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Friday
May012015

"Bill decried as Exelon bailout"

As reported by Jeffrey Tomich in Midwest Energy News, the Illinois Attorney General's office has blasted a bill that would bailout Exelon Nuclear at huge taxpayer expense as disruptive to the free market in electricity.

IL AG's office spokeswoman Cara Hendrickson was quoted as testifying to a State of IL legislative panel: “What this bill does is disrupt that market. It puts a thumb on the scales. Basically, it’s ‘Heads up, Exelon wins. Tails up, Exelon wins.’ That’s not a free market. It’s a bailout.”

She was joined in opposing Exelon Nuclear lobbyists' bail out bill by the likes of AARP and businesses that would be ruined by increased electricity bills. Exelon seeks $300 million per year in subsidies from IL ratepayers, in order to prop up five reactors at three nuclear power plants.

However, Entergy has stubbornly refused to open its books, to prove that it's allegedly uncompetitive nukes are even in trouble.

Friday
May012015

"Did Tesla just kill nuclear power?"

Arnie Gundersen speaking to an audience at Illinois Sierra Club, April 30, 2015 (photo credit: NEIS).As conveyed in a Nuclear Energy Information Service media release, and a Forbes blog by Jeff McMahon, the question posed by Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Energy Education comes as Elon Musk of Tesla Motors, SpaceX, and SolarCity fame unveiled very cost competitive household-, small business-, and utility-scale battery systems that promise to outcompete nuclear power, and lead to the expansion of renewable sources of electricity like wind power and solar photovoltaics.

Gundersen, who serves as Beyond Nuclear's expert witness in several old and new reactor proceedings, debated Argonne National Lab's chief of nuclear engineering at an event held at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

Gundersen rebuffed challenges about renewables' intermittency by stating “We all know that the wind doesn’t blow consistently and the sun doesn’t shine every day,” he said, “but the nuclear industry would have you believe that humankind is smart enough to develop techniques to store nuclear waste for a quarter of a million years, but at the same time human kind is so dumb we can’t figure out a way to store solar electricity overnight. To me that doesn’t make sense.”

Thursday
Apr302015

NRC rubber-stamps proposed new Fermi 3 reactor license, Beyond Nuclear vows legal appeals

As documented in a Memorandum and Order, the four U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Commissioners (there has been a vacancy for many months) today approved the Fermi 3 combined Construction and Operating License Application (COLA) submitted by DTE (formerly Detroit Edison) in Sept. 2008. NRC issued a press release.

An environmental coalition (Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizen Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and Sierra Club Michigan Chapter) officially intervened against the COLA on March 9, 2009 and have vowed to continue to resist the proposed new atomic reactor. The intervention's three dozen filed contentions has likely delayed Fermi 3's groundbreaking by several years.

Fermi 3 is targeted at the Lake Erie shore near Monroe, MI, immediately adjacent to the Fukushima Daiichi twin design Fermi 2 reactor, and on the very spot where the Fermi 1 experimental plutonium breeder reactor had a partial core meltdown on Oct. 5, 1966.

As conveyed in Beyond Nuclear's press release, federal court appeals are being prepared on multiple fronts: Nuclear Waste Confidence; the transmission corridor; and Quality Assurance (QA). The coalition will work with allies to block DTE from obtaining any public subisidies with which to build Fermi 3, as well.

Toledo-based attorney Terry Lodge serves as the environmental coalition's legal counsel. Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates, Inc. in Burlington, Vermont serves as the coalition's expert witness on QA.

(See Farouk D. Baxter PE's warnings to NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board about Fermi 3 transmission corridor risks.)

Additional organizations, including the Alliance to Halt Fermi 3 and Citizens Resistance at Fermi 2 (CRAFT), have joined in the resistance to the proposed new General Electric-Hitachi "ESBWR" (so-called Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor).

Thursday
Apr302015

"Court Challenge Filed to Stop Uranium Mining Next to Grand Canyon National Park"

"A coalition of conservation groups announced today they are appealing a lower court decision that opens the door to new uranium mining at the Canyon uranium mine, located only six miles from Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim.

Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and Grand Canyon Trust, along with the Havasupai Tribe, had challenged the U.S. Forest Service’s decision to allow Energy Fuels Inc. to reopen the mine without initiating or completing formal tribal consultations and without updating an obsolete federal environmental review dating to 1986. Earlier this month U.S. District Judge David Campbell ruled in favor of the Forest Service in the case, allowing mine operations to move forward. The Havasupai Tribe has also filed a notice of appeal of the ruling...".

See the coalition's press release.

Thursday
Apr302015

Both Chicago dailies editorialize against Exelon Nuclear money grab at ratepayer expense

"Burning money" image by Gene Case/Avenging AngelsBoth the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times editorial boards have come out against Exelon Nuclear's attempt to gouge Illinois ratepayers to the tune of hundreds of millions per year, to prop up allegedly failing atomic reactors. "Allegedly," because, as both papers point out, Exelon refuses to open its books to the public.

Both editorial boards come at the problem from the perspective of free market capitalism. Which is fine -- no other energy industry has enjoyed more public subsidization than the nuclear power industry, which makes Exelon's latest bailout demand all the more objectionable.

As the Sun-Times so wisely understands, "Renewable energy is the future, and the state should be making that a priority, not nuclear plants." More.