Top 100 Energy Stories (Jan. 7th – 10th)


I’m Back! After a week long case of food poisoning and additional struggles to get my my life back into one piece. Thanks to everyone who send me notes! I’ve also posted older stories from the first week of the new year here.

There are quite a few major stories here folks! The industry is pushing for major funding from Obama. I’ll let the stories speak for themselves!

Top Nuclear Stories Index

Reactors Safety NRC Fuel Cycle N-Waste
Policy Weapons DOE Energy News OpEd


Nuclear Reactor News

Nuclear fears as danger plant is reopened in gas war with Russia – Times Online
Fears were raised yesterday over a decision to restart a potentially dangerous decommissioned nuclear power plant in the centre of Europe because of a shortage of gas caused by Russia’s dispute with Ukraine.

Slovakia, defying undertakings given when it joined the European Union, said that it would reactivate a Soviet-style nuclear generator that has a record of safety problems because it had received no Russian gas since last Thursday.

Russia again found a reason to delay turning the taps back on yesterday, despite an agreement brokered by Mirek Topolanek, the Czech Prime Minister, on behalf of the EU, which was signed by Russian and Ukrainian leaders at the weekend.

New Nuclear Plants Not Viable Without Government Support — Seeking Alpha
New nuclear power plants are unlikely to be built without financial incentives from governments, according to Oxford Analytica.

A so-called nuclear renaissance has been underway for some years now, OxAn says. It has taken three broad forms, namely:

Site for nuclear plant on hold
Bruce Power has temporarily withdrawn its application to prepare a site for a nuclear power plant near Peace River, and is now considering a second site.

In a letter to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, the nuclear power company says a new site was chosen partly because concerns were raised about an aquifer near the first location. The second site is on the west bank of the Peace River, about 30 kilometres north of the town. The original site is on the northeast shore of Lac Cardinal, about 30 kilometres west of the town. It was selected by Energy Alberta, which Bruce Power bought last March.

24/7 Wall St.: More Nukes in the Pipeline (CEG, PPL, EXC)
UniStar Nuclear Energy, a joint venture between Electricite de France (EDF) and Constellation Energy Group Inc. (NYSE:CEG), and PPL Corporation (NYSE:PPL), a UniStar partner, have passed the first regulatory review on the road to building four new nuclear power plants. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission just added the fourth, a plant near Berwick, Pennsylvania, to its docket of combined license applications for new nukes.

The NRC now has docketed 26 new nuclear units at 17 different sites for review and approval. It can take up to four years for a project to receive NRC approval, and that’s without any public clamor against nukes. The timeline can go way out if lawsuits start getting filed.

Entergy asks NRC to stop reviewing its new reactor applications
Entergy asked NRC January 9 to suspend the review of the utility’s two new plant license applications, citing difficulties in reaching an engineering, procurement and construction agreement with vendor GE Hitachi. Entergy had filed an application for a combined construction permit-operating license, or COL, in February for an additional unit at its Grand Gulf site in Mississippi and another COL application in September for a new unit at its River Bend station in Louisiana. An Entergy spokesman said the company has asked NRC to suspend the safety review for both applications and to temporarily defer the environmental portion of those reviews.

Climate Progress» Nuclear cost study 3: Responding to Heritage’s staggeringly confused ‘rebuttal’
Part 1 presented a new study by power plant cost expert Craig Severance that puts the generation costs for power from new nuclear plants at from 25 to 30 cents per kilowatt-hour — triple current U.S. electricity rates!

Those ideologically promiscuous folks at the Heritage Foundation have replied with “New Study on Staggering Cost of Nuclear Energy, Staggeringly Pessimistic.” Craig’s point by point response follows a few of my comments.

Heritage is a leader of the conservative movement stagnation. They have written “the only thing a green ‘New Deal’ will do is lead us down a Green Road to Serfdom,” comparing such a policy to “collectivism in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany,” and their Senior Policy Analyst in Energy Economics and Climate Change is quite confused about both of the subjects he analyzes (see “Heritage even opposes energy efficiency“).

Bloomberg: Hudson River Lovers Fight to Shutter Aging Nuclear Power Plant
The Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, New York is showing its age. Patches of rust scar its gray concrete domes, and a derelict smokestack looms over the decades-old facility, which still commands a choice view of the Hudson River.

“There are very toxic, highly irradiated tanks partially buried on site,” says attorney Phillip Musegaas, who serves as Hudson River Program Director for Riverkeeper, the nonprofit guardian of the Hudson River and protector of 2,000 square miles of watershed that feed New York City’s water supply.

toledo blade -Conviction upheld for Davis-Besse nuclear engineer
Judge David Katz of U.S. District Court has upheld the guilty verdicts against Andrew Siemaszko, paving the way for the last of three men to be tried for the Davis-Besse cover-up to be sentenced Feb. 6.

The judge acknowledged that Siemaszko’s conviction was “a close case,” but said he found “sufficient circumstantial evidence upon which a reasonable jury could have based a finding of knowledge and intent.”

Dominion unable to reach nuclear deal with GE Hitachi | Reuters
Dominion Resources Inc (D.N) has been unable to reach an agreement with GE Hitachi to pursue development of a new nuclear plant in Virginia, a spokesman said on Friday.

Jim Norvelle said Dominion has decided to open a competitive bidding process to select a new engineering, procurement and construction partner for a proposed single new reactor at the North Anna nuclear station in Virginia.

Legalbrief – Court told of leaks from nuclear power station
Nuclear power station operators unlawfully allowed radioactive waste to seep from a decontamination unit for 14 years, Chelmsford Crown Court has heard.

A report in The Independent says the waste leaked into the ground from a sump at Bradwell power station in Essex between 1990 and 2004, the Environment Agency claimed. Magnox Electric Ltd, which had operated the station, denies 11 breaches of legislation governing the disposal of radioactive waste. Mark Harris, on behalf of the Environment Agency, told the jury that leaks were caused by a combination of poor design and a lack of checks and maintenance. He said the power station was no longer running.
Full report in The Independent

350 people could have died in Irish nuclear disaster, 1978 papers reveal –
A NUCLEAR disaster in Ireland would kill up to 350 people, an assessment warned in 1978 as plans were discussed for a Co. Wexford plant.

A decade before the Chernobyl disaster devastated parts of the Ukraine, the Irish assessment estimated the number of deaths that could result from a major nuclear accident here, according to State papers released last week under the 30-year rule.

Nuclear giant clinches deal – Blackpool Today
FYLDE’S nuclear site has received a major boost to its expansion plans now an American firm has placed an order for two of its reactors.

Toshiba Westinghouse, the owners of Springfields at Salwick, has agreed a deal with US giant Progress Energy to provide the AP1000 power units for its site in Florida.

This deal could give the nuclear company extra clout in its bid to convince the Government to use its reactors as part of the UK’s renewable energy commitment.

Last year, the Government’s White Paper on renewable energy highlighted nuclear energy as one of the resources that should be used to power the country.

The Uncertain Business of Building New Nuclear | BNET
A new study on Climate Progress has some surprising conclusions for nuclear power. Final costs for generating power at new plants, the study says, will be 25 to 30 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is some three times the cost of today’s energy.

