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The huge threat that air-conditioning poses to the global climate

Air conditioning is the world’s next big threat https://www.smh.com.au/business/markets/air-conditioning-is-the-world-s-next-big-threat-20190629-p522hd.html , By Chris Bryant, June 29, 2019  The vast majority of Americans and many Australians have air conditioning, but in Germany almost nobody does. At least not yet.

So when temperatures in Berlin rose to an uncomfortable 37 Celsius this week – a record for the month of June – I was uncommonly delighted to go to the Bloomberg office, where it’s artificially and blissfully cool.

By letting people in overheated climates concentrate on their work and get a good night’s sleep, air conditioning has played a big part in driving global prosperity and happiness over the past few decades – and that revolution has still barely begun.

About half of Chinese households have this modern tool, but of the 1.6 billion people living in India and Indonesia, only 88 million have access to air conditioning at home, Bloomberg New Energy Finance noted in a recent report.

For many, relief is in sight. Because of the combination of population growth, rising incomes, falling equipment prices and urbanisation, the number of air-conditioning units installed globally is set to jump from about 1.6 billion today to 5.6 billion by the middle of the century, according to the International Energy Agency.

That’s encouraging news for US manufacturers of cooling systems such as Carrier (United Technologies Corp), Ingersoll-Rand and Johnson Controls International.

And because much of this growth will happen in Asia, Chinese companies such as Gree Electric Appliances, Qingdao Haier, Midea Group and Japan’s Daikin Industries Ltd should be big beneficiaries.

There’s just one glaring problem: What will all this extra demand for electricity do to the climate?

Vicious cycle

Carbon dioxide emissions rose another 2 per cent in 2018, the fastest pace in seven years. That increase was alarming in its own right, given what we know about the unfolding climate emergency.

But the proximate cause was especially troubling: Extreme weather led to more demand for air conditioning and heating in 2018, BP explained in its annual review of energy sector.

It’s not too hard to imagine a vicious cycle in which more hot weather begets ever more demand for air conditioning and thus even more need for power. That in turn means more emissions and even hotter temperatures.

That negative feedback loop exists at a local level too. Air-conditioning units funnel heat outside, exacerbating the so-called “urban heat island” effect, which makes cities warmer than the countryside.

BNEF expects electricity demand from residential and commercial air conditioning to increase by more than 140 per cent by 2050 – an increase that’s comparable to adding the European Union’s entire electricity consumption. Air conditioning will represent 12.7 per cent of electricity demand by the middle of the century, compared to almost 9 per cent now, it thinks.

Thankfully, much of that extra demand will be met by solar power (the need for cooling is highest during daylight hours). But because temperatures don’t always return to comfortable levels when the sun goes down, there’s a danger some will be supplied by fossil power.

‘Passivhaus’ and LED revolution

Buildings have long been a blind spot in climate discussions even though they account for about one-fifth of global energy consumption. The inefficiency of air-conditioning systems or badly designed homes and offices simply aren’t as eye-catching as electric cars and making people feel ashamed about flying.

At least Germany’s “passivhaus” movement, a way of building homes that require very little heating or cooling, voluntary standard for energy efficiency in buildings, shows some people are starting to recognise the danger.

There are lessons to be learned from the world of lighting too. The LED revolution was spurred by innovation but also by better energy efficiency labelling on products and the phasing out of out-of-date technology. Something similar needs to happen with air conditioning.

There was a big step forward in January when the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol came into force. Though not well known, its aim is to phase out the use of potent greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons, which are used widely in air conditioning systems. Unless substituted, these alone could cause 0.4C of additional warming by the end of the century.

Yet true to form, President Donald Trump’s administration hasn’t yet submitted Kigali to the Senate for ratification, even though American manufacturers would benefit from demand for the new technologies that it would spawn.

Trump knows all about the importance of good air con. He spends much of his time at his Palm Beach country club, a place that couldn’t exist without it.

