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Electricite de France (EDF) nuclear corporation is headed for bankruptcy – that’s why France’s government is nationalising it.

Is EDF running out of money? The French government is to spend £20
billion buying back the final 16% of Electricité de France (EDF) shares
still privately owned, bringing the company back under public ownership.


Why are they renationalising this company? The answer is simple. It is to
avoid EDF going bankrupt. Right now, over half (29 out of 56) of EDF’s
French nuclear reactors are currently offline. The company is already
hugely indebted and faces a massive bill of up to 100 billion euros (£85
billion) to keep its ageing nuclear fleet going.

And EDF’s flagship EPR reactor is over-cost and over-time everywhere it is being attempted to be
built. Aside from its debts, EDF has faced issues with ageing reactors,
after experts warned President Macron of significant corrosion safety
problems in EDF nuclear power plants in France as cracks were detected in
the cooling systems of some nuclear reactors.

Meanwhile there is delay after delay in bringing online every one of the EDF flagship nuclear
reactors, in Finland, in France, even here in Somerset. In desperation to
help fund its latest lossmaker at Sizewell, Suffolk, EDF is reaching out to
fellow utility giant Centrica for help. Could this be the same Centrica,
which in 2016 abandoned plans to invest in EDF’s Hinkley C partly because
of ‘the lengthening time frame for a return on the capital invested in a
project of this scale’?

 Electrical Review 9th Aug 2022

August 9, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

New leader of Canada’s New Brunswick Liberals breaks ranks with the party’s previous support for Small Nuclear Reactors

New Liberal leader questions small nuclear reactors. Susan Holt says it’s not clear the technology is a responsible energy solution

Jacques Poitras · CBC News · Aug 10, 2022 

The new leader of the New Brunswick Liberals is questioning whether small modular nuclear reactors are the answer to the province’s energy needs, a more cautious stance than her party’s previous full-throated support for the technology.

Susan Holt said after winning the leadership Saturday that while the potential jobs created by SMRs would be good for the province, she was looking for more evidence they were the right bet for clean energy.

“It’s an interesting project on the economic development level … but I’m not sure it’s the solution for electricity generation for our province,” Holt told reporters.

“I think it’s not clear yet if it will really give us energy in a way that’s responsible and efficient with our investments, so there’s still more to determine there.”

Two companies based in Saint John, ARC Clean Energy and Moltex Energy, have received tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer funding to develop reactors………..

Last year the province handed ARC $20 million, while Moltex received more than $50 million from the federal government.

The previous provincial Liberal government gave each of them $5 million.

Holt held the title of chief of business relationships at the Jobs Board secretariat under then-Liberal Premier Brian Gallant at the time ARC and Moltex got that initial funding.

Both the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives have been enthusiastic supporters of SMRs until now, ………………..

at legislative committee hearings in January, former N.B. Power CEO Gaëtan Thomas and officials from Saint John Energy warned that SMRs may not be ready in time to replace electricity from the Belledune generating station, which must stop using coal by 2030.


Louise Comeau, the director of climate change and energy solutions for the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, welcomed Holt’s comments.

“It sounds to me like the new leader is open to more information and analysis, which is what we desperately needed on the question of small modular nuclear reactors,” she said.

“We’ve been more in a phase of hype and boosterism. … I think what she’s said is we need to have more information, we need to look at all options, and we would really agree with that. Wind and solar and efficiency and other options all have to be part of the portfolio.” 

Susan O’Donnell, a member of the Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick, said she was happy Holt was “reading the independent research about SMRs instead of the nuclear industry sales and promotional materials.”…………………..

