove farther each day.  I made a conscious choice (see that Doug?) to live close to work, rather than farther away. 

I did not, and would not, suggest coercive measures for this.  But for a country that wants to have energy independence from the rest of the world, this seems like a good way to go. 
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G M
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« Reply #39 on: March 13, 2011, 05:28:01 PM »

http://transportation.i2i.org/category/publications/

Colorado Transit: A Costly Failure

Public transit is often portrayed as a low-cost,
environmentally friendly alternative to auto driving.1
In fact, transit is much more costly than driving, and
requires huge subsidies to attract riders. Moreover,
transit systems in the vast majority of American cities
use more energy and emit more greenhouse gases than
the average car.2
For every dollar collected in fares from transit riders, the
average transit system in America requires more than
$2 from taxpayers for operating subsidies plus more
than $1 for capital improvements and maintenance.3
So it is not surprising that transit systems in Colorado
require large subsidies. What may be surprising is
that most are far less environmentally friendly than a
typical sports utility vehicle.
The Cost of Driving
Before looking at the cost of transit, it is useful for
comparison sake to calculate the cost of and subsidies
to driving. Americans drive for 85 percent of their
travel not because we are somehow addicted to
the automobile but because autos are both more
convenient and less expensive than most of the
alternatives. Unlike transit buses, trains, or airplanes,
automobiles make it possible for people to go where
they want to go when they want to go there.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis,
Americans spent $950 billion buying, operating, and
maintaining their cars and light trucks (including pick
ups, SUVs, and full-sized vans) in 2008.4 That’s a lot
of money, but those cars and light trucks also carried
us nearly 4.5 trillion passenger miles, for an average
cost of less than 22 cents per passenger mile.5

*SNIP*

The Cost of Transit
By comparison, the national average cost of public
transit is more than 90 cents a passenger mile, more
than 70 cents of which is subsidized by non-transit
users. In Colorado, the costs are a little higher: $1.00
per passenger mile, $0.84 of which is subsidized.12
Most transit agencies do not even pretend to try to
cover their operating costs, much less their capital
costs, with passenger fares. Colorado transit agencies,
for example, spent $419 million operating transit lines
in 2008, but collected only $97 million in fares.
In addition to the annual operating costs, transit
subsidies include the capital costs of buying buses and
other facilities. Capital costs fluctuate tremendously
from year to year as transit agencies receive federal
grants to replace large segments of their bus fleets in
some years and make few capital purchases in other
years.
The Federal Transit Administration has published cost
data for every transit agency from 1992 through 2008,
providing 17 years’ worth of capital cost data.13 After
adjusting for inflation, the average of these 17 years
provides a reasonable approximation of annual capital
costs for bus transit. In the case of Denver’s light-rail
system, actual capital costs of the existing system were
depreciated over 30 years at 7 percent, as directed by
Federal Transit Administration accounting rules.14
Annual capital costs and depreciation add another
$181 million to the cost of running Colorado transit,
meaning taxpayers lost $503 million per year on
transit systems in 7 Colorado cities. This does not
count the transit agency in Berthoud, which did not
submit sufficient information to the Federal Transit
Administration to calculate these numbers.
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G M
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« Reply #40 on: March 13, 2011, 05:35:28 PM »

http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2010/08/Meeting-America-s-Energy-and-Environmental-Needs

Solutions for America: Meeting America’s Energy and Environmental Needs
Published on August 17, 2010

 
THE ISSUE:

America needs an energy policy that promotes environmental sustainability and economic growth. Yet many Members of Congress and the Administration are promoting policies and promulgating regulations that centralize power in Washington—an approach that leads to the high prices, energy shortages, and foreign dependence that politicians use to justify their failed big-government policies. Americans should demand an energy policy that is rooted in the free market, builds on private property rights, and relies on the initiative and entrepreneurial spirit of the private sector. This will not only promote economic growth, but also help Americans to achieve their environmental objectives. Ultimately, it is economic prosperity, not government dictate, that provides the means to protect the environment.

THE FACTS:

    * Running Out of Oil? Three decades ago, proven world oil reserves were 645 billion barrels; five years ago, it was 1.28 trillion, and in 2009, it was 1.34 trillion. New, innovative technologies and sound policies to allow access will help to recover that oil and discover more. Unfortunately, the Administration’s policies are keeping much of this resource off-limits, which means higher prices and more dependence.
    * Energy Subsidies and Mandates. Solar and wind receive subsidies of over $23/Mwh (megawatt hour) compared with $1.59/Mwh for nuclear, $0.44/Mwh for conventional coal, and $0.25/Mwh for natural gas. This does not include the $27.2 billion allocated in the 2009 “stimulus” bill for energy efficiency and renewable energy research and investment. Congress mandated that renewable fuels be mixed into the gasoline supply and required production of 36 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022. Energy subsidies and mandates reduce competition, inflate prices, and stifle technological innovation, and Americans have to pay twice for the subsidies: first through higher taxes and second with higher energy prices.
    * Access to America’s Natural Resources. The federal government owns and controls 650 million acres of land in the United States, including large portions in the western U.S. For instance, the federal government owns approximately 85% of the land in Nevada, 69% of Alaska, 57% of Utah, and 53% of Oregon. The federal government does not adequately maintain its land, much of which could be put to much more productive use like ranching, mining, or forestry through private ownership.
    * Affordable Electricity. The science behind global warming is anything but certain, but one thing is certain: The policies to cap carbon dioxide and mandate “clean” energy production are very expensive. The cap and trade bill passed by the House of Representatives would result in 1.9 million fewer jobs in 2012, $9.4 trillion in lost economic growth from 2012–2035, and a 90% increase in the price of electricity by 2035. Proposals for a renewable electricity mandate, which would require 20% of our nation’s electricity (currently at 3%) to come from government-picked renewable sources, are not much better. They would destroy over one million jobs (on net), cut national income (GDP) by $5.2 trillion between 2012 and 2035, and increase electricity prices 36%. Neither policy would have any noticeable environmental impact, but both would result in more government control of the economy and thus more lobbyists flooding the halls of Congress to pursue their special interests.
    * Nuclear Power. The U.S. gets 20% of its electricity (and 70% of its emissions-free electricity) from 104 nuclear power plants. Further, at less than two cents per kilowatt hour, nuclear energy is among the least expensive electricity produced in the U.S. and also, with no injuries or deaths as a result of commercial nuclear energy in the U.S., among the safest. Yet due to an onerous regulatory burden and the federal government’s failed strategy to manage nuclear waste, no new plants have been permitted in over three decades.

THE SOLUTIONS:

    * Expand Onshore Oil Production into Previously Restricted Areas, including Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where an estimated 10 billion barrels of oil—16 years of current imports from Saudi Arabia— lie beneath a few thousand acres that can be accessed with minimal environmental impact.
    * Open America’s Outer Continental Shelf to Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration. Offshore drilling bans prevent exploration in about 85% of our coastal waters. A reinvigorated offshore and onshore energy program could create 113,000 to 160,000 new jobs by 2030.
    * Peel Back All Energy Subsidies. The federal government must stop picking winners and losers in the energy sector. Subsidies create complacency within the industry and reduce the incentive to innovate. In most cases, subsidies either transfer part of the cost for a market-viable investment to the public or divert direct investment away from more efficient projects. They distort the market and cost the many for the benefit of the few. Freeing energy industries from all government subsidies would allow companies to rely on innovation and efficiency, not taxpayer handouts, to remain competitive and allow competition among all energy sources, including renewables.
    * Reform the Offshore Oil and Gas Liability Regime. Congress should establish a liability and claims process that fully assigns risk of offshore oil and gas operations, allows for victims to be fully compensated, and protects companies from frivolous lawsuits. Such a regime should include a multi-tiered insurance and liability system that relies on private insurance to cover liability for normal operations and a voluntary insurance pool for liability exceeding $1 billion; an industry-funded organization governed by an independent board to reduce the likelihood of spills by setting and enforcing safety standards at individual sites, collecting safety data, sharing best practices, and working with government regulators; and a pre-positioned industry-funded preparedness and response capability, certified by an independent organization, to deal aggressively and effectively with accidents if they do happen, as well as a more robust and integrated federal oversight and national response.
    * Allow the U.S. Department of the Interior to Provide the Appropriate Lease Sales When Possible for Oil Shale. According to the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management, a moderate estimate of 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil from oil shale in the Green River Formation is three times greater than the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. The technology to collect and refine oil shale is developing at a rapid pace, and private companies are willing to invest in it. When the private sector demonstrates that oil shale is economically feasible and can be done safely, the DOI should allow commercialization to move forward.
    * Amend the Clean Air Act to Exclude Carbon Dioxide and Other Greenhouse Gases from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Purview. The Clean Air Act was never intended to regulate carbon dioxide, yet that is precisely what the EPA is attempting to do. The result would be that schools, farms, restaurants, hospitals, apartment complexes, churches, and anything with a motor—from motor vehicles to lawn­mowers, jet skis, and leaf blowers—could be subject to cost-increasing restrictions.
    * Introduce Market Principles into Nuclear Waste Management Reform. The federal government’s inability to fulfill its legal obligations under the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act has often been cited as a significant obstacle to building additional nuclear power plants. Given nuclear power’s potential to help solve many of the nation’s energy problems, now is the time to break the impasse over managing the nation’s used nuclear fuel.
    * Reform the Arduous Permitting Process for New Nuclear Power Plants. The first step is to create a permit schedule that reduces the current four-year timeline to two years for traditional reactors. Second, establishing an alternative licensing pathway for new nuclear technologies could help build the necessary regulatory support on which their commercial success ultimately depends.
    * Maintain the Yucca Option. Under any realistic nuclear waste management scenario, there will be a need for long-term geologic storage. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is currently reviewing the Department of Energy’s application for a permit to construct the repository at Yucca Mountain. Congress should fully support this process.
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G M
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« Reply #41 on: March 13, 2011, 06:03:01 PM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWDCUVhWbXU

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #42 on: March 13, 2011, 06:13:05 PM »

We seem to be wandering a bit from the subject of this thread  smiley but we are dogs and we do that sometimes  grin

That said, nuclear needs to take into account the external diseconomies both actual and possible attendant to the technology.  Ask Japan, Russia, and Pennsylvania.
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G M
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« Reply #43 on: March 13, 2011, 06:26:34 PM »

Well, (fingers crossed) Japan seems to have it's nuclear situation contained, if not controlled with minimum impact. Russia' design and safety were typically negligent as expected from Soviet culture. 3 Mile Island seems overhyped to me.


http://pittsburgh.about.com/cs/history/a/tmi.htm

Three Mile Island - 25 Years Later

By Albrecht Powell, About.com Guide


"Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant"


On March 28, 1979, America experienced its worst nuclear accident - a partial meltdown of the reactor core at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Middletown, Pennsylvania. During the tension-packed week that followed, sketchy reports and conflicting information led to panic, and more than one hundred thousand residents, mostly children and pregnant women, fled the area.

    * Early on the morning of March 28, several water-coolant pumps failed on the second reactor at Three Mile Island (TMI-2), causing the reactor to overheat.

    * The reactor shut itself down eight seconds later, but the core temperature continued to rise because valves controlling the emergency cooling water were stuck closed.

    * Sixteen hours later, the core was finally flooded and its temperature brought under control. By this time, half of the core had melted, and part of it had disintegrated, although it was years before scientists actually discovered that a meltdown had occurred. TMI-2 had only been in operation for 90 days when the accident occured.

    * On March 30, later known as "Black Friday," rumors circulated about an uncontrolled release of radiation from the plant and Pennsylvania's governor ordered the evacuation of children and pregnant women living within 5 miles of the plant. Later, it was learned that the release had been planned to ease pressure within the system.

    * On April 2, 1979, five days after the meltdown, the crisis at Three Mile Island was officially declared to be over.

    * Although TMI-2's containment held and only minimal radioactive material was released, the reactor was heavily contaminated. No one could enter the plant for two years.

    * The TMI-2 reactor was eventually entombed in concrete and TMI-1 was restarted in 1986.

Impact of the Three Mile Island Disaster
A combination of equipment failure, human error, and bad luck, the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island stunned the nation and permanently changed the nuclear industry in America. Even though it led to no immediate deaths or injuries to plant workers or members of the nearby community, the TMI accident had a devastating impact on the nuclear power industry - the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not reviewed an application to build a new nuclear power plant in the United States since. It also brought about sweeping changes involving emergency response planning, reactor operator training, human factors engineering, radiation protection, and many other areas of nuclear power plant operations.

Health Effects of Three Mile Island
Various studies on health effects, including a 2002 study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh, have determined the average radiation dose to individuals near Three Mile Island at the time of the meltdown was about 1 millirem - much less than the average, annual, natural background dose for residents of the central Pennsylvania region. Twenty-five years later, there has been no significant rise in cancer deaths among residents living near the Three Mile Island site. A new analysis of health statistics in the region conducted by the Radiation and Public Health Project has, however, found that death rates for infants, children, and the elderly soared in the first two years after the Three Mile Island accident in Dauphin and surrounding counties.

Three Mile Island Today
Today, the TMI-2 reactor is permanently shut down and defueled, with the reactor coolant system drained, the radioactive water decontaminated and evaporated, radioactive waste shipped off-site to an appropropriate disposal site, reactor fuel and core debris shipped off-site to a Department of Energy facility, and the remainder of the site being monitored. The owner says it will keep the facility in long-term, monitored storage until the operating license for the TMI-1 plant expires on April 1, 2014, at which time both plants will be decommissioned.
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G M
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« Reply #44 on: March 13, 2011, 06:50:30 PM »

I think we can all agree that "areas of seismic activity" shouldn't have nuclear plant built there.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/12/japan-ministers-ignored-warnings-nuclear/print

Japan ministers ignored safety warnings over nuclear reactors

Seismologist Ishibashi Katsuhiko claimed that an accident was likely and that plants have 'fundamental vulnerability'

   
    * Robin McKie, science editor
    * guardian.co.uk, Saturday 12 March 2011 18.51 GMT
   

Fukushima nuclear power plant Fukushima's nuclear power plant is among several criticised by scientists as 'vulnerable'. Photograph: Sergey Dolzhenko/EPA

The timing of the near nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi could not have been more appropriate. In only a few weeks the world will mark the 25th anniversary of the worst nuclear plant disaster ever to affect our planet – at Chernobyl in Ukraine. A major core meltdown released a deadly cloud of radioactive material over Europe and gave the name Chernobyl a terrible resonance.

This weekend it is clear that the name Fukushima came perilously close to achieving a similar notoriety. However, the real embarrassment for the Japanese government is not so much the nature of the accident but the fact it was warned long ago about the risks it faced in building nuclear plants in areas of intense seismic activity. Several years ago, the seismologist Ishibashi Katsuhiko stated, specifically, that such an accident was highly likely to occur. Nuclear power plants in Japan have a "fundamental vulnerability" to major earthquakes, Katsuhiko said in 2007. The government, the power industry and the academic community had seriously underestimated the potential risks posed by major quakes.

Katsuhiko, who is professor of urban safety at Kobe University, has highlighted three incidents at reactors between 2005 and 2007. Atomic plants at Onagawa, Shika and Kashiwazaki-Kariwa were all struck by earthquakes that triggered tremors stronger than those to which the reactor had been designed to survive.

In the case of the incident at the Kushiwazaki reactor in northwestern Japan, a 6.8-scale earthquake on 16 July 2007 set off a fire that blazed for two hours and allowed radioactive water to leak from the plant. However, no action was taken in the wake of any of these incidents despite Katsuhiko's warning at the time that the nation's reactors had "fatal flaws" in their design.

Japan is the world's third largest nuclear power user, with 53 reactors that provide 34.5% of its electricity, and there are plans to increase provision to 50% by 2030. Unfortunately its nuclear industry is bedevilled with controversy In 2002 the president of the country's largest power utility was forced to resign after he and other senior officials were suspected of falsifying plant safety records. Nor is the nature of its reactor planning inducing much comfort.

The trouble is, says Katsuhiko, that Japan began building up its atomic energy system 40 years ago, when seismic activity in the country was comparatively low. This affected the designs of plants which were not built to robust enough standards, the seismologist argues.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #45 on: March 13, 2011, 07:23:10 PM »

Bigdog,  I sincerely hope my ramblings about my own views don't sound like I am attributing to you something you did not write.  I never mean to do that. 
-------------------
GM's point of density is the first criteria for mass transit but there are others. such as whether travel patterns have linear qualities.  That is not at all the case in our fully scattered metro.

GM/Denver study: Denver is 50% denser than our metro and far more linear (mountains run along one side of it) and the passenger cost is $1/mile mostly subsidized.  That is obscene.  One study of our LRT (MSP) suggested we could provide a new, leased Lexus to each person taking the train that didn't otherwise have a private vehicle option and save money over building low speed trains.

Accommodating more travel, not less, in cleaner smaller more efficient private vehicles (with room for your stuff) by free choice looks like the way forward to me.  CNG hybrids perhaps if NG is still legal. If a significant part of transportation is going to plug in, then the grid needs to expand capacity accordingly (coal, nuclear, wind) to support that.  Plug ins don't work in cold climates (or extremely hot ones).  If it isn't a national strategy then it shouldn't be a federal subsidy. 
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I recently watched a convoy of trucks, at least 8 of them,  delivering one giant wind turbine across central Nebraska.  I would argue that the buildout, until fully in place, of going from 0% to 2% to 20% of electricity from wind sources will be a net increase, not a decrease, in demand and use of oil for transportation and electricity (coal, nuclear) for manufacturing. 
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Heritage is on the right track.  We need progress now on quite a number of fronts.  Our economy shouldn't be jostled every time a Mullah or a Muammar has a screw come loose.
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Crafty,  IMO hard to accept the need for nuclear without working through the need for abundant energy and the limitations of the alternatives. Only coal offers similar KW capability today for example.  Remove nuclear and we get more coal, more mining issues, more CO2 emission, more train loads blocking traffic etc., or get economic meltdown IMO.  The likelihood of anything like a 9.1 earthquake where I live or across most of this country (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/states/us_damage_eq.php) simply isn't measurable.  The map may explain why Calif power companies own part of an AZ nuclear plant.  Japan is like Calif only worse I suppose. http://www.mapsofworld.com/japan/earthquakes-history.html   Still I doubt Japan can or will move entirely away from nuclear after this horrific disaster begins to pass.

I am all ears to hear a better energy mix that works today with nuclear removed. 
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bigdog
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« Reply #46 on: March 13, 2011, 08:00:58 PM »

GM: "I think we can all agree that "areas of seismic activity" shouldn't have nuclear plant built there."  This was the point of my original post.  I was talking about my concern with a second power plant that has been considered in an area with a major fault line.

Also, I am about to listen to the YouTube video you posted.  Thanks for the link, and for the information on CO and TMI. 

Doug: You've not offended me.  I just wanted to be clear.  I was also a bit more curt than I intended.  I was trying to call your attention to the point not "call you out."  Incidentally, Heritage does lots of interesting things.  I've even sent a student there as intern.  She had a great summer, and met, among many others Laura Ingraham and Bob Barr. 

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bigdog
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« Reply #47 on: March 13, 2011, 08:04:29 PM »

http://money.cnn.com/2011/03/13/news/economy/nuclear_power_plants/index.htm?hpt=T1

Note the magnitude of earthquake the reactors are built to withstand. 
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G M
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« Reply #48 on: March 13, 2011, 08:16:05 PM »

I wonder what the nuclear power plants located near the New Madrid Seismic Zone are rated for?  undecided
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bigdog
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« Reply #49 on: March 13, 2011, 09:07:42 PM »

GM: According to the economist, Robert Michaels, in the video, the wind energy lobby American Wind Energy Association is "right up there" with lobbying efforts of the oil industry.  He was wrong:

AWEA gave less the $250,000 in 2009-2010.  This was the top contributor in the alternative energy industry (http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=E1500)

The top 20 oil contributors ALL gave more than AWEA in the same time frame: http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=E01

Also, I couldn't anything on the New Madrid plants' construction strength, except for one local broadcast assuring residents that a local plant was safe. 
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