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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

What a difference a word makes: Japan weakens its annual anti-nuclear resolution!

The omission of the word ‘any’ implies there could be a case of nuclear weapon use that would not cause inhumane consequences and therefore this type of use might be permitted”

“The Japanese draft resolution looks like one proposed by the United States or any other nuclear weapon states”

Japan waters down text of annual anti-nuclear resolution to imply acceptable use of nukes https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/10/21/national/politics-diplomacy/u-s-pressure-japan-waters-text-anti-nuclear-resolution/#.We0KUo-CzGg, BY MASAKATSU OTA KYODO Japan’s annual diplomatic effort to demonstrate its anti-nuclear credentials and create momentum for disarmament has run into a major obstacle in the form of its most important ally, as well as an atmosphere of division between states possessing atomic weapons and those without them.

A draft resolution recently proposed by the Abe government to the United Nations General Assembly was dramatically watered down under diplomatic pressure from the United States, government sources have revealed.

 Japan, the only nation to have been attacked with atomic weapons, saw the U.S. destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki with two atomic bombs 72 years ago. it has proposed a series of draft resolutions on nuclear disarmament to the General Assembly since 1994.

Last year, its proposed resolution was adopted at the assembly’s plenary session with support from 167 nations, including the United States, while China, North Korea, Russia and Syria opposed and 16 other nations abstained.

In the middle of October, Japan submitted a resolution titled “United action with renewed determination toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”

Close examination of the text has found a few major changes from past resolutions.

Since 2010, Japan has drafted annual resolutions that include the same common sentence, which emphasizes “deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.”

The phrase, “the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons,” has been a keyword used by international movements pursuing a denuclearized world in recent years.

In July, this anti-nuclear campaign culminated in the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations — the first international law that prohibits state parties from developing, testing, possessing and using nuclear weapons in any manner, including “threat of use.”

In the most recently proposed resolution, the government deleted the word “any” from the frequently used phrase, rendering it as “deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use.”

It seems a minor rhetorical change, but the deletion of “any” has raised concerns and sparked severe criticism from nuclear disarmament specialists in Japan.

“The omission of the word ‘any’ implies there could be a case of nuclear weapon use that would not cause inhumane consequences and therefore this type of use might be permitted,” professor Tatsujiro Suzuki, director of the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition at Nagasaki University, pointed out.

“It can’t be helped if Japan will be regarded (by the international community) as an unfit advocate for the abolition of nuclear weapons,” Suzuki said.

“The Japanese draft resolution looks like one proposed by the United States or any other nuclear weapon states,” said Akira Kawasaki, an International Steering Group member of ICAN, or the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

ICAN will receive the Nobel Peace Prize at the end of this year in Oslo for its worldwide grass-roots campaign for the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

During a recent interview, Kawasaki said “the deletion of ‘any’ is so problematic” that several nations which have supported Japan’s annual resolutions in the past may not become a cosponsor of the resolution this year.

That wold pose a serious setback for Japan, which has taken a leading position in the international disarmament based on its strong credentials.

Governmental sources suggested that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump opposes including the word “any” in the draft resolution, and that Japan made the concession to get Washington’s support for the document.

Trump has indicated a desire to accelerate the modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal in light of North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been deepening security cooperation with the United States and repeatedly requested more U.S. security assurances for Japan, including the “nuclear umbrella.”

Another conspicuous change in the latest Japanese resolution is that it urges only North Korea to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty without delay, rather than the eight nations it named for the previous resolutions.

Japan is a key advocate of accelerating the CTBT, which requires ratification by eight nations including North Korea, China and the United States. The U.S. Republican Party is widely known as a strong opponent of CTBT.

“Our new draft resolution is the result of policy considerations for creating a common ground between nuclear weapon states and nonnuclear weapons states for furthering a practical approach (toward nuclear abolition),” said one official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs without specifically explaining why they decided to make the notable changes in the draft resolution.

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October 23, 2017 Posted by | Japan, politics international, spinbuster, weapons and war | Leave a comment

AS UN Climate Change Conference draws near, Christian leaders demand implementation of Paris Agreement

The Paris Climate Change Agreement Explained

Christian leaders demand implementation of Paris Agreement ahead of climate change conference http://www.christiandaily.com/article/christian-leaders-demand-implementation-of-paris-agreement-ahead-of-climate-change-conference/61336.htm Lorraine Caballero Christian leaders from various countries have signed a letter demanding action on the Parish Agreement in 2015 as the next phase of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, draws nearer.

October 23, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Stresses on North Korea’s nuclear test mountain – becoming unstable?

After six tests, the mountain hosting North Korea’s nuclear blasts may be exhausted, SMH, Anna Fifield, 21 Oct 17 Tokyo: Have North Korea’s nuclear tests become so big that they’ve altered the geological structure of the land?

Some analysts now see signs that Mount Mantap, the 2200-metre-high peak under which North Korea detonates its nuclear bombs, is suffering from “tired mountain syndrome”.

The mountain visibly shifted during the last nuclear test, an enormous detonation that was recorded as a 6.3-magnitude earthquake in North Korea’s northeast. Since then, the area, which is not known for natural seismic activity, has had three more quakes.

“What we are seeing from North Korea looks like some kind of stress in the ground,” said Paul G Richards, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

“In that part of the world, there were stresses in the ground but the explosions have shaken them up.”

Chinese scientists have already warned that further nuclear tests could cause the mountain to collapse and release the radiation from the blast.

North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests since 2006, all of them in tunnels burrowed deep under Mount Mantap at a site known as the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility. Intelligence analysts and experts alike use satellite imagery to keep close track on movement at the three entrances to the tunnels for signals that a test might be coming.

After the latest nuclear test, on September 3, Kim Jong Un’s regime claimed that it had set off a hydrogen bomb and that it had been a “perfect success”.

After the latest nuclear test, on September 3, Kim Jong Un’s regime claimed that it had set off a hydrogen bomb and that it had been a “perfect success”.

Images captured by Airbus, a space technology company that makes earth observation satellites, showed the mountain literally moving during the test. An 85-acre area on the peak of Mount Mantap visibly subsided during the explosion, an indication of both the size of the blast and the weakness of the mountain.

Since that day, there have been three much smaller quakes at the site, in the 2 to 3 magnitude range, each of them setting fears that North Korea had conducted another nuclear test that had perhaps gone wrong. But they all turned out to be natural.

If the mountain collapses and the hole is exposed, it will let out many bad things.

Wang Naiyan, former chairman of the China Nuclear Society

That has analysts Frank V. Pabian and Jack Liu wondering if Mount Mantap is suffering from “tired mountain syndrome”, a diagnosis previously applied to the Soviet Union’s atomic test sites.

“The underground detonation of nuclear explosions considerably alters the properties of the rock mass,” Vitaly V. Adushkin and William Leith wrote in a report on the Soviet tests for the United States Geological Survey in 2001. This leads to fracturing and rocks breaking, and changes along tectonic faults.

Earthquakes also occurred at the US’ nuclear test site in Nevada after detonations there.

“The experience we had from the Nevada test site and decades of monitoring the Soviet Union’s major test sites in Kazakhstan showed that after a very large nuclear explosion, several other significant things can happen,” Richards said. This included cavities collapsing hours or even months later, he said.

Pabian and Liu said the North Korean test site also seemed to be suffering.

“Based on the severity of the initial blast, the post-test tremors, and the extent of observable surface disturbances, we have to assume that there must have been substantial damage to the existing tunnel network under Mount Mantap,” they wrote in a report for the specialist North Korea website 38 North.

But the degradation of the mountain does not necessarily mean that it would be abandoned as a test site – just as the United States did not abandon the Nevada test site after earthquakes there, they said. Instead, the US kept using the site until a nuclear test moratorium took effect in 1992.

For that reason, analysts will continue to keep a close eye on the Punggye-ri test site to see if North Korea starts excavating there again – a sign of possible preparations for another test.

The previous tests took place through the north portal to the underground tunnels, but even if those tunnels had collapsed, North Korea’s nuclear scientists might still use tunnel complexes linked to the south and west portals, Pabian and Liu said.

Chinese scientists have warned that another test under the mountain could lead to an environmental disaster. If the whole mountain caved in on itself, radiation could escape and drift across the region, said Wang Naiyan, the former chairman of the China Nuclear Society and senior researcher on China’s nuclear weapons programme.

“We call it ‘taking the roof off’. If the mountain collapses and the hole is exposed, it will let out many bad things,” Wang told the South China Morning Post last month……http://www.smh.com.au/world/after-six-tests-the-mountain-hosting-north-koreas-nuclear-blasts-may-be-exhausted-20171021-gz5ixm.html

October 23, 2017 Posted by | environment, North Korea, safety, weapons and war | Leave a comment

America’s Environmental Protection Agency gagging its own scientists on climate change

E.P.A. Cancels Talk on Climate Change by Agency Scientists https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/22/climate/epa-scientists.html  WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency has canceled the speaking appearance of three agency scientists who were scheduled to discuss climate change at a conference on Monday in Rhode Island, according to the agency and several people involved.

October 23, 2017 Posted by | civil liberties, climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Sellafield authorities play down the seriousness on chemical emergency at nuclear reprocessing site

Times 22nd Oct 2017, The emergency removal of unstable chemicals from Sellafield yesterday hasraised fresh concerns over safety at the nuclear site.

Army bomb disposal specialists were called to the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Cumbria
after a routine audit found canisters of potentially explosive solventsdating back to the early 1990s.

Officials sought to reassure the public that it was “not a radiological event” and that the solvents had been
safely destroyed in two controlled explosions. However, one expert who
spoke on condition of anonymity claimed that although the solvents were not
radioactive they had been kept in the main laboratory near far more
dangerous materials. “This substance was in a dangerous oxidised state and
if it had exploded in that location it had the potential to distribute
radioactive material over the site and beyond,” the engineer said.
“Sellafield appears to be downplaying the severity of it to the public.”

The chemicals are understood to include tetrahydrofuran, an organic solvent
that can become unstable when exposed to air. Sellafield Ltd, part of the
government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, said that after the
disposal the site was “working as it would be on any other Saturday“.
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/sellafield-chemicals-scare-defused-by-army-98pkzxcln

October 23, 2017 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment

How to get a $60 million payout – be an executive of a $9 billion failed nuclear project

Who gets $60 million when nuke project fails? SCANA execs with golden parachutes could, Myrtle Beach Online, BY AVERY G. WILKS  awilks@thestate.com  21 Oct 17 Top SCANA Corp. executives who led a failed nuclear project that cost S.C. power customers and shareholders billions could be paid roughly $60 million more if the Cayce-based company is sold in the aftermath of the V.C. Summer fiasco.

October 23, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, employment, USA | Leave a comment

Cyberattacks targeting nuclear facilities, an increasing threat

U.S. says cyberattacks have targeted nuclear, energy, aviation, water and critical manufacturing industries, Japan Times, 21 Oct 17  REUTERS – The U.S. government issued a rare public warning that sophisticated hackers are targeting energy and industrial firms, the latest sign that cyberattacks present an increasing threat to the power industry and other public infrastructure.

The Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation warned in a report distributed by email late on Friday that the nuclear, energy, aviation, water and critical manufacturing industries have been targeted along with government entities in attacks dating back to at least May.

 The agencies warned that hackers had succeeded in compromising some targeted networks, but did not identify specific victims or describe any cases of sabotage.

The objective of the attackers is to compromise organizational networks with malicious emails and tainted websites to obtain credentials for accessing computer networks of their targets, the report said.

U.S. authorities have been monitoring the activity for months, which they initially detailed in a confidential June report first reported by Reuters. That document, which was privately distributed to firms at risk of attacks, described a narrower set of activity focusing on the nuclear, energy and critical manufacturing sectors……..

The report said the attacker was the same as one described by Symantec in a September report that warned advanced hackers had penetrated the systems controlling operations of some U.S. and European energy companies……https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/10/22/world/u-s-says-cyberattacks-targeted-nuclear-energy-aviation-water-critical-manufacturing-industries/#.We0JJI-CzGg

October 23, 2017 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

NATO’s nuclear weapons drills in Germany

NATO’s Hidden Agenda: What’s Behind Drills With US Nuclear Weapons in Germany  https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201710221058446313-germany-drills-us-nuclear-weapons/  NATO is holding an American nuclear weapons safety procedure exercise at a base in Büchel, Germany and in the Belgian town of Kleine-Brogel. The legitimacy of such actions and the deployment of nuclear weapons in non-nuclear countries raises several questions. The drills have also been criticized by Russia.

Drills in Europe

The airbase in Büchel still houses up to 20 American nuclear bombs and  is the only facility in Germany where nuclear weapons are deployed. Currently, Bundeswehr pilots and personnel from other NATO countries are practicing nuclear weapons handling procedures.