So he’d do well to remember this: You can air condition the clubhouse but not the golf course. And it’s starting to get awfully hot outside.

Chris Bryant is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies. He previously worked for the Financial Times.

July 1, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, ENERGY, Reference | Leave a comment

Nuclear reactors in France face temporary shutdown due to extreme heat

Heatwave may force nuclear power shutdown in France as cooling water runs out,  https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/06/30/heatwave-may-force-nuclear-power-shutdown-france-cooling-water/    30 JUNE 2019 

Drought and overheating of river water may force some of the nuclear power plants that supply two-thirds of France’s electricity to shut down temporarily in the wake of the European heatwave.

The extreme temperatures are beginning to abate, but shortages and excessive temperatures of river water needed to cool reactors are worrying EDF, the largely state-owned electricity company.

If the hot weather continues, households, offices and factories will require large quantities of electricity for air conditioning and ventilation.

River levels have fallen in eastern, central and southern France, the Journal du Dimanche newspaper reported on Sunday.

The Civaux nuclear plant is cooled by water from the River Vienne, now close to a historic low following the heatwave.

EDF uses two dams to augment the river water, but the local authority has complained that the company uses the river almost exclusively for its power station, jeopardising farming, drinking water supplies, leisure activities and tourism.

Residents of areas near the River Loire have made similar criticisms.

The Loire has four nuclear plants on its banks, but the local authority has reported water levels close to the historic lows registered during France’s terrible 2003 heatwave, blamed for 15,000 deaths, mostly elderly people affected by dehydration.

Last year, hot weather forced EDF to temporarily shut down three reactors in eastern France, at the Bugey power plant near the Swiss border, at its Saint-Alban plant on the Rhône, and at the Fessenheim plant near the German border.

The heatwave has revealed that France is ill-prepared to face extreme temperatures, according to green party leaders. The government is to unveil new measures to manage water resources this week.

A record high of 45.9 degrees Celsius was reached in the southern village of Gallargues-le-Montueux, near Montpellier, on Friday.

Three swimmers died of “thermic shock” from plunging into cool water, and a cyclist died after collapsing in the heat in the southern Vaucluse département.

In Spain, a British mountaineer was airlifted to hospital after suffering heatstroke.

The unnamed 48-year-old collapsed in the Western Pyrenees’ Baztan Valley and was taken to hospital in a serious condition.

July 1, 2019 Posted by | climate change, France | 1 Comment

No solution found to the nuclear issue, after European talks with Iran end

European Talks With Iran End, Leaving Nuclear Issue Unsettled,  NYT, By David E. Sanger, June 28, 2019   WASHINGTON — A last-minute effort by European powers to persuade Iran not to breach limits on its stockpile of nuclear fuel ended inconclusively on Friday, with the Iranians saying that Britain, France and Germany had made only modest progress in developing a system to get around tight American sanctions on trade with Tehran.

As he left the talks in Vienna, Abbas Araghchi, the Iranian deputy foreign minister, said he expected Iran would go ahead with its plan to break the ceiling on how much low-enriched uranium it was allowed to possess. That breach could come as early as this weekend, potentially setting off another confrontation with the Trump administration, after a week of recriminations and military threats following the downing of an American drone and attacks on tankers.

“It is still not enough, and it is still not meeting Iran’s expectations,” Mr. Araghchi told reporters, according to news reports from Vienna. …….

Breaking the stockpile limit would not, by itself, give Iran enough fuel to produce a nuclear weapon. But the European participants in the 2015 agreement have been urging the Iranians not to dispense with the accord, for fear that the Trump administration might react with a military or cyberstrike against the Iranians…….

The United States’ special envoy for Iran, Brian H. Hook, said this week that the sanctions have already cost Iran more than $50 billion…….https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/28/us/politics/europe-iran-nuclear-deal.html

July 1, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran doesn’t want to leave the nuclear agreement, calls on Europe for trade help

No Intention to Quit JCPOA Despite Nuclear Rollbacks  Financial Tribune, 29 June 19, Europe should take further measures to ensure that the special trade channel set up to keep trade with Iran afloat satisfies Tehran’s demands, a senior diplomat said on Saturday, while stressing that the country does not intend to leave the nuclear agreement.

“I personally believe that INSTEX, in its current condition, isn’t enough. This mechanism without money is like a beautiful car without fuel,” Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, told the media in New York, IRNA reported.

In early May, a year after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, Tehran announced a decision to abandon some of its commitments under the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Iran would resume higher uranium enrichment in 60 days if the remaining signatories fail to make good on promises to shield its oil and banking sectors from the reimposed and tightened US sanctions.

On Friday, the European Union announced in a statement that the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges or INSTEX, the financial mechanism set up by France, Britain and Germany to facilitate some trade with Iran, is now operational and the first transactions are being processed. ….. (subscribers only) https://financialtribune.com/articles/national/98697/no-intention-to-quit-jcpoa-despite-nuclear-rollbacks

July 1, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Chernobyl military survivor reveals secrets

Secrets of Chernobyl spill out more than three decades after the nuclear disaster, By SERGEI L. LOIKO  sergei.l.loiko@gmail.com, JUN 30, 2019| CHERNOBYL, UKRAINE  [good photographs on original]

The measuring device was sounding off loudly on that night 33 years ago, not because of the convoy’s cargo — 30 antiaircraft missiles, three of them tipped with nuclear warheads — but because of where and when the post-midnight parade had kicked off: at the Chernobyl air defense missile base just three days after the explosion of a reactor at the adjacent Chernobyl nuclear power plant that had sent enough radioactivity spewing into the air that it at one point had the potential of poisoning much of Eastern Europe.

Chershnev knew that the missiles, the trucks and his crew were badly contaminated and that they should not have been ordered to drive through a city of more than 2 million people. But there was no bypass road at the time — and orders were orders. What Chershnev didn’t know in the early hours of the morning of April 30, 1986, was that a radioactive cloud had already caught up with them and blanketed the city on the eve of its annual May Day festivities.

The reaction to HBO’s recent “Chernobyl” miniseries has been almost as far-reaching as the initial tragedy and has spurred a daily line of buses packed with foreign tourists at the gate of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, which extends for 20 miles around the plant. But Chernobyl still boasts secrets more than three decades later, including the story of Chershnev and his charges — a saga of dysfunction and disregard for human life that lays bare conditions in the waning years of the Soviet Union.

When the red alert sounded, Chershnev, then the deputy commander and chief engineer of the Kiev Air Defense Brigade, was responsible for the readiness of weaponry and equipment at the Chernobyl antiaircraft battalion’s base in a massive in-ground bunker with 10-inch-thick, rusty metal doors.

These days, the site also features a 10-yard-long missile launcher’s towing trolley, half-buried in silver moss, the former walls of a second smaller bunker surrounded by dense pines and a vast carcass of barracks with missing floorboards, dilapidated walls and a mural of a Soviet soldier cheerfully calling upon comrades to defend the motherland.

Seventy officers and men — ill-informed, unprotected and exposed to deadly radiation — were housed at the site along with the missiles back in 1986, under orders to arduously protect and save the weapons and structures rather than themselves.

The site included the nuclear plant and the Chernobyl over-the-horizon early warning radar station, a 500-meter-long, 150-meter tall installation designed to detect strategic missiles launched from the United States. The now-rusty structure still towers over the area and is a major tourist attraction, a frightening monument to the Cold War that even the complex‘s normally fearless marauders have not attempted to cut into pieces to sell as scrap metal outside the zone, a routine business in these parts.

In the aftermath of the 1986 explosion — as the government evacuated more than 50,000 residents from the town of Pripyat, including the families of nuclear plant workers, plus more than 75,000 residents of nearby villages — the men of the Chernobyl air defense unit stayed put until they received fresh orders.

“Three days after the explosion, on April 29, I arrived at the base with 30 heavy trucks and we loaded on them 30 missiles from the storage hangars,” recalls Chershnev, who headed the evacuation effort. “Twenty-seven of them were conventional, but the other three were tactical rockets with nuclear warheads. We were to take them to a facility outside Boryspil, near Kiev.

“After that, we were ordered to go back and salvage the remaining equipment that could be dismantled.”

The men traveled — without protective gear — for 14 hours at speeds lower than 20 mph as radiation from the explosion leaked into the air.

Chershnev admits he knew the dangers but says he was a career officer and could not disobey orders………….

When Chershnev got back from that trip, he repeated the ritual of burning his uniform.

“No one in the world knows that we existed and what we went through,” he said. “And all for nothing. All so stupid and futile. We didn’t save anyone. We didn’t clean up anything.

“All those I personally know and have kept track of all these years are either badly sick like myself or dead by now. My driver who accompanied me on all the convoys was discharged and died at 28. My fellow deputy brigade commander, … who was also dealing with contaminated equipment, died [in 1995] of cancer. Warrant Officer Petro Pozyura went blind. And so on and so forth. I have a heart ailment and every year spend a couple of weeks in hospital.”

The cardiologist who has been treating Chershnev for the last few years once asked him to retrieve his Chernobyl-era medical records from the military. But Chershnev was told that the records no longer exist.

“Here I am on a pension with a monthly Chernobyl health compensation of about $11 a month,” he concluded bitterly. “It is not even enough to buy a bottle of decent vodka, let alone medicines.”

The official death toll related to the explosion is listed as 39, but out of the officially registered 3.2 million people who were exposed to radiation in Ukraine alone, 1.3 million have died in the last 33 years, said Vladimir Kobchik, a former Chernobyl cleanup worker who is now a leader of a group that aims to protect the rights of fellow survivors.

“For the last four years, the government of Ukraine has been allocating $70 million annually for the needs of the affected. That is $37 per person per year! Not a penny more! How many of those remaining 1.9 million people affected by Chernobyl are sick [and] we can’t even tell? The doctors will never tell you you are sick or dying because of radiation.”……… https://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-ukraine-chernobyl-secrets-20190630-story.html

July 1, 2019 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Putin talks of Russia, USA , resuming negotiations on nuclear arms reduction treaty

Putin says Russia, US looking into new nuclear talks https://www.dw.com/en/putin-says-russia-us-looking-into-new-nuclear-talks/a-4941635630 June 19, American and Russian diplomats are preparing the ground for possible nuclear disarmament talks, Russia’s Vladimir Putin has said at a G20 summit in Osaka. The two sides suspended the key INF treaty earlier this year.Moscow and Washington are mulling new talks on limiting their nuclear arsenals, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka on Saturday.

Putin was commenting on his meeting with US President Donald Trump the day before, most of which took place behind closed doors.

“We have tasked our respective foreign minister to start lower-level talks on [nuclear disarmament],” Putin said.

The talks, according to Putin’s comments carried by the Russian Interfax news agency, would be related to extending the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), which went into force in 2011 after talks between Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama and Russia’s then-President Dmitry Medvedev.

Fears of restarting nuclear race

The New START limits the number of deployed nuclear warheads ready to use on intercontinental missiles and heavy bomber bases to 1,550. The treaty also imposes various other restrictions to US and Russian nuclear capabilities. It is set to expire in 2021.

According to 2019 data provided by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, both the US and Russia currently have about 1,600 deployed strategic nuclear heads at their disposal. Russia has a total of 6,500 nuclear warheads, compared to 6,185 on the US side.

Russia’s Putin has repeatedly warned that the New START expiry date could signal a new nuclear arms race.

INF on the brink

On Saturday, he refused to give a timeline for the talks and said it was “too early to talk about” the likelihood of getting to an agreement.

Putin’s remarks come after the US accused Russia of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty by developing a new missile system.

The document, signed in 1987 between the US and the now defunct Soviet Union, prohibits the possessing and testing of short- and medium-range nuclear weapons.

Both Russia and the US have since suspended their participation in the accord. The US has pledged to pull out of the agreement if Russia is not in compliance by August 2 this year.

July 1, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

U.S. presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard spells out the danger of nuclear war

Was Tulsi Gabbard’s nuclear war warning during Democratic debate hyperbole, or all too real?   In a rapid-fire question-and-answer portion of the first Democratic presidential debate Wednesday evening, each candidate was asked about the greatest geopolitical threat to the U.S.   abc news, By LEE FERRAN Jun 27, 2019

“This suggests that things are as bad as they ever have been, but not worse,” said Wolfsthal, who sits on the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board.

July 1, 2019 Posted by | election USA 2020, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Washington State officials not happy about re-classification of nuclear waste

State and top fed official at odds over Hanford high level radioactive waste, Tri City Herald,  ANNETTE CARY,

A top Department of Energy official is fighting what he says are misconceptions about a new policy on which Hanford and other nuclear weapons complex waste must be treated and disposed of to the stringent standards required for high level radioactive waste.

The DOE undersecretary for science, Paul Dabbar, said as of now there is no change proposed for waste handled as high level at Hanford.

“We’re proposing nothing here,” he said. “We don’t have any plans to propose anything in Washington state.”

But key state of Washington officials are not buying his explanation……..

When the new DOE policy on classifying high level waste was announced earlier this month, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a joint statement that all options would be considered to stop “this reckless and dangerous action.”

STATE: HANFORD WASTE COULD BE RECLASSIFIED

Bellon said after the meeting with Dabbar that he claimed the new interpretation for high level waste currently only applies to certain waste in South Carolina.

But there was no exclusion for Hanford in the policy change as announced by DOE in the Federal Register, she said.  “So as it stands, the Federal Register notice could be used to make substantial and potentially harmful changes to the ongoing cleanup at Hanford,” she said.

She and other state leaders “are concerned that the Department of Energy’s high level waste reinterpretation will be a mechanism for it to do less than what is legally required,” she said.

Congress has passed laws that define high level waste that results from processing irradiated nuclear fuel if the waste is “highly radioactive.”

At Hanford, chemicals were used to separate plutonium from irradiated fuel at huge reprocessing plants for the nation’s nuclear weapons program from World War II through the Cold War.

The fuel reprocessing left 56 million gallons of radioactive and hazardous chemical waste stored in underground tanks until it can be treated for disposal, which is now handled as high level waste. In addition, an estimated 1 million gallons of the processing waste leaked or spilled into the ground in central Hanford.

DOE’s change of policy would allow waste from fuel reprocessing to be classified as low level waste if it can meet radioactive concentration limits set for low level waste and could be safely disposed of at a site other than a deep geological repository, as required for high level waste……..

DOE now is moving forward with an initial look at whether up to 10,000 gallons of recycled wastewater at Savannah River could be classified as low level radioactive waste rather than high level radioactive waste. As high level waste it must be turned into a stable glass form and stored until the nation has a deep geological repository, such as proposed at Yucca Mountain, Nev.

If the waste is classified as low level, it could be turned into a concrete-like grout form and disposed of off site, possibly at the Waste Control Specialists site for low level waste in Texas.

Dabbar said risk would be reduced by disposing of the waste sooner………..

FUTURE OF HANFORD ADVISORY BOARD

Protecting the Columbia River from the radioactive sludge has been one of the priorities of the Hanford Advisory Board, a board with representatives of Hanford workers, local residents, local governments, environmental groups and others that provide advice to DOE and its regulators on environmental cleanup.

It is among the federal advisory boards that DOE will be evaluating after a June 14 order by the president that all federal agencies evaluate the need for each of its federal advisory committees and disband at least a third of them to reduce costs and improve government efficiency.

Dabbar has had no DOE conversations on which of the many DOE boards may be cut, he told the Herald.

The Hanford Advisory Board would be considered in conjunction with the umbrella board for different DOE cleanup sites, the Environmental Management Site Specific Advisory Board. https://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/hanford/article231846798.html

 

July 1, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Despite Donald Trump, the G20 nations (except USA) are sticking to the Paris climate agreement

Guardian 29th June 2019 Theresa May has urged countries to be more ambitious in tackling the climate crisis after Donald Trump reiterated his determination to ditch the
Paris accord.
The prime minister led a session on the environment at the
G20 summit in Osaka, which will be one of her final appearances on the
world stage. In the G20 communique, which was agreed after many hours of
wrangling among the “sherpas”, who represent the group’s member states, 19
of the 20 reiterated their commitment to the Paris accord.
The final wording echoed a statement from the last G20 summit, in Buenos Aires, but
government sources suggested some countries, including the US, India and
China, had tried to water it down. The US president had sought to excise
the reference to the Paris agreement from the communique altogether, with
the help of several other countries, reportedly including Brazil and
Turkey. May said she was pleased there was a communique at all.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/29/g20-theresa-may-urges-countries-to-raise-climate-ambitions

July 1, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | 1 Comment

A grandmother explains the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change

Our Future || Caring for planet is a moral responsibility  https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6244511/caring-for-planet-is-a-moral-responsibility/?cs=14246 Thea Ormerod, 30 June 19   

July 1, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Russia threatens military response to any NATO action over nuclear-ready missile

Russia threatens military response to any NATO action over nuclear-ready missile

CNBC, JUN 26 2019  David Reid@CNBCDAVY   
  • NATO has said Russia’s SSC-8 missile violates terms of a 1987 missile treaty.
  • The alliance has said it will act to mitigate the Russian threat.
  • Russia has in turn said it would take “countervailing military measures.”
  • Moscow has said it will take “countervailing military measures” should NATO fulfil any threat related to Russia’s nuclear-ready cruise missile system.

    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday that Russia must dismantle the short-range system, or the alliance will be forced to respond, adding that NATO-member defense ministers would now look at next steps “in the event that Russia does not comply.”

    No detail is yet known over what NATO might do although Stoltenberg said the alliance would not engage in any arms race.

    According to the Kremlin-owned news agency TASS, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters Wednesday that NATO’s comments “reek of propaganda” and were falsely attempting to portray NATO’s threat as a “military and political response to Russia’s actions.”

    The translation of Ryabkov, provided by TASS, added that Russia would respond to any military action from the 29-nation alliance.

    “When these threats begin to materialize into real action, we will have to take countervailing military measures,” he said……… https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/26/russia-threatens-response-to-nato-over-nuclear-ready-ssc-8-missile.html?recirc=taboolainternal

July 1, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

NATO says it will act unless Russia destroys nuclear-ready missile

NATO says it will act unless Russia destroys nuclear-ready missile, CNBC, JUN 26 2019

KEY POINTS

  • NATO has said Russia’s SSC-8 missile violates terms of a 1987 missile treaty.
  • The U.S. says it will exit the treaty unless Russia stops their production.
  • But Russia has continued to develop and site the missiles within range of Europe.
  • NATO said Russia must destroy its short-range nuclear-ready cruise missile system, or the alliance will be forced to respond.

    The U.S. has previously said it will quit a decades-old missile treaty with Russia if the latter fails to destroy the missile, labeled the SSC-8 by NATO.

    The 1987 INF Treaty between the U.S. and Russia sought to eliminate nuclear and conventional missiles, as well as their launchers, with short ranges (310–620 miles) and intermediate ranges (620–3,420 miles).

    NATO has said the SSC-8 violates those terms and that Russia has been deploying the system at locations which could threaten countries across Europe.

    Speaking at a press conference in Brussels Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia had just five weeks to scrap the system and save the treaty…….. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/25/nato-says-russia-must-end-nuclear-ready-missile-ssc-program.html

July 1, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Ohio nuclear bailout Bill: utilities and other big-ticket political players want favors

Why House Bill 6 to bail out Ohio nuclear plants is likely headed to passage: Thomas Suddes  https://www.cleveland.com/opinion/2019/06/why-house-bill-6-to-bail-out-ohio-nuclear-plants-is-likely-headed-to-passage-thomas-suddes.html By -30 June 19, Predictions aren’t this corner’s strong point, but here goes: The General Assembly, barring the unforeseeable, will force Ohio electricity consumers to subsidize two northern Ohio nuclear power plants. That may not happen this weekend, or this coming week. But it will happen.

The only suspense: How much per month the subsidy bill, House Bill 6, will force each Ohio electricity customer to pay to keep open Lake County’s Perry and Ottawa County’s Davis-Besse nuclear plants, built by what’s now FirstEnergy Corp., but owned by the utility’s FirstEnergy Solutions unit, which plans to become an independent company.

Ohioans required to pay subsidies wouldn’t just be FirstEnergy customers, but also every Ohioan who gets electricity from DP&L, Duke or American Electric Power (AEP).

Some HB 6 backers claim that because the bill (depending on the version discussed) would cut some renewable energy, etc., costs that Ohio consumers already pay, it could make the nuclear subsidy, at worst, a wash for consumers – maybe even net savings. (Voters might want to get that in writing.) Still, these factors make HB 6’s passage a decent bet:

* The Republican-run House has passed it – with some Democratic votes.

* The bailout is pending in the GOP-run Senate, which, after ending its Hamlet act, will pass the bill.

* Gov. Mike DeWine, a Cedarville Republican, favors a bailout.

* Nuclear bailouts are underway in Democratic-run Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey and New York, arguably making bailouts cross-party.

The bill started in the House, led by Speaker Larry Householder, a Republican from Perry County’s Glenford. Politically speaking, he owes FirstEnergy big-time.

To pass HB 6, Householder crafted it to (a) appeal to as many House members possible and (b) persuade other electric utilities to support, or at least not fight, HB 6.

As to (a), the House-passed bill is said to net out the nuclear subsidy’s cost by stripping renewal energy, etc., mandates from current Ohio law. As to (b), the House-passed bill would help AEP, DP&L and Duke extend Ohio customers’ subsidies (now set to expire in four to six years) of two coal-burning power plants – one in Appalachian Ohio’s Gallia County, the other in Indiana.

Trouble is, the Senate’s (currently proposed) rewrite of HB 6 pulls the rug from under House tweaks – so much that AEP no longer supports HB 6, it told the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee. If that’s the bill senators send back to Householder, he’d have his hands full trying to win House agreement in Senate changes. Likelier, he’d call for a Senate-House conference, but Senate-House relations appear less than cozy right now.

Not that the Senate’s version is pro-consumer: “Fundamentally the bill remains a bailout of aging nuclear power plants, at public expense, for bankrupt FirstEnergy Solutions and its big Wall Street creditors,” Michael Haugh, of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, told the committee Thursday. The Consumers’ Counsel is the state agency that represents Ohio’s residential utility consumers.

But facts don’t necessarily kill bills. Some General Assembly members are all but duty-bound to side with contributors. After all, if someone takes you to the prom, you’re more or less expected to dance with him or her. Same thing happens in Columbus. FirstEnergy and Ohio’s other electric utilities are generous contributors to Statehouse campaigns. Whether your name is Fido or Rep. John Doe, it’s never a good idea to bite the hands that feed you. So legislators don’t.

And if you think otherwise, look at the Ohio Revised Code. Or agricultural pollution in the Maumee valley. Or the looming (and likely successful) bid by big retailers and plastic bag peddlers to forbid local governments from banning single-use plastic bags. Legislators may respect Old Glory and motherhood. But campaign donors they revere.

That’s why, at the Statehouse, when utilities and other big-ticket political players want favors, things can suddenly get … “bipartisan.” That calls to mind what Louisiana kingfish Huey P. Long said. He likened the two parties to a limited-menu restaurant: “They’ve got a set of Republican waiters on one side and a set of Democratic waiters on the other side. But no matter which set of waiters brings you the dish, the legislative grub is all prepared in the same Wall Street kitchen.”

July 1, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has concerns about the security of Sellafield’s plutonium

David Lowry’s Blog 28th June 2019 A week ago the UK national nuclear regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), released its annual report and accounts to zero media
attention. But embedded in its 164 pages was the following intriguing
revelation:

“Early in the reporting year, a number of security events
required us to apply regulatory attention to several of Sellafield Ltd’s
security investigations.” It then added: ” Appropriate lessons have been
identified and we will continue our regulatory focus on security culture
and on influencing improvements in the security competence of the internal
assurance function.

” Sellafield is a big nuclear site that, inter alia,
holds 140,000 kilogrammes of plutonium. A devastating warhead can be made
with just 5kgs. We cannot afford any serious security events at
Sellafield!

http://drdavidlowry.blogspot.com/2019/06/sellafield-security-questioned-by.html

July 1, 2019 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Warning to Australia’s Prime Minister: don’t blindly follow Bolton and Pompeo into war against Iran

Acting on Iran has painful shades of joining the US in Iraq The Age, Tony Walker, 1 July 19, Here’s a word of advice to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Unless he wants to risk a smudge on his reputation of the sort that accompanies John Howard to this day: don’t get involved in conflict with Iran beyond limited naval engagement in a Gulf peace-keeping role.

When we read that Canberra is open to joining an international effort to ratchet up pressure on Iran “in consultation with our allies and partners”, this invites disquieting questions.

If Morrison is talking about involvement in a “global coalition”, as described by the hawkish US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, then he might remind himself of what happened when Australia last lent itself to a so-called “Coalition of the Willing”.

That was 17 years ago in 2002 when John Howard – as one of the “three amigos” with Britain’s Tony Blair and Spain’s Jose Maria Aznar – joined George W. Bush in promoting a disastrous invasion of Iraq.

Only World War II, which absorbed one-third of American GDP, or $4 trillion in today’s dollars, has cost more than the Iraq debacle at $1 trillion (a total $2 trillion if Afghanistan is included).

These are the measurable costs in people, materiel and nation building. Incalculable are the ongoing costs of the destabilisation of the entire Middle East, and the empowerment of Iran…..

In a multi-year assignment in the Middle East I reported the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88); the first Gulf War (1990-1991), in which the US and its allies routed the Iraqi military; and the invasion of Iraq (2003). If I learned anything from those experiences it is that wars are easier to start than to finish. …..

Morrison is surrounded by a weak national security team. The national security committee of cabinet does not include one individual with credible security experience. …….

Morrison might remind himself that Canada’s then-prime minister, Jean Chretien, kept his country out of the Iraq war. The sky did not subsequently fall in on Ottawa.

All this is relevant today given that Morrison found himself last week in the presence over dinner of the two most hawkish members of the Trump administration. Secretary of State Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton both advocated air strikes against Iranian targets in retaliation for suspected Iranian attacks on gulf oil facilities before the President, at the 11th hour, called off military action.

Bolton has been an intemperate advocate of regime change in Tehran. In an interview with The Australian newspaper, Pompeo said Australia had a key role in a “global coalition”. What that means is anyone’s guess.

Morrison would be well advised not to be suckered into joining a counter-punch against Iran. His response to requests for any significant Australian military involvement should be emphatically: No. https://www.theage.com.au/world/middle-east/acting-on-iran-has-painful-shades-of-joining-the-us-in-iraq-20190628-p5227h.html

July 1, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment