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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Westinghouse financial crisis impacts Britain’s nuclear power plans

UK nuclear plans could be hit by Westinghouse financial crisis https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/mar/28/uk-nuclear-westinghouse-bankruptcy-toshiba-us

Toshiba’s US subsidiary, which has technology in about half world’s reactors, expected to file for bankruptcy protection, Guardian, , 29 Mar 17, A financial crisis at a major nuclear energy business is threatening to deal a blow to the UK’s atomic energy programme.

Toshiba’s US nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse Electric is believed to be on the brink of filing in the US for bankruptcy protection from creditors. A UK expert said the collapse would leave a considerable hole in Britain’s new nuclear ambitions as Toshiba is a key player behind plans for a new power station at Moorside in Cumbria.

Westinghouse is a behemoth in the world of nuclear vendors, with its technology in about half the world’s reactors. But it is facing a writedown of billions of dollars over its acquisition of a nuclear construction and services business. In 2015 Toshiba bought CB&I Stone & Webster, the company managing the construction of new reactors Plant Vogtle in Georgia and Virgil C Summer in South Carolina, both of which are over budget and behind schedule.

Westinghouse filing for Chapter 11 protection would potentially limit future losses for its owner Toshiba. The move will also trigger complex negotiations between the Japanese conglomerate, its American unit and creditors, and could embroil the US and Japanese governments, given the scale of the collapse and US government loan guarantees for new reactors.

The US utilities that operate the two nuclear plants are among Westinghouse’s biggest creditors, owed for work that has yet to be completed and potential penalties, sources have said. The bankruptcy filing will allow Westinghouse to renegotiate or break the construction contracts, although the utilities that own the projects would likely seek damages.

 Credit rating agency Moody’s said it welcomed the prospect of bankruptcy because it could limit Toshiba’s liabilities.

Anti-nuclear campaigners said the episode showed the world should build renewable energy rather than new nuclear. Doug Parr, policy director at Greenpeace UK, said: “The world is watching the meltdown of a major corporation and questioning the cost of new nuclear. Declaring bankruptcy in the USA might shield Toshiba from Westinghouse’s debt, but as Toshiba’s share price ricochets and its multibillion-dollar losses escalate, the beleaguered nuclear industry is being shaken to the core again.”

 Dr Paul Dorfman, a nuclear expert at UCL in London, told the Guardian: “Toshiba has fallen on its sword and this has significant consequences for the UK’s plans for new nuclear. Kepco of South Korea may come and buy into NuGen [the consortium behind the UK’s Moorside plant]. But you can’t necessarily sell off the bad bits of a nuclear corporation and keep the good bits.”

Kecpo last week ruled out buying Westinghouse but said it was in talks to take a stake in NuGen. However, Dorfman said: “While Kepco may wish to buy into NuGen they may find it both legally and financially problematic.”

He added that any unravelling of Nugen as a result of Westinghouse filing for bankruptcy would “leave a considerable hole in UK nuclear plans”.

The AP1000 reactor design of the two US plants is the same as the three planned for the Moorside power station. Within days the UK nuclear regulator is expected to approve a “generic design assessment” for the AP1000, the end of a four-year approval process.

This year Toshiba has twice delayed publishing its financial results for the third quarter of 2016, which will reveal the scale of the impairment it faces with regards to CB&I Stone & Webster. In January, chief executive Satoshi Tsunakawa said that while Toshiba would continue to maintain and operate its existing nuclear plants: “It is unlikely that we will carry out construction work for future nuclear power plant projects, in order to eliminate risk.”

But NuGen has said that while Toshiba may not build Moorside, the Japanese corporation was still committed to developing the Moorside power station. The possibility of a Westinghouse bankruptcy also raises questions over its impact on the Springfields nuclear fuel plant in Lancashire. The company owns the site on a 150-year lease from the UK government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

In the US, the reactors that Westinghouse is building are due to be completed within the next three years.

March 29, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Resolutions introduced in US Congress opposing nuclear waste dumping close to Great Lakes

Stabenow, Peters, Kildee Introduce Resolution Opposing Nuclear Waste Storage Site in Great Lakes Basin https://www.stabenow.senate.gov/news/stabenow-peters-kildee-introduce-resolution-opposing-nuclear-waste-storage-site-in-great-lakes-basin, March 15, 2017 U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today introduced resolutions, in both the House and Senate, expressing opposition to construction of a nuclear waste repository less than a mile from Lake Huron in Ontario. 

“Canada is facing a critical decision that will impact generations in both our countries,” said Senator Stabenow.  “A nuclear waste spill near the Great Lakes could have a devastating impact on our health and environment and threaten our Michigan way of life.  Given what is at stake, I urge our Canadian neighbors to make the right choice and shelve plans for this site once and for all.”

“The Canadian proposal to build a permanent nuclear waste repository less than a mile from Lake Huron could cause significant, lasting damage to the Great Lakes and undermine the progress we have made cleaning up the water quality in the Great Lakes Basin,” said Senator Peters. “President Trump and Secretary of State Tillerson should make every effort to prevent the Canadian government from moving forward with this proposal and work to find an alternative solution that does not jeopardize the health of the Great Lakes.”

“Permanently storing nuclear waste less than a mile from Lake Huron just doesn’t make sense and poses a great risk to our Great Lakes,” said Congressman Kildee. “From Detroit to Toronto, a growing number of people – in both the U.S. and Canada – have voiced opposition to this dangerous plan. Surely in the vast land mass that comprises Canada, there must be a better place to permanently store nuclear waste than on the shores of Lake Huron.”

 

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) are also original co-sponsors of the Senate resolution.  Mike Bishop (MI-08), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), David Joyce (OH-14), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Louise Slaughter (NY-25), Mark Pocan (WI-02), David Trott (MI-11), Jackie Walorski (IN-02), Luis Gutiérrez (IL-04), Sander Levin (MI-09), Paul Mitchell (MI-10), Brian Higgins (NY-26), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), and John Moolenaar (MI-04) are also original co-sponsors of the House resolution.

 

Over 40 million people in Canada and the United States get their drinking water from the Great Lakes and the highly toxic waste could take tens of thousands of years to decompose to safe levels. Ontario Power Generation is currently seeking approval from the Canadian Ministry of Environment to build a deep geologic repository to permanently store 7 million cubic feet of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste.  The facility would be located less than 1 mile from Lake Huron in Kincardine, Ontario.

 

The resolution urges the President and Secretary of State to work with their counterparts to prevent a permanent nuclear waste repository from being built within the Great Lakes Basin. It further states that the U.S. and Canada should develop a safe and responsible solution for the long-term storage of nuclear waste.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Green Party accuses UK government of failing consumers and the environment over energy policy

Energy Costs http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/news/energy-costs-25-3-17/  Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, has accused the government of failing consumers and the environment over energy policy. The accusation follows new projections from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) which estimate that onshore wind and solar will be as cheap or cheaper than gas by 2020 [1]. BEIS now acknowledge an increased role for renewables, particularly due to potential improvements in battery storage. Molly Scott Cato said:

“Having hammered the renewables sector for ideological reasons, the government now discovers that wind and solar are set to become the cheapest ways to generate electricity. Government energy policy supposedly seeks to deliver secure, affordable and low carbon energy. They have failed on all three counts. But in particular we now see that by failing to pursue a transition to renewable energy they have missed the opportunity to provide electricity for the consumer at the lowest cost.”

Green Party 23rd March 2017 read more »

A long-awaited report exploring the complex cost implications of different energy technologies has finally been released, offering a series of recommendations on how government should manage a grid that is transitioning to cleaner sources of power. The report from consultancy Frontier Economics was originally commissioned by former Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey in response to a wide-ranging debate about whether the government was accounting for the full cost of renewable energy technologies. Business Green 24th March 2017

March 27, 2017 Posted by | ENERGY, politics | Leave a comment

Pennsylvania politicians push for subsidies for nuclear power

Nuclear energy caucus forms in challenging times, The Times Tribune, 26 Mar 17 HARRISBURG — A group of state lawmakers formed the Nuclear Energy Caucus last week as part of an effort to keep nuclear power part of Pennsylvania’s mix of energy sources. Sen. John Yudichak, D-14, Plymouth Twp., ranking Democrat on the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, is a member of this caucus……..

Pennsylvania has five nuclear plants, making it the second largest state with nuclear capacity, the caucus said.The goal of the caucus is to develop policies that promote nuclear energy as part of Pennsylvania’s energy mix…..

Industry struggling  Sen. Ryan Aument, R-36, Lancaster, points out that the nuclear industry nationwide is struggling.

Five nuclear plants have ceased production since 2013 while an additional seven plants have announced plans to close by 2019, said Aument. Given Pennsylvania’s status as a top nuclear power producer, it’s important the caucus promotes the use of nuclear energy, he added.

The caucus arrives at a time when the nuclear industry’s economic problems are an issue in neighboring New York and Ohio. Some nuclear plants have experienced problems selling their electricity on the market at a price that covers the costs of generating it. Competition from cheaper natural gas is a key factor.

New York has approved a surcharge on customers’ electric bills to provide a subsidy to help keep its nuclear plants open. Supporters say the subsidy recognizes that nuclear energy is a renewable power source and doesn’t produce carbon emissions. The subsidy is being challenged in state courts.

Ohio is considering legislation where customers would pay a surcharge to underwrite zero-carbon emissions credits given to nuclear plants.

The nuclear industry shouldn’t get a bailout from ratepayers, said activist Eric Epstein, chairman of Three Mile Island Alert.

‘Cannot compete’

“It’s become clear the nuclear industry cannot compete in the market,” he said. “It’s environmental attributes are negligible.”

The storage of high-level radioactive wastes is a major problem with nuclear plants, added Epstein.

Nuclear plant owners recouped investment costs after Pennsylvania enacted an electric deregulation law in 1999, he said.

The new caucus hasn’t discussed any legislation, let alone a subsidy or tax credits for nuclear plants, said Yudichak. http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/nuclear-energy-caucus-forms-in-challenging-times-1.2172406

March 27, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Trump plays the media with tweets, while the Republican anti-people agenda quietly carried out, under the media radar

Donald Trump’s tweets a distraction from decisions being made at the White House, Sydney Morning Herald, Paul McGeough, 24 Mar 17 Washington: “……… it wasn’t till this week that The Wall Street Journal, the very conservative and very sensible, Murdoch-owned WSJ, snapped – its Wednesday editorial tears into Trump for his false and lying tweets.

Likening the teetotaller commander-in-chief to a desperate alcoholic, it thunders on Trump’s widely-debunked claim that former US president Barack Obama had ordered wire taps on Trump Tower: “The President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle, rolling out his press spokesman to make more dubious claims.”

The Journal often is accused of covering Trump with kid gloves. But throwing into reverse, the editorial’s author drives over the President again – damning his “seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods”. And then it guns the engine before making another run: “If he doesn’t show more respect for the truth, most Americans may conclude he’s a fake president.”Theories abound on Trump’s obsessive, reckless tweeting – it’s a fight to defend the legitimacy of his presidency; it’s innate – he was groomed since childhood to wage total war on any threat, real or perceived; or it’s all a distraction – creating a crisis to divert attention from other crises and/or from the dire impact of his legislative and executive decisions.

George Lakoff, a cognitive linguist at the University of California at Berkeley, sees a deliberate strategy at work. Analysing Trump’s March 4 wire-tapping tweets, Lakoff lays out four elements on his blog:

Pre-emptive framing: He frames first. He creates a new presidential scandal – Obama’s wire tapping – an accusation without evidence, and with all evidence against it.

  • Deflection: He puts the onus on his squeaky-clean predecessor.
  • Diversion: The press bit and the diversion worked. It generated headlines questioning whether Obama, rather than Trump, had committed wrongdoing. The diversion worked, at least temporarily.
  • Trial balloon: Will the public accept it, or listen to a discussion of it long enough to distract the press and the public from the treason issue? Bruce Miller, a political science professor at the University of Albany, doesn’t buy this theory of calculated distraction. “That’s rarely the case,” he tells Fairfax Media. “All the tweeting is an unavoidable part of his personality … so provocative and unchecked that it has a perverse impact … leaving a sense of a frenzied, chaotic start to this presidency.”
  • But calculated or otherwise, the distraction is profound. Stories that might run for days get bumped from the headlines as an army of political journalists changes gears, going after the latest Twitter feed. Not getting the attention they would ordinarily deserve are a litany of White House decisions or, as in the case of his proposed budget, Trump’s wish list for federal spending cuts that often target the very people he promised to watch out for, those of whom he said in his inauguration speech in January: “the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer”.These include his proposal to undo what is called the Fiduciary Rule…….
  • Trump has put medical research on the chopping block; along with a series of economic revitalisation programs………
  • The new president’s determination to undo a swathe of Obama’s “stupid” climate policies is hugely consequential – but this too gets short shrift in the Twitter wars. Climate change research and prevention programs would be eliminated along with a series of vehicle and power plant pollution control efforts that were deemed necessary to counter planet warming.They were part of Washington’s commitment to reduce greenhouse pollution by 26 per cent by 2025 under the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change – which Trump says he’ll junk. And Trump wants to weaken rules that protect hundreds of rivers from pollution.”As to climate change, I think the president was fairly straightforward: we’re not spending money on that anymore,” Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney said while briefing reporters on budget proposals.Trump is arguing against laws that prohibit US companies paying bribes to get overseas contracts. And having paid $US25 million to settle class actions against his own university, work is underway to relax rules that make it difficult for other private colleges to scam their students.

    And just in case Trump doesn’t go the whole hog, Republicans have introduced these bills in congress:

 

 

March 25, 2017 Posted by | media, politics, USA | Leave a comment

First Energy calls for tax-payer bailout of financially failing nuclear power stations

FirstEnergy exec calls for ‘urgent’ aid, Toledo Blade, Belcher: Davis-Besse’s premature closing is real, OAK HARBOR, Ohio — Calling warnings of the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant’s premature closure “real” and the need for a bailout “urgent,” FirstEnergy Corp.’s top nuclear official left little doubt Friday that Ottawa County’s largest employer is in trouble.

March 25, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Trump govt to review decades-old US aim of world without nuclear weapons

Donald Trump’s administration to review decades-old US aim of world without nuclear weapons, The Independent, Policy review under way as US opposes proposed UN treaty on a global nuclear weapons ban Lizzie Dearden @lizziedearden, 21 Mar 17 

Donald Trump’s administration is to review whether the US will keep its policy of nuclear disarmament.

Christopher Ford, the National Security Council’s senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counter-proliferation, said an assessment of US policy will examine whether the aim was “realistic”.

“Like all administrations we’re reviewing policy across the board, and that necessarily includes whether or not the goal of a world without nuclear weapons is in fact a realistic objective, especially in the near to medium term, in the light of current trends in the international security environment,” he told the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference.

“It’s too early to say what the answers will be – looking at things with fresh eyes is not saying we will necessarily end up with different positions.”

Mr Ford said there was a “tension” between the goal of nuclear disarmament and the security requirements of the US and its allies.

He argued that the “headspace” for reducing nuclear arsenals had diminished in the years since the Cold War and cuts by the US and Russia seemed unlikely while other nuclear states continue development.

Mr Trump “will not accept a second place position in the nuclear weapons arena” but is open to broader engagement with Russia on the issue, Mr Ford said. He added that the current “threat environment” had changed substantially from when the review that established America’s current aims took place under Barack Obama in 2010.

The nuclear adviser said the Trump administration would continue American opposition to a “dangerous and misbegotten” proposed treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

UN member states voted overwhelmingly to start negotiations on a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination” last year.

A conference on the issue will be held in New York starting on 27 March but the treaty was opposed by nuclear powers including the US, Britain, Russia, France and Israel.

Mr Trump has not made any official policy statement on nuclear weapons but has touched on the issue repeatedly in his speeches and tweets.

Questioned about his warm statements towards Vladimir Putin at a press conference in February, the President warned that war between the US and Russia would be a “nuclear holocaust like no other”…….. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-nuclear-weapons-goal-world-without-reconsider-deproliferation-treaties-white-house-a7641706.html

March 24, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

American electricity consumers in Eastern States stand to lose $3.9 Billion because of aid to nuclear industry

U.S. Consumers May Be $3.9 Billion ‘Losers’ From Nuclear Aid, Bloomberg by Jonathan Crawford  March 23, 2017, 

  • New York and Illinois have approved help for Exelon reactors
  • Operators seeking aid amid historically low power prices

Expanding state aid to money-losing nuclear reactors across the eastern U.S. may leave consumers on the hook for as much as $3.9 billion a year in higher power bills. Nuclear plant owners are seeking subsidies in Ohio, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey after Exelon Corp. won state aid for reactors in Illinois and New York last year. Should all 28,000 megawatts of nuclear power across northeast and mid-Atlantic states win subsidies at the same level as New York, ratepayers would face an annual $3.9 billion hike, according to a report by Bloomberg Intelligence Tuesday……

“The losers would be customers and rival plants,” Kit Konolige, a senior analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence in New York, said by phone. “I think there’s a good chance it will pass in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.”…..

New York regulators in August approved subsidies totaling about $500 million a year for the R.E. Ginna and Nine Mile Point nuclear plants owned by Exelon, and the James A. FitzPatrick plant it is purchasing from Entergy Corp. Those payouts equal about $17 a megawatt-hour, according to Bloomberg Intelligence…..

Illinois approved annual payouts of about $235 million for 10 years to keep Exelon’s Quad Cities and Clinton reactors open. The prospect of expanding subsidies has caught the eye of federal energy regulators, who plan to explore the impact of payouts on competitive markets…..

After wins in New York and Illinois, Exelon is pushing for aid for its three Pennsylvania reactors and one New Jersey plant, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. FirstEnergy Corp. needs Ohio subsidies to keep its Davis-Besse and Perry reactors open.

“It’s fair to assume that every nuclear plant is going to explore a subsidy,” Konolige said. “They’re going to say if they got in it New York, maybe I can get it in New Jersey.”

The subsidies offered by New York and Illinois are being challenged in court by opponents. A court decision on the New York dispute could come in the second quarter, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-21/consumers-would-be-3-9-billion-losers-from-nuclear-subsidies

March 24, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Nearly 70 locally elected officials in New York call to stop pro nuclear subsidies

Local leaders join opposition to New York nuclear plant aid http://www.recordonline.com/news/20170321/local-leaders-join-opposition-to-new-york-nuclear-plant-aid, TIMES HERALD,  Press ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Nearly 70 locally elected officials in New York are calling on Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo to halt a tax subsidy program that would allow three aging nuclear power plants to remain open upstate.

Legislators, town supervisors and councilmembers from more than two dozen counties signed a letter Monday to Cuomo requesting the state pause the program set to begin April 1 and publicly reassess clean energy options. Cuomo has said keeping the plants open would provide reliable energy as New York transitions half its power to renewable sources by 2030.

Some environmental advocates who oppose the program estimate its cost at up to $7.6 billion over 12 years.

The Public Service Commission says the program will cost about $1 billion in the first two years but cannot predict additional costs.

March 24, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, opposition to nuclear, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Some US Republicans are worried about President Trump’s mental state

Republicans Close To Trump Say President Is Showing Signs Of Mental Illness http://www.politicususa.com/2017/03/20/republicans-close-trump-president-showing-signs-mental-illness.html By  , Mar 20th, 2017 
Republican strategist and MSNBC contributor Nicolle Wallace said that people outside of the administration who have spent time with Trump said that the president is showing signs of paranoia and delusion over his belief that Obama wiretapped him.

Wallace said, “I sense that they have no plans today of walking away from this claim. This is still the president’s belief. Some folks still close to the president, but not on the White House staff said it’s a word I can’t say on family-friendly TV, but the initials are B and S. Another person who spent time with the president this weekend in Florida said it was signs of paranoia and delusion around this idea that he’s so right. Interestingly, he has sought to have people outside the government corroborate this wiretapping claim, which either suggests this observation of paranoia and delusion is in fact operation or extreme ignorance of all the powers at his disposal and all the investigative powers of the federal government.”

These are Republicans close to Trump who claimed that the President Of The United States is paranoid, delusional, and believes that Obama wiretapped him. Wallace’s comments on MSNBC were a statement that the President might be mentally ill.

Before anyone asks, the constitutional standard for the removal of a president contains no discussion of mental fitness. It would be difficult to nearly impossible to remove Trump from office due to mental illness. It would have to be demonstrated that Trump is physically unable to perform the job of president.

The Trump claim that Obama wiretapped him was not some brilliant diversion. Trump’s belief that Obama spied on him is the mark of a paranoid, and mentally ill president.

March 24, 2017 Posted by | politics, psychology - mental health, USA | Leave a comment

Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 introduced into US Congress

Under any circumstances, the prospect of nuclear war is terrifying, the deadly consequences irreversible. Yet with a single order, the president — any president — could effectively declare a nuclear war that would wipe out entire nations, including our own.

More worrying still, our current president has shown an alarming willingness to engage in aggression instead of diplomacy — particularly towards nations like Iran and China, as well as countries whose citizens have now been banned from traveling to the U.S. under an overbroad, dog-whistle executive order.

Trump has almost gleefully exercised his right to threaten nuclear war.

He made boastful remarks about nuclear might throughout his campaign. And just recently, he called for a new push to put America at the “top of the pack” when it comes to nuclear weapons capability (as though we weren’t already).

Going against decades of precedent, not to mention hard-won diplomatic treaties reached with countries like Russia and Iran, Trump has enthusiastically declared that we should expand, not reduce, our nuclear arsenal…………

It’s almost impossible to comprehend millions of people being obliterated from the face of the earth simultaneously, in the blink of an eye. Especially at the whim of just one American who happens to have access to a certain red button.

That’s why Representative Ted Lieu and Senator Ed Markey have introduced legislation prohibiting the sitting president from unilaterally declaring nuclear war without a prior act of Congress. They call it the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017.

“Nuclear war poses the gravest risk to human survival,” Markey warned in a joint statement introducing this legislation. Unfortunately, Trump insists on “maintaining the option of using nuclear weapons first in a conflict.”

“In a crisis with another nuclear-armed country,” the senator went on to explain, “this policy drastically increases the risk of unintended nuclear escalation.” http://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/03/19/right-now-trump-can-start-nuclear-war

March 20, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Savage attack on the environment: the Trump budget

Aside from the catastrophic impacts on public health and planetary survival, these Trump-Koch attacks on environmental protection and increased energy efficiency bode ill for a struggling U.S. economy. Germany, China and other global competitors are surging ahead with ecologically sound advanced technologies like high-speed rail, EV autos, PV cells, ultra-efficient wind turbines, solar farms, and highways guaranteed to leave America in the dust.

The “tycoon” President who promised full employment and prosperity is instead bringing an ill wind, darkened sun, and scorched planet.

Trump’s Budget Assault on the Environment Packs a Wallop, The Progressiveby  March 17, 2017
Donald Trump’s first budget makes his antipathy to the environment clear—and his love for fossil fuels and nuclear power even clearer.

In addition to slashing funding to the Environmental Protection Agency, he also announced this week that he wants massive rollbacks in automotive fuel efficiency standards and billions in new investments in nuclear weapons and storage for commercial nuclear waste.

The administration’s budget cuts $2.4 billion from the EPA’s operating funds
—roughly 31 percent—taking the agency’s annual budget from $8.1 billion to $5.7 billion, the smallest since it was formed in 1970. These cuts will cripple regulation of air and water quality, strip oversight of a wide range of land management programs, and loosen restrictions on chemical emissions from industrial facilities.

Much of this money would be shifted directly over to the military, which the Trump Administration wants to bolster with an additional $54 billion over the final Obama allocations…….

llowing through on his campaign promise to reduce the EPA to “little tidbits,” Trump’s budget defunds more than 50 programs. These include infrastructure improvement on Indian reservations, major projects to clean up Puget Sound, Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes, a wide range of renewable energy development and energy efficiency programs, numerous climate change research programs, national heritage sites, environmental justice programs, oceanographic research and preservation, and much more. Gina McCarthy, a former EPA official under Obama, described it as “a scorched earth budget that represents an all-out assault on clean air, water and land.”

Some of the immediate opposition has crossed party lines. Ohio’s recently re-elected Republican Senator Rob Portman, a close associate of former President George W. Bush, strongly opposed cuts to the $300 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Bill Becker of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies warned, “if such cuts are realized, many more people will die prematurely and get sick unnecessarily due to air, water and waste pollution.”…….

Meanwhile, Illinois and New York are moving toward massive subsidies for uncompetitive, dangerously dilapidated old nuclear reactors in a marketplace where renewables are coming in far cheaper and creating thousands more jobs. In Ohio and other states, owners of money-losing reactors are advocating for massive handouts to block cheaper, job-creating renewables and efficiency from getting into the marketplace.

Adding insult to injury, Trump wants to add $120 million to the long-dead Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump. ……

Aside from the catastrophic impacts on public health and planetary survival, these Trump-Koch attacks on environmental protection and increased energy efficiency bode ill for a struggling U.S. economy. Germany, China and other global competitors are surging ahead with ecologically sound advanced technologies like high-speed rail, EV autos, PV cells, ultra-efficient wind turbines, solar farms, and highways guaranteed to leave America in the dust.

The “tycoon” President who promised full employment and prosperity is instead bringing an ill wind, darkened sun, and scorched planet. http://progressive.org/dispatches/trump%E2%80%99s-budget-assault-on-the-environment-packs-a-wallop/

March 17, 2017 Posted by | environment, politics, USA | Leave a comment

UK plans for small nuclear reactors stalling. Bechtel pulls out.

Bechtel pulls out of mini-nuclear development, Construction News, 17 MARCH, 2017 Bechtel is to pull out of small modular reactor development, the US engineering giant has confirmed. The company said it would no longer be attempting to create its own SMR reactor after it was unable to find investment for its programme, or a utility company that would provide a site.

Bechtel’s SMR aspirations were as part of mPower, a joint venture with energy giant Babcock & Wilcox…..

Bechtel will take itself out of the government’s SMR reactor design competition.

In March 2016 the government launched its £250m SMR competition which set out to identify the preferred reactor technology to be rolled out across the UK over the next 15 years. The Bechtel team was listed as one of the 33 parties to have made it past the first round of the competition, including engineering firms such as Atkins and contractors such as Costain.

Alongside firms such as Westinghouse and NuScale Power, the mPower JV was one of the companies capable of developing the technology after its reactor design was recommended for “further government investigation” by the National Nuclear Laboratory in 2014.

The competition has stalled ever since, with sources telling Construction News that they have been largely left in the dark by the government over the next steps……

March 17, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, technology, UK | Leave a comment

GreenLeft did very well in Netherlands election

GreenLeft proves to be big winner in Dutch election Party forecast to boost its MPs from four to 14 after storming campaign by young leader Jesse Klaver, Guardian  , 17 Mar 17, The big winner of Wednesday’s election – and now the largest party of the Dutch left for the first time – was GreenLeft, headed by 30-year-old Jesse Klaver, hailed by his enthusiastic supporters as the “Jessiah”.

With more than 95% of votes counted, the party – formed 25 years ago by a merger of communists, pacifists, evangelicals and self-styled radicals – boosted its MPs from four to 14 after a storming campaign by Klaver.

“This is a fantastic result for us, a historic victory,” said the party chairwoman, Marjolein Meijer.

The result showed there was “very fertile ground in the Netherlands for change and a positive and hopeful story”, she said. “For us this is just the beginning.”……..

The Netherlands’ youngest ever party leader, Klaver built a strong following on social media through small Meetup events after taking over GreenLeft’s leadership in May 2015.

His rallies were among the campaign’s largest, including an Amsterdam meeting that drew more than 5,000 people – plus 5,000 more following live on Facebook.

His TV debates were also widely regarded as triumphs. In one debate watched by 1.6 million viewers, Klaver told his far-right, anti-Islam rival Geert Wilders that it was rightwing populism, not Muslim immigration, that was undermining Dutch culture and traditions. ……https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/15/dutch-elections-greenleft-jesse-klaver

March 17, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, politics | 2 Comments

Republican senator slams Trump’s Nevada nuclear waste dump plan

We will not be a nuclear waste dump’: Vulnerable GOP senator slams Trump’s Nevada nuke waste plan   https://www.rawstory.com/2017/03/we-will-not-be-a-nuclear-waste-dump-vulnerable-gop-senator-slams-trumps-nevada-nuke-waste-plan/ ,16 MAR 2017 

Dean Heller (R-NV) got a nasty surprise this week when he discovered that President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would revive the Yucca Mountain storage facility for nuclear power plant waste in his home state.

Heller, by far the most vulnerable Republican in the senate in the 2018 midterm elections, railed against Trump’s proposal in a statement released Thursday, as he insisted that his state would “not be the nation’s nuclear waste dump.”

“As has been stated in the past, Yucca is dead and this reckless proposal will not revive it,” he said. “Washington needs to understand what Nevada has been saying for years: we will not be the nation’s nuclear waste dump. This project was ill-conceived from the beginning and has already flushed billions of taxpayer dollars down the drain.”

Heller also vowed to fight any effort to revive the Yucca Mountain project tooth and nail.

The Las Vegas Review Journal notes that, while Trump would increase funding to revive the Yucca Mountain facility, his budget would also slash the Office of Science’s $5 billion budget by a whopping $900 million, which would dramatically cut the amount of research that it now funds at more than 300 universities and at 10 national labs.

March 17, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment