Au revoir, Areva?

EDF is building an Areva EPR reactor at  Flamanville, France. Like all Areva nuclear projects these days, it's not going well.

EDF is building an Areva EPR reactor at Flamanville, France. Like all Areva nuclear projects these days, it’s not going well.

The giant French nuclear reactor manufacturer Areva is in serious trouble. According to several reports published today (here’s one from New York Times,  here’s one from Reuters), publicly-traded shares in Areva dropped 15% yesterday. That plunge doesn’t in itself affect Areva as much as it would other companies, since only a small portion of Areva’s shares are publicly-traded–the French government owns 87% of the entity. Continue reading

Nuclear Matters moves further from reality

A Greenpeace blimp hovers near the Vermont Yankee reactor, now coasting toward its permanent shutdown--much to Nuclear Matters' chagrin.

A Greenpeace blimp hovers near the Vermont Yankee reactor, now coasting toward its permanent shutdown–much to Nuclear Matters’ chagrin.

The very creation by Exelon of Nuclear Matters, an astroturf group devoted to keeping existing nuclear reactors operating at any cost, was a sign of the desperation that characterizes much of the nuclear power industry today, especially those utilities that bet the most on nuclear power several years back and are now faced with the reality that their bets were a fool’s hand. These utilities got played–by an environment in which competing energy sources, especially cleaner renewable energy sources–have become cheaper than the nuclear electricity provided by obsolete 20th century atomic reactors. And that environment is only going to become less hospitable to the nuclear utilities. Continue Reading

Exelon wins a round

Exelon's Ginna reactor, on Lake Ontario. Photo from IAEA.

Exelon’s Ginna reactor, on Lake Ontario. Photo from IAEA.

Yesterday, the New York Public Service Commission voted unanimously to require the upstate utility Rochester Gas and Electric (RGE) to enter into negotiations with Exelon to keep the company’s uneconomic Ginna reactor from shutting down this year.

Exelon subsidiary Constellation Energy, which runs the Ginna reactor, says the reactor has lost $100 million over the past three years and that while it is currently selling power on the open market, it is losing money there. Continue reading

The Inconvenient Truth in the US-China Climate Pact?

Rooftop solar in Qingnan village of Lianyungang, China.

Rooftop solar in Qingnan village of Lianyungang, China.

China’s government tends to be ruled by a high degree of economic realism. The national economy comes first and has largely trumped other considerations, such as the environment, human rights, democracy, global public opinion, etc. The decision to enter into the climate pact with the U.S., to the extent that China intends to honor it (and there is no indication at this stage that it does not), suggests that it has to give serious consideration to how it will meet the lofty objective implied by the commitment to provide 20% of its total energy supply through low-carbon generation sources by 2030. It is being reported widely that this objective equates to China installing as much low-carbon generation as the entire current U.S. electricity production from all sources. Continue reading

On awards and elections

Michael Mariotte and daughter Zoryana receive lifetime achievement award from Ralph Nader, November 10, 2014.

Michael Mariotte and daughter Zoryana receive lifetime achievement award from Ralph Nader, November 10, 2014. In the background to the left is a poster signed by all the musicians involved in the 2011 No Nukes concert in Mountain View, California. Wow! What a gift!

I haven’t posted anything on GreenWorld in a week. I feel bad about that, but I’m not going to apologize. I’ve been a little bit busy….

You see, some little while ago, I don’t actually know when, someone (I’m assuming the NIRS staff and board, but I don’t really know that either) decided I should receive a lifetime achievement award for my work at NIRS. And these crafty organizers got 14 organizations to join in the fun and sign on to this award without me hearing even a whisper about it, which made feel out of the loop I’ll tell you. Continue reading

Mobile Chernobyl, Yucca Mountain and climate change denial…elections matter

Artwork by Margaret Matson.

Artwork by Margaret Matson.

There will be a lot of post-election analysis from every possible angle over the next several days. We might supply some more too, but here is our first take as stated in a letter to our members sent today.
November 5, 2014

Dear Friends,

The election is over and yes, things have changed–and not for the better. Elections do matter.

Consider this little diatribe from Sen. James Inhofe, released on Monday:

“The idea that our advanced industrialized economy would ever have zero carbon emissions is beyond extreme and further proof that the IPCC is nothing more than a front for the environmental left….At a time of economic instability and increased threats to American interests, the IPCC’s report is little more than high hopes from the environmental left.”

The IPCC is of course, the international panel of climate change scientists. The scientists who know what they’re talking about. Sen. Inhofe is not a scientist, nor an expert in any environmental matters. Nonetheless, in January Sen. Inhofe is set to replace Sen. Barbara Boxer as chair of the Senate Environment Committee. What did we say about elections mattering?

With a large cadre of climate change deniers like Sen. Inhofe now in control of the U.S. Congress, we can expect to see new efforts to block the Obama Administration’s plans–modest though they may be–to reduce carbon emissions.

Those plans, embodied in the EPA’s Clean Power Plan proposal, contain unacceptable support for nuclear power. And we need to change that. But we also need to say clearly that we support the proposal’s attempt to reduce carbon emissions. After all, what we all want is a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system.

So we have rewritten our sample comment letter to the EPA to make clear that we support the carbon reductions–and believe they should actually be increased–but vigorously oppose any support for nuclear power.

The December 2 comment deadline is drawing near. About 5,000 of you have sent in comments to the EPA so far on this issue. We can–and must–do better than that. Whether or not you already have sent in comments, please act now–with our new letter necessitated by yesterday’s election. It’s critical. And please help us spread the word–if we’re going to win this battle, we need thousands more comments in.

But that’s not all. Here’s a headline from Bloomberg News today: “Nuclear Power, Banks Seen Gaining in Republican Congress.”

Yep, nuclear power and bank bailouts are right at the top of the Republican agenda. We all have our work cut out for us. Fortunately, with your activism and support, we’re up for the task.

With Nevada Sen. Harry Reid deposed as Majority Leader, one thing we will certainly see next year is an effort to resusitate Yucca Mountain as a permanent nuclear waste dump–despite its litany of documented flaws. More immediately, expect a revival of the old plan for “consolidated interim storage” of high-level radioactive waste. That’s the one that would send tens of thousands of radioactive waste casks on trucks and trains across the country to a temporary storage site–basically a glorified parking lot–just because nuclear utilities want to get that waste off their sites. It’s not a solution to our radioactive waste problem; it’s an effort to sweep it under the rug.

But we’ve successfully beat back this concept before, in the 1990s–also with a Democratic President and Republican Congress. We coined the phrase “Mobile Chernobyl” and it stuck. Because at its essence, it’s accurate. A serious accident involving one or more high-level waste casks would be a disaster. And the odds of a serious accident when that many casks are on our roads and railways are frighteningly high.

That Congress passed “interim storage” legislation. Following one of the largest public organizing and mobilization campaigns we’ve ever undertaken, President Bill Clinton vetoed it. And his veto was sustained by one vote.

With your support, we can win this again.

The players on Capitol Hill may have changed, but our resolve hasn’t. We intend to win these battles, and the others we’ll face in the future. It’s what we’ve been doing since 1978, and we’re not stopping now.

Michael Mariotte

November 5, 2014


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35 clean energy organizations urge DOE to end nuclear loan program

Seven years later, the DOE's $18.5 Billion nuclear loan program has paid only for this (the Vogtle reactors as of March 2014). And according to Southern Co. execs, the taxpayer loan wasn't even needed.

Seven years later, the DOE’s $18.5 Billion nuclear loan program has paid only for this (the Vogtle reactors as of March 2014). And according to Southern Co. execs, the taxpayer loan wasn’t even needed.

Today, 35 clean energy organizations from across the country submitted formal comments to the Department of Energy (DOE) urging it to end its nuclear loan program. The comments are in response to a DOE solicitation seeking to revive the failed program which, after seven years, has succeeded only in providing one loan to a nuclear project (the Vogtle reactors in Georgia) whose executives publicly said they didn’t need it and offering a loan to another project (Calvert Cliffs-3 in Maryland) for which it would have been illegal for its principal to receive it.  Continue reading