“This exercise is nicknamed ‘Steadfast Noon’ within the alliance and is held annually at military bases across Europe,” Otfried Nassauer, a researcher with the Berlin Information Center for Security (BITS), told Sputnik Germany.

He explained that during the drills which are supervised by the US military personnel, practice safety regulations while mounting a nuclear bomb on an aircraft and they are observed until the plane takes off. However, no real nuclear weapons are used in the drills.

Legal Dilemma Since the 1960s, NATO’s nuclear participation has provided for the possible use of American nuclear weapons by four non-nuclear European nations in the event of war. According to NATO officials, nuclear participation complies with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which is often disputed by critics.

“Their argument is that as a result of this situation a new group of countries emerges in between the nuclear and non-nuclear parties of the treaty. This is a group of pseudo-nuclear states, which are not mentioned by the treaty,” Nassauer pointed out.

German forces are not allowed to use nuclear weapons, in accordance with international law. However, during the current drills German personnel receive orders not from the defense ministry, but from NATO’s command.

“This creates an embarrassing situation. The law prohibits the use of nuclear weapons by German troops, but they receive such orders from NATO. They may try to disobey such orders at their own risk, because according to German laws a soldier must not obey an illegal order,” the analyst said.

Signal to Russia

Retired Bundeswehr colonel Ulrich Scholz, who was involved in NATO’s air force planning, described the drills a “questionable affair” and said they are likely to be a political argument against Russia.

Scholz expressed serious concerns about Germany’s national security. If we’re abandoning nuclear energy due to safety concerns but stockpiling nukes on our soil and taking part in these drills, I’ve got one question: is anybody out there concerned about Germany’s security?” he said.

The former officer also noted that Washington’s “geo-strategic interests” are now again focused on Russia, as it was during the Cold War.

According to Nassauer, the US is interested in keep all of its allies bound together. For the first time, Poland, Greece and the Czech Republic have been involved in the exercise this year. Moreover, the exercise has been held at different military facilities.

“In light of the continuing tensions between Russia and the West, all of the above looks like a political signal from NATO to Moscow,” he said.

On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for the removal of US nuclear weapons from Europe.

“We gradually stand for the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from Europe and their return to the US,” Lavrov said a nuclear weapons non-proliferation conference in Moscow.

The minister called on NATO to stop nuclear weapons drills in its non-nuclear members.

October 23, 2017 Posted by | Germany, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Putin warns about fearsome advanced weapons

‘Worse than nuclear bombs!’ Putin reveals terrifying sci-fi weapon amid World War fears
VLADIMIR PUTIN has said that the development of genetically-modified soldiers is the next phase of military combat – and one worse than nuclear bombs. 
By OLI SMITH K, Oct 22, 2017

 Vladimir Putin warned a crowd of young students that scientists in Russia will soon break the genetic code and create something “worse than a nuclear bomb”.
In a shocking speech yesterday, the Russian leader suggested that his world could soon seen sci-fi super-human soldiers who cannot feel pain or fear.

President Putin said that science is moving at such a fast pace that the world is running out of the time to develop regulation around these eerie advances.

This comes amid escalation on the Korean penisula and mounting fears for the outbreak of nuclear war between North Korea and the US.

The Russian leader revealed that the possibility of “creating a human with predesigned characteristics” was already around the corner……..What I have just described might be worse than a nuclear bomb.”….http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/869678/Vladimir-Putin-Russia-super-soldiers-nuclear-bombs
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October 23, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Africa’s opposition party ready to take legal action if govt fails High Court ruling on transparency

Threat of court action if Govt steps out of line with nuclear plans, fin 24, Oct 22 2017 Cape Town – Should the details of any progress on trying to push through a costly and deemed unnecessary nuclear build programme not be open to the public, the DA will not hesitate to go to court to interdict it.

DA MP Gordon Mackay said in a statement on Sunday that allegations in the media regarding a high-level Russian delegation which met with President Jacob Zuma shortly before the second Cabinet reshuffle earlier this week are “startling to say the least”.

The reshuffle saw David Mahlobo appointed as new energy minister, raising concerns that this step was ostensibly to push through the nuclear deal in favour of the Russians.

Zuma reshuffled his Cabinet allegedly just hours after a meeting with a group of Russian officials in efforts to implement a R1tn new nuclear build project deal, reported the Sunday Times.

Mackay pointed out that the previous minister of energy, Mmamoloko Kubayi, committed on record to abide by the Western Cape High Court’s nuclear ruling in April this year. He added that Mahlobo is bound by the court judgment as well and any deviation will be illegal.

In order for the nuclear deal to be approved, five key pieces of legislation or regulations would need to be updated and amended by Parliament, according to Mackay.

These include the Integrated Resource Plan; the electricity pricing path; procurement regulations; the framework agreements; and changes to the energy act to allow for a different funding/ownership model.

“In addition, the court ruling made clear the need for a substantial public participation process,” emphasised Mackay.

“The fact is that we cannot afford nor do we need the nuclear deal. In any event, it is doubtful that we need nuclear in the energy mix bearing in mind that by the time reactors come online, green energy will be able to fill the gap sufficiently.”

He said the DA will be keeping a very close eye out for any such amendments and will also push for the entire process to be open and competitive….. http://www.fin24.com/Economy/threat-of-court-action-if-govt-steps-out-of-line-with-nuclear-plans-20171022

October 23, 2017 Posted by | Legal, South Africa | Leave a comment

Danger of military explosives, depleted uranium weaponry flying in and out of Ireland airport

US Military Cargo, Explosives, Depleted Uranium Weaponry Transit through Ireland’s Shannon Airport https://www.globalresearch.ca/us-military-cargo-explosives-depleted-uranium-weaponry-transit-through-irelands-shannon-airport/5613597

October 23, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

With plummeting renewables costs, costly nuclear fusion unlikely to ever make sense

Washington Post 20th Oct 2017, The world’s biggest scientific experiment is on course to become the most expensive source of surplus power. Components of the 20 billion-euro ($24 billion) project are already starting to pile up at a construction site in the south of France, where about 800 scientists plan to test whether they can harness the power that makes stars shine.

Assembly of the machine will start in May. Unlike traditional nuclear plants that split atoms, the
so-called ITER reactor will fuse them together at temperatures 10-times hotter than the Sun — 150 million degrees Celsius (270 million Fahrenheit). Its startling complexity, with more than a million pieces and sponsors in 35 countries, mean questions remain about over whether the reactor will work or if it can deliver electricity at anything like the cost of more traditional forms of clean energy.

With wind-farm developers starting to promise subsidy-free power by 2025 and electricity demand
stagnating, even the project’s supporters are asking whether ITER will ever make sense. “I’m dubious,” said Chris Llewellyn Smith, director of energy research at Oxford University who has spoken in favor of the research project. “The cost of wind and solar has come down so rapidly, so the competition has become harder to beat than you could have conceivably imagined a decade ago.”
http://washpost.bloomberg.com/Story?docId=1376-OY3SHX6S972801-2RKS837QMLNSJG9Q1LHCUFO248

October 23, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, technology | Leave a comment

Chemical incident at UK’s Sellafield nuclear station: plutonium kept in degrading plastic bottles

Evacuations after emergency at UK nuclear plant, explosives experts rush to scene, BOMB disposal specialist have been called to the Sellafield nuclear plant to deal with a chemical incident. Sunday Express, By SIMON OSBORNE, Oct 21, 2017 “…….Initial reports suggest the incident involved five bottles containing a number of non-nuclear chemicals. …..”An operational decision will be taken in due course on how best to dispose of the material.”
Sellafield reprocesses and stores nearly all of Britain’s nuclear waste.

There have been safety concerns at the plant after a tip-off from a whistleblower, including allegations of inadequate staffing levels and poor maintenance.

The programme discovered that liquid containing plutonium and uranium has been kept in thousands of plastic bottles for years. The bottles were only intended for temporary storage and some of them are degrading.

Researchers were was also told that parts of the facility are dangerously rundown.

Sellafield insisted the site in Cumbria is safe and has been improved with significant investment in recent years. http://www.express.co. uk/news/uk/869238/sellafield- nuclear-reprocessing-plant- chemical-alert-bomb-disposal- experts

October 23, 2017 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment

Anti-corruption groups vigourously monitoring South Africa’s secret nuclear Russian talks

All eyes on nuclear plan amid claim of secret Russian talks, Business Live, 
Opposition and anti-corruption groups vow to remain vigilant as news report alleges energy minister deal
 22 OCTOBER 2017 – 19:50 ASHA SPECKMAN Anticorruption bodies and the opposition are closely monitoring developments with SA’s multibillion-rand nuclear build, which may be pushed through despite a lack of capacity in the fiscus.

The urgency for passing the deal has become apparent after a delegation comprising Russian military, police and intelligence allegedly entered the country via Mozambique to coerce President Jacob Zuma into appointing David Mahlobo as energy minister last week, the Sunday Times reported at the weekend.

Mahlobo’s appointment was made even as Zuma’s associates, the Guptas, had allegedly suggested Public Service and Administration Minister Faith Muthambi for the position.

According to the newspaper Mahlobo is believed to be the “Russians’ eyes and ears in the South African government”.

“It’s something we take very seriously,” David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, told Business Day. “It’s real global espionage of a huge scale. Given that the Russians have been involved in subverting democracies all over the world, it’s not an implausible story. The record of the Russians across a vast range of matters speaks for itself.”……. https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2017-10-22-all-eyes-on-nuclear-plan-amid-claim-of-secret-russian-talks/

October 23, 2017 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

Rick Perry’s plan to boost coal and nuclear power plants – legally dead already – Harvard University

Harvard: Rick Perry’s grid plan is legally dead on arrival http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/harvard-rick-perrys-grid-plan-is-legally-dead-on-arrival/article/2638057 by John Siciliano |  Harvard University is laying out what it considers a rock-solid legal argument against Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s plan to boost coal and nuclear power plants.

It hopes its case will make the Perry proposal dead on arrival once the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission moves through the comment period and rules on the plan. But even the public comment period is not legally necessary, according to the law school’s Harvard Environmental Policy Initiative.

“The commission has no legal obligation to accommodate” Perry’s notice of proposed rule-making, the law school’s environmental policy arm said in a five-page legal analysis filed with FERC Thursday. “Its simplest path forward is to reject the [proposal] because it is fundamentally inadequate to provide the basis for a final rule.”

Harvard’s analysis was sent ahead of the Oct. 23 deadline for submitting public comments on the proposed rule that would implement the Perry grid plan. The plan has attracted a growing number of detractors from nearly all segments of the energy industry, conservative and liberal think tanks, former FERC chairmen and members of Congress.

Perry’s proposal seeks to provide market-based incentives for coal and nuclear power plants that are able to store 90 days of fuel onsite in the event of a severe supply disruption from a hurricane or other severe weather.

The core of Harvard’s legal case stems from Perry’s lack of basis for taking the action under the Federal Power Act, the law from which the commission derives its authority over the power grid.

“Critically, the [rule-making] does not propose that wholesale rates are currently unjust and unreasonable or unduly discriminatory,” Harvard’s comments read. “This glaring omission dooms DOE’s proposal under section 206 of the Federal Power Act and allows the commission to issue a swift rejection without weighing in on the merits.”

FERC must justify any regulation that provides cost recovery or incentives for fuel resources on the Federal Power Act’s primary charge that the commission must protect energy prices from becoming burdensome on the consumer. Harvard argues that the Energy Department does not address this central tenant of FERC’s authority in proposing the regulation and therefore the commission can reject it at any time.

The legal analysis refutes the Energy Department’s argument that “wholesale markets do not price ‘resiliency'” and therefore FERC must take action. Perry’s resilience argument “does not substitute for an explicit proposed finding that current rates are unjust and unreasonable,” according to the analysis.

On top of the legal flaws, the Energy Department “does not define ‘resiliency,’ nor has the commission ever used that word in connection with wholesale rates,” the Harvard analysis said. So, there is no common definition to debate or discuss. Harvard goes even further by saying the proposal should not be considered adequate for public comment.

“DOE’s bare assertion that rates do not account for undefined attributes does not provide adequate notice necessary for meaningful public comments,” according to the analysis.

The analysis could provide a legal argument for challenging the Perry plan in court, although groups haven’t reached that stage. Typically, lawsuits come after a regulation is finalized. Perry wants FERC to finalize the rule within 60 days of the proposal appearing in the Federal Register, which points to December.

A group of eight former FERC chairmen and commissioners also filed commentsThursday, calling the proposal “a significant step backward from the commission’s long and bipartisan evolution to transparent, open, competitive wholesale markets.”

“Pursuing the worthy goal of a resilient power system, the commission’s adoption of the published proposal would instead disrupt decades of substantial investment made in the modern electric power system, raise costs for customers, and do so in a manner directly counter to the commission’s long experience,” the former FERC officials stated.

October 23, 2017 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment