Tag: nuclear power

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Releases Report on Reactor Safety

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) conducted a study of the events of the Fukushima disaster and generated a report  on the fallout and what could be done to prevent it. Additionally, they reviewed the safety features of nuclear energy facilities in the United States as a reliable source of power.

This report will be part of discussions moving forward on how to maintain the strong safety record of the nuclear industry in the U.S. As the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) continues to review the report, it is important to keep in mind that adding costly, unnecessary and reactionary regulations, simply for the sake of regulations is not the solution. This will only prevent job creation and growth within the industry.

The NAM has long been an advocate of nuclear power as one of the many sources of energy needed to meet the growing demands of our nation. We agree with President Obama that Nuclear energy is a “necessary investment” in the future of our nation. The NAM believes in an “all of the above” approach when it comes to our nation’s energy portfolio, and nuclear power has shown to be a safe, effective, clean and reliable source that generates roughly 20 percent of the energy our nation uses.

Coverage of the Report:

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Manufacturers Warn Against Excessive Regulations, Taxes

Thank you, Chattanooga Times Free Press for your excellent report on the 2011 National Manufacturing Summit in Dalton, Ga. From “Controls stifling us, execs declare“:

DALTON, Ga. — Rumors of the death of American manufacturing have been greatly exaggerated, officials said Thursday at the 2011 National Manufacturing Summit.

But as industry claws its way back from a crippling recession, government policies threaten to strangle the recovery in its infancy, they argued.

During five hours of talk here Thursday, political and business leaders blasted what many called dangerous levels of regulatory interference by the federal government while praising the resilience of the American factory and its workers.

“Between 2001 and 2010, the value of our manufactured exports grew by 95 percent,” Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said. “A great country that makes nothing won’t be great for long.”

The Dalton Daily Citizen reports, “Energy, taxes dominate Dalton manufacturing summit.”

Kyle Wingfield covered the summit for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, writing, “Summit speakers take whacks at U.S. energy policies, rules,” reporting on remarks by Tom Fanning, CEO of Southern Company:

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Energy Security, Energy Reality in America, Germany

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke spoke in Milwaukee today with WisBusiness.com filing a report:

MILWAUKEE — U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke told a Milwaukee audience the United States — and Wisconsin — needs to invest in alternative energy or it risks being left behind by other world powers.

“America doesn’t want to wake up five years from now asking itself how China was able to make the transition to alternative energy and not the United States,” Locke said during a speech to the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce on Tuesday. “If you don’t develop your industries in alternative energies here in the state, then those jobs will be created in another state. I can tell you countries like China are spending billions of dollars to create energy alternatives.”

Locke said one way to improve the economy is to break America’s “oil addiction.” Locke said the Obama administration has made major new investments in next-generation clean energy sources like wind, solar and biofuels, as well as a national smart grid that can deliver that energy to homes and businesses across the country.

Meanwhile, in Germany, the Fukushima-inspired decision of the ruling coalition to join the Greens and Social Democrats in supporting an expedited phase-out of nuclear energy is running into problems, which is to say, reality. From Der Spiegel, “Resistance Mounts to Germany’s Ambitious Renewable Energy Plans“:

To reach its goals of a nuclear-free Germany, Merkel’s government now plans to dot all parts of the country with massive wind turbines as well as high-voltage power masts needed to create a modern smart grid to transport the electricity supply from the windy north to the southern part of the country. A €5-billion ($7.25 billion) special program to expand wind parks in the North and Baltic seas will be launched this autumn. Central to the program, Brüderle and Röttgen write, would be a “joint initiative by the federal government and the regional states to identify suitable locations for wind power facilities.” Obstacles to planning approval such as restrictions on the height and spacing of the turbines “will be removed,” the paper says. …

Those are the requirements of the current zeitgeist, say the green revolutionaries in Merkel’s center-right coalition. They have public opinion behind them: More than 80 percent of Germans want to see the country abandon nuclear energy. But there is one major caveat: When it comes to major energy projects, most Germans do not want them in their own backyard. Just as soon as plans are unveiled for mass wind turbines near residential areas, home owners and locals are quick to organize local campaigns to halt construction.

Indeed, NIMBY is a phenomenon found across prosperous, industrialized countries. (continue reading…)

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Japan’s Disasters Shake German Politics

The anti-nuclear-energy Greens get their first state governor by dint of a second-place finish in Sunday’s elections in Baden-Württemberg, widely perceived as rebuke to the federal CDU-FDP alliance led by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Businesses in the southwestern German state are
Der Spiegel, “Election Debacle ‘Will Shake CDU, But Won’t Topple Merkel’“:

The defeat of the conservative Christian Democratic Union party in Baden-Württemberg, a CDU bastion for 58 years, in an election on Sunday is a major blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel, the party’s leader, but she will survive it, say German media commentators.

Triumph of the Greens, Disaster for the Black-Gold

The victory of the Greens in the rich southwestern state shows that many mainstream voters have no faith in Merkel’s sudden U-turn on nuclear policy following the Fukoshima disaster, and reflects the German public’s aversion to atomic energy, editorial writers said.

For the CDU, losing Baden-Württemberg is as bad as the loss of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia was for the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) of then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in May 2005.

Baden-Württemberg’s capital, Stuttgart, is home to many large manufacturers, especially in the aumotive sector. Business sent strong words of caution to the Greens this morning. From DPA:

Stuttgart – Business leaders on Monday warned the Green Party, which is expected to take power in Germany’s key industrial state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, to prevent steep rises in energy costs.

The state is home to some of Germany’s biggest industrial corporations, including Daimler and Robert Bosch. It has been ruled for 58 years running by the business-friendly Christian Democratic Union of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

‘We expect the policies of the new government to provide stable, reliable framework conditions to preserve the good business climate,’ said Bosch chief executive Franz Fehrenbach in a first reaction.

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Power Politics: German Nuclear Shutdown Stresses Grid, Economy

Germany’s anti-nuclear movement has always been one of the strongest in the world, and the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan has provided more political energy behind the “Nein, danke” crowd.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, a Christian Democrat, has been irresolute in her handling of the issue, temporarily halting operations at seven of Germany’s 17 nuclear power plants after events in Japan. She has backed away from the government’s support for extending the life of nuclear power plants, and created a commission to review operations.

The practical implications for the economy and German manufacturing are serious. As Der Spiegel reports today in an interview with Johannes Teyssen, CEO of the energy giant E.on, the country’s electrical grid could be rendered unstable.

SPIEGEL: Whenever power plants are to be shut down, the electric utilities warn of the dangers of supply shortages. But that hasn’t happened yet.

Teyssen: We don’t play around with dangerous situations. We have informed the Economics Ministry that there may be problems with grid stability following the planned shutdown of the nuclear power plants.

SPIEGEL: Why, exactly?

Teyssen: The grids are not designed to handle such a serious redistribution of loads. Major capacities will be eliminated in the south (of Germany) as a result of the power plant shutdowns. We lack the necessary power lines to transmit wind-generated electricity from the north. This could lead to massive problems in the grid, even power outages.

Japan’s catastrophe happened just before voters in three states went to the polls, heightening the political maneuvering over nuclear power.

In state elections in Sachsen Anhalt last Sunday, the eco-party, the Greens, claimed 7.1 percent of the vote, enough for it re-enter the parliament for the first time since 1998.

Next up are elections Sunday in the large southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, home to Stuttgart and much of Germany’s auto industry. Seven nuclear power plants generate 60 percent of the state’s electricity. The Wall Street Journal reports that according to a new poll conducted for ZDF, the Greens are drawing 25 percent, enough to make them the second largest party after the conservative Christian-Democrats (38 percent) and even larger than the Social Democrats or SPD (22.5 percent).
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Secretary Chu on Nuclear Energy

Energy Secretary Steven Chu testified today at a hearing by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, a meeting called to examine DOE’s budget but which obviously turned to the Japanese earthquake and damage to the nuclear power plants. In his prepared statement, Secretary Chu outlined the Department’s support of personnel and materiel for the Japanese and then commented on safety issues:

The American people should have full confidence that the United States has rigorous safety regulations in place to ensure that our nuclear power is generated safely and responsibly. Information is still coming in about the events unfolding in Japan, but the Administration is committed to learning from Japan’s experience as we work to continue to strengthen America’s nuclear industry.

Safety remains at the forefront of our effort to responsibly develop America’s energy resources, and we will continue to incorporate best practices and lessons learned into that process.

To meet our energy needs, the Administration believes we must rely on a diverse set of energy sources including renewables like wind and solar, natural gas, clean coal and nuclear power. We look forward to a continued dialogue with Congress on moving that agenda forward.

That’s a good statement given the current information available.

Hat tip to Iain Murray, who has been blogging on the accidents and explosions here, here and here. Iain recommends the Brave New Climate blog for continuing coverage. As we write, the lead blog post is from Ben Heard, director of the Adelaide-based advisory firm ThinkClimate Consulting. Heard comments:

In all cases, I find it most distasteful when individuals or groups push agendas in the face of unfolding tragedy. Let me say at the outset that this is not my intention.

Sadly, many people and groups don’t share this sentiment, including a great many who have wasted no time in making grave and unfounded pronouncements regarding the safety of nuclear power, and how this event should impact Australia’s decision making in energy. This has been aided no end by a media bloc that has reflected the general state of ignorance that exists regarding nuclear power, as well as a preference for headlines ahead of sound information at this critical time. The whole situation has been all too predictable, but still most disappointing. It has reinforced one of the great truisms in understanding how we humans deal with risk: We are outraged and hyper-fearful of that which we do not understand, rather than that which is likely to do us harm. Rarely if ever are they the same thing.

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Hold Off on Speculation, Hype after Japan Nuclear Accident

The news coverage of the nuclear plant accident in Japan has relied too much on speculation, third-hand reporting and hype. In the meantime, anti-energy activists and politicians rush to fill the void of hard facts with irresponsible claims and exaggerations.

What happened in Japan was a natural disaster of historic proportions, a true catastrophe. In these circumstances, thousands die and the damage challenges our abilities to comprehend them. Better if people were to deal with the facts as are already known rather than driving a biased and political storyline.

The Heritage Foundation’s Foundry blog summarizes those facts, “Morning Bell: Nuclear Facts to Remember While Following Japan”:

  • The low levels of radiation currently being released will likely have no biological or environmental impact. Humans are constantly exposed to background radiation that likely exceeds that being released.
  • The Chernobyl disaster was caused by an inherent design problem and communist operator error that is not present at any of the nuclear plants in Japan.
  • There were no health impacts from any of the radiation exposure at Three Mile Island.
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not need to regulate more in response to this. It already regulates enough.
  • The plant in trouble in Japan is over 40 years old. Today’s designs are far more advanced.
  • No one has ever been injured, much less killed, as a result of commercial nuclear power in the U.S. (continue reading…)
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Gov. Perry: Along with Oil, Wind and Nuclear

To round out Gov. Perry’s comments Friday about oil prices and domestic energy supply, we note that in addition to oil production, he wants an “an all of the above” approach toward domestic production.

People think about Texas and they think, oh yeah, big oil and gas country. Yeah, we are, and we’re very pleased to be the home to that, but we’re also home to more wind energy produced than any other state in the nation, because we’ve focused on expanding our portfolio. I personally would be very, very positively inclined to expand our nuclear energy ability. I think we have three plants permitted now in Texas, nuclear plants, with three more in some type, some place of the permitting process.

We’re going to need it all. I’m an all of the above energy advocate – with the notable exception of corn-based ethanol, one of the great political scams and economic scams of the 20th Century.

Judging by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s coverage of his comments, the Governor has said similar things about ethanol before: “Also in the interview, Perry talked up other energy sources including wind and nuclear but repeated his disdain for corn-based ethanol.”

The sound file of his comments above is here.

UPDATE (9:30 a.m.): In “Gov. Rick Perry’s dream: Make the federal government as innocuous as possible,” Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post’s Right Turn blog wraps up the Governor’s remarks, putting his philosophical opposition to an overreaching federal government in a political and campaign context.

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Missouri Governor Uses State of State to Promote New Nuclear Power Plant

America’s workers and manufacturers need the jobs and electricity that nuclear power produces, so kudos to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who highlighted his plans for a new nuclear power plant in his State of the State address on Wednesday.

In November, I announced a historic agreement that will transform the economy of our state – creating thousands of jobs and benefiting millions of Missouri consumers of electric power.

That agreement put the wheels in motion for the construction of a second, state-of-the-art nuclear power plant in Callaway County.

Missouri has some of the lowest electric rates in the nation. That’s attractive to businesses and families. But as our energy needs grow, we need to be looking now for new sources of clean, abundant and affordable power.

Building a second nuclear plant will create thousands of good-paying jobs for all our construction trades: iron and sheet metal workers; carpenters and cement masons; boilermakers and bricklayers; plumbers and pipefitters; teamsters and laborers; electrical workers and operating engineers.

They built Callaway One. And they will build Callaway Two.

Recent news coverage … (continue reading…)

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Exports, Energy, IPR on Agenda of U.S.-India Business Meetings

From the Council on Foreign Relations’ excellent Daily News Briefing last Friday:

U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to India … is expected to focus on producing jobs for the U.S. economy (WSJ) by clinching big commercial deals for U.S. companies and promoting greater access to Indian markets. The trip, which comes shortly after U.S. congressional midterm elections, may be more politically palatable than focusing on thornier geopolitical issues like India’s unease about Afghanistan and Pakistan. Amid U.S. concerns about outsourcing jobs to India, the White House hopes to stress the benefits of the two country’s growing trade partnership. More than two hundred chief executives and corporate officials will travel to Mumbai for a business summit next Saturday (EconomicTimes), the largest contingent of U.S. chief executives to accompany a president on a state visit. The total number of deals resulting from Obama’s trip could help create or sustain one hundred thousand U.S. jobs (FT), according to the U.S. India Business Council. But the United States will be challenged to strike an investment treaty with India amid U.S. corporate concerns about intellectual property abuses. India’s leftist parties said they will hold a nationwide protest (EconomicTimes) during Obama’s visit, opposing U.S. pressure on India to open its agriculture, retail trade, education, and other services to U.S. investment and multinational firms.

Energy development is a major topic on the agenda, including nuclear power and shale gas. The U.S.-India Business Council’s news release, “India Business and Entrepreneurship Summit to Feature President Obama,” has more information about the U.S. business leaders heading to Mumbia. More coverage from Indian news sources:

And there’s this from the Center for a New American Security, a think tank, “CNAS Releases Blueprint for the Future of U.S.-India Relations“:

Washington, D.C., October 18, 2010 – In advance of President Obama’s much-awaited trip to India in less than 3 weeks, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) released today Natural Allies: A Blueprint for the Future of U.S.-India Relations, authored by former Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns and CNAS Senior Fellow Richard Fontaine.

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