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Confusion and anxiety over UK’s energy policy

FT 15th June 2017 The UK’s second shock poll result in a year has created fresh political
uncertainty and renewed concerns over climate and environment policies
following Brexit.

Countless important decisions had already been put firmly
on the backburner before the June 8 election, as ministers’ time was
consumed by the arduous complexities of Brexit. They include the question
of how the UK will fund wind farms and other forms of clean energy after
2020, and the future of the coal power-killing carbon tax that some
manufacturers are lobbying to end, not to mention how the UK will meet its
own domestic climate goals.

The decision to leave the EU has exacerbated this gridlock and raised fresh uncertainties about the future shape of
green regulations for investors and companies. These include:Will the UK
still try to abide by EU air pollution standards the government has failed
to meet, despite being repeatedly dragged to court by environmental
lawyers? How will the UK replace Euratom, the pan-European nuclear energy

June 19, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Scotland’s greenhouse emissions from energy have fallen, but transport still a big emitter

Herald 16th June 2017, Sarah Beattie-Smith, Senior Climate and Energy Policy Officer, WWF
Scotland: THIS week the Scottish Government announced that it hit the
annual target for cutting climate changing emissions. The news that
emissions fell by three per cent from 2014 to 2015 was welcomed by us and
many other environmental groups.

It’s yet more evidence that we can meet ambitious targets and it should drive even stronger action to embrace the
benefits of a low-carbon Scotland – from cleaner air to job creation and
from improving health to cutting fuel poverty. The hit target shows that
real progress has been made on waste and on energy, particularly on
renewables, which now meet more than half of Scotland’s electricity demand.

That progress means that, for the first time, the energy sector is no
longer the biggest emitter.

That unwelcome honour now falls to transport –
a sector where emissions have barely changed in 30 years. Indeed, emissions
from transport went up by 0.4 per cent in 2015, largely due to increased
road traffic. Such poor progress on emissions underline the urgent need for
bold, transformative action.

Across the world, other nations are setting high ambitions on switching from polluting fossil-fuelled cars to low or
zero-carbon electric vehicles. In India, a target has been set to end the
sale of new petrol and diesel cars in favour of 100 per cent electric
vehicles by 2030. In Norway, that target is for 2025. In Scotland, our goal
is to phase out just half of fossil-fuelled vehicles by 2030, and only in
urban environments. That equates to only 27 percent of new cars being
electric by 2030.

If Scotland is to retain its reputation as a world leader
on climate change, we need to at least keep up with other nations, if not
exceed their ambition.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

Hinkley C nuclear station; a very poor bet for jobs

Morning Star 16th June 2017, Ian Fairlie: THE Labour Party’s recent election manifesto says a Labour
government would support nuclear power as part of a low-carbon energy mix and that it would continue to support Hinkley C. The reason is that Jeremy Corbyn needs trade union support and some major unions think that nuclear
power will furnish many jobs.

But this is a myth, a shibboleth. The real situation is that renewable energy already provides far more jobs than
nuclear does now, and will provide far more jobs more quickly than nuclear ever would — even if current government plans were to succeed. The problem is that promoting nuclear power diminishes the prospects of creating new jobs in renewable energy industries — eg in establishing a large offshore wind manufacturing base.

Let’s look at the Hinkley C site, for example. Although about 4,500 jobs would exist each year during the
main phase of construction, EDF has admitted most would be temporary and filled by overseas workers. And if it were ever completed, it would only employ 900 workers. In fact, Hinkley C would be a remarkably poor bet for Britain and British unions, as industry insiders expect 90 per cent of the work at Hinkley, and all high-tech work, would go to French firms. For example, in 2013, EDF Energy completed a very large gas-fired power station at West Burton in Nottinghamshire where 100 per cent of the engineering contracts — even the concrete — went to French firms.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | employment, UK | Leave a comment

France: nuclear power gets special privileges – undermining credibility of the Green Energy Minister Nichals Hulot

Dave Toke’s Blog 15th June 2017, The French Government’s announcement that it will legislate for a carbon floor price of 30 euros per MWh marks a dramatic turn in EU energy markets which will now be shifted to favour nuclear power above renewables. This is because just over half of nuclear power generated in the EU come from reactors in France, whereas less than 10 per cent of EU renewable energy production comes from France.

The fact that nuclear power is being given special privileges undermines the policy credibility of the Green Energy
Minister Nichals Hulot who has just been appointed by President Macron.

Given that three-quarters of electricity in France comes from nuclear power, and very little from fossil fuels, this measure is a thinly disguised extra incentive for nuclear power, an incentive that the large bulk of renewable generation in the EU will not be able to receive.

Only the UK has a carbon floor price, which is around 17 per cent lower than the proposed French one. A case in point is Germany, which generates a third of the wind power in the EU. German electricity wholesale power prices are
relatively low – much lower than in the case of the UK for example, and there are fears that some windfarms will no longer be economic after their feed-in tariff contracts end after 2020. But they would be likely to stay online of they had access to the carbon floor price being set in France.

There is no carbon floor price in Germany. Macron seems, in energy at least, to be continuing ‘business as usual’ in letting EDF run the French state. The French Government has effectively ploughed several billions into bankrupt nuclear generators AREVA and also injected money to EDF through a ‘share flotation’ (EDF is 85 per cent owned by the French Government) that seems associated with building Hinkley C power station.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

Flamanville nuclear reactor: EPR pressure vessel does not comply with safety regulations

Capital 15th June 2017, [Machine Translation] Documents from the Institute of Radiation Protection
and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) show that the EPR pressure vessel does not pass a strength test. It would therefore not be in compliance with the regulations, contrary to what is being said.

Areva and EDF play a major part of their economic future this month. First session today: As the Echos recall, the High Committee for Transparency and Information on Nuclear Safety meets to discuss the safety of the EPR nuclear reactor vessel built by Areva on behalf of a group of companies, EDF in Flamanville.

At the end of June, it will be up to the Permanent Expert Group on Nuclear Pressure Equipment (GPESPN) to assess its working. It will examine the findings of another body: the Institute of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), the
technical expert of the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN).

A technical note published by IRSN last April, but until now completely unnoticed, shows that the pressure vessel does not comply with the regulation of nuclear equipment under pressure. And poses a major safety problem. Hidden in the
middle of a mass of documents put online, it is dated September 2015 and signed by Gérard Gary, a nuclear physicist, research director emeritus ex-CNRS attached to the laboratory of solid mechanics of the Ecole

June 19, 2017 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Exponential production of radioactive trash – with no solution in sight

France Culture 15th June 2017 [Machine Translation] It’s not eternity, but it’s like it. Hundreds of
millions of years. We leave a poisoned gift to a humanity of the future of which we know nothing. Neither their language, whether they are hordes in rags armed with cudgels or a peaceful technological civilization in the
apogee, knowing how to recycle this radioactive waste …

It is hardly if we decipher the intentions of the civilizations Maya or Egyptian women far away from us by a few thousand years ago …

Reprocessing, vitrification, burial, so many ways to admit that we have not found any really satisfactory solution for our radioactive waste bins. Waste is produced exponentially, and we do not know what to do with it. Neither fuel rod waste nor dismantling tanks, accidentally or unintentionally contaminated water, or radioactive drums that have been thrown randomly on land and in the seas.

Not for eternity, no, but for so long a time that it is, even in thought, unimaginable. Engineers then find themselves with the responsibility of having to think about deeply anthropological issues, which clearly go beyond them.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nevada files lawsuit against Texas over moves toward licensing Yucca Mountain for nuclear waste dump

Nevada sues Texas for trying to kick-start Yucca Mountain funding, by Associated Press LAS VEGAS (AP) —  Nevada wants a federal appeals court to dismiss a bid by the state of Texas to kick-start government funding and licensing for a long-fought plan to entomb the nation’s most radioactive waste in the desert outside Las Vegas.

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval on Wednesday called his state’s filing against a Texas lawsuit pending before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals an important step in Nevada’s effort to prevent burial of 77,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain.

Congress approved Yucca Mountain for nuclear waste storage in 2002, over Nevada’s objection.

It then cut off funding after former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid became Democratic majority leader in 2007.

Nevada notes the Trump Administration is already seeking $120 million from Congress to restart the licensing process.

It accuses Texas of trying to usurp the budget process.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Washington subcommittee passes bill on licensing f Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site in Nevada

Bill to expedite Yucca Mountain licensing clears 1st hurdle,  Martin Review-Journal Washington Bureau, June 15, 2017 WASHINGTON — A bill to expedite the licensing and development of Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site in Nevada was passed by a subcommittee Thursday, clearing the first hurdle for legislation expected to be taken up in the House this year.

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on environment approved the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act on a voice vote. The bill now goes to the full committee for approval…..

Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., who is not on the committee, attended the hearing and spoke on the House floor later to denounce the bill as one that ignores serious challenges from Nevada, which has denied the federal government water rights to develop the site.

Titus said the bill “usurps the state’s water rights, one of our strongest legal defenses against the repository.”

During the hearing, the ranking Democrat on the panel, Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., agreed. He said the bill as written would “essentially override the state of Nevada’s objection over its water rights.”

Tonko said that would also draw opposition from lawmakers in other Western states, where water rights have been a long source of contention…..

The House bill mirrors the Trump administration call for a restart of licensing for Yucca Mountain. The president included $120 million in his budget blueprint for fiscal year 2018, which begins Oct. 1.

The Department of Energy first sought an application for a license with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to develop and operate Yucca Mountain in 2008. The DOE tried to withdraw the application in 2010 and President Barack Obama defunded the program in 2012.

More than $15 billion has been spent studying the site and preparing for the licensing procedure, which includes adjudication of legal challenges.

200 challenges

Nevada has filed more than 200 challenges, mostly citing safety over groundwater and transportation issues.

Titus on Thursday handed lawmakers a state-produced research paper that showed moving nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain would cross through 329 congressional districts nationwide by rail or highway.

Yucca Mountain licensing also faces legal challenges in U.S. circuit courts.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval this week reiterated his pledge that the state would oppose the Yucca Mountain project.

“The state of Nevada will continue to fight and defeat this dangerous project at every opportunity and in any venue,” Sandoval said in a statement……

June 19, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

New law in whistleblowing in France

Major Changes on Whistleblowing in France, Lexology 
Blog The Anticorruption Blog Squire Patton Boggs France June 16 2017

From January 1, 2018, there will be an obligation on almost all employers to implement reporting/whistleblowing schemes.

France has historically been very reluctant to support workplace whistleblowing, especially anonymously. Whistleblowing schemes were effectively only authorized in 2005 to permit US companies to comply with their SOX obligations. Those regulations were very restrictive, limited to employees and only in relation to certain legal breaches.

However, since December 2016, we now have a law relating to “transparency, the fight against corruption and modernization of business life,” also known as “Sapin 2.” This has introduced a number of changes, including the obligation to implement whistleblowing schemes and anti-corruption compliance programs.

Definition of Whistleblower

Sapin 2 Law defines a whistleblower (in French “lanceur d’alerte”) as:

  • Any individual (i.e., not limited to employees)
  • Acting in good faith
  • Reporting or revealing a crime, a serious and manifest breach to an international treaty, a serious breach of a law or regulation, or a serious threat or harm to the public interest
  • Of which he or she has personal knowledge……….

Principles Governing Reporting Schemes

  • Reporting schemes must protect the identity of the whistleblower, the identity of any person incriminated and the information collected. The disclosure of any of these details carries up to two years’ imprisonment and a €30,000 fine (€150,000 for corporations)……….

Breach of Secrecy by the Whistleblower

A whistleblower will not be liable for breaching a secrecy obligation by law provided that:

  • The disclosure is necessary and proportionate for the protection of the interests at stake, and
  • The reporting procedures provided by law are complied with

However, Sapin 2 does not allow a whistleblower to disclose information covered by doctor/patient or client/lawyer professional secrecy or national security.

No Retaliation

Whistleblowers are protected from retaliation in the hiring process, in terms of access to an internship or professional courses or in salary or otherwise. However, where the report is made in bad faith, the employee can:

June 19, 2017 Posted by | civil liberties, France | Leave a comment

European Commission approves Germany’s plan for funding radioactive waste management

Reuters 16th June 2017, The European Commission said on Friday it had approved Germany’s plan to
create a public fund to deal with radioactive waste. Germany intends to
take over the liabilities relating to management of radioactive waste and
spent fuel from nuclear power plant operators.

They would have to pay in about 24.1 billion euros ($26.9 billion). This is made up of a basic amount
equivalent to the provisions already set aside by the operators for this
purpose and a risk premium aimed at covering the risk of cost increases in
the future.

The Commission concluded that the move did involve state aid
because of uncertainties over the cost of a repository for waste and the
possibility of cost overruns. Germany regards the measure as necessary as
it seeks to phase out nuclear energy production by 2022.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Germany, Legal | Leave a comment