Nuclear is a major part of some plans to move away from fossil fuels like coal and gas, so numbers like this should be extremely worrying to advocates of atomic power. One important note, though, is that the study’s author, one Craig Severance, has the same problem the industry itself does — he can’t be certain he’s right. In fact, Severance’s cost figures for nuclear are largely predicated on the uncertainties of the business.

Town keeps intervener status in VY – Brattleboro Reformer
The Brattleboro Selectboard decided at its regular meeting Tuesday night to retain its intervener status in the Vermont Yankee relicensing process, but not to submit any pre-filed testimony to the Vermont Public Service Board.

Prior to its decision, the board heard from a handful of people concerned that it wasn’t representing the interests of some of the town’s residents.

The PSB is currently taking testimony to help it decide whether it should issue a certificate of public good allowing the nuclear power plant in Vernon to continue operation from 2012 to 2032.

Point Beach plant owner FPL to change name – The Business Journal of Milwaukee:
FPL Energy, a subsidiary of the FPL Group and owner of the Point Beach nuclear power plant in Wisconsin, is changing its name to NextEra Energy Resources.

The idea, the Juno Beach, Fla.-based company (NYSE: FPL) noted in a press release, is to “better reflect its clean energy mission and market focus.” FPL Energy is the largest producer of wind and solar energy in North America. Its portfolio includes power generation facilities in 25 states and Canada.

NextEra will remain an FPL Group company.

Supporters outnumber protesters at hearing on Texas nuclear reactors | Dallas Morning News
If the turnout for Tuesday’s public meeting on expansion of the nuclear plant is any sign, protesters might not pose much of a threat to Energy Future Holdings’ plans to build two new reactors.

Some representatives of state environmental groups and a few local people expressed concern about the safety of the new reactor design, the impact on the local water supply and storing nuclear waste onsite.

BYU NewsNet – Local Scientists Discuss the Future of Nuclear Power in Utah, Nationally
The future of electricity production is being questioned as advances in nuclear power technology are being more widely researched.

While the ability to produce electricity cleanly and inexpensively is becoming difficult, alternatives to traditional electricity production are being examined. Currently coal is Utah’s most used resource for electricity generation. As of 2005, the U.S. Department of Energy stated that 93 percent of Utah’s electricity comes from coal.

At a recent conference local scientists constructed a strong case for using nuclear power to meet Utah and the country’s future electricity needs.

The following advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power were discussed:

Keen for a Revival, the Nuclear Industry Eyes the Stimulus Package – US News and World Report
With President-elect Barack Obama signaling that energy issues should be at the core of any economic stimulus package, the resurgent U.S. nuclear industry—like so many others—is pushing to make sure it’s well represented.

Industry representatives and lobbyists are asking lawmakers to use the economic stimulus package, estimated to be in the range of $700 billion to $800 billion, to help revive the country’s long-dormant nuclear manufacturing sector, as well as to train workers for jobs within the industry, which is now precariously poised for an expansion. In recent years, more than two dozen applications for new reactors have been filed with federal regulators, after a 30-year drought in which no nuclear reactors were approved.

NRG shareholders give Exelon a 45% stake in company – chicago tribune
By gaining control of slightly less than half of the outstanding stock in NRG Energy Inc., Exelon Corp. wants to turn a hostile $6 billion takeover effort into a friendly one.

The NRG board rejected a proposed merger with the Chicago-based Exelon in November, only to find dissent from shareholders who agreed Tuesday to tender 45.6 percent of their stock to Exelon.

Exelon jettisons AmerGen at Oyster Creek nuclear plant
A licensing decision regarding the Oyster Creek Generating Station in Lacey Township has been made, but it’s not exactly the one people have been anticipating for more than a year.

Exelon Corp. is set to become on Thursday the sole owner and operator of the nation’s oldest nuclear plant, which will no longer operate under its subsidiary, AmerGen. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or NRC, approved the license transfer, which was originally filed in June.

“The difference between AmerGen and Exelon, it’s been in name only,” said Dave Benson, a spokesman for Exelon. “It doesn’t affect the license renewal.”

The document released by the NRC stated that there will be “no physical changes to the facility, nor changes in officers, personnel or day-to-day operations as a result of the transfer.”

Westinghouse gets $7.65 billion nuclear deal – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Westinghouse Electric Co. said Monday it signed a $7.65 billion deal to build two nuclear reactors in Florida — its third such contract in nine months.

The agreement, which Westinghouse and partner The Shaw Group signed with Progress Energy Florida, is an engineering, procurement and construction contract to build two AP1000 reactors in Levy County, along the state’s northern Gulf Coast. Shaw, of Baton Rouge, La., is a 20 percent owner of Westinghouse.

Bradwell nuclear leak trial begins (Maldon and Burnham Standard)
BOSSES at Bradwell nuclear power station have gone on trial over the disposal of radioactive waste at the site.

Magnox Electric Ltd, formerly Nuclear Electric Ltd, denied a total of 11 charges brought by the Environmental Agency when the firm’s representatives appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court on Monday January 5.

The charges concern the disposal of radioactive waste otherwise than in accordance with authorisation granted by the Environmental Agency.

The rocky path to nuclear energy in Turkey
Turkey needs a huge amount of energy investment to sustain its fast growing economy. Where this money come from is a big question. But the rising oil prices and dependency on foreign natural gas and oil has inflated the import numbers. In 2006, Turkey has paid 26 billion USDs for imported energy sources. In 2007, this number is expected to increase at least %5, around 1 billion USD.

So with basic math, one can easily deduct that in 5 years time, this money adds up to 5 billion dollars, which is more than enough to finance the cost of a 4500 MWs of nuclear plant construction. But the finance side of the problem is not that easy…

Business Risks and Costs of New Nuclear Power (PDF Report)
Several U.S. utilities are now advancing proposals for a new generation of nuclear power plants. Though massive cost overruns and construction delays in the 1970’s and 1980’s caused U.S. utilities to cancel over 130 nuclear plant orders 1, the nuclear industry is now hoping to ride a wave of concern over global warming. Can new nuclear power help the U.S. electric power industry cut greenhouse gas emissions, at a reasonable cost?

The Staggering Cost of New Nuclear Power
A new study puts the generation costs for power from new nuclear plants at 25 to 30 cents per kilowatt-hour—triple current U.S. electricity rates!

This staggering price is far higher than the cost of a variety of carbon-free renewable power sources available today—and 10 times the cost of energy efficiency (see “Is 450 ppm possible? Part 5: Old coal’s out, can’t wait for new nukes, so what do we do NOW?”

Progress Energy signs $7.65-bil contract for new nuclear units
Progress Energy on Monday said it had signed a $7.65-billion engineering, procurement and construction contract with the consortium of Westinghouse and The Shaw Group to build two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at a site in Levy County, Florida, near its existing Crystal River-3 reactor. The utility said forecasted inflation, owner costs and contingencies will bring the total cost of the two-unit project to about $14 billion. The estimate also includes land price, plant components, financing costs, construction, labor, regulatory fees and reactor fuel for two units. An additional $3 billion is estimated for the necessary transmission equipment and about 200 miles of transmission lines associated with the project, Progress said.

Exelon bears down on NRG
The Wall Street Journal reports that Exelon Corp. (NYSE:EXC) will extend its offer for NRG Energy Inc. (NYSE:NRG) by seven weeks to Feb 25 as a result of having acquired 45.6% or 106.5 million shares since November. NRG’s stock closed at $28.62 on Jan 10 making Exelon’s stake worth $3.05 billion.

The Chicago nuclear giant is planning several new steps to secure control of the New Jersey-based utility. The New York Times reported that Exelon was also considering a proxy fight to force NRG to sell the rest of the company. Exelon reportedly said it would propose its own slate of directors for NRG’s board.


Nuclear Health and Safety News

Yankee allowed to reduce key safety tests: Rutland Herald Online
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has given Entergy Nuclear permission to reduce the number of times it conducts tests on control rods, a key safety system at Vermont Yankee plant.

In a decision released earlier this week, the NRC granted a license amendment to Entergy that will allow it to test the control rods on a monthly basis. The control rods are now tested weekly. Entergy filed the request in February 2008.

The control rods are inserted in the reactor core in the event of an emergency or a power reduction to reduce the amount of nuclear reaction in the plant.

Entergy Nuclear spokesman Laurence Smith said Friday that the plant had requested the reduction in order to put less stress on a “sensitive” component at the plant by needlessly testing it.

Rapid City Journal | Residents notified of radioactive water tests
Box Elder residents should receive notices within the next week alerting them to the presence of radium, a naturally occurring type of radioactive metal, in one of the city’s two water wells, Mayor Al Dial said.

Box Elder’s notice stems from a violation that occurred this summer, when high levels of radium 226 and radium 228 were detected during a routine test of a new well. The well has since passed another quarterly test, Dial said.

After a water system fails a water test, the system is considered in violation of the standards. To bring a water system into compliance takes four quarterly tests with an annual average that is below the standard.

Nuclear veterans told: No case for compensation – UK – The Independent
Ministers tell servicemen who witnessed 1950s test explosions they should have claimed years ago

Ministers have been accused of blocking compensation claims brought by hundreds of nuclear test veterans who believe they developed cancers and other illnesses after being forced to witness atomic bomb experiments in the 1950s and ’60s.

Despite pay-outs to former servicemen in the US, France and China, Britain has told its veterans there is no case for offering compensation, and that there is no scientific justification for a full investigation into birth defects suffered by the veterans’ children and grandchildren.

Mass. radioactive laundry company expands in SC – Myrtle Beach Online
A Massachusetts-based company that provides protective wear services for the nuclear industry says it will add 50 jobs at its South Carolina facility.

UniTech Services Group said in a statement Friday the company is consolidating services from several of its other locations at its facility in Barnwell. UniTech currently employs 100 workers there.

UniTech is a subsidiary of Springfield, Mass.-based UniFirst Corp. and provides radiological laundry and protective wear services for companies that deal with nuclear material.

BBC NEWS | Scotland | Five homes remain in nuclear zone
An emergency planning zone around a former nuclear power station in Caithness has been reduced from three miles to less than one.

The smaller area circling Dounreay has five neighbouring households within its boundary, instead of more than 200.

The zone is covered by detailed plans to deal with the worst-case radiation emergency that can be “reasonably foreseen”.

Dounreay said the reduction reflected a lower risk posed by the site.

Bush EPA Shirks Responsibility Over Perchlorate Contamination; EPA Call for New Study a Ploy to Prevent Regulation, Aid Defense and Aerospace Industries
n a last-ditch effort to avoid regulating widespread perchlorate contamination of drinking water, the Bush Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is calling for yet another blue-ribbon study of the toxic rocket fuel component and widespread pollutant. While the work of the National Academy of Sciences is highly respected, the EPA leadership’s attempt to have NAS conduct a new review of perchlorate has to be seen as nothing more than an effort to dodge the issue and buy time for the defense, aerospace and chemical industries, which have been lobbying aggressively to avoid millions in perchlorate clean-up costs.

“We know enough about perchlorate’s thyroid-disrupting properties to understand that our government has to address this danger immediately,” said Dr. Anila Jacob, Senior Scientist with Environmental Working Group (EWG). “EPA has fought every call for a safety standard for perchlorate in drinking water, prompting Congress to introduce measures compelling the agency to do so. Now, with less than two weeks left in power, the Bush team has come up with a last-minute ploy – another study that will amount to a delaying action.”

Entergy: Yankee leaked radioactive water: Rutland Herald Online
A valve leaking radioactive water inside Vermont Yankee’s reactor building was undergoing emergency repairs Wednesday, Entergy Nuclear said.

The leak did not require the company to shut down or even reduce power, according to Entergy Nuclear spokesman Laurence Smith.

Smith said the leak, which was losing about 2-1/2 gallons of “slightly radioactive” water a minute, had been discovered about two weeks ago during routine company inspection by plant operators.

Smith said the radioactive water, which comes from the reactor water’s cleanout system, was cleaned and filtered before being returned to the reactor building. The water is not discharged to the Connecticut River, he said.

Report Faults U.S. Measure of Cancer Risk –
Federal agencies in charge of radiation protection are struggling to revise their standards to take into account the differences in susceptibility to radiation-induced cancer among men, women and children, and, according to a report released Wednesday, are lagging in that task.

The report, from the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, said the rules were still too heavily based on “Reference Man,” a standard created by the International Commission on Radiological Protection in 1975. That standard is a 5-foot-7, 154-pound man who is “Western European or North American in habitat and custom.”

Dreier reintroduces legislation for perchlorate cleanup – Pasadena Star-News
Congressman David Dreier, R-San Dimas, kicked off the 111th Congress today by reintroducing legislation to provide funds for ongoing perchlorate clean-up in San Gabriel Valley groundwater.

The measure would increase by $61.2 million federal funds in the San Gabriel Basin Restoration Fund, which is used throughout the region for cleanup of perchlorate, a chemical in rocket fuel and fireworks. Under the bill, the San Gabriel Basin Water Quality Authority would receive $50 million and the Central Basin Municipal Water District would receive $11.2 million.

Perchlorate can reduce the production of thyroid hormones, which in fetuses and infants are critical for normal growth and development of the central nervous system, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, pregnant women and infants are at greatest risk if exposed to perchlorate.

Mortality risk from leukaemia and cancer among radiation workers increases with dose
The risk of mortality from leukaemia and cancer among radiation workers increases with dose, according to a study.

Findings were based on a study of records of more than 175,000 radiation workers on the National Registry for Radiation Workers, which suggest that high doses of more than 0.6 Sieverts could triple the risk of leukaemia.

The risk of cancer excluding leukaemia increased by 20% after radiation doses higher than 0.6 Sieverts, according to the research.

Workers in the study were employed by organisations such as the Atomic Weapons Establishment, British Nuclear Fuels plc, the Ministry of Defence, Rolls Royce Submarines and the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

County to study possible cancer cluster
Some in the western upcounty have long wondered whether something in the environment was making their neighbors sick, citing what they perceive to be an unusually high number of cancers in their communities. They may soon have some answers — the county is conducting a cancer cluster study in Poolesville after residents raised concerns about the town’s water.

Fred Kelly contacted the county Department of Health and Human Services after his wife Elizabeth, 39, was diagnosed with metastatic stage IV renal cancer in October. Her family has no history of cancer, and it seemed like lots of people on their street had battled with the disease in the five years they lived in the town.


NRC News

FR: NRC: decommissioning estimates
A requirement placed upon nuclear power reactor licensees by the NRC is that licensees must annually adjust the estimate of the cost of decommissioning their plants, in dollars of the current year, as part of the process to provide reasonable assurance that adequate funds for decommissioning will be available when needed. This report, which is revised periodically, explains the formula that is acceptable to the NRC for determining the minimum decommissioning fund requirements for nuclear power plants. The sources of information used in the formula are identified, and the values developed for the estimation of radioactive waste burial/disposition costs, by site and by year, are given.

NRC – NRC Announces Opportunity to Participate in Hearing on New Nuclear Reactor Application for Fermi Site
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission today announced the opportunity to participate in the hearing on a Combined License (COL) application for a new nuclear reactor at the Fermi site in Michigan.

Detroit Edison submitted its application Sept. 18, 2008, seeking a license to build and operate an Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) at the site, approximately 25 miles northeast of Toledo, Ohio. The application (minus proprietary and security-related details), is available on the NRC Web site at:

On Nov. 25, 2008, the NRC staff determined that the application contains sufficient information for the agency to formally “docket,” or file, the application and begin its technical review. Docketing the application does not preclude additional requests for information as the review proceeds; nor does it indicate whether the Commission will issue the license. The docket number established for this application is 52-033.

POGO: NRC Asleep on Duty? Exelon Gets Off Easy for Sleeping Guards
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced today that it is only giving Exelon Nuclear a slap on the wrist for the security vulnerabilities caused by sleeping guards at its Peach Bottom nuclear power plant.

POGO is concerned that the proposed $65,000 civil penalty does not send a very loud message to other power plants about the need to implement new work hour rules that ensure security personnel remain capable of safely performing their duties. In fact, the proposed fine probably doesn’t even come close to covering the cost of NRC’s investigation into the matter.

We recommend a serious revamping of the fee structure to provide a real deterrent when licensees violate NRC requirements.

NRC: NRC Meeting with Public Jan. 27-28 on Environmental Issues for Summer New Reactor Application
Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will hold public meetings Tuesday, Jan. 27, in Winnsboro, S.C., and Wednesday, Jan. 28, in Blair, S.C., to discuss the environmental issues the agency should consider in reviewing a Combined License (COL) application for two new reactors proposed for the Summer site near Columbia, S.C.

The NRC will meet with the public on Jan. 27 from 7 – 10 p.m. at Fairfield Central High School, 836 US Highway 321 Bypass S in Winnsboro, and on Jan. 28 from 7 – 10 p.m. at McCrorey-Liston Elementary School, 1978 State Hwy 215 South in Blair. The application’s environmental report is available on the agency’s Web site at: Copies of the report are also available at the Fairfield County Library, 300 Washington St. in Winnsboro.

NRC staff will be available for informal discussions with members of the public during “open house” sessions both evenings from 6 – 7 p.m. Formal comments on the environmental review will only be accepted during the meeting from 7 – 10 p.m.

NRC approves TMI license transfer – The York Daily Record
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it has approved transferring the operating license for Three Mile Island Unit 1 from AmerGen Energy Company, LLC, to Exelon Generation Company, LLC.

AmerGen had been a partnership between Exelon and British Energy, the NRC said.

Exelon said in 2003 it was buying out British Energy’s share and would become the sole owner of AmerGen, the NRC said.


Nuclear Fuel Cycle News

The Black Hills Pioneer & Rapid City Weekly News | Uranium mining under fire
Two groups and an individual have filed nomination petitions with the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources to have lands west of Edgemont declared special, exceptional, critical or unique. The petitions were filed Dec. 28 in Pierre.

Oglala Sioux tribal member Debra White Plume, Defenders of the Black Hills and the Oglala Sioux Tribe have all filed the petitions with the DENR’s Minerals and Mining program to ask that the determinations be made. The lands are within an area that has been leased by Powertech Uranium for exploration and possible mining of the mineral.

The Hindu: ‘Take care of health hazards before mining for uranium’
In a move which could bring cheer to the country’s nuclear establishment grappling with shortage of uranium, the Meghalaya government has said it has no problem in mining for the mineral in the state provided the Centre takes care of health and environmental hazards resulting from radioactive emission from mines.

“Our main concern is health hazards to the people which may arise due to the uranium mining. If the Centre takes care of that, we have no problem in allowing uranium mining in our state,” Meghalaya Chief Minister Donkupar Roy told PTI.

According to an estimate of Uranium Corporation of India Limited, there could be 3,75,000 tonnes of uranium deposits in West Khasi Hill district of Meghalaya.

Feds vague on city uranium site | The Journal Gazette
lmost four years after saying they would examine the site, federal officials are still unsure whether they will clean up the radioactive legacy of their atomic weapons program.

From 1943 to 1952, Joslyn Manufacturing and Supply Co. used its plant at 2400 Taylor St. to mill radioactive uranium into fuel rods for atomic power plants. The plant has changed hands several times since then; it is now owned by Valbruna Slater Stainless, a subsidiary of Italy-based Acciaierie Valbruna SpA.

Uranium-rich Niger eyes nuclear power generation | Reuters
Niger, one of the world’s top uranium producers, said on Friday it would study the possibility of building a nuclear power plant to meet its electricity needs.

Landlocked and on the southern side of the Sahara, Niger is one of the world’s poorest countries. It imports around 80 percent of its electricity from neighbouring Nigeria, Africa’s top producer of crude oil.

Uranium as a solution to the world’s economic crisis?: Scientific American Blog
One of the great things about working at the longest-continually published magazine in the U.S. — born in 1845 — is thumbing through the archives. Our environment reporter, David Biello, was thumbing through some bound volumes earlier this week, and he came across a gem from our February 1947 issue.

The piece, which has no byline, is quite timely, despite being more than 60 years old. It hits two of today’s growing crises square on — energy and the economy — by suggesting a replacement for silver and gold monetary standards:

Independent: State warns residents of uranium pollution
The New Mexico Environment Department will hold a water fair to test well water from private wells only in the San Mateo Basin from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 21 at Cibola County Building, 515 High St. in Grants. All present and future owners and users of private wells that are within the advisory area are advised to sample their wells to ensure the quality of well water does not pose health concerns.

Water from public drinking water systems will not be tested because those supplies are routinely tested and deemed to be safe pursuant to the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 6 will hold a community meeting 6-8 p.m., the same day, also at the Cibola County Building.

Hundreds show up for uranium mining study hearing | Lynchburg News Advance
1.5 minute video report on uranium mining plans in Virginia

Uranium discussion heats up in Va. | Richmond Times-Dispatch
Members of a state commission preparing to oversee a study of uranium mining in Pittsylvania County were urged by area residents last night to make sure the study fully addresses the health effects related to mining the nuclear fuel.

Residents also vowed to fight any legislative attempt to use the study to overturn a 27-year-old statewide moratorium on uranium mining.

“This subject is near and dear to our hearts — it affects our loved ones, our land, our water,” said Jack Dunavant, chairman of Southside Concerned Citizens, at Chatham High School before a crowd of about 450, most of whom were opposed to uranium mining. “If Richmond tries to shove this down our throat, we will fight to the bitter end, till the last man falls.”

ST-US: Uranium committee holds hearing
More than 400 people attended a public hearing on a study of uranium mining Tuesday night at Chatham High School, about six miles from what is believed to be the largest uranium deposit in the United States.

The Virginia Coal and Energy Commission’s Uranium Mining Subcommittee held the hearing so residents could offer ideas on the scope of the study, said Del. Lee Ware Jr. of Powhatan.

Equinox to defer Zambia uranium plant | Reuters
Equinox Minerals is delaying construction of a uranium processing plant at its Lumwana copper-uranium mine in Zambia, due to low uranium prices and difficulty raising financing, the Canadian company said on Wednesday.

Equinox began copper production at Lumwana — considered Africa’s largest open-pit copper mine — in December, and plans to eventually produce uranium to use as a cost offset.

The company said it expects to produce 170,000 tonnes of copper concentrate at a cost of $1.15 a pound in 2009, which is in line with past estimates. But it said it will have to wait to move ahead on the uranium plant, which had been expected to start operations in 2010.

Should nuclear fuels be taken out of national hands? – New Scientist
HOW do you manage a global boom in nuclear power while discouraging weapons proliferation? Uranium and plutonium are most likely to find their way into weapons via the enrichment and reprocessing of fuel for nuclear power plants. If all of the countries now planning to go nuclear also handle their own fuel cycles, the proliferation risk could skyrocket.

The answer may be to put the fuel cycle entirely under international control. Many governments, international agencies and arms control experts are calling for the establishment of international fuel banks, and eventually fuel production plants, that would pledge to supply nuclear materials to any country so long as it meets non-proliferation rules. The US already supports the idea, at least for new nuclear powers, and last month the European Union (EU) pledged €25 million towards the first fuel bank. Yet this means countries with new nuclear programmes would have to place control of their fuel supply at least partly in foreign hands. Could it actually work?

The Hindu: Khasi students asks Centre to drop uranium mining project
Two days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh indicated that the Centre would address the concerns expressed by various quarters over the proposed uranium mining project in Meghalaya, the influential Khasi Sudents Union has strongly pursued its opposition to the project.

“The Centre should not adopt measures of inducement, coercion, intimidation and force to push with proposed project to mine uranium in the State,” the KSU said in representation submitted to the Prime Minister through the chief secretary of Meghalaya.

The KSU while asking the Centre to cancel the project cited the public hearing held on June 12, 2007 “where 75 per cent of the public in the proposed uranium sites showed their opposition”.

Missouri’s Chernobyl:Bootheel uranium miningposes real safety threat –
The current uranium mining/exploration operation in the Bootheel is similar to Chernobyl on two points:

— Both places, the Ukraine and the delta counties of Missouri, have some of the best agricultural soils in the world. The area around Chernobyl never again can be used in humanity’s lifespan.

— The Mississippi County area has the potential to end up in the same boat because in situ leaching will cross both the St. Francis and Ozark aquifers, potentially forever contaminating them with uranium as well as other heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and arsenic. Those minerals are also found in Missouri’s bedrock limestone. That water is used for irrigation and potentially could spread heavy metals, including uranium, all over the Bootheel.


Nuclear Waste News

Barn fire led to waste discovery, investigation – Kalamazoo News
The call came in just after 11 p.m. from a passing motorist on Interstate 94, who reported a grass fire.

When Texas Township firefighters arrived, they instead found a large pole barn on fire at 10135 West O Ave.

The property owner, Donald Haugen, a garden hose in hand, told firefighters he had it under control and that they could leave.

Firefighters were skeptical.

“The walls were beginning to collapse inside, as well as portions of the roof,” Texas Township Fire Chief Jim Williams said in a report on the Aug. 19 blaze.

“Looking inside of the structure, I could see many unidentified barrels, as well as barrels that were on fire. I had also heard several small explosions from within the barn.”

Matheson poised to reintroduce foreign waste ban – Salt Lake Tribune
U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson and a bipartisan group of members of Congress are reviving their bill to stop imports of foreign nuclear waste to the United States.

Reps. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., and Lee Terry, R-Neb., have called a news conference for next week with the Utah Democrat to reintroduce the measure, now dubbed the Radioactive Import Deterrence Act of 2009, or the “RID Act.”

The bill would slam the door shut on most foreign-generated radioactive waste seeking disposal in U.S. landfills, including the low-level radioactive waste site owned and operated by Salt Lake City-based EnergySolutions Inc. in Tooele County.

Nuclear dump: Cornwall cannot be bought, say MPs
Cornwall’s Liberal Democrat MPs and Parliamentary candidates have united to slam plans to investigate the possibility of a nuclear waste site being located in the Duchy.

Leading members of the Lib Dems in Cornwall have strongly criticised the move by Liberal Democrat county councillor Bryan Rawlins to call-in the decision to turn down an invitation by the Government to make an expression of interest in having a nuclear waste storage facility in Cornwall.

Radioactive soil removed from Great Kills Park –
National Park Service officials are removing what they describe as “a small amount of soil” containing traces of radioactive material from Great Kills Park.

The work, which is expected to be completed by today, includes five sites where a total of one cubic yard of soil will be removed for disposal.

Officials say the hot spots are safe by federal standards and are not in high visitor-use areas.
Stocton Nuclear possibilities
If a nuclear power plant is built in Fresno – a highly unlikely proposition – then radioactive waste from that plant could pass through Stockton and its port on the way to France for reprocessing.


Twenty years ago this month, the Department of Energy was to have begun accepting spent nuclear reactor fuel and other radioactive waste at its Yucca Mountain Repository in the desert 80 miles north of Las Vegas. The Energy Department began studying Yucca Mountain 10 years earlier, in 1978.

Kuwait waste in Idaho is one of Time’s “underreported news stories” of the year | Idaho Statesman
A story covered by the Idaho Statesman, New West online magazine and the local Associated Press — but apparently few others — was listed by Time magazine as one of the most underreported news stories of the year.

Back in May, about 6,700 tons of radioactive waste was shipped from a U.S. military base in Kuwait to a US Ecology waste storage facility west of Grand View in Owyhee County.

The waste had been created by a 1991 fire at U.S. Army Camp Doha, which ignited military vehicles and munitions containing depleted uranium used in armor-piercing shells. The shell fragments were removed and disposed in the United States by the U.S. Army in 2005, and the waste that came to Idaho was what was left of the contaminated soil from which the fragments were removed. New West broke the story before the shipments came.

North West Evening Mail: Nevada opposes Sellafield nuke dump
THE State of Nevada is writing a letter to Cumbria County Council outlining why an underground nuclear dump in Cumbria should be opposed.

A new action group – Radiation Free Lakeland – has gained the support from the American state after the council expressed an interest to the government in hosting an underground dump.

Council leader Stewart Young wrote to Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Miliband to offer Copeland as a site for a deep geological repository to store atomic waste. Nuclear waste in Stockton?
Nuclear waste could be shipped through Stockton if a group of Fresno-area businessmen succeeds in its plan to build the state’s first nuclear plant in more than two decades.

Don’t expect to see cooling towers rise above the farms west of Fresno anytime soon.

The state forbids construction of new nuclear plants until there’s a proven way to dispose of spent fuel, most of which is being temporarily stored at plants across the country. A national disposal site planned for southern Nevada has been delayed.

Los Vegas Review Journal – Reid discloses plans for crippling cuts to Yucca Mountain project
The bleeding might soon begin.

A few weeks after Sen. Harry Reid declared that the Yucca Mountain project was going to “bleed real hard” in the coming year, he said Monday the already reduced budget for the controversial nuclear waste plan will be cut “significantly” for the remainder of 2009, and that a 2010 White House spending request will contain “little if anything at all.”

The Nevada Democrat made the declaration after he brought up Yucca Mountain in a meeting with President-elect Barack Obama earlier in the day.

The two have spoken about the project on several occasions since the election. After Monday’s meeting, Reid said Obama reiterated his opposition to the project that he had campaigned against during the presidential race.


Nuclear Policy News

The Observer: Andrew courts nuclear meltdown at the Palace
What is Prince Andrew’s new year’s resolution? Not, it seems, to be any less controversial than he was in 2008. This column has learnt of a plan to hold a gala lunch on 5 February at Buckingham Palace for heavy hitters in the nuclear industry, which is, according to critics, a startlingly fraught arena for a member of the royal family to enter.

The lunch is to be hosted by the prince as the UK’s special representative for international trade and investment, the idea of the job being that he can use his royal clout to promote Britain abroad, although providing a publicity boost for nuclear energy within the UK is a departure.

US nuclear trade team to visit India next week
A US trade mission, which will include representatives of General Electric, Westinghouse and USEC Inc, will visit India this week to hold talks with the government on how to leverage spinoffs from the Indo-US civil nuclear agreement, Shyam Saran, the prime minister’s special envoy on the Indo-US nuclear deal, has said.

Although the signing of the Indo-US deal on October 10, 2008, will remove the technology-denial regimes for nuclear material as well as dual-use technologies and open a plethora of opportunities for private players, it is too early to comment if foreign companies can set up nuclear power plants, according to Saran.

He added the government was cautious in this regard since India’s civilian and nuclear programmes were enmeshed. Under the separation plan that is part of the Indo-US nuclear deal, the separation will be completed by 2014.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Online Newsletter
This is the web addition of the Bulletins Newsletter.

Scientists and policy makers recommend 9 ways to encourage the safe and responsible development of new nuclear reactors in the United States and around the world.

Warning to taxpayers, investors — Part 2: Nukes may become troubled assets, ruin credit ratings
Part 1 presented a new study that puts the generation costs for power from new nuclear plants at from 25 to 30 cents per kilowatt-hour — triple current U.S. electricity rates!

Nuclear plants with such incredibly expensive electricity and “out of control” capital costs, as Time put it, obviously create large risks for utilities, their investors, and, ultimately taxpayers. Congress extended huge loan guarantees to new nukes in 2005, and the American people will be stuck with another huge bill if those plants join the growing rank of troubled assets (see “Nuclear energy revival may cost $315 billion, with taxpayers’ risking over $100B“).

The risk to utilities who start down the new nuke path is also great. A June 2008 report by Moody’s Investor Services Global Credit Research, “New Nuclear Generating Capacity: Potential Credit Implications for U.S. Investor Owned Utilities” (PR here), warned that “nuclear plant construction poses risks to credit metrics, ratings,” concluding:


Nuclear Weapons News

The Associated Press: Bush reportedly rejected Israeli plea to raid Iran
President George W. Bush rejected a plea from Israel last year to help it raid Iran’s main nuclear complex, opting instead to authorize a new U.S. covert action aimed at sabotaging Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program, The New York Times reported.

Israel’s request was for specialized bunker-busting bombs that it wanted for an attack that tentatively involved flying over Iraq to reach Iran’s major nuclear complex at Natanz, where the country’s only known uranium enrichment plant is located, the Times reported Saturday in its online edition. The White House deflected requests for the bombs and flyover but said it would improve intelligence-sharing with Israel on covert U.S. efforts to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program.

U.S. Provides Nuclear Umbrella for 30 Nations, More May Be Added
DoD Press Briefing with the Secretary’s Task Force on Nuclear Weapons Management

BRYAN WHITMAN (deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Public Affairs): Well, good morning. And let me just go ahead and do a brief introduction here.

I think that most of you were here in September for the initial work of the task force, but I’m pleased today to have with us the members of the secretary of Defense’s Task Force on Nuclear Weapons Management. It was in June that Secretary Gates appointed the task force to recommend improvements and measures to enhance deterrence and international confidence in U.S. nuclear — in the U.S. nuclear deterrent. The task force was appointed as a subcommittee of the Defense Policy Board and chaired by Dr. James Schlesinger here.

Panel Urges Keeping U.S. Nuclear Arms In Europe – washington post
The United States should keep tactical nuclear bombs in Europe and even consider modernizing older warheads on cruise missiles to maintain credibility with allies who depend on the U.S. weapons for security, according to a report released yesterday by a high-level task force appointed by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

“The presence of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe remains a pillar of NATO unity,” the report says, adding: “Some Allies have been troubled to learn that during the last decade some senior U.S. military leaders have advocated for the unilateral removal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe.”

Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor to become hub for new nuclear subs | The Honolulu Advertiser
Two-thirds of the Navy’s new Virginia-class submarines initially will be based at Pearl Harbor, making Hawai’i the main hub for the advanced attack submarines, Navy officials said yesterday.

The Navy plans to build 30 of the nuclear submarines, which cost up to $2.5 billion apiece, carry torpedoes and missiles, and can drop off commandos close to shore.

The Navy isn’t releasing the exact number or arrival schedule for subs coming to Pearl Harbor beyond the USS Hawaii, expected in late June, and the USS Texas, scheduled to arrive in late October or early November.

The Associated Press: Report slams Pentagon nuke oversight
A Pentagon advisory group plans to release a report Thursday criticizing the Defense Department for lack of focus on its nuclear mission and recommending more oversight, a senior defense official said, after a series of embarrassing incidents that called into question the Air Force’s ability to keep track of its nuclear weapons and related materials.

The task force will recommend that the Pentagon create a new assistant secretary position to oversee its nuclear management.


Department of Energy News

Hanford News : 212 Area Report: Tear down Hanford buildings
A new report is recommending three of Hanford’s oldest buildings that once were used to hold irradiated nuclear fuel be torn down and the soil beneath them be dug up.

That’s the most protective and costly cleanup plan studied in a engineering evaluation of cleanup of the 212-N, 212-P and 212-R buildings that was prepared for the Department of Energy.

DOE, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington State Department of Ecology have been taking comments on the proposal before a decision is made on how the buildings should be cleaned up. Pantex future is busy 01/10/09
B61 nuclear bomb refurb done at site

The Pantex Plant’s work force should remain busy in the coming years as the facility dismantles larger numbers of nuclear weapons and continues refurbishing older warheads, a top National Nuclear Security Administration official said Friday.

Pantex, located about 17 miles northeast of Amarillo, assembles and dismantles all U.S. nuclear weapons.

NNSA Deputy Administrator Robert Smolen visited Pantex Friday to tout the department’s completion of a program to refurbish the B61 strategic nuclear bomb.

U.S. EPA says cleanup must resume at nuclear weapons research site / Northern California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory must immediately address Superfund site contamination
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has notified the Department of Energy that they must immediately resume cleanup activities at its Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., or face escalating penalties.

A federal facilities agreement was signed between EPA, DOE and California state agencies in June 1988. The agreement outlines DOE’s responsibilities and milestones for addressing site contamination.

DOE has failed to operate numerous groundwater and soil vapor treatment facilities and associated wells — an integral part of cleanup activities at the site. While pump-and-treat systems have been shutdown, site contamination has spread laterally and vertically, resulting in a larger volume of contaminated groundwater and increasing timeframes for completing the overall cleanup.

Green Car Congress: DOE to Award Up to $6M for Addressing 20% Wind Energy by 2030
The US Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for up to $6 million over two years (FY09-FY10), subject to annual appropriations, to address wind development technical challenges and market acceptance barriers as outlined in the “20% Wind Energy by 2030” report published in July 2008.

The announcement will address six topic areas: (1) turbine research, development and testing; (2) distributed wind technologies; (3) market acceptance efforts; (4) environmental research and sitting strategies; (5) transmission analysis, planning and assessments; and (6) workforce development.


Other Energy News

Coal Ash Stories in many communities
The coal ash spill at a Tennessee power plant in December 2008 has been making headlines for almost two weeks – but only a few local journalists realize that coal-ash stories abound in many communities. Here are some clues for finding them. There are roughly 1,500 coal-burning electric power plants spread across the United States today (and more coming), and each one of them produces coal ash, also known as “fly ash” or even “coal combustion products” (CCP). Not all of these wastes are poised above houses behind shaky earthen dams. But most do raise significant environmental issues.

The West is hurtling toward a water crisis – Salt Lake Tribune
The Utah Legislature will soon begin its 2009 session, and we may expect bills promoting two favorite pieces of home-grown pork, the Lake Powell pipeline and Transition Power’s nuclear nightmare on the Green River.

But before legislators cast more of our recession-stretched cash before these two swine, they should read the latest study of Colorado River issues, James Powell’s Dead Pool , from which the following is taken.

For eight years under George W. Bush, the Bureau of Reclamation has refused to acknowledge the effects that global warming is having and will yet have on the Colorado, in spite of record temperatures and the recent 500-year drought that nearly brought Lake Powell to its knees. Instead, the bureau continues to use only data from the last century, the first half of which was one of the wettest periods in the known history of the Colorado. According to Bush’s BOR, in 2050 Lake Powell, which reflects the health of the river as a whole, will stand at 3,660 feet, just 40 feet below full pool. Ukraine Signs Accord on Transit Gas With EU, Russia
Ukraine signed an accord with Russia and the European Union on monitoring transit gas through its territory, setting the stage for the resumption of supplies to Europe after four days of disruption amid freezing temperatures.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, who represents the EU, secured the agreement of Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko in Kiev, after talks with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin yesterday at his residence outside Moscow.

Plenty More Coal Sludge To Go Around – Environment and Energy
Compared to, say, the pitched battles over Yucca mountain, the storage of toxic fly ash produced by coal-fired plants has gotten virtually no coverage, even though it’s arguably a far, far bigger health and safety risk. So I suppose one upside—if you can even call it that—of the recent (and massive) ash-spill disasters in Tennessee and Alabama is that we’re starting to see more investigations like this one, by Shaila Dewan of The New York Times:

The coal ash pond that ruptured and sent a billion gallons of toxic sludge across 300 acres of East Tennessee last month was only one of more than 1,300 similar dumps across the United States—most of them unregulated and unmonitored—that contain billions more gallons of fly ash and other byproducts of burning coal.

The Associated Press: Bush, issue by issue
A look at the ups and downs of George W. Bush’s presidency on some of the biggest issues of the day:

D.C. takes on fly ash spill: Knoxville News Sentinel
Democrats on the Senate committee overseeing the Tennessee Valley Authority castigated the agency for failing to live up to its environmental stewardship mission during a hearing Thursday on last month’s toxic sludge spill at the Kingston Fossil Plant.

Led by Chairwoman Barbara Boxer of California, Democrats on the Environment and Public Works Committee also called for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate fly ash, which is a byproduct of burning coal, as hazardous waste.

Public Citizen – Top Energy Regulator’s Exit Is Chance for Obama to Reverse Deregulation Fiasco, Put Families Over Power Company Profits
Today’s announcement that Joseph Kelliher, chairman of the powerful Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and a commissioner since 2003, is stepping down provides President-elect Barack Obama with an opportunity to fix an agency with a history of promoting deregulation and power company profits at the expense of fair energy prices to American families. Under Kelliher’s watch, FERC continued the failed policy of deregulation, resulting in consumers paying billions of dollars more in home energy costs than if markets under FERC control had been properly regulated.

Kelliher, who served as the Energy Department’s liaison to Vice President Dick Cheney’s infamously corporate-biased Energy Task Force prior to becoming FERC commissioner, consistently overlooked the agency’s top statutory mandate: to ensure that all electric rates be “just and reasonable.”As a result, Kelliher’s FERC has undergone ongoing criticism by states and consumer groups for its backward priorities.

Southern California Edison – A National Energy Policy Model
I joined SCE because I had a deep interest in the subject of energy and electricity. At the time I naively thought it would be a good way to start a career. I have remained here for 30 years because it offered challenging assignments and good people to work with.

Energy changes coming to Ky., ready or not – Op-Ed –
Gov. Steve Beshear recently released a new energy plan that serves as a starting point for a necessary discussion in our state.

Kentucky, especially, needs this discussion. Our history as a coal-producing state makes us vulnerable in the new clean energy era.

The state’s low-price electricity, made possible by the presence of coal and reliance on old coal-fired power plants, has fostered a dependence at the expense of diversification into new sources of energy and greater efficiency.

Robert Redford under Fire from Civil Rights Group : Red, Green, and Blue
Robert Redford has come under fire from the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). In what seems like a bizarre veering off-mandate for a movie star and the civil rights group who once coordinated the Washington march led by Martin Luther King Jr, they’ve come to verbal blows over oil and gas drilling.

Roy Innis, national chairman of CORE said, “If Robert Redford succeeds in blocking natural gas production in Utah, it’s going to hurt a lot of people on the other end of the pipeline—especially low-income families who are struggling to pay their heating bills.” And apparently, the organisation is planning to protest against Redford at his own Sundance Festival.
Has CORE sold out to gas and oil?

Some critics say that CORE has moved away from its key activity because it is funded by the oil and gas industry: Exxon has provided over $250,000 to the group, but CORE says this is part of their role – or as their website says, “Under the banner of TRUTH! LOGIC! & COURAGE!, CORE continues to promote harmony and healing in all aspects of society; calling the shots straight—even when it hurts—and confronting the haters, race-baiters and racial racketeers bent on keeping us apart”

Obama to Add 20 GW of Wind Power in 3 Years : Red, Green, and Blue
An aide to Obama said Friday that the administration plans to add 20 gigawatts (GW) or more of wind power and 4 GW of geothermal and solar power by 2012 through loan guarantees and fast tracked national renewable energy requirements, like the Renewable Portfolio Standard. Last May the U.S. Energy Department estimated wind power could provide almost a quarter of U.S. electricity.

Trade groups from the U.S. wind and solar industries were happy with the news, considering that the current economic environment for commercial credit has lowered all boats as it were, with all investment now endangered – not just investment in risky financial instruments, but even those investments in renewable energy that are essential to growing a stable economy.

No other country, in any single year, has added the volume of wind capacity that was added to the US electrical grid in 2007 with both wind and solar growing well over 40%, but with the credit crunch affecting all sectors of the economy, new projects could drop by as much as 50%, without help from the Federal government.

If You Can Afford It, New Incentives for Home Energy Efficiency
2009 brings some new incentives for homeowners to adopt energy efficiency from both state and federal sources.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week on several of these, including new provisions for tax credits in solar, small wind, and biomass stoves (those burning wood pellets or corn).

In addition, this year, both solar and wind residential tax credits can be claimed against the alternative minimum tax.

Improvements to weatherize your home could also qualify for an energy efficiency tax credit of up to $500. There are also new credits for upgrading your furnace, boilers, heat pumps, and water heaters.

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Solar Thermal Power + New Direct Current Electric Grid Could Make US Renewable Energy World Leader : TreeHugger
Fred Pearce has framed his latest opinion piece in Yale Environment 360 as one about Europe fiddling around with its climate change commitment (with German Chancellor Angela Merkel as lead violin), while the US is poised to reengage with the world under the Obama administration. What it’s really about though is what the US would need to do to take that lead, and it all has to do with renewable energy. Though some of this may be recap for avid TreeHugger readers, it’s worth repeating:

Stephen Chu Appointment a Good Sign
Beyond his stated commitment to dealing with climate change during the campaign, Pearce indicates that the appointment of Stephen Chu as energy secretary is the real sign that the US could soon lead the renewable energy/climate change race. Not only has he done pioneering research on solar power, energy efficiency and cellulosic biofuels at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, he’s also an advocate of a nationwide expansion of the electric grid to bring renewable energy from where it’s most easily generated (west of the Mississippi) to where the greatest demand is (east of the river).

Media Matters – Reuters did not note energy group criticizing Obama reportedly “funded by the oil industry”
Summary: In an article about President-elect Barack Obama’s emphasis on alternative energy production in his economic stimulus speech, Reuters quoted criticism of Obama’s plan by Thomas Pyle of the Institute for Energy Research. However, the article did not mention the Institute for Energy Research’s ties to the oil industry or that Exxon Mobil Corp. has funded the organization.

Are you solar ready? Solar Red’s disruptive solar PV technology can halve cost of residential solar: ENN — Know Your Environment
A typical residential solar system will put you back ~$20,000+ after credits and incentives and requires extensive design work and several trained technicians toiling on your roof – drilling, wiring, bolting, and performing other complex tasks to build the proper infrastructure. What if your roof were built for solar panels, and installing them were as simple as snapping panels into place? And what if it didn’t cost you an arm and a leg?

Peak Energy: Peak Oil and Civil Unrest
On the subject of apocaphilia and reversalism, Tom Whipple’s latest “peak oil crisis” column in the FCNP is heavy on doom – The Peak Oil Crisis: Civil Unrest. No mention of green new deals or rapid shifts to clean energy sources and transport systems to be found unfortunately – just talk about “involuntary changes” that people will need to make to their lifestyles that seems rather totalitarian to me (did all that time in the CIA make Tom start to think like the Soviets ?). Why not go for persuading people to make the necessary adaptive changes voluntarily ? We’ll all end up with a better world in the end (rather than the locked down world of rationing and limited transport that some seem to think inevitable).

Peak Energy: Portugal’s Largest Solar Farm Opens
Energy Matters has a post on a new solar PV farm in Portugal – Portugal’s Largest Solar Farm Opens.

Portugal’s Acciona Energy recently opened the country’s largest solar power farm, executing the construction of the project in a record time of 13 months. The solar farm covers an area of 250 hectares in the municipality of Moura (Alentejo region), near the border with Spain.

The AUD$571 million 48 MW facility will provide power to over 30,000 Portugese households; producing 93 million kWh of electricity annually and avoiding over 89,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions compared to a similar output via coal fired power generation.

Peak Energy: India’s will to renewable power
The Business Spectator has an interesting column on India’s growing energy needs and their renewable energy potential – India’s will to power.

Though blessed with an abundance of non-depleting renewable energy resources, India’s record in tapping them has been dismal.

Mercifully, of late, renewable sources are getting greater attention. But there is still a long way to go from the 4.9 per cent that renewable energy contributes to total energy generated. The official target is to increase this share to 10 per cent by 2012 and further in subsequent years. …

Among renewable sources, geothermal energy which is derived from natural heat stored in the deep interior of the earth promises to be a key source. Except for a few half-hearted attempts, the government has done practically nothing to exploit this vast reserve.


Nuclear Editorial and Opinions

Albert Lea Tribune | Cheap nuclear power is faulty accounting
Your utility bills have carried a surcharge of $27 billion for nuclear power. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 required nuclear power providers to contribute to the Nuclear Waste Fund, which funds were to build a Nuclear Waste Repository by 1998. This repository is yet to open, leaving our government open to lawsuits. Our government has spend $94 million defending itself against breach of contract resulting in a $420 million judgment for the plaintiffs.

Outstanding liabilities are in the billions. Should the repository at Yucca Mountain become operational it could hold existing and future wastes from the nukes already built. Yucca Mountain could not hold the wastes from an expanded nuclear power industry. Wait! That’s not all folks!

Nuclear power isn’t the best alternative
The Ontario government is ready to embark on a $26-billion mistake. The plan to have more than 50 per cent of our electricity needs met by nuclear power ignores history. No nuclear project in Ontario has come in on time and on budget, neither have they delivered the output promised.

Costly overruns and repairs have saddled taxpayers with a $20-billion debt which appears on our electricity bill as a debt-reduction charge.

One definition of insanity is to repeat something and expect a different result. Why would it be any different this time around?

Harvey Wasserman: bama’s stimulus money must NOT be wasted on nuke reactors
A nuke power bailout must NOT be part of the hundreds of billions of federal dollars about to pour out of Washington to revive our Bush-whacked economy.

If the huge Obama stimulus package we all know is coming includes money to build new reactors, the whole venture could turn to radioactive dust.

This is the last gasp both for American prosperity and atomic energy. Nuke promoters are lobbying frantically to get some of that cash for a dying business in which Wall Street would not invest even before the last crash.

Nuclear power has benefits; being truly ‘clean’ isn’t one
A report recommending how to make Florida’s power companies more “green” is too kind to nuclear power.

Gov. Crist and the Legislature originally asked the PSC to draft a plan for Florida to get 20 percent of its power from “renewable” sources. The definition of “renewable” did not include nuclear power. The staff of the Public Service Commission last week said utilities should be able to meet the goal using “clean” sources as well and that nuclear power generated from new plants should qualify as “clean.” The staff also recommends that utilities have until 2041 to meet the 20 percent standard.

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