In January, the Pembina Institute, a clean energy think tank, released a report that said small nuclear reactors would be more expensive and generate less electricity than a combination of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/susan-holt-questions-small-nuclear-reactors-1.6545007

August 9, 2022 Posted by | Canada, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Nuclear Free Local Authorities Briefing to Local Councils – Energy Minister responds to NFLA concerns over Nuclear Liabilities Fund

Richard Outram, 8 Aug 22. In response to Parliamentary concerns that the cost of decommissioning redundant nuclear power stations was out of control, and after hearing news that a further £10.7 billion of public money has been made available by the UK Government to bolster the finances of the Nuclear Liabilities Fund, the public – private sector body responsible for managing finances of approximately £15 billion to meet the long-term cost of decommissioning (https://www.nlf.uk.net/), in early June the Chair of the NFLA Cllr David Blackburn wrote to the Energy Minister Greg Hands to urge him to give the NLF Board more latitude to invest in green energy to make the fund sustainable. On 25 July, Minister Hands replied. This briefing includes our initial media release, Cllr Blackburn’s letter to Minister Greg Hands and the Minister’s response.

August 8, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

France’s problems with nuclear corporation EDF

Following my previous post on EDF’s woes and their impact on the
European market, here’s a list of topics, both practical and political,
that the company needs to deal, and their domestic impact in France.

Corrosion issues. 12 plants, mostly the more modern ones, have been stopped
due to cracks in pipes;

Flamanville. The only new nuclear plant in
construction in France, it has been beset by delays and cost overruns;
Overall supply levels. With the existing nuclear fleet getting older, it
will likely require more maintenance (both scheduled and unscheduled), and
become more vulnerable to loss of skills as experienced nuclear workers
retire and are only partly replaced given the uncertain prospects of the
sector; Expensive imports. The lower production levels mean that EDF needs
to import increasing volumes of power. With the current gas crisis
triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this leads to very high power
prices and significant costs;

Blocked retail prices. After years of being
told that France has the cheapest electricity thanks to nuclear, the price
of retail electricity is a highly volatile political topic. Energy prices
are a hot-button issue everywhere, but they are specifically so for
President Macron;

The ARENH boondoggle. As part of the opening of the
French power market pushed by the EU commission, EDF has been forced to
sell a chunk of its nuclear production (initially 100 TWh/y, ie roughly 25%
of its production) at a fixed price (42 EUR/MWh) to new competitors on the
retail market;

EDF restructuring and EU competition issues. Several of the
items above remind us that EDF is a topic closely watched in Brussels. The
earlier EDF restructuring concept (codename “Hercule”) which proposed
to split EDF in 2 entities (nuclear and hydro, publicly owned: networks and
renewables, to be listed) was opposed by unions, and viewed with skepticism
in Brussels;

One of the topics that derailed the Hercule process was what
to do with EDF’s large portfolio of hydro generation. The EU commission
has long wanted to open up that sector to competition and force the
government to tender the dams when the concessions granted to EDF come to
an end. The fact that EDF has proven unable to build the next-generation
EPRs is either seen as a temporary blip, or a plot by outsiders to weaken
the country (anti-nuclear policies, pushed in particular by Germany, are
seen to have willfully weakened France’s industrial base). Renewables,
despite all evidence to the contrary, are still seen as either a useless
greenwashing sideshow or a dangerous distraction.

 Jerome in Paris 4th Aug 2022

https://jeromeaparis.substack.com/p/edf-the-strategic-questions-and-to

August 5, 2022 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

Senator Manchin Democrats Bill to give $30 billion lifeline to save America’s moribund nuclear industry

Manchin Deal Tosses $30 Billion Lifeline to US Nuclear Reactors,

  • Tax credit for nuclear power included in Senate spending bill
  • Incentive could save as much as 38% of fleet, analyst says

Bloomberg, By Ari Natter, August 4, 2022

Struggling nuclear reactors would get a $30 billion lifeline under the Democrats’ climate change and tax bill that could save dozens of nuclear power plants from an early retirement. 

Included in the $433 billion Inflation Reduction Act, which is slated for a Senate vote as soon as this week, is a 10-year production tax credit for nuclear energy producers that could be a boon for reactor operators such as Southern Co., Constellation Energy Corp., Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. and Energy Harbor Corp.

The proposed $15 per megawatt-hour credit for existing nuclear plants — which provide about 19% of the nation’s electricity — will help an industry that has undergone a wave of closures. Reactors have high operating costs and are increasingly struggling to compete with cheaper electricity produced using natural gas and renewables.

Between 22% and 38% of the nation’s nuclear fleet of 93 reactors is at risk of retiring in the 2030s, depending on natural gas prices, according to an analysis by Rhodium Group…………………………

It remains to be seen whether the Inflation Reduction Act, which represents a compromise between Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, will be backed by the full Democratic caucus in the 50-50 Senate. It would also have to pass the House, where progressives sought a much more expansive plan. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-08-03/machin-deal-tosses-30-billion-lifeline-to-us-nuclear-reactors

August 1, 2022 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Fukushima Prefecture seeks government help in preventing reputational damage to its marine products

Local officials from Fukushima Prefecture on Wednesday called on the
central government to take measures to prevent reputational damage to
marine products, a day after giving their approval to the construction of
facilities to release treated water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear
power plant into the ocean.

The mayors of the two towns hosting the
Fukushima Daiichi plant, Okuma and Futaba, and Fukushima Gov. Masao
Uchibori made the request during a meeting with Economy, Trade and Industry
Minister Koichi Hagiuda in Tokyo.

 Mainichi 3rd Aug 2022

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220803/p2g/00m/0na/033000c

August 1, 2022 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

French finance minister and MPs clash over future of nuclear power

 to “all those who confuse reality with their fantasies […] nuclear power does not work”.

By Paul Messad | EURACTIV.fr | translated by Arthur Riffaud, Jul 29, 2022 

Left-wing MPs and Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire came to heated debate in the French National Assembly over a reduction in nuclear power production during the vote on the rectifying finance bill.

On Tuesday night (26-27 July), French MPs adopted the rectifying finance bill, in which it was agreed the country’s public energy supplier EDF should be nationalised. At a minimum, it was agreed that the state will make a public offer to buy the remaining 16% of the company that it does not already own, a sum amounting to €9.7 billion……….

LFI MP Antoine Léaument said that the cost of the ‘Grand Carénage’ programme, aimed at extending the life of power plants, would represent the same budget as the construction of 33 to 76 offshore wind farms, which would produce more installed power than that of nuclear.

The themes of the discussion are not new. In June, LFI’s party leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon revived debate over nuclear’s votality, saying that while this is not a “fact”, the current situation of climate breakdown is such that “what was not intermittent yesterday will become more and more so.”

He added that “France is now the country lagging furthest behind in its renewable energy objectives” within the European Union.

On renewable profitability

On 18 July, the French Energy Regulation Commission (CRE) unveiled its assessment of the public service costs of energy to be compensated by the state for 2023.

The report concludes that renewables will generate revenue for the State in 2023, due to the current very high price of megawatt hours (MWh). When prices are set higher than the feed-in tariff set by the state, operators pay the difference to public authorities.

This has prompted some observers to insist on the profitability of renewable energies, in particular wind power.

“France is reactivating its coal power plants while at the same time there are currently 4.7 GW of wind projects and 3 GW of solar projects being put on hold”, said Anne-Catherine Tourtier, president of the France Energie Eolienne association.

The government has already announced a bill to speed up the development of renewable energies for the autumn.  https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy-environment/news/french-finance-minister-and-mps-clash-over-future-of-nuclear-power/

However, the outcome was not easy to swallow, particularly for those on the left.

In reality, nuclear production is at half mast. France is significantly importing electricity: up to 10 GW on a single day, as the country’s transmission system operator RTE figures show, a noteworthy figure considering that the country is usually a net exporter.

Nuclear capacity

Currently, about thirty reactors are shut down, more than half of France’s fleet. Some are closed for maintenance, and 12 for problems with corrosion. Others have been impacted by the weather, with extreme temperatures endangering the cooling capacities of the plants.

EDF announced that it has lost €5.3 billion euros in the first half of the year, mainly associated with the forced closure of many of the nuclear plants.

The French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) extended a temporary derogation to the shutdown rules for such situations on Friday (22 July) to “ensure the safety of the electricity network” during this critical period. The power plants of Golfech, Saint-Alban, Blayais and Bugey will thus be permitted to operate until 7 August 2022.

Heated debate in the National Assembly

During the debate on the draft rectifying finance law in the National Assembly, Green MPs and others from the left-wing party La France Insoumise (LFI) condemned the government’s irresponsibility in its approach to nuclear energy.

Julien Bayou, Europe Écologie Les Verts (EELV) MP for Paris and party executive, repeatedly said: to “all those who confuse reality with their fantasies […] nuclear power does not work”.

July 30, 2022 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

SC nuclear fuel plant gets 40-year operating license – a ”license to pollute”

“It has been clear from the start of the license renewal process that the NRC was going to do what Westinghouse requested in spite of a long list of incidents at the facility and even an admission by the NRC that release of contaminants in the future was reasonably foreseeable,”

 The State, BY SAMMY FRETWELL, JULY 29, 2022 ”…………………….. Federal regulators approved an environmental study that recommends the Westinghouse nuclear fuel factory southeast of Columbia receive a new 40-year license, virtually assuring that the license will be issued this fall. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission had considered issuing only a 20-year license because of the safety mishaps and pollution that have occurred at the Westinghouse plant on Bluff Road. But in a federal notice Friday, the NRC said its staff had reviewed a list of environmental issues associated with Westinghouse and determined the new license was warranted.

Westinghouse has tried for eight years to gain a new operating license for the plant, which sits on a 1,156-acre site in eastern Richland County about four miles from Congaree National Park. Groundwater contamination and spills of nuclear material are among the environmental problems Westinghouse has had, particularly in recent years — and neighbors have voiced displeasure with how the factory has operated in the predominantly Black community. Federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, added weight to the chorus of concerns, saying last year the license should not be approved unless an array of environmental problems were resolved. The Interior Department even recommended a 20-year license, instead of 40, in part because of multiple leaks and spills that have polluted the ground and groundwater. The department oversees Congaree National Park.

Westinghouse’s troubles were pronounced enough that the NRC took the unusual step of conducting two major environmental studies to determine how the plant’s future operation might affect the environment. A first environmental study, which initially recommended continued operation, was deemed inadequate. The second study that was approved Friday, known as an Environmental Impact Statement, looked more deeply at the potential effect the plant would have on the surrounding environment if it continues to operate during the next 40 years.

The question has been whether the license should be for 40 years, as Westinghouse has said it should be, or for a lesser amount of time because of the environmental and safety concerns, many of which have surfaced in the past five years. Some environmentalists and people who live near the plant have said the license should be for 10 or 20 years —if issued at all. Westinghouse has said it is working to make improvements, and records indicate it has had fewer mishaps in the past two years. The company said it is happy with the NRC’s decision…………..

The NRC’s next step is to issue a safety review before the final licensing decision is made, the agency said. In a news release, the NRC said the final environmental study found that the plant would have only small to moderate impacts on the environment if the license is renewed. The department said the impacts in issuing a 20-year license would be similar to the impacts from issuing a 40-year license. The NRC last issued a license for Westinghouse in 2007. The biggest environmental impacts from continuing to operate the plant would be on groundwater and surface water, the final environmental impact statement said. Past operation of the plant has had a “noticeable effect’’ on groundwater quality, as well as the quality of surface water, such as creeks and ponds. Uranium, for instance, exceeds federal standards in the mud of Mill Creek, the report said. Even so, groundwater contamination is not forecast to spread offsite, the report said…………………………

Virginia Sanders, a Lower Richland environmental activist and Sierra Club official, said the plant’s continued existence threatens the environment, particularly as more intense rains related to the changing climate pound the Columbia area. The concern is pollution from the site could wash into the surrounding community. “That plant is over 50 years old. That plant should never have been put there in the first place,’’ Sanders said. “Anything in Lower Richland is on low land. And with the number of flooding events on the East Coast and other climate change events, that plant should not be operating there. I’m just waiting for the day when a catastrophe happens.’’

Tom Clements, a nuclear safety watchdog from Columbia, said he’s disappointed in Friday’s decision, but not surprised. He called on the NRC to reconsider its decision. “It has been clear from the start of the license renewal process that the NRC was going to do what Westinghouse requested in spite of a long list of incidents at the facility and even an admission by the NRC that release of contaminants in the future was reasonably foreseeable,” he said in an email to The State. “The 40-year license extension guarantees the risk of accidents and releases that will impact the environment and possibly human health over 40 years. Unfortunately, I now anticipate that careful behavior shown by Westinghouse during the period of the EIS preparation will be relaxed as Westinghouse is essentially now being given a license to pollute.’’

The Westinghouse plant’s environmental and safety challenges emerged within years of the plant opening in 1969. Many of the problems have centered on the company’s failure to handle materials so that they would not create small nuclear accidents that could endanger workers. Many of those concerns can be traced to the early 1980s. The problems continued until 2020. Since 1980, federal and state regulators have discovered more than 40 different environmental and safety problems at the plant, according to newspaper clippings and government records reviewed by The State.. In some cases, the NRC repeatedly told the company to make improvements, but Westinghouse did not move quickly enough to suit the agency. Two of the biggest incidents in the past 20 years involved the buildup of uranium, a nuclear material, in plant equipment — deficiencies that could have endangered workers. The NRC fined Westinghouse $24,000 in 2004 after learning uranium had accumulated in an incinerator to unsafe levels over eight years. The company had assumed the uranium levels were safe, but the problem was discovered in 2004 by an employee. The excess uranium could have caused a nuclear accident that could have injured or killed workers. In 2016, Westinghouse discovered that uranium had accumulated in an air pollution control device — known as a scrubber — to levels that were three times higher than a federal safety standard. Under pressure to explain why the buildup occurred, Westinghouse’s internal inspectors told the NRC that the company had not done enough to ensure employees knew enough about safety in the air scrubber. The company inspectors also said Westinghouse didn’t have strong enough procedures to keep uranium from building up and had a “less than questioning’’ attitude about procedures to prevent a nuclear accident. Two years later, a leak of uranium through a hole in the plant floor brought a barrage of complaints about Westinghouse, a major problem that led to the discovery that some groundwater pollution on the site had been known by the company for years but never reported to federal or state regulators.  https://www.thestate.com/news/local/environment/article263833217.html

July 30, 2022 Posted by | environment, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear reactors: Engie’s demands are prerequisites to any further extension of nuclear power in Belgium.

 https://www.brusselstimes.com/belgium-news/264186/nuclear-reactors-engies-demands-are-prerequisites-to-any-further-extension,30 July 2022 By Lukas Taylor

Having agreed to extend their nuclear reactors by 10 years, Engie has confirmed that the Federal Government will meet the French energy company’s conditions.

On 21 July, the Federal Government and Engie reached an ‘agreement in principle‘ to extend two nuclear reactors until 2035. In reality, this agreement is a letter of intent upon which further negotiations will be held.

In a press statement announcing that their profits had more than doubled in the last six months, Engie maintained that the terms outlined in the letter are ‘intrinsic’ to the extension.

Nuclear conditioning

Engie set three prerequisites for extending Doel 4 and Tihange 3 reactors. Firstly, that the extension will begin within five years of the agreement’s signature.

They then stated that they want a shareholding company to be founded with a 50/50 involvement of the Belgian State and Electrabel, so that the government can play a role in strategic matters concerning the extension.

Finally, the letter of intent set a cap on Engie’s expenses of decommissioning the reactors, as well as the management of fissile materials and radioactive waste. This will come in the form of a fixed amount to be determined by the Nuclear Provisions Commission and the National Organisation for Radioactive Waste and Fissile Materials (Ondraf).

July 30, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, EUROPE, politics | Leave a comment

Pickering nuclear station is closing as planned, despite calls for refurbishment

Nationa lObserver , By Jessica McDiarmid | News | July 29th 2022 The Ontario government will not reconsider plans to close the Pickering nuclear station …………

In a report released this week, a nuclear advocacy group urged Ontario to refurbish the aging facility east of Toronto, which is set to be shuttered in phases in 2024 and 2025. The closure of Pickering, which provides 14 per cent of the province’s annual electricity supply, comes at the same time as Ontario’s other two nuclear stations are undergoing refurbishment and operating at reduced capacity.

Canadians for Nuclear Energy, which is largely funded by power workers’ unions, argued closing the 50-year-old facility will result in job losses, emissions increases, heightened reliance on imported natural gas and an electricity deficit.

But Palmer Lockridge, spokesperson for the provincial energy minister, said further extending Pickering’s lifespan isn’t on the table…………………………

The Ontario Clean Air Alliance, however, obtained draft documents from the electricity operator that showed it had studied, but not released publicly, other scenarios that involved phasing out natural gas without energy shortfalls, price hikes or increases in emissions.

One model suggested increasing carbon taxes and imports of clean energy from other provinces could keep blackouts, costs and emissions at bay, while another involved increasing energy efficiency, wind generation and storage.

“By banning gas-fired electricity exports to the U.S., importing all the Quebec water power we can with the existing transmission lines and investing in energy efficiency and wind and solar and storage — do all those things and you can phase out gas-fired power and lower our bills,” said Jack Gibbons, chair of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance.
https://www.nationalobserver.com/2022/07/29/news/pickering-nuclear-station-closing-despite-calls-refurbishment

July 30, 2022 Posted by | Canada, politics | Leave a comment

Scotland’s government dithering about nuclear power

 The SNP Government is facing calls to explain an apparent U-turn on energy
policy after revealing its ‘prospectus for independence’ will consider
nuclear power. Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative Shadow Net Zero Secretary,
said the SNP administration needed to explain what brought about their
U-turn following years of opposition.

A freedom of information request
published by the Scottish Government includes questions about Scotland’s
energy supply and the impact of moving away from fossil fuels. One of the
questions asked if the government had factored in the effects of Scexit and
breaking up the United Kingdom.

The Scottish Government confirmed that in
the next stage of its independence prospectus it would look into
Scotland’s energy outlook. It revealed that the prospectus will
“consider future nuclear, oil and gas supply” in an independent
Scotland. The reply revealed that Scotland’s climate change plans
highlighted the importance of nuclear, oil and gas in reducing Scotland’s
energy systems. Officials said the move towards electric vehicles, heat
pumps and hydrogen would help Scotland move away from oil and gas but it
failed to confirmed if the plan would include moving away from nuclear.
They wrote: “Sector analyses and modelling conducted for Scotland’s
climate change plans show that nuclear, oil and gas can play a reducing
role in Scotland’s energy system, and this is necessary as we move
towards 2045 and our net zero legislated target.

Mr Matheson said in an
interview on Good Morning Scotland that the Scottish Government was against
nuclear power for three reasons: its long legacy in terms of construction
cost and nuclear waste, concerns around safety, and that it is the “most
expensive form of electricity”, with renewable alternatives being cheaper
to run and better at helping lower peoples household bills – adding that
nuclear is “heavily subsidised”.

 Express 26th July 2022

https://www.scottishdailyexpress.co.uk/news/politics/snp-government-called-explain-u-27579843

July 25, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

The Great American Military Rebrand

A new defense bill crammed with political pork smashes records, but you likely didn’t hear the news, because War is Good again

Matt Taibbi Jul 21 Fifteen years ago……..A trifecta of scandals……………… exposed an intricate system of legalized payoffs both parties scrambled to oppose.

Earmarks, those handy appropriations tools congressfolk used to slip million-dollar favors into the budget, had been ballooning in number for over a decade and looked so bad upon reveal, “corruption and ethics” became the top issue in the 2006 midterms…………………. In return, the contractor showered the congressman with gifts — helping him finance a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, a condo overlooking the nation’s capital, exclusive use of a yacht on the Potomac, antiques, private-jet travel and prostitutes.

Fast forward to last week. As January 6th hearings, a presidential fist-bump, and a Kardashian spawn’s gender reveal gobbled attention, the House quietly passed a monster $839 billion defense package. It was “the definition of a bipartisan bill,” chirped Alabama’s Mike Rogers, as 180 Democrats and 149 Republicans joined to smash by tens of billions previous records for military spending. With this already underreported story, just one news outlet, Roll Call, described a “first of its kind” report published by the Department of Defense Comptroller’s office, which revealed at least $58 billion of “congressional additions” above Joe Biden’s budget request.

As former Senate aide and defense budget analyst Winslow Wheeler puts it, these “additions” are “not (all) earmarks under either the House’s or Senate’s shriveled definition of them, but they are all earmarks… under the classic understanding……………. Billions of dollars in weapons the military did not seek, such as more than $4 billion worth of unrequested warships, many of them built by the constituents of senior appropriators.

………………………………..  the actual amount of “additions” is almost surely far higher than $58 billion.

…. Both the triumphant return of the earmark and the enormous defense hike should have been big stories. To put $58 billion (at least) in defense “increases” in context, the amount of overall federal earmarks in 2006, the infamous year that prompted so much outrage, was said to be $26 billion. Meanwhile Biden’s one-year arms increase exceeds the pace of Donald Trump’s infamous $200 billion collective defense hike between 2017-2019. These are major surges past the levels of both pork and weapons spending that had progressives roaring for “change,” yet there’s almost zero outcry now. Why?

It feels like just the latest echo in a prolonged, very successful re-marketing effort…………………

 the U.S. embarked upon what geopolitical analyst Christopher Mott calls the “millennial rebrand of the neoconservative project,” and the Pentagon’s fortunes rose anew. In the Obama years, think-tankers, pundits, and other actors began to push inverted, left-friendly versions of Bush’s rejected military utopianism, this time focusing on using force to achieve social justice aims abroad. It worked, brilliantly……………..(Subscribers only) more  https://taibbi.substack.com/p/the-great-american-military-rebrand

July 22, 2022 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

EDF worried that its delays in building Hinkley Point C nuclear station might lessen the huge subsidies it gets from the UK government

 EDF pushes UK government to alter Hinkley Point C penalty clauses. EDF is trying to alter a key subsidy contract to avoid missing out on trillions of pounds in guaranteed revenue after the Covid-19 pandemic caused further delays to Hinkley Point C, the first new nuclear power station under construction in the UK in almost 30 years.

The French utility is in negotiations with the British government over penalty clauses in a
controversial agreement struck in 2013 to finance the building of the plant in Somerset.

EDF started work on the 3.2 gigawatt plant in 2016 but has repeatedly pushed back its completion date while costs have spiraled. In the latest setback, EDF warned in May that the first of Hinkley’s two reactors would not be completed until June 2027, 18 months behind schedule. It attributed 12 months of the delay to Covid-related problems, when it had to reduce staff on site from 5,000 to 1,500.

But the company cautioned that there was the possibility of a further 15-month delay to September 2028,
adding that date could slip again if there was another wave of pandemic or there were knock-on effects from the war in Ukraine.

Penalty clauses in the subsidy agreement — which guarantees a price that is more than double
those offered to developers of rival technologies such as offshore wind — would reduce the 35-year term if Hinkley is not generating electricity by May 2029.

EDF would lose one year of guaranteed payments for every year of delay up to 2033. If the delays extended beyond that date the government has the option to terminate the subsidy contract. EDF has already pushed the construction budget of Hinkley up several times with the revision in May raising the total cost by a further £3bn to as much as £26bn in 2015 prices, compared to an estimate of £18bn in 2016. Crooks said about a third of May’s revision to the budget was Covid-related. About £500mn was down to performance being “less than we would expect”, he added. The other cost overruns were due to issues such as completion of some of the outstanding design work and a failure to accurately estimate the quantities of materials, such as the number of bolts needed, to complete the build.

 FT 21st July 2022

https://www.ft.com/content/cb715de2-1c95-4a13-8b48-33717b1dcc44

July 22, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

EDF seeks guarantees from UK government to keep its big subsidies

 EDF is seeking to amend the controversial subsidy contract for its £26
billion Hinkley Point C nuclear plant so that it will not be penalised even
if the plant does not start to generate power until 2030.

Hinkley was
supposed to start up in 2025 but EDF has pushed this back to mid-2027,
primarily blaming Covid disruption, and warned of the risk of a further
15-month delay. Stuart Crooks, managing director of Hinkley Point C, said
at least some of this delay was now “likely” to materialise as the
project battles issues including labour shortages.

He revealed that EDF was
seeking extra leeway in the already contentious subsidy contract to protect
its revenues even if the plant suffers additional delays and does not start
up this decade. Further delays would also raise the prospect of additional
increases in costs, which have risen from £18 billion when it got the
go-ahead in 2016 to as much as £26 billion at 2015 prices.

 Times 22nd July 2022

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/edf-seeks-hinkley-delay-guarantees-2g6tqt522

July 22, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Shinzo Abe Failed to Rearm Japan. Let’s Keep It That Way

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, meets with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence the Kantei, in Tokyo, Aug. 18, 2017. (DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

Houston Chronicle July 20, 2022, Koichi Nakano,

Japan had barely begun processing the shock of the former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s assassination by a gunman on July 8 before attention turned to whether his quest to remilitarize Japan, including the revision of its pacifist Constitution, would survive him.

Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, Mr. Abe was a towering presence at home and an influential statesman abroad. He advocated a more globally engaged Japan, was a driving force in the Quad alliance between the United States, Australia, India and Japan and is credited by some with initiating the very idea of the wider Indo-Pacific region.

He also envisioned a more militarily robust Japan, centered on his unfulfilled dream of revising its postwar Constitution, which prohibits his country from maintaining an offensive armed forces capability. His supporters have vowed to make these dreams — driven largely by fear of a more powerful China — a reality.

Yet it’s time for Japan to bid farewell not only to Mr. Abe but also to his nationalist rearmament agenda. Japan’s political and economic resources should be focused not on revising the Constitution and increasing defense spending but on maintaining peace through diplomacy and shoring up an economy left shaky by years of Mr. Abe’s trickle-down policies.

Critically, at a time when the United States is focused on confronting China, a humbler, more pacifist Japan could have an important role to play by re-engaging with Beijing to help decrease tensions between China and the United States.

Mr. Abe was shot while campaigning on behalf of his Liberal Democratic Party for parliamentary elections that were to be held just two days later. He leaves behind a personal legacy far more controversial and checkered than is warranted by the simplistic, fawning tributes that followed his demise.

………………………………… few aspects of Mr. Abe’s career threatened to alter Japan’s national character and role in the region as much as his crusade against Article 9, which renounces war as a means of solving international disputes and limits Japan’s military to a self-defense role. Mr. Abe unnerved millions of Japanese who see no reason to depart from a commitment to peace that kept Japan out of any direct involvement in war since 1945, allowing it to focus on becoming an economic power.

Mr. Abe failed to change the article despite two stints in power, from 2006 to ’07 and from 2012 to ’20. He settled instead for a reinterpretation that allows Japan to help close allies militarily under certain conditions but has been criticized as unconstitutional.

Japan looks no closer to revising Article 9 today, especially with the L.D.P.’s right wing now deprived of its uncontested standard-bearer. A commitment to peace runs deep in a country that was taken to war by a military government, causing huge suffering in Asia and ending in Japan’s total defeat and the distinction of being the only country attacked with nuclear weapons.

……………….. Attention now turns to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, but it’s a measure of just how smothering Mr. Abe’s presence was — he forbade open dissent among party leaders — that the Japanese don’t really know what to expect from Mr. Kishida, who represents L.D.P. moderates who have opposed constitutional revision. After the election, Mr. Kishida promised greater defense spending and pledged renewed attention on Article 9 but gave no hint that this was more than a courteous nod to the departed Mr. Abe.

But there is no doubt that Mr. Kishida’s hand is strengthened. Mr. Abe left no clear right-wing successor, and his death throws the faction into disarray, allowing Mr. Kishida an opportunity to assert more control over the national agenda.

………………………

Stripping away the safeguards of Article 9 and remilitarizing Japan would only further inflame tensions with China and risk an arms race with potentially devastating consequences for Japan and the region. On the contrary, a reaffirmed commitment to peace would allow domestic resources to be focused on the economy and open the door for better relations with Japan’s neighbors founded on peace through diplomacy.

It’s time to beat Mr. Abe’s swords into plowshares.  https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/Opinion-Shinzo-Abe-failed-to-rearm-Japan-17320399.php

July 22, 2022 Posted by | Japan